Ever dream of filling your garden with beautiful roses? Imagine walking to your garden and being greeted by a riot of multicolored blooms! How about drinking tea in your garden while enjoying the mesmerizing scent of fresh roses?
For beginner gardeners, growing roses seem daunting at first. One might think that growing a rose garden requires professional help or specialized tools. You'd be surprised how easy it is to grow roses! Modern rose bushes, in particular, are tough as nails. Some varieties could even thrive in poor growing conditions. If you’d like to grow your own rose garden, try these gardening tips:
Types of Rose Varieties
Hybrid roses are prized for their large, perfectly formed and defined blossoms as well as the flowers’ robust rose scent. Usually, hybrid roses form from a single long stem with small foliage at the base of the plant. Hybrid roses do not grow too big so they are fairly low maintenance. But to encourage new growths, regular pruning is a must.
Floribunda roses are known for their vividly colored clusters of flowers. Hardier, more resilient than hybrid roses, floribunda roses thrive in most growing conditions. This rose variety will cover the garden walls and floors with fragrant blooms with zero bare spots. This means Floribunda roses work perfectly as natural screens or hedges.
As the name implies, these are mini varieties of roses that thrive in containers and pots. However, the name of this rose variety refers to the size of the flowers, not the foliage size. Perfect for small gardens or as living accents on the deck or patio, miniature roses yield smaller though vividly hued blossoms. Since miniature roses are planted in pots, they are much easier to move around. An alternative to miniature roses is miniflora roses. These roses are space efficient although they grow larger than miniature roses.
Climbing roses love to crawl up on nearly anything, making this rose variety one of the best natural screens for the garden. Climbing roses produce large, elegant flowers in a multitude of colors. However, climbing roses can be unyielding and out of control if left to grow freely in the garden. Regular pruning is a must to retain the size and shape of these rose varieties.
This rose variety was grafted onto a standard cane stock. Tree roses are best grown in mild to cold climates. These are hardy plants so they can be grown without much coddling, making them perfect for beginner gardeners!
Choose Your Rose Variety
Roses come in many varieties, some produce multicolored blooms, others help frame specific areas of the garden, like a rambling rose. It is possible to build a beautiful rose garden without spending a lot of time, money, and energy maintaining it. You just need to choose the right plant variety to grow to get the look that you want.
For formal gardens, you cannot go wrong with hybrid roses like Iceberg, tea rose, or amber Queen. You can also grow a variety of old rose varieties like Francis Dubreuil, Lady Banks, or Yolande d'Aragon. Shrub roses, like Ballerina, Peace, and Mister Lincoln, are best for landscaping while miniature roses will work great for small gardens or container gardens.
Climbing roses like Zepherine Drouhin, Renae, Sombreuil, or New Dawn, on the other hand, will look perfect in gardens with trellises, iron fences, railings, arches, and gazebos. These rose varieties grow in long canes so you can simply drape the climbing stems on a trellis or arbor to create an artistic display. Climbing roses could also work as a natural screen so you can use them to section parts of the garden for privacy.
Learning about Rose Roots
When buying roses from a nursery, you can choose between roses that are planted in a pot of soil or dormant, bare-root roses. If you are new to gardening, we highly suggest choosing the potted roses because these are much easier to establish. On the other hand, if you are not new to growing roses, go for the bare root roses. Bare root roses come in more varieties to choose from. These are also less expensive compared to potted rose plants. Bare root roses are more widely accessible even in places where there is no local nursery.
However, bare root roses will arrive dormant so they will require more care in the months after planting. The roots have to be soaked overnight in water before being planted into the ground. The soil must be kept moist within the first few months after planting to establish the rose plant.
Curate Your Rose Garden
With so many rose varieties, it is hard to choose just a few. While it is tempting to fill your garden with as many rose varieties as you can grow, it is important to start your collection with a modest selection first and then work your way up to more roses as needed. Filling your outdoor space with too many plants at the same time could ruin the look of the garden.
Curate your rose collection to 4 or so to create a harmonious garden. Some rose varieties grow too fast, which means you could end up spending a huge chunk of your day pruning to keep the rose bushes neat. Also, different roses have different growing needs so choose those that are grown similarly just to keep your gardening tasks manageable.
Practical Gardening Tips for Roses
Most varieties of roses require at least 4 hours of direct sunlight during the growing season. These flowering plants are best planted in a sunny spot, perhaps near a wall, trellis, or post. Roses require room to grow so leave about 18 inches of space between the plant and the wall or trellis.
Roses love well-draining, lightly acidic soils and hate standing water. If you are using planters, make sure the planters have drainage holes at the bottom so the water drains quickly. Also, never set the container or pot on a saucer to collect the excess water. Standing water could cause root rot and diseases.
When planting roses, dig a hole that’s about as deep as the plant’s soil ball and three times as wide. Then, pour some water into the hole and add fertilizer before placing the plant into the freshly dug hole. This will help establish the rose plant much more quickly, allowing the plant to start producing flowers faster!
Roses grow best in nutrient-dense soils so amend the soil regularly to produce more flowers. Apply the fertilizers early in the spring and then every 6 weeks until the summer ends. You can add a layer of mulch to the soil to protect the roots from extreme heat while keeping weeds at bay.
Hold off the pruning on newly planted roses. Let the rose plant grow until the foliage is bushy to get off to a strong start. Once the rose plant has matured, you can start with the regular pruning.
Roses can be quite thirsty especially during the summer months but do not water the leaves. These plants are prone to black spot disease so water the soil three times a week but avoid wetting the leaves.
Growing different varieties of roses is a breeze as long as you chose the right variety for your local climate. For more gardening tips and helpful resources, subscribe to our newsletter right now!
Before modern medicine, people use traditional remedies to heal different ailments. These remedies are usually made from a concoction of medicinal plants and herbs. The fact is, nature is one giant pharmacy that provides healing to all sorts of diseases, even deadly ones. And if you’re the kind who appreciates natural healing, then consider growing medicinal plants to your garden. From healing simple burns to severe chronic diseases, here are some of the best medicinal plants to add to the garden:
This plant is perfect for people who are just getting into gardening. Aloe Vera is a drought-resistant perennial plant that could survive severe growing environments. That’s because this herbaceous perennial is native to the dry regions of Africa. Aloe vera is distinct for its lance-shaped succulent leaves edged with small teeth.
The leaves are filled with a clear, gel-like sap that can be used to treat a variety of ailments, particularly skin problems. Simply scrape off the sap and use it to treat burns, wounds, and cuts. You can also use aloe vera to soothe eczema flare-ups, hives, and skin allergies. Mix the aloe vera gel with freshly squeezed fruit juices and it can heal common digestive problems as well as chronic constipation and ulcerative colitis. Aloe Vera can also help normalize blood sugar and minimize the risk of diabetes.
Calendula, best known as pot marigold, is a favorite among gardeners for its cheerful blossoms and graceful foliage. Calendula's blossoms are similar to daisies and they do add a nice pop of golden yellow to the garden. It's a great plant to grow if you live in places that get mild summers. This flowering plant is so easy to grow. All it needs is the full sun and well-draining soil.
Calendula can be used to treat a variety of skin issues ranging from insect bites and minor inflammation to wounds and stings. Calendula extract contains a powerful muscle relaxant that soothes painful muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, and stomach cramps. Calendula is also used as a treatment for jaundice, smallpox, and measles.
Lavender is a beautiful plant with blossoms that emit a soothing scent. It makes a great accent plant in the garden because of the blue-purple flowers. It's also drought, heat, and wind resistant so lavender will thrive in the harshest growing environments.
Every part of the lavender plant is infused with fragrant oil. The darker the flower color, the more intense the aroma. Traditionally, lavender infused remedies are used to treat migraine headaches, indigestion, common aches and pains as well as insomnia. It can be used to treat dandruff when the blossoms are steeped in boiling water.
Did you know that garlic is also called nature's antibiotic thanks to its antimicrobial properties? Garlic contains a potent microbe-killing chemical called allicin. This chemical is used to treat a wide range of ailments, including common cough, internal inflammation, common aches and pains, as well as intestinal problems. Garlic is also used to treat chronic diseases ranging from heart disease to certain cancer.
Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow. This plant is best grown during the fall season when the weather is nice and cool. Garlic has to develop a strong root system to grow. By the spring and summer season, the garlic bulb will enlarge and it’ll be ready for harvest!
Basil is easily one of the most popular aromatic herbs for cooking. As a medicinal plant, basil could reduce your risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. This herb helps lower the sugar level in the bloodstream, which minimizes the risk of diabetes and excessive insulin production. In addition, basil is an excellent remedy for high blood pressure, insulin resistance. This herb could also reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Growing basil is easy; all it needs is a sunny spot in the garden. This herb could also tolerate partly shady growing environments. It only takes a few weeks before basil leaves are ready for harvest. You can use the leaves to spice up stews, soups, pasta dishes, and salads.
Onion is an easy to grow crop that adds amazing flavor to soups, stews, salads, and stir-frys. This plant is also packed with a diverse range of nutrients that keep the heart healthy. Onion contains a powerful anti-inflammatory chemical that minimizes the risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It is also loaded with antioxidants that protect healthy cells from oxidative stress. Eating onion-based dishes may reduce the risk of certain cancers too.
Thankfully, it does not take much to grow onions. This vegetable comes in two varieties, long and short day varieties. Long day varieties require 14 hours of daylight or more to grow while short day varieties require 10 to 12 hours of daylight to thrive. Onions love the full sun and moist, well-draining soil. It will grow well in a pot and it can be planted indoors or outdoors.
Add a pop of vivid red to your tropical garden with passionflower! Treated as an annual plant in northern climates, passionflower is prized for its medium-sized blossoms that come in a myriad of colors. But passionflower that produces red flowers is the most popular varieties. This ornamental plant could grow in a variety of environments. Once established, passionflower is drought resistant.
Passionflower is a traditional remedy for sleep problems, anxiety, certain forms of pain, and fibromyalgia. It's often given to children suffering from hyperactivity disorder or adjustment disorder. When applied topically, passionflower soothes burns, swelling, and minor skin inflammation.
Ginger is a tropical root crop used as an herbal remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. This kitchen staple is used to treat a myriad of health problems, ranging from headaches, nausea, and minor pains to osteoarthritis, inflammatory ailments, and certain cancers. The ginger root contains 6-gingerol, a substance that reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
Just like most plants in this list, ginger does not take much coddling to thrive. The ginger plant is considered as a tropical plant so it is best grown in warm to hot climates. It can be grown outdoors all year round but will require some shelter once the winter season starts. Ginger prefers moist soil and partly shady environments.
Did you know that dandelions are not just prized for their beautiful blossoms but of their medicinal properties too? All parts of the dandelion plant are loaded with essential nutrients, which is why the greens can be cooked or eaten raw. This plant is packed with powerful antioxidants that against cellular damage and oxidative stress, particularly beta-carotene and polyphenols. Traditionally, dandelions are used to treat liver disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and anemia.
Although dandelion belongs to a family of flowering plants, it is treated as a weed in many gardens because it grows rapidly. But if you want to build a medicinal garden or you’d like to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden or lawn, let the dandelions thrive. Just keep the growth under control so the dandelions won’t take over your outdoor space.
Lemon balm is used to calm and soothe frayed nerves since ancient times. This perennial plant is grown for its oil, which is used to treat anxiety and stress-related ailments including insomnia and other sleep disorders. Lemon balm is also a great treatment for cold sores, indigestion, boils, herpes, and fevers. Thanks to its beautiful bright green foliage and invigorating fragrance, lemon balm makes any garden setting even more eye-catching!
You can grow lemon balm to highlight walkways and pathways. Most gardeners grow lemon balm to attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Grill a few stems of the lemon balm plant and the smell will drive mosquitoes away! The leaves of the lemon balm plant are also edible so they can be used to make fresh salads, soups, and sauces.
Need a little privacy in your yard? While you can always install a fence to divide your garden into different sections, there are so many options that you can explore when it comes to adding privacy in your outdoor space. Easily one of the best and most aesthetically pleasing ways of doing so involves planting fast-growing shrubs or tall plants to section off parts of the garden from prying eyes!
Thankfully, many varieties of shrubs, trailing plants, trees, and vines work great as a natural screen. Not only do these plants add shade and beauty to your outdoor space, they require minimal care too. Just make sure to prune the plants on a regular basis to maintain the shape of your living wall. Here are some of our favorite plants that will enhance your garden’s privacy:
Lucky bamboo is the quintessential privacy plant. It's easy to grow, it spreads like weeds, and it enhances the look of your outdoor space. This plant comes in many varieties and each one has different growth habits. Some are slow to grow; others will take over your yard in no time at all so choose wisely. The right bamboo variety adds height and lushness to the outdoor space, which makes it perfect for contemporary landscapes.
Our advice is to go for the clumping, non-spreading kind so the plant is much easier to control, like Fargesia bamboo. Do note, however, that bamboo is a member of the grass family. This means the plant requires fertilizers enriched with extra nitrogen. Use organic fertilizers if possible.
Arborvitae is one of the most popular privacy plants because it grows a dense foliage that keeps prying eyes away. The key to making an effective natural screen using arborvitae is to space out each plant properly. The right spacing creates a thick hedge that acts as a living wall. You can also prune its dense foliage to create different shapes.
Arborvitaes are typically deep green in color but some varieties turn a beautiful golden yellow during the fall and winter season. If you want to add a little color to your yard, you can opt for the color-changing variety. Arborvitae grows tall although it is a slow growing tree. This evergreen tree is quite tolerant of the cold. However, arborvitae is a thirsty plant so water deeply during the dry season.
Skip laurel is a type of evergreen shrub that works great as a hedge or as a natural screen. This plant could grow to about 18 feet or so although it's easy to trim. Skip laurel is known for its extremely dense, thick foliage. It's a hardy plant that thrives in a hot, dry or cold climate. This plant could also tolerate dry or nutrient-deficient soils.
Skip laurel grows to two feet each year so trim this plant regularly to keep its foliage under control. This plant is as tough as they come so you can either prune ruthlessly or gently, skip laurel will thrive regardless. This is the kind of privacy plant that's thick enough to hide an ugly view. However, it’s mostly used to section off certain parts of the yard.
Clematis is a crawling plant that will work beautifully as a privacy plant. This perennial vine is best known for its eye-catching, large blossoms that could frame any outdoor space perfectly. As a statement-making privacy plant, Clematis could section off small parts of the garden with its bell-shaped blooms and thick foliage.
What's more, Clematis blossoms add a lovely scent to the air, making an intimate space look and feel even more relaxing. Clematis is slow to mature so you have to be patient before the plant achieves its full effect. If you are growing Clematis, know that most varieties prefer cool roots. This plant is best grown at the base of another plant for shade.
What pretty screening climbing roses make! These flowering plants add a touch of beauty and romance to any outdoor setting. You can plant climbing roses over fences, walls, gazebos, or pergolas and the results will turn out amazing each time. Climbing roses come in an array of colors too so you can experiment with different varieties to give your outdoor space a dose of color. However, the pink climbing rose is the most popular.
Climbing roses may bloom once every season although some varieties could produce blooms throughout the rest of the growing season albeit sporadically. To encourage the climbing roses to yield more blossoms, deadhead the flowers and gently prune before the initial bloom.
Boxwood is often seen in traditional and formal gardens. As a quintessential privacy plant, boxwood is known for its compact, glossy leaves that add a touch of elegance and mystery to any garden space. Just like arborvitae, boxwood could be pruned into different shapes thanks to its dense branches.
Boxwood is a fairly forgiving plant. It doesn't require much coddling to thrive in poor growing environments. Boxwood is so low maintenance too, it does not require frequent pruning. It can maintain its shape for a long time, needing only an annual trim late in the winter season. Once established, boxwood doesn't require frequent watering either. In fact, boxwood is one of the few privacy plants that could handle drought with ease.
Known for its dark green, lustrous leaves, privet is a great choice as a living fence or a hedge. Depending on where you live and the variety you chose, privet could be evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous. But if you want to attract bees and other friendly garden critters, we highly suggest using privet as a living screen.
This plant will produce small clusters of blossoms that add fragrance to the air while also luring bees into your outdoor space. Do note, however, that this shrub is so easy to grow because it's an invasive plant. Careful pruning and training are needed to establish privets into sturdy hedges. That said, frequent pruning means the privets will produce fewer blooms because the flowering buds are cut along with the growing stems.
Japanese Holly is a dense evergreen known for its green, leathery leaves and black, berry-like fruits. This slow growing evergreen could reach 6 to 10 feet and it makes for a great natural screen. This plant is often grown as a houseplant but it thrives best in an outdoor setting in full shade.
Japanese Holly loves moist but never soggy soil that is rich in organic matter. This plant is surprisingly hardy in mild winters but the foliage could turn brown during the winter season. Used as a natural screen, Japanese holly adds contrast and glorious texture to your garden space.
While having acres of garden space is ideal for farming, you don’t need a lot of yard space to build a garden. City folks who’d like to try their hand at gardening could build an urban garden on rooftops. To build a garden, you must learn how to make the most out of your outdoor space, no matter the size! From investing in raised beds to fitting all your fruits and veggies on your yard, here are practical ways of optimizing your outdoor space for gardening:
It’s tempting to empty the nearest nursery to start your gardening journey with a bang but don’t. Instead of collecting several plants to get your balcony or patio garden going, start with a couple of plants first. Starting small is important especially if you are new to gardening. You don’t want to spend a small fortune on the wrong plants. Also, growing a lot of plants can be overwhelming for beginner gardeners so spare yourself the trouble and curate your collection.
Our advice is to start with 3 to 5 native plants or easy-to-grow crops. Native plants will fare better than exotics because these plants have adapted to the local climate. Since these plants have adapted well to the local climate, they’re much easier to take care of, which is perfect for busy or newbie gardeners.
Choose High Yield Crops
Some fruits and vegetables need more room to grow; others will do well when grown in a small pot or a container. If you are dealing with a small space, it makes sense to choose crops that give the best yield despite the limited garden space.
Assuming that you only have a square foot of gardening space to spare, do not plant crops that grow too big like cabbages, cauliflower, brocs, etc. These crops spread as they grow and they will require several feet of space in between.
We recommend planting high-yield crops that are suitable for small gardens such as carrots, garlic, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and any type of vertically growing crops. You can make the most out of the garden’s vertical space by installing trellises for your tomatoes, cucumber, beans, and other vine fruits and vegetables.
Try Vertical Gardening
Speaking of maximizing the garden’s vertical space, you can make the most out of a small garden space by growing your crops vertically. Apart from installing trellises, you can use lattice, bamboo, pallet, netting, and rope to create your own vertical garden.
A vertical garden provides optimal yield and better pest management. Harvesting is also much easier when the crops are grown vertically. In addition, some types of trailing crops add shade and privacy to an outdoor space, which is great if you want to enhance your outdoor landscape.
Crops are less prone to leaf fungus and fruit rot because the fruits are not in contact with the soil. Since the air moves freely through the plants, there will be less moisture buildup that could lead to diseases and rot. Saving water is also easier when growing a vertical garden. Every time you water your plants, there are fewer runoffs. Harvesting is also easier because you don’t have to bend over every time you are collecting your crops.
Mix Things Up
Traditionally, growers would set aside space for certain types of crops. This is ideal if you have a large expanse of space at your disposal but for most people with small gardens, this isn’t recommended at all. You could end up wasting a lot of space when you are growing only a limited type of crop. You can make the most out of your garden space by growing edibles and ornamental plants at the same time. It’s unconventional but it works for most urban gardens.
Growing diverse varieties of edible and ornamental plants enhance the look of your outdoor space while also protecting the crops from pests. Some types of flowering plant varieties, for instance, could repel nibbling insects. Other ornamental plants are known to attract pest-eating predators like nasturtium and calendula. Planting flowering plants near fruit-bearing plants ensure an optimal yield come harvest time.
Invest in Raised Beds
When building a garden in a small space, it’s better to grow your crops in beds, not in rows. Planting crops in beds eliminates the wasted space for walking in between rows. A raised bed or two is perfect for any type of home gardens, particularly gardens with poor soil quality.
Raised beds give you better control over the soil quality while also helping you maximize your outdoor space. Thanks to the extra protection that raised beds provide, your crops are less prone to disease, rot, and infestations. The crops are also easier to maintain because the plants are grown in a confined space! To maximize your space even further, consider planting the crops closely together.
When it comes to optimizing an otherwise cramped garden space, it's best to invest in compact, multipurpose pieces to make every square inch of space work harder. That’s why it pays to spend your money on gardening items that pull double duty.
Hanging bins and baskets, benches with extra storage, even a patio table that works as a planter, these pieces makes a terrific addition to a small garden. These items serve a variety of purpose while also stretching the storage space of a small garden.
Add a Focal Point
Think a focal point is only reserved for a large garden? Think again! Even a petite urban garden could benefit from a focal point. A focal point attracts the eye and adds a sense of purpose to a space. It also enhances the flow of the design, keeping the outdoor setup cohesive and harmonious by pulling all the design elements together!
Since you are decorating a small garden, choose compact items to use as a focal point. These items could be anything from a decorative water feature to a cluster of ornamental plants. You can also use hardscapes, cute planters, or a bench as your garden's focal point. The right placement is everything when creating a focal point. Set your outdoor accents in the perfect spot. Don't be afraid to play around until you find what works for your garden setup.
A Place for Relaxing
No matter how small a garden is, it pays to save a little space for relaxing. Enjoy your hard work by adding a simple seating area in your garden setup. Nothing too elaborate or bulky if you are working with a small space, a rustic bench or a compact patio chair or two is a great way to start building a spot where you can relax in the garden. Frame the seating area with lots of aromatic herbs, flowering or trailing plants to create an intimate, soothing space.
Add textures, colors, and pretty paving to give this space visual interest. You can also use trellises, an arch or perhaps an arbor to let the crawling plants frame the space. Gardening in a small apartment has its challenges but there are ways to make the otherwise limited space work according to your gardening needs. With these gardening tips, you can create a stunning yet productive garden space, no matter how tiny your outdoor space may be!
If you are serious about gardening then you know that mulching is an integral part of a well-maintained garden. Contrary to popular notion, mulching is not done simply to enhance the look of a garden. Mulching has its practical uses too. In this guide, let us talk about the importance of mulching, types of mulching to consider, how to mulch, and the other important factors that come to play when it comes to mulching:
What is Mulching?
Mulching is the term used to describe the addition of a protective layer around plants to improve a garden's health and appearance. Mulching materials are spread over garden beds and surrounding greeneries to support proper growth and reduce the effects of harsh weather conditions.
Apart from creating a protective barrier against harsh weather conditions, mulching also improves the soil’s structure. It keeps pests at bay while letting garden-friendly critters thrive. In addition, mulching protects the plant roots from weeds, frosts, and intense heat. The mulch could also improve the soil texture, which is beneficial for gardens that get a lot of snow. Using the right mulching material keeps the soil moist and nutrient-rich, eliminating the need for fertilizer. All of these contribute to a healthy-looking garden that you’d be proud to show off!
Types of Mulches
Mulching materials will vary but generally, garden mulch can be categorized into two types: organic and inorganic mulches.
Organic or Biodegradable Mulch
Non-biodegradable mulch is made from inorganic materials such as slate, shingles, pebbles, and stone clippings. Since these mulching materials are hefty, they do not wash off easily nor get blown by the wind. Inorganic mulch adds beauty to the garden while providing ample soil protection from the elements. The materials conduct heat efficiently so inorganic mulch is perfect for protecting heat-loving plants.
That being said, inorganic mulch does not improve the soil structure at all. Since stones, pebbles, and gravel retain heat, these mulching materials are not ideal to use in places that get a lot of sun. The heat retained by the mulch could kill delicate plants and young trees!
Regardless if you are using organic or inorganic mulch, we highly recommend using landscaping fabrics for the beds and borders. Choose landscaping fabrics that are made from permeable materials like the ones sold at our online store so moisture and air could freely seep into the material and improve plant growth!
What are the Benefits of Mulching?
While mulching certainly contributes to the overall look of the garden, it’s not done mainly to make an outdoor space look good. Here are just a few of the many benefits of mulching:
Retains Soil Moisture
Mulching helps retain soil moisture, which will lighten your garden load. For one thing, you don’t have to water your plants/crops often since the soil is protected from harsh weather conditions. Mulching prevents moisture evaporation, keeping the soil nice and moist at all times. If you are using organic mulch, the mulching material releases more nutrients into the soil when in contact with water. This enhances the ability of the soil to retain more moisture further.
Suppresses Weed Growth
Weeding should be done daily and this garden chore gets old real fast especially if you are plagued with mobility problems. Mulch works wonderfully in terms of minimizing weed growth. It suppresses weed growth by blocking sunlight that nourishes the weeds.
Since the mulch covers a huge expanse of space, it can suppress weed growth in large gardens. You don’t have to worry about your daily weeding especially if you are maintaining a large garden and breaking your back in the process.
Protects from Soil Erosion
Soil erosion is a serious problem especially for places that get a lot of rainfall each year as well as sloped gardens. Places with loose, sandy soil are also prone to soil erosion. Laying out mulch helps protect the soil from rushing water, wind, and burrowing animals, all of which are common reasons why soil erode in certain places. With a layer of mulch in place, the soil is protected from harsh weather conditions as well as pests that disturb the soil.
If your garden is prone to crawling or burrowing pests, a layer of mulch should deter destructive critters that are feasting on your crops. Slugs and snails thrive in places with smooth terrain because their soft tissues cannot tolerate rough or uneven terrains. With a layer of mulch, your garden soil is covered with sharp, uneven terrain that no snail or slug could penetrate.
Small nibbling or burrowing animals like rabbits, mice, rats, etc., do not stand a chance against mulching. Covering the ground with mulch is a great way to deter insects that are harmful to plants. On the flip side, mulch supports the growth of beneficial critters such as earthworms, which enrich and aerate the soil!
Protects Plant Roots
Mulch is so effective when it comes to protecting plant roots from the elements. Bare soil is not the ideal growing spot for delicate plants, especially seedlings. Adding a layer of mulch ensures the proper growth and expansion of the plant roots while also protecting against root damage caused by frost and intense heat.
How to Mulch: A Step-by-Step Guide
The first step to mulching is soil amendment. Essentially, you have to prepare the soil so it is teeming with nutrients plants need to grow before adding a layer of protection above ground. Clear the ground of weeds, twigs, small stones, and other debris using a rake. Continue raking the ground until the soil texture is loosened.
If the ground is too compact or too difficult to work with, pour water into the soil then continue raking. When the ground is ready for amendment, work the fertilizer into the soil. You may also conduct a soil test to check the acidity or alkalinity of the soil and then amend the soil accordingly.
After amending the soil, you can start laying the mulch. Cover the ground in a 2-inch thick layer of mulch. If there are existing plants in the place that you are mulching, go around each one. Never mulch right up to the plant stems or trees, rot could set in and kill the plants.
Once the mulching has been laid over the intended spot, level its surface out with a rake. You don’t want little mounds of mulching ruining the look of the garden. Check the mulching near the trees, make sure the base of the trunk is free from mounds of mulch.
If your mulch starts hardening after several months to a year, you have to break the hardened layer apart and fluff the mulching material regularly. This goes too if your mulch has matted months after it’s been laid on the ground.
The Best Mulching Materials to Use?
Generally, mulch made from organic materials is better than inorganic mulch simply because the materials break down to enrich the soil. Composting materials that are easily broken down provide higher levels of nutrients to the soil so use older mulching materials like old woodchips, dry leaves or old lawn clippings.
Old wood chips, especially pine or eucalyptus, are teeming with nitrogen, which will contribute significantly to proper plant growth. Straw and hay are other garden materials that are ideal as mulching materials.
Where to Buy Mulch and Other Mulching Tips
You can buy pre-made mulch at your local garden centers and some e-gardening stores. However, store-bought mulch tends to be expensive and if you have a large space to cover, the expenses could pile up real fast. Mulch made from stones may last longer than organic mulch but it is more costly to buy this product per bag. If you bought pre-made mulch, you cannot use it right away. You have to leave the mulch to mature for several weeks before applying it to your plants.
You can always make your own mulching at home using garden wastes or invest in a garden shredder to speed things along. It helps if you maintain a compost pile because this can be used to make organic mulch. However, it will take months, sometimes years, for the composting materials to break down. Shredding the compost materials before adding them into the compost should help shorten the rotting period so the compost will be ready to use in just a few months.
The texture of the mulch matters. Generally, coarse mulches create a permeable layer that allows water and air to pass through the soil. Mulches made from fine materials will absorb more water, which will reduce the time you spend watering your plants. Ideally, the mulching material must be about 5 mm in size for optional plant growth.
Drawbacks to Mulching
Are there any drawbacks to mulching? Most gardening experts agree that mulching is beneficial to the garden. However, the way the mulch has been applied affects plant growth so it has to be laid down properly otherwise, mulching may weaken plants significantly.
If money is tight, we don’t recommend buying cheap, pre-made mulches. Make your own instead. Using low-quality mulches may cause weed growth or diseases to spread in the garden.
Mulching is best done in gardens with established plants. Seedlings and young plants are quite delicate and adding mulch might affect their growing condition and cause nutrient deficiency. It’s important to water the plants deeply the first few weeks after laying down the mulch so the liquid reaches the plant roots.
If you are seeing white growths spreading on top of your organic mulch, do not remove these. The white growths are saprophytic fungi, which help break down the organic materials at a much faster rate. Saprophytic fungi also support plant life so it’s best to leave the white growths alone.
Using landscape fabrics or woven fabrics will prolong the life of the mulch and improve the look of your garden. Landscaping materials made from permeable fabric helps retain moisture so the soil won’t dry out.
As you can see, mulching is an effective way to improve plant health and enhance the quality of your garden soil. Adding mulch to your garden improves the look of your outdoor space too! Yes, making mulch from garden scraps and applying it on your garden soil takes effort but the benefits of mulching will always outweigh its drawbacks.
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Pests have a way of infesting a garden, no matter how meticulous you are at keeping destructive critters at bay. Most growers control pests using chemicals but if you'd like to try the all-natural route, it is possible to grow a pest-free garden organically.
Growing some plants help repel certain species of garden pests. These plants keep your outdoor space bug-free without polluting the soil or affecting your garden’s microflora.
Love the soothing scent of lavender? That's great news if your garden is always infested by mosquitos and fleas. Growing lavender repels these common garden pests along with other garden insects thanks to its distinct fragrance!
What's more, you can extract the oil from the lavender blossoms and create your own all-natural mosquito repellant. You can also use the dried lavender flowers to keep moths from destroying your clothes in the closet. If you are planting lavender to ward off garden pests, we highly recommend planting it around or near the seating areas. This way, you can enjoy your outdoor space without being bitten by bugs.
Thinking of building a flower garden? Don’t forget to add chrysanthemums to your flower garden to keep your outdoor space pest-free. Chrysanthemums are often added to dog shampoos because the blossoms contain a chemical that repels ticks and fleas. In addition, chrysanthemums are effective in warding off ants, spider mites, Japanese beetles, silverfish, even bed bugs, and roaches!
Chrysanthemums make the perfect companion plants in vegetable gardens too. They add a pop of color to the garden while also repelling different garden bugs. Again, plant the chrysanthemums near seating areas so you can relax and enjoy your outdoor space without worrying about bugs ruining the experience.
Aromatic herbs are often used to ward off garden critters but basil, in particular, is so potent, it is commonly used as a companion plant in vegetable gardens! Basil is effective in repelling common houseflies and mosquitoes. This herb is so good at warding off bugs that you can make an all-natural insect repellent using fresh basil leaves. Just pour 4 ounces of boiling water into a handful of fresh basil leaves. Let the mixture steep for several hours, strain then add 4 ounces of cheap vodka. Transfer to a spray bottle and spritz away!
Since this herb does not grow too big, you can grow basil in small pots and set the pots in strategic spots in the garden to control pests. You can also set a pot of basil (or three) near the kitchen to discourage flies from entering your house.
Nasturtium is a type of annual plant prized for its golden blossoms and soft, green leaves. This easy to grow flowering plant is also loved by gardeners for its uncanny ability to repel a variety of common garden insects, including whiteflies and aphids.
Nasturtiums release an airborne chemical that wards off destructive insects. To control garden pests, plant Nasturtiums around the patio or along flower beds. You can use nasturtiums as companion plants to certain vegetables.
Citronella oil is a popular ingredient in scented candles and natural insect repellants because of its ability to ward off mosquitoes. The oil is extracted from lemongrass, a type of ornamental grass that could also keep common garden bugs at bay all thanks to its strong citrusy fragrance. The plant itself is an eye-catching ornamental plant and it's often grown as an accent to most types of gardens. Lemongrass does not grow too big so it well suited in container gardens too.
Marigold adds a vivid pop of deep yellow to outdoor landscapes. This flowering plant is so easy to grow so if you are new to gardening, try adding marigolds to your garden! Marigolds just need the full sun and well-draining soil to thrive. The best part about growing marigolds is that they could deter a variety of insects including mosquitoes, squash bugs, aphids, and tomato worms! Marigolds are naturally rich in a chemical that's used in making natural insect repellants.
To make the most out of marigold’s ability to ward off destructive insects, set the plant in strategic spots all over the garden. You can place pots of marigolds around the patio, near doorways, or on a windowsill to deter invading insects.
Here's another reason to love mint: this refreshing herb repels a multitude of bugs including mosquitos and ants. It can also deter small rodents like mice! This easy to grow herb spreads easily so a small pot of mint will definitely go a long way! Its pretty, vivid green foliage will also make any garden setting alive with color!
You can use fresh mint leaves to make your own natural insect repellant. Just crush the mint leaves, add a little apple cider vinegar and witch hazel then transfer the concoction in a spray bottle. Spritz away whenever you head out to keep bugs away. You can also use the mint leaves as an herb or garnish to foods and drinks!
Love petunias? This flowering plant is a favorite among growers because the blossoms add mountains of color to the garden. This annual plant produces flowers all season long and the flowers come in many colors. In fact, new varieties are being launched each year!
Petunias are not only pretty to look at; the flowers emit a sweet fragrance that lures destructive insects in. The plant has sticky hairs that trap insects and the plant roots eventually absorb the nutrients from the bodies of the dead insects.
Who doesn't love rosemary? This aromatic herb is often used to season meats and poultry. The herb adds a lovely aroma to many dishes, including holiday staples and sauces. Apart from making any dish ten times tastier, rosemary is an efficient pest repellant. It could ward off flies, mosquitos, and cabbage moths thanks to its pungent aroma.
This herb thrives in pots so you can set a pot or two on the kitchen windowsill to repel annoying insects and keep your home bug-free. You can also plant rosemary in strategic places in the garden to discourage bugs from noshing on your plants.
Rounding up our list of the best pest-repelling plants to grow in the garden is garlic. This herb could deter all sorts of crawling and flying insects, including mosquitos and nibbling beetles. No need to whip up any concoction to make your own natural insect repellant using garlic. The plant itself works to deter insects. That's why we recommend planting garlic in strategic places in the garden to keep creepy crawlies away. However, you can make a more potent insect repellant using fresh garlic cloves!
Looking for simple and easy organic vegetable gardening tips for your garden? While gardening is an eco-friendly hobby, you can make your gardening tasks even more environmentally sound by adopting sustainable practices. Building an organic vegetable garden is not only a great way to enjoy high-quality crops; you are providing the healthiest foods to your family too. This will save you hundreds of dollars on grocery shopping every year.
Of course, maintaining an organic farm will require more upkeep than your ordinary vegetable patch. Since you won’t be using chemicals – such as pesticides and herbicides – to keep pests at bay or GMOs to produce more yield, you have to work harder to keep your crops healthy and disease-free. Don’t fret, try our favorite organic vegetable gardening tips:
It’s All About Soil Quality
The health of your crops depends mostly on the quality of the soil. This is the reason why amending the soil should be the first step when building an organic garden. You want to start your garden with nutrient-rich, high-quality soil. If your soil quality is less than ideal, use compost and other organic amendments to improve the quality of the soil.
You can buy natural fertilizer at your local gardening store or make it yourself using kitchen scraps, unwanted green waste, etc. You want to work on the soil gently to loosen the soil particles as well. The right soil consistency promotes proper air circulation and drainage. All these will be beneficial to the crops
Make Your Own Compost
As mentioned above, you can make your own compost using kitchen scraps, organic garden debris, and other green wastes. Making your own compost is not only eco-friendly; it’s also cheaper than buying natural fertilizer. You’ll also rid your home of unwanted wastes that’ll only end up in landfills!
Composting is easy and it all starts with a compost bin or a backyard pit. You can dig a pit for the compost pit or recycle an old trash bin for composting. You can choose to make hot or cold compost. Hot composting requires fast-cooking compost to feed beneficial microorganisms that process decay. The compost should be ready within a month or so. Cold composting, on the other hand, requires collecting garden and kitchen wastes and then piling these in layers in a bin or a pit. The yard waste will decay within a few months up to a year.
One of our favorite organic vegetable gardening tips when it comes to building an organic garden of any kind involves protecting the soil from the elements. When exposed to harsh weather, the soil tends to clump together as it loses moisture. Mulching could keep soil moisture from evaporating while also insulating crops from the bitter cold. The process of mulching involves adding a layer of organic materials around the plants.
This method could lighten your gardening tasks too. Since the mulch prevents weed overgrowth, you don’t have to remove weeds every day. Also, you don’t have to water your plants as often since the soil could retain more moisture. Finally, adding a layer of mulch to your vegetable garden helps create a much neater landscape.
Using Eco-friendly Pest Controls
No matter how much you try to keep pests away from your vegetable garden, destructive critters will somehow find their way into your crops. Thankfully, there are so many ways of eliminating pests in the garden without using any type of chemicals. Here are some of our favorites.
But before you go around spraying your own pest control concoctions, you have to learn what type of pests is feasting on your garden first. This way, you’ll know exactly how to contain the infestation and avoid wasting more product. Whatever pests are nibbling at your produce, use safe and natural pest controls such as neem oil, eggshells, citrus oils, diatomaceous earth, salt spray, etc.
Fertilize the Right Way
Did you know that building up good soil takes months, even years? Amending the soil with natural fertilizers is a great way to boost plant growth and gain better yield. Since you’re going organic, you have to use natural fertilizers such as well-rotted manure from plant-eating animals (chickens, rabbits, sheep, etc.), pre-packed organic fertilizer, or homemade organic fertilizer. You can also check out your local garden center for compost or natural fertilizers.
Fertilizing isn’t necessary all the time, however. If you are one of the lucky few who has rich soil already, there is no need to build good soil. If the soil becomes too rich, the plants may develop excessive soft growths that’ll only attract more pests.
If you are new to gardening or it’s your first crack at organic gardening, it’s always a good idea to start small first. Doing this for the first time, you can expect lots of trial and error just figuring out ways to grow your crops as healthily as possible. A too-ambitious project may end up taking more commitment and there is a good chance that you’ll end up quitting in the middle of it.
A 100 square feet garden is a great start for beginner gardeners. You can grow a variety of crops in such a space. To make the most out of the space, you can plant the crops densely and once you get the results that you want, you can start expanding your garden.
Start from Seeds or Starter Plants?
Starting a garden from seeds is a lengthy process but the effort is worth it. It’s just more fulfilling knowing that you’ve grown all the produce you put on the table the old fashioned way! If you are shopping for seeds, shop for certified organic seeds at reputable vendors.
If say, starting from seeds is almost impossible, you can always buy starter plants for your garden. Again, buy from reputable sellers that raise plants without using pesticides or chemicals. There are nurseries that offer a selection of certified organic plants. You can also shop for starter plants at your local farmers market.
Use Companion Plants
Pairing certain types of plants may deter pests, minimize the spread of diseases and even enhance the flavor of certain vegetables! The fact is, some plant combinations work so well in nature that planting them together will instantly improve the quality of your organic garden.
For instance, planting basil and tomatoes together help ward off hornworms on tomatoes. Planting rosemary and cabbage will deter feasting moths that could ruin your vegetable garden. Chives and carrots pair so well. This combination repels aphids while improving the flavor of carrots.
Extending the Growing Season Naturally
Investing in raised beds is one of the most effective ways to extend the growing season and acquire maximum yield all season long. Growing crops in raised beds give you total control over the quality of the soil. The soil in raised beds tends to warm up earlier in the spring season, which gives your plants plenty of time to produce more fruits.
Best of all, raised beds could lighten your gardening loads while also making harvesting much easier on the back. You can make your own raised beds using recycled wood or buy raised beds from reputable sellers. Do note that store-bought raised beds are not created equally, some are chemically treated. If you are building an organic garden, you have to buy raised beds that are not chemically treated in any way!
Found these organic vegetable gardening tips useful? Building an organic vegetable garden is a great way to enjoy high-quality produce while also saving more money on food. Tune in for more organic vegetable gardening tips! Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest gardening hacks and resources!
Mulching is an effective way of insulating and protecting delicate plant root systems against harsh weather conditions. It works as a barrier that improves the soil's nutrient profile. Mulching also reduces erosion while enhancing the soil’s ability to hold more moisture.
Two of the most popular mulching types of mulch are organic and inorganic mulch. Organic mulch is made from biodegradable materials such as grass clippings, wood chips, dried leaves, and straws. On the other hand, inorganic mulch is comprised of river rock, stone, or crushed gravel.
But did you know that there is such a thing as plastic mulching too? What is plastic mulch and how is it any different from organic and inorganic mulch? More importantly, what are the pros and cons of using plastic mulch? Continue reading below to find out!
What is Plastic Mulch?
Plastic mulch is considered as a type of inorganic mulch. This type of mulching utilizes polyethylene film to shield plants from the elements. It was in the 1950s when plastic mulching became popular among US growers. Plastic mulching was used in commercial berry and vegetable production.
However, this method is now being adapted to home gardens too. The polyethylene film is usually a sheet of black plastic and it works the same way as organic mulch, the film insulates the soil, prevents soil erosion, and reduces moisture evaporation.
While plastic mulching certainly has its benefits, it’s important to dispose of the mulching material properly to reduce its effects on the environment. The fact is, the use of plastic films as mulch material raises environmental concerns because plastic is a type of petroleum product. Apart from utilizing a lot of energy to make plastic materials, these are difficult to recycle too.
2 Basic Types of Plastic Mulching
There are 2 basic types of plastic mulching: black polyethylene film and clear polyethylene. The black plastic film is ideal for eliminating weeds, warming up the soil during the cold season, as well as retaining the soil’s moisture. On the other hand, the clear plastic film works best for warming up the soil and encouraging faster growth early in the growing season. Clear plastic film, however, isn’t as effective when it comes to suppressing weed growth.
The Benefits of Using Plastic Mulching
Improves Soil Structure
Using plastic mulching helps prevent soil from clumping together into a compacted mess. The material traps moisture and heat, which limits the loss of plant nutrients. Of all the mulching materials available on the market, plastic mulch is the most restrictive so it pairs well with a drip irrigation method. In addition, the plastic film discourages people and pets from walking into the area, which further enhances the structure of the soil.
Insulates the Soil
Most plants are temperature sensitive, vegetables, in particular, cannot stand the winter cold. One of the reasons why growers use mulch is to help the soil retain heat as the cold months set in. Inorganic mulch like plastic mulch warms up the soil up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Plastic mulching regulates the soil temperature evenly, insulating temperature sensitive plants during the cooler months.
Fruit-bearing trees and tender perennials are more likely to break from their winter dormancy by using plastic mulch too. Plastic mulch is also effective in protecting trees and shrubs from winter damage.
Effective Weed Control
Is your garden plagued by weeds? If you don’t get rid of weeds every day, they will take over the garden in no time at all. Daily weeding can be a taxing chore for most gardeners, especially growers with back problems.
Plastic mulch suppresses weed growth effectively and it does so in a large expanse of space. When installed in the garden, plastic mulch prevents weeds from getting the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. When the weeds are deprived of sunlight, they die, which saves you the hassle of pulling weeds individually by hand.
Earlier Crop Growth
Using plastic mulching allows you to grow your crops early in the season. Because mulching warms up the soil, you can plant warm season crops up to three weeks earlier than the crops’ growing season.
The same thing cannot be said for organic mulch. Since plastic mulching does a better job of trapping heat into the soil, the soil warms up rapidly, providing the best growing conditions for warm season vegetables.
Higher Crop Quality
Want to grow high-quality crops? Using plastic mulching is key to better quality fruits and vegetables. The plastic mulch acts as a barrier that protects the fruits from getting in contact with the soil. This will inhibit the growth and spread of diseases and rot. And since the fruits are not in direct contact with the soil, they grow much more cleanly.
Reduces the Risk of Root Damage
Using plastic mulching eliminates the need for continuous cultivation except in between the rows of plastic. Since the soil remains undisturbed, the plant roots are able to grow and spread into the ground deeply and efficiently.
The fact is, cultivation is one of the major causes of root damage. But if your garden is prone to weeds, you don’t have much of a choice but to cultivate the soil. Using plastic mulching means the crops grow weed-free so there is no need to disturb the ground!
The Drawbacks of Using Plastic Mulch
It’s not Eco-friendly
Unlike organic mulch, plastic mulch is not biodegradable. It doesn't break down completely so it ends up in landfills. Plastic products are derived from petroleum-based materials, which are not only costly to produce but also bad for the environment.
Also, because the plastic mulch isn’t biodegradable, it has to be removed from commercial fields yearly, a practice that’s quite costly itself.
Hard to Dispose Of
The disposal of plastic mulch is problematic because 1) removal from fields requires specialized equipment and 2) plastic products are generally hard to dispose of. Unfortunately, most landfills require extra payment for plastic disposals, which adds to the overall cost of using plastic mulching.
While black plastic mulch warms up the soil effectively, altering the soil temperature isn’t advisable for all crops. Some crops are quite sensitive to soil temperature so warming up the soil may backfire, there is just no way to control the rising soil temperature. Black plastic mulching is only advisable to use for heat-loving vegetables like melons, tomatoes, peppers, and other summer crops. Never use black plastic mulch for growing cool-season crops, such as lettuce, peas, and tubers. Excessive heat will kill these crops.
There are times when excess moisture is a bad thing. Plastic mulch does an excellent job of trapping moisture and minimizing the risk of water evaporation. However, it’s much easier to overwater and drown the crops due to excess moisture. Also, growers have to install soaker hoses or drip irrigation around each plant to control the moisture and prevent crops from drowning. Damp growing conditions could also lead to infestations and diseases.
Plastic mulching has its own benefits and drawbacks. As long as you know how to use (and dispose of) plastic mulching properly, you can maximize its benefits without worrying about the drawbacks! For more gardening resources, subscribe to our mailing list!
From plastic food packaging to candy wrappers, where do you think trash ends up? Each year, the US alone generates 230 million tons of garbage; the majority of the trash is either incinerated or buried in landfills. Only about one-quarter of the trash that US produce is recycled.
The Great Pacific garbage patch, which is a massive plastic garbage floating halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to 1.6 million square kilometers or about thrice the size of France. The worst part? This floating patch of trash is just one of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world's oceans. We are faced with a worsening garbage problem and yet, there is no real way of cleaning up the oceans and eliminating plastic trash. With 2.41 million tons of plastic garbage choking marine life, finding better alternatives to single-use plastic products is more important than ever before.
What are Biodegradable Disposables Made of?
Most biodegradable plates and compostable disposables are made from bagasse, bamboo, recycled paper, cornstarch, and even fallen leaves. ECO Gardener’s range of biodegradable plates is made from untreated, plantation timber that’s 100% sustainable and earth-friendly. Since these products are not chemically treated, they are suitable for kids and young children.
Why Switch to Biodegradable Plates and Compostable Disposables?
Most of the garbage that ends up in landfills and oceans is made up of plastic food packaging. Using biodegradable products may reduce the trash that ends up in landfills and the world’s oceans.
Unfortunately, food and plastic packaging manufacturers are finding more and more reasons for using plastic food packaging. Plastic is widely used because it’s a cheap and accessible material. Disposable containers are convenient to use but their negative impact on the environment cannot be ignored. It is also worth noting that single-use plastic products are not made from sustainable materials. It will also take a long, long time before plastic materials decompose so using these will only add up to our growing trash problem.
Biodegradable plates and compostable disposables are just as convenient to use as single-use plastic products sans the negative impact on the environment. These products do not deplete the earth’s natural resources. Biodegradable plates and compostable disposables will not harm the environment because they will break down completely once discarded.
Benefits of Using Biodegradable Plates and Compostable Disposables
Environmentally Friendly Entertaining
If you have guests over or you are hosting a party, you’ll probably use a lot of plates and cutlery. Rather than using plastic plates, plastic spoons and forks, use paper plates and wooden cutlery. These products are just as useful as traditional plastic plates and cutlery but they are more eco-friendly.
Plates and cutlery made from biodegradable materials are more environmentally friendly because these do not leave behind toxic chemicals or residues. In addition, these products degrade over time, releasing earth-friendly nutrients back into the soil. Sure, biodegradable plates and wooden cutlery may be more expensive than single-use plastic products but the price difference is quite small. It’s just a small price to pay for hosting an environmentally sound party!
Got your own compost? Making your own compost is a great way to transform kitchen and yard wastes into something useful for the garden. You can also sell your own compost; it’s a great way to boost your earnings. Using eco-friendly plates and cutlery makes composting much more convenient. You can simply toss the discarded biodegradable plates into your compost bin. This makes post-party cleanup much easier too.
When adding discarded biodegradable plates to your compost, make sure the plates do not have food residues on them. Also, do not add too many biodegradable plates in one bin to avoid disturbing the balance of the compost pile. Our advice is to designate a place where guests could discard the biodegradable plates they have used. Simply let your guests know about the spot and why it’s important to discard the plates properly.
Did you know that making biodegradable plates and compostable disposables are more energy efficient compared to manufacturing single-use plastics? Plates and cutlery that degrade require less energy to be manufactured. In addition, the materials used for biodegradable plates and cutlery are renewable so they will not deplete the earth’s natural resources. Usually, these products are made from sugarcane, bamboo, corn, etc.
In addition, manufacturers of biodegradable products are more mindful of their own carbon footprint and are likely to take steps to reduce the greenhouse gases they produce. Using biodegradable plates and compostable disposables will definitely reduce your carbon footprint too.
Plastic products, particularly food packaging, are notorious for leaching toxic chemicals to food. That’s because single-use plastics are treated with a cocktail of chemicals including dyes, bleaches, and inks. Some of these products are safe, others not so much. For instance, plastic bottles release harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A when exposed to hot drinks. These chemicals affect the endocrine system, causing a variety of health problems ranging from hormonal imbalance, metabolic problems, to certain cancers.
The same thing cannot be said for biodegradable disposables. These products are plastic-free; they are made from plant-based materials that are 100% safe and earth-friendly. Because biodegradable disposables are made from non-toxic materials, you can enjoy your hot meals and drinks without worrying about chemicals making their way into your food.
For your next party, make the switch to disposables. Biodegradable disposables are the perfect alternative to plastic or Styrofoam plates and utensils.
ECO Gardener offers a great selection of biodegradable plates made from chemical-free materials!
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Want to surround your outdoor space with colorful blooms? Who doesn't? Building a flower garden is one way to enhance the beauty of your garden space. And planning should start before the spring season comes around! The beauty of building a flower garden is that you do not have to dedicate a huge expanse of space for it. You can start a flower garden with a window box, a flower bed, or a few planters.
But before you buy a cartful of flowering plants for the garden, there are certain factors that you need to consider to ensure the success of the project. Are you ready to build your first flower garden? Consider these key gardening tips:
Know Your Site
Check the site where you are planning to build your flower garden. Does it offer the ideal conditions for growing flowering plants? Does it provide the perfect light, moisture, and air conditions for your garden?
Location is everything when it comes to building any type of garden. Most flowering plants love the sun so choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. Remember, the longer the sun exposure, the denser and more colorful the blooms! South facing spots are the best places to build a flower garden. This is especially true if you are planning to grow perennials. South facing locations get at least 6 hours of sunlight. For shade-loving flowering plants, you can grow these in the deck, patio, or any north-facing spot in your garden.
Check the Soil
Get a soil test done to make sure it has the right pH for flowering plants. Flowering plants are quite fickle. A pH of 6.5 is best for most home gardens, but some plants prefer acidic or alkaline soil. The ideal soil pH will depend on the plants that you want to grow in your flower garden.
If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, amend the soil before planting. To ensure the survival of the plants, opt for native plants. These plant varieties have adjusted to the local climate, which minimizes the risk of die-offs.
If you are using raised beds in the garden, choose a well-draining potting mix that retains moisture well. Don’t forget to add organic compost to enrich the soil. Raised beds are useful if the soil condition in your garden is less than ideal.
Monitor the Local Climate
Apart from checking the soil condition, you have to check your local area’s average first and last frost dates. This will ensure the survival of the flowering plants in the colder months. Checking the average first and last frost dates will also determine your seed starting dates as well as the plant varieties that are suitable for your garden.
Generally, you want to begin sowing your seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date. This will give your plants the best chances of survival. If the outdoor conditions aren’t ideal for seed starting, do your sowing indoors and use heated lamps to insulate your seedlings.
Promote Proper Drainage
Perennial plants hate standing water so prioritize on proper drainage too. Ideally, you want to set your flower garden near a water source so you don’t have to water your flowers by hand. Installing an irrigation system does a great job of regulating the water level in a garden full of perennials and this could affect your choice of plants to grow.
What Plant Varieties to Grow?
After choosing the best spot for your flower garden, amending the soil, and planning your setup, it’s time to choose what kinds of plants you’d like to grow. When planning which flower varieties to grow, consider three things: the color of the flowers, the height of the plants, and the spacing. Tall plants and bushy shrubs must be set at the back so they do not cast a shadow over the smaller plants.
The smallest plants must be planted near the front. If you want to add height and structure to the garden, try adding ornamental grasses like Muhly and Fireworks Pennisetum. You can use small shrubs like distylium, nandina, loropetalum, and ligustrum to frame a flower bed and add lushness to your flower garden. For container gardens or window boxes, layer the elements with the tallest at the back, the middle with colorful elements and then finally, trailing plants on the front.
Flowering plants bloom at different times so keep the colors, textures, and forms in mind when planning your garden setup. It is always a good idea to plant low-maintenance perennial and annual plants that do not crave too much water. This way, your flower garden will look blooming all season long, not just in spring or summer time. Plant the kind of varieties that work for the local climate. Then, add and subtract the plants to create the ideal selection of plant varieties that can survive your garden’s micro climate.
Start with few colors and stick to a color palette, at least initially. Keep the color palette simple then build your garden on the existing plants as you go along. As the fall season sets in, you can start planting bulbs for spring flowers. At some point, you can add crops like herbs and loose-leaf veggies to your garden. Don’t be shy about asking your local nursery employee for gardening tips as well as the best plants to add to your flowering garden.
Perennial Plants for Northern Gardens
Northern gardens require hardy plants that could withstand extreme heat and drought. These plants should have the ability to survive cold climates and shady environments. Daylilies, astible, moonbeam, Heuchera, May Night, and Phlox subulata are just a few of the many flower varieties that will do well in northern gardens. These plants will produce colorful flowers and they do not require much upkeep to grow.
Perennial Plants for Southern Gardens
Plants for southern gardens must be able to tolerate high heat and humidity. These plants must be resilient enough to withstand cooler climates so the flowers bloom until frost. Asiatic lilies, Coreopsis, Gaura, Dianthus, and Salvia are just a few of the many perennial plants that will do well in southern gardens. These plants could tolerate shady growing environments and they produce vivid-hued blossoms.
Perennial Plants for Western Gardens
Plants that low the full sun, particularly tropical plants and houseplants, will do splendidly in western gardens. These plants are incredibly tolerant to drought, extreme heat, and humidity so caring and maintaining these plants is easy. Calla lilies, Salvia, lavender, Lantana, Gazania, Desert marigold, and Asiatic lilies are some of the best flowering plants to add to western gardens. These plants enhance lushness and movement to a flowering garden. They are relatively easy to care for and they can tolerate harsh weather conditions.
Designing Your Flower Garden
When it comes to designing your garden setup, start with a good shape. Choose plants with great basic shapes, such as spires, buttons, globes, etc. and then put these different shapes together. Go for combinations that are vibrant, dynamic, and eye-catching. If the initial setup does not work, fine-tune the shape some more until you are satisfied. You can also try planting similarly shaped flowers to create a cohesive garden design that pleases the eye.
To create a serene, calming setting, design your garden with strategic repetition. This concept promotes continuity, making the garden setting look uniform, cohesive, and tidy. It’s also important to layer your blooming plants to create a garden with a naturally lush look.
The height of the plants, the foliage colors and textures are also important elements to consider when planning your garden design. Don’t be afraid to play with different colors and textures to create a dynamic outdoor space. Mixing plant heights, colors, and sizes add movement and a meadow-like look to the garden.
A flower garden enhances the look and ambiance of your outdoor space. But to achieve the perfect design, you have to plan your garden in steps. Just keep these gardening tips in mind before building your flowering garden! Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get the freshest gardening tips straight to your inbox.
Want to grow your own herb garden without using any type of pesticide or herbicide? It’s possible! Growing crops organically is not only earth-friendly; it’s the best way to enjoy the health benefits of the produce you grew!
The fact is, using chemicals to grow crops could cause toxic compounds to leach into the soil and water sources. This contributes to environmental pollution. What’s more, these poisonous compounds could end up on your plate. By growing crops without using chemicals, you’ll enjoy more of the healthy foods you grew without worrying about your crops destroying the environment.
The key to successfully growing herbs without using chemicals is to avoiding the problem before it happens. This eliminates the need to use chemicals. It is equally important to address specific problems instead of casting a large net and hoping for the best.
Take for example insecticides. These products get rid of pests but end up killing beneficial garden critters like bees, butterflies, and earthworms too. Instead of using insecticides to kill all garden critters, explore different strategies that do the job with minimal damage to biodiversity. To keep destructive garden critters from feasting on your herbs without using chemicals, you have to avoid the problem before it starts. Here are ways to grow herbs organically:
Start with Healthy, Fertile Soil
The quality of the soil you use matters. Healthy, nutrient-dense soil is critical to growing pest-resistant herbs. Beneficial garden critters, like earthworms, thrive in rich soil too. In addition, healthy soils provide all the nutrients that herbs need to deter diseases and infestations.
You can either create your own fertile soil using compost or buy organic soil from your local grower. Between these choices, composting is more affordable. You can add kitchen and garden waste to make your own compost and use the compost to enrich your garden soil. We highly recommend mixing green and brown matter and then adding the compost to your garden patch for best results.
Get to Know Your Plants’ Growing Needs
Neglecting to address herbs’ different growing needs could lead to diseases and infestation. The best way to prevent this problem is to arm yourself with information. That means you have to get to know your plants’ growing needs to keep them healthy and disease-free. This way, there is no need to use chemicals to keep your plants healthy in the first place. In addition, planting your herbs in the right place will also increase your chances of growing organic crops successfully. Finally, group your herbs according to their water, sun, and soil needs.
Generally, herbs love full, bright light and hate standing water. If you are growing herbs for the first time, it’s best to get some gardening advice from the pros. Ask your local nursery employee or grower for tips.
Growing Herbs in Raised Beds
If you are planting your herbs outdoors, it pays to invest in raised beds. Raised beds allow you to control the quality of the soil while protecting your precious crops from burrowing pests and insects. Since the herbs are planted in a contained space, pests are less likely to nibble on your crops. In addition, raised beds also help drain water away from the herbs’ delicate roots. Good drainage keeps the herbs healthy while also improving the texture of the soil.
Growing Herbs in Containers
This is a variation of the gardening tip above: planting herbs in pots minimizes the risk of infestation and diseases. You can control the quality of the soil and keep pests at bay by using a richer potting mix. Since potted herbs are much easier to move around, you can rotate your plants and keep them away from pest-prone areas of the garden. As long as the plant containers have drainage holes at the bottom, water will drain away from the delicate plant roots, which minimizes the risk of rot and diseases.
Try Companion Planting
Companion planting involves growing different varieties of plants closely to enhance each of the plants’ growth. In most cases, this is done to help the plants protect each other from pests, diseases, and infestations. Since you are not using chemicals to keep pests/or diseases at bay, companion planting could reinforce the healthiness of the crops.
Companion planting isn’t only done to discourage pests from overtaking the garden, it’s also used to attract beneficial critters like pollinators. Generally, planting aromatics alongside crops help control pests. Basil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and other plants that emit a strong odor repel destructive insects naturally. For instance, pairing Sweet Alyssum with Swiss chard keeps destructive insects like aphids in control by attracting hoverflies. Planting Nasturtium next to cucumbers brings more pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden. This pairing will help repel pests while also maximizing your crops’ yield.
This may be one of the oldest gardening techniques but it’s still effective so it’s worth trying out. Crop rotation, which has been done since the Middle Ages, involves rotating your crops to different areas of the garden to maintain the soil’s health.
Think about it, letting one variety of plant grow in a single spot in the garden year after year depletes the soil of nutrients the plant needs to grow and thrive.
A plant that takes up the same spot in the garden year after year is also less healthy compared to a plant that’s been rotated to other parts of the garden. That’s because the pathogens that cause plant diseases remain in the same spot as the plant that’s grown in it.
Moving crops around is more taxing but eventually, you’ll grow disease-resistant crops. If say, you cannot move your plants around because the crops are planted in-ground, try bringing in new soil from the outside. The new soil will replenish the depleted nutrients of the old soil. You can also use dark plastic covers over the beds to protect the soil from excessive heat.
Use Organic Fertilizers
What’s the best kind of fertilizers to use for growing plants organically? Organic fertilizers, of course! Organic fertilizers are made from biodegradable compounds such as manure, rotting matter, kitchen wastes, garden wastes, etc. All these compounds break down completely, enriching the soil with important nutrients plant need to grow healthy and strong.
You can always buy sacks of organic fertilizers at your local vendor but consider making the fertilizers yourself using kitchen scraps, as well as brown (decayed leaves) and green matter (grass clippings, coffee grinds, clean paper waste). If you are using manure, make sure it is fully cured first so the manure is free from harmful pathogens.
Proper Air Flow
Proper airflow is important, not just for growing certain plant varieties, but for caring for all plants in general. You want to space out each plant so it has room to grow. Spacing out the plants also optimizes the absorption of sunlight and the flow of air. Humidity increases the risk of rot as well as fungal and mold growth in plants. Adequate exposure to sunlight and air destroy pathogens that could otherwise harm the plants. Knowing the amount of room needed by plants is easy; just check the seed packets or planting sticks for instructions.
General Tips for Growing Herbs Organically
Choosing the right kind of herbs to grow is the best way to build an easy to maintain and disease-resistant herb garden. This goes especially if you are new to gardening! Ideally, choose herbs that are hard to kill or native herbs that grow in abundance in your local area. Herbs that thrive indoors are also perfect additions to an organic garden.
Since most herbs do not grow too big, you can plant them in small pots. However, some small herbs will need bigger pots once they mature. If you’d rather not re-pot your herbs, plant them in-ground. Small, potted herbs could be grown indoors or outdoors as long as they are getting enough sunlight.
Speaking of sunlight, most herbs require at least 6 to 8 hours of regular sun exposure. A windowsill that gets bright light most of the day is the perfect spot for growing potted herbs. If the potted herbs are not getting enough sunlight, you have to move them into different parts of your yard to keep your herbs happy. Herbs that are grown in-ground aren’t as high maintenance as long as they are planted in a sunny spot in the garden.
It is important to amend the soil with organic fertilizers when needed to make sure that your herbs are getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. You can use organic mulch as your own compost or use a weak solution of fish emulsion.
Add the fertilizers once every two weeks or so and use only a small amount. Most herbs do not need much fertilizing and too much of the stuff could lead to excessive leaf growth and a weaker flavor or aroma. Regular harvesting is key to steady growth. It also encourages plant heartiness so go ahead and harvest your favorite herbs as soon as you can!
Building an herb garden without using chemicals may sound daunting but it’s a lot easier (and more affordable) than you think! As long as you are resolving common garden issues right away, there is no need to depend on chemicals to keep your herb garden healthy! For more gardening tips and helpful resources, subscribe to our newsletter today.
What are the benefits of growing your own vegetables? Vegetables are so easy to grow especially in sunny spots. And you don’t need a large yard to build a vegetable garden. Even the tiniest slice of space can be transformed into a lush, thriving garden.
If you love the idea of growing your own produce then building a vegetable garden will save you hundreds of dollars on grocery. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that the vegetables you eat are grown with lots of TLC! Still torn about the idea of building a vegetable patch? In today’s post, we are outlining all the amazing benefits of growing your own vegetables:
Improve Your Health
Fresh vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. Vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that promote better health, including antioxidants and vitamins. Adding fresh vegetables to your daily meals is the best way to boost your health, and your loved ones’ health too.
Children, in particular, will benefit from the health-giving nutrients of fresh vegetables. Studies show that children who are fed with homegrown produce are twice more likely to eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetable a day compared to children who rarely or never ate homegrown veggies. Unfortunately, kids are not great fans of greens. Starting them young is a great way to get the kids to appreciate vegetables early on.
Save Money on Food
Stocking up on fresh produce grown from the yard means having more food to enjoy for weeks, even months, without spending a dime on store-bought vegetables. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average household spends about $550 per month on food, spending more on fresh produce compared to eggs, dairy, sugar, and other staples. If you’d like to reduce your grocery expenses, try growing your own crops. You won’t believe how much money you will save from growing your own food!
Most households spend 60% of their food budget on meals and snacks. A small packet of seeds costs about a few cents. Growing vegetables from seeds allow you to plant a huge variety of vegetables, which you can harvest at different seasons. If your pantry is overflowing with vegetables, you can always preserve these so you can enjoy healthy veggies even after the growing season is over!
Gardening is inherently eco-friendly, more so if you are growing vegetables without using any type of chemical. Growing food organically means sparing the earth of water, soil, and air pollution. Since you are buying less produce from the supermarket, you are not contributing to the use of fossil fuel from transporting fruits and vegetables to your local grocery. If you are growing crops without using pesticides or herbicides, toxic chemicals won’t seep into the soil and waterways. You can enjoy the earth’s bounty without harming the environment.
Effective and Enjoyable Workout
One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is that it keeps you fit. Most people want to work out but not all of us are comfortable at the idea of lifting weights or enrolling in a fitness class at the local gym. Gardening is a wonderful hobby for anyone who’d like to achieve a trim and healthy physique. All that weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting tone the muscles and build strength. If you don’t like lifting weights, completing all your gardening activities is similar to working out but it’s much more organic and enjoyable because you are doing something that nourishes your soul.
If you are always stressed out and you don’t or won’t go to the local spa to de-stress, try gardening. Doing something meaningful or purposeful is a great stress reliever. Going out there and getting some fresh air and sunshine certainly helps soothe frazzled nerves!
Healthy, Sustainable Food
Dining out or having takeouts is nice every once in a while but restaurant food and fast foods pale in comparison to homemade meals made from fresh, sustainable ingredients. Usually, resto meals and fast foods are high in sodium, sugar, and additives that are bad for the health. Also, there is no way to say if the ingredients are organically grown.
Organically grown vegetables are healthier, more flavorful compared to store-bought meals. Unfortunately, organic produce is more expensive than your average fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to organically produced vegetables at home? Growing your own food allows you to enjoy sustainable fruits and vegetables whenever. You can prepare your meals and have total control over the quality of the ingredients while spending less money on food.
Did you know that the average American household throws about $600 worth of food every year? Most people are so used to accessing food conveniently, never thinking about the hard work that comes from growing the said food. It’s much harder to waste food when you grew your own food.
When you are growing your own food, you are less likely to take fruits and vegetables for granted. You are also likely to preserve or use up your supply before it spoils. Building a vegetable garden is also a great way to teach your children about the importance of utilizing whatever bounty the earth has provided to its fullest and avoiding waste!
To make your vegetable garden even more sustainable, you can build your own compost pile using kitchen scraps and organic garden debris. By building a compost pile, you can turn organic scraps into natural fertilizers for your garden.
Building a vegetable garden takes a lot of hard work and commitment but as long as you are devoted to growing your own food, you will reap the benefits of growing your own vegetables! It’s also easy to turn any available space into a garden patch. Just use small containers if your garden space is limited. Found these gardening tips useful? Tune in for more! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening resources straight to your inbox!