Farming With Integrity and Gardening Responsibly

I’ll be honest with you, I am not a gardener. I rely on farmers to provide my veggies and fruits. Having said this, I did a little research into various farming and gardening approaches and styles and was amazed at what I learned. There have been some major shifts in the production of food in the last 40 years. Conventional farming with pesticides, GMOs, and long rows of veggies that strip the soil of life are no longer the only means of farming. There is a new slant to farming that encourages the grower to use their intuitive knowing in order to be the best farmer they can be.

According to Tasha Miles from the Grow Network, “In humans, a ‘feeling’ that helps us see beyond present circumstance to some future outcome is called intuition. It is the intersection between what we consciously know, unconscious details we may not even be aware we have noticed, and our resulting formulations on how to use that information.” If we apply this intuitive ability to gardening, then more and more ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions for solving new and different gardening problems will be discovered. These intuitively inspired changes can transform the way gardening is done and change the way food is grown. A farmer’s ability to tune into the needs of the plants, soil, insects and environment can make a difference in sustaining a positive balance in the world rather than depleting the earth’s resources.

Still curious to know more about what I’d researched, I sat down with my son Joel, who has a green thumb and a degree in horticulture, as well as years of experience working on many different organic, local and permaculture farms. I asked Joel if permaculture is the best system of gardening, and he answered by saying that, although permaculture is a viable method of farming, it is not really meant to feed a lot of people. He explained that the idea behind permaculture is to harmonize with the land and its terrain, and at the same time, to have as low an impact as possible. With this in mind permaculture farms often can feed the people who live and work on those farms, though they are not designed for high crop yield.

The man who first devised the idea of permaculture, Bill Mollison probably had an intuitive flash in 1978, when he envisioned this holistic form of farming. He wanted to sustain the earth’s resources rather than deplete them.

Another method of growing crops is organic farming. When I talked to Joel about this he shook his head and went on to teach me that although food can be labeled “organic” by the FDA, it may not really be completely organic. He explained that as long as no chemicals or GMOs are used in the growing of the crops, then that farm can be certified organic. However, these crops can also be labeled organic if they have been treated with natural fertilizer which contains the bones of cows that were not organic or GMO free. While intuitively this just feels wrong to trick the consumer, the farm industry is counting on the ignorance of the shopper to overlook this important detail. Joel said it takes a lot of integrity and a very high ethical standard to grow crops completely organically on all levels. He suggested it is beneficial to get to know your farmer. If you instinctively don’t feel good about the farmer and their practices, then I suggest you shop elsewhere.

Perhaps another option may be that each of us plant organic food in our backyards and not have to deal with farmers at all. However, after my experience with building a garden with my daughter where we spent hundreds of dollars to terrace the land, prepare and enrich the soil, plant the plants, install irrigation, put up trellises and water and compost the garden only to have a tiny yield, I was left feeling like it was a waste of time and money. But again, I am not a gardener. I will humbly leave it to the experts. I was not able to develop an intuitive connection to the plants and soil. Instead, I was mechanically following a gardening book’s take on building a backyard garden. I developed a much deeper appreciation of the insight and skill it takes to plant and harvest a healthy and fruitful garden or farm.

Since I rely on farmers to grow my food, it is important that I educate myself on the integrity of different farming practices and choose to buy my veggies and fruits from a reliable source. Although there is not one right way to grow food, the farming practices that work with sustaining the environment and not polluting the earth are the most intuitively positive approaches to growing food. Hopefully over time, more and more people will be guided to tune into the needs of the land and find complimentary ways of farming that can sustain us all in a healthy way, for ultimately each of us is responsible for the planet and for our ecosystem.

What Impact Do Gardening Services Have on Your House?

Property owners that have nice looking yards tend to be more pleased with the property they are living in. Owning a garden that looks nice, healthy, and hygienic doesn’t only make most properties look beautiful, in fact, it can have a bigger impact on an individual’s life than someone might think. That is why everyone should ensure that their garden is completely clean. You may decide to do that alone or get professional gardening services. Below are some of the primary reasons why you need to make sure that your garden is clean:

It raises the value of any property

Most homeowners have to think about one important question: Will they want to sell their home? If the answer is yes, then a good looking garden is among the most critical steps to achieving success. Employing a gardening service will ensure that the garden looks as good as possible. If a home’s front and back yards look great, it could dramatically boost the value of that home. If the house looks more inviting, people will be more likely to purchase it. The main places prospect buyers will look at is how the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and the front and back yards look. If any of those aspects seem neglected, the property’s value will decrease greatly.

Living with far less pressure

Stress is an element of everyday life. It’s unavoidable. However, there is no need to be concerned. There are methods for individuals to significantly decrease the amount of tension they experience at home. One of these techniques is by keeping a suitable garden. Not only will hiring a gardening service make a property owner’s front and rear yard look amazing, but it will also take away the stress that can come with trying to maintain a yard. Home owners will find themselves feeling far more relaxed and stress free once they are able to look out at their yard in the morning and see how clean and beautiful it looks.

Experiencing more freedom

While hiring an efficient gardening agency will assist house owners to live comfortably with less tension, it can also be an extremely freeing experience. If a house owner chose not to book a gardening firm, they would need to maintain their garden by themselves and they would spend several hours every month trying to keep their landscape looking the way they want it to. Making the decision to book gardening services would allow house owners to use the hours they would have spent on maintenance elsewhere. They could spend those additional hours throwing a party, having a family trip, or any other activity that may interest them.

It is smart

Booking a gardening service is a win-win situation for all parties involved. Those that choose to book a gardening business are employing the society, which helps someone else’s family. Additionally, that person would get to live with a lot less stress and much more freedom than before, which only makes life much better.

Plant Fertilizers: Importance of Micronutrients

Even if you haven’t been growing plants or maintaining your home garden for a long time, the chances are that you’ve still heard of macronutrients. The most important of these are of course NPK or Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These are the building blocks upon which you build your garden but they aren’t the ‘be all and end all’ when it comes to plant nutrition. You also need to know your micronutrients!

The essential plant micronutrients are boron (B), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and molybdenum (Mo).

Though not required in as large quantities as the macronutrients, these still play an incredibly important role in plant growth and development. They also develop a plant’s ability to fight off pests and diseases that plague most home gardens.

Let’s take a look at how they help the plant by taking each micronutrient individually.

1) Boron (B)

Living in a region with high rainfall and sandy soil? Haven’t checked the pH balance of your soil and think that it may be too acidic? Well, if your plants are displaying stunted growth or hollow stems and fruit, then your soil most definitely lacks boron!

Boron helps in cell wall formation which ensures plant growth and development. Processes like pollen formation, germination, and flower retention also require boron.

2) Chloride (Cl)

Chloride helps in a little known yet incredibly important function of the plant; it regulates the stomatal opening. Through this, it affects some outcomes, the most significant being plant water loss. The stoma is an opening on the surface of leaves through which evaporation takes place. The presence of chloride means that this is regulated so that the plant doesn’t dry out.

But in its absence, you’ll see wilting, widespread roots that are striving to search for water to compensate.

3) Manganese (Mn)

Necessary for that most important process of all, photosynthesis! Manganese aids in the metabolic processes in the plant, forming the compounds that are needed for metabolism to take place. If your soil lacks manganese, then you’ll see the effect in the leaves, as they develop brown/white/ gray spots that indicate decay. You’ll also notice a higher rate of leaf drop and delayed maturity.

4) Iron (Fe)

Not just humans, but plants need iron too! It is a cog in many plant processes, including but not restricted to energy transfer, production of chlorophyll, nitrogen fixation and acting as a catalyst to speed up chemical reactions that produce energy. If the leaves of your home plant are yellowing, then they lack the required iron content.

5) Zinc (Zn)

Plants need a constant supply of Zinc to display the most optimum growth, especially in the early stages i.e. germination. Zinc also helps in the development of enzymes that regulate growth, produce energy and synthesize all the essential proteins in the plant. A lack of Zinc means stunted growth.

6) Copper (Cu)

The presence of copper helps in strengthening the plant’s cell wall structures by synthesizing lignin, which also reduces the chances of wilting. It is also a necessary component of nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism. Pale green leaves and dieback of stems are the symptoms of copper deficiency.

7) Molybdenum (Mo)

Molybdenum makes its presence felt in the process of pollen formation which goes on to affect fruit and grain production. It initiates enzyme systems that relate to nitrogen fixation in legumes so that symbiotic bacteria may grow easily. However, molybdenum requirements are usually low, so most plants don’t exhibit any deficiency in this.

Now that you’ve been introduced to these essentials start testing your soil for deficiencies and help your plant grow long and healthy!

 

Benefits of Astro Turf for Gardens

Artificial Turf for gardens is a wonderful choice. It is not as expensive to develop as a natural lawn nor is it tedious to maintain. Artificial Turf for gardens along with bonded resin driveway would look more elegant and aesthetically impressive. Artificial grass installers can plan precisely in accordance with the space you have at your property. Irrespective of the shape of the space available you can have a green landscape for as small or as large an area you want.

Artificial Turf for gardens can be beneficial in many ways. First, you would have a pristine setting which doesn’t need your attention to be cared for all the time. It wouldn’t outgrow itself and develop into something else as is the case of natural lawns. You can use such a setting for a myriad purposes, right from using it as a lawn, backyard, landscaping or simply as a playground at your home for the kids. Artificial turf for gardens and bonded resin driveway can also help to enhance the curb appeal to your property. Most home and commercial properties that have such installations have encountered the appreciation in their property value.

There are DIY kits that you can use to install Artificial turf for gardens or you may choose to hire artificial grass installers. The latter is a better option if you are not too accustomed to handheld tools or don’t have exposure to landscaping and if you wish to have a perfect installation. You would want the installation to be impeccable, for that is quintessential to having an amazing landscape. You don’t need to stay confining to Artificial Turf for gardens. You can have such installations for backyards, driveways and other vacant spaces.

The sheer ease with which you can choose the type of landscape you wanted, the specific design and size, the convenience of installation and the predictability of it all will augur well for any homeowner or commercial property owner. Natural lawns are unpredictable. The maintenance necessary or the cost of grooming the lawn and not to forget the natural threats to the health of the lawn are all done away with. You can be one happy homeowner or commercial property owner, proud of the landscape you have. From gardens to playgrounds, lawns to driveways, you can have a stunning and setting.

How to Choose the Right Grass for Your Region

Most people today think grass is grass. That is not true at all. Sowing just any old bag of seed you find at your local garden center won’t do it. If you plan to have a beautiful healthy weed free lawn, season after season, then you have to plant the right grass for your area.

There are two categories of grass: Cool and Hot season grass. Cool season grasses grow best between 60 -75 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot season grasses are just the opposite. They thrive in 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit. One thing to notice is that the warmer grasses will lose that beautiful green color as soon as it becomes cool where the cooler grasses will keep that bright green color into the first of winter.

So, before you run out and buy up all the seed at your local garden center, make sure you know what region you live in. There are 5 relative zones that you must be aware of before you plant anything. Below you can look through the different zones and determine your place and what grass would grow best.

ZONE 1: Northeast (COLD, COLD, COLD) – Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, Ryegrass

ZONE 2: South ( HOT, HIGH HUMIDITY) – Bermuda, Zoysia grass, Centipede grass, and St. Augustine grass

ZONE 3: Midwest ( DRY, HOT) – Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, Buffalo grass

ZONE 4: SouthWest (HOT, COOL, LOW HUMIDITY) – Bermuda grass in lower elevation, Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue.

ZONE 5: Northwest ( COLD, COLD, COLD) – Kentucky bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass

Be aware of the Transition Zone! This is an area that neither grass category grows very well. This includes parts of the Southwest and Midwest. If you live in the transition zone then you might have a little more trouble growing that lovely lush lawn than those in other areas. The reason for this is the inconsistency of weather patterns. Due to the fact that none of the grasses mentioned above adapt very well to this change they can’t become thick quick enough before weeds take over. The best solution is to plant a grass that can tolerate cool and warm conditions. A grass that can tolerate cool warm conditions would be Zoysia or Kentucky bluegrass.

Do a little research to see what grass would best fit your needs and your lawn. Always take into account the amount of sun and shade your lawn receives throughout the day before deciding what grass is best.

How to Remove Lily Pads

If your pond has been taken over by lily pads, you have a problem on your hand. It can be incredibly hard to get rid of these.

Have you ever wondered why the removal of these beautifully looking lily pads can be so difficult? World over, these are appreciated for their aesthetic beauty, but it can explode in a lake or pond due to its overpopulation. And when this happens, they use up oxygen needed for other pond life.

Technically, it may sound simple to remove lily pads but actual removal of lilies can be very taxing and time-consuming. There are two ways of removing lily pads, it can either be removed physically or chemically. In a pond setting it is good to get rid of them in sections or ensure aeration if treating the entire pond to ensure oxygen levels for fish.

Now let’s understand both the procedures.

Physical Removal

1. Grass Eating Carp – Grass eating carp are one way to keep aquatic vegetation down. It is recommended to maintain two small grass carp per surface acre to ensure the proper maintenance.

2. Raking – The Raking method can be difficult especially if the roots are well established but can be done early in the growth cycle.

3. Cut the lilies – The Weed Razer works great for cutting the lily pads directly at the base. This method is similar to mowing the lawn in that you will need to do it several times per season but you can often save some money over chemical treatment however it will usually take up more of your time.

Chemical Treatment

Proper treatment can surely give you best of results and ensure relatively less growth of lily pads.

1. Early Season Growth – As Aquacide Pellets are a great option early in the growth cycle because the lilies are growing very quickly and will absorb the Aquacide Pellets material relatively quickly and the roots will be dead in three weeks. Reapply in three weeks if you still notice some growth.

2. Mid to Late Season Growth – Apply the Shore Klear and Cygnet liquid concentrates and they too will kill the root system and again, may take a second dose three weeks after the first. Apply these together with water and spray the pads on a calm sunny morning without rain for six hours.

These procedures will help you in a great way while dealing with overgrown lily pads.

Where to Place Your Garden Shed

A new garden shed is a big investment, so it’s worth taking time to work out where best to position it. There are many factors to take into account, so don’t be rushed into a hasty decision. Once the shed has been installed, you can’t just plonk it down somewhere else.

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of choice – some gardens may be too small to allow any flexibility, or you may want to re-use an existing shed base to save time and trouble. But if your garden is big enough to offer more than one alternative site, you should consider all the options.

Thinking through the following points will help you choose the best spot:

What is the shed for?

If you simply require extra storage, the location may not be of great importance as long as the ground is dry and level. However, if you’re intending to use the shed as a workshop, potting shed or hobby space you will probably want a spot that is easily accessible and gets plenty of natural light.

Is the surface level and well-drained?

Choosing a level part of the garden will make the build much easier. If you try to construct a shed on uneven ground you are going to struggle to put it together correctly. Walls will start to warp, doors won’t fit the frames and screw holes may not line up properly. The whole structure will be weakened before you’ve even finished assembly, and it won’t last very long.

Good drainage is also important. A sheltered spot at the bottom of the garden may seem ideal in summer, but could turn into a swamp in wet weather if the shed is set in a dip. No timber building, however well made, can withstand rising water for long!

Is there enough surrounding space?

It’s never a good idea to shoe-horn a building into a tight space – this is asking for damp. The timber needs to breathe, so don’t wedge it up against a wall or fence. Leave enough room (at least a metre) to get all the way round the shed, so you can easily carry out maintenance and repairs.

Don’t be tempted to use the structure as part of your fence or wall. Not all neighbours will be happy with this, and you may face having to take it down if there is a boundary dispute in the future.

You should also avoid installing your shed underneath overhanging trees. The branches can damage the roofing felt, while sap and falling leaves can cause damp.

Where is the sun?

Work out the direction of the sun through the day, and plan accordingly. While spring and autumn sunshine can be very pleasant, a shed may become too hot for comfort in summer if it’s in the full glare of the sun – particularly if any windows face south. A spot that gets shade for part of the day could be a good compromise.

Is there easy access?

It may seem obvious, but putting the shed somewhere readily accessible can make a big difference to the amount of use you get out of it. Having the building next to a path, patio or gravelled area will make it easy to reach and encourage regular use. If there is no path you may be able to make one afterwards, or at least lay down a few stepping-stones across the lawn.

Do you need power?

If you want light and heating in your shed, placing it near the house will make installation easier. Options including using an overhead cable, extension lead or underground cable enclosed in a sleeve. This type of work should be carried out by a qualified electrician.

Of course, the size and shape of the shed will also influence your choice of location. Many different designs are available, including square, rectangular and sentry-type models.

Gardening With Calibrachoa Aka Million Bells

The best part about gardening is being successful at taking care of something beautiful. Calibrachoa, also known as million bells, is an incredibly easy plant that makes even the most novice gardeners into talented horticulturalists. The low-maintenance flower tends to dazzle with bells of petunia-esque blossoms during the spring and the summer, and it makes the perfect contribution to a hanging basket, landscape bed or other container. It does best in full sunlight, and it can grow up to ten inches in upright or trailing form. The color variation is bright and numerous, depending on the specific variety purchased. The Agricultural Society classifies this easy, beautiful flower as a perennial in the Southern USA and tender perennial in the Northern USA.

How To Grow Your Calibrachoa

The process is incredibly simple, with easy-to-accomplish steps.

Step One: Planting Depth

Proper planting depth is the most important step in successfully growing calibrachoa. The est planting depth is even with the soil level currently being grown in. Plants that are planted too deep will develop stem and root rot quickly.

Step Two: Watering Correctly

First, you want to water the million bells with ample amounts and allow the soil to dry between watering. Make sure you are watering the soil itself, not the foliage. Calibrachoa is fairly resistant to drought, so water it when the top one to two inches of soil has become dry. Over watering will lead to stem and root rot.

Step Three: Fertilize Consistently

Next, the addition of a slow-release fertilizer during the planting time can help improve success. Continue to add small amounts of fertilizer to the soil on a monthly basis to prolong the release of nutrients. Also using a liquid fertilize while watering once or twice a week can help the plant grow strong and beautiful. Avoid fertilizers with excessive amounts of phosphorus.

Step Four: Keep It Trim

Finally, make sure you trim the plant regularly. These cutbacks will help the plant look vibrant, and they stimulate new growth. Randomly trimming one-third of the plant each week leaves the plant looking good and stimulating new growth at the same time.

Things You Need To Consider

Because the calibrachoa is self-cleaning, the plant will likely not need any deadheading during its seasonal blooming. It is important to use the two different types of fertilizer when tending to the million bells because they will increase the blooming activity. The general preference for growing this beautiful and easy plant is in containers, especially the type that hangs or trails. This allows for plenty of drainage and space for the calibrachoa to grow. However, gardeners are encouraged to try growing calibrachoa in their ground or landscape beds. The process tends to be slightly different. Instead of watering so consistently, it is imperative to note that plants in the ground require significantly less supplemental water. Additionally, the ground needs to be capable of draining well; otherwise the plant is at higher risk for rot. Finally, the million bells are a wonderful choice for hummingbird and butterfly gardens because they are quite attractive to these species.