8 Ways to Fill Your Garden With Life

Is your garden a little scarce of wildlife? Do you find there are not many birds that fly onto your lawn? Well we have written eight ways below to help you manage your garden to attract more animals and birds whilst not compromising the way it looks.

Flowers Equal Food

I’m sure you are aware that flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and other insects. So adding flowers to your garden can help get it buzzing again with the hum of bees and bright butterflies. However, choose your plants carefully, cherry-pick plants that actually provide pollen or nectar as many contain little or none. Also don’t be too concerned about how native the flowers are, studies have shown that plants from china are loved by European and US butterflies.

Provide Food and Shelter

Growing a number of trees and shrubs helps to provide food and shelter and support larger wildlife such as birds. This is because as well as providing flowers, fruits and seeds for food they also give shelter for nests.

Trees don’t retire

Older mature trees are often overlooked and left untreated, make sure they are protected and watered if needed, they will help provide sustenance for larger animals.

Everything Needs a Drink

If you dig a pond that is a great way to get wildlife back into your garden (This is the simplest way to add wildlife). However, this may not be possible or you may have young children and so be put off from a pond, here you have several choices:

  1. Build a pond, but use pond covers that can keep children safely away.
  2. Put a shallow container out such as an inverted dustbin lid to attract small pond life.

A common misconception surrounds adding fish to the pond; they will actually eat many of the insects so if you have a small pond you should avoid this.

Keep the Deadwood

A common turn of phrase or figure of speech is to “get rid of the deadwood”, but when it comes to wildlife in the garden you should collect it and put in a shady spot, this can encourage beetles and their grubs and even different types of fungi.

Go Compost!

It’s always a good idea to use a composter not just for the fact it speeds up nutrient recycling, but it makes healthy soil for all you garden plants and wildlife love it. Compost heaps to shelter many small insects and even larger ones such as slugs and snails.

Bird Whispering

Okay well that’s not going to work, but if you want to attract birds into your garden you should provide food and water for them all year round, if you only do this during the summer months they may move on and no longer come back for fear of loss.

Ideally, offer a mix of various foods from nuts, sunflower seeds and hearts and some kitchen scraps. The key thing to look out for with a feeding table is the bird’s nemesis the “domestic cat”.

Allow a patch of grass or two

If you want to give small mice, voles and shrews a fighting chance allows a few sections of your grass to grow longer than others, this ensures they have some shelter and protection from predators.

Benefits of Having a Garden Shed

When you say garden shed, the first thing that comes to mind is a small, weather-beaten timber frame full of a lot of rusty, unused garden tools. Larger and more useful garden sheds are becoming more and more popular, as materials to build your own, such as roofing supplies, timber etc. are becoming readily available.

Rather than the forlorn figure of a dilapidated shed sitting at the foot of your garden, a new, more modern image has popped into the imaginations of amateur and professional builders alike.

Uses

A very popular and wise decision lately has been to convert a garden shed into a larger, multi-purpose area either for storage or completely separate room on its own.

As people crave bigger living spaces in their home, this may not be possible due to the downturn in economy and so people are turning to utilising what space they have already got. Transforming your shed into a space where you can retreat and completely switch off is a very tempting notion, but how would you even go about doing this?

Building Your Shed

Why have I never thought of this great idea before? You may be asking yourself this question but the answer is simple; it just didn’t cross your mind due to the amount of time and effort you thought you would have to put in. However, it is actually quite easy and straightforward, as there a readily available sheds to be bought from your local hardware store.

If you would prefer to build one with your own personal touch, you can also get your own roofing supplies, materials for walls, doors and windows as well! Alternatively, pay a visit to a building contractor who can design a shed specifically for the space available while still taking some recommendations from you.

Using Your Shed

People take serious pride in what they have built, and nothing is different when it comes to garden sheds. Being able to completely customise your own shed is a really good feeling as you begin to see it transform before your eyes.

You aren’t limited by a certain amount of windows, doors or even skylights in your roof. Building a shed can become your new playground. Your shed gives you a chance to show off your creativity and individuality as you really customise your unique shed.

Your shed can now be used for a lot more than just storing rusting old tools and unwanted children’s toys. Really go that extra mile to make the most out of your shed and deck it out with couches, shelves, table and chairs. An option is to make it into a completely self-sufficient building, fully equipped with electricity, water and the whole works!

Remember, don’t be afraid to build your own from scratch, but do ask advice from professionals who know what they are doing. They will guide on what roofing supplies to buy, what sort of walls to use and whether or not to insulate the place. Heat retaining windows and doors are also a great idea if you’re thinking of using this garden shed as a separate living space.

Commercial Growing With Controlled Environments

For the small, domestic grower, a small greenhouse is adequate enough to grow the produce they need. Once the average greenhouse owner has got more skilled and specialized, they naturally want to progress to more advanced growing mediums.

Even the serious fruit and veg grower, who is still a hobbyist, can still have very large greenhouse setups with all the advancements that go with it, like controlled temperatures, humidity, etc.
But, once growing has to be done on either a commercial level or to grow delicate or specialize plants, commercial growing environments then come into their own. We will look at some of these different types of growing environments and when and where they are used.

Botanical contained environment facilities.

This may seem like an overly technical term but essentially it’s having a large-scale building where every part of the growing process can be closely monitored and regulated. When you are dealing with optimum, delicate and possibly rare plants and vegetables, you need to make sure that every aspect of their well-being is catered for round-the-clock.

One such company that deals in these type of large-scale facilities, is unigro.co.uk. These guys are mentioned, simply because they are some great case studies on their website about how these facilities are used. In their overview, they document how they worked with Kew Gardens, one of the most reputable growers in the UK.

From reading their website, they had to design a quarantine facility, which prioritize bio security and containment at the top of the list. For most of us, this almost sounds like a top-secret operation from a film, but at the top end of the growing spectrum, this attention to detail is needed in every single aspect, so only the best facilities will do for the purpose.

These plant quarantine facilities are used quite widely within this area. If you want to know any more about this area, try out the guys above or search for similar controlled environments suppliers online.

Commercial growing.

Really, you could argue that commercial growing is just a reaction to demand. More people require regular fruit, veg. and plants, in season all year round. Commercial growing environments cater for this.

They grow their produce in the most optimum way all year round, allowing us the luxury of eating out of season fruit and veg any time we want. It may also seem on the surface, that large-scale commercial growing environments are there to just grow in bulk, with not much care, as long as the produce meet minimum standards.

This could not be further from the truth, as all these facilities are run by workers which have a passion for this line of work and treat what they grow with as much dedication as if it was their own.

Many commercial growing environments specialize in certain species, which means the workers will have in-depth knowledge in their certain specialism. they will know every aspect of the growing process from start to finish and the individual, optimal requirements for the species they specialize in.

When you speak to these guys, it is almost like they have study Ph.D. in every aspect of the growing process, from growing mediums, temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, etc.

Commercial growing environments, although on the surface have many similarities to your domestic greenhouse, are simply run to get the most efficiency out of the system with the most care. It is a very interesting area, at the least can be great supplemental reading for the average gardener. Even for those who wish to get into this area.

Healthy Eating Tips For Growing Your Own Salad Ingredients

The most obvious benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you get to enjoy fresh greens that you know are not laden with pesticides. With the rising costs of basic commodities, you can also save a few bucks by growing your own salad ingredients. So, how do you do this? Here are some tips that you can consider.

— Where to Grow Veggies

A lot of people shy away from any form of gardening because they don’t know how to use the space that’s available to them. Others, especially those who live in cities, don’t think that they can actually grow their own vegetables because they find it hard to find space for this kind of activity.

But wherever you are, there is a way to start your own organic garden. You could allot a small space in your backyard or grow plants in smaller containers if you live in a tiny flat or apartment.

— Protecting Delicate Plants from the Elements

A successful yield will largely depend on many external factors, including the soil and weather conditions. Seedlings are particularly vulnerable to environmental threats, such as frost, strong winds and heavy rains.

The best way to give seedlings a better chance of surviving is to grow them first in small containers or pots. If you live in a high-rise apartment where the nights can become very chilly, particularly once winter approaches, make sure to bring the pots inside at night.

Another option is to cover your plants with plastic to protect them from harsh weather or temperatures. If you’re lucky enough to have your own backyard, a good idea is to construct a greenhouse. It’s easy to build and it doesn’t have to be very big. You can buy a home kit or customize one and have a building company make it for you.

— Prepping the Soil

The soil is a vital element because it will have a huge effect on the health and development of your veggies. There are many ways to prep the soil. You can have it tested first to determine what types of minerals are currently present in it.

Soil testing will determine the acidity as well. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, or if it lacks certain nutrients that are needed by the kind of plant that you wish to grow, ask the local agricultural office or the US-EPA for tips about how to address such issues. If you know a respectable organic grower in your area, don’t hesitate to ask for help as well. Another option is to buy pre-mixed soil. You can buy good quality organic soil or other ready-to-plant mixes.

— What to Grow

So, what can you grow in your own organic garden? Well, it depends on what you prefer. Common salad ingredients, like tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and cucumbers are favorites. Other veggies, like spinach, radishes, and peppers, are easy to grow as well.

In order to find out what kind of plants you can readily cultivate in your area, given the natural soil and weather conditions, check out the information provided by the USDA’s Hardiness Zones. If you want to grow certain plants that are not commonly found in your region, read more before you begin because there may be specific conditions that you have to provide for such plants in order for them to grow properly.

3 Simple Tips to Fix A Drab Lawn

With the recent heat wave that swept across the “Garden State” of New Jersey, it’s clear that summer has arrived, even if the first official day of the season isn’t until June 21.

With warm weather now the norm, property owners are working hard to tidy up their yards, and one of the toughest landscaping areas to tackle is the lawn.

Your lawn is one of the first things that a passerby will notice about your home, so having bountiful green grass instead of a dead, dry, and drab lawn is always a top priority.

From raking, mowing, and edging to making sure your yard is clear of weeds and keeping your grass well-hydrated, there’s no shortage of summer tasks required to get your lawn in tip-top shape. Below are the three biggest things you can do to ensure your lawn is the envy of the neighborhood this summer.

1. Properly Irrigate

Grass can’t grow without plenty of water, and in South Jersey, it can be quite a while in between rain. You can’t rely on Mother Nature to keep your grass green, and hooking up the garden hose to a cheap plastic sprinkler isn’t going to get the job done either.

For home and business owners who are truly serious about having a beautiful yard, an irrigation system is a must. Having a sprinkler system installed by local irrigation experts will work wonders for your lawn. According to the Irrigation Association of New Jersey and New Jersey American Water, lawns should be watered with an irrigation system two to three times per week for around 45 minutes each time.

“This allows the soil to absorb the water and enables roots to grow more deeply, which encourages drought tolerance,” the organizations state on a tip sheet.

2. Cut Grass to the Ideal Height

Once you have a reliable irrigation system in place, there are still some things to keep in mind to help your lawn flourish. First, remember that experts recommend you cut your lawn to a height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Grass at this height is less susceptible to insect and disease damage.

In addition, when you cut your grass, leave the clippings on the lawn; they provide nutrients that help your grass to grow. Following these tips and mowing your lawn regularly will reduce weeds and prevent the spotty, scorched look that homeowners have come to dread.

3. Use Fertilizer

Fertilization is an essential part of the lawn care process. In order to achieve a plush, green lawn, it’s important to use the proper fertilizers. However, determining what fertilizer is appropriate for your particular lawn and soil isn’t as easy as it sounds.

If you’ve been working with a lawn care company for irrigation services or mowing, it’s a good idea to consult with them on what type of fertilizer to use. South Jersey’s soil composition is unique, so an expert will be best-fit to select the right kind of fertilizers for your lawn.

From South Jersey irrigation to proper mowing practices to fertilization, there’s a wide array of tasks to tackle in order to achieve an awesome lawn, but if you take your time, do some research, and work with an expert, you can be sure your lawn will look incredible all summer long.

6 Green Ways to Protect Vegetables From Common Pests

It is very fulfilling to actually reap what you sow, so to speak. But gardening is daunting to many people, especially city-dwellers, because they often worry that they do not have enough space to plant a garden.

Today however there are so many new ways to grow your own plants even in very small spaces that anyone can do it. The challenge is to protect plants from common garden pests because being too close together makes it easier for bugs to infest your entire garden.

How to Protect Your Garden from Damaging Bugs

Learn about companion planting.

Companion planting is the process of having different kinds of plants that are beneficial to each other. Here, one plant helps in deterring an insect that affects the other, and vice versa. Companion planting also helps increase productivity, and it encourages pollination apart from helping in pest control. Here are a few good pairings: asparagus and tomatoes; beans and eggplant; basil and peppers; garlic and cucumbers; and lavender and squash, to name a few.

Use sticky traps.

Sticky or glue traps aren’t only for catching flies or mice. These can also be used to entrap pesky bugs. For these to be effective, traps must remain sticky and these can be placed in between plants. Traps can also be placed in a standing position or suspended in between tall vegetables.

Make it a habit to water plants early.

If you water plants early, you allow the moisture that has been trapped on the leaves to evaporate completely. So, by nightfall, the plants are relatively dry yet the soil is still moist. When the leaves are dry, these are better protected from rotting and so the plants won’t easily attract all sorts of insects.

Use biological pest control methods.

There are various ways to eliminate bugs using biological methods. Such techniques make use of other insects that are beneficial to plant growth, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and hover-flies. Fungus and bacteria, like Bacillus Thuringiensis, as well as parasitic nematodes are also commonly used.

Make your own homemade remedy.

Once you notice that your seedlings are keeling over for no apparent reason or if you see for yourself that there are insects crawling all around your vegetable garden, consider making your own homemade solution, which could include cayenne, garlic and other natural ingredients, and you can use this to eliminate bugs.

It’s very important to properly identify the insect that you want to get rid of so that you can concoct the right remedy to kill or keep away the pest. Identification can be hard or even impossible if you are not trained. So, you can ask a pest control expert for assistance.

Get help from pest control companies that use organic methods.

Deciding to hire a pest control company doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re willingly exposing your vegetables to dangerous chemical pesticides. Many pest control groups today use organic pesticides which are less toxic and less damaging to the environment.

5 Organic Gardening Tips From Natural Food Chefs

Gardening is a wonderful way to get in touch with nature and also grow healthy plants and vegetables for your kitchen. Choosing to grow an organic garden can help to protect the environment from harmful chemicals and toxins and protect your body from those harsh chemicals in traditionally grown foods. If you want to start your own organic garden, consider these tips from natural food chefs for strong, healthy plants that provide you and your family with delicious foods and meals.

Choose organic seeds when planting an organic garden. These seeds are harvested from certified organic crops. This means they are not treated with harmful chemicals such as fungicides, synthetic pesticides or damaging fertilizers. Because these plants have to rely on their own natural defenses in order to thrive, they are typically much stronger. To stay strong, they need to develop deep roots to absorb nutrients from the soil meaning you will have plants that are larger and much more nutritious.

Use organic manure and compost to fertilize your soil in your organic garden because they do not have damaging chemicals in them like ammonium phosphate. Synthetic soil does not break down quickly and so it often contaminates soil and water in your area significantly and with damaging effects. In addition, these chemicals can be damaging to your skin and your own health over time is consumed. Instead, organic fertilizers release nutrients much more slowly meaning your vegetables and fruits will receive nutrients over a drastically longer period of time, allowing them to absorb vitamins and minerals and become more nutritious for your consumption in the meals and dishes you prepare in the kitchen.

When gardening, you will undoubtedly deal with pesty weeds. If you are growing organic foods, you should also make sure to kill weeds in a more natural way. Common weed killers are dangerous for you to ingest and can also be quite harmful to pets and animals that may be in your yard. They can cause throat irritation and other illnesses. To kill them naturally, you can boil water and vinegar or purchase an organic herbicide.

Pair plants with other companion plants. This is called intercropping and it can be quite effective in your organic garden. Specific plants are helpful to others because they can help to deter damaging insects, attract helpful bugs, add fertilizing elements, provide shade, and more. Marigolds, for example can kill nematodes in the soil and help to kill the strongest of weeds in your garden. This is a natural way to improve the quality of your garden significantly.

Stay away from synthetic pesticides. These pesticides may work to deter bugs; however, it comes at a price. Synthetic pesticides include chemicals like triacizide and carbaryl. Most pesticides attack the nervous systems of insects and bugs and they are very toxic to insects like bees. This means they also have a negative impact on your body, even if it is less drastic. Pesticides can cause headaches, nausea, disorders, and coordination issues.

Maintaining an organic garden means you should make wise, healthy decisions for your plants and vegetables as well as for your health and the safety of the environment at large. Professionals all over the world and at Chef Works, recommend these helpful tips for anyone considering developing an organic garden in their yard

5 Clever Ways to Recycle Reclaimed Wood

Conservation is a big issue because space remains the same while the number of people continues to increase. Resources are also dwindling yet more are needed. One way to address this problem is by reusing old materials, most especially timber as many forests are being stripped in order to obtain precious wood.

Wood is used in many fields, most especially construction. Because of this, it’s truly important to utilize timber wisely and reuse wood whenever possible. You can obtain this just about anywhere. But if you have some wood planks lying around or if you’re cutting an old dying tree, or maybe if you’ve been to a house that’s being torn down, you can acquire wood sections that you can recycle in various creative ways.

1. Create art with wood pallets. Most people won’t think twice about throwing away wood pallets because they don’t think that they can do something useful with them. They’re wrong. Wood pallets are wonderful materials for home accessories, like chandeliers, as well as accent walls or dividers. These can be painted or decorated and used as wall art as well. Using basic handyman skills, there are also many ways to build artistic chairs or stools, and dividers with them. To make the wood shine, the pallets should be polished and varnished. But you can also paint them with the color that you prefer.

2. Use recycled wood to make furniture. The grain and texture of wood make it an ideal material for furniture. Weather-beaten timber also looks rustic yet elegant, and these can be made into shelves, outdoor seats, tables, and also doors. When building something with wood, your imagination is the limit. Even used timber can be transformed into unique and breathtaking pieces.

3. Build new things out of old barn doors. Barn doors, particularly those that are in farm houses, are made from very durable kinds of hardwood. So the next time that you see an old farm being demolished, it might be worth your while if you drop by there and see if you can get hold of a barn door that would have been allowed to just rot and deteriorate. There are so many ways to recycle old barn doors, which are actually used more and more by designers who often decorate modern homes and buildings. Headboards, sliding wood doors, shelves, tables, and dividers are just a few options that you can consider.

4. Bring order into your home with wood shelves or cabinets. If you have basic handyman skills, it will be quite easy for you to put up wooden shelves or make cabinets. These pieces will really help you to organize your things better. Plus, any kind of wood furnishing will give your space a warmer and more elegant ambiance.

5. Use wood in your garden. If you have a few wood planks that are just lying around or maybe an old wood door, you can actually use this in your garden. A lot of people have created unique plant pots using reclaimed timber. Others also use wood to make garden plots. In time, these will deteriorate, which means that you might have to build new ones again using recycled materials.

4 Environmentally-Friendly Reasons to Switch to Solar Energy

Are you interested in fighting the power of global warming? Then switching your main source of energy to solar energy just may be the move for you.

Below are just a few facts about solar energy and how it is used in today’s society to help you make your decision.

1. Solar Energy Does Not Produce Pollutants.

Solar power is generated by energy produced by the sun and, therefore, does not release any pollutants that contribute to global warming. It is a natural source of energy that does not require burning fossil fuels such as coal or wood. The only pollution indirectly caused by solar energy is through the manufacturing, transportation of, and installation of the solar panels required to absorb and convert the energy produced by the sun into useable solar energy for us here on Earth.

2. Life Requires Light.

Centuries before you were standing under the light in your kitchen slicing tomatoes and cucumbers for tonight’s salad, man created fire. He learned its importance and the convenience of having a source of light indoors instead of having to do everything outside. All forms of life require the sun, whether directly or indirectly, to function. We as humans receive certain vitamins from the sun, and our bodies also absorb solar energy. How awesome would it be to store that energy for future use? Instead of generating electric by using gas or fossil fuels for your source of light, be more conservative and use natural solar power.

3. Solar Energy Can Be Used In Many Ways.

When you convert the energy from the sun into useable energy for your home, you can use solar power to serve many purposes. You can, of course, use solar power to create light. It’s also possible to use solar power to heat water and even go so far as to cook meals. Solar power can also be used to control the temperature of a room, much like your thermostat if you have electric or oil heating. If you heat your home using the power of solar energy, you can save a bundle on heating costs, as heating oil is insanely expensive these days.

4. Using Solar Energy Will Save You Money.

Believe it or not, utilizing the benefits of solar energy can actually save you money. Solar energy is free. The price is in the solar panels; but if you calculate the cost of the solar panels and consider what you’ll be saving annually, after a few years, the solar panels pay for themselves. However, keep in mind how long you’re planning on living at your current location. If you’re looking to move within the next five years, investing in solar panels would most likely not be a good decision.

Take your time and do your homework when you’re deciding on whether you should switch to solar energy. The reasons given here are solely for your benefit as a human being in today’s polluted society. Will you be the next person to help fight global warming and switch to solar energy use?

Sudeley Castle Gardens: History of an English Castle Garden: From Tudor Knot Garden to Eliza

The first thing you see when you walk into Sudeley Castle gardens is a pretty meadow with a few trees, and then, unexpectedly, the vast ruin of a honey-stoned tithe barn. Roses and Clematis pour from its roofless walls and self-seeded foxgloves dot the ground nearby.

The effect is undeniably romantic – and nostalgic – but walk closer and you’ll see there’s more to Sudeley Castle gardens than nostalgia. Pass through the barn and you’ll come face to face with the 21st century as drifts of silver balloons float above the carp pond towards you.

Like nearly all the outdoor art at Sudeley Castle, Tomas Saraceno’s “flying garden” is inspired by the English gardens that surround it without being in any way held back by them. If you’re not ready for a flying garden, Sudeley’s earth-bound gardens also offer new takes on old garden styles. These, it has collected throughout its long and action-packed past.

Rise and fall of an English castle

The present Sudeley castle was built in the 15th and 16th centuries, nearly destroyed in the 1640s, left to fall down for the whole of the 18th century and finally rescued in 1837. The rescuers were the Dent brothers, and their ancestors have been restoring this English castle and gardens ever since. Many ruins remain though. Most notably, the Banqueting Hall Ruins, an atmospheric backdrop for Sudeley’s ten small connecting gardens.

These include a parterre, a secret garden, a white garden, a knot garden, and a Victorian kitchen garden as well as the Hall itself, which has been sympathetically planted with alpine plants, climbing Roses and Clematis. All the gardens are organic.

The Mediterranean Garden

Although the massive ruins give a romantic cast to all these gardens, many have a modern edge too. In the secret garden, this is by way of the contemporary Mediterranean garden design. Here the designer, Charles Chesshire, has used half-hardy Mediterranean plants, which benefit from the shelter of the garden walls, to startling effect. In July, soft Allium seed heads contrast with the striking yellow spires of Foxtail Lilies. Other Mediterranean plants are used to draw out the flowering season from spring to early winter.

The Victorian Kitchen Garden

Behind the Mediterranean garden, Sudeley’s Victorian Kitchen Garden also breaks new ground, combining Victorian taste, organic know-how and rarely seen heritage vegetables. This scaled-down version of Sudeley’s original three-acre kitchen garden was created in partnership with Garden Organic, Europe’s largest organic charity.

Also in miniature is Sudeley’s white garden, an unusual arbor against a church. Regale lilies and the Tea Rose, “White Wings” Madonna are a reminder here of the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary that once stood here.

The Parterre

Beyond the white garden is the Queen’s Garden, inspired by the original Tudor parterre and created by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall. Today, its ancient yew hedges enclose beds of herbs and old-fashioned roses.

The Knot Garden

Fearnley-Whittingstall has also designed the Knot Garden, taking its intricate design from the dress of Elizabeth I in the painting, The Tudor Succession. This refreshing and original approach to garden restoration is typical of Sudeley Castle, where visitors can see just about every major English garden style of the last 500 years in a brand new way.