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GROWEROLOGY BLOG

7 Benefits of Hydroponics That You Should Know

7 Benefits of Hydroponics That You Should Know

If you are like me, you know very little about hydroponics except that water is involved and so are plants. 

I have since learned that although there is an initial learning curve, the benefits of growing your plants hydroponically make the endeavor well worth it.

Growing up and I was familiar with seeing plants growing in the soil of our garden. I thought this was the only way growing was done. 

My own small garden depends on the compost that I add on a regular basis and the removal of weeds that I do on a less regular basis.

Having seen hydroponic systems, it seems to me that this is the way to go. 

The way hydroponic systems work is that they utilize mineral nutrient solutions in water to grow plants. 

Water takes the place of soil. Who knew? 

The thought of this being possible is counterintuitive at first. Plants always grow in the ground, and you always put ketchup on hot dogs (sorry Chicago!).

There are many reasons to start a hydroponics garden. 

We know the importance of eating fresh, healthy food. 

When you grow it yourself, you have complete control and know the quality.

If you decide to try growing vegetables with a hydroponic system, these Heavy Duty Mesh Pots will be valuable in getting you started. 

And if you do give it a try, you won't be the only one. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been researching how hydroponics in space will benefit exploration or even colonization.

Once I took a dive into the matter, I found many good reasons why growing hydroponically makes sense. Here are seven of them:

See if you agree:

Scientifically, Hydroponics Is The Way To Go

Because hydroponics use closed, recirculating systems, you have complete control over the nutrient solution and know exactly what your plants are being fed. 

Depending on the plants that you're growing, you can specially design a nutrient formula for them. 

Based on what stage your plants are in, growing, flowering, or vegetative stages, you can tailor the nutrients to what the plants need. 

As you can control these nutrients, your plants will be healthier, and you will get higher yields than those grown traditionally in the ground. 

Healthy plants are also naturally more pest-resistant than plants that don't receive optimum nutrition.

No soil, no problem!

Benefits of Hydroponics

When you eliminate soil from the equation for growing, you also eliminate some of the problems that soil can bring. 

Soil-borne pests and diseases are non-existent. When you don't have soil, you don't need to use large amounts of pesticides. 

When you have a traditional type of soil-grown garden, any pesticide that is used can end up being carried by rainwater into a runoff that enters rivers and streams, harming fish populations. 

Even if your garden is not near a water source, pesticides contribute to soil erosion. 

The chemicals in pesticides will increase the soil's alkalinity or acidity, thus degrading the soil quality. In turn, this causes soil erosion. 

With hydroponics, there is no soil, no erosion, and less pollution.

No soil also means no pulling weeds!

Like all gardeners, there is a lot of work associated with creating and maintaining a garden. 

To start, the soil needs to be tilled before planting. 

Once the soil is readied after tilling, needed nutrients like compost must be added to the soil and tilled again to distribute them evenly. 

Then comes the planting of the various crops. Weeds need to be controlled so that they do not take the necessary nutrients from the crops. 

There is also the watering of the garden essential to the plants' growth if Mother Nature doesn't lend you a hand. 

Your garden growing in the soil is like a 24-hour delicatessen for bunnies and other critters who appreciate your effort. 

Gardens are beautiful things but also come with back-breaking work. Hydroponics requires no tilling, no weeding and no bending over to tend to the plants.

In addition, the footprint that a hydroponics system takes in comparison to a traditional garden for the same result is fractional. 

With hydroponics, you can set the system up to grow plants vertically. Crops can be grown in almost any area. 

Those with limited soil, snow-capped soil, in the corner of your back or front yard, or even a shed. 

You would be able to grow your own food all year long regardless of the weather.

Conserve and Sustain

Benefits of Hydroponics

Hallmarks of the hydroponics method, conservation and sustainability help you as the grower and the planet as a whole. 

The nutrient solutions that are used in the hydroponic system are recycled in recirculating systems. 

Those solutions can be used for house plants or lawns. Some of the growing media used in these systems can be sterilized and reused in potted plants or soil gardens. 

This reduces the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill.

Another way hydroponics conserves and sustains is with water. 

It may seem like growing plants in water would use more, but it uses substantially less. 

Water is one of the earth’s most precious and necessary resources. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) feels that by 2025, half of the world's population will live in water-stressed areas. 

Because a hydroponics growing system is controlled and the water is always circulating, much less water is used than traditional gardens. 

There is no leaching and no runoff or evaporation. You will be protecting one of our most valuable resources when you grow hydroponically.

Hydroponic gardens produce higher yields

Plants that are grown in a hydroponics system produce higher yields because they have a shorter growing cycle. 

You could have a smaller garden than your regular soil garden, and it will produce more. 

In a hydroponics system, you have the right nutrients and the perfect light. You have eliminated pests, lousy weather, and bunnies. 

Plants mature about 25% faster and can have an increase in yield of 30%. 

Leafy greens such as spinach, swiss chard, and watercress can be ready in a little over a month. 

Head lettuce will be available in six to eight weeks. 

Others, like romaine, bibb, and buttercrunch, can grow to harvest in as little as three weeks.

Automation is your friend

One of the beauties about a hydroponics system besides the vegetable you grow, is that you can automate much of the system. 

Water pumps, essential to hydroponic systems, can be set on timers to circulate water to the parts of the system where plants are located. 

LED lights can be programmable and the technology for these lights has made huge strides in recent years. 

You can also configure your lighting to come on when the sun goes down. 

You can regulate the temperature in your growing area as needed. 

Once you are set up and ready to go, tending to a hydroponics garden is less labor-intensive than a soil garden.

Hydroponics maximizes space

Benefits of Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems can be set up almost anywhere. 

Even if you live in an area where the soil conditions are not conducive to growing, a hydroponic system will work. 

These systems do not depend on external conditions like sun, rain, and temperature. 

Well suited to urban environments where space is tight, and areas of cultivated soil are scarce, a hydroponics system would be a viable option. 

You can grow a more significant number of plants in a hydroponic garden than outside in a field.

In Conclusion

Hydroponics is a rewarding way to grow your healthy food. You have so much more control over the finished product, and your growing season is year-round.

 

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Plant Signs: What Leaves Can Tell You About A Plant’s Health

Plant Signs: What Leaves Can Tell You About A Plant’s Health

The leaves on a plant are like a barometer. They can tell you what is happening to the plant. If you look regularly, you will be able to tell when your plant needs help and come to the rescue.

The leaves on a plant are also like the food factory for a plant. Leaves use the sun to make their food. Leaves use the chemical called chlorophyll to capture energy from the sun. 

They then use that energy to combine with water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air. With those elements, the plant makes sugar. 

This process is called photosynthesis and shows you how vital the healthy leaves on a plant are.

If conditions disrupt this process, the leaves on a plant will show it. Here are some signs to watch for:

To Much Water

Check the soil your plants are in regularly. It will not harm the plant to push your finger down into the soil an inch or two to see how moist the soil is. 

If the soil is moist, then there is no need to water. You can also purchase an inexpensive moisture meter. 

The meter is inserted into the root ball of the plant and will tell you how much water is in the soil.  If you use a meter, it will eliminate any guesswork on your part.

Wilting:

Just as not enough water will adversely affect a plant, so too will too much water. 

If the leaves on your plant are wilting, but the plant has plenty of water, then it may be drowning. 

Not only do the roots of your plant take up water, but they also take up oxygen from the soil. 

If the soil is so wet that there are no air pockets, the plant cannot take up oxygen, and you will see the leaves wilting.

Leaves Turn Brown and Wilt:

If you have overwatered your plants, the leaves will turn brown and feel soft and limp in your hand.

Edma:

When the roots of a plant absorb more water than they can use, the pressure of the water begins to build up in cells that are in the leaves of the plant. 

These overloaded cells will burst and form blisters that look like lesions. When the blisters erupt, warty type growths form where the blisters were. 

Yellow Leaves: 

Yellow leaves are another symptom of overwatering that is readily seen in the leaves of the plant.

Leafs Falling Off:

Leaves falling off of a plant will indicate both too much and too little water. If young and old leaves are falling off and there are no buds opening, then this is a sign of too much water.

Tips Of Leaves Turn Brown:

Usually, the first sign of overwatering, when the tips of the leaves turn brown, is a sure sign of overwatering.

Leaves Turn Yellow

When the leaves on a plant turn yellow, it signals that the plant is under stress. There are several reasons why this might happen, and we will explore them below.

Moisture Stress

This can be from either over or under-watering. Yellow leaves can signal under watering, so check the soil in the pot to see if it is dry. 

Put the pot (that has drainage holes) on a dish so that the plant can recollect any water that overflows. 

That way, the plant can absorb any water it was able to the first time. If you have checked the soil, it is wet; you need to water the plant less frequently.

Not Enough Light

A plant's leaves will turn yellow if it does not get enough light. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. If your plant is in low-light situations all the time, the photosynthesis rate will decrease. Try moving your plant to an area where it will receive more indirect sunlight.

Temperature

The leaves on a plant are sensitive to heat and cold, and the temperature can affect the leaves. 

Cold drafts on a tropical plant will result in the leaves turning yellow. When exposed to heat or air conditioning drafts, leaves can turn brown. 

Try to position plants where they will not be in the direct path of these types of drafts.

Nutrients

Just as you do, plants need nutrients to stay healthy and grow. Plants use water to carry moisture and nutrients back and forth between the roots and the leaves. 

Nutrients are usually taken up through the roots from the soil. The essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Each one of these nutrients plays its role. Nitrogen helps to make green leaves. Phosphorus helps make strong roots and blossoms on flowering plants. 

Potassium is essential in helping the plant fight off disease. Know too, that different plants require nutrients in varying amounts. 

If you choose to fertilize your plants, consult with your local nursery to determine what is best for each plant type.

a. Yellow Leaves

This can signal that your plant is not getting enough of the nutrients that it needs. 

It can also be caused if you are using hard water, as the calcium in the water will cause the leaves to turn yellow. 

It can also be a sign of nitrogen deficiency. In this case, you will see that the plant’s top leaves will be the first to go yellow.

b. Dark Green Leaves Turned Downward

This could be a sign of overfeeding. It signals that the plant is trying to process too many nutrients. 

If this is happening to the leaves on our plant, cut back on the solution that you are feeding the plant and see if the plant improves. 

c. Leaves Curl Upward

The opposite of leaves turning downward, this can indicate that the plant is missing a needed nutrient.  

If potassium is needed, older leaves will curl upward and turn yellow. If calcium is needed, younger leaves will curl upward and become stiff. 

A blue hue along the edge of the leaves that curl upward will indicate that the soil's copper levels are too low. In these cases, an all-purpose fertilizer will provide emergency nutrients for your plant. 

d. Leaf Color

Plant leaves will tell you a lot about the plant's condition in the color that they display. 

If you see a yellow-green color on the older leaves of the plant in the area of the tips and center vein, it could indicate a nitrogen deficiency.

 Leaves that are dying at the tips and have purplish or dark green hue signals that the plant needs phosphorus.

In Conclusion

Plants help us, humans, in lots of ways. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that plants filter out some of the harmful compounds in the air and make the air healthier to breathe. 

They can filter pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene. Besides cleaning the air, they act as humidifiers in whatever room they are located. 

By checking your plant's leaves regularly, you will be able to tell if your plant needs a little help from you

 

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Urban Gardening 101

Urban Gardening 101

Urban gardening is a byproduct of accelerated urbanization. City dwellers who love growing make do with the limited space available, which leads to gardening on rooftops, patios, alleyways, or whatever little space they can find. If you are going through the same dilemma of aspiring to plant but not having the luxury of space, we have listed below some helpful tips to get you started on growing your garden.

Space

If horizontal space is an issue, you can start planting upwards! Maximize your wall spaces,  like balconies, by hanging small pots, jars. You can use other containers that you can use as an artistic alternative to regular plant pots. This kind of method solves several problems at once; if you have dogs who can access your plants and sometimes unintentionally damage your garden, or your rental is not allowing you to dig through the grass area.

You can start a little urban garden with a few imaginative approaches. There are several varieties of vertical garden structures, here are a few ideas to inspire your creativity:

a. Gutter garden 

You can fix gutters on the wall and then put plants in them. Stack one on top of another while maintaining 6 inches to 12 inches distance in between, depending on the size of the plant you are growing. Align the gutters in a zig-zag pattern so that when watering the top gutter, it will drain the water from one row to the next.

b. Wall garden 

Secure small containers that will serve as pots on your wall. Choose pots that are not too heavy for the wall. You can also attach creeper plants to the wall and enjoy naturally beautiful drapes on your balcony as they thrive.

Serving a variety of purposes, this wall hanging planting bag comes in numerous sizes. Choose the size that will be perfect for a colorful display of flowering plants on your balcony or patio! Or use to store your gardening tools to keep them clean and at the ready. 

c. Hang baskets

If you are hesitant in drilling holes to secure pots unto your walls, you can hang baskets over your fence or a post, and you can even hook the baskets to your ceiling. Just as with a wall garden keep your plant baskets from getting too heavy.

Location

It is vital to determine where you will situate your garden before you set it. If you do it right the first time, you will not have to relocate it. Here are some of the things you must consider:

a. Light

Ordinarily, plants need between six to eight hours of sunlight every day. It is best to find the spot where sunlight will be available for that amount of time. If the area that you have for plants does not get that amount of sunlight, look for plants that require little to no sunlight. Thyme and lemon balm are two plants that do not need lots of sunshine. For shady areas, ferns, amaryllis bulbs, lucky bamboo, and peace lily grow wonderfully.

b. Avoid too much wind

If plants are located in windy areas, they can easily get dried out very quickly. If you are living in a windy area, you might want to position your plants where the larger plants provide shelter to the smaller ones. Plus, when their pots are placed together, humidity is increased and chances for the plants thriving is much higher.

c. Patio  

Before you get started on your patio garden, it’s essential to understand how much sun your patio receives.

If your patio receives little light, opt for plants that thrive in the shade, such as hostas and salad greens. If your patio receives more light, you'll have a wider variety of patio garden plants that you can grow. As you arrange them, position the full sun plants in a way it can overshadow the shade plants.

Plan Your Plant

Space for urban spaces for gardening can be limited. When planning a garden in a small space, choose the type of plants that will do well in a small area.  You might want to try space-friendly plants like cherry tomatoes, chilis, Japanese eggplants, and other crops that have smaller produce.

Growing herbs are ideal in confined environments. All you need to do is place them on your kitchen windowsill and they will thrive nicely.

Group The Plants

A tight area might compel you in putting all the plants in one spot, but we must be wary of grouping them right. We do not want our plants to fight or choke each other in an attempt to get the nutrients they need. By knowing which plants can flourish together, growing them in a small space won’t be a problem. Lettuce and herbs can be placed in one area, and tomatoes thrive well with onions and basil.

Bugs

Gardening indoors does not guarantee that the plants will be bug-free. Wanting your indoor plants free from pesticides, there is another option for keeping bugs at bay.  You can make a DIY bug repellent by mixing a tablespoon of liquid dish soap and a quarter cup of water.  A quarter what? A quarter tablespoon? A quarter cup? Put it in a spray bottle and down the stems and leaves of your plants to keep bugs at bay!

Soil

Potting soil is lighter than outdoor soil, easily drains water, and potting soil is sterilized which kills off weed seeds and some diseases that could harm your plant. You can prepare potting soil at home or buy from a gardening store.  It is a soilless mixture of peat, composted bark, sand, recycled mushroom compost, perlite and many others.

Drainage

Drainage holes are essential for any containers you will use as pots. Lack of proper drainage causes soil to become water clogged. The water can rot the roots on any plants.  Ensure that the holes in your container are large enough to allow excess water to drain out.

Water

Clean tap water is essential for all urban gardens. You need to know whether your potted plants require a lot of watering or not. Some pots hold less water compared to others and may require you to water them more frequently especially during summer or hot days. Check the soil to determine if it is still moist, or if it is dry about two inches down. When day, be sure to water the pots. You can help the pots to retain moisture by placing mulch on the surface of the soil. 

The accelerated progress of urbanization has a lot of advantages. As the population grows in urban areas, people can be constrained with time and space. Urban gardening is a great activity to infuse a positive and eco-friendly activity amidst the daily grind.

One does not need to be an expert on cultivation to start an urban garden, so it can be easy to start a small and manageable garden. Growing a few plants in a tiny space can be extremely beneficial for you and your family.

Make sure that you are brushed up on Urban Gardening 101 before venturing on this new hobby or lifestyle. Happy Growing!

 

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10 Top Tips For Garden Maintenance

10 Top Tips For Garden Maintenance

We are fast approaching the season to be out tending to our gardens. It is an endeavor that is well worth any effort you put into it.

To make the very most of your efforts, we have compiled a list of the top 10 tips for garden maintenance that will help you on your way to a successful growing season. 

Location

Before you even turn the soil for your garden, you need to find the best location. The ground should be level, as this will ensure that there is proper water distribution. 

It should also have good drainage so that the plants are not always in standing water. 

When you have an idea of where you would like to plant your garden, check to make sure that there are no underground utility lines in the area.

If you are unsure, you can look in the phone book for the “Call Before You Dig” number in your area. 

Essential, too, is at least six hours of sunlight. Without the sunshine, the garden will not flourish.

During the day, watch the area that you are considering for your garden to see when and how long it is in the sunlight. 

Watch to see when shadows appear over the area. Avoid planting near buildings, unless the building will not shade the area. 

Crops planted in the shade are more susceptible to disease and insect damage, so make sure that the area gets plenty of sun.

Give the Soil a Boost

Compost is good for keeping down the weeds in your garden and for keeping the soil moist, but it is also a valuable item to add organic matter and nutrients back into the soil. 

Adding two inches of compost to your garden each year will help bind the soil in an aerated fashion. 

Worms are not just for fishing! Purchase some worms and add them to your garden or your compost. 

Worms will help to aerate the soil, and their excrement helps to bind the soil as well.

Create paths to walk in your garden. When you step on the soil, it compresses, and that takes away the aerated benefit that plants need. 

Create areas that you can reach across for the harvest so that the areas around the plants are not trodden on. This same idea holds true after rain. 

You might want to go out and weed, but walking on the wet soil will compress the soil and halt the aeration process.

If you have access to farm animals or can purchase manure, it will be a significant boost to your garden. You can use a horse, cow, chicken, goat, or rabbit manure. 

Make sure that you spread it out evenly. It will break down and feed your soil organically.

Another way to give a boost to your soil is by checking the nitrogen levels. 

Nitrogen is the one nutrient that escapes from the ground quite quickly. You can test your soil to see what the soil might be deficient in. 

If you find that your soil is low in phosphorus, you can add bone meal or rock phosphate to get the levels to where they should be. 

If you need better potassium levels, this can be raised by adding wood ashes from a stove or fireplace to your soil. Crushed oyster shells will help to boost low calcium levels. 

To balance or add to the magnesium level in your garden, you can add Epsom salt to the soil.

Leaves that have fallen in the autumn can also be great to add to your garden to help strengthen the soil. 

Mulch the leaves with your lawnmower or run them through a wood chipper. 

Spread the mulched leaves over your garden in the fall, where they will decompose and add nutrients to the garden soil. 

Coffee grounds will be a perfect addition to your garden if you have alkaline soil.  Just toss it onto the soil and work it in. It also gives you a good excuse for drinking more coffee!

Choose Disease-Resistant Plants 

If you want a healthy garden, the best place to start is with disease-resistant plants. 

Choosing plants for your particular area of the country that are resistant to a disease is an advantage that will get your garden off to a healthy start. 

Research common diseases in your area or visit your local nursery for guidance. Your local co-op will also have advice on what types of disease-resistant plants to choose for your garden.  

Mulch

Garden Maintenance

Mulch is a valuable addition to your garden. Mulch will do you a huge favor by keeping the weeds down. 

Your plants will love it, too, because mulch will keep the soil cool and keeps the soil around the plants moist. 

Mulch will also help to moderate the temperature of the soil, which takes the stress off of plants.

If you choose a mulch made from organic material, it will break down over time and contribute to enriching the soil.

There are several types of mulches.

Wood Chips

You will be able to find wood chips at any garden center. They are chips of tree bark and pieces of wood from trees. 

It is suggested that you allow wood chips to decompose for one year before laying them in your garden. Whatever you purchase this year, will be used in next year's garden.

Plan on replacing or adding to the mulch every other year. Use a two to three-inch layer of wood chips in the garden around the plants.

Straw

Straw is inexpensive and easy to find, and so is often a favorite with gardeners. Use a layer around plants that is six to eight inches deep on top of the soil. 

Rice straw does not have weed seeds in it and can be placed in the garden immediately. 

Straw is also an excellent mulch to cover your garden during the winter. The decomposed straw makes for extra enrichment of the soil in the spring.

Compost

Compost consists of yard waste, such as grass clippings, sawdust, sticks, and twigs. The compost is usually put in a pile and turned every few weeks as it decomposes. 

This process can take anywhere from a few months to a year to compost items yourself. If you start the process in the spring, the compost would be ready to use the next gardening season.

Water

Water is the lifeblood of your garden. If nature does not water for you, you will need to water the garden yourself.

The best time of the day to water is early morning. When you water early in the morning, you will reduce the amount of water that is lost to evaporation during the heat of the day. 

Giving your plants a drink in the morning will also help them to get through the heat of the day without wilting.

You want to avoid watering the leaves of the plants, just aim to get the soil that is around them. If you water the leaves, it can cause mold to form. 

Water gently around the base of the plant, making sure that you soak the ground around them. 

One of the reasons that you don’t want to water late in the day or at night is because damp leaves at night encourage fungus problems.

Powdery mildew or sooty mold can form, and this can harm your garden plants.

Underwatering your plants is just as bad as overwatering them. The best way to determine if your garden needs to be watered is to check the soil. 

If the soil is dry to the depth of two inches, then it needs to be watered. During hot weather, this is usually about every four days. 

A garden that has clay soil might need watering less often, and a garden in sandy soil will need watering more often.

Some gardeners prefer to have an irrigation system for their garden. It makes the watering process much easier.

All you do is set up the system, connect it to your hose and turn it on, the system does the watering for you.

This Micro Drip Irrigation Kit from Growerology makes the watering process easy. Turn on your hose, let the system water the garden, and then turn your hose off until the next time you need to water. 

Weeding

You can't get around the fact that weeds are going to grow, well, like weeds. 

There are a few things that you can do to help you in the battle against them, taking over your garden.

Preventing them is the best way to limit their spread. One of the ways to do this is also to limit the amount of bare soil that is in your garden. 

Plant your crops densely and use mulch in all other areas of your garden, even the walkways. 

Some gardeners use landscaping fabric in walkways and around plants, making sure that there is enough of an area around the plant for it to get water.

You are going to need to weed daily. The longer you allow the weed to reside in your garden, the longer the roots will grow, and the deeper they will be. 

If you weed a bit each day, you will go a long way to keeping them in check.

Hoeing is another way to keep uprooting weeds. This method is easier on your back, but just make sure that you don't hoe too deeply. 

The seeds for weeds are also buried underground, and you don't want to bring them to the surface where sun and rain will help them to flourish. 

A three-inch depth is a max that you should hoe. Pull the weed out, don't yank it out. 

If you yank, you are just getting the top of the weed, and you will not get the root system. If the soil is hard, use a trowel to dig carefully around the weed and get the entire system out. 

Once you have plucked the offender out of the soil, don't let it sit in the garden, and its seeds could find their way back into the soil. 

Have a bucket to place them in as you dig them out, and then make sure that those weeds are thrown away. 

If a weed has grown out of control and is too big for you to dig out, cut off the head of the weed. 

This will eventually kill the weed and prevent it from going to seed.

While there are herbicides on the market, they can be toxic to pets and children. If you feel you need to use a herbicide, use it sparingly. 

But consider that weeding a little each day will keep the weeds down and give you your daily dose of vitamin D in the process.

Rotate Crops

Rotating the plants in your garden will help to keep the soil free from disease organisms that are soil-borne.  

Problems with diseases in the soil often occur when the same crop is planted in the same areas over the years. 

Rotating annually will reduce or eliminate the severity of diseases. Insect infestation is also curbed by rotating plants in your garden.

Rotating your plants will help to preserve soil nutrients. While all of the plants in your garden need nutrients from the soil, they need them in different amounts. 

Other plants return nutrients to the soil. If you plant the same crops in your garden in the same places year after year, then the demands for nutrients will be high in those areas. 

It will deplete the soil and cause your plants not to do as well. Rotating your plants will create a balance in the soil and be better for your crops.

Clean Your Tools

One of the things that you want to do is to avoid spreading diseases or bacteria in your garden by using dirty tools. 

Pruning shears, especially, should be sanitized with bleach wipes or spray after each use and before using again.

Keep your tools clean with a good hose off after using them. Make sure to clean the tools that you use the most regularly.

One way that many gardeners find handy to clean and maintain their tools is this easy method:

  • After knocking off dirt, spray each tool with WD-40.
  • Wipe the tool down with an old rag until the tool is clean
  • Let the tool air dry
  • Store the tools in a bucket of dry sand. This will keep them from rusting.

Harvest Promptly

Garden Maintenance

When your crops start coming in, it can seem like they come in all at once and far faster than you can use them. 

Don't make the mistake of leaving the crops in the garden. Harvest your plants promptly. Left on the plant too long, the harvest will start to rot. 

The rotting process, whether on the plant or with produce that has fallen to the ground, will draw pests to your garden. 

Those pests, even at the end of a season, can wreak havoc and set the stage for an infestation the following season.

If you have too much produce, consider canning, freezing, or bestowing family and friends with homegrown produce. They are sure to thank you for it.

Clean Up At Years End

Remove the plants at the end of the year. Plants that are left in the ground after harvest will become a haven for disease and insects.

Certain garden pests love the decaying stems, leaves, and roots left over from the crops. 

They will lay their larvae in the roots and the soil, making it ideal for them to be one the spot when spring comes.

Another reason to get rid of the former crop is that withered vegetable plants can harbor mold, fungus, and disease that will translate into your new crop. 

It is best to get them out of the garden completely. 

Don’t compost your tomato or pepper plants. Those plants are more prone to disease and can infect the compost. 

Old or damaged fruit can still have thousands of seeds that can become a way to spread the disease. 

As with weeds, dispose of these at the end of the season by either burning them or putting them in the trash. 

Consider using a cover crop at the end of the season. When the ground is left bare and exposed, the soil can have some of the nutrients stripped from it. 

A cover crop will sprawl out over the garden area and protect the soil from the elements. They will help to keep weeds at bay and prevent soil erosion.

Some cover crops are ryegrass, hairy vetch, buckwheat, red clover, and winter rye.

In Conclusion

Garden maintenance done on a regular basis will ensure that your plants have the very best chance of thriving in your garden.

You will see the benefit of your endeavors with a crop of healthy, productive plants that you can share with your family and friends. 

 

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Themed Backyard Garden Installation

Themed Backyard Garden Installation

Gardens are a beautiful addition to any backyard. They provide an oasis of tranquility and have health benefits for the gardner.

A backyard garden is a great hobby that gets you outside and into the sunlight and absorbing Vitamin D.  

Gardens are sensory delights with all the different smells, colors, and textures of plants. It is especially beneficial for your children to be involved in the growing process.

If you are considering putting in a backyard garden, you might wonder where to start. A themed garden is a popular way to go.

One of the advantages of a themed garden is that the garden will have a focus that makes design principles easier to implement.

You can use a theme to reflect your interests, like bird watching or a favorite style like Japanese or even a water garden.

Perhaps you might even take a few ideas from several different themes and put them together to create an eclectic one-of-a-kind garden. 

Here is a list of suggestions for themes in your backyard garden. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it might give you an idea that sparks your imagination. 

Wildflower Garden

Backyard Garden

Having a variety of flowers that can go a long way in sustaining themselves, wildflowers will do well in poor soil and water conditions.

A wildflower garden will not have the manicured look that a traditional flower garden does, but if a rustic, country look appeals to you, then this garden will suit you well.

In most areas, wildflowers are native plants, which makes them ideal for difficult to maintain parts of your yard.

If you plan where to position various flower varieties, you can create an area that is vibrant with brightness and color. 

Violets, asters, bolumines, trilliums, ferns, and harebells are woodland wildflowers that do well in the shade.

If you have full sun areas, black-eyed Susans, zinnias, cornflowers, and candytuft will do well as long as there is also some shade in the afternoons.

If you start with seed packets, you can choose packs that are mixed or separate varieties. Once you have the flower bed ready, rake the seeds into the soil, trying to spread them evenly.

Water the seeds well, and don't let them dry out. This process will be much like growing grass seed.

Perennials may take a season before they bloom. If this garden is a new one, you could consider adding some annuals to the mix.

If you have chosen a large area, leave a path through the garden so that you can see the flowers from different angles, and work with them easily.

Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are beautiful and delightful to see. They also help with plant pollination while being part of the color in a garden.

Planting a garden that attracts butterflies is as easy as cultivating the types of flowers that support butterfly needs. 

Because a butterfly's mouth is shaped much like a tube, they drink only nectar and drink standing water.

During the caterpillar stage, they will need foliage to eat, and your garden can provide that too. By planting

If you have a shallow birdbath or another ornamental display that holds water, keep the necessary water available for these lovely insects to get a drink.

Having the needed foliage, nectar plants, and standing water, you are sure to attract butterflies to your garden.

When deciding where to put this garden, know that butterflies need sunny, open spaces. Planting shrubbery or ground cover will give these insects a place to hide from predators.

You can also put up a butterfly box in your garden as another means of refuge for the butterflies. 

Here is a list of nectar-producing plants that these winged beauties are attracted to:

  • Asters
  • Milkweed
  • Marigold
  • Bee Balm
  • Lilac
  • Butterfly bush
  • Verbena
  • Sunflowers
  • Sweet Pea

Native plants are the best for a butterfly garden, so check with your local nursery for those that will grow well in your area. 

Once you have begun to plant your butterfly garden, make sure that it is free of insecticides and herbicides. 

Rock Garden

For those of us who might not have the greenest of thumbs, a rock garden makes for an attractive focal point that exudes a rugged, natural look.

A rock garden can evoke a mountainous type landscape. These types of garden work exceptionally well if you have a smaller space or a trouble area in your yard.

My rock garden came into being when I gave up trying to get grass to grow in an area at the back of my house.

I love my rock garden as it solves a problem and looks great at the same time. The rocks that you use in yours can be any shape or size.

It is helpful to start with some larger rocks, ones that you can manage, and create your basic outline. 

For my rock garden, the foundation of the house presented one side, and I built out from there. Using various sizes and types of rocks add to the unique presentation.

Once you have your rocks placed as you prefer, you can add as few or as many plants as you would like.

I have found that hens and chicks love living in a bit of soil in the crevices between the rocks. The many types of sedum do equally as well.

Give these plants a year or two, and they will make a lovely green display among the rocks.

You could choose to have a decorative bush amid the rocks. Just make sure to plant it before placing the rocks around it.

Alpine plants are also a good choice as they, like the hens and chicks and sedum, require little soil and are hardy. Alpine plants tend to be small, but have blossoms.

Some Alpine plants to consider are:

  • Bristlecone Pine
  • Larkspur
  • Jacob’s ladder
  • Bear Grass
  • Spreading Phlox
  • Larkspur
  • Alpine Asters
  • Moss Champion

Spread the soil in the crevasse between the rocks and put the plants in those areas. Add a little or a lot. The landscape of the rock garden can be whatever you choose.  

Tropical Garden

Backyard Garden

If you are fortunate enough to live in the southern states, you would be able to have great success with a tropical garden. 

The exotic plants of the south can make for a colorful and varied garden that is lush and beautiful.

Plants in the south thrive in the heat and humidity. They have large, distinctive leaves, and the flowers are a bright contrast.

Tropical gardens are big and showy so that they can accent a yard or house with ease.

When laying out your garden, look for a spot that has full to partial sun. Tropical plants will also need a lot of water, so if possible, locate the garden near to your water source.

While it does rain often in the south, if a tropical garden gets too dry, it will die out, so you will need to supplement the water that the garden receives naturally.

Palms, cycad, bananas, ginger, fuchsia, and bromeliads are some of the tropical plants that will make for a beautiful full garden in the south.

Zen Garden

Asian gardens have a nature theme that runs throughout their structure. If you follow the concept true to form, a Zen garden is made to showcase and work with the scenery that is already present.

Traditionally, a single path will run through the garden that allows you to reflect on the garden. There is often a seat along the path for sitting and contemplation.

The garden bed is crushed gravel or stone with large rocks placed throughout at random.  The edging to the garden is a stone or wood ledge. 

A rake is used to make patterns in the crushed stones, and that can be varied and changed as often as desired. 

Statues are often present, most often good-luck animals such as turtles. Lanterns are placed among the rocks to light the garden in the evening.  

There can be a variety of features in a Zen garden, such as a waterfall, small bridges, and levels that showcase various plants.

As with any garden that you might choose, remember that even if you strive to replicate a particular style, that it is your style that will bring your garden to life.

Kitchen Garden

Backyard Garden

The beauty of this garden is that you will have produce right out your back door. It might not be thought of as a theme garden, but I would argue that the theme is organic goodness. 

For ages, people have had a small plot of land to grow food.  A kitchen garden can be a yard full of fruit trees, raised vegetable beds, or a few containers of tomatoes.

Yes, you can hop in your car and head off to the grocery store, but there is nothing like the taste of homegrown produce.

The best advice is to start small. Raised beds and container gardening are the way to go to start a kitchen garden. You don't want to dig up a huge patch of lawn and then have to spend your summer digging up weeds. 

Choose the vegetable that you will use. I plan to grow tomatoes in containers as I have in years past.

They are quick and easy, produce the best tasting, fresh tomatoes ever, and require a minute or two of pulling weeds. Other than watering, there is nothing more to be done. 

Your kitchen garden will need eight hours of full sun for the vegetables to grow well.  

If you want to try a kitchen garden out on a trial basis, consider planting a herb garden. Herbs are small, they can be dried or used fresh to season your food and most herbs flower, so it will also be visually appealing. 

Water your garden faithfully to help the plants mature and produce. There is nothing that tastes as good as that which you grow yourself.

In Conclusion

Theme gardens allow you to start with a particular idea and put your stamp on it. Whatever you choose, just be sure to make a start.

You don’t have to make it a project that overwhelms you. Start small. The beauty of a garden is that you can make a plan for your entire garden, and then complete it in stages over several seasons. 

A garden gets you out of doors and closer to nature. There is a feeling of renewal in digging in the earth and seeing the flowers and plants respond to your care. 

Take advantage of the benefits of getting outside into the sun and creating your personal garden space.

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Gardening 101: How To Water Air Plants

Gardening 101: How To Water Air Plants

Air plants are some of the most unique and relatively easy plants to take care of. With over 500 different varieties of air plants, you are bound to be able to find the one that appeals to you.

Air plants are of the genus Tillandsia and are perennial plants that include many hybrid varieties. 

These distinctive plants require no soil to root in.

This makes them ideal for perching on shelves, in a wall pocket, placed on a wreath, in a glass container, a decorative piece of wood, or your favorite ceramic piece. 

Because these plants are so flexible regarding their vessels, they are trendy for decorating in homes and offices.

These decorative plants are called "air plants" because they take their nutrients from the air.

The plants are epiphytes, meaning that in their natural habitat, they will grow on a tree or other host, using them only as a place to grow.  

Tiny vessels on the air plants leave called trichomes take nutrients and moisture from the air, and enable the plant to sustain itself.

While they are one of the easier plants to care for, they do require some attention. When they get the care that they need, an air plant can last for years and create offshoots called “pups.”

Air plants have three main requirements, water, air, and light. Following the advice below will help you to care for your air plants, and they will last for several years.

Environment:

How to Water Air Plants

As we mentioned, there are many species of air plants, and they can be unique in size and shape. 

As a general rule, if an air plant is silver-leaved with a high concentration of trichomes, it will do better with more light and a bit less water. 

If the plant is a darker green variety, it will want more water and could be harmed if in direct sunlight. 

Take into consideration your environment, too. If you live in a drier climate, the air plant may need to be water more frequently, or you might need to mist the plant in between waterings. 

If your climate is humid, the air plant would be able to get moisture from the air and need to be watered less.

Water:

 How to Water Air Plants

Soil is not a requirement for air plants, but water is critical. You can tell an air plant that has enough hydration as it will have wide, open leaves. 

A dehydrated plant will have leaves that are closed and curled up. If you keep your air plants indoors, plan to water them about once a week on average. 

Keep in mind that if a plant is dried out because of the air conditioning or furnace, they will need moisture more often. 

Because these plants are not potted in soil, they don’t have that material to hold water for them. 

Please don’t think that planting an air plant in soil will help out, as that will cause them to die. 

Misting is good to do in between waterings, don't rely on misting alone for the water that the plant will need.

Once a week, gather your air plant(s). You are going to place them in a sink, a bowl or other container that has water in it. 

Let the plants soak in the water for about half an hour. Don't submerge the plant, just let them float on the surface of the water. 

If your air plant has blooms or flowers, submerging the flowers can also cause them to rot.  After that time is up, take the plant(s) out of the water and gently shake the excess water off. 

This step is important. Water that collects in the leaves at the bottom of the plants can cause rot and kill the plant. 

Place your watered plant on a paper towel or clean cloth to dry. Give the plants a few hours to dry before placing them back where you had them placed.

Air plants have preferences as to the type of water they do best with. The plants will appreciate rainwater and even a pond or aquarium water. 

Bottled water and spring water also are good for hydration. Never use distilled water, and if you need to use water from the tap, let the water stand overnight before floating the plants in it. 

The overnight time will allow chemicals in the water, such as chlorine, to dissipate.

Air:

Just as their name suggests, the air is also vital to the plant. The plants thrive when they have good air circulation. 

When they are drying after they have been watered, it is a good idea to make sure that they have air circulating during this time. 

If you have chosen to place your air plant in a container, it should not be an enclosed one. After watering, the plant should be dried before you put it back in its container.

Light:

Indoor air plants need light, just as most other plants do. When choosing a place for your air plant, locate them near an adequate light source. 

Three to five feet from a window or an artificial light source is a reasonable distance. Direct sunlight will damage and even kill the plant. 

If you have air plants outdoors, a shaded area that does not get full sun would be best. Although there are some varieties of air plants that can handle full sun, most of them cannot.

Temperature:

Generally speaking, air plants do well in temperatures that range from 50 to 90 degrees. They do not do well under any circumstances in freezing temperatures.

Trimming:

How to Water Air Plants

As with most plants, your air plant will lose some leaves and grow others. If you want to trim brown or dead leaves, use a pair of scissors to do so. 

Trim the leaves at an angle to preserve a natural appearance. When you first purchase your air plant, it might have been shipped to the store with the roots intact on the plant. 

If you want, and depending on how you will use your plant, you can remove the roots. The roots are used by the plant to anchor itself to its host, such as a tree branch, when in its natural habitat.

Pups:

As your air plants grow and mature, if it has blossoms, it will run through its bloom cycle. During this cycle, it will produce babies that are called “pups.”  

If you want to remove the pup from the main plant, wait until it reaches about ⅓ of the size of the mother plant. 

The pups can also be left on the plant, and they will eventually form a clump together. The clumps are often hung on a string and make a beautiful arrangement.

Interesting Facts:

  • An interesting fact about air plants is that they are related to pineapples. 
  • Spanish Moss is a type of air plant.
  • Air Plants are native to the West Indies, Mexico, and Central and South America.
  • In the United States, air plants grow in Texa, Georgia, Louisiana, and California. 
  • As with other plants, air plants work hard to remove toxins from the air around them. 
  • They prefer water from lakes, ponds, rain barrels, and birdbaths.

In Conclusion:

How to Water Air Plants

Studies have shown that plants in the home or office help to clear the air and brighten our mood. Air plants come in so many unique and interesting varieties and are lovely for creating decorative displays.

Air plants have a few requirements to thrive, but none of them are difficult to achieve. Just a  little time and even less effort on your part will result in beautiful displays of these unique plants.

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8 Undeniable Benefits Of Indoor Gardening

8 Undeniable Benefits Of Indoor Gardening

Cultivating an indoor garden dates back to the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon and to the ancient Chinese. In 1800, home heating systems were developed, and that made keeping houseplants feasible. 

Moving forward to today, interest in indoor gardening is on a steady rise. It’s not only the fiftyish and above crowd, but the millennials are very enthusiastic about being plant parents. 

According to the National Gardening Association for three years from 2016 - 2019, sales on gardening items rose by almost 50 percent to $1.7 billion

There is a good reason for this. People will purchase because there is a primary benefit to them. So, just what do we get out of indoor gardening? 

Besides having many benefits, keeping houseplants is also affordable and easy. We have compiled a list of 8 benefits of keeping an indoor garden.

Before you finish reading, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t started your indoor garden!

1. Better Air Quality

Indoor air pollution is a byproduct of harmful emissions from manufactured building materials. Paints, carpeting and other materials release toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and other harmful chemicals into the air. 

If the space in which you live or work is on the smaller side, the air circulation will be reduced and the more you will feel the impact of these toxins in the air. 

Airborne mold, viruses, and pollutants, can also add to the mix.

Plants are infamous for their air-purifying capabilities. They absorb gases (aforementioned) through the pores on the surface of their leaves and roots and emit clean oxygen, which helps to combat the toxins that might be in the air. 

Indoor plants are adept in naturally increasing humidity levels. Having enough indoor plants enriches oxygen in the air keeping your family and pets healthier while making the air in your home more comfortable.

2. Fresh and Pesticide-Free Produce

As an indoor gardener, you can control exactly what products and chemicals are going into your fresh food. 

Growing your plants organically, which is precisely how all plants should grow, will improve your health as you’ll no longer be eating fruit and vegetables that might have chemicals used in mass produced with pesticides and preservatives. 

The health benefits of eating fresh produce pesticide-free are significant. In addition, you would not need to run to the supermarket in case you run out of herbs, fresh lemons, tomatoes, or whatever plant you wish to grow.

3. Improves Mental Health

The benefits of indoor gardening are therapeutic in many ways. Studies also show that spending time in green spaces helps people de-stress and relax. 

With indoor gardening, you’ll be able to live and sleep in that green space and feel the benefits around the clock.

Here are two additional ways that having indoor plants and creating an indoor garden can benefit your mental health.

4. Growth Mind-set

Gardening is an excellent opportunity to develop a growth mindset. By nurturing indoor plants, we form a habit of looking forward to growth. 

With this mindset, we're continually learning that tomorrow will be so much better as long as we take care of today. 

5. Physical Exercise

The most effective way to boost mood and lower anxiety is an appropriate amount of physical movement. 

Studies have shown that physical activity can aid in well-being. While caring for indoor plants is not strenuous, it does promote activity and movement.

6. Controlled Environment

One of the significant benefits of indoor gardening is that you control the environment wherein you expose your plant. 

The sudden cold breeze, violent winds, and overly hot days that cause your plants to wilt under the immense heat does not affect your indoor plants. 

Especially if you live in an area with extreme weather, growing your plants indoors prevents any harsh weather from damaging your garden. 

There are plenty of robust plants that can withstand a wide range of climates, but if you’re growing a more temperamental kind, choosing the right space to grow within your home will help them thrive.

7. Limitless Growing Season

Keep the plants growing after their usual growth season is over by bringing them indoors. But keep in mind that it is crucial to transition by placing them in a partially sheltered area since warm indoors may shock their systems if they would be brought in from the cold outdoors.

8. Decor

You can bring life to any room by placing a living plant into a well thought out space. Plants can add height, texture, and architectural layer into your house's decorative theme. 


From succulent arrangements, cactus gardens, to a windowsill full of blooming, colorful flowers can wonderfully transform your place.

9. A Sense of Comfort

Commercial building owners and those in office spaces have a more thorough understanding of the benefits of indoor gardening and its effect on consumers. 

They understand that greeneries can be used as decorative items in their malls, spas, salons, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. 

Indoor plants provide a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that entices people to come inside.

10. Educational Tool

Cultivating an indoor garden is a perfect way to get children involved and learning. Children are very much hands on learners and this is the perfect opportunity to teach them about nature. 

If you have an indoor garden, it is ideal for children to learn where some of their food comes from and there is a huge sense of accomplishment when your meal includes food you have grown yourself. 

While they are tending to their own indoor garden, it is a great time to teach a bit about biology, life cycles, ecosystems and sustainable farming. 

In Conclusion

Gardening done indoors has therapeutic benefits and is satisfying while boosting aesthetics. Next time you find yourself deciding whether to bring home that potted leafy goodness, think of all the great benefits of indoor gardening, then pick up two or three leafy friends to bring home!

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The Environmental Benefits of Gardening

The Environmental Benefits of Gardening

Not to put too fine a point on it, the earth is the only home we have. There is no other orbiting planet on which to relocate, and no transport off the planet we have. 

As such, we should be interested in protecting and keeping our home as healthy as we can.  Just as we care for and maintain our stick and mortar houses, we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to contribute to keeping our earthly home in good condition.

Looking at the situation overall, it might seem too big a proposition.  After all, the earth is enormous compared to our lowly personages.  

It has a diameter of 7,926 miles at the equator.   Looking up the Earth’s mass I found out that it is...well...a lot!  Any information that is presented in the form of an equation is huge.

Not only is it big, it is orbiting the sun at a speed of about 66,638 miles an hour. Which explains the dizzy spells I get when thinking about how I can make a positive difference to the environment.  

Just as there is strength in numbers, so too, there is strength in the individual and the constructive difference that one person can make.  Don’t ever discount your contribution.

Keeping a garden is one of the ways to make a difference, and one that is not insignificant. When you add trees and plants, you are helping to convert carbon into oxygen; the very stuff we need to breathe. 

This article will go over some of the ways in which your actions can contribute to the maintenance of our home here on Earth through gardening.

Reduce Energy Cost

Environmental Benefits of Gardening

This first action contributes both to being kinder to the environment and saving you money, so it is a win-win.  As we know, the sun can heat up our houses and trigger the urge to turn on the air conditioner.  


Planting trees and shrubs in areas that block the sun can keep your living space cooler, and reduce the use of fossil fuels an air-conditioner will need to do the same thing. 

Those same trees and shrubs can help in the winter by blocking cold winds and keeping your house warmer during the colder months. 

Prevent Soil Erosion

Environmental Benefits of Gardening

The trees and shrubs that you planted to reduce energy costs do double duty as agents that help prevent soil erosion.   Roots from these plantings will help to bind the soil together.

When heavy rains deluge the area, the soil is less likely to wash away.  Topsoil, that valuable outermost layer of soil, is more often affected by water movement.  This top five inches of soil is what you want to protect.


Topsoil has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms.  It is within this important layer that most of the Earth’s biological soil activity occurs and nutrients are added to the soil.  Planting a good ground cover with a substantial root system will help prevent erosion from occurring. 

Replenish Nutrients

Soil is vital, as this is where plants get their footholds for their roots. Soil holds the nutrients for plants to grow.  This multitasker both filters rainwater and regulates any excess water to prevent flooding.  


Topsoil also stores large amounts of organic carbon.  Along with being able to shield against pollutants, soil in turn protects groundwater quality.  In addition, soil provides scientists with a record of past environmental conditions. 


When you add trees and plants to your corner of the world, the organic material that falls from those plants helps to provide the material needed for healthy soil.  Makes you think a bit differently about the importance of the dirt under your feet. 

The Birds And The Bees

Environmental Benefits of Gardening

When you plant a garden, trees or flowering shrubs, you benefit the environment by giving a boost to both birds and bees. 


A garden, and the plants in it, provide protection from predators for birds.  The birds, in return, keep away unwanted insects. The trees and bushes gives the birds places to nest and raise their young.  Another service that birds provide is the spreading of vegetative seeds, which is a food source for other wildlife, in addition to creating more plants when they deposit the seeds they have ingested. 


Bees are equally as valuable in a garden. I have been stung by bees once or twice in my lifetime, and the memory still gives me chills.  I don’t want it to happen again, but in actuality, bees are our buddies.  


They are responsible for pollinating one-sixth of the flowering plants worldwide and over four hundred agricultural types of plant.


These guys are hard workers, and would appreciate a little help from us. Trees like hazel, holly, goat or willow help bees throughout the year.  In autumn, ivy is sought after when it is flowering. 


If you grow either fruits or vegetables, bees will love you for it, and will also help to pollinate your own vegetables.  Beans are a favorite, along with onions and peppers.  


They will be in seventh heaven if you plant apples, pears, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries.  You can make it easy on yourself for harvesting fruit trees by choosing dwarf varieties.

Reduce Your Carbon Foot Print

For me, there is no substitute for a home grown tomato.  You might as well place a piece of cardboard on that burger or BLT sandwich if the tomato was not grown in your garden.


They are easy to grow, just a sunny spot and some water and you are provided with a (is it a fruit or a vegetable?) anyway, a taste treat.  I love stepping out the back door and plucking a garnish from my garden while knowing I am making the bees happy. (but still avoiding them) 


When you grow your own food, not only does it taste better, it saves on trips to the store.  I have saved on groceries, gas, and my time. Plus it has reduced my carbon footprint.

Even if you live in an apartment, there are many vegetables that you can grow in containers. Some towns have plots of land that are set aside for community gardening.  

And if none of that works for you, consider shopping at a local farmers market.  You will get a fresher, higher grade of produce and will still reduce your carbon footprint as the items will be brought in locally, not trucked from several states over. 

Plants and Gardens as Housekeepers 

There are not too many of us that get excited, or look forward to cleaning.  Trees, shrubs and plants clean the air naturally, and to our benefit.

I will not name names, but I know several people who are full of hot air, and it was proved to me when doing research for this article.  When we breathe, we expel carbon dioxide; a waste product. I am convinced that some expel more than others.

Plants, clever as they are, take in that carbon dioxide through their leaves.  Through the process of photosynthesis, they expel water and oxygen. True recyclers!

They also remove bacteria and chemicals floating in the air, making them the ultimate housekeepers. 

Not only do they work above ground, their roots take up a majority of what they come in contact with. That means that contaminants in the soil are also scrubbed by the photosynthesis process. 

Lastly, Teach Your Children Well

Environmental Benefits of Gardening

This might be where you make your biggest positive impact on the environment through gardening.  Teach your children, grand kids, students or any other young ones that are in your orbit. Volunteer at a local school to demonstrate how to garden.


Kids soak up the lessons that are hands on, and seeing and experiencing a lesson has a greater influence on a child than reading about it in a book.  Herbs grown on a window ledge, flowers in a pot, whether it is a big or small effort the lesson will last.

In Conclusion

If you have ever been in any kind of situation where a few did the work of many, you understand what a hard slog that can be.  If each person did their fair share, it makes a profound difference. 

We are past the point of wondering if we should, we are at the point of knowing we have to do our part to benefit our environment.  

There are those that will be able to more than others. I have a big yard, and my friend lives in an apartment.  I will do what I can, and she will do what she can. But we both are aware and strive to do the best we possibly can for our home, which is the only one we have. 

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Roof And Gutter Cleaning Safety Tips 

Roof And Gutter Cleaning Safety Tips 

For many of us, our home is our single most valuable asset.  We can work for years to be able to afford a house, and keeping it in good repair is of utmost importance.   

An area that is significant to maintain is the gutters and keeping debris off the roof.  Gutters are an indispensable part of a home’s exterior. A gutter is a shallow trough, usually made of vinyl or metal, that is fixed beneath the edge of a roof. 

Gutters serve the function of diverting rainwater away from the walls and foundation of your home. This diversion helps prevent foundation erosion, wood rot and damage to your landscaping. 

Without gutters, or if your gutters are clogged with debris, this can cause damage to your main investment.  The undiverted rainwater can erode the ground next to your foundation. When this happens, the water can seep down along the foundation and create basement leaks and structural instability.

Leaves, twigs and other debris will clog gutters, and if the gutters are not cleaned out, you run the risk in cold months of ice dams forming at the edge of the roof. The ice dam can seep underneath shingles and down into insulation and ceilings,  creating quite a lot of mess and damage. 

It is best to clean your gutters twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall before winter arrives.  While the absolute safest way to clean your gutters is to have a professional do it, the majority of us cannot afford the twice a year expense and need to do it ourselves.

Knowing that cleaning gutters and removing any debris from the roof top is not something to be ignored, we need to know how to do so in the safest manner possible. 

Weather or Not

Gutter Finger

Check the weather before launching into the gutter cleaning process.  A monsoon, lightning storm, tornado or hurricane is not the time to get the urge to clean on top of the roof. Resist the urge until the weather cooperates. 

Climbing the Ladder of Success

gutter finger

Unless you are over twelve feet tall, you will need to start with a ladder.  There are many types of ladders out there to choose from, and a few things to consider before using one. 

A four legged step ladder would be good for a single story house, but you will need an extension ladder for a two story home. 

A wooden ladder is not recommended as they can be wobbly and harder to balance than a metal ladder. 

Fiberglass ladders are among the sturdiest, but unfortunately, they are also the heaviest. The weight will be a matter to contend with as you move the ladder around the house.

Make sure to check the ladder over for any loose screws, bent parts or defects before using it.  The time to look for hazards is before your climb on the ladder. 

If you are using a step ladder, have the extension hinge arm fully extended and locked in place. 

It is best to have a ladder that has a small, strong shelf that can hold a five gallon bucket. The bucket will hold the debris that you collect from the gutters.  Clean from the ladder, not the roof. 

Remember that there might be all manner of objects...or living things...in the gutter.  Worms, small birds or mice might be roaming around. Bees and wasps will search out the trapped water in a gutter.  Keep that in mind so that if you come across any of those creatures, you are not startled and risk falling off the ladder. 

A preferable way for me, personally, to clean gutters is not to get up on a ladder at all.  I am not good with heights, and don’t even like being as tall as I am. (5’ 6”) Plus my balance is not what it used to be.

To avoid the whole ladder climbing, hauling around thing, I find that a tool that can be used to remove leaves and debris while standing safely on the ground is my best bet.  The Gutter Fingers tool has been both effective and efficient in removing debris clogging my gutters. 

The tool is also good for removing branches from the roof, or the occasional frisby that went astray. And I can do it from ground level. 

Better Satfe than Sorry

gutter fingers

If you don’t have a Gutter Fingers tool, you will still need to haul out the ladder.  If this is the case, you want to make absolutely sure you do two things.  

The first is to let someone know that you will be up on a ladder working on the gutters. It is better to be safe than sorry. Accidents can happen quickly, and having someone watching out for you and able to call for help if needed can save your life.

The second thing you need to do before cleaning your gutters is to look up. Ensure that you and your ladder will not be touching any power lines. If there are power lines or cables running to your rooftop, visually inspect them to see if there is any damage or wear and tear to the lines. 

If you do see damage to any lines, call to get it fixed before you attempt to work on the gutters. Remember that the debris in the gutters will probably be damp and that water is a conductor of electricity.  Again, be safe rather than sorry. 

Give it the White Glove Treatment

Protect your hands from the debris that you will be removing from the gutters.  You can have sharp debris, even glass or metal, and bird and squirrel droppings in the gutters. 

I can attest that this stuff is icky, oozy, and smells to high heaven. Rubber (unless the thick, dishwashing type) and cotton gloves are too thin for sharp debris. 

Leather can be less maneuverable and leather does not like getting wet. A thick suede glove works the best, as it is durable and flexible. 

You don’t want to get poked with the bacteria filled gunk that inhabits the bottom of the gutter, so make sure you protect your hands and save a trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot. 

You've Got Such Beautiful Eyes

gutter finger

Protect those eyes!  Even the smallest amount of debris can hurt when you get it in your eyes. There is mold, bacteria and animal droppings in a gutter and you do not want any of that splashing into your eyes.  

Don’t risk scratching the cornea by not protecting your eyes, it is such a simple thing to do.  

Wear The Right Shoes

You are going to need a good grip on the rungs of the ladder or if you are getting debris off the roof.  Avoid going on the roof in the early morning as it will still be damp and the surface will be slippery.. 

Rubber soled shoes that are sturdy tend to grip better. Don’t wear anything flimsy and that does not give you good traction.  

As we said at the beginning, cleaning out gutters is one job that cannot be neglected.  If you do so, you run the risk of incurring substantial damage to the most major investment you have: your home.  

Let unattended, the damage can cost thousands to put right. Far better to maintain and keep your gutters clean by doing twice a year maintenance.  It is not on anyone's “favorite activity” list, but is essential nonetheless. 

It is so very important that you follow the safety precautions we mentioned above. Not doing so could cost you more in injury and time spent healing, and no one wants to be sidelined.

I am at the stage of the game where I cannot do the gutters on a ladder and really can’t afford to hire it done.  I made the minimal investment of the Gutter Fingers tool and can now do it myself while standing safely on the ground.

The stuff still stinks, and is an oozy, yucky mess but I am not adding any risk factor to protecting my investment by being on a ladder or the roof.  I am safely on the ground and enjoying the view at 5’ 6”.

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Top 7 Profitable Plants To Grow and Sell

Top 7 Profitable Plants To Grow and Sell

 

For anyone who enjoys gardening and growing plants, you know how satisfying it is to watch them grow and thrive. But have you ever considered using your green thumb to make money? You don’t need to be a full-time farmer, or live on a large piece of property to be successful. 


Rather than trying to grow stereotypical farm crops, if you choose a specialty plant, you can make a living off it with less than an acre of land. If you are ready to take steps to start your new career, or just want to make some extra money, by choosing a highly profitable specialty crop you will get the best results.

 

7 Profitable Plants to Grow and Sell

If you want to make some money from growing plants, here are some of the most profitable options:

 

Lavender

 

Whether you are an experienced gardener, or just getting started, lavender plants are a great option for everyone. It is relatively inexpensive to grow and is a very flexible and versatile plant. They are fast-growing, can thrive in a wide range of climates, and are disease resistant. 


Lavender is used as is, as well as in soaps, fragrances, cleaning products, and essential oils. There is always a need for lavender and a single acre of lavender can make over 10,000 bouquets. This would help guarantee a steady yearly income.  

 

Gourmet Mushrooms

 

Mushrooms, especialy gourmet and exotic mushrooms, are in high demand for restaurants and foodies. Mushrooms are a great option for those wanting to make a career out of growing and selling plants because they can be grown inside without soil, in relatively small spaces and average six crop cycles per year.

 

Because mushrooms do not travel well, local growers are a hot commodity and provide higher quality than transported mushrooms. On average, mushrooms can sell for anywhere from $5 to $20 a pound. 


You can grow up to 25 pounds of mushrooms in just one square foot. You can also consider drying certain types of mushrooms, like oyster and shitake, to help preserve them longer and make it easier to distribute further away. A simple 10 by 10 square foot space can easily be enough to make a living and can be grown anywhere.

 

Ornamentals

 

Ornamental plants are used to help create aesthetics and are typically very low maintenance. The most popular types of ornamentals are woodies and grass. Woody ornamentals are plants like red twig dogwood, holly, pussy willows, forsythia, and hydrangeas. You can grow different plants at different times of the year, creating profit without worrying about off-seasons. Woody ornamentals are very popular in florist shops, as well as craft stores because they are ideal for floral arrangements, wreaths, and natural home décor.

 

Ornamental grass is very popular amongst landscapers because of its low maintenance and tolerance to drought. This makes them ideal for a wide range of climates and they come in hundreds of shapes and sizes. You can use ornamental grass to add curb appeal to your home, as well as a more natural solution to costly privacy fences. 


Ornamental grass is also very easy and inexpensive to grow and can produce thousands of plants in a very small space. This means you can expect a pretty sizable income from the high demand.

 

Bamboo

Bamboo has become hugely popular over the past decade because of its versatility and how quickly it grows. This plant is used in everything from flooring to furniture, utensils, landscaping, fishing poles, and is even included in materials like mattresses and pillows. While bamboo typically takes around 5 years to reach maturity, once it does they grow at a very quick pace. 

 

Bamboo is a type of grass and can grow nearly anywhere, including sub-zero temperatures. By growing them in pots, you will not only eliminate the need to dig and replant them to sell, but this also allows you to grow around 600 plants in a 30 foot by 40-foot room. 


Because bamboo is used for so much, it comes at a very high price tag. A single pot of bamboo can cost up to $150, with the average being about $45. This means you are making a very high return on your investment with every pot you sell.  

 

Garlic

Garlic plants are referred to as the “mortgage lifter” for a reason. These plants are extremely durable and can grow in a wide range of weather conditions. This means that it is unlikely that you will lose a crop of garlic, no matter how harsh the weather is. However, you do want to aim for producing the highest quality of garlic possible. The better the quality, the more flavorful and desirable it is.

 

Gourmet garlic, also known as hard neck garlic, has a far superior taste than regular garlic, making it much more desirable to buyers. Rocambole, porcelain and purple stripe garlic strains are seen as the highest quality and will fetch around $10 a pound.


Other popular garlic strains like elephant garlic can get you around $8 a pound. Taking into account that a single acre of garlic can yield around 15,000 pounds, you can make a very good living this way.

 

Landscaping Shrubbery and Trees

Landscaping plants are always highly in demand because of their versatility and aesthetic appeal in yards. Specialized trees and shrubbery plants grown in five-gallon pots can bring in up to $100 per pot. This allows you to make a nice profit without needing a lot of space. You can grow around 1,500 two gallon pots in 1,000 square feet.

 

It typically takes around two years for you to be able to sell the plants for top dollar, but once you do, you are looking at a huge profit. Wholesale growers sell seedlings for a dollar or less and can provide you with a minimum of 750% mark up when you resell after two years. To get the most money for your plants, it is recommended that you find a specialty or niche. This will help you gain expertise with certain plants and make you a more desirable source for them. You can also look to sell directly to florists and landscapers to keep a steady income.

 

Ginseng

The high demand in Asian cultures and holistic health communities has made ginseng an incredibly desirable plant. This plant was formerly only found as a wild root, but now is grown to help meet the huge quantities people are asking for all over the world. While the wild root will get you more money than a planted one, you can still make a nice profit.

The roots and rootlets are relatively inexpensive to grow but do take six years to fully mature. Once they do though, you will be looking at around $500 per pound. That means that for every one acre of mature ginseng, you are looking at around $50,000 per year.  

 

Plant Care Facts and Tips

To give you the best chances of producing quality plants and getting the most money for them, it is important to provide your plants with the best possible care.

 

Plan Ahead

To save time, energy and money, you should always plan before planting. Test your soil, get it ready and figure out where and when your plants have the best chance of growing. The more research you do before planting, the more straightforward your growing will be.

 

Stay On Top Of Weeding

To make your gardening easier, it is important to stay on top of your to-do list. Many people allow weeds to get out of control and then pick them all at once. This not only makes you do a lot of work at once, but makes your growing season shorter as weeds take over. Remove them as you see them and avoid letting them take over.

 

Feed Soil Between Crops

To keep your soil healthy in the long and short term, you should always feed the soil between crops. This can be done with compost or aged manure and should help provide the ground with the nutrients it needs to keep providing healthy plants.

 

Consider Threats In Your Area

Whether it is animals, insects, or the elements, there are things you can do to help better protect your plants from natural threats. For example, there are raised beds, greenhouses above and below underground, nets, and fences that can help your plants grow strong without worrying about damage. There are also sprays and other plants that you can grow to help keep away pests, no matter the size.

 

Conclusion

If you have a green thumb and are looking to make some extra money, growing and selling plants can be a great way to go. To make sure you get the most money for your effort and give you the best chance of making it a career, consider growing on of the top seven most profitable plants included in this list.

 



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