Gardening can be a deeply rewarding hobby or a great source of income. But veteran gardeners would agree, gardening requires a lot of heavy lifting and back-bending activities that are quite a chore to do on the daily. Simply put, maintaining a garden takes a lot of work. Wouldn’t it be nice to lighten your gardening load?
Take daily weeding, for example. Any gardener worth his salt knows that weeds rob plants of nutrients so these invasive plants have to be eliminated from the garden. Unfortunately, weeding is a daily chore because weeds grow and spread quickly. Yes, daily weeding is an essential part of maintaining a garden especially if you are growing crops – for your own consumption or to sell for a profit – but it’s a taxing activity nonetheless.
Using landscaping fabric for weed control is a method that could simplify and lighten your gardening load significantly. Landscaping fabric may not be an essential gardening tool for most gardeners, but in places where weeds are a serious problem, it is an integral part of growing healthy crops.
What is Landscaping Fabric?
Landscape fabric is a type of material made from tightly woven plastic fibers with perforated holes. This product is often sold as a solid sheet. Generally, landscape fabric is used to eliminate weeds and promote plant growth without using chemicals. It kills weeds by blocking out the sunlight weeds need to grow. Since the material is permeable, the landscaping fabric gets rid of weeds without blocking air and moisture.
Landscape fabric is often laid around trees, flowering plants, and shrubs. This product comes in different grades; some are more durable than others because of the tighter weaves. The best landscaping fabric for your garden will depend on many factors. Landscape fabric has practical uses other than getting rid of weeds. You can use it to prevent soil erosion and control water flows.
Now, some gardeners do not like using landscaping fabric because it does come with several drawbacks. But as long as it is used the right way, landscaping fabric is an effective tool for eliminating weeds. Of course, there are certain factors to consider before using landscaping fabric to your garden. In today’s post, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of using landscaping fabric for weed control:
Pros of Using Landscaping Fabric
Effective Weed Control
When used correctly, landscaping fabric is an effective solution for persistent weeds that spread all over the garden. It discourages weed growth by preventing weeds from getting the sunlight they need for photosynthesis. Since landscaping fabric can be laid over a large area, you can kill weeds in various parts of the garden in one go.
Apart from controlling weeds, landscaping fabric prevents the future growth of weeds for days, months, or years! Even if you pull the weed from its roots, more are likely to sprout in just days. That makes weeding a never-ending chore. Controlling weed growth for months is definitely beneficial for weary gardeners who are tired of everyday weeding.
Landscaping fabric bought in bulk isn't exactly cheap but the material is quite durable, it will last for years. To put things in perspective, how much money do you spend on herbicides to control weed growth? Applying chemicals to the soil is not only contributing to soil and water pollution, it’s also quite expensive. This goes especially for areas that are naturally grassy and prone to weeds. You have to apply herbicides regularly to control the spread of weeds.
Using landscaping fabric ends up being the more affordable choice because you can use this product several times. Depending on the quality of the landscape fabric, some will last a maximum of ten years. Think of all the money you’ll save by controlling weeds without using chemicals.
Prevents Soil Erosion
Is your garden prone to soil erosion? Sloped areas and places that get a lot of rains have a serious erosion problem, which makes planting crops difficult. Amending the soil is equally problematic in these areas because it only takes a rainstorm to wash away all your hard work! The rushing rainwater tends to wash the soil away, along with the nutrients that plants need to thrive.
You can use landscaping fabric to protect your garden from soil erosion. The material is permeable, able to let moisture and air penetrate the landscaping fabric while holding the soil in place. When erosion is no longer an issue, you can plant more crops and amend the soil without worrying about your hard work being washed away by rain.
Landscaping fabric is surprisingly environmentally friendly. It takes 5 to 10 years before the material degrades so you can re-use the landscaping fabric several times. Most landscaping fabrics are made from sustainable and recycled materials as well, which adds to the eco-friendliness of these products. Some materials are made from biodegradable fibers. However, these products break down much more quickly than landscaping fabrics made from non-woven polyester or polypropylene material.
Retains the Ideal Soil Moisture and Temperature
Bare soil is exposed to the elements so it dries out quickly. This goes especially during the summer season when it rarely rains and the punishing heat causes soil moisture to evaporate. Landscaping fabric helps keep the soil nice and moist for plants to grow. The fabric also protects the soil from harsh weather conditions, keeping the soil temperature at an even level for growing crops. The soil also warms up much more quickly when landscaping fabric is installed.
Cons of Using Landscaping Fabric
Could Affect Plant Growth
Using the wrong type of landscaping fabric may affect plant growth and in some cases, inhibit future plant growth. This can be easily prevented by learning all about the different landscaping fabric materials that are available on the market and knowing the best material that suits your plants. For instance, roses are quite sensitive so think twice before installing landscaping fabric to a rose bed. Hardy plants, on the other hand, are tough as nails so they’ll do better when grown in a soil treated by landscape fabric.
May Degrade Soil Quality
Since the landscaping fabric acts as a physical barrier to kill weeds, the material also inhibits the breakdown of garden matter. Because the ground is covered, feeding the plants takes work, which can be a nuisance for plants that need a lot of nutrients. Our advice is to save the landscape fabric on hardy plants. Flowering plants, for example, need more nutrients so these should be grown without using landscaping fabric.
Installing the landscaping fabric has to be done right so professional installation is recommended. The landscaping fabric has to be covered with stones, pebbles or bark mulch to keep it flat. You have to keep an eye out for growing plants to reduce the risk of choking young plants.
Landscaping fabric may be an essential tool for most gardeners and the benefits you get from these products outweighs the drawbacks. Simply put, landscape fabric can be helpful especially if you’d like to reduce your yard work. Do note, however, that you have to install the landscape fabric properly to maximize its benefits. Found these gardening tips useful? Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest gardening resources + amazing offers on our bestselling products!
From cinnamon and nutmeg spiced drinks to sage-infused roasted turkey, herbs play a central role in holiday cooking, particularly during Thanksgiving! And although the holidays call for different heirloom dishes, most households turn to fresh herbs when it comes to whipping up yummy Thanksgiving dishes.
Imagine if you have access to fresh herbs through your own herb garden, wouldn’t that make every dish even more special?
The good news is, there are so many herbs that can be grown in pots. These herbs are not only terrific additions to the kitchen; they make the perfect centerpieces too! There is absolutely no need for a large yard to build an herb garden! You can simply plant your favorite holiday herbs in small containers and put them on display by the kitchen window. Below are just a few of the many holiday herbs that you can add to your garden just in time for your Thanksgiving feast:
5 Holiday Herbs to Grow for Thanksgiving
Herb plants come in different varieties, some are temperamental and delicate, others are hardy and resistant to light frost. If you are new to gardening, it makes sense to start out with beginner-friendly holiday herbs! These herbs are not only easy to grow; they require minimal coddling to thrive:
Sweet, savory, and mildly peppery, basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world and it's often used in a variety of cuisines. This herb adds a rich flavor to everyday dishes, including stews, pasta dishes, and sauces. Basil can be grown indoors in the early spring or outdoors after the warning for frost has passed. This herb is quite frost-sensitive and loves the full sun. Keep the soil moist and well drained so basil can grow to its fullest and healthiest!
Oregano brings out the richness in soups, sauces, and stews. It's a great herb to have in your growing herb garden especially if you love cooking Italian and Sicilian dishes. This earthy, aromatic herb is best planted in a warm, sunny spot with light soil. Since oregano could deter destructive insects, planting several oregano plants will be helpful in keeping your garden pest-free. Oregano is best sown as seeds indoors and then transplanted into the garden as seedlings early in the spring season. Use well-drained soil and add high nitrogen fertilizer for best results.
Rosemary is one of the most popular holiday herbs because its aromatic and distinctive aroma goes so well with stews, poultry, and meat dishes! This herb is so easy to grow and once it matures, rosemary is quite hardy. This herb is best planted in a moist, well-drained soil and cool temperatures. Just like most herbs, rosemary loves bright light although it requires protection from direct sunlight. Water your rosemary evenly throughout the growing season to ensure healthy growth. Prune the rosemary regularly to avoid lanky foliage.
Thyme is a woody, low-growing perennial plant that's known for its pungent aroma and clover flavor. There are more than 50 varieties of thyme and all of them are used in cooking! When planted in the ideal growing environment, thyme grows like weeds. However, it's hard to grow thyme from seeds so use cuttings or buy seedlings instead. As the herb grows, water normally and prune gently so the thyme won't get leggy. Regular pruning also helps retain the size of the herb, which tends to spread out when left on its own. Some thyme varieties love the full sun; others are best planted in a partially shady spot.
Rounding up our list of the best holiday herbs to grow for Thanksgiving is sage. This easy-to-grow herb is often used in stews and soups, as well as seasoning to Thanksgiving stuffing. This hardy perennial has a distinct musky, earthy aroma that goes so well with meats and poultry. Culinary sage craves the full sun and loves well-draining soil. It's the kind of herb that needs more room to grow so be sure to set the pots of sage about 2 feet apart from each other. Try planting sage near cabbages, carrots, and rosemary but keep this herb away from cucumbers!
How to Grow Herbs in Containers
Location for the Herb Garden
Most herbs love the full sun and holiday herbs are no different. Ideally, you want to set your potted herbs in the sunniest areas of the home, like a windowsill that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. If you can only manage to find a partially shady spot for the herbs, that’s fine. Just use supplemental light like a fluorescent bulb to make sure that the herbs are getting all the light they need to survive the winter cold.
Use the Right Soil
Generally, herbs love well-draining soil because this soil type prevents standing water that causes rot and diseases. Choose a well-draining potting medium for planting holiday herbs. This way, you won’t have to keep adding more fertilizers. Of course, you still need to enrich the soil with fertilizers regularly, about once a month for optimal plant growth.
Choose the Best Containers
Herbs do not grow too big so these plants can be grown in tiny pots! You can use regular terracotta pots, metal pots, or ceramic pots for your herbs. Whatever pot you chose to grow your herbs, just make sure the bottom has holes so water drains away from the plant roots. Standing water will cause rot to set in while increasing the risk of diseases and infestation! As the herbs grow, they will need more room so have the herbs transplanted in a larger pot once they have outgrown their original container.
Caring for the Herbs
Most herbs do not require much coddling. Caring for these plants is so easy breezy, anyone can grow holiday herbs! Water your potted herbs regularly. Container herbs, in particular, are extra thirsty especially during the summer season. Always check for signs of wilting, yellowing leaves, or drying foliage. These are signs of infrequent watering or stress. Prune the herbs carefully to encourage new growths. This way, you can harvest more herbs for cooking. Remove the flowers from the herbs as some herbs turn bitter once they bloom. Finally, do not crowd your herbs. Herbs are the kind of plants who love more room to grow!
Using the Herbs for Thanksgiving
Fresh herbs have a milder aroma than dried herbs. If you are using fresh herbs for your Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll have to adjust the amount of fresh herbs that you use. For example, if a certain dish calls for a teaspoon of dried thyme, use 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme to get the same level of aroma as the dried herbs. In addition, try adding heartier herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme, at the end of the cooking time, about 20 minutes before the dish cooks completely. This helps keep the aroma robust once the dish is ready to serve!
Make your Thanksgiving feast even more special by seasoning your holiday dishes with fresh herbs from your garden. Growing your own herbs at home allows you to save up on fresh herbs during the holiday season!
The holidays are just around the corner and you know what that means: time to think about what presents to give to loved ones! Giving away holiday plants as a gift is always a great idea especially if you have taken up gardening as a hobby. Think about it, growing holiday plants successfully takes a lot of hard work and commitment, which makes these gifts even more special. Whether given as a thank you gift or as a Christmas present, here are some of our favorite holiday plants that are sure to make this holiday season even more meaningful for you and your loved ones:
5 Christmas Plants to Give as Gifts
As quintessential winter holiday plants, poinsettias are known for their gorgeous green, blue, and white blooms! These long-lasting blooms make the perfect gift because poinsettias look so good on their own or when surrounded by beautiful holiday decors. As part of a display, poinsettia blooms will last for a long time, about a month or two! Poinsettias can be planted outdoors in the garden or indoors in a pot.
Gardening Tips for Poinsettias
Caring for poinsettias is easy although it takes a little effort to get the plant to bloom a second time. This holiday plant loves the full sun but it will also thrive in partly shady environments. We highly recommend growing the poinsettias after the holidays so they’ll bloom just in time for the next holiday season. You can also buy young poinsettia plants at your local nursery just to speed things up and then give them as gifts once the plants mature. If you are buying poinsettias, choose those with deep green foliage. Avoid poinsettias with low or discolored leaves as these are signs of poor handling, root problems, or dehydration.
Poinsettias love bright, sunny spots and well-draining soil. If you are planting poinsettias in your garden, you have to protect the plants from the cold. Try wrapping or covering the plants when the temperature drops and then unwrap as soon as the climate warms up.
Poinsettias have to be watered regularly but they hate standing water. If the plants are still in their pots, make sure the bottom of the pots has draining holes to keep standing water at bay. If the poinsettias’ leaves are starting to turn yellow, you might be overwatering the plants. If you are planning on a getaway and you want to ensure that your poinsettias are well hydrated while you’re on vacation, try using a root stick. A root stick allows enough water to be absorbed into the plant roots.
Rosemary is not exactly a flowering plant but this fragrant herb makes for a lovely holiday present too. And a useful one at that! From Thanksgiving dinners to Christmas feasts, rosemary can be used to season a variety of holiday dishes. Gifting a pot or two before the holiday season is a terrific way to spice up any meal. Rosemary happens to be a symbol of the Christmas season too. That’s because the herb’s foliage is quite similar to that of a Christmas tree. Since rosemary plants do not grow too big, you can plant these in giftable containers such as mason jars, vintage tin cans, etc. Now all you need is a cheery bow and this edible plant is ready for gift giving!
Gardening Tips for Rosemary
Rosemary is best grown before the last spring frost. You can either grow rosemary from seeds or use plant cuttings. Rosemary is best planted outdoors in the garden although it does quite well when planted in a small pot and then put on display by the window.
If you are growing rosemary indoors, be sure to keep the soil nice and moist, never soggy or wet. This herb hates standing water and overwatering! As with most herbs, rosemary loves the full sun so set a pot (or ten) in a sunny location where the air circulates freely. If say, you want to plant rosemary outdoors in the garden, give each herb enough room to grow. Prune the rosemary gently and frequently to promote new growths.
Although rosemary is quite easy to grow, it’s best to print a care instruction guide on a card if you are sending one as a gift. Tie the care instruction card with a pretty ribbon to make your present even lovelier to look at.
Norfolk Island Pine
The Norfolk Island pine is a tropical plant that looks like pine but is not a true pine at all. This holiday plant is an ornamental evergreen timber and ornamental conifer that's native to, you guessed right, Norfolk Island.
Just like traditional Christmas trees, the Norfolk Island pine is often sold before Christmas season rolls in, which make this plant the perfect gift for the holidays! The best thing about gifting Norfolk Island pine is that this plant makes the best houseplant. It’s easy to grow and its soft, beautiful foliage is sure to make any room in the home look alive!
Gardening Tips for Norfolk Island Pine
Since Norfolk Island pine is a tropical plant, it thrives in warm, humid environments. This isn't the kind of plant that could survive the extreme cold so it's best to plant Norfolk Island pine in large pots so you can take it indoors once the season transitions to the colder months. Norfolk Island pine loves direct bright light although it can tolerate indirect full bright light too. This plant is best grown in well-draining soil.
When it comes to applying the fertilizers, do it during the spring and summer season. It's best to apply a small amount of fertilizers so you don't end up over fertilizing the plant. Water only when the top soil feels dry.
If the bottom foliage of the Norfolk Island pine looks a little brown, that’s fine as long as the browning isn’t spreading upwards to the topmost branches. If browning starts developing to the topmost branches, this is a sign that you are either overwatering the plant or the growing environment is not humid enough.
Lavender is a popular herb known for its soothing and relaxing fragrance. This plant makes the best gift for the holiday season because of its lovely foliage and blooms. This bushy perennial plant stays evergreen all year round and its violet blooms bathe the air with a delightfully soothing scent. As an herb, lavender pairs well with savory dishes and light desserts!
When it comes to gifting lavender, you can give it as a plant, harvest the blooms and dry them to make potpourris or use the dried blooms to make an essential oil. You can also create a lavender-themed gift basket complete with bath essentials with the plant.
Gardening Tips for Lavender
Lavender is best planted in the spring season just as the soil is warming up. This plant loves moderately fertile soil and hates moistness as well as standing water. Water your lavender plants once or twice per week as they mature. Once the lavender plants mature, water the plants every two to three weeks until the buds are starting to form. Once the lavender plants produce flowers, limit the watering to once or twice weekly until harvest.
This is the kind of plant that needs enough room to grow. If you are planning to grow several lavender plants, give each one at least 2 to 3 feet of growing space. Lavender is prone to root rot and fungal disease so never overwater the plant nor grow the lavender in a moist, compact soil.
Pruning helps keep the lavender's foliage under control so trim gently during the early spring season or at harvest time. Harvest the blooms just as they are starting to show color.
Holiday Star Amaryllis
Holiday Star Amaryllis is a flowering houseplant that blooms during the winter months. It makes the perfect holiday gift because it compliments Christmas decors with its festive flowers! In fact, Holiday Star Amaryllis is known to produce a lifetime of gorgeous blooms. The best thing about gifting Holiday Star Amaryllis? This plant is so easy to grow, anyone can do it. This isn’t a fussy flowering plant that needs a lot of attention to thrive.
Gardening Tips for Holiday Star Amaryllis
Holiday Star Amaryllis loves well-draining soil and it does not need regular watering at all. This houseplant has over 600 varieties but the most popular ones are those that produce red, pink, orange, and white flowers. The Holiday Star Amaryllis' bulbs could be planted in pots and grown indoors or planted outdoors in zones 8b to 10. When stored properly, Amaryllis' bulbs could last for over 70 years!
Amaryllis is best grown in a spot that gets bright, indirect light. Water the Amaryllis sparingly until new growths start to form. As the plant matures, water regularly. Holiday Star Amaryllis is known for producing a riot of blooms. To make each plant produce more flowers, keep them away from direct sunlight.
The holiday season is a special time that should be spent with loved ones so why not delights your family and friends with holiday plants as gifts? These plants add life, beauty, and warmth to any home and we’re sure that your loved ones will be happy receiving holiday plants as presents.
Gardening is inherently environmentally friendly but hydrating plants is water intensive. While watering the plants is a part of growing a garden, there are ways to raise healthy, hydrated plants while conserving water at the same time! Whether you're tending a flower garden, an herb garden, container garden, or a vegetable garden, here are ways to use water in the smartest, most eco-friendly ways possible:
Aquarium water, laundry water, bath water, water used for washing vegetables or water used for washing the dishes, any of these water wastes can be reused for the garden. Pond or aquarium water, in particular, is surprisingly rich in nutrients plant need to grow! Gray water from bath water or laundry water is fine to use to hydrate the plants as long as you do not use chemical-laden cleaning products that are high in sodium or borax.
Plant Native Plants
How are native plants different from exotic plants and what is the reason why native plants are more water efficient than the latter? Native plants already thrive in your zone so these plant varieties have adapted fully to the local climate. If say, you live somewhere that gets little rain every year; the plants in your local area has adapted to the dry environment. This means they will thrive even with a bit of neglect. Apart from planting native plants, you can also fill your garden with small to moderate-sized hardy plants that thrive in harsh weather conditions such as dessert or tropical plant varieties. We recommend grouping these plants together so when it’s time to water the plants, you can maximize your water consumption and reduce waste.
Use an Automatic Rain-Shutoff Mechanism
You can get an automatic rain-shut off device at your nearest hardware store or online. This device allows you to control the amount of rain that falls into your irrigation system, protecting your yard and garden from over-watering. This device is also used to save enough water for future watering. An automatic rain-shutoff mechanism is optimized for most irrigation systems so it can be integrated into your system with ease. However, we recommend having the device installed professionally for best results.
Patch Up All Leaks
Did you know that a leaky hose or outdoor faucet wastes more than 6,000 gallons of water per year? Unfortunately, leaks are a common problem for most homeowners and if the case is true to you, you have to be proactive in terms of repairing these leaks to prevent water wastage. From your outdoor faucet to your garden hose, patch up all leaky tools in the garden and/or yard to save more water. No need for professional help unless the issue is severe.
Sometimes a little elbow grease is all you need to patch up a variety of leaks. It helps if you do your own maintenance checks every week to avoid dealing with the same issue again.
This is perhaps the easiest, most convenient way of collecting water for the garden. You can use a barrel, a rain barrel, or any large container made from food-grade plastic to collect and store rainwater. Just channel the water that rushes to your gutter system into your choice of container via the downspouts and that’s it. You want to make sure to set the container in a spot that’s nearest to the garden otherwise, we recommend installing a spigot so you can disperse the collected rainwater easily. Once the container is filled with rainwater, cover the barrel and you’re done.
Regular Garden Maintenance
Who knew regular garden maintenance is key to conserving more water? That’s right, spending more time cleaning the garden, removing invading plants, unwanted garden debris, and generally keeping your garden in shape is the best way to optimize your water consumption. When your garden is free from invading plant species, your crops will require less water. Clearing unwanted garden debris allows water to seep deeply into the soil, hydrating your plants efficiently with less waste.
Covering the soil with a thick layer of compost or mulching materials is one way to conserve water. About 70% of water evaporates from the ground on a hot day. Mulching helps retain soil moisture, which is important to healthy plant growth. You can improve your soil’s ability to hold more moisture by amending it with organic compost.
Apart from improving your soil’s ability to retain moisture, mulching also suppresses the growth of invading weeds that rob plants of water and vital nutrients from the soil. Before you start mulching, you want to avoid fine mulches that tend to clump together into a water-resistant mess. We recommend using coarse mulch because the materials allow water to seep into the ground. You want to apply the mulch on moist soil and then water regularly to keep the moisture level high.
Use the Right Planters
Different planter materials interact with heat differently, some are quick to heat up and lose moisture, and others are able to retain more moisture. Generally, you want to avoid planting thirsty plants in porous planters. Planters made from porous materials – such as unglazed terracotta pots – tend to lose moisture quickly, which means you have to water more to keep the plants hydrated. Metal planters may be a great idea but these planters heat up quickly especially when set in places that get a lot of sun. Since the material heats up quickly, it loses more water through evaporation.
If you live in a place that gets little rainfall, you can conserve water by using glazed pots. These pots are made from porous materials but the glazing helps retain moisture. Glazed pots combined with high-quality potting mix retain more moisture, perfect for gardens that are exposed to hot, dry environments.
The kind of plants you have in your garden have a direct impact on your water consumption. Perennial plants consume less water compared to annual plants because their roots grow much deeper into the soil. Plants with shallow root systems, like annual plants, require frequent watering while perennials are able to access moisture deeper into the soil thanks to their more established root systems.
When planting different plant varieties, it is also worth considering the season. This way, you can give new plants more time to develop their root systems. Plants with low water needs, such as slow-growing plants with established roots, plants with narrow leaves, or those with gray or silver foliage, will save you more water in the garden. Generally, plants with larger leaves require more water than plants with smaller or finer foliage.
Add Organic Compost
Increasing organic matter into the soil helps improve the soil’s structure and ability to retain more water. Ideally, you want to build humus into the soil. This goes especially for sandy soil that tends to lose water much more quickly. Just add compost to the soil especially if you live somewhere that’s prone to drought. You can also add organic matter with worm castings such as vegetable scraps, lawn clippings, and leaves to amend the soil.
Conserving water is key to maintaining an environmentally friendly garden. We hope that these tips have inspired you to practice eco-gardening! For more tips and gardening resources, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter today.
Winter burns and frost damage are quite common in many gardens. The extent of the damage will vary due to the differences in climates and plant species between regions. Unfortunately, there is no real way of avoiding winter damage especially if you did not prepare your garden beforehand.
The fact is, sudden weather shifts are hard to predict and it's almost unavoidable to completely shield your garden from winter damage. This goes especially for growers who live in places that get a lot of snow. Winter damage tends to force plants to use up the remains of their food reserves to replace damaged parts. As the spring season sets in, the plants have no reserves left to produce new growth, which makes the plants vulnerable to diseases. The sudden drop in temperature could also cause barks to split, branches to break/fall, and delicate stems to freeze. Certain types of evergreens turn a distinct yellow or bronze when exposed to the intense cold and dry winds.
Permanent winter damage occurs when the severe weather conditions are prolonged or severe. Sometimes, sudden drops in temperature cause the damage too. Plants could sustain tissue deaths, scorched leaves, winter burns, and frost damage during the winter season. Apart from knowing how to deal with winter burn and frost damage, you need to take precautionary steps to avoid severe and irreversible damages to your plants. Here are some tips:
How to Prevent Winter Damage
Wet, cold and windy weather can cause severe damage to trees and shrubs. Weatherproof your garden and prevent any kind of winter damage by:
• Using Plant Coverings
Any type of plant cover-ups will be useful during the winter season. Old sheets, plastic films, recycled pots, all these barriers will be effective in shielding plants from harsh weather conditions. You want to set up the plant covers early to prepare your garden for the winter season. Be sure to remove any types of coverings once the weather warms up!
• Laying the Mulching
Mulching helps insulate the plants in the midst of the winter season. It enhances the soil’s ability to hold moisture by keeping evaporation to a bare minimum. Start by amending the soil with organic compost or manure during the fall season and then lay a generous layer of mulching to the soil before the winter sets in for best results.
• Cluster Container Plants
You want to store your potted plants in a sheltered spot to keep them away from the punishing cold. We recommend moving your potted plants near your home. Group the plants together to minimize the exposure to extreme cold while retaining heat. For tropical plants, you may have to move these indoors because these will not survive the intense cold! Warm the tropical plants up gradually to prevent shock by placing them on a sun porch.
General Tips for Winter Damage
• Water Generously
Watering generously is the best way to help plants recover from the bitter cold. Hydration provides nourishment for growth and healing but try not to over-water the plants because standing water may cause rot and diseases to set in. You can use a sprinkler during the dry periods of fall to keep the shrub and tree roots strong and resilient.
• Add Fertilizer
Adding fertilizer to the soil is recommended early in the spring, just as the rain comes in. The rain will dissolve the fertilizer, helping the plants absorb more of the nutrients from the soil. As the plants grow strong during the spring and summer season, they become resistant to harsh weather changes during the fall and winter season.
• Prune Only as Needed
You might think heavy pruning is essential when getting rid of browned, damage foliage but it’s really not. You may worsen the damage if you are too heavy handed with the pruning. Prune only as needed. When you prune too hard, the foliage becomes more vulnerable to future frosts and hard freezes. Our advice is to wait until the plant has recovered enough from the damage and it started picking up its normal growth pattern. And even then, you want to prune gently because intense pruning will only stress out the plants.
• Wait it Out
Before making repairs and dealing with winter burn and frost damage, make sure the threat of frost or winter is truly over. That means waiting for new growth to appear before pruning the trees and shrubs. A tree or a shrub that appears lifeless may not be dead. Winter damage affects the leaves first, followed by the small stems, the branches, and eventually the roots. Stems and branches that are killed by frost damage will no longer sprout new growth. As long as you are seeing new growth, wait it out before pruning.
Once you are seeing growth, lightly prune the damaged stems and branches only. If the majority of the plant’s upper growth has been damaged by frost, you have to prune the affected area within a few inches of the ground. The plant roots and base are the least vulnerable to winter burn so the plant should grow back despite the intense pruning.
Spotting Winter Damage and How to Fix Damaged Plants
Frost damage occurs when ice crystals form within the plant tissues. As the ice crystals penetrate the plants from the inside, their cells are damaged. Usually, the leaves and new growths are the first to incur frost damage but eventually, the damage will spread to the rest of the plant tissues. Frost damage is quite common during the early spring or late in the winter season.
The sign of frost damage is the browning of new plant growths. Dead or dying buds, delayed leaf developments or blackened leaves are also signs of frost damage. You want to wait until the threat of frost has passed before pruning the browned or blackened foliage. Pruning encourages new plant growths. Even if the plant sustained significant frost damage, it’s quite possible to bring it back to life by gentle pruning.
Prevention is always better so prep your garden accordingly. Harden off the plants early in the season to give them more time to mature once the cold months arrive. Time the pruning well. Try not to prune your plants, even hardy ones, late in the summer or early in the fall. Pruning too early in the spring season may force some shrubs or trees out of dormancy too early, making them vulnerable to frost damage. Use organic fertilizer so the nutrients are slowly released into the soil. We do not recommend adding fertilizers to trees or shrubs after July but do it if the plants need a boost of nutrients.
This injury occurs when the tree bark cracks due to the sudden temperature changes from cold to warm climate – such as a sunny winter day followed by a hard freeze at night. This leads to permanent and discolored fissures on dormant trees' barks. The light reflected by the snow to the trees also causes sunscald.
As the weather continues to warm up, the fissures contract and expand, killing active cells. As the active cells of the trees die, the dead bark falls away. This exposes the heartwood of the trees to the elements, which may cause the trees to die.
Thankfully, sunscald is easy to spot. Watch out for sunken, discolored, or dead parts of the tree bark, particularly on the side that’s exposed to the sun. You can protect these spots by wrapping the trunks with burlap and other protective coverings. Trees with thin barks require more protection. If you have maple trees, tulip, ash and/or crab apple trees, you have to attach protective coverings to the trunks early on. For the affected trees, leave them to heal on their own. As long as the exposed trunks are protected, the trees should recover from this injury.
Broken Branches and Stems
This injury is common after a snowstorm when the tree branches are weighed down by snow, sleet, or ice. Evergreens, shrubs, and multi-stemmed plants will also sustain broken branches and stems. In some cases, the plants would lean or bend to the other side due to the weight of the snow. Broken branches are easily preventable. Just fluff the snow covered branches up to ease the weight off the trees and shrubs. Avoid beating ice-covered branches because this will cause the branches to break off. Instead, prop up the ice-covered branches and leave the ice to melt on its own.
When it comes to dealing with broken branches, prune the foliage once the weather improves. You want to prune the main stem gently and carefully to promote healing and stimulate new growth. Diseased or weakened branches should be removed early in the fall or winter season to reduce the damage to the plant. To prevent this kind of winter damage, you have to add a supportive structure of some kind to delicate branches. Use heavy rope and twine to prevent branch breakage, especially to evergreens.
This type of winter damage occurs when the amount of moisture that the plant absorbs is not enough to sustain it. It means the plant is drying out. This injury occurs when the ground freezes or heats up too quickly and the plant is losing more water through its foliage. During the winter months, dry and cold winds, direct heat, and fluctuations in temperature increase the risk of moisture loss in plants.
New plants, budding plants, or evergreens with young barks are most susceptible to winter desiccation. Signs of this injury include brittle or burned-looking foliage, dried leaves in places where the sun or wind hits, as well as browning on evergreens. Usually, the damaged foliage will fall off on its own or is pushed off by new plant growths. You can speed up the plant’s recovery by gently pruning or stripping the damaged foliage as soon as the severe weather conditions have passed. Doing this too early will only worsen the problem as new growths are more vulnerable to winter desiccation!
To prevent this injury, you need to water your plants deeply and regularly before the winter season sets in. This goes especially during dry spells when strong winds tend to dry out the plant foliage. If you are seeing subtle signs of browning, water the plant on mild weather. Just make sure the weather is not cold enough to freeze the water to the ground so the plants could absorb the extra moisture.
Adding 2 to 3 inches layer of mulch is also a terrific way to minimize evaporation. Mulching helps the soil retains more water while also insulating the plants and protecting their delicate root systems from the elements.
Infestation from Burrowing Animals
Burrowing animals tend to make their way into the garden in search for food during the winter season. This happens when food is scarce and the freezing temps drive rodents deeper underground. Rats and rabbits will usually nibble on tree bark for tender eats while mice prefer to burrow into the ground to score more tree bark. As these nibbling critters feast on tree bark, the tree dies gradually.
When it comes to dealing with burrowing animals, humane strategies are the best way to go. Keeping your lawn or garden grass-free, for instance, will naturally drive small rodents away because grass-free places leave them exposed to the elements. Surrounding your trees and shrubs with mulching is also a humane way of preventing rodent infestation. However, do not mound the mulch near the trunk, give the tree base a few inches of breathing room.
You can also protect the bases of the trees in your garden by wrapping the trunk with screen wire or hardware cloth. If the trees sustained damage from rodent infestation, there is not much you can do but leave the trees to heal and recover from the injuries on their own.
Winter damage may be inevitable especially during a particularly long and bitter winter season but you can reduce its effects by preparing your garden in advance. Tune in for more gardening tips by subscribing to our newsletter!
Environmental pollution is one of the most widespread problems that that world is facing today. Waste disposal issues have caused serious and irreparable damage to our land and seas. You might not think much about environmental pollution when organizing an important event, such as a wedding, but really, all the waste from your event will end up in landfills! Using eco-friendly products such as disposable wood plates or invites made from recycled paper will do wonders as far as minimizing your carbon footprint goes.
If minimizing soil and water pollution is something that’s close to your heart then we highly suggest organizing a zero waste event. Today, let’s talk about the intricacies of organizing a zero-waste event and other environmentally-friendly tips:
The venue sets the tone of the event. For weddings, there is absolutely no need to hold the reception in a farm or a barn to make your big day an environmentally friendly one. To make your wedding eco-friendly, choose a venue that’s closest to where you live. Choosing a venue that does not require long travels or people flying in will minimize your event’s carbon footprint. Also, since the venue doesn't require air travel, you and your guests are saving more money.
Choosing a sustainable venue is also a great way to organize a zero waste event. You can set the party in a country house, a function hall, or a pretty garden to minimize cost and reduce pollution. Look for eco-venues in your local area online or ask for referrals. Visit any of the eco-venues in person and see which ones suit your event the best.
Use Disposable Wood Plates and Cutlery
Does it sound strange, using disposable wood plates and wood cutlery as opposed to fancy dinnerware and silverware for a special event or a formal party? It might be for traditionalists but for modern individuals who want to highlight the importance of environmentalism; this is a practical and cost-effective option. Contemporary disposable plate designs are getting better and better, they’ll look right at home in a fancy table setting. ECO Gardener’s own line of disposable plates come in neutral colors and sleek designs, they will look perfectly coordinated with the rest of your decors.
The same thing can be said for wood cutlery, these are practical, affordable, and eco-friendly. These products come in an array of designs to choose from. You are sure to find the design that suits your big day!
Organizing a special event means having customized invites made by the hundreds. You can reduce your carbon footprint by requesting for invites made with recycled paper. The invites made from recycled paper are much kinder to the environment. But if you are serious about conservationism, go paperless. Inviting guests using social media channels like Facebook or Instagram is fast becoming popular.
Going paperless is not only practical, it’s also easy. You can invite people with just a click of a button. There is no need for guests to wait for days for the invites to come. They’ll receive the notification for your wedding – or any event for that matter – within seconds. Guests could confirm their attendance the same way too, which makes organizing an event much less of a hassle on your end.
Environment-Friendly Party Favors
There is a myriad of eco-friendly party favors that you can choose for your next event. Ideally, you want to focus on party favors that will not end up in landfills. Sustainable party favors like pots of succulents/herbs, bags of coffee beans, or candies packed in eco-friendly packaging are just a few of the many ways to make your next event truly special.
If you are working on a limited budget, go ahead and make the party favors yourself. You can round up some of your friends to help you create the perfect party favors and make the experience even more fun for you and your loved ones. You can whip up homemade jams, handmade soaps, candles, or potpourris and give them away as party favors.
You might not know it but being selective in terms of your food caterers could affect the carbon footprint of the event significantly. To make your party eco-friendly, work with local farmers who specialize in sustainable farming. Search for local suppliers, specifically those who have an eco-friendly ethos.
If say, the venue you chose offer in-house catering, ask as many questions as needed about the food. Where do the ingredients come from? Are the ingredients locally sourced or flown in? Choosing in-season ingredients and local meats that are minimally packed is also the best way to go if you are hosting a zero-waste event.
Avoid Single Use Plastic
Plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, all these single-use disposables will only end up in landfills. Manufacturing and transporting these products require a lot of energy too. Instead of using single-use plastics, use disposable wood plates, glasses, and wooden cutlery. These products are not only compostable, manufacturing these products require less energy so their carbon footprint isn’t as big as single-use plastic.
From flowers to food, use in-season party essentials to minimize the environmental impact of your event. Seasonal blooms and produce are not only eco-friendly; these are also affordable compared to out of season flowers and ingredients that has to be flown into the event. Our advice is to contact local suppliers and look for recommendations for vendors that sell locally produced and in-season party products. Also, avoid suppliers that use plastic of any kind or make special requests for minimally packed goods to reduce waste.
Seed starting is the process of growing plants from seeds. Once the seeds have grown into seedlings, they are transplanted to the garden. This technique enables gardeners to grow crops early in the season, allowing heat-loving plants to mature and bear fruits for a longer period of time. Seed starting is also perfect for growers faced with a short growing season; the process allows crops to mature before the weather changes.
Do note that not all crops are suitable for seed starting. There are crops that prefer to be planted directly into the ground because they cannot survive as transplants. In addition, different seeds have different growing habits so they must not be treated the same. Before setting off your seed-starting journey, you have to consider the types of seeds to sow, learn how to care for certain seeds, and what methods of growing to utilize.
Types of Seeds to Sow
When it comes to seeds, these are divided into two broad categories: warm and cool weather seeds.
Warm Weather Seeds
As the name implies, these seeds do well in a warm growing environment. These seeds prefer warmer soil and cannot tolerate frost. Some of the most popular types of warm weather seeds are summer vegetables and flowers: cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, beans, tomatillos, eggplant, peppers, basil, coleus, marigolds, zinnias, and nasturtiums.
Cold Weather Seeds
These seeds are quite hardy; they prefer the cooler climate and many can tolerate light frost. Many cold weather seeds are unable to germinate during the warm season so these are best sown just as the climate transitions to the cooler months. Some of the most popular types of cold weather seeds are: lettuce, kale, broccoli, beets, radishes, peas, carrots, spinach, kohlrabi, parsley, cilantro, and cabbage.
Seed Starting Methods
There are two types of seed starting method: indoor seed starting and direct sowing.
• Indoor Seed Starting
This method involves sowing the seeds indoors using a growing medium. Indoor seed starting is a great choice for growers who would like to grow crops early in the season. Since the seeds are grown in a controlled environment, the germinating seeds are protected from harsh weather climate. That said, indoor seed starting can be time-consuming and it will take more space in your home. Generally, summer crops, slow-growing seeds, and hardy vegetables are best suited for indoor seed starting.
• Direct Sowing
This method involves planting the seeds directly into the soil. This is an easy way of sowing seeds because the seeds do not require much monitoring. Just plant the seeds to the ground and that's it. No need to fuss with the lighting, transplanting, potting, etc. There is no need to think about transplanting shock once the seedlings sprout.
However, the seeds are exposed to the elements so they should be planted only when the season is right. In addition, the soil must be ready to encourage germination. Cold hardy seeds, fast-growing warm weather crops, as well as plants that do not survive transplantation well are best for direct sowing.
Containers and Growing Mediums for Seed Starting
Any type of container can be used for seed starting. But if you want to take this project up a notch, you can also buy a variety of seed starting containers and growing mediums. Here are just a few of the many to consider:
Cell packs are compact, lightweight, and portable seed containers. These soil containers come in 4 to 6 cells but some cell packs come with more sections for growing seeds. Usually, cell packs can be joined together to fit into a plastic flat. Since cell packs are quite compact, they are perfect for a small-scale home environment.
Seedling flats are a high-density system that allows gardeners to grow more seedlings in a small container. Usually, the flat comes with a tray that holds excess water and prevents soil from draining away. Seedling flats are best used in nursery or greenhouse applications and not for a small-scale home environment.
Soil blockers are made by compressing seed starting soil in the form of blocks or cubes. Just plant the seed in the middle of a soil blocker and then transplant the soil blocker directly into the ground once the seedlings are ready. Soil blockers come in different sizes, some are perfect for small greenhouses, others are big enough for large-scale greenhouses. Because these growing mediums are made of dirt, you'll need a special mat to protect the soil from moisture loss.
Biodegradable pots are typically made from cardboard pulp, dried coconut husks, paper, even cow manure (aptly called cow pots). These pots break down into the ground, which minimizes transplanting shock. The pots come in different sizes to accommodate a variety of growing environments. Biodegradable pots are more expensive than other growing mediums, which is something to keep in mind if you are seed starting for the first time. However, they are quite eco-friendly.
These are compact pots made from plastic. Since the pots come in different sizes, you can custom select the pot size and shape that suits your needs. Seedling pots are quite versatile, you can scale it up or down, depending on the size of the plant and the number of plants you are growing. You can pop the pots on a water mat to regulate the soil moisture.
Factors to Consider Before Sowing the Seeds
Ready to grow plants from seeds? Before you begin, there are certain factors that you should keep in mind. These are:
The Quality of the Seeds
The quality of the seeds you will sow matters. You must choose high-quality seeds and varieties that are best suited for your region’s climate. High-quality seeds will germinate faster and at a much higher rate. These seeds will transform into strong seedlings and eventually provide the best yield. You can buy seeds from reputable suppliers. Our advice is to choose a supplier that conducts its own germination test.
Your Region’s Weather Condition
When choosing the best seeds to grow, choose those that are native to your region or seeds that are well adapted to the local weather condition. These seeds have a higher chance of survival because they have adjusted to the local climate. Again, look for sellers that conduct their own germination tests and field trials to determine what types of seeds to get.
Timing is Everything
The timing is a critical part of seed starting. If you sow the seeds too soon, you could end up with sickly, leggy seedlings that will not survive the frost. If you start too late, the plants might not have enough time to mature before the weather changes! Check the seed packs for general guidelines. Generally, seeds can be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in the spring for indoor seed starting. For direct sowing, the seeds should be planted 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. As long as the ground is workable, you can start planting the seeds.
Step by Step Guide to Seed Starting
Now that you know the basics of seed starting, here is a step by step guide on growing plants from seeds:
Prepare Your Seed-Starting Tools
Start by choosing the right components for seed starting. That includes choosing the best containers to use, conditioning the soil for proper plant growth, and nurturing the seeds for faster germination. Always start with a clean seed-starting container, preferably about 2 to 3 inches deep with drainage holes.
We have already outlined some of the most popular seed-starting containers above, so choose for one that works for your needs and budget. Or, you can make your own seed-starting containers using yogurt cups, newspaper, fruit peels, or eggshells to save money and/or reduce your carbon footprint. If the budget allows, you can also buy a seed-starting kit although we recommend the more eco-friendly route. One thing to keep in mind when choosing the right containers for your seeds, you will transplant the seedlings into larger pots if you used small containers initially.
Preparing the Seed Starting Mix
Sow the seeds in sterile, bagged seed starting mix. The starting mix is typically loose and slightly moist. You can buy the seed starting mix or make your own using organic compost. Never use garden soil because plant seeds need nutrient-dense soil. If the potting mix is dry, moisten it with warm water before adding it into the seed-starting container.
Check the back of the seed packet for the recommended depth for sowing seeds. Generally, you want to cover the seeds with soil that’s equal to three times their thickness point. But again, different seeds have different growing needs. For instance, lettuce seeds and snapdragons prefer to rest on the soil surface as opposed to being completely buried in the soil for maximum exposure to light. After sowing the seeds, give the soil a light spritz of water.
Nurturing the Seeds
At this point, you want to water the seeds carefully so they won’t drown. Always use room temperature water when hydrating the seedlings, these are quite temperature sensitive. The soil should be moist, never soggy or wet. Once the seeds have germinated and sprouts appear, water the seedlings carefully. This way, the moisture will not reach the leaves and cause rot or diseases to set in. Keep the soil moisture consistent. At some point, you might need to use plant covers or plastic wrap to retain the soil moisture.
Keep the soil temperature consistent as well. Seeds love warm soil but not damp air so keep the soil temperature at a constant 78° Fahrenheit and the air temperature below 70° Fahrenheit. Exposure to sunlight will affect the air and soil temperature. If the seedlings are not getting enough light, they will become leggy.
Seedlings require about 14 to 16 hours of direct sunlight. A sign that the seedlings are not getting enough light is when they start to bend towards the light source. If this happens, you have to relocate the seedlings to a spot that gets maximum sunlight. You can also use heat maps, artificial lights, and other tools to regulate heat and light. To keep the air movement steady, you can run a fan near the seedlings. This promotes proper air circulation, which inhibits the spread of diseases while also promoting stronger, more resilient stems.
You can apply fertilizer once the seedlings have developed their second set of true leaves. We recommend using a half-strength solution on a weekly basis. After the 4th week, you can go ahead and apply the full-strength fertilizer every other week until the seedlings are ready for transplanting.
To protect the growing seeds from excessive moisture and humidity, add a half an inch layer of light color sphagnum moss on top of the seed starting mix. The sphagnum moss will protect the seedlings from damping off and other types of fungal disease.
Transplanting the Seedlings
You can’t just transplant the seedlings once they grow big enough. You have to conduct a process called “hardening off” to acclimatize the seedlings to their new surroundings. If you skip this step, the seedlings may die because they could not adjust fast enough to their harsher environment.
To start hardening off seedlings, gradually expose them to the outdoors for a longer period of time. Place the plants in a sheltered or shady spot in the garden, perhaps, under a tree or near the bushes. Leave the seedlings exposed to the elements for 3 to 4 hours and then gradually increase the time they spend outdoors to 1 to 2 hours. Bring the plants indoors every night. Do this for a week or two and the seedlings should be ready for transplanting by day 10.
You can also use a cold frame to prep the seedlings for transplanting. Move the plants to a cold frame about 7 to 10 days before the transplanting date. Make sure the temperature does not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the seedlings daily, making sure the soil remains moist. Within 7 to 10 days, the plants should be ready for transplanting.
As a grower, you want to prioritize on the health of your crops, which is not easy especially if the growing conditions aren’t ideal. That’s the beauty of using a greenhouse. It shields the crops from pests, harsh weather conditions, and other hazards. Greenhouses have become increasingly popular among growers, but maintaining one is by no means an easy feat. Using a variety of tools should ease your gardening load.
When it comes to plant coverage, nothing beats the protection that greenhouse plastic sheets provide. So what is a greenhouse plastic sheet and what advantages can you expect from this product, especially when compared to conventional greenhouse sheets? Let’s take a look at the many benefits of using ECO Gardener greenhouse clear plastic film:
The Benefits of Using ECO Gardener Greenhouse Clear Plastic Film
Better Heat Insulation
Clear plastic sheeting is so handy when it comes to maintaining the ideal temperature of a greenhouse. This goes especially for greenhouse clear plastic films made with polycarbonate material. The product insulates plants much more efficiently! Compared to glass sheets, plastic sheets retain heat better. Less heat is also lost when using plastic films as opposed to glass sheets. In addition, plastic sheets could handle average temperature better than some sheeting materials so these products are less likely to fail or break. In the end, you will save more money on insulation using greenhouse clear plastic film.
Durability and Safety
Unlike some greenhouse sheeting materials, plastic films are not only cheaper, they are also more durable than traditional greenhouse sheeting. Plastic sheets are pliant by nature, never brittle. The material is shatterproof and safer to use in places that are prone to extreme weather conditions (excessive heat, hailstorms, etc.) This material is also the better choice if say, your greenhouse is situated near a football field.
The same thing cannot be said for glass sheets, which are bulky, heavy, expensive, and hard to replace. Glass sheets are more delicate than they look. The material is brittle so it cannot withstand impacts from hailstorms, falling rocks, etc. Glass sheets are not designed for harsh weather conditions because the material could crack under extreme heat or sudden weather changes.
Plastic materials are much lighter than glass materials. This makes plastic films much easier to handle and fit. Since plastic sheets are flexible, they can take on more abuse, which means these products do not require frequent replacements. Replacing plastic films is also easy as long as you got the dimensions right. The material is able to adjust to any greenhouse setting without breaking.
Replacing glass sheets in a greenhouse will require professional installation. The component is just too delicate and it’s not the best sheeting material to get if you like doing the installation or repairs yourself.
Efficient Light Diffusion and UV Protection
The ideal amount of sunlight is critical to the survival of plants in a greenhouse. Plastic sheets are clear, durable, and resilient. The material provides efficient light diffusion and UV protection, more so than standard glass sheets. Glass sheets tend to be thinner than plastic sheets, which mean the material is delicate. Some growers agree that plastic sheets provide better protection from radiation than glass sheets because the material is UV treated. UV-treated greenhouse plastic film have the ability to manipulate the transmission of particular sun wavelengths to boost plant growth.
Greenhouse plastic films are not only cheaper than traditional glass sheets, these products could also reduce maintenance costs while lightening your garden loads. If say, you want to build an eco-friendly greenhouse, using greenhouse plastic films will come in handy. Plastic films eliminate the need for artificial lighting when growing the plants. This will save electric consumption tremendously!
On top of that, plastic sheets eliminate the need to move plants in different parts of the greenhouse. Moving plants higher up is a backbreaking chore especially for growers with mobility issues. Because the plastic sheets neutralize damaging ultraviolet rays, the plants will not burn from radiation. Hence, there is no need to move the plants to other places when the sun gets too intense.
Prolonged Growing Season
Want to maximize your yield every growing season? You’d be surprised how effective plastic films are in terms of extending the growing season! If say, you want to grow your own food or you are growing fruits and vegetables to sell, you can expect a steady supply of produce all year round using plastic greenhouse films.
Extending a growing season often require more artificial heating because the weather becomes less than ideal for growing certain vegetables. Plastic sheets minimize the need for artificial heating. The plastic films could increase your yield in any season, allowing you to harvest more fruits and vegetables frequently without spending a small fortune on energy.
Say you finally made the decision to switch to greenhouse plastic films, what are the features that you should expect from this product? Continue reading below to find out:
• Customizable Shapes and Sizes
Plastic sheets come in an array of designs and shapes to choose from. You can also ask your local retailers for a customized size or design so the plastic sheet fits your greenhouse to a T. Even better, you can order a smaller or larger sheet to achieve the design that you want or to meet the specific needs of your greenhouse.
• Easy Installation
If you live for easy, DIY assembly, you simply cannot go wrong with greenhouse plastic film. Traditional glass sheets are too heavy and cumbersome to install on your own. This product will require professional installation, which might not be a good thing if you have a limited budget. If you are a hardcore DIY-er, plastic sheeting is perfect for you. These sheets are lighter, easier to install. The installation is simple, quick, and easy too.
Since plastic sheets are much lighter than glass sheets, these products do not require steel frames. Steel frames are expensive to put together and even more expensive to maintain. You can use a wooden frame instead of a steel frame for your greenhouse. Wooden frames are lightweight, easy to install, and even easier to maintain. You can paint and treat the wood yourself or have this done professionally, it’s your call!
Types of Greenhouse Plastic Films
As the name implies, plastic films are made from plastic. However, these products are made from different types of plastic materials! That's why it pays to check the product features before shopping for greenhouse plastic films. Here are the four different types of greenhouse plastic films that you can find at your local vendor:
• Polyethylene Plastic
Greenhouse plastic made from polyethylene plastic is available in two types: commercial grade and utility grade plastic films. Commercial grade plastic films are designed for heavy-duty applications and large-scale farming. On the other hand, utility grade plastic films are designed for small-scale farming or personal use. Generally, greenhouse films made from polyethylene plastic will last for 2 years if taken care of properly. Every day wear and tear could be repaired using a poly repair kit, which is often bought separately from the greenhouse film.
Copolymer plastic is more resilient than standard polyethylene plastic so this product will do well in heavy-duty applications. Since copolymer plastic is more durable than polyethylene plastic, it’s more expensive. Some copolymer plastic sheets are so hardy; they rival glass sheets in performance. However, this plastic sheet tends to become brittle after a few years of use. Exposure to harsh weather conditions will also cause the copolymer plastic to become brittle over time.
• Polyvinyl Plastic
Compared to polyethylene and copolymer plastic, polyvinyl is a more expensive material because it’s thicker and hardier than the other plastic films. Polyvinyl plastic films will last for years thanks to its strength and resilience. This product doesn't require replacement for up to 5 years. As long as you use polyvinyl plastic film with care and it gets regular cleaning and inspection, it will remain useful for years to come.
• Polycarbonate Plastic
Polycarbonate plastic film is the most durable out of all the gardening plastic films on this list. That’s because the material features two layers of polyethylene plastic. The twin wall of polyethylene plastic makes the material hardier and more resistant to heat exposure and humidity. It won’t crack or break as easily. When used correctly and maintained regularly, polycarbonate plastic film will last for at least a decade!
You can get greenhouse plastic film at your local gardening or hardware store. You can also shop for this product online. ECO Gardener greenhouse plastic film is available on our official store or at Amazon.com!
Whether you are a gardening newbie or a veteran grower, you should be familiar with different gardening essentials, such as grow bags. Now, some gardeners think that grow bags are some things that they can do without but make no mistake, grow bags present plenty of benefits for your plants and your garden, as a whole.
Grow bags, as the name implies, are bags designed to grow a variety of plants. Most growers use plastic or terracotta pots to grow plants and are more familiar with these planters. Grow bags are different because the material is lighter and more versatile than plastic or clay. These products come in an array of sizes and heights to choose from. Small grow bags could be used to grow petite houseplants and crops while larger, hardier grow bags can be used for bigger plants, even fruit-bearing dwarf trees, and some shrubs.
Grow bags could be used on their own or arranged in a raised bed. You can also incorporate grow bags into your planting system to create a small or large garden. Adding more plants to your garden is easier with grow bags too. Just grow the plants in a grow bag and add the grow bags into your garden whenever you need them!
Grow bags are best used for growing a variety of crops, particularly vegetables and herbs. Since planting the crops requires no digging, grow bags are also perfect for growers with mobility issues. Terracotta pots, in particular, are hard to move around. Grow bags are made from lightweight fabric so they are much easier to move around the garden. Since these are easier to move around, you can update the layout of your garden without breaking your back!
Grow bags became popular in the late 80s when most greenhouses were damaged after a hurricane. If you live in a place that’s prone to severe weather conditions, you’ll find that grow bags yield superior crops on the cheap. Garden cleanup and maintenance is also much easier if you use grow bags. Since the bags inhibit weed growth, you can maintain a pristine garden with the littlest of effort. This makes grow bags perfect for an urban garden or a container garden.
Want to grow your own food? Grow bags are also ideal for mini vegetable patches. The bags allow you to grow several plant varieties in one bag so space is never an issue. In fact, you won’t need a yard to grow your favorite herbs and veggies.
Types of Grow Bags
There are two types of grow bags, fabric and plastic grow bags. Which type of grow bag materials are suitable for your needs? Continue reading below:
• Fabric Grow Bags
Fabric grow bags, like the ones we sell on our online store, are designed for plants that hate standing water. These bags are made from lightweight, breathable material that drains water well. Fabric grow bags come in various sizes and the thickness of the material varies too.
Some materials are thinner so the grow bags cannot stand on their own unless they are filled with soil. These bags are best for smaller plants or delicate greeneries. Fabric grow bags made from heavy-duty fabric can stand on their own even when the bags are not filled with soil. These bags are best for medium to large sized plants.
There are grow bags that are made specifically for certain crops. For instance, there are potato grow bags, which are optimized for growing potatoes. Mushroom grow bags, on the other hand, are suitable for growing a variety of mushrooms.
Potatoes have their own grow bags because planting spuds requires hilling to get the potatoes to grow. A specialized grow bag is tall enough to let the spud's roots spread while also making harvesting a breeze. The same thing can be said for mushroom grows bags. These bags come with special features that improve and accelerate shroom growth.
If you are growing a variety of crops, opt for universal fabric grow bags. These bags come in simple designs and are suitable for most types of plants.
• Plastic Grow Bags
Plastic grow bags are typically seen in nurseries. These bags are made from a thin plastic material that’s often black in color. Plastic grow bags are designed to grow a variety of plants although these aren’t as versatile as fabric grow bags. These bags are used the same way as fabric grow bags but the bags aren’t eco-friendly because of the plastic material used. There is also a tendency for the material to crumble over time. Plastic grow bags have to be pierced to drain the water well. Between the two types of grow bags, plastic grow bags tend to be more affordable but these products deteriorate much more quickly.
• Grow Bag Sizes
Grow bags come in various sizes and the kind that is perfect for your garden will depend on the type of plants you want to grow. Small grow bags can accommodate up to 5 gallons while large grow bags could accommodate 150 gallons. Small grow bags are perfect for small plants while larger grow bags are suitable for flowerbeds. You can use multiple grow bags and arrange them in rows if your plants require different types of soil.
Since using grow bags are more popular than ever before, these products have become widely available anywhere, even online. You can buy grow bags at your local gardening vendor or online at popular eMarketplaces like eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for eco-friendly fabric grow bags then you do not have to look far, you can shop at our online store for round and square grow bags. Our grow bags are made from breathable yet sturdy material so you can use and abuse these grow bags for years!
Are Grow Bags More Expensive than Regular Planters?
One might think that grow bags are more expensive than regular planters. After all, clay, terracotta, metal, and plastic planters seem cheaper at a glance compared to grow bag prices. But unlike conventional planters, grow bags are versatile, durable, and space-efficient. These products do not crack under intense heat nor do these break when dropped. You can use and reuse the grow bags from one growing season to another. When not in use, you can simply clean, fold and store the grow bags until the next growing season starts!
The material of the grow bag is also a factor that enhances its ability to enhance plant growth. Conventional planters tend to trap heat that affects the crops’ root systems. Grow bags do not conduct heat. The permeable material disperses heat evenly while improving airflow, all of which are beneficial to plant growth.
Pots and planters made from traditional materials such as plastic, terracotta, and metal, are a staple in the garden. This goes especially for people who are either building or growing a container garden. When it comes to planters and pots, you probably do not spend much of your time thinking about the material at all. These products look the same and they serve the same purpose after all, regardless of what they are made of.
But if you are an eco-gardener who wants to use the best products for your crops, then you’ll find that fabric grow bags may be the best choice for your garden. What are fabric grow bags and how are these different from your regular planters and pots? In today’s post, let’s take a look at the many benefits of using fabric grow bags compared to regular planters and why you should make a switch, right now:
Before we get into the pros of using fabric grow bags, it’s important to get to know more about the bag culture. The bag culture became popular in the late 70s to early 80s after a massive hurricane damaged most greenhouses in the US. Grow bags became popular simply because they are much more practical than maintaining a greenhouse, not to mention, more resilient to severe weather changes. This term simply describes the process of growing a plant out of a bag, much like how you’d use a regular pot to grow a plant. This method is used to extend or expand the available growing media to a plant’s root system.
At some point, a plant will outgrow a regular planter. When this happens, you need to either use a bigger pot to accommodate the plant’s growing root system or plant it directly into the ground. In some cases, an already potted plant has to be placed inside or on top of a grow bag filled with new grow media to promote root growth. This is the reason why most greenhouse and indoor gardeners prefer to use grow bags to expand the crops’ root zone volume.
Some growers may think that fabric grow bags are just a temporary solution or an optional product that they can live without. Not true at all. Grow bags could also work as standalone planters for individual or multiple plants. This goes especially for indoor gardens or hydroponic gardens, fabric grow bags serve many purposes!
Fabric grow bags are made from a permeable, breathable non-woven polypropylene material. Usually, these products come in tan or black shades. Because the material promotes air circulation and proper drainage, it is hard to over-water the plants grown in grow bags.
4 Benefits of Fabric Grow Bags
Healthier Plant Roots
Potted plants tend to develop tangled root systems. As the roots grow and expand, they form circles that eventually lead to a ball of tightly packed roots that inhibit plant growth. When a plant’s root system is tangled in circles, it is unable to harness oxygen, water, and nutrients from the soil. Eventually, the roots begin to encircle the pot, which leads to structural damage to the plant. In some cases, rot sets in due to poor drainage. This is why it is so important to check and trim the plant roots regularly to avoid girdling roots and promote air pruning! Unfortunately, plastic planters are notorious for inhibiting air pruning.
Air pruning is a process that burns off the plant roots naturally. As the roots burn off naturally, healthier branching roots will grow. With the new feeder roots, the plant is able to absorb more nutrients and water from the soil, accelerating plant growth.
You won’t have the same problem when you are using grow bags. Grow bags promote proper root growth and air pruning. The overall root structure and mass of the plant improve too! Unlike plastic planters, grow bags won’t constrict nutrient uptake, these products allow dominant roots to grow without causing girdling.
Did you know that the kind of planters you use could affect the soil temperature? Certain planter materials, like plastic, and metal, retain more heat from the sun. Most plants are quite sensitive to temperature changes. Pots made from non-breathable materials tend to trap heat, which “cooks” the plant’s delicate roots from the inside, causing the plant to wilt and die.
Fabric growth bags are made from breathable, permeable material that does not retain heat. These products promote proper air circulation that cools the soil down and let heat escape from all sides. This ensures that the plant is never exposed to excessive heat.
Minimizes the Risk of Over-Watering
Some plants hate standing water while others are overly thirsty. Standing water can cause rot to set in, leading to mold or fungus growth as well as diseases. If you are growing plants that are sensitive to excessive moisture, we highly recommend using fabric grow bags. Fabric grow bags’ breathable material allows water to drain away, leaving the soil moist, never wet. It is hard to over-water plants if you are using fabric grow bags! Traditional planters, especially those with small drain holes, retain excess water. When the plant roots are exposed to excess water, the plant could drown or become diseased.
If you do not have much room to spare for regular pots, which could take a lot of space, try investing in fabric grow bags instead. Fabric grow bags are just as sturdy and useful as regular planters and pots, but they are so space efficient. These products do not crack under the intense heat nor do these break when accidentally dropped. Fabric grow bags are easy to move around because these products are made from a lightweight material.
In addition, fabric grow bags can be folded and stored neatly without taking much space. You can reuse fabric grow bags season after season without worrying about where to store these planters once the growing season is over. Some types of grow bags could be planted directly into the ground. These products are not as durable as those made from non-woven polypropylene material because the material is biodegradable. However, biodegradable grow bags will be useful when planting delicate crops that are prone to transplanting shock.
Are fabric grow bags the better choice for growers? Traditional planters have their own advantages; these products are sturdy and efficient. However, fabric grow bags are just as hardy and useful. Of course, your choice boils down to what’s best for your garden and your plants.
Grow bags can be used for small scale and large scale gardening. These are an excellent option for gardeners who grow individual plants and herbs. Grow bags could be used to fill a raised bed too. If the grow bag is large enough, you can use a single fabric grow bag to grow several plants!
ECO gardener grow bags come in different shapes to accommodate small to large plants. These heavy-duty grow bags are durable so these will last you years of use! Tune in for more gardening tips and other resources by signing to our mailing list.
For most gardeners, growing plants is best done during the spring and summer season. Most plants cannot survive the cold season; other plants grow dormant until the ground warms up again. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to continue growing plants in the fall and winter season. You can also take advantage of the cooler months to prepare your garden for the next growing season. Don’t worry too much about the cold, here are our favorite gardening tips for weatherproofing your garden for fall and winter:
Preparing Your Vegetable Garden for the Fall and Winter Season
Most vegetables cannot stand the cold so you have to protect your crops from the dropping temperature. If you get forecasts of frost, cover your vegetables with bedspreads, old sheets, and other protective row covers during the night. You can also use old newspaper, straw, and evergreen branches to cover your vegetables. These insulate heat effectively while keeping frost at bay. By mid-morning, you have to remove all the coverings you installed so the vegetables can take advantage of the sunlight.
Frost-resistant crops like carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, and rutabagas can survive the dropping temperature. Parsnips, in particular, will taste better when left to mature near freezing temperature. But don’t wait until you’re deep in the winter season before digging these crops out. Dig and store them before the ground freezes!
Some crops are quite sensitive to temperature changes, like potatoes, which has to be dug and stored as soon as the cooler climate sets in. But before digging the potatoes, you have to toughen the skins up prior to storage. Do this by drying the freshly dug potatoes for two weeks in a dry, warm area that’s away from direct sunlight. Turn the potatoes regularly for even drying. As the skins of the potatoes dry up, they will store beautifully all winter long.
Frost resistant greens like cabbages and Swiss chard have tough leaves so they can withstand light frost. In case the leaves are damaged, just peel some of the layers away and they should be good. Kale, collards, and other greens turn sweeter when exposed to a light frost so they should be fine on a frosty night too. Delicate greens, like lettuces, cannot withstand the frost and will need more protection from the cold. Other veggies, such as tomato, squash, pea, beans, etc., cannot tolerate the cold at all so compost the healthy ones and discard the diseased plants separately.
Do all your gardening tasks, like watering, weeding, and raking, before the ground freezes and gets too hard to work with. Watch out for insects, pests, and diseases during the start of the fall season. Till the soil gently to expose burrowing bugs and avoid an infestation come spring and summer season. Add a layer of organic compost to the tilled soil to prepare it for the next growing season. For patches of soil overtaken by weeds, use a high-quality landscape fabric to kill the weeds in one go. Just set the landscaping fabric on the weed-ridden soil, secure the covering with landscape staples and within several days to a few weeks, the weeds will die.
Preparing Your Herb Garden for the Fall and Winter Season
Herbs are surprisingly resilient to cold climate and some do not require special prep at all. However, there are herbs that are greatly affected by frost so it’s important to prepare your herb garden before the winter season. Sage, which is a type of perennial plant, requires no coddling for the winter. If some of its branches dry out due to the cold, cut the dried branches and use them in cooking.
Thyme is surprisingly resistant to the cold although it will go dormant in the fall season. You can always revive this herb once the weather warms up. Parsley is also resistant to light frost but it will require a cover-up on cold nights. Do note that this herb has a long taproot so it is prone to transplant shocks. Chives are quite hardy but you have to dig them up and plant them in a pot so you can harvest the chives throughout the winter season. Expect the leaves to brown or freeze for several weeks. It helps if you can set the pots in a sunny spot.
Rosemary is more fragile and will require shelter for the winter. If it’s potted, take your rosemary inside until the weather warms up again. If the herb is planted in the ground, you can use a protective cover to keep the cold away.
Preparing Your Berry Garden for the Fall and Winter Season
Most berries are resilient; they will survive the cold climate. However, extra prep is always a good idea to ensure a bountiful yield even in the winter season. Summer berries like raspberries require pruning during the mid-fall.
Late in the fall, bend the young canes gently into the ground. Mound 3 inches of soil over the young canes to insulate the plants and protect the canes from winter frost. As the climate warms up, gradually remove the soil. We also recommend cutting down all the canes each year after harvest. This will promote the growth of new canes every spring. Yes, this method means sacrificing your summer yield but you can expect a bigger crop in the fall season.
Blackberries will also benefit from proper protection and insulation as the cold season sets in. Again, gently bend the young canes into the ground. Mound 3 inches of soil over the young canes to insulate the plants and protect the canes from the winter cold. For strawberries, use hay or straws to insulate and protect the plants from hard frosts.
We recommend planting blueberries in late winter to ensure an excellent yield. Of course, don't forget to prepare your soil first. The soil must have an acidity of 4.8. Use a soil test to check the acidity of the soil. If the acidity is too low, you can use sulfur to bring the acidity up.
Preparing Your Perennial Plants and Flowering Plants for the Fall and Winter Season
Most perennials and flowering plants can withstand the cold climate so they are best grown before the winter season sets in. They are easy to maintain too. Perennials and flowering plants tend to go dormant during the winter season. During this period, the plants will lose their leaves and flowers but they will sprout new foliage as the spring season approaches.
We recommend watering your perennials and flowering shrubs deeply during the fall season. Don’t do the watering if the ground has become hard from the cold. Perennials will also benefit from regular pruning. Remove all the wilted leaves, decaying plants, and unwanted debris to prep your perennials for the cold season. Regular maintenance will prevent pests or diseases from harming the plants.
Do note, however, that some perennials should never be trimmed in the fall. Evergreen perennials, for instance, do not require regular trimming. You can trim these perennials right after blooming. Leave the lower leaves alone in the fall season and continue the trimming in the spring. Don't trim woody perennials either. You can continue with the pruning in the spring.
We recommend mulching your perennials with a generous layer of straw, hay, peat moss, or leaves. Wait until the ground freezes before you add the mulch. If you are preparing a new flower bed for spring, the fall season is the best time to protect the plot with landscape fabric or mulch. This method will protect the new flowerbed from emergent growth.
For perennials that are blackened with hard frost, gently dig them up and leave them to dry indoors. Lay the freshly dug perennials on newspaper for several days. Then, pack the plants in Styrofoam peanuts, shredded newspaper or dry peat moss. Store the plants in a dark, humid spot until spring season and replant.
Preparing Your Trees and Shrubs for the Fall and Winter Season
Small trees and tiny shrubs are quite vulnerable to the cold so they need all the protection they can get for proper insulation. In case of extreme cold, surround small trees and tiny shrubs with a cylinder of snow fencing and packing straws. You can also pack the cylinder with shredded leaves to keep the cold from seeping in.
Regular maintenance is a must to ensure the survival of young trees and small shrubs during the cold season. Always check the trees and shrubs, remove broken branches, and make a clean cut close to the trunk. Remove unwanted debris that could pave the way for pests and diseases.
Continue to water your shrubs and trees during the fall season then quit watering once the soil freezes. To protect the shrubs from sunscald and animal damage during the winter season, use a type of insulating blanket or additional mulch. To prevent evergreens from browned needles and desiccation, you can use burlap as a windscreen or plant cover-ups to shield the plants from the harsh winter sun and wind.
As for multi-stemmed deciduous trees like upright evergreens and birch, you want to protect their branches from breakage brought on by heavy snow and ice. You can use horticultural tape, nylon strings, or strong cloth strips to secure the branches and prevent the trunks from bending or breaking. Remove the tree protectors you used as soon as the climate warms up.
Your Garden Activities Before the Winter Season
Apart from preparing your plants for the cold season, you have to complete a list of gardening activities to protect your garden from extreme weather changes. These gardening tasks include:
Organize and Store Your Tools Properly
Go through all your outdoor containers and make sure they are empty. These containers tend to crack during the winter season so store these upside down before the climate gets too cold. Store your metal buckets over a hook in your shed or garage. Roll your hoses neatly and hang them. Store hose nozzles and sprinkle attachments to prevent winter damage. We recommend running your garden hose up over a railing or the shed to remove all the water on a mild day. Then, roll the hose again for storage.
Drain your lawn mower’s fuel tank and check the owner’s manual to winter-proof your power equipment. Keep your garden tools rust-free by scrubbing oil on your tools.
Prep the Lawn
Do not wait until the last second before you prepare your lawn for the winter season. Mow the lawn late in the fall just as the grass begins to grow. Leaving the grass to grow for far too long will lead to unsightly brown patches in the spring.
Using a rake, remove all the fallen leaves, twigs, and other garden debris then pile them up on a tarp or large sheet. Drag the sheet to your compost pile and add in thin layers mixed with old hay and other organic matter. You can also use the fallen leaves as mulch for your perennial plants. Cover your compost pile with a thick layer of hay or a plastic sheet to protect it from snow.
Gather Compost Materials
Keep your garden tidy by raking all the fallen leaves and removing all the dead vegetation. Healthy dead plant materials of all kinds will be useful as compost material. You can also use shredded leaves as mulch to suppress weeds, enrich the soil, and encourage the growth of beneficial soil organisms.
If you live in a place with mild winters, make a habit out of tilling the soil to get a head start on your garden maintenance. Just gently turn the soil and till organic matter. Tilling the soil helps break hard clumps and aerate the soil for the next growing season. The dying weeds, plant debris, and organic matter will be converted into natural compost once they have been exposed to the elements. This tip will not work if you live in a place that gets bitter winters or if the ground is sloped, however.
Unprotected soil tends to lose more moisture during the cold season. Keep your soil moist and warm all winter long by adding a healthy layer of mulch. Organic matter also insulates plants, keeping them alive even in their dormant state during the cold months.
Thinking of building a vegetable garden? Growing your own crops is not only rewarding, it’s also a great way to save money on food. Imagine enjoying fresh vegetables all season long, thanks to your hard work! Of course, successful vegetable gardening demands commitment. There is more to this activity than simply planting a few seeds into the ground and waiting for the crops to grow. In fact, planting the vegetables is just the first step to successful vegetable gardening. In today’s guide, let’s take a look at the basics of building a vegetable garden as well as all the other factors you need to know before growing your own crops:
Factors to Consider Before Building a Vegetable Garden
The first step to successful vegetable gardening is to plan your garden and plan it well. You do not need a massive yard to build a vegetable plot. A small space will do if you live in a small apartment. In fact, starting small is probably the best if you are new to vegetable gardening.
What’s important is that the space itself is suitable for growing vegetables. Exposure to light is one of the most important elements of growing most types of crops. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. However, there are crops that thrive in shady environments such as leaf and root vegetables.
Generally, south-side spaces get maximum sun exposure while north side spaces are usually shady, plan your garden setup accordingly. If the space gets a lot of sunlight, then congratulations, you have more options in terms of the kinds of crops you can grow. On the other hand, if the space is shady then do your own research, get to know what types of plants thrive in this kind of environment.
Plant According to Your Zone
After knowing more about the growing habits of certain vegetables, learning what vegetables are suitable for your garden, zone, and microclimate then it’s time to make a list of all the plants you’d like to grow in your garden. At this point, you can start planning the setup of your vegetable garden.
Choose a spot that’s nearest to a water source. This seems like a small thing but it will reduce your gardening load significantly. Easy access to water will not put too much strain on your back during periods of little rainfall! Most vegetables hate standing water so good drainage is important in a vegetable garden. The drainage will depend on your garden's soil composition and slope. Steep or sharp slopes are prone to soil erosion so you have to find ways to retain the soil moisture and nutrients.
Orientation and Garden Layout
After all these are taken care of, you can start planning the layout of the garden. You can either use raised beds to grow your vegetables, set the crops in rows or set the plants in certain parts of your outdoor space. The choice is up to you.
Planting in Rows
If say, you'd like to grow your crops in a row, make sure the vegetables are getting maximum sunlight. Tall vegetables could shade shorter plants so building trellises are your best bet. In addition, try planting the veggies in parallel lines so the crops are much easier to maintain. If say, you are planting in a sloped plot and the risk of runoff is high, plant the vegetables across the slope. This way, the runoff will flow along the length of the row rather than downhill. If the runoff is still an issue, you can also dig a swale, which is a shallow ditch with sloping sides. The swale will help soak the water in. It can be used to grow perennial plants too.
Using a Raised Bed
Raised beds are the perfect choice for growers who want to maximize their garden space. Since the plants are elevated a few inches from the ground, raised beds deter pests, particularly burrowing critters. In addition, raised beds allow you to amend the soil with less effort. Raised beds aerate the soil, prevent compaction, and improve the health of the vegetables. Weeding becomes much less of a hassle too since the vegetables are planted in a contained space. That being said, raised beds come in different dimensions so make sure your garden has room for these before getting them. Measure your garden to get the dimensions right. Raised beds are quite the investment so proper installation and setup is a must.
If you don't have much room for a garden, we highly recommend building a garden spot. Just plant the vegetables in containers and then set the crops on sunny spots. Spot gardening does not deliver an impressive yield, but it requires less planning and easier maintenance. It’s a great option for newbie gardeners who’d like to try their hand at growing vegetables for the first time.
Preparing the Soil for a Vegetable Garden
Soil prep is the foundation on which any garden is built. You cannot expect to grow a variety of crops if the soil isn't providing enough nutrients to the vegetables!
If you can, start your soil prep early in the fall season so it'll be ready just in time for spring planting. You want to make sure the soil is workable before amending it. Clear the plot of weeds and garden debris using a rake. Using a soil tester, check your soil’s pH just to see if it’s suitable for vegetables. Different vegetables thrive in different pH levels so you may have to bring the acidity level up or down, depending on the types of vegetables you’d like to grow.
If the soil is too acidic, try adding limestone or dolomitic limestone to the soil. Wood ash also works to bring the soil's acidity down. If the soil is too alkaline, add ammonium sulfate, urea, or ammonium nitrate to the soil. You can also add pine needles, shredded leaves, sawdust, and peat moss to the soil to improve its acidity level.
After adjusting the pH of the soil, gently turn the soil to a depth of 12 to 14 inches, then add 3 to 4-inch layer of organic compost. Rake the soil to loosen the clumps and allow water and oxygen to penetrate the ground. Once that’s done, you are ready to start planting your crops. If your soil quality is not the best, we recommend using a raised bed. A raised bed allows you to control the quality of the soil.
Choosing the Vegetables to Plant
Always keep an eye on the weather, the growing conditions, as well as pest problems and amendments before planting your crops. Once the crops are planted, you need to track the watering and fertilizing schedules too.
Vegetable varieties are divided into two categories: warm and cool season vegetables. Warm season vegetables could be tender or very tender vegetables while cool season veggies can be semi-hardy or hardy.
Generally, very tender crops cannot tolerate frost so these vegetables should never be planted in cold environments with temperatures below 55˚F. Tender vegetables can survive a light frost, but they will not thrive in the bitter cold. Half-hardy vegetables will do well in cool temperatures; they can also survive light frosts. However, they cannot tolerate hard freezes and heavy frosts. Hardy crops could survive frost but never freezing winters.
10 of the Easiest Crops to Grow
If you are new to gardening, it’s best to start with crops that are easiest to grow. Crops that are easier to grow provide a better yield with minimal maintenance on your part. Here are some of the best vegetables to grow for newbie gardeners:
Tomatoes do not require much coddling and coaxing to bear fruits. Some varieties will thrive even when neglected. Tomatoes could grow virtually anywhere and the plants do not grow too big so these are ideal for a small garden, a container garden, even a vertical garden. You can hang tomato plants in baskets; plant them in-ground, or in pots. Cherry tomatoes, in particular, are so easy to grow. Since tomatoes' plant stems are quite soft, they will need a bit of support.
Cucumbers are best grown in a warm, sunny spot but generally, this vegetable spreads like weeds. Cucumber plants usually bear a lot of fruits so don't be surprised if you end up having more cucumbers than you can handle, just share some with the neighbors. Just like tomatoes, cucumbers are best suited for small gardens, container gardens, and vertical gardens. These are climbing plants so you have to provide a structure for the cucumber plants to climb on.
Carrots are the best vegetable to grow for new gardeners. Carrots thrive in both sunny and semi-shady environments, the veggies require minimal maintenance, and these plants will thrive in less than ideal soil conditions. Carrots will grow best in well-drained soil, although they’ve been known to grow in heavy soil too. What’s more, planting carrots is fun; you can round up the kids and turn gardening into a family affair. Harvesting carrots are equally fun and if you want your children to take up gardening as a hobby, this is a great vegetable to plant.
Love radish? It's a good thing this vegetable is easy to grow. Radishes add a delectable crunch to green salads or appetizers and a delicate flavor to soups and stews. Growing radishes is easy, even when the plants are grown from seed. Once the seedlings are large enough to sow, you can plant radishes in a container garden, a raised garden bed, or directly into the ground. Radishes love sunny to partially sunny environments. They don't require daily watering but the soil has to remain moist all the time.
From string beans to snap beans, all types of green beans are ridiculously easy to grow. Green beans come in different varieties to choose from so make sure to check which varieties are suitable for your zone and space (some varieties are climbing plants, others are bush types). Generally, green beans grow easily from seeds. These plants prefer the full sun and well-drained soil. Green beans are best grown in home gardens.
Zucchini and all types of summer squash grow like weeds, especially during the warm season. They can be grown in containers or in-ground. Just like beans and radishes, zucchinis are so easy to grow from seeds and the plants bear a lot of fruits + edible blossoms. Zucchinis prefer good moisture so water these veggies regularly. These vegetables also love warm soil so plant zucchini later in the warm season for a maximum yield.
Most types of herbs are easy to grow, including basil. Basil is a fast-growing plant that can be grown from seeds or from transplants. What's more, basil pairs so well with tomato plants. When planted near tomatoes, basil will keep pests away!
If you want to give your vegetable garden a look of lushness and fast, try growing lettuce and other types of loose-leaf vegetables. Lettuce matures every 3 to 4 weeks. You can plant different lettuce varieties to ensure a steady supply of yummy, crunchy greens all season long! And don't think lettuces thrive only in traditional gardens, these veggies will do well in container gardens too.
From sweet bell pepper to hot chili peppers, all pepper varieties are so easy to grow. Just like most vegetables on this list, peppers grow like weeds. Just grow peppers straight from seeds and they will grow with minimal effort. Peppers mature quickly too, particularly the miniature varieties. If you want fast-ripening hot peppers, we highly recommend planting jalapeños!
Rounding up our list of the easiest crops to grow is Swiss chard. Swiss chard is a dark, green leafy vegetable that grows easily and beautifully, it makes any garden look good. We recommend growing the bright lights and the ruby varieties due to their vividly colored stems. If you live somewhere warm, you cannot go wrong with the Lucullus variety. Swiss chard thrives in light, well-drained soil and is best planted in rows. However, this vegetable is ideal for container gardening too! This vegetable needs an even, regular watering, especially during dry spells.
Growing a vegetable garden is not only an eco-friendly hobby; it’s a terrific way of accessing fresh, delicious vegetables all season long! Of course, there are certain factors that you have to consider before building a vegetable garden so use our guide as a reference.