6 Easy Tips and Tricks to Grow Organic Vegetables

Organic vegetables are very tasty and healthy. Now imagine harvesting almost half a ton of these wonderful, beautiful, and organically grown vegetables from your own backyard? If you want to grow your own, there are easy tips and tricks to do just that.

Start Small: As a beginner, you should start small. For instance, starting with 50 square feet is advisable. A lot of beginners try to start out too big and they end up becoming overwhelmed and frustrated. To this end, starting with a small patch of land for your organic garden is very important. You can grow a lot of vegetables in 50 square feet.

Build Up The Soil: Expert gardeners advise beginners to build up the soil before planting any vegetables. A deep, organically rich soil will promote the growth of extensive roots that can reach more nutrients and water. This will result to a lush, productive growth above ground. You can build up the soil through these methods:

  • The basics of cultivating good soil include integrating a couple of inches of high quality compost into the top inches, preserving a layer of straw or leaf mulch which is about 2-4 inches. In addition, adequate water must also be provided.
  • Another option is to make raised beds. This is a great way to get loose, fertile soil and it allows you to plant more seeds. Raised beds use less space for paths; thus, you will have more room to grow your plants. In addition, this method also saves you a lot of time. This is due to the fact that the plants grow close together which prevents weeds from growing. This means you won’t spend too much time weeding. Lastly, since the plants grow close together, watering and harvesting becomes more efficient.

Choose The Right Plants: It is recommended to buy most of your plants, especially if you are a beginner in organic vegetable gardening. Look for plants that are raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. You can go to your local farmer’s market since they may have native plants and different varieties that are suitable for your location. In addition, choose plants that are less susceptible to pests and diseases.

  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet peas

Organic Fertilizers: In deep, rich soil, fertilizing your vegetables won’t be a necessity; however, fertilizing your plants can help them grow faster and yield better produce. If you need to fertilize your plants, you should choose natural products. For instance, you can use well-rotted animal manure from plant-eating animals, such as rabbits, chicken, and horses. You can also look for organic materials online or at your local farmer’s market.

Pest Control: Controlling the pests in your garden is very important once you plant your seedlings in your garden. There are natural and safe techniques that can keep your organic garden pest-free without the use of harmful pesticides. Here are a few methods:

  • Hot caps: You can protect seedlings by giving them a boost with these waxed-paper domes. Put hot caps over your plants to protect them from most insects and bugs.
  • Companion Planting: This is a very common and effective pest control technique. You will need to plant specific herbs and flowers near your vegetable garden to keep pests away. These companion plants can also help certain vegetables grow and yield more crops.
  • Beneficial Insects: These insects are nature’s natural pest predators. Ladybugs, ground beetles, praying mantis, and lacewings are some of the best beneficial insects you should attract in your garden. These insects hunt and eat harmful bugs that can damage your vegetables. You can attract them by planting nectar-filled flowers or you can purchase them from garden supply stores.
  • Pepper Spray: You just need to grind hot pepper in the blender and add water. Spray the mixture on ripening vegetables and fruit to keep pests from feasting on them. You will need to reapply the spray after rain.
  • Peppermint Oil Spray: This has the same effect as a pepper spray. The strong scent of peppermint can deter rodents. Again, this pest control solution need to be reapplied after rain.

Proper Watering: Of course, you need to water your plants to help them grow. You should water your plants in the early morning. This is when the winds tend to be cool and there are no strong winds; thus, the water won’t immediately evaporate. As a tip, you should water newly planted areas every 2-3 days. During spring, water less often, around 1-3 times a week. Deep but less frequent watering will encourage roots to go down.

 

Black & Decker HH2455 24″ HedgeHog Hedge Trimmer Review

Black & Decker is a company with a reputation when it comes to building power tools, home improvement tools and similar equipment. Almost every product manufactured by the company is well constructed. The company is dedicated to providing power, precision and comfort with each of their products, and same is the case with the Black & Decker HH2455.

Hedge trimmers are among the popular products from Black & Decker. Choosing a single Black & Decker product is a much harder task than it needs to be, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. You need to first be sure of your requirements before you can go on to research about what you want from your hedge trimmer.

This particular hedge trimmer from the company is labeled HH2455. It features 24 inches long blade, which helps with extended reach and uniform cutting. The blade is dual action, so it’s much easier and faster to cut through branches and hedges. The company claims the trimmer to be capable of cutting through branches up to ¾ inch thick.

Features

  • The machine features 10 half inch blades. These are hardened steel blades.
  • The blades feature spring loaded cutting mechanism.
  • It comes with a rear rotating handle for ideal hand position when making vertical cuts or sculpting.
  • Features dual-action blades that reduce vibration.
  • The machine is packaged fully assembled, so it’s ready-to-run as soon as you take it out of the packaging.
  • Features 2 years of warranty.
  • It comes with a lock-off switch that helps to prevent and accidental starting.
  • It features a built-in cord retention system to avoid the machine being unplugged accidentally.

Pros

  • At 2800 cutting strokes per minute, the machine is more than capable of going through all your normal hedges.
  • The handle comes with a soft rubber grip for less tiring experience. Also, you won’t be getting any nasty blisters because of these no matter how long you choose to work on your garden.
  • The machine features innovative inline motor design, which delivers improved control, balance and precise timing.
  • It features ABS high impact construction with polished blades, so you can be assured of its durability.
  • Because of its 24 inches long blades, you won’t have to over reach much. This will surely reduce strains on your back.

Cons

  • It’s not at all a heavy duty, commercial grade machine. So, you would do it a great harm trying to use it like one.
  • There have been complaints about the machine not being as efficient as claimed by the company when trying to cut through ¾ inch branches.
  • Even though the blades are 24 inches long, the motor runs at just 3.3 amps.

Conclusion

With the name Black & Decker, you don’t have to worry about the durability and reliability of the product; nevertheless, it’s backed by 2 years of warranty. The blade is longer than in most similar products on the market. This is a highly effective machine and should be able to get you through all your normal requirements with a trimmer, just remember it’s not a heavy-duty machine and you should let it work on its own rather than trying to push it through. Overall, it offers great value for money.

Comparison

There are other alternatives to Black & Decker if this particular hedge trimmer doesn’t feel like the best one for you. Some honorable mentions are the Worx WG209 Hedge Trimmer and Pruner Slim Body Design, 4-Amp and GreenWorks 22102 2.7 Amp 18-Inch Corded Electric Hedger. These are both fantastic pieces of machines, but make sure that the product matches your requirements in order to make an educated decision.

Verdict

The name Black & Decker signifies trust and reliability, which makes this product stand out above the rest. It’s a magnificent product from Black & Decker that provide powerful performance and ease of use. You won’t be regretting your purchase with this one, just make sure you don’t overwork it, or you will have the risk of damaging it too soon.

The hedge trimmer from Worx is probably the slimmest and lightest machine in the category. It costs almost the same as the Black & Decker product and even features the same cutting length. Almost everything to be similar with our top product here, but the lack of brand assurance has made it slightly less favorable.

If you want something cheaper that can still get the job done, then go for the GreenWorks hedge trimmer. It’s only got 2.7 amp of power and only 18 inches of blade, but it’s still highly effective with no clogging and lagging. For its price, there is hardly anything to complain about. It’s an amazing deal.

Black & Decker seems to be the unquestioned winner in this comparison. However, you would be wise to be gentle with the machine and let the machine function. Also, it’s a must that your requirements be fulfilled.

How Land Is Used In The UK

The UK is known throughout the world as a country with vast expanses of natural countryside and rural pastimes. There are around 60 million acres of land across Britain, which traditionally has been owned by a very small percentage of the population.

In more recent years, however, investors have begun to see land as more of an investment opportunity. As the need for new homes increases and people regularly seek out new outdoors leisure activities, land becomes more of a financial asset.

Owners can receive a very high return on investment if they have a desirable piece of land, particularly if the land can be developed upon with planning permission. Here are some of the main ways in which land is used in the UK today:

Farming and Agriculture 

While traditional British farming has struggled over the past decade, a number of new trends are emerging that could see farmers looking to buy more land in the future.

Many farm owners are showing an interest in expanding their farms to offer other services to the public such as horse riding and camping. There is also an increase in the amount of specialist farms that need new land to be developed upon – ostrich and llama farms are sprouting up across the UK.

Leisure and Sports

There are many hobbies that are perfect for the outdoors. Horse riding, walking and cycling are all popular outdoor pursuits, while more adventurous activities such as archery or quad biking are becoming increasingly in demand.

Wooded areas are more frequently being bought for paintballing, which is now one of the most popular alternative activities for people celebrating birthdays or stag parties.

A lot of land in the UK is also used as caravan and camping sites. Locations near the sea or other tourist spots have a particularly high volume of campsites and often make a lot of money during the summer.

Commercial 

One of the most common uses for land in the UK is for the development of new homes or offices. Land for this purpose can be very expensive to buy, but because of the ever-increasing need for new houses, owning building land can be incredibly profitable.

Some investors choose to look for land for sale that does not currently have planning permission on it. This land may be relatively useless for development now, but land investors are presuming that the demand in future years will mean that local councils will be forced to make the land available for development. Because of the much lower price of this land, owners of this land could find themselves with enormous returns on investment.

As well as homes and business space, a lot of land in the UK is currently being bought for the use of eco-friendly energy supply such as wind farms. This type of land will also become more and more desirable as time passes due to the ever increasing pressure on the public, governments and pretty much everyone else to become a more environmentally friendly nation.

Growing Fresh Air Inside Your Home

If you’ve been thinking about “going green” you are not alone. People all over the world are working toward doing their part to help the environment. The good news is that there are many benefits that come with being green and eco-friendly. One is cleaner air, which is very important.

We’re going to take a look at just how important clean air is in your home as well as give you two different ways you can filter the air – technology and nature. By the time you’re done reading, you should have a very good idea of ways you can clean up the air you breathe.

Is Clean Air in Your Home Important?

You can go a while without food or water if needed, but one thing your life depends on at all times is oxygen in the air. The problem in the modern world is that a lot of pollutants exist in the air we breathe. If you have a newer, air tight home this may be a bigger problem than you think.

Even older homes have problems with air quality. The problem is that when you breathe in these irritants you’re not getting enough oxygen as you could or should with clean, fresh air. As you might imagine, this can cause quite a few problems.

Using Technology to Clean Your Air

If you don’t want the hassle and maintenance of living plants, many different filtration systems exist that will help you keep the air fresher in your home. Here are some of the options you’re going to have.

  • Air Filters – These are typically smaller units that use some type of filter to clean the air around it. HEPA filters are recommended to remove more pollutants from the air as it is cycled through the machine.
  • Air Purifiers – These are usually larger machines that may use more than a single filter or mechanism to purify the air. Because of their size, they are generally able to filter and freshen more air. Again, HEPA filters are recommended.

Whether you go small or large is going to depend on the size of the room or house you’re trying to purify. Cost is another factor, but many companies offer sales and discounts where you can pick up high-quality equipment at really reasonable prices. Having a professional install your air purifier is a good idea in some cases.

Air Filtration with Natural Plants

If you have pets or toddlers in your home, you should check each of these plants for the toxicity to animals or children before you add them to the mix. With that aside, here are some great ideas for plants that will help filter the air in your home.

  • Areca Palm produces quite a bit of oxygen during the day. Each person in your household should have four plants about shoulder height.
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, on the other hand, produces oxygen during the night, which makes it a great choice for the bedroom. You should have around seven waist high plants for each person breathing the air in your home.
  • Money Plant removes formaldehyde and other volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air you breathe in your home – or at the office.

The three plants listed above are not the only ones that will help filter your air, but they are the most common ones people tend to use. Remember that the size of the plant is important if you want to make sure you’re actually filtering and clearing the air of pollutants.

A few other plants you might consider are the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternataa), english ivy (Hedera Helix), the asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) and the purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida).

Grow Fresh Air in Your Home?

Whether you go with technology or nature, in the modern world you want to seriously consider putting some system in place so that you can breathe the freshest air possible when you’re in your home. Thanks to science and modern technology, a lot of different options are available for filtering the air in your house – or any other enclosed space where you spend a lot of time.

If you’re interested in growing fresh air in your home, now is one of the best times to do something. No matter which way you lean – natural or mechanical – making sure you have a way to filter the air in your house is more important now than ever before. The sooner you act, the quicker you’ll be able to reap the benefits of breathing fresh air.

Could Urban Farming Save the Environment?

Many people think so and they are having a good go at it too!

What is urban farming?  Urban farming is simply an area of urban land which is suitable to house animals or grow vegetation. Mostly the vegetation is grown in hydroponics unless the urban farmers change the soil themselves every few weeks, non-hydroponic urban farming is becoming very popular especially with people living in tower flats using their roofs as gardens.

The reason why urban farming is causing waves is that it’s changing the views on what organic farming is and what it could be in the future.

Bringing Added Purpose Back To The Cities

It means that places we thought had no real use and are at present eyesores could actually serve a purpose again with minimal financial investment. The only thing needed is humans, animals, plants and some attention.

But now the ball has got rolling and scientists are gaining interest. Their focus is aimed at micro-crops and they have found that these micro-crops hold more nutrients than their larger counterparts, but only take a fraction of the space needed.

Now some cities are devising ways in which well-structured flats could serve as urban farms instead of being knocked down, they are also introducing sheep and goat mowing instead of using the regular lawn mowers. This means that the council landscapers are able to tackle the more difficult jobs while the goats and sheep take care of the grass.

The goat and sheep poo will go into city compost along with some of the vegetation they won’t eat to serve as compost for the rooftop gardens. Maybe one day cities will be able to provide restaurants and shops with their produce right from the rooftops themselves but for now urban farming in the city is a small but utopic movement.

Chickens, The Farmers Of The Future

Let’s take our view out of the city and into the outskirts and towns. With more land comes more potential. So we know where the goats and sheep will be munching. On the sports field, village parks and maybe even some resident’s gardens, the possibilities are of many.

We haven’t talked about birds in the cities especially the beloved chicken, because as everyone knows they make a lot of noise and they do have a habit of taking flight for a few seconds and no one wants to be shovelling dead chickens from pavements. But in towns chickens can be used as efficient mini farmers themselves.

Chickens love to scratch and peck around, in some places there can be quite hard soil and for the older members of our population it can be frustrating when their bodies just can’t do the job. Why not hire chickens to dig it up for you? Sounds crazy but it has been put to task and in many urban farming plots in Australia the chickens have done just that and more.

A farmer creates temporary “chicken tunnels” which only allows chickens access to the ground that needs dug up. So while the chickens run about peck and dig the ground is getting evenly levelled and turned up. What’s best about it is the only thing it costs is time.

The fencing can be unlinked and neatly rolled back ready for use on the next garden.  So there you have it, chickens are no longer a dinner plate special but our own little brigade of diggers. Not only can they dig but they can be trained to target out slugs that are a natural bane of all farmers. This would eliminate a lot of need for slug pellets which are frequently consumed by other wildlife which can lead to the detriment of essential fauna.

Top 4 Common Misconceptions About Mulch

It’s supposed to be one of your best friends in the garden, so piling it on makes sense. If a little works well, why not spread it on thick? You naturally assume that it’s good for everything from the trees to the flower beds. Mulch plays a part in keeping your yard healthy, but it has its limits. Here are four common misconceptions about its importance to your landscape.

1. Mulch isn’t a fertilizer. The most common types of mulch are a mix of organic and inorganic materials. While a reasonable application in the garden discourages weeds, it’s not a substitute for the kind of nutrients your garden needs.

Its consistency makes it prone to packing when repeatedly applied over the course of a growing season, and this leads to fungal problems that can damage your plants. A mulch that’s completely organic is beneficial to your flower beds, but don’t expect it to do the same job as a good fertilizer.

2. Mulch doesn’t keep your plants warm. That blanket of material that you pack around the tree trunks and spread in the garden doesn’t have any insulating value. It does present a hazard to your plants because a thick layer traps moisture and creates a winter home for pests and disease.

The colder months are hard on your flower beds, but a heavy mulch application only increases the chance of root rot. A good rule of green thumb is to never let the mulch touch your plants or the base of trees. They need room to breathe, especially during the winter.

3. Mulch won’t guarantee that your garden retains moisture. Its density works against you when you assume that you’re adding a protective layer to your flower beds. The mulch looks nice and wet after regular watering or a good rain, but it keeps moisture from penetrating deep into the soil.

Your plants will develop new feeder roots that grow up into the wet layer above ground. Without a healthy underground system, flowers and shrubs loose the anchors that give them natural stability. Heavy mulching around trees actually sheds water away from their bases and leaves the soil directly under them dry.

4. Mulch isn’t meant to decorate the yard. Wood mulches have become popular because they come in a variety of colors that brighten up the landscape. However, this material is high in carbon, and it pulls nitrogen out of your soil.

Wood mulch lasts longer than its traditional cousin, but that just gives it more time to steal nutrients from your garden bed. However, this type of mulch is ideal for starving weeds around sidewalks and driveways. Enjoy the color, but use it sparingly unless you want to smother a problem plant.

Do a little groundwork before you decide on the best choices for your landscape. Talk with your nurseryman so you can play matchmaker between the right mulch and your garden. Most importantly, take it easy because a little mulch goes a long way towards beautiful gardens and healthy trees.

Tips for Growing Your First Vegetable Patch

If you want to give gardening a try for the first time, growing vegetables is a great way to ease yourself in. There are so many benefits to growing your own veg: you save money on food shopping and it is more environmentally friendly.

You’ll find that your food tastes far fresher than anything you’d buy in a supermarket and you can be assured that the foods have not been treated. If you’re a parent, you’ll find that your children have a new found appreciation for vegetables when they have grown them from a seed.

Where to grow your vegetables

First things first, you need to pick a patch in your garden for your vegetables to grow. All plants require sunshine so pick the sunniest spot in your garden. You’ll find that vegetables grown with plenty of sunshine are stronger and more resistant to disease.

What’s more, certain vegetables actually taste far nicer when grown in the sun. Carrots, chillies, onions and tomatoes have a sweeter taste when grown in the sun. When growing salad and strawberries, you may need a bit of shade which can be easily creating with some netting.

What type of soil is suitable to grow vegetables?

The soil in your garden is likely to be suitable for growing vegetables, unless it is extremely thin, shallow or full of stones. If your soil is too thin or full of stones, grow your vegetables in a flower pot or build a flower bed.

How do I keep pests away from my vegetable garden?

It is important to keep snails and slugs away from your vegetable plot. Keep your plot neat and free from weeds to prevent slugs and snails from hiding away. Keep the grass around your vegetable plot well-trimmed. If you have long grass next to your vegetable plot, slugs and snails could hide away and get onto your plot during the night.

To keep slugs and snails away, keep a path between your vegetable patch and the sides. This will leave slugs and snails exposed which encourages birds to pick them up. It also makes it easy for you to identify them and move them away.

How do I protect my vegetable garden from weeds?

To grow a successful vegetable garden, you need to keep your vegetable plot weed free. If you don’t maintain weeds, your vegetables will be swamped by weeds. As you’re planning on eating your crops, you don’t want to add too many chemicals so you can rip out all weeds and their roots as you go.

If you find weeds with extremely deep roots, keep that part of soil covered up with card and top it with 2 inches of compost. This stops weeds from re-growing without using chemicals.

Sometimes you will need to use chemicals, particularly if you’re limited on time. If you’re limited on time, look for a chemical containing systematic glyphosate because this will kill the weed without spoiling your crops in the future.