Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ecological Gardening - Garden Design

  • Use preferably autochthonous plants.
  • The main advantage of autochthonous plants is that they require less maintenance, because they are more resillient to the lack of water, plagues, soil type, diceases, etc.
  • Group the species in the garden according to their needs of water
  • Protect the plants from the wind
  • Do not cultivate the plants very close to each other

Monday, August 6, 2007

Ecological Gardening tips

The incorrect cultivation methods produce negative effects. For example:

  • The massive use of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, has an impact in the environment and there is a risk both for people and animals
  • The excessive usage of water during the watering, specially in areas where it's a scarce resource
  • The usage of nitrates (highly soluble fertilizers) that get into water streams and pollute them
  • The great amount of vegetable waste that are incinerated of are taken to dumps without being correctly disposed
These and other concerns take us to think and create a new concept: ecological gardening. What we try to do with this is build gardens and maintain them in a racional and respecful way towartds the environment.
The ecological gardening tries to save water, fertilizers and other products and other elements. It encourages methods to help conservation of the environment. and health.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Backyard Garden Design - Basic Tips & Ideas

Garden Design is a broad topic and you can find many sites entirely dedicated to more advanced patio design concepts. This is just a beginner article that relates the basic concepts to consider when facing the home garden design of your own garden.
The first advice, don't hurry. Pay attention to every detail and study all the options you have and what you want to achieve.

Here, you will find garden design ideas and techniques, but the pacience, enthusiasm and love in the creation and home garden design of your own garden is something that only can reach.

So, what are the main points to bear in mind when trying to design you own garden?.

  1. What themes do you want your garden to have ?
  2. Lawn Theme: for example, under a tree's shadow, a sunbathing area, next to the pool, a reading area, etc.

    Draw a sketch, distribute the different themes that your garden will have.

  3. What elements do you want to include?
  4. Paths, posts, Fences, Garage, sculptures, dog house, plant containers, Archs, Greenhouse, etc.

  5. What plant species would you like to cultivate?
  6. Trees, Palms, Bushes, Roses, Aromatics, Cacti, Acuatic, etc.

  7. WHow much money are planning to spend in its building? Are you going to make in stages?
  8. It will always be a great investment the budget that you spend into your vegetable garden design for all the good moments that you and your family will have there.
    The main advantage of gardening is that it can be suitable to any income level. If you want to buy construction material, and big already-grown plants, take into account that the budget is going to skyrocket. If you are just beggining, always buy young plants, they are always cheaper.
    If you are building your garden by stages, first plant trees and the basic infrastructure. Once it's done, proceed to the next stage, like a small pond, a greenhouse. A garden it's never finished, you can change it unlimited times, that's the best part of it. You modify some areas, you create new themes, you plant new species.
    In case you have kids and animals, there is going to be a big part of the garden dedicated for them to play, and it should be mainly surrounded by trees or big bushes only.

  9. How much maintenance will it require?

  10. It's important to know how much time we have available, Will it be just weekends?, Will you hire someone else to do it?

    If you want a low-maintenance garden, avoid bushes and plants that require several prunings during the year. Avoid lawns and plant containers.
    Choose the plants according to their watering and fertilizing needs, avoid those that lose leaves during the year, plants prone to diceases and parasites, etc.

  11. What garden style would you like to have?

  12. Formal or classic garden, mediterranean garden, tropical garden, arabic garden, japanese garden.

  13. What kind of sensations do you want to create or transmit?

  14. Misterious, relaxing, romantic, fresh, etc.

  15. What is the climate and microclimate?

  16. Obviously, so you can choose compatible species and avoid problems related to temperature and humidity.

  17. What kind of soil does your garden have?

  18. In a soil with high levels of limestone, do not cultivate plants with an acid pH, because they would turn yellowish. If you have a really poor soil in terms of nutrients, you should add a layer of organic vegetable matter.

  19. What kind of water will you use for watering?

  20. Depending on the water pH.
  21. How is the natural environment in which it is inserted?

Many people like to blend their garden landscape design with the environment. Many others just look for the opposite, they try to make it look completely different.

Sources: Wikipedia

Monday, July 30, 2007

Garden Ponds, Aquatic Plants and Koi Fishes

  • What is the best place for a pond ?

It is advisabel to construct the pond as far as possible from the house. The ideal place would be one that has direct sunlight for just a few hours, being the rest covered by the trees. It must also be safe from winds. It's better if the water pond has no caduceus trees close, both for the auttum leaves that may fall into the pond as well as for the roots that could damage its structure.
  • The water pond should always have a fountain, it will look great !
  • To keep the children safe from falling into the pond there are special nets that surround the pond
  • How avoid algae in the water pond ?
Algae are sunlight lovers. Is the water pond is located in a place that is covered from the sun during the hottest hours of the day, that should be enough to protect it from algae.
Avoid organic waste in the water pond: take out the dead leaves, do not add compost, fertilizer or humus in the bottom of the pond, and do not feed the fishes excesively.
The currents produced by waterfall streams, fountains, water feeders, are really benefitial for the oxygen they provide. In case you do not have any of these, try using a high pressure hose into the pond (specially during summer)
Cultivate oxygenating plants: they take minerals from the decomposition of the organic matter, the CO2 from the fishes and they release oxygen to the water. The best plants are the Ceratophyllum y Elodea.
There are some anti-algae products that, when correctly employed, are not a problem for fishes and aquatic plants. The biggest algae must be taken out manually.
  • When the aquatic plants are too big for the water pond, they must be taken to a bigger one
  • Can we fertilize the aquatic plants ?
They can be fertilized, even though it's not essential. For these cases we used granulated fertilized of slow reaction, it must be covered with sand.
  • Water Pond Fishes
If you want to have fishes in the pond, this should be at least 60 centimeters deep, so the fishes can go down and up, according to the temperature
  • Koi Fishes
These fishes are very resillient. The water temperature is not really a problem for them, of course, it's always better if you have aquatic plants to protect them fomr direct sunlight.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Organic Matter: Humus

When we refer to organic matter in the soil, we mean the humus that the soil has. There is more organic matter in the soil that is not humus, like: rottening leaves, all kind of solid element that we can still recognize as such.

But, What exactly is humus? Humus Definition: I'll give an example to understand it better: When a leaf falls to the ground, it's immediately atacked by fungy and bateria mainly responsible for it decomposition. The result is the following:
  • A part of the leaf transforms into mineral nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, etc)
  • The other part becomes humus. The same process ocurs in any other organic matter that we may add to the soil, for instance, animal waste, compost, etc. All of them are attacked by organisms and they produce mineral nutrients and humus as well
  • If the leaves weighs 2 grams the percentages would be as follows: 0,1 becomes humus and the rest minerals
  • As the years go by, that same humus will also become minerals, but that process can last around 3 years
Humus is a very special anb beneficial substance for plants. It has some qualities that contribute to the following properties to the soil:
  1. Provides airing to the soil, improving its structure
  2. It retains water and mineral, otherwise they would wash away with the rain
  3. Provides mineral nutrientes for the plants as it decomposes (nitrogen, potassium, etc)
  4. Humus also has some other less-known benefits. It produces something like growing boosters that the plants can absorb, favouring nutrition and resistance against diceases: vitamins and plant growing regulators
How do I tell how much humus my soil has ?

Taking some of the soil in our hand, telling by the structure and color, we can diagnose how rich (or poor) our soil is in humus. The most accurate method is taking a sample to the lab. Most soils range between 1 and 3% of humus. Soil from woods may have up to 5%. In order to increase the humus level in our soil takes time. It takes years. For instance, if we add animal waste, around 10% of this matter becomes humus. Bear in mind that no all plants prefer to live in a soil with a high humus composition (desert plants).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quick Tips to keep a flowerpot garden

  1. Plastic flowerpots are not suitable for gardens that are directly exposed to sunlight for too many hours, or during the hottest hours of the day. These get overheated and can damage the roots very badly
  2. You can install hanging pot racks and cultivate some species there, creating a tropical atmosphere
  3. Places near windows are ideal to cultivate flowers and aromatic species. The fragance will spread through the house
  4. Do not use soil extracted from the garden, as it has too much clay. It could also carry some plagues. Use only potting soil that you can buy at any store
  5. Mix the potting soil with round gravel: this combination will help with the airing and water retention
  6. Before pouring in the potting soil, you should add first some gravel, little pieces of broken ceramics, etc, so the draining holes do not get stucked
  7. Be careful, in small ground spaces like flower pots, the watering and fertilizing must be done much more carefully than in an outdoor garden
  8. The water evaporates much faster in terra cotta pots, so we have to water more often than with other kinds of pots
  9. An automatic watering system is really necessary, specially if you get absent for long periods of time
  10. A quick method to know when it's time to water your plants is by introducing your finger into the soil and see if it's humid
  11. There are some really useful humidity meters in the market if you look for something more accurate
  12. The smaller flower pot are watered wit more frequency than the large ones
  13. The main mistake when cultivating plants in a flowerpot it's the excessive watering that ends up rottening the roots
  14. Many plants have a season where the watering should be minimum or none. Cactuses are a good example, as they don't have to get any water during winter
  15. For flower pots and hanging pots, you can use liquid fertilizers every 15 days since the ending of the winter to the beggining of auttum from only once a month during the rest of the year
  16. An overdose of fertilizer causes more damage to the plants than using non fertilizer at atll
  17. Another way of oxigenating the ground is by adding a few earthworms in the pot
  18. Every one or two years, change the flower pot for a bigger one, according to the species

Friday, July 20, 2007

Buying Healthy Plants

Hope these quick tips help you next time you buy a plant:

  1. Examine carefully their leaves and stems just to be sure they don't already carry any disease or plague: spotted leaves, or with holes, bear in mind that it you take a plant that is carrying a dicease, it will probably spread it to the rest of your plants in the garden
  2. Never take those plants with roots coming out of the pot drain holes, that is a very good sign that they have been waiting a pretty decent time waiting for someone to buy them
  3. The plant must have already grown roots. You can test it by slightly pulling the stem, it should stay in the ground. Many tree nurseries try to accelerate the growing process by putting the tree inside the post before it's ready
  4. Do not buy plants that have their sides asymmetrically developed
  5. The winter season is never a good time to buy indoor plants: the heating, a low humidity level and poor lightning a very different factors than those in the tree nursery. The sudden environment change could cause them damage to death
  6. Inspect leaves and stems to verify they don't have insects on them
  7. Take out the rootball to see if it keeps its shape, if it doesn't, then it hasn't grown roots
  8. The roots must be abundant and with a light color, when the roots are dark, it's a sign that they are rotten
  9. If the rootball it's excessively crowded with roots, don't buy, it's an old plant
  10. When it comes to flowering plants, always buy those which blooms are not opened
Follow these tips before buying a plant, you won't regret it.