Monthly Archives: December 2015

Benefits of Organic Farming and Composting

Benefits of Organic Farming and Composting

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American households dispose 61.3 million tons of household wastes that can b composted. These wastes are usually composed of old newspapers, leaves, worn out clothes, fruits and vegetable scraps. You can turn them into more useful materials like compost.

Here are the benefits if you are using compost as fertilizers:

1. Make good use of garbage. Although composing requires more time and effort, it helps in saving the environment and makes best use of wastes materials. Also, composing is very easy and enjoyable.

2. Composts are ideal if you are into organic farming especially when growing vegetables. Studies show that pesticides can contribute to or cause health problems to humans and animals. Some chemicals contained in fertilizers can also harm the environment as well.

3. Improvement of soil quality. Composts help in making the quality of the topsoil better. In general, organic farming helps bring back the natural level of the soil’s acidity which has been depleted by chemical fertilizers and help in reducing the risks of topsoil loss through erosion.

4. Economic Efficiency. When you make convert into organic farming and you make your own compost, you will save a lot of money from buying chemical fertilizers. There are organic pest controls that come right from your kitchen.

5. Healthier yields. Experts say that yields from organic farming retain more nutrients that those used with chemical fertilizers. In addition to this, you will be consuming healthy food since you know that your plants have never been touched by potentially harmful chemicals.

Organic farming and composting are enjoyable especially when doing it on your leisure moments. They are excellent forms of exercise that will help your release your tensions and stress.

One of my favorite tips is to sneak down to your local coffee house and pick up some of their coffee grounds. They add a lot of nitrogen to your compost. You can also put them directly on your nitrogen loving plants like asparagus.

Egg shells are another terrific item for composting as they add calcium. If you grow tomatoes, you fear blight and end rot. Thankfully, calcium in the soil prevents that.

If you have milk that has soured and you have tomato plants growing, don’t compost it. Pour it directly around the tomato plant and then add water.

Planting Wildflower Seeds

Planting Wildflower Seeds

Wildflower blooms look breathtakingly beautiful and make a great addition to any landscape design. They are excellent for beautifying larger areas, but you can surely grow them in a small garden bed too. The only consideration for growing healthy wildflower plants is selecting species that are native to your region. If this condition is being taken care of, nothing can stop you from growing attractive wildflowers that will definitely turn your flower garden into a show stopper.

When to Sow Wildflower Seeds?

The best time to sow wildflower seeds depends upon certain aspects, like wildflower seed dormancy, growth habits of the plants, the rainy season in your area and arrival of heavy frost. You should avoid planting wildflower seeds in the dormant period, waterlogged condition and most importantly, during heavy frosting. For sowing annual and perennial wildflower seeds, spring is the perfect time, while those having biennial growth habit can be planted in spring, late summer and fall.

For some wildflower species (wild carrot, sweet violet, clustered bellflower, etc.), dormant seeding can be done in late fall, when the temperature is too low to induce germination. In the native habitat, these seeds are exposed to chilling period and germination occurs when favorable conditions arrive in the following year. The same can be achieved by sowing seeds outdoors in the dormant period and covering them with compost. This method of subjecting seeds to low temperature condition is called stratification.

How to Sow Wildflower Seeds?

Creating a beautiful wildflower garden is a passion for most avid hobbyists. But, not many can fulfill their wish, assuming that they call for specific growth criteria. The fact is, these flowering plants cover a large space in the natural habitat and grow as wild species. Hence, the name itself signifies ease in planting these flower varieties. Direct and good contact of seeds with soil is imperative to promote germination of wildflower seeds. It is for this reason why hobbyists prefer dormant seeding in late fall or winter.

The growing tricks for wildflowers are no different from the cultivated easy to grow flowers. But, purchasing their seeds is more of a difficult task than actually sowing and planting them. This is because, many of the suppliers mix true seeds with fillers and grasses, which later become a cumbersome task for gardeners to control unwanted plants. So, make sure you contact a trusted wildflower seeds supplier to avoid future headache. Detailed info for planting of wildflower seeds in your garden are explained below.

For wildflower seeds having tough, thick skin (e.g., rockrose, sainfoin, bluebell, etc.), a simple preparatory step called scarification will help in inducing quick germination. What you can do is put seeds between two sandpaper sheets and rub them before sowing.
Inquire whether the wildflower seeds you have purchased require sowing in seed tray or not. While this is a prerequisite for most of the species, some wildflowers like cornflower, violet, corn marigold, corn poppy, etc., should be sown directly in garden soil.
Accordingly, you can either plant wildflower seeds directly in soil or sow in seeding trays. For the former case, check the size of the seeds. If they are small and have thin skin, you can sow them in the soil surface and leave it uncovered. For large seeds, lightly cover seeds with a layer of compost.
Rake planting soil to about 1 inch depth and remove unwanted weeds by tilling, uprooting and pulling them. If required, supplement a good amount of compost to the garden beds. For planting wildflower seeds over a large area, mix them with a bulk material (like sand) and use a broadcast spreader.
For seed application in small areas, you can broadcast them evenly with hands, while moving in straight lines. Consider pressing seeds in the soil, so that they are blown away by winds and water them regularly.
In case, the seeds require sowing in a garden tray, fill the tray with good quality seed compost and sow them. If available, keep it in a glasshouse for providing optimal conditions. Also, keep the medium moist to promote quick sprouting of the seeds.
Based on the wildflower species you have opted and the sowing time, the seeds will germinate within a few weeks or several months time. Say for example, wildflower seeds that call for stratification are sown in late fall for sprouting in spring of the next year.
For those sown in garden trays, wait till the seedlings develop 3 leaves. In the meantime, prepare garden beds by loosening soil, removing weeds and supplementing farmyard compost. As soon as the seedlings bear 3 leaves, you can transplant them in already prepared garden beds.

Thus, wildflower seeds require less effort for sowing, except for the basic growth factors. Hoping that you have purchased wildflower seeds native to your region and correct care is provided, they will germinate and grow luxuriantly. Correct planting of wildflower seeds will not only give a scenic beauty to your yard with maximum blooms, but you can also collect viable seeds for planting in the next growing season. That way, you can have a continuous supply of wildflower seeds for garden plantation.

Organic Vegetable Gardening

Organic Vegetable Gardening

Organic vegetable gardening is turning out to be one of the best options that are available in gardening. Organic gardening is the planting and growing of plants and vegetables without the use of any chemical fertilizers and depending solely on natural means of growing them. The advantages that this lends to is that the food is more natural, tastes better, provides for better nutrition, and is completely environment-friendly. In addition to that, it is not taken through processing and therefore there are no additional additives and the like to mar the taste and take away from the nutrition. All these organic food benefits makes this form of gardening a great option to look into.

This form of organic gardening is not at all difficult and there are several forms by which it can be carried out. These involve regular gardening as well as organic container vegetable gardening. To ensure that the garden grows well and lends to a lot of healthy produce, you need to keep some things in mind and follow some ways which will maximally benefit your cause. Here are some organic gardening tips.

Soil and Sun
The main thing that you need to do before anything else is to ensure that the soil conditions are perfect. Make sure that the soil is made extremely fertile by addition of mulch and organic fertilizers like compost, or by adding earthworms to the soil. This will ensure that the vegetables will turn out to be healthy. Along with that, ensure that the plants get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight for better growth.

Choosing Plants
If you’re starting out for the first time, then you should opt for plants that are not prone to easy disease or attack from pests. This will help you ease into the whole process and you’ll learn better along the way. Ask your local vegetable shop from where you buy the organic vegetable seeds (which might be specialized seeds) about the plants that involve comparatively less care. So also, there are certain varieties that are disease-resistant. Choose these for growing your organic vegetables.

Planting Techniques
Depending on the variety that you are planting, the method of planting will change. And while the instructions for this will be provided for at the back of every individual packet, there are some things that you need to remember―plan beforehand the kind of space that the plants will require to thrive when they have grown to their full size. Provide for this space while planting the seeds. The seeds can be planted in pots and then transferred into the soil or they can be planted directly into the ground. Be very careful about pests that like to feast on seeds and young saplings.

Aftercare
The soil needs to be kept fertile and rich while the plants are growing and this can be done with the addition of compost and mulching in the soil. Add about 2 inches of this to the top layer. This also prevents any fungal disease from infecting the roots and causing rotting. You can add organic garden pesticides to the site so that the plants are free of disease.

The watering techniques will change according to the variety of plant, though there is a general rule that you should not let the soil dry out. The best way to water the plants is to water directly at the roots and avoid wetting the leaves so that it does not attract pests.

To keep the plants and the soil healthy, you can use the technique of rotating crops so that you switch the plants and do not allow an infestation of diseases to occur. So also, make sure that you clear out the foliage of drying leaves and clear out the weeds from the roots.

Organic vegetable gardening is not much different from any other form of gardening and can be easily undertaken by anyone. For the benefits that it offers, it is definitely one of the best options to look into.

Perennial Flower Bed Designs

Perennial Flower Bed Designs

Perennial flower beds can be considered a basic component of a well-planned landscape design. They not only complement a garden, but are easy to maintain as well. Once a perennial garden is established, you can follow simple maintenance tips to preserve its aesthetic value. The color and flower type of perennial plants are plentiful; you can select specific varieties as per your theme. As we already know, the blooming period of perennial plants is short, usually 4 – 6 weeks. However, a properly planned perennial garden will give you the advantage of enjoying vibrant flowers throughout the year. So while designing the flower beds of a perennial garden, make sure that you plan the theme, bed design and the plant variety well.

DESIGNS FOR PERENNIAL FLOWER BEDS

Though perennial flowers can be grown randomly, plantation in beds gives a special visual impact. When viewed at a glance, vibrant flowers appear more beautiful when they bloom in groups, rather than in singles. A perennial garden bed with full bloomed flowers is appreciated by every viewer. You can practice basic landscaping ideas for flower beds while designing a perennial garden. Take a look at the images given below to see what kind of designs you can incorporate into your garden.

DESIGNING TIPS

Given below are some useful tips for designing and maintaining attractive and colorful garden beds.

Decide the Theme
First of all, select the theme for your perennial garden. You can opt for a formal tone, scented type (roses and lavender), butterfly garden (salvia and buddleia), water garden, or any other theme of your choice. If you are a beginner, it is always better to choose a manageable, yet attractive theme. Once you gain knowledge about the maintenance regarding various themes, you can go for more complex garden plans.

Plan the Width of the Beds
Lay out the plan of the flower beds according to the area of the yard. A wider bed gives more flexibility for designing. Also, too many narrow flower beds give a crowded appearance. Keep in mind that very wide garden beds are difficult to manage, as you will not be able to reach the plants in the middle. A bed that is 8 – 10 feet wide is the preferable dimension.

Select the Flowers
Selecting the plant variety is the most crucial step for designing a perennial flower garden. A simple trick is to select plants according to their required growing conditions (soil, light, water, temperature), so that they grow luxuriantly and bloom in your garden. Of course, it is important to consider the height, flower color, length of blooming and flowering time of the plants. Don’t choose a flower just because you like its color, size, or shape; rather consider its suitability, growth and maintenance level.

Create a Color Scheme
You can sort out the plants according to their size, bloom color and blooming time prior to creating a color scheme. Also, make sure you take a note of the light requirements while grouping perennial flowers. Speaking about the color scheme of flower beds, you can group plants of different colors in odd numbers. A cluster of three perennial plants with varied colors look appealing. Likewise, you can create a different design. Warm flower colors include yellow, orange and red together, while cool colors are white, pink, purple and blue.

Plantation Pattern
While growing perennial plants, place the short varieties (like dianthus and phlox) in the front row and tall plants (like peony and iris) at the back. You can include 14 – 18 inch tall flowers in the front section, 1 – 3 feet tall varieties in the middle portion and 3 – 5 feet perennial flowers at the back. This way you can enjoy all the lovely plants despite the fact that they have different heights.

In addition to perennial flowers, you can also add other garden accessories like ornamental grasses, ferns, hostas, trailing vines, bushes and shrubs. Place the accessories in proper spots to enhance the look. For example, trailing vines can be grown to create a background, while ornamental ferns and grasses can be used for filling up spaces between two beds, or as borders to the flower beds. Last but not the least, proper maintenance is necessary to preserve eye-catching beauty of the perennial garden. So take good care of your flower garden to display its magnificence to the fullest!