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4 Ways To “Fake” A Great Garden

4 Ways To Fake A Great Garden

Sometimes you don’t have room for a large garden, or you just can’t afford the upkeep. Gardens can be tough to maintain, so when you find a hack that will make your gardening life a bit easier, why not consider them! Here are a few ways you can “fake” a great garden, without too much hassle or cash!

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

If your backyard is too small or it’s paved, chances are you don’t have much grass around. Grass is a lovely way to “fake” a garden. It adds the illusion of fresh and well-groomed outdoor spaces, but sometimes you just can’t make the room for it. Grass is also can be a pain to keep under management, as it grows back the second you mow it! Artificial grass is a great alternative to real grass, and with the latest technology, synthetic grass doesn’t even look fake anymore! You can set it and forget it with synthetic grass, and give off the illusion of a garden. Win!

The Only Way Is Up

If you live in an apartment and you really don’t have room for a garden, you should consider going vertical. Vertical gardens are a beautiful alternative to a regular garden, and they take half the upkeep! You can Grab an old ladder and stack small, colourful pots on each rung, filling them with flowers. You can even fill the pots with veggies and herbs and make a mini veggie patch! Vertical gardens are basically living walls, and you can make them any way you want to!

Who Knows What’s In Store….

If you’ve got a extra space but your backyard is a real mess, you should consider to get a garden shed. Not only do they store away all of your items, they also give off the illusion of a well-groomed garden. You can choose depending on the size of your garden or aesthetic. They’re a win-win essential item to have in your backyard.

Foreshortening Is In Your Future

Scattering pots of different sizes can give off the illusion that your garden is large and in charge. If you place larger pot plants behind smaller ones, it can make your guests think that the garden is bigger than it really is. Foreshortening is a hugely convincing mind trick, as it gives off the illusion of a larger space, or a 3D space. This trick is done in art, which alludes to a three dimensional space, and you can do it with your garden!

If your garden is lacking a bit of green or it’s too small for a Versailles-inspired design, you can experiment with different sized pots and and come up with something out of the box and maybe up the wall. You can easily “fake” a garden, all it takes is some illusion and clever planning.

Learn how to Make a Glass Jar Garden

You don’t need an outdoor yard or balcony to grow lots of plants. Small house plants can be planted together to make a glass jar garden. This can make for an eye-catching display that needs very little watering or care.

To make one of these cuties you need;

  • Small Clay Pallets
  • Large Clear Jar
  • Small Charcoal pieces (or small pebbles/river rocks)
  • Fine compost
  • Long handled Spoon
  • Water
  • Small plants that love humidity
  1. Add expandable clay pallets for drainage to the inside of a glass jar garden. You can use a recycled glass, just make sure it has been cleaned sufficiently to avoid any fungus to grow,
  1. Add a thin layer of charcoal over the pallets to help reduce the composting clay smell and keep the habitat fresh,
  1. Fill a quarter of the glass jar garden with fine compost. Why not make your own compost!
  1. Push down the compost with your fingers or a spoon to firm up the soil,
  1. Make small planting holes in the compost and lower the plants into position then push the compost around the root balls of the plant with the spoon,
  1. When you have finished planting drop in some more clay pallets to fill any holes,
  1. Pour water gently into the glass jar garden until the compost is thoroughly wet,

Tip: If you leave the jar open you will need to water the compost regularly but if you close the lid the humidity inside the jar should self-water the plants. If you are choosing to place a lid on the jar garden, it is important to choose plants that thrive in a high humidity environment and enjoy natural/indirect indoor light. If you use to leave the lid off, there is more a vaierty of plants that will be suitable for the glass jar garden.

With a little love and care you should have plenty of years with your new glass jar garden. Enjoy the beauty!

 

 

New Garden Vegetable Selection in 3 Steps

3 Steps to planning a New Garden

When it comes time to start planning your vegetable garden for a new season, or if you are starting a new garden, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you have the best yield. Once you have a garden area planned and know where you want to grow your garden, take some time to notice a few things.

  1. How much light will this new garden receive?

  2. What other vegetation or trees are growing near by the new garden?

  3. And what type of soil will I have available?

Most vegetables need full sun or need to spend most at of the day in a sunny location for best results. However, many of the leafy green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, bok choy, and beets, can withstand partial shade and still grow a healthy crop. Knowing your lighting and knowing how much sun your new garden gets, you can start to pick out vegetables that are best suited to the variables available to you. If you are set on growing these leafy greens in the hot summer sun, consider using shade cloth over the garden bed to protect it from the hottest part of the day.

It is also important to look at what, if anything, is growing around your new garden. Mature hedges generally have a large and shallow root mass that will quickly invade your garden space and steal water and nutrients from your garden. Large trees surrounding can drop their leaves on the garden and create unwanted shade. Ground creepers, and other invasive plants (eg weeds) will also invade your garden quickly, so it is important to try to select an area with as little competition as possible.

Soil is also important. Drier soils are better suited for certain vegetables, similarly, wetter or heavier soils, benefit other vegetable types. Unless you are planning to replace or import additional materials to your garden, try to work with the soil available, and to pick vegetables that are best suited. The soil will need extra nutrients throughout its growing cycle, so consider seaweed solution and worm tea on a rotation basis.

Once you have considered these three things, and know what it is that you want to grow, it is easy to maintain your new garden and to produce great edible plants with healthy, organic vegetables. Remember, growing a vegetable garden can be easy and a great way to spend more time outdoors and being active. Gardening is good for the soul.

It’s all about the Soil!

Soil – Your Secret to Success!

Growing a vegetable garden is easy, fun, and rewarding. Once you know what you want to grow, and how you want to lay your garden out, you need to focus on the medium you will be using – the soil.

Soil, for the most part, is the most important element of your vegetable garden. The right soil will help increase your yield, protect from disease, and provide nutrients to your plants, which in the long run, increases the harvest you make.

Most vegetables need to be planted in a medium that drains well, and does not retain too much access water. That being said, soils that drain too quickly will have an adverse effect on your garden, making it constantly dry out, and will cause your vegetable plants to go to seed prematurely. To create the perfect mixture to begin your vegetable garden, mix one part compost, with one part potting soil.

Soil that is perfect for vegetables will allow water to drain through it well, while still retaining moisture within itself. If you find that the mix you have is too heavy still, and is not draining out, add more universal potting soil to the mix to help make the medium fluffier and lighter. If you are growing your vegetable garden in pots, the same medium can be used, but it is a good idea to line the bottom of the pot with a little of loose gravel to provide further drainage.

Soil that does not drain sufficiently will cause your plants roots to rot, and encourages mold growth and disease among your plants. Ensuring that the soil is light enough to drain properly will also ensure aeration to the soil. Aeration encourages root health and also helps to air out and maintain soil health. At the end of each season, it is a good idea to remove and check your soil to ensure that the soil is rotated and renewed before replacing it to the pots, or if your vegetable garden is in the ground, it is a good idea to turn over your garden completely.

Research about what PH level your chosen vegetables you will be planting prefer. It is important to have the PH level of the soil correct as it can make all the difference. You may need to add or reduce the amount of lime or sulphur in the soil. These little elements will make all the difference.

Happy Growing!

How to Grow Plants from Seed

How to Grow Plants from Seed

Learning to grow plants from seed is by far the most common way of obtaining new plants. It is also one of the most rewarding. There is just something imminently satisfying about growing a plant that one has started from seed!

Here are some steps to follow when learning to grow plants from seeds.

Obtain Fresh, High Quality Seeds

The older the seeds, the less vigor they usually have. The older the seed, the lower the percentage of germination. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for how long seeds stay viable. Every species is different.

It also depends upon how the seeds were stored in the first place.

Storage of Seeds

If the seeds were kept cool and dry, then most vegetables will be viable for 3 to 4 years; however, onions and beetroots are usually good for only a couple of years. Tomatoes, capsicum, watermelons, cucumbers, and rockmelon can remain viable for 5 years or more.

Most flower seed can be stored for approximately 3 years under certain conditions. A good rule of thumb is that every 3° C decrease in the storage temperature (all the way down to freezing) can double the storage life of your seed. However, once you get below freezing, it can be a mixed bag, depending on whether the seeds are more native to the tropics than the temperate zone. For that reason, it makes sense not to store seeds in the freezer unless they are native to the temperate zone.

Several experts suggest that gardeners keep their seeds in the refrigerator, and make sure that they are in moisture-proof containers. The moisture-proof part is important, because for every 1% decrease in seed moisture content, seed storage life doubles. Of course, it is possible to avoid the entire issue of seed storage by simply buying no more than you will actually use, but that is easier said than done!

Vegetables are usually easier to start than flowers, partly because so many flowering plants have such small seeds.

Native temperate climate plant seeds (such as wildflowers) often require, or a least do better with, a chilling period that mimics winter enough to break the seeds’ dormancy. Six weeks in temperatures below 5° C usually does the trick.

Quite a few tropical plants have their own set of problems when it comes to growing them from seed. They often have only a short period of viability before they lose their ability to germinate, so getting fresh seed is especially important in such cases. To make the challenge even greater, sometimes tropical plant seeds take months to germinate, or require extremely specific care.

Germinating the Seed

To germinate seeds, you must create the proper environment. A seed starting area can be located anywhere that has moderate temperatures, light, and good ventilation.

Here is a list of what is necessary for good germination.

Disease-free soil and pots

Disease causes poor germination. Diseases can lurk in old, dirty pots. Most gardeners reuse pots, but if you are going to do that, wash them thoroughly with some dish detergent and a little bleach. Old potting soil or garden soil can also host diseases. You can sterilize the soil in your oven before you use it, or you can simply start your seedlings in brand new soil from the store.

Germinating seeds usually require constant moisture

Keep the soil moist but not dripping wet. Don’t let the soil dry out, even once, because that could kill your germinating seedlings. If your tap water is extremely cold, you can hasten germination by using warm water. Gently mist the soil with a spray, much like a light gentle rain, or the seeds might be blasted out altogether. Once they germinate, your seedlings won’t need quite so much water.

Seedlings need air to germinate

Make sure you don’t constantly saturate the soil. Any container in which you start seeds should have a drainage hole in the bottom.

Getting the temperature right

Although plants vary in their temperature requirements, most seeds have trouble germinating when the soil temperature is below 10° C. A temperature of 18° C to 21° C is ideal for germinating most seeds. Heat mats are a good way to warm up the soil without changing the temperature of your entire indoor space.

Getting the light right

While most seeds don’t need light to germinate, some, like lettuce, do. Check the instructions on the seed packet or in the catalogue. Seeds that need light should be planted shallowly, in a well-lit area. Once all seeds have germinated, they will all need light. There are many different setups available for indoor plant lighting, just make sure that the bulbs are full spectrum. For best results, always place the light 5 to 8 centimeters over the soil during germination, then over the emerged plants.

Why depth is important

A good rule of thumb is to place seeds at a depth 2 to 3 times their width. Any deeper, and they may run out of energy before they reach the surface. Be extra careful that seeds you plant shallowly don’t dry out.

The importance of nutrition

Little or no fertilizer is required to germinate seeds. In fact, too much nitrogen can be a major problem in very young plants. When in doubt, leave it out.

How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden!

When planting for butterflies and to attract butterflies to your garden it is important to plan for all four stages of a butterfly’s life: adult, egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis.

When you spend the time to attract butterflies to your garden, it can be a rewarding experience. Adult butterflies feed on nectar, which is obtained from flowering plants. In due course the adults lay their eggs, which need an unobtrusive leafy or grassy spot. When caterpillars hatch from the eggs, they will need all kinds of plant protein (although some are carnivorous) to prepare for the day when they form a chrysalis, and the whole process begins again.

One group of nectar-producing plants native to Australia is Micromelum minutum, small trees or shrubs of the citrus family Rutaceae. These plants are more commonly known as Lime Berry, Micromelum, Tulibas Tilos, Talafalu and Chememar. Other native Australians are Bursaria spinosa (Sweet Bursaria, Christmas Bush, Blackthorn, Prickly Box), Leptospermum (Teatree), Melaleuca (also referred to as Teatree, but more commonly known as Paperbark, or Honey-Myrtle), Eucalyptus (many varieties), Allocasuarina (She-Oak), Banksia (many varieties), Bossiaea (several varieties), Callistemon (Bottlebrush), Correa (several varieties, including Dusky Bells), Goodenia ovata (Hop Goodenia), Hakea (many varieties, including Pincushion Tree), Pimelea (many varieties, including Alpine Riceflower), Myoporum (Boobialla), Solanum (Kangaroo Apples), Parsonsia (New Zealand jasmine), Viola hederacea (Native Violet), Clematis (many varieties), and Pandorea pandorana (Wonga Vine). Almost all native wildflowers will produce nectar that butterflies find tasty. Local garden centers are excellent resources in this regard.

Non-native nectar-producing plants that have adapted well are Buddleia davidii (Butterfly-Bush, Summer Lilac, Orange Eye), Pentas (several varieties, one called Egyptian Star Flower), and Lantana camara (Big-Sage, Wild-Sage, Red-Sage, White-Sage and Tickberry). Lantana camara can be invasive, so careful consideration is a good idea.

Plants where butterflies like to lay their eggs, and where the hatched caterpillars prefer to dine, are referred to as butterfly host plants. In this case, it is usually best to stick to native varieties, which have stood the test of time. Proven butterfly host plants are Acacia (Wattles, which is also a good nectar plant), Pultenaea (Bush Peas), Scaevola (Purple Fan Flower), Lomandra (Spiny-head Mat-rush or Basket Grass), Poa (several varieties, including Annual Meadow Grass and Tussock Grass), Gahnia (Sawsedge), Carex (Sedge, many varieties), Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Coral Pea, also a nectar plant), and Kennedia prostrata (Running Postman, also an nectar plant). Many native trees host varieties of Mistletoe that are good places for butterfly eggs; this is another instance in which local garden centers are invaluable resources.

One final note: A garden dripping with pesticides and herbicides will neither attract nor sustain butterflies.

Gold Coast Butterflies

Gold Coast Butterflies has a wonderful collection of Butterflies and talks at their Butterfly Education and Conservation Walk-In House. They are open Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday 10am – 2pm and every day of Qld School Holidays. Entry is only $5.00.

You will be able to also see Gold Coast Butterflies at the Botanical Bazaar, Gold Coast Gardening Expo.

How to Make Compost -3 easy steps!

How to make compost in 3 easy steps

It’s a great way to save money and recycle green waste from your kitchen around the garden. When you make compost, it is easy and has many benefits to your garden.

By adding compost to your garden throughout the growing season, you are supplying your garden with the much needed nutrients they require. When you make compost, it is also much heavier than typical potting soil or topsoil and can be used as a great insulator during the winter to protect your plants from the cold and in the summer to help your plants retain moisture near their roots.

The process to make compost is simple.

Step 1. Choose your compost collection container

Some containers on the market are rotating barrels, or silos where you simply add the contents you will be using to make compost with through the top. You can also create a pile in your yard or create a small boxed off area to hold everything together if you are composting on a larger scale.

Step 2. Add materials to your container

Once you have a container or area to work with, it is time to add materials to your compost to create a rich, nutrient rich soil that you can use in your garden later. For best results, use a mix of materials. Use a mixture of;

  • vegetable scraps,
  • grass clippings,
  • garden waste,
  • shredded newspaper,
  • wood chips and
  • dried leaves

All make for perfect materials to make compost.

It is important to have a good mix of materials so that you can create layers within your compost that capture moisture and help bacteria grow to break down the contents.

Avoid food scraps like meat, eggs, and fish should be avoided because they can attract pests and generally have an unpleasant smell.

Step 3. Rotate your compost on a weekly basis

Constantly rotating your compost will ensure that the contents are evenly mixed. It is also important to ensure that your compost does not become too dry in hotter months. If your compost dries out, or sits too long without being rotated, bacteria has a very hard time growing and it will be much harder for your compost to break down. If this happens, consider adding water for moisture and to create some humidity to the compost pile.

Once your compost is ready, simply spread it in your garden, and start over with new materials for another batch or nutrient rich compost.

make compostComposta Australia have made a genius indoor composta. You can throw your kitchen scrapes into this composta and grow herbs or veggies at the same time. Composta Australia will be exhibiting at the Botanical Bazaar September 3, 2017. Make sure you come along and check out this fantastic Australia designed invention.

 

Happy composting!