This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
 

Monthly Archives: April 2018

All about Organic Gardening

Our personal diet and health is a major topic of importance as more attention is being paid to the relationship between food and health. Research has demonstrated that organically grown vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals than those grown with inorganic fertilizers. Gardening organically and growing as much of our own food as possible is one of the steps we can take to start healing the earth on which we live and in the process healing ourselves. Several key components are fundamental to the practice of organic gardening.

Practical Steps to Organic Gardening

1. Soil. The soil is kept healthy by working with Nature rather than against it. Practices include using organic fertilizers such as manure to replenish the earth and all refuse produced by the garden should be recycled back into the garden. Organic gardening uses all of the waste produced in the garden such as grass clippings, leaves, and leftovers from the kitchen to make compost that feeds the soil and keeps it full of the nutrients necessary to grow crops.

2. Avoid the use of all synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Eliminating the use of chemicals in the garden allows gardeners to not worry about children, pets, and wildlife coming in contact with synthetic weed killers and fertilizers on the lawn and shrubs. The food grown is pesticide-free, additive-free, and nutritious food for the table.

3. Sustainability. In his book, Gardening Organically, John Fedor defines sustainability as “the ability of a society or an ecosystem to function indefinitely without squandering the resources on which it relies.” Organic gardening does this by ensuring there is no loss of nutrients or topsoil in the garden.

4. Environmental Stewardship. Gardening organically means that the environment benefits from the reduction in contamination of the water supply and air pollution. It means that we provide a habitat for wildlife including beneficial insects and animals.

5. Wildlife-friendly Habitats. Informal areas can be created to assist wildlife in their search for habitat where they can survive the destruction of many areas; destructions that have now endangered many species.

6. Intensive planting. Plants are spaced closely together to conserve water and shield the soil from sunlight thus helping to prevent weed seeds from germinating and growing.

7. Biodiversity. Biodiversity ensures that when a change in growing conditions occurs, a single crop from a monoculture does not lead to a crop failure. The food supply does not become jeopardized when a diversity of species are planted.

8. Rotating Crops. Crop rotation assists in the control against soil-borne pests and diseases. This rotation makes a difference in the productivity of the garden as those diseases that affect the plants are kept in check by the rotation of the crops to other areas of the garden.

9. Watering and Weeding. Rainwater can be saved to water the garden. Soaker hoses, drip irrigation, and watering by hand conserve water. Mulches are invaluable in both water conservation and slowing down weed germination.

10. Saving Seeds. Save some seeds from your best plants when harvesting crops. Many old varieties are being lost at an alarming rate and preserving this biodiversity is important. Some of these saved seeds have been used to develop new strains after disaster has affected commonly cultivated varieties.

Landscape Fabric

First. There is no such thing as a no maintenance landscape. In many instances landscape fabric can make your life a lot easier. However, there is an upside and a downside to using it. And as with most everything else, proper installation and maintenance is required if you intend to use it.

Also, keep in mind that I’m referring to professional quality grade materials and not the flimsy products sold in do it yourself and home centers. If you’re going to use that, you might as well use newspapers or cardboard boxes under your groundcover.

Landscape fabrics have their applications. They aren’t necessary in all applications but might be preferred in regards to the type of groundcover you use.

Our company uses weed barrier in 95% of the designs we create. It’s the nature of our business as we use decorative rock as the preferred groundcover around here. When using rock for groundcover and path work, it’s necessary to have a separator between the soil and groundcover. Otherwise, you’ll have mud rocks by the first rain storm.

In theory you should be able to use almost anything as a separator. I’ve seen do it yourselfers use anything from plastics to newspapers and cardboard boxes to old carpet remnants. Of course, as a professional, I can’t use or even suggest something like this to my clients. You’re on your own there.

Now personally, on any given project, I would much rather do away with fabrics altogether. I prefer to create living soil planting areas that are mulched and tended rather than being covered and forgotten. However, some areas are simply too large to apply this method and some folks just outright prefer to cover an area with decorative rock.

Both mulched living beds and rock beds underlain with fabric will require some work to keep them beautiful. Neither is maintenance free. As long as there is wind, rain dirt, and blown in seed, there will be something for you to do in your yard.

When we create a design using landscaping fabric and rock, I make the client aware of a few things. 1) There will be blown in seed and dirt. 2) Something will have to be done about it to keep it from accumulating. I assure them that with the quality of fabric we use, nothing will grow in from the bottom. However, we have no control of what blows in on the top.

Spraying the unwanted weeds with herbicide will take care of the weed problem. However, this does nothing for the dirt, leaf, and plant particles that are hiding under your rocks. And if you allow these to accumulate, they’ll continue to accumulate and you will never get rid of them. So periodic maintenance is required even if you do use landscaping fabric.

Periodically using a blower on your bedding areas will slow down the accumulation of dirt and in some cases eliminate it altogether. How easy and thorough this is depends a lot on the type and size of rock you use.

Small pea gravel accumulates and holds onto dirt, and is harder to clean than rock of a 1 ½” + nature. Not only does it hold onto dirt but has a tendency to be blown all around when being cleaned with a blower. Pea gravel works well for paths, walkways, and smaller areas but I don’t recommend it for covering larger areas.

Ecological Landscape Design

The first and most important thing to consider in an ecological landscape design is an environmental assessment of the site. Is it more like a sunny meadow or shady woodland? Is it wet and marshy or dry and well drained?

Secondly, find out which native plants thrive in your particular environment. This can be easily done by taking a closer look at what is growing in undeveloped areas around you. Look at areas that most closely resemble your site. Species that are flourishing in the wild in similar ecosystems nearby are more likely to do well, with little or no care, than species growing in different ecosystems, not to mention different regions of the country or world.

Some purists would argue that only native species be considered, but I personally feel that non-invasive species from other parts of the world are acceptable if used in the proper environmental setting. Whenever possible choose species that are propagated locally and select varieties that are disease, pest and drought resistant. This will preclude the need for intensive care and excessive watering.

Many native plants are often found growing as part of a larger community of plants. For reasons we don’t thoroughly understand, plants appear to form symbiotic relationships with each other. This may be for shade, nutrient contribution or protection from pests to name a few. When studying the local landscape, pay attention to plant relationships. In the wild, vegetation occurs in layers from groundcovers to taller plants and shrubs and often to a tree canopy above. These layers provide a diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife. Recreating these conditions in even a small part of your site will help to enhance the overall health of the environment around you.

In many instances homeowners will wish to deter certain wildlife species, while attracting others. While it may be possible to discern which plants attract different species in the wild, it may not be as easy to determine which plants will deter them. Local landscapers and plant nurseries will often be able to advise you about this.

Ultimate Magic Garden

The first thing I would suggest, is to mark off your garden(or balcony full of pots) as a square (or as close to a square as you can get it) and determine the directions — north, south, east and west. Then use the rough guideline below, taking into account your climate and seasons to know what to plant where to bring you health, wealth, peace, guidance, happiness and protection. You don¹t have to incorporate all the suggestions below of course — just a couple of touches here in there might do wonders.

The SOUTHERN corner of your garden governs recognition and fame. The flowers you plant there should be predominantly red in colour. Red and pinks should be main theme, although there well be flowers in there included for properties besides colour. Flowers that bring you fame: poppies, roses, bluebells,violets. Trees: Cherry, orange. Foilage: Holly, hazel, heather and all ferns. Herbs: Star anise, veviter. Trees: .Produce: strawberries, leeks, chili peppers. This corner also represents the Fire element so it is a good area to string up lights, put the barbeque or have a little hearth for fire.

The SOUTHWESTERN corner governs marriage prospects and marital happiness.The predominant flower colour should be yellow. Flowers for emotional security: daffodils, lillies, tulips, asters, bleeding hearts, daisies, roses, gardenia, lavender, orchid, poppy, primrose, periwinkle, hyacinth, trilliums, violet, geranium. Trees: Magnolia Fig, Willow, Olive Elm, Plum,Foilage: Myrtle, rye, witch grass, juniper, chickweed. Herbs: basil, marjoram, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme. Produce: Ginger, endive, raspberries, tomatoes. This area represents Big Earth so it is a good place to put a stone statue or a large rock or boulder.

The WESTERN corner governs children and fertility. The predominant flowers should be yellow and white. Flowers: Lavender, Cyclamen, Lily of the Valley, Morning Glory Trees: Oak, olive, banana, apple pine Foilage; Hawthorne Herbs:Mustard, catnip. Produce: Beans, carrots, cucumbers, grape, mustard. This area is known as Small Metal and would benefit from some windchimes or small silvery objects that catch the sun.

The NORTHWESTERN corner governs helpful people or mentors. The predominamt flower colour should be white yellow and orange. Flowers: Passion flower, sweetpea, Sunflower, Iris, carnation Trees: Lemon, peach, beech, walnut Foilage: Rowan, Myrtle, dogwod, clover Herbs: Pennyroyal, lemon balm, sage Produce: peppers, fennel, pumpkins, squash. This corner is called “Big Metal” so it is a good place to put table and chairs to invite the help into your life.

The NORTH corner governs career prospects. The flowers here should be
predominately dark purple or blue. Flowers that boost career: Camellia,
honeysuckle, jasmine, periwinkle, poppy, trillium, snapdragons, dandelion.
Trees: Orange, elder, apple, oak, maple, poplar Foilage: bromeliads, myrtle,
Irish moss (all mosses), ferns Herbs: dill, goldenseal, mint Produce:
cashews rice, grapes, onions, oats,peas, wheat. This direction represents
water, so it is the ideal place to put a fountain or pool. Add fish to it
and double your luck.