Choosing A Perfect Garden

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

The first thing that you need to consider when you plan to have your own garden– the one that can be considered a perfect garden for you– is to think and decide on what type that one will be. It could be a little bit puzzling to your side to choose a particular type of garden if you don’t have enough ideas on it, considering that there are various choices in which you can choose from. To give you what you need in starting your own garden, the following can give you important ideas for you to choose for having your own.


If you are just wanting something that can make your yard to look pleasant, you will probably want a flower garden. These are, most often, planted with perennial flowers- plant varieties which are suitable for all seasons. This kind of plants are usually nice looking weeds, they survive in a year-round because of their hardiness. Different places and climate have different flowering plants which are categorized perennials. To have information on what are the plants that belong to perennial, you can do a quick Internet research to get a list of those that can be grown in your place; those plants that do not require much of attention and can grow by themselves.


Another option for your garden is to cultivate for vegetable garden. This type usually need a little more research and implementation than a flower garden, however, can be more rewarding. In all months of the year, you can have a specific vegetable plant that can be grown and make it prosper. This allows you to produce a particular vegetable everyday throughout the year.


When you start a vegetable garden, you must put always in your mind that to have this gardening type more effective, you will be adding additional types of vegetables for days than come. This allows you to achieve optimum production that your garden can provide because you are prepared to add immediately another type once the particular variety you planted is out of season. A vegetable garden suits best for anybody who wants some produce but does not want to allocate most of their time to perfecting his garden.


Now, you will also have the option to manage for a fruit garden; however, this is surely the type that needs the most high-management. When growing fruits, one that really requires enough attention is managing the pest it attracts- most pests are attracted to sweets- by dealing with the appropriate fertilizer to be used, choosing the right pesticide that does not have a harmful effect to whoever eats the fruits.


Another thing to realize when you plan to grow a fruit garden is that, fruits garden does not produce for the whole months of the year; that their is a specific kind of soil for a particular fruit crop. If you are willing to invest lots of works for gardening, fruit garden can be a good option for you.


So, since you have some ideas in gardening already, you can now establish good decision. Making a choice of what type of garden you tend to develop,consider what kind of product you need and how much work you can invest for that type. You can have flower garden if you just want to make your yard pleasant; If you need delicious products and willing to invest more gardening effort, you can go for fruit garden. Just make it sure that you are able to establish a certain type of garden that you can really handle and that which you consider a perfect garden for you.

A Garden is Natural Art

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

A gardener’s inspiration and motivation for gardening can vary, but most of the time, gardening is a hobby done either as a recreational form of natural art, or as an experiment in self-sufficiency. And with so many plant varieties available ranging from flowers to vegetables, it would be quite rare to find two identical gardens.


Most gardening takes place in regions with temperate weather, and each season bears the potential for new beauty. Planting can take place anywhere from early spring through mid-autumn depending on the location, climate, and plant.


Getting your gardening materials ready


Before you get started on your gardening project, there are a few tools and materials necessary to begin. Of course, you’ll need a plot of land or area within a yard to plant your garden. The size and design of the garden largely depends on what kind of garden you will grow.


Once you have determined how your garden will be physically laid out, you’ll need some basic tools to get started. A hoe or small plow will be needed to turn the soil in which you will plant. For small flower gardens, a hoe or even a small trowel may be sufficient. For larger gardens and for many vegetable and fruit gardens, a plow, or rototiller, would probably be more desirable.


After you have planted your seeds or plants, they will require water. A garden hose or watering bucket can be used to help irrigate the garden, particularly in months when rain may be at a minimum. Automatic sprinkler and irrigation systems may also be installed to maintain your garden.


Finally, some gardeners insist on the use of fertilizers and plant foods. While these may not be necessary, they may have a significant impact on your garden. If pests and other insects may be a problem, you might also consider investing in a safe insecticide for treating your plants.


Common challenges faced in gardening


We aren’t all “green thumbs,” but everybody faces the same basic problems in the planting and maintenance of a garden. First of all, insects and other pests can cause serious issues for an otherwise healthy garden. Many nurseries can offer you guidance in common pests and plant diseases that might be prone to your region or type of plant, and should be able to help you pick out a pesticide.


The weather can also seriously hamper your efforts at maintaining a successful garden. Brutally hot temperatures, lack of rain, and other weather conditions during the growing season can stunt growth, prevent blooms, or even kill entire gardens. And, of course, unexpected changes in the weather can catch even the most experienced gardener off-guard. Be prepared for anything in terms of weather, and this will help prevent surprises later on.


Gardening for beauty


Flower gardens greatly add to the overall landscaping of a home or business, and can add color at any time of year. Understanding the difference between annuals — which bloom only once and typically die at the end of the season — and perennials — which, if cared for properly, will return again season after season — can be of great benefit to establishing a garden.


Many flower gardens feature a set of perennials as part of the landscape, requiring the gardener to simply fill in the open space with annuals each year. Popular annuals for flower gardening include impatiens, begonias, daisies, tulips, and pansies. Some gardens may be designed around a color scheme or theme, and are often designed to be incorporated into the larger landscaping theme of the home or business.


Gardening for food


Many gardens are created for the sole purpose of growing and harvesting edible fruits and vegetables. In some regions of the world, fruit and vegetable gardening is so popular that nearly every home on every street or road has at least some size garden filled with fruits and vegetables.


While planting and growing flowers from seed is fairly simple, knowing when to plant seeds for a vegetable garden can be a more of a challenge. Many novice gardeners choose to purchases small plants to grow, leaving most of the work in maintenance of the garden.


Most vegetable and fruit gardens are planted in rows, which makes working in the garden, the weeding and watering for example, easier. Planting in rows also eases in harvesting the yields of the garden, as a person can walk through the rows next to plants to harvest and pick the food. Common plants in fruits and vegetable gardens include beans, tomatoes, all varieties of peppers, corn, and radishes. Most fruit and vegetables are summer gardens, although the yields may not be harvested until fall for some vegetables and fruits such as gourds and pumpkins.


For those who like plants for beauty, or those who want to grow fresh food in their backyard, the rewarding hobby of gardening is well worth a try.

Creating Your Perfect Garden – Tips For Making The Garden Of Your Dreams

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

Gardening is an enjoyable hobby. A well-tended garden is a matter of pride to nature lovers. However, deciding to have a garden is only the first step towards this endeavor. There are many factors to be considered before selecting the kind of garden you wish to create. The type of soil, the geographical location, the climate and availability of water are some of the deciding factors. The gardener should also consider the amount of time that can be devoted to tending the garden. It is easier to maintain a garden that has similar types of plants, although one can always have a variety of plants requiring different amounts of care.

Most people dream of a pretty-looking garden, full of colorful blossoms. In such cases, a flower garden is an ideal choice. Planting perennial flowering shrubs will ensure that there are blossoms throughout the year. Different geographical locations and climatic conditions have different plant varieties, which are considered perennial. A quick research via the Internet will give an idea of the perennial plants suitable to your locality. Perennial flowering plants are usually sturdy plants and they will add color to the garden throughout the year. They need minimum care and require preparation of the soil and beds only at the planting stage.

Another option could be a vegetable garden. This serves a dual purpose; you have a lush green garden for display and you can consume the vegetables grown in the garden. Vegetable gardens however require a fair amount of work and a little extra research. Some vegetables do well throughout the year, and you are assured of a constant supply for your dinner table. More vegetables can be added later on as per their growing season to enjoy the pleasures of a kitchen garden. Vegetable gardens do not need a great amount of maintenance and hence one need not spend too much time tending to the garden.

Fruit gardens are the biggest challenge. They are difficult to manage and require a lot of maintenance. Fruit bearing trees need the right type of soil, sufficient amount of water and sunlight to give a good yield of fruits. Fertilizers need to be added to the soil and as the tree begins to bear fruits, one has to contend with insects and pests that are attracted to the flowers and the fruit. Selecting the right kind of pesticide so that it does not harm anyone consuming the fruit is of utmost importance. A fruit garden may not give crop all the year round and alternating another variety of crop during the off-season may prove to be disastrous for its growth. Another disadvantage is that you may have to share the crop of fruit with birds and squirrels. The decision to create a fruit garden finally depends on the person’s willingness to expend the energy and time to make the garden a success.

Before deciding to have a garden, it is prudent to give considerable thought to various factors as discussed above. The easiest garden to maintain is a flower garden, but the only benefit is its appeal in terms of beauty and color. However, one can have a garden with flowering plants, fruit trees and vegetables growing together and benefit from the garden produce as well as enjoy the beauty of the lush greenery and color.

Free Help with Your Gardening Questions -The Cooperative Extension Service

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

There can be so many technical questions to ask about your yard and garden, your plants and trees, and your soil and water, but you donâ??t know who to go to for the answers or your budget canâ??t afford a private horticulturist or technician.  Fortunately, you can find answers available through the Cooperative Extension Service.  The Cooperative Extension system is associated with every state land-grant university and is a network of local or regional offices which are staffed by one or more experts-Extension Agents-who can provide answers to lawn and garden technical questions.  Their expertise can provide practical, useful and research-based information. 

Cooperative Extension Agents provide teaching, research and informational services to the public regarding many aspects of plant horticulture, plant physiology, entomology, soil science, botany, and fertilizer and pesticides.  They are available to answer questions, provide diagnosis, and provide training and information based on the local area based on years of experience and research.  Best of all, they are accessible either in your local or regional area and generally provide their services for free or for a minimal fee.

Areas of technical expertise provided by the Cooperative Extension Service include gardening, fruits and vegetables, trees, bees, lawns, plant health, insects and pesticides, soil sampling and fertilizer, water quality and plant disease.  A few examples of the services that are provided include: 

Every lawn and garden has different care requirements to grow the healthiest and 
most productive plants.  Generally, this begins with a soil sample to determine the type of soil, the fertilizer requirements, and the water usage needed.  An Extension Agent can instruct in how to properly collect a soil sample and then assist in getting the sample tested.  From the information received, they can further advise on the types of soil nutrients needed and the best type of application to use.     Plants and trees can be susceptible to insects and diseases which can be difficult to 
diagnose.  The result of infection  or infestation is a plant that does not produce, does not look healthy or dies.  An Extension Agent is trained to analyze the insect or disease and give instruction for the best type of treatment.  The Cooperative Extension Serviceâ??s is especially helpful when insects or diseases are new to an area because of their continuing study and research in this area.  For gardening enthusiasts, many Cooperative Extension Services have a Master Gardener Program.  This program provides extensive classroom training in horticulture, entomology, soil science, botany, plant pathology and pesticide safety.  In exchange for this training, the Master Gardener agrees to further volunteer their time to the community using the knowledge they have gained.  This program provides valuable training and is very rewarding.  

 

To grow a yard and garden that is beautiful and enjoyable requires the gardener to have a wide range of technical knowledge.  This knowledge would cover all aspects of plants and plant growth, plant nutrition, insects and disease and general plant care.  To gain this knowledge can require dedication and time.  We are fortunate to have experts to assist us who are trained and available to the public without requiring a costly investment on our part.  Generally, the only charge is for materials and outside services, i.e. sampling or lab fees.  If you have questions about your yard or garden, consider contacting your local or regional Cooperative Extension Service-they are available to help you.

   

Indoor Vegetable Gardening – Try Planting Vegetable Gardens Indoors!

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

Indoor vegetable gardening sounds a little crazy to some, but if you love the fresh taste of wholesome vegetables, then you will love picking them from your own garden, even if it’s inside. Many people don’t have the luxury of a backyard, but following a few garden-wise guidelines will provide you with many years of successful indoor vegetables.

Choose the Right Vegetables

As with all plants that have different requirements, indoor vegetable gardening plants’ biggest restriction is available light and space. Fruit bearing plants, for instance, require a great deal of sunlight, while salad greens like miniature cabbages, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard do quite well indoors, because they require less light.

Since you need containers large enough for the full growth of plants, the size of the pots need to determine the plants you choose. Onions, radishes and small root carrots are great choices for this environment. Another popular choice is herbs because of their compactness. Many vegetables like peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes come in miniature varieties that, with proper care, will thrive indoors.

Find the Best Place for Growing

To repeat an earlier point, good lighting is essential for indoor vegetable gardening. A window that is facing south is your best bet, but any area that gets at least 5 hours of constant sunlight can be used. In addition to natural light, you can even set up supplemental artificial lighting for growing healthy plants, in addition to available natural light.

Another important factor that you must think about is traffic flow. In general, vegetables bruise easily, so fairly quiet areas are best, so as to minimize accidental human contact. It would certainly be wise to place your garden well out of reach of pets and small children, and you might consider locating your plants close to gardening tools for easy clean-up in case things get messy.

Make the Most of the Microclimate

Moderate temperatures and high humidity provide the best environment for growing plants. Indoor vegetable gardening will often suffer from low humidity and this is an area that has to be addressed. Plants grown in containers will require much more water, because they dry out faster than other plants. However, root rot is caused if plants become waterlogged. This can be prevented by placing gravel in a dish at the bottom of the container, to provide for good drainage. This serves a dual purpose by also providing improved humidity as the water evaporates from the dish. Grouping plants together is another great way that your microclimate can be optimized. Mixing decorative houseplants with your vegetables creates groupings that are both functional and beautiful. Of course, controlling the temperature inside your house is as easy as drawing the curtains to provide more shade. Be careful, however, to protect your plants from drafts.

Good Potting Soil is Important

Potting soil that drains well and contains the nutrients required for good development and growth is essential. Premixed potting soil can be purchased that already has the proper amount of fertilizer. You can even get organic potting soils from your local gardening center, if you prefer to go organic. Always add nutrients with care, as buildup of fertilizer is a common problem in container plants.

Growing plants indoors can be extremely rewarding, so don’t be afraid to try it. By following these guidelines, you may have enough produce to give as gifts to friends and family, and they will be surprised and delighted when they find it was done through indoor vegetable gardening.

Tomato Pest and Diseases–preventing, Diagnosing, Treating

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

Tomatoes are notoriously picky plants. Tomatoes are in the potato family, which makes them susceptible to tens, if not hundreds of pest and disease problems; however, that should not stop any tomato loving gardener from harvesting buckets of healthy tomatoes. The key is to learn how to prevent, diagnose and treat tomato problems.

Tomato Disease Prevention

Disease prevention in tomato plants starts with healthy growing practices. Preparing the soil, watering properly, and feeding appropriately are all keys to tomato disease prevention. Tomatoes like a well draining soil filled with lots of organic matter. Tomato roots penetrate deeply into the soil, helping to stabilize plants and take up water. With well-prepared soil, watering deeply and infrequently—every 4-6 days, will allow the tomato plant to have enough water, without putting the plant at risk of problems of overly “wet feet.” Always water in the morning, so plant leaves have time to dry during the day. Leaves are a perfect spot for disease incubation, and water ripens those conditions even more. Prune your plants to provide air flow through the leaves and branches, which will also aid drying time. Ensure that your tomato plants receive proper nutrition by conducting a soil test, and treating the soil according to the results. All of these practices will give your plants a good start fighting off diseases and pests.

Diagnosing Tomato Pests and Diseases

If all of your well-intentioned cultivation practices have not stopped your plants from succumbing to a problem, then you must diagnose the problem. Tomatoes can suffer from pest problems, nutrition problems, viral, bacterial and fungal problems.

Pest damage to tomato plants causes visible physical changes. Cutworms actually cut off the plant from its root system, causing the plant to wilt and die. Aphid damage results in sticky residue on the plant. Aside from the damage they inflict, you can often see the pest itself on the plant. Caterpillars bury into fruit and eat it, causing fruit to rot. Whiteflies and spider mites are visible on the leaves. Diagnosing pest problems is easier than other problems because most pests can be observed on the plant.

Nutrition problems in tomato plants manifest in several areas of the plant. Tomatoes absorb a wide variety of nutrients, minerals and trace elements from garden soil. Deficiencies in each nutrient result in specific symptoms in the plant. Excess nitrogen causes deep green, lush, leafy plants with little fruit. Nitrogen deficiency causes yellowing of lower leaves. Calcium deficiency causes blossom end rot, a common problem on tomato fruit characterized by yellow, leathery spots that spread into black, rotting patches on the blossom end of the fruit. (The end away from the stem.) Nutrition problems can be seasonal, or soil related. A soil test helps determine what nutrients are lacking in the soil. If all nutrients are in the soil, factors such as overly wet or cold soil can make it more difficult for plants to absorb nutrients.

Viruses, bacteria and fungus all cause tomato diseases and problems. Wilts, damping off, leaf spots, mildew, fruit rot, cankers, and leaf mosaic problems are all common tomato problems caused by a cocktail of tiny organisms. Each problem shows in the tomato in different ways. Leaf mosaic viruses show up in leaves, causing mosaic-like patterns. Cankers are growths on stems, leaves or fruit. Root rot often shows up in the leaves of the plant, as they shrivel and die from not having enough water. For a comprehensive, pictorial guide on diagnosing tomato plant pests and diseases, consult How to Grow Tasty Juicy Tomatoes (available from www.bestjuicytomatoes.com).

Treating Tomato Pest and Disease Problems

The phrase: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies to tomato growing. As earlier related, properly caring for tomato plants and their soil prevents many problems. However, should your plants fall prey to a problem, there are many ways to treat.

First, correctly diagnose the problem. Once diagnosis is certain, follow procedures related to the particular problem. Many plant problems can be alleviated by changing gardening techniques. Plants that are stressed are more susceptible to pest and disease problems. Examine watering, mulching, and feeding practices. If those techniques are in balance, many pest and disease problems will go away. Nutrition deficiencies may be corrected by adding correct nutrients to the soil in easily accessible forms. Some nutrients are best delivered as leaf or soil drenches, while others work well in time-release granular applications. Pest problems can be corrected with beneficial insects, changes in gardening techniques, and insecticides-both synthetic and organic. Viral, bacterial and fungal problems can also be treated with a combination of gardening techniques and soil and plant drenches and sprays. Safety is an important consideration when applying any sort of pesticide. Read the label carefully and follow all directions. More is not better when pesticides are concerned.

While all of this information can seem daunting, tomato growing is a rewarding hobby. Keep a good reference on hand, and whenever your plants are under the weather, open the book and identify the problem. How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes contains over 260 colored photos of diseases, pests and common nutrition deficiencies and is a must-have for any top-notch tomato grower!

Get Started Growing your Own Fruit and Vegetables

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

When to start? In the past allotments traditionally changed hands on September 29th which is the set date for paying agricultural rents. Autumn is the ideal period to take over a plot. It gives you the time to prepare for the following year, often in reasonable weather. Many allotment sites use the calendar year, or start at other times- but it’s worth contacting them at any time of the year to see if they have any vacancies, or a waiting list.

The key to long-term success with an allotment is to be realistic about how much you can tackle. Take things slowly planning to do less than the maximum. It will take several years to get things as you would like them. The whole point about allotmenting is that it should be recreational, fun even, for everyone involved. It shouldn’t be a chore- and it doesn’t have to be a competition with your neighbour!

Tools and Equipment. If you don’t already have a collection of gardening tools, take time to choose what you need for the allotment. Always handle a tool before purchase so you know that you are comfortable with it. Handle length is crucial for spades, folks, hoes and rakes. Look out for longer or shorter handles if necessary.

If you are tall, buy a rake or hoe head on its own, then fit a longer handle. Weight is also important- remember that a spade will be loaded with soil when in use, so don’t buy one that feels heavy when you pick it up empty. A boarder spade or folk, which has a smaller head, is often a good choice. You will be able to keep working longer if each spade is not an effort. If possible try out other peoples tools on the ground first. When buying tools children, make sure that they are designed for proper use, nit just as toys.

Second hand tools are often available through ads in the papers or at car boot sales. They will generally work as well as new ones at a fraction of the price.

As many allotment plots are infected with soil Bourne pests and diseases, it can pay to have a separate allotment tools to prevent disease going into your garden soil

Grow your own fruit and vegetables

February 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

My relationship with growing vegetables is a bit varied to say the least. My first attempt at an allotment wasn’t bad albeit I was 11 years old and way too focussed on potatoes but the second attempt failed when in clearing the ground we found a small motor boat buried on the plot and I just didn’t have the energy to pursue my vision of Eden in Merton Park.

But I’ve got the bug again and, unfortunately for me, so has everyone else. Indeed a combination of higher food prices, a demand for organic produce and an aim to reduce food miles have all combined to make allotments hugely in demand. Some local authorities have closed their waiting lists whereas in cities like Edinburgh you have a 10 year wait and I’m told that in one London Borough it’s a 40 year wait. The National Trust have just announced that they are making space available for 1000 community allotments at its historic gardens and there are schemes where budding gardeners can link up with people with too much garden and not enough time to garden.

But what do you do if you can’t get onto an allotment waiting list, live way to far away from a National Trust garden or just don’t want to take on a large allotment? If you desire just to be able to supplement your fruit and veg with some home-grown produce what’s the quickest way to get up and running this year? Here are my top tips.

Find a space
The first decision to make is to find a space in your garden, on your balcony, on your windowsill. Wherever you choose just make sure your plot has some good light and sun through the day. You really can grow in the smallest of areas but you need to make the plants accessible. One of the best ways is to create some raised beds, even some walls made from planks will help because it contains all that great soil and makes for a tidier patch that will keep you interested. I’ve often used old apple crates as planters but find that wooden boxes that once contained wine bottles will only last one season. There are also some great potato planters available at garden centres and even regular planters help contain herbs so that you can adjust their location according to the season.

Get the soil right
Having raised beds means it easier to get the soil right. A good loamy soil is what you are aiming for and in my experience most London gardens have this to start with. Add plenty of good compost and feed your plants regularly (just check the seed packet for advice). Get a compost heap started so that next year you’re recycling all that goodness back into your veg.

Get the kids involved
We constantly hear about children not eating healthily, well growing food is one of the best ways of getting them to have their five a day. If they are actively involved in growing easy things like carrots and lettuce then they are more likely to eat them. Add a few sunflowers for the seeds and plant marigolds and nasturtium that also grow fast and can be added to salads.

Prioritise your planting
If what concerns you most is the price of veg then concentrate on growing the more expensive food items that you like. Just a few large pots for growing your own herbs and a patch to grow things like aubergines, courgettes, cherry tomatoes and salad leaves. You’ll save a fortune! Added to this have you noticed where all your veg comes from? If you plan wisely you can grow your own food and save on all those food miles.

Time-saving fruit trees
If you’re always busy and don’t see much hope of being able to tend a vegetable plot every few days then maybe you should consider putting in some fruit trees and fruit bushes. The smallest garden can benefit from an apple tree and as well as your standard tree there are options for espaliers that grow against a wall and ballerina trees that do not spread their branches widely. There are a few rules when buying apples about fertilisation so ask when you visit the nursery or buy a self-fertile variety. Don’t forget you can also plant those fruit trees that cost a lot in the supermarket such as pears, cherries and even peaches and apricots for really sunny walls. How about a fig tree or set yourself up with a small fruit cage and plant raspberries and gooseberries?

It really is pretty easy to get started growing your own and you’ll get an immense feeling of achievement from your first crop of tomatoes or the first humble leek next winter.

Andrew Fisher Tomlin designs gardens across London. For more information about what he can do for your London garden click here

 

Eat Green! How to Grow Your Own Organic Fruit and Vegetables

February 20, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

Organic gardening differs from “conventional” gardening mainly in the areas of fertilization and pest control. Organic gardening is planting without chemical fertilizers and naturally building the soil to support healthy plant life. People are increasingly aware that organic food is better for the environment. This primer of organic gardening will help you get started in this fun, healthy hobby.


The main thing to remember is that organic gardening is not only about pesticide use and the soil that your garden grows in. The goal is to create an ecosystem in your back yard where every part is respected and in good shape. Robust plants can better defend themselves against pests and diseases.


Soil Is the Source of Life


The soil is the source of life for plants. Indeed, one of the problems with chemical gardening is that it sterilizes the soil and steals the life from it. Organic soil is living, and has lots of living matter in it. It is from this wellspring of life that plants create the nutrients you will eat.


At the beginning and end of every growing season, the organic gardener works the soil by adding natural garden fertilizers to enrich the soil and replace nutrients that the plants have used. You can use animal-based organic fertilizers and plant-based organic fertilizers or any combination of both. You want to add bulk to the soil along with nutrients.


Animal-Based Organic Fertilizer


Animal-based organic garden fertilizer can be reduced to one word: manure. Cow manure, chicken manure, fish emulsion and bat guano are most usually used, but you can additionally use horse and rabbit manure. Use solid animal-based fertilizers to dig into the soil, and make “manure tea” to use when transplanting seedlings.


There are some safety issues to recognize when using animal manure. All manure should be aged or composted before using it as an organic garden fertilizer to remove E. coli and other potentially troublesome pathogens. As well, you cannot use manure from humans or predator animals, such as cats. Their digestive systems contain bacteria that are pathogenic to humans, and the bacteria can get into or on food grown in soil fertilized with their feces.


Plant-Based Organic Fertilizer


Compost, seaweed, worm castings and green manure are the most standard plant-based organic garden fertilizers. Seaweed and kelp are usually purchased as dried and processed organic garden fertilizer.


Green manure is planted as a cover crop, normally in the fall after harvest. Plant a nitrogen-fixing crop, such as soybeans, and the symbiotic bacteria in the roots will add nitrogen to your soil. Then, when the cover crop emerges in the spring, dig it into the ground, and allow the plants to decompose and enrich the soil.


Compost


Far and away the most common plant-based organic fertilizer is compost. Compost is an excellent way to recycle vegetable matter. There are many theories on composting, and you can learn how to do it from community workshops, books, or other experts. Fundamentally, however, compost is not hard to make. You just save all your vegetable scraps, garden wastes, remains of plants, grass clippings, dried leaves and other vegetable matter and let it decompose. A hot compost heap that is turned frequently (so that it gets air into it) will make compost in a matter of weeks. A compost heap decomposes faster if it generates heat, and it needs to be at least three cubic feet to get good and hot. If your compost pile isn’t that big or doesn’t get very warm, or you don’t turn it, don’t despair, it will still make good compost. You can just throw your vegetable waste in a pile and leave it. If it sits for a long time, like a year, it will compost by itself.


A worm box is an alternative to a compost-pile. Worm castings are very rich in nutrients. To create worm castings, start with the right kind of worms, which you can get from any organic gardening source. Place them in a covered tub of some kind with your slightly damp vegetable matter. The worms do all the work, and you get rich organic garden fertilizer at almost no cost. Either read about how to set up a worm compost system, or you can buy a kit at your garden center. Remember to add earthworms to the soil too, as they create natural fertilizers in the soil and provide aeration.


Add natural fertilizers such as these to the soil at least twice a year and dig them into the top six inches of soil. You’ll have rich, dark, productive soil within a couple of years–even if you started out with sterile, gray, chemically treated dirt.


Water Is a Necessity of Life


All living organisms need water. It is important for the health of your plants to give them enough water to thrive. However, indiscriminate water use wastes water and washes away the soil. Watering where it is not needed encourages weeds. Water when the sun is low, early in the morning or in the evening to cut down on evaporation. It is important that the water gets to the roots of the plants without running off and taking valuable soil with it, so add water slowly and let it soak in. Use a soaker hose to water only your garden plants and nowhere else. If a soaker hose (or irrigation system) is not a choice for you, dig a shallow well around the base of each plant and fill it up and let the water soak in. Use a mulch around plants to conserve water and to prevent rain from eroding your fertile garden soil.


Don’t Let Weeds Rob Your Garden Plants


Only your cherished plants should get the advantage of the rich soil and water you provide. Therefore, it is necessary to take out all the other plants which find your garden a great place to live. That is, it is important to weed your organic garden. In the mid-twentieth century, at the height of chemical use in gardening, it became usual to spray herbicides on the soil to control weeds. But now we understand how damaging such chemical use is to the environment. Pulling out weeds by hand is neither hard nor particularly time consuming. Your organic garden is a beautiful place to spend time, why not spend it taking out the weeds that compete with your plants.


Here are the basics of weed-control. Firstly, make sure you get rid of weeds before they go to seed. Weeds routinely produce thousands of seeds in a short period of time. If there are patches of weeds growing at the periphery of your garden, make sure to mow them before they spread seeds. Second, when pulling weeds by hand make sure to pull out the roots so the plant doesn’t grow right back. Use a trowel to dig out deep-rooted weeds. Third, use mulch as a barrier to weed growth. Organic mulch will also help maintain moisture and add organic material to the soil. You can cover the entire area with plastic during the winter season to kill off weed seeds.


Control Pests without Harmful Pesticides


Pest-control is probably the biggest issue facing organic gardeners. Chemically-based pesticides are some of the most toxic substances to have on your food or polluting the environment. How, then, do you keep ravenous bugs like Japanese beetles from destroying your produce? In organic gardening you begin with the least toxic intervention and proceed from there.


Pest Prevention


The first step is to plant wisely. Remember that healthy plants will need less help from you with fighting pests, so make sure that your plants are well-fed and have adequate water. Also, use companion planting and crop rotation to discourage pests before they arrive. Some plants keep bugs away and planting them next to your tasty plants is a good idea. Garlic, onions and marigolds are commonly used to repel bugs. Plant them in a border around your garden and between your garden plants. Crop rotation is the method of planting a different crop in a given area of your garden each year. Where you put tomatoes this year put squash or corn in the next year. Crop rotation is especially helpful in preventing plant diseases.


Non-toxic Pest Controls


The next step is to remove pests when you find them. Remember that not all bugs are pests. In fact, a number of bugs are your helpers in pest control, but the wholesale use of toxic pesticides eliminates the predatory bugs as well as the harmful ones. It is important to be able to identify the good bugs and the bad bugs. Go out early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cool, and remove any tomato hookworms, potato bugs, Japanese beetles, slugs or other harmful insects that you find. Squash them, or carry a bucket of soapy water to drown them. Better yet, feed them to your chickens. The most efficient way to remove small bugs such as aphids and mites is to spray the plants with the hose, using a strong stream of water to wash the insects off.


Physical barriers are another non-toxic method of organic pest control. They prevent pests from getting access to your plants. Some examples of barriers are to cut the top and bottom out of coffee cans and push them into the soil around tender young plants to keep cutworms away, or use fine netting to cover your plants to protect them from grasshoppers or birds.


Predatory Insects


One of the biggest defenses against pests are other bugs. Bugs that eat other bugs are a fantastic organic gardening pest control. Ladybugs, praying mantises, and lacewings are all beneficial insects. You can buy them at the garden store and release them into your garden. These predatory insects control aphids, mites and many other pests. Most spiders are bug-eaters, too, so let spiders work for you.


Using Organic Pesticides


If you are using these non-toxic pest controls and you are still faced with an overwhelming pest invasion, the last resort is to use organic pesticides. They are routinely made from plant derivatives or minerals. These natural pesticides are certified for use in natural farming and are far less dangerous than synthetic pesticides, but they are still toxic. It is important that you determine how harmful the insect pests are; you may elect to live with them rather than use something that is organic, but more toxic than you want to expose your food to.


Insecticidal soap is quite safe for food plants and the environment and works well to get rid of garden pests. Buy it at your garden supply store, or make your own by adding a few drops of liquid dish soap to a cup of water. Spray it on the plants, and then rinse off. This works great on aphids and thrips.


You can usually tell how toxic an organic pest control is by checking for a warning label. If there is no warning on the label, the substance is probably non-toxic. If the label says, “caution,” it is mildly toxic. “Warning” on the label means it is moderately toxic, and “danger” means the substance is very toxic. Organic gardening pest controls rarely have a “danger” warning on them. It is very important to apply organic pest control products exactly as the label directs. These products can be dangerous, so they must be used correctly to minimize everybody’s exposure to toxic pesticides.


For More Information


If you want to get started on your organic garden, you’ll find an abundance of help. Look for gardening clubs or workshops in your community; gardeners are always eager to give advice. Additionally, there are countless books, magazines and web sites. You can also look up your local Cooperative Extension Office, which offers advice in cooperation with local universities. Like all living processes, there is a rhythm to organic gardening. You don’t do everything at once. Begin slowly and learn as you go.

Hydroponics Gardening for Organic Vegetables – hydroponics supplies and system over soil grown plants

February 20, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under Gardening Ideas

hydroponic plants receive all the nutrients they need for growing and fruiting from the growing liquid with all the nutrients dissolved in it. Hydroponic nutrients are available in great variety at specialized hydroponic stores. By the way, both chemical nutrients and organic nutrients can be used for the needs of hydroponic gardening. The only thing to remember is that organic fertilizers require more skills, time, and attention to use them effectively.

Hydroponic gardening allows anyone to grow organic vegetables, fruits, and flowers. A little research, learning and training, combined with enthusiasm, will soon bring the first success in hydroponics to you.

Today, there are many ready-made hydroponic systems available on the market. They are not too expensive, but such systems can really help to make an easy start in hydroponic gardening. For the beginning gardeners it is even recommended to choose simple inexpensive hydroponic systems – they are enough to give you the necessary experience. Of course, you can always build you own system to suit all your particular growing conditions and requirements, when you have enough experience and understanding of how hydroponic system works.

If organized properly, hydroponics gardening can even be easier than traditional plants growing. For example, with hydroponic system it is much easier and less time-consuming to test and maintain the necessary pH level in comparison to the regular soil gardening, where even the pH level testing can be a very challenging task, not speaking about maintaining it on the required steady level.  

After all, it is necessary to remember, that in spite of the fact that hydroponics differs significantly from traditional gardening, it is nothing but an alternative approach to grow the same fresh, tasty, and healthy food. Just spend some time to research the topic, evaluate all the benefits of hydroponic gardening – and you will see that there are many advantages offered by hydroponics. Growing healthy organic vegetables without polluting and exhausting fertile soils is definitely one of them.

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