Author Archives: Adm1n

Tomato PlantingPlanting tomato plants is easy. They are among the easiest garden plants to grow and if you live in an area warm enough to grow them, you can plant them way I do, and they are almost maintenance free. Here are ten tips to start your best tomatoes yet.

1. Choose disease resistant heirloom varieties and buy from reputable nurseries.

2. Choose plants with dark healthy leaves and thick stems. Long lanky stems are signs that they either grew too fast or they didn't get enough sunlight while growing.

3. Make certain that the area where you plant your garden has at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Remove rocks and weeds from garden area where you intend to plant. I never put manure or fertilizer in soil where I plant tomatoes.

4. Invest in and put up a sturdy fence upon which to grow your tomatoes. I like to use a good quality cattle panel held up with metal fence posts buried every four feet. Good quality tomato cages also work as well.

5. When soil temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, dig a trench four inches deep and long enough to bury the entire stem of the tomato plant. Without a fence, you would have to plant tomato plants 4 foot apart but since you are growing your tomatoes up a fence, you can plant each plant a foot from the one beside it.

6. Remove all but the uppermost leaves of your tomato plant, then plant the entire stem, leaving only the leaves above ground.

7. In planting hole, pour one gallon of water and dust the hole with about a tablespoon with dried kelp powder. Make certain to spread it around the hole and not just dump it all in the bottom of the trench. The water guarantees that the plant stays well hydrated and the kelp contains growth hormones that give the plants a healthy boost.

8. Now plant the tomato into the planting hole. Lay the plant so that the leafy part of it is next to the fence. Cover the entire stem.

9. Sprinkle another tablespoon of kelp along the area where you planted the tomato stem and dust with diatomaceous earth around the base of the tomato to prevent cutworm damage.

10. Water a second time with another gallon of water. If your soil is sufficiently warm enough, mulch around plants to conserve moisture and to prevent diseases in the soil from splashing up from the soil when it rains or when you water.

Now that you planted your tomato plants, water your plants regularly and keep the vines tied to the fence. With proper care, within a few weeks, you will have a terrific tomato crop that the entire neighborhood will envy.

Types Of Indoor PlantsHouse or indoor plants do not only add color to the room, but they infuse texture and life. They could be used to set the mood of the home. However, you don't just pick a plant in a store and put it in the room's corner. You would have to consider your room space, how much time you are willing to spend on caring for the plant, and of course, technical aspects of the room like lighting, temperature, and humidity.

After identifying the purpose and how much maintenance you are willing to spend on it, you could start looking for your ideal plant. There are different varieties and kinds of indoor plants. If you are looking for something that is easy to care for, then you could get a cactus. Is that the only thing you could get? Here are some popular choices when looking for indoor plants.

If you want colorful flowers, then begonias are good choices. They have white, pink, red and yellow flowers. They could grow well throughout the year and they could be kept in dark places. African violets can be kept easily and could be watered only every two days. They can grow both in natural and artificial light. The same goes for Philodendrons which can be kept hanging in the corners that do not have enough light.

Shamrocks are great indoor plants. They have white flowers which could totally brighten up your room or office. They are among the House Plants easy to care for. They don't require too much grooming and could be placed in a sunny spot. Another type of indoor plant which would easily grow in a sunny or a dark place is the peace lily. Aside from being beautiful evergreen plants, they are natural Air-Purifiers. Areca palm is another natural air purifier. It does not only make your room beautiful, it cleans the air from different pollutants like xylene present in paints, gas, or pesticides.

Plants like spider plants should not be watered or fertilized too much. They are natural air cleaners and could easily grow in low or medium light. Just avoid putting them in places where they would get direct sunlight. Snake plants, interestingly also called mother-in-law tongue, can also get by with little water.

The choices are endless. If you are planning to have indoor plants, it is important to have an idea what would work for you and your space. Aside from that, you would need to know how to care for the plant. There are some indoor plants that need to be soil-changed every year. While others would take a while before they grow a flower.

Growing OrchidsDiversity of orchids is absolutely amazing. Orchids belong to Orchidaceae family, which is the largest family of flowering plants, with at least 24,000 different species. It is not surprising, that orchid flowers are extremely various; they could be of any colour you can imagine, and their shape and size may very much differ among different species and genera as well. Flowers of a great number of orchids look really gorgeous.

In addition, many of them have very nice fragrance, which is also different among different species. Some orchids, for example Stanhopea, are so fragrant that their owners have to keep them outside when those orchids are blooming, because the fragrance is tremendously strong. Some orchids, for instance Brassavola orchids, smell at nocturnal time, which is wonderful. It is also interesting that the flower smell of certain orchids, for example Bulbophyllum, is quite repulsive, because natural pollinators of these orchids are flies feeding on rotten meat. Nevertheless, many of such orchids are valuable items for many orchid collectors.

Moreover, different orchids bloom in different seasons. It is possible to collect a combination of certain species or hybrids, which will be blooming one after another all year-round. Besides, there is a group of orchids prized for its ornamental foliage, rather than flowers, so-called group of jewel orchids.

Although, there are some terrestrial orchids, as jewel orchids for example, almost all orchids grown indoors are epiphytic plants, which grow in natural conditions on trees rather than on ground. This doesn't mean that orchids are parasitic; instead they use photosynthesis for energy like all green plants, and collect nutrients from plant debris or dust and water from moist air or the substrate. They attach to the trees and use them only as a physical support, with the main purpose to be closer to sun, because in a tropical forest it is almost impossible for herbaceous plants to survive under dense tree crowns. Perhaps, that is the main difference between orchids and majority of common house plants, though there are other epiphytes among house plants, for instance epiphytic cacti.

The first thing you should remember if you grow epiphytic orchids is that they must not be grown in soil, because it is not natural to them, and they will sooner or later die in such conditions. There are many different potting medium for orchids, but tree bark will do in most cases, and you can buy it in any gardening store.

As I said earlier, orchids are very various plants, which may very much differ in their care requirements. For instance, there are orchids which require bright light to grow well and flower regularly, but others like shady conditions; some orchids can grow and even bloom during the whole year, but others need a certain period of rest. So the second important thing you should consider is what particular type of orchid you grow. Then you can easily find info about growing requirements for this type of orchid, and eventually give your orchid all proper conditions to grow in.

Phalaenopsis hybrids are likely the most well-known orchids, which you can grow easily, but also there are many other orchids which can be grown at home without too much difficulty. Today, most orchids for sale in shops are hybrids which often have less strict requirements for growing at home than natural species. However, there are many different orchids which are very difficult to grow indoors, for example even some Phalaenopsis species might be very difficult to take care of in home conditions. Such orchids are usually grown by some sophisticated collectors, who have cultivated different orchids for a long time.

So orchids are very beautiful and diverse plants, which deserve to be a real beauty of every house, but to grow orchids successfully you should keep in mind that these little beauties are epiphytic plants, and you should also know what type of orchid you're going to grow to care for that appropriately.

Avocado TreeMost avocado trees are grown in tropical climates, primarily in Mexico (the world's leading producer of avocado), California, Hawaii, and Florida. California is the number one producer of avocados in the United States, with most of the crop being of the Hass variety. But why not growing an avocado tree at home?

Growing an avocado from seed...

To grow an avocado tree, you need to get an avocado seed, clean it off and poke three toothpicks into the side of it. Then immerse the seed halfway in the water while the three sticks rest on the rim of a drinking glass. Set the seed with the wider portion down.

Place the glass with the seed somewhere warm with not too much direct light. The water should be changed at least every couple of weeks, before it gets dirty and depleted of oxygen.

In four to six weeks, the seed should split and out should come roots and a sprout. Once the stem has grown a few inches, place it in a pot with soil. Avocados have been known to grow large, so you will have to repot the plant several times.

What's the ideal place to grow an avocado tree?

The ideal spot for the plant is at the brightest window. Avocados are widely cultivated in tropical to subtropical climates. They may grow in shade but require full exposure to sunlight for best productivity. It should also be watered every few days.

How long does it take to grow an avocado tree?

Under good conditions, growing avocado takes many years, even up to a decade or two, to begin producing fruits. Indeed do not expect to get fruits but you can still grow a beautiful houseplant!

How big is an avocado tree?

Avocado is a medium to large evergreen tree with large, leathery, deep green leaves. The tree grows to 20 m, with leaves 12 cm to 25cm long. The flowers are greenish-yellow.

Why growing an avocado tree at home?

To grow an endless amount of organic avocados! Avocados are very healthy for you. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and alkalizing properties. They can help you lower your cholesterol level and contain lot's of healthy nutrients. They are also very rich in fiber. So there're many reasons why it's recommended to include avocado in the diet. Try growing an avocado tree at home if you don't like making regular trips to the grocery store for your daily supply or if you are fed up with spending lot's of money for quality produce!

Organic GardeningIn this age of global warming of our planet, increasing pollution and fast food, many people no longer are confident of fresh products that are offered as many try to exert some control over what they eat.

Similarly, chemicals that have been used for so long within gardens are no longer accepted as the only means of channeling the vicissitudes of nature.

One of the key ways to improve our environment (and our health) is to 'be organic. "

Why organic gardening?

Organic gardening is one that uses only naturally occurring materials and does not use artificial fertilizers or chemicals.

Try to work with nature rather than against it.

Advantage

Organically grown foods taste better than those grown with artificial fertilizers.

Costs: the organic material can be created by returning all waste back to the land, which is a cheap process compared to Inorganic which tend to be way more expensive in the long run.

Same with chemical sprays, If an orchard where parasites do not prove a problem is created, it saves a lot in the cost of chemicals.

Another advantage is that by adding organic material to Earth, it keeps getting better, pitching chemicals ultimately impoverishes the soil.

The size of the fruits of an organic garden are usually larger and higher quality.

Tips for planning organic garden

The first step to take when planning a garden is to make a list of what you want from it, imagine what you can achieve within the space and time available.

Once you have determined the priorities, then its time to situate or organize space available within that garden.

Some areas will be sunnier, others will have better land or soil, some spots much more humid and so on.

To cultivate a good garden you will have to look for the best position in relation to the sun and air.

If weeds grow better in one part than another, this may mean that the land is better there, Note the areas which have sun all day or only a partial day.

Caring for the Earth

Land is the most important part of your garden, the soil composition varies so keep a watch for this variance.

Sandy soils are very light and friable and easily drain.

The clay is formed consists of fine particles that stick together creating the stickiness characteristic of the clay. Clay drains very slowly, so clay soils create a wet and slippery environment in which few plants feel comfortable. Sticky and dry land is also very difficult to work.

Between these two types, clay and sandy soils can be improved simply by addition of fertile mulch.

A soil may be acidic or alkaline. The relative acidity / alkalinity of the soil pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 where 7 is neutral.

For the best organic garden soil it should be on the acid side of neutral point, at point 6.5, Below that the soil is too acidic and will not allow some minerals that plants need.

But clay soils, sandy, alkaline or acid can be modified.

Another consideration of soil structure is its profile. usually in a garden the topsoil contains the best land. The layer beneath it is known as groundwater. And below this is the true underground.
It is essential to keep these layers in their respective places.

Identification of layers of earth

Surface layer: is the darkest and richest part of the garden profile. It is where plants grow mainly and also where the most worms, bacteria and insects reside, many of them beneficial for plant growth.

Finally we must consider the area of hardness which can occur between the different soil layers. This is a correctable problem if it is not known early, If not correct it may compromise ones digging depth.

Soil analysis

To find out if your garden soil is clayey or sandy place a sample of it in a jar with water then shake it up, allow the different components to settle in layers and any organic material will float to the top.

For their ability to retain or lose water, dig a hole depth of a shovel and fill with water. Allow to drain and refill the hole. If that water disappears quickly that means that the soil drains well too. On the other hand if you still there after a few hours or even days it is clear that it is blocked to the opposite extreme.

If it disappears on a regular basis in half an hour or so, then its usage and capacity is correct.

There are several natural indicators of acidity or alkalinity of your soil. For example, if ferns are rowing in your garden or rhododendrons this means the soil is acidic.

Improve the land

Once the soil is analyzed only then will it be possible to see what can be done to improve it.

In light soils, such as gritty, its best to add decomposed organic material, this will help retain moisture and also provide nutrients for plants.

Clay soils are more problematic to treat, especially because they are hard and difficult to work. To improve it, you must add stones (gravel), because it improves drainage, separates the soil and makes it easier to work.

You can also add ash burnt weeds, organic material in the form of manure or poultry manure also help transform the ground into a lighter medium. Worms will constantly break it up and mix with the ground, worms will mulch most of the new layer down so that the original ground becomes fertile and usable again.

Sewer system

Drainage is an important part of improving the your soil. In the waterlogged terrain you can add gravel but if it's a serious problem with water stagnating after each downpour, you must install a proper drainage system.

This is done by digging ditches in the form of drainage pipes.

Cover with small stones or simply fill trenches with gravel covered rubble.

An alternative is to use water to create a pond then install water drainage pipes.

Gardening is not just about planting seeds and then sit back and wait for the harvest. In between these two events weeds try to colonize the bare soil and crop eating bugs seek these succulent plants.

Gardener job is to prevent this from happening.

For some, hoeing and weeding can be a very relaxing and not to mention therapeutic. When control of weeds or soil balance is lost, the gardening becomes a battle.

The secret is "little and often". If time permits devote an hour a day.

Another obstacle will be nature, it tends to get in the way of the gardener with occasional bad weather.

You can take steps to minimize their effect:

Wind

Creates several problems. First the wind can easily bring down the whole garden bed.

Windbreaks is something to consider in setting up any garden, although it may not be essential if you live in an urban area where the buildings protect it from the wind, but in rural areas it can be vital.

The best windbreaks are those that allow air to seep through. Although a wall or a fence will have a solid look and seem the best against strong winds, actually they cause much turbulence that can be as devastating as the wind itself.

A row of trees allows the wind to seep through naturally.

A much quicker solution is to build a fence to allow the wind to pass through it, It can be built of wood or bamboo.

A modern alternative is to use screens, sold especially for this. this type of wind shield must be firmly anchored in the ground and need to be renewed or replaced from time to time.

A hedge creates a perfect barrier slowing the wind causing it to seep through at a moderate stream.

Cold

The cold is not bad during the winter. It helps break down and kill the bugs that have surfaced. But when spring starts and you have started plantations, frost can be a killer or at very least a hindrance.

The gaps can be covered with metal or fabric, place a fence or a hedge at an angle across the slope above the frost hole so that the cold air is diverted to one side and go elsewhere. A row of shrubs or curve as V uphill also divert cold air frost.

It is always advisable to have a flower garden near a field of vegetables. In some cases it may even help to mix the two.

An alternative preferred by many organic gardeners is to create a series of raised beds, each with one type or more of vegetables, planted in blocks rather than in rows.

Some plants grow better in containers or trays for planting later.

It is best to plant on cold days, preferably if there is a possibility that a light rain may fall. The damp and cold help the plant survive.

Vegetable Garden1. Decide What Vegetables to Plant

My first step in planning my garden is to decide which vegetables to plant.

This may seem obvious, but only plant vegetables you and your family like to eat and only plant the amount that your family can use - or that you can give away, can, or otherwise store for the winter.

Do you know anyone who plants tomatoes just because they're a popular garden veggie, even though they either don't like them or can't eat them? I do and maybe you do, too! Or how about those four zucchini plants that someone I know planted one year - and then they tried to give away the surplus. Oops. (No, it wasn't me!)

2. Decide Which Varieties to Plant

For each type of vegetable, I try to choose one variety that's good for fresh eating (either raw or cooked), one that stores well in the root cellar, and one that is especially resistance to the type of insect pests and diseases I have in my garden. Sometimes a single variety will meet more than one of these criteria.

Your criteria are probably different than mine, so it's a good idea to identify what qualities are important for you and then choose varieties that work for your situation.

3. Make a List of Vegetables to Plant

For each vegetable, I list the following:

The vegetable variety (for example, Red-cored Chantenay Carrots)
How many weeks it should be planted before or after the Last Frost Date in the spring (for example, 4-6 weeks before the Last Frost Date). You will find this information on the seed packet.
Taking the last frost date for my area, I count back (or forward) to the actual day for planting - and write that down, too.
Lastly, I write down the ideal soil temperature for planting that type of vegetable. This information should also be shown on the seed packet.
Listing Seeds to Plant Indoors

I make a separate list for seeds that I'm planting indoors. This list includes both the date for starting the seeds indoors and the date for transplanting them into the garden.

If I'm buying any seedlings (instead of starting the seeds myself), I put those on the list, too, so I won't forget to go buy them.

4. Design Your Garden

Draw a sketch of your garden and where you plan to plant each veggie. Some people use graph paper for this and draw to scale, so it is easier to tell how much space is being taken by each vegetable. But using a plain piece of paper can work well, too.

Check the seed packets so you'll know how much space to allow between rows and between plants.

If you prefer not to design your garden with pencil and paper, there are numerous software packages and websites that can help with this process.

5. Rotate Your Crops

When designing the layout of your garden, it's important to take into account where the various vegetables were planted in previous years.

It's generally advised to rotate your crops, so plants from the same family of vegetables are not planted in the same place more than once every three years. Some people wait five years, which is harder to do unless you have a fairly large garden or are only planting a few types of vegetables.

The two main reasons for rotating crops are 1) to help avoid insect and soil-borne diseases and 2) because different vegetables take different minerals from the soil. If crops aren't rotated, insect pests and harmful soil organisms tend to build up in the soil and, also, the soil can become depleted of important minerals.

6. Successive Plantings

When designing your garden, take into account the possibility that you may be able to successively plant more than one vegetable in the same spot during the season.

For example, when you're done harvesting your lettuce, you could plant a later crop of carrots in that same place.

7. Companion Planting

Some plants do well when planted next to each other and some don't.

When deciding which plants to grow in your garden and where to put them, consider whether they will be good companions to each other. You may also want to plant some flowers and veggies solely for their role as companions.

For example, I plant marigolds in quite a few spots within the garden because of their tendency to ward off insect pests and soil diseases. They also attract some pests, which then keeps those critters from bothering other plants.

Other examples would be planting basil near tomatoes to help the tomatoes grow better or planting radishes near squash, melons and cucumbers to deter insect pests.

8. Plant Hybrids for Pest & Disease Resistance

I used to plant only vegetable varieties that were open-pollinated, that is, varieties whose seeds would grow "true" to the original plant.

Now I've found that it's helpful to plant some hybrids that are resistant to the insect pests and diseases that tend to show up in my garden. If my garden gets severely affected by a certain type of pest or disease, this gives me a little insurance against my entire crop being wiped out.

For example, if powdery mildew hits my garden really hard, it could have a big effect on the productiveness of my squash, melons, and cucumbers. Having some hybrid varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew could save the day.

9. Consider the Plant's Need for Sun & Soil Type

Some vegetables do better when grown in full sun and some do better with a bit of shade. You can find this information on the seed packet.

Remember that plants that grow tall will shade other smaller plants behind them, so put those tall ones on the north side of garden, if possible. On the other hand, if you have plants that don't tolerate direct sun very well (such as lettuce), you can use tall plants to shade them.

So, when planning your garden, plant according to the needs of your veggies in regard to sun or shade. Also, be sure to pick varieties that are suited to your climate and soil conditions.

10. Buy Plant Supports Ahead of Time

For plants that use supports, such as tomatoes and peas, I find it best to put the supports in the ground before planting the seeds or, when transplanting seedlings, before they get very tall. Otherwise, the seeds may be displaced or the roots of the seedlings may be disturbed.

For this reason, I make sure I've bought or made all the supports I need before planting time arrives.

Gardening Without PesticidesI have made it my determination never to use pesticides. This was not a decision that I made based on philosophy or even environmental consciousness. On the contrary, I bore witness to the extraordinary ease and effectiveness by which natural predators dispose of the most pernicious and damaging of garden pests.

In the mid-2000s, I began my first serious attempt at a large garden. I did the research about how to do as little work as possible. In the early fall, I put materials over the lawn to kill it. I dumped leaves into my beds instead of tilling. Allowing the biological process of decay do the work would invite a sturdy network of fungi to help bring nutrients to the plants. Finally, I used a technique called wintersowing to sow my seeds outside during the winter. I only planted native varieties, the idea being that they would be a boon to natural pollinators. Native plants would be able to care for themselves once established.

The real work came in the spring. Planting, watering new plants, only to plant and water more new plants, was a daily routine. I was sore in places I didn't know had muscles, but the garden was doing very well. It was green, perfect, and all native.

The bees and butterflies came, but so did everything I had failed to anticipate. My new 'serious' garden began to be eaten before my eyes. There were all sorts of native leaf chewers: Aphids, slugs, and caterpillars to name a few. Leaves were mined and skeletonized and fell off. Flowers and buds were being sucked into oblivion.

However, the damage that really hurt my feelings was to the roses. When the Japanese beetles arrived, my roses were denuded of both foliage and flower. That was when I first felt the desperate fury that comes when a gardener is faced with crop failure. Up until now, I wanted nature to do the work. This time I felt like I had to do something.

However, the idea of spraying the roses still repelled me. I simply did not want to have roses that you had to keep out of the reach of children for fear they would ingest them. Therefore, I turned away from that idea and began looking for organic ways to help. There was not much I could do. Picking the beetles off the bushes with my hands and putting them in a bucket of soapy water was the best most had to offer. I got to work.

It did not help. I did not get a single rose that year. At the end of the season, I read that Fall and Winter would be a good time to solicit natural help in the form of birds. I put up a wren house, I put out the bird seed, and I put out water all winter long.

The fate of the Japanese beetles - and every other garden pest - was sealed the day I decided not to spray the roses. Predators had already moved in in numbers! But they weren't at the right life stage to help. Syrphid flies, many wasps, and other insects are only predators as larva. However, because I didn't spray, they laid eggs all over the garden.

I got an avian resident. A male house wren stuffed sticks in the wren house and sang until he attracted a female. The females are the ones who choose the nest site, and she chose my garden. In a few weeks, when the days were warming and I was fearing another attack by the pests, she laid seven eggs.

I am no expert on bird fertility, but it wouldn't make much survival sense for her to be so fertile in the presence of little to no food. It was likely that both these wrens were already present in the garden and their bodies knew how many babies they could afford. Because I didn't spray, I got to see them diving from the house, straight down into the leaves and running around like little feathery wolves and returning with all manner of caterpillars. They did this every day, all day long, the entire season. The wrens had to have devoured thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of insects.

The syrphid fly larva got to work on the aphids that were attacking my new growth. Centipedes got to work on the snails and slugs, as did the firefly larva who are surprisingly voracious and active hunters for worms. The snails and slugs would later attract garter snakes and a mole and a toad. Robins nested and had three chicks on the curve of my downspout. The wasps returned for the flowers and stayed for the hunting. They made off with plenty of insects, bringing them back to larva to eat. Spiders moved in. There were so many green crab spiders that I called the zinnia flowerbed the "Spider Condominiums". Every zinnia flower and a spider in it.

There were so many predators that my pest problems vanished. I concluded that my 'Garden Salad' had turned into the 'Garden of Death'. Pests who managed to survive long enough to chew and lay eggs would only have their eggs and larva eaten by something else. The lucky few who did manage to breed were inconsequential.

Gardening without pesticides takes time and, in my case, a crop failure, but I put away the mask and the gloves and the sprayer. Using them would have made things harder for myself, and easier on the pests. I learned that gardens need time to get established to thrive. Pesticides delay or prevent the garden from ever moving on from the "Garden Salad" stage to a healthy population of predator and prey. They are an expensive hindrance and can kill or discourage natural resources that help the garden be self-sustaining.

A pesticide-free garden continued to grow in variety of species of insect and served as a wonderful classroom for young children and adults who wanted to learn from what the plants attracted. Once a gardener experiences the joy of a garden free of pesticides, he will never be able to return to using them.

AquaponicsFor those who are interested in gardening and want to explore the different ways of growing plants, aquaponics is a method that deserves some strong consideration. Aquaponics, as the name suggests, involves the use of the aquatic ecosystem to grow plants and also breed aquatic animals. In a way, it aims to recreate the aquatic ecosystem in order for the plants and animals to grow as nature intended..

If you are interested in starting an aquaponics system, then there are some things that you should take into consideration. Just as there are selected plants that grow on specific mediums, the aquaponics medium, too, has some specifications. In this article, we take a look at what plants can be grown on a hydrated medium, so that you can be well informed before you start your own aquaponics practice.

Plants That Can Be Grown with Aquaponics

There are a number of plants that can be grown with aquaponics. These are of different classes and types, which makes the entire system more versatile and better suited for an increase in yield. The plants that thrive best in an aquatic medium are:

Cruciferous Plants: The aquaponics system is best suited for cruciferous plants. These include:

Broccoli
Lettuce
Cauliflower
Beans
Nightshades: The second category of plants that have a great success rate in an aquaponics medium are the nightshades. These are:

Tomatoes
Capsicum and other bell pepper varieties
Egg plant
Herbs: Other than the vegetables that we have covered in the above two points, the aquaponics system is also great for the cultivation of some herbs. These include:

Basil
Watercress
Coriander
Lemongrass
Parsley
Sage
Salad Variants: If you are someone who is living the healthy life and eating a lot of salads to keep you refreshed throughout the day, then aquaponics is your friend. This is because there are a lot of varieties of vegetables such as red salad onions, shallots, snow peas and tomatoes that can be grown in this way. Along with the cruciferous vegetables, all of this produce can be perfect for those looking to lead a healthier life.

Flowers for Increased Gardening Success: Those who have been cultivating plants in the aquaponics medium are well aware that sometimes you need to add a little something to the environment to allow it to yield better produce.

For this purpose, you can plant a variety of roses in your hydrated ecosystem. Roses are one of the those plants that can help increase your overall vegetable yield without depleting any of the essential nutrients in the aquatic ecosystem.

Moreover, aquaponic roses can ensure that your house stays fresh and fragrant at all times.

In this day and age where the market prices for vegetables keep going up, growing your own vegetables is a good alternative. The aquaponics system is one of the best ways for cultivating certain types of plants as it involves plants and aquatic animals in a mutually beneficial environment.

Being a self sustaining unit, this ecosystem is perfect for those looking for a way to reduce the cost of their grocery bills without sacrificing food quality. All in all, aquaponics is one of the most efficient and beneficial processes for growing your own vegetables.

Decorate Your GardenDecorating your garden with all kinds of festive decor for the holidays will add cheer to your home. You can decorate the outside of your home as festive as you do on the inside. You can make a big difference by decorating your garden with Christmas decorations and by restoring your tiles to compliment your efforts.

Tile your garden walls with riven cladding before the holidays begin so that your garden is neat and provides a good canvas for the decorations. You can hang the decorations from the cladding without damaging it. You can place hooks in the cladding's crevices, then hang jingle bells or Christmas stockings. Place three to five of these along the wall in a uniform manner.

Place a Christmas tree next to the paved braai area to be enjoyed during any outdoor gatherings with family and friends. If you have many trees in your garden you can decorate them with different coloured wreaths or hanging ornaments on the branches. Add colourful lights to complete the Christmas tree. Some wreaths can be left outside throughout the year.

Place decorations on your lawn such as a Santa Clause with reindeer. If you don't want to go that big, you can place a few elves all over your garden with them holding a string of Christmas lights. This will look festive and light up your garden at the same time.

If you have outdoor furniture, you can cover them with red and green fabric as well as place cotton balls along the top edge of the chairs. The cotton balls will look like snow and add some festive cheer. You can also use popcorn to create the same effect. For added effect, you could scatter popcorn on strategic areas such as in corners so that it looks like snow that has gathered in the corners of the garden.

Place lanterns on the ground along the pathways. Ensure that you've tiled the pathway before the holidays. If you don't have lanterns, you could make your own by placing candles in mason jars. Cobblestones make lovely earthy pathways, especially the Roma Random Cobbles which remind you of the days when people drove horse drawn carriages. The lanterns will light up the pathways which will give a soft glow that fits in with the Christmas ambience.

Remember not to overdo your garden with all sorts of decorations and lights. The fun part of the holidays is the opening of gifts on Christmas day, eating good food and being with friends and family. Having a beautifully decorated garden will add to the festive cheer.

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Cemetery RoseOne of the spring activities which I notably enjoy doing is to seek out the older cemeteries in our area and seeing what manner of antique roses are growing wild there. These beautiful but forgotten rose beauties are not restricted to cemeteries alone but can occasionally be discovered in the yards of old abandoned houses as well as in unused vacant lots. The sad part of this is that these wonderful plants have been forsaken by their planter and the rest of society.

Preserving heritage roses found in the local graveyards can readily reveal hundreds of antique and old garden rose varieties and in some cases rare specimens that are difficult or near impossible to obtain. Emphasis is usually placed upon those roses which are retrieved from abandoned sites, homesteads, cemeteries or along roadsides throughout the nation.

The one training topic which I have found to be lacking is the availability of hands-on workshops which deal with the topics of pruning climbing roses and re-rooting them. Remember some of the tales you heard years ago on how so and so would place a small rose stem into the ground and over it place a Mason jar to encourage growth? Or perhaps you recall the story of the early pioneers as they made their way out west in their covered wagons and bringing with them their cuttings from their favorite rose bushes? To me growing roses from cuttings has always provided an appreciation of the plant. I see nothing complicated about taking a small rose cutting and rooting it in order to start a new plant. Naturally there are various means at our disposal to accomplish this task. It has been said that some people might get their kicks by "rose rustling" at one of the deserted cemeteries in the area. I am one of those people. Although most roses have a scientific name and to be proper and correct you should label your rose with its scientific name, I like to christen the roses which I stumble upon with that name of the deceased person where it was discovered. If I find a rose bush on the gravesite of Joe Smith than I fittingly name it out of respect to the deceased the Joe Smith Rose.

Nothing in life is free and even though you may think that those rose cutting obtained from a cemetery are without cost they are not. In the interest of good will and playing our part in beautifying the older cemeteries and grave, I like to prune and clean up the rose bushes which I find. I do not just take a single cutting from the rose bush but rather give it a manicured look when I am finished. The managers who oversee the cemetery where the roses are will greatly appreciate the time expended to clean up a few gravesites. This is a good policy to follow and ensures that future rose hunters will be welcomed with open arms. Personally, I would not be opposed for the management of these graves to create their own rose plants and sell them in order to generate enough funds to help with garden maintenance, irrigation and repairing of damaged headstones.

Incidentally, years ago I had a lawn service and we specialized in lawn care for cemeteries. In order to win the contracts we would need to provide a million dollar insurance policy in the event we caused any damage to the headstones. We are lucky at this time that we as rose collectors do not have to comply with this sort of directive. Please do not ruin it for others and take care in all you do in collecting your rose cuttings.

Various historic rose collections often include several species of roses which are native to your particular part of the country. Rose lovers who discover these surviving roses which have been neglected and abandoned frequently will trim the plant and take cutting from their castoff branches. These cuttings will eventually grow and can be planted elsewhere. It is totally possible that you may find some unidentified cultures of roses which are unknown of in our modern times.

Who knows what you may find hidden in these graveyards. Perhaps you will uncover a unique seedling which will grow for many years and continuously bears huge clusters of flowers as it develops with its strong fragrance and odor. One rose bush I saw had grown into an unattractively shaped shrub which stood approximately five feet tall and as much as six feet wide. It was totally out of control. If you wish to keep your bush small you can prune and shape it as you please.

Once you have obtained your rose cuttings from the cemetery you can consider propagating them. Here are a few important tips to ensure that your cuttings take root.

When making your rose cuttings make sure to use very sharp cutters or you will risk crushing your rose stem. Make sure that all of the cuttings you obtain are from young but firm stems. These could be those stems where the flowers are beginning to fade or even from the fallen rose petals found around the plant. On some rose plants you may wish to use the stems from where the flowers have begun to fade in the springtime. Always keep your cuttings moist and provide good air circulation and plenty of sunlight. When you take your cuttings allow about 6 inches of stem with at least 3 bud eyes.

Roses tend to root better if you obtain cuttings which still have leaves attached. This will provide valuable sugars resulting from photosynthesis for root development. I like being safe and allow three leaves to stay upon the cut stem. When collecting keep a small spray bottle filled with water handy in order to mist your cuttings as you work on them. This will keep them in a fresh state since wilted rose cuttings usually will not root properly.

Roses represent an incredible plant species which is capable of forming roots from any bud eye along its stems. What this means to a collector is that where you make a cut is really immaterial. Often people will "wound" the plant at the base of the cutting by making a 1-inch vertical slice through the stem. Another method that is popular is to slice a strip of the stem from several sides of the base of the plant with a common nail clipper. Difficult to grow varieties often will benefit from such wounding as it sends out new roots along the cut of the wound.

Most roses will root without the benefit of plant growth compounds or rooting powders. The cuttings from roses contain a root promoting compound known as auxin. This product is created by the leaves or the growing buds and shoots tips. This compound collects at the base of the cutting at a point along the stem where the plants roots start to form. Those roses which fail to produce a sufficient quantity of this auxin chemical will usually find it is too difficult to root. This is the reason that many rose growers employ a commercial root growing compound.

One of the major factors which contribute to successful rooting of your cuttings is providing adequate amounts of moisture within the plants soil as well as in the surrounding air. Planting soil is very important to your roses. The medium which I found to be successful in rooting rose cuttings consists of a 50-50 blend of perlite and potting soil. This soil composition encourages root development and produces healthy plants. Some people prefer the simpler routine and merely place their cuttings in some moistened sand or a fine potting soil than they cover the pots with a zip-loc bag. I like to use and inverted soft drink bottle which has had the top portion cut off. This creates a miniature greenhouse and maintains a high humidity for the cuttings.

Let's now talk about the light requirements for the plants. Roses often tend to root better when they are placed under a bright light. A word of caution is necessary at this point. If you are using the miniature greenhouse method you must ensure that you avoid overheating the plants and provide adequate shade from the hotter afternoon sun. This is easily accomplished by placing your cuttings in a shaded area perhaps against a northern facing wall of your home or even beneath a tree.

You can not just go out and start cutting up the rose bushes as you please. Most rose cuttings are best accomplished in the spring or early summer season. The weather should be warm but not extremely hot. Naturally you can successfully root during just about any time of the year however be aware that it can take longer and your successful rooting may diminish in numbers. If rooted during the months of May or beginning of June you should have a good root system within a matter of two weeks. Any variety of rose is able to be rooted within a time frame of four weeks. The process may take longer if accomplished at different times of the year and might even take as much as eight weeks. Additionally, 100 degree intense summer heat is not conducive for rose cuttings or are the colder 32 degree and below winter temperatures.

Let's discuss several methods of rooting your rose plants. The first way to grow your rose cuttings is to simply stick the rose cutting in the ground without covering it. This method works exceptionally well in mild climate areas of the country. As a beginner perhaps the easiest way to grow you rose cuttings are with a mason jar. As the method says you do not need much equipment other than a quart size glass jar. A 2-liter plastic soda bottle with the bottom removed will also work well. Cut your rose stem to about 6 inches and remove the leaves from the very bottom. Stick several inches of the stem into the ground and cover the stem with the jar or the soda bottle. Periodically provide water to the soil surrounding the jar or your stem will dry out and die. In a few months your rose will take root and start showing new leaf development.

Another popular method of propagating rose plants is known as the baggie method. I have used this method to generate both lemon and orange seeds in the past. The process is actually very simple. Fill a 2-inch plastic pot with a good quality potting soil and insert the stem partway down into the pot. Place the pots into a one-gallon zip-lock bag and you sit back and wait. If you are planting more than one stem you can safely put four 2-inch pots into one gallon bag. It may also be of help if you place a few small sticks inside the bag to keep it upright and away from your stems.

In order to tell if your cutting is successful and has rooted properly you can lightly tug on the plant and if you feel any resistance it has developed a strong root system. If you happen to see roots growing from the drainage hole at the pot's bottom you can rest assured that it has rooted. If you see new leaves on your cutting than it has rooted sufficiently.

Once the rose cuttings have properly rooted they can be removed from the rooting space and hardened off for several days. This is done by placing the rose pots in a shady location where they will be undisturbed and protected from strong sun. Do not move them immediately into an area of hot sunshine as this will likely kill your new plants. As soon as they have developed a good root system and are displaying signs of developing new growth you can safety move them to an area of the sun light.

Now you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor knowing that you have done a great service to the deceased by cleaning their gravesite rose bush and preserving the heritage rose you found.