Monthly Archives: January 2018

Preparing Healthy Soil

If you’re getting ready to go on a new garden venture, you need to prepare
your soil to ideally house your plants. The best thing you can do in the
soil preparation process is to reach the perfect mixture of sand, silt,
and clay. Preferably there would be 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and
20 percent clay. There are several tests used by experienced gardeners to
tell whether the soil has a good composition. First you can compress it in
your hand. If it doesn’t hold its shape and crumbles without any outside
force, your sand ratio is probably a little high. If you poke the
compressed ball with your finger and it doesn’t fall apart easily, your
soil contains too much clay.

If you’re still not sure about the content of your soil, you can separate
each ingredient by using this simple method. Put a cup or two of dirt into
a jar of water. Shake the water up until the soil is suspended, then let
it set until you see it separate into 3 separate layers. The top layer is
clay, the next is silt, and on the bottom is sand. You should be able to
judge the presence of each component within your dirt, and act accordingly.

After you’ve analyzed the content of your soil, if you decide that it is
low on a certain ingredient then you should definitely do something to fix
it. If dealing with too much silt or sand, it’s best to add some peat moss
or compost. If you’ve got too much clay, add a mixture of peat moss and
sand. The peat moss, when moistens, helps for the new ingredient to
infiltrate the mixture better. If you can’t seem to manage to attain a
proper mixture, just head down to your local gardening store. You should
be able to find some kind of product to aid you.

The water content of the soil is another important thing to consider when
preparing for your garden. If your garden is at the bottom of an incline,
it is most likely going to absorb too much water and drown out the plants.
If this is the case, you should probably elevate your garden a few inches
(4 or 5) over the rest of the ground. This will allow for more drainage
and less saturation.

Adding nutrients to your soil is also a vital part of the process, as most
urban soils have little to no nutrients already in them naturally. One to
two weeks prior to planting, you should add a good amount of fertilizer to
your garden. Mix it in really well and let it sit for a while. Once you
have done this, your soil will be completely ready for whatever seeds you
may plant in it.

Once your seeds are planted, you still want to pay attention to the soil.
The first few weeks, the seeds are desperately using up all the nutrients
around them to sprout into a real plant. If they run out of food, how are
they supposed to grow? About a week after planting, you should add the
same amount of fertilizer that you added before. After this you should
continue to use fertilizer, but not as often. If you add a tiny bit every
couple of weeks, that should be plenty to keep your garden thriving.

Basically, the entire process of soil care can be compressed into just
several steps… ensure the makeup of the soil is satisfactory, make sure
you have proper drainage in your garden, add fertilizer before and after
planting, then add fertilizer regularly after that. Follow these simple
steps, and you’ll have a plethora of healthy plants in no time. And if you
need any more details on an individual step, just go to your local nursery
and enquire there. Most of the employees will be more than happy to give
you advice.

Picking the Ideal Location for your Garden

Once you have picked what garden you want, there are many other factors
you need to decide before you actually get to work with your gardening
tools. Mainly you need to choose its location. This is usually decided by
several factors: How you will water it, how much shade it needs, etc. Some
of these questions can be very important in deciding whether your garden
lives or dies, so don’t take them lightly. You need to take each one into
special consideration.

Choosing the garden’s location within your yard is one of the more
important things to decide. You want to choose a location that will
provide an ideal climate for the plants in your garden. I don’t know what
type of garden you’re dealing with so I can’t give you specific advice,
but if you do a Google search for the plant you’re dealing with then
you’ll find a plethora of sites informing you about the perfect conditions
for its growing. After this, it’s just a matter of finding the most shaded
or most sunny spot in your yard.

Another deciding factor is how you plan on watering your garden. If you
have a sprinkler system already installed for your grass, then it could be
a good idea to put your garden in the middle of your yard. Then it will
get watered at the same time, and require no extra work from your part.
But if this doesn’t provide for a good location for your garden, then you
might end up watering it by hose or dragging a sprinkler out there. In
this case, just make sure your garden is within the ideal distance for a
hose to reach. While this might not seem like a good thing to base the
entire location of your garden on, you’ll be surprised at how nice it is
to plan out in advanced.

Getting the perfect amount of shade for your garden can be a difficult
endeavor. Once you have a basic idea for where you want your garden, you
might want to watch it and record how many hours it spends in sunlight and
how many it spends in shade. Compare your findings to an online web site,
and you should be able to determine whether the spot you chose is ideal or
not for planting and starting your garden in. Of course the amount will
change as the seasons change, but this should give you a good idea of what
to basically expect for the rest of the year. If necessary, later you can
put up some kind of shade to protect your garden from getting too much sun.

After you’ve determined the ideal place for your garden and whether it has
the right amount of sunlight, and whether you will be able to conveniently
water it, you’re one step closer to actually starting your garden. Of
course there are other factors that I have overlooked here, but mostly you
should be able to decide whether your location is good or not based on
common sense. Just think: If I were a plant, would I be able to flourish
here? If you can honestly answer yes, then I think its time for you to
head out to your local gardening store and buy the necessary soil and
fertilizer to get started! Have fun!

Using Xeriscaping to Save Time and Water

While having a full fledged garden is rewarding and enjoyable, lots of
people simply don’t have the time that is required to maintain it. Whether
you have too much going on at work or too many kids to take care of, you
should never try to operate a garden if you don’t think you can handle it.

For those people who are just too busy for a normal garden, I would
suggest a somewhat recent method of gardening known as Xeriscaping. This
minimal yet stylish theory first emerged in Colorado when water levels
were at an all time low. It is a great method of having a great looking
yard or garden, without having to maintain it or water it very often at
all.

Here in Colorado, many places are offering free Xeriscaping lessons in
order to encourage the conservation of water. If your area is undergoing a
drought, you should check with the water suppliers and see if they are
offering lessons. If you attend those, you will be able to get advice
specific to your region (IE types of plants to grow, how much to water
them, etc).

To some, the name Xeriscaping conjures the image of a yard that consists
of a giant rock bed. However, this is known as “zero scaping”, and it is a
considerably different concept. It focuses on reducing your yard to
nothing that requires any maintenance whatsoever. Unfortunately this is
usually just rocks. But this shouldn’t be your goal. While keeping
maintenance at a minimum, it is still possibly to retain a nice looking
yard that won’t attract the negative attention of everyone who passes by.

This might sound like it would be hard to implement without making your
yard into a hideous mess, but this is not so at all. The theory basically
involves choosing plants which are low maintenance to begin with, then
putting them each in environments that are ideal. It is usually applied by
figuring out what side of the house to place it on to get the best amount
of shade, and figuring out how to group it with plants with similar water
needs.

To get started in your Xeriscaping renovation, you first need to pick out
all the plants you will be using. They should for the most part require a
low amount of water. This doesn’t mean you can only grow cactuses in your
yard. Just cut back on the really thirsty plants that you have to water
every day to keep alive. You’ll want to stick with local plants for the
most part, and don’t go with anything too exotic as these generally
require larger amounts of water.

The second most important principle of xeriscaping is placing the plants
in ideal areas. If you place them all together with plants that require
essentially the same amount of water, then you will end up saving lots of
water. Also place the plants in areas where they will be protected from
wind or excessive sun, depending on the needs of the plants. Xeriscaping
is almost the same thing as microclimating, just with more of a focus on
adaptation to harsh conditions rather than avoiding them. So if it sounds
good to you and you’re looking to save time and water by renovating your
garden, you should look for xeriscaping lessons.

Using Rain Barrels to Survive Droughts

If you’re a gardener that has an unlimited supply of water, consider
yourself lucky. There are many of us who live in drought zones where the
garden and lawn watering rules are very constrictive to the healthy growth
of gardens and plants. Many people just give up when they find out how few
gallons of water they are permitted to use, but some of us have just found
ways to cope with less water. There are many ways to optimize ones garden
to conserve water while still keeping it lush.

Some of the ways include drip irrigation (the use of a pipe or hose with
small holes to gradually seep into the roots of the plant), the placement
of plants in groups of equal watering needs (to prevent wasting water on
plants that don’t need it), and using compost or mulch to insulate the
water and prevent drainage.

But one of the best ways to keep your garden alive during a drought is to
take preventative measures. Occasionally a drought will be predicted far
in advanced, or those already experiencing a drought will be given a few
weeks of heavy rain. When this occurs, you should take the opportunity to
set up several rain barrels. Many people think this would be a time
consuming, silly thing to do. But it can save you many gallons of water,
and hardly requires any work.

Finding the barrels will probably be the hardest part. You can use your
own garbage cans, or head to your home improvement store to get a few 55
gallon plastic drums. These can be expensive and difficult to transport,
so keep that in mind before you go to the store. You will probably want to
cover the top of the barrel with a screen of some sort to filter out any
unwanted leaves or debris that might fall off the roof of your house.

Once you have your barrels ready, you’re faced with the decision of where
to place them. Usually during rainfall, there is one corner or segment of
the house that rain tends to pour off of. If you are taking the simple
approach to barrel placement, just place the barrel under all the places
where you see large amounts of drips. However, while this might be the
easiest way to place them, you won’t see very high volumes of rain in the
barrels.

If you want to take a more complicated approach to placing the barrels,
you should consider tweaking your gutter system a bit. If you remove each
individual segment and place it at a very slight slant so that all the
water is diverted to the nearest corner of the house, you can place a rain
barrel at each corner. So essentially your entire house acts as a catcher
for the rain, instead of just a few feet worth of shingles. This is how to
maximize the amount of water your rain barrel will catch.

After a heavy rainfall, each individual barrel probably won’t see very
much rain. If it looks like it won’t be raining more any time soon, it’s a
good idea to empty each barrel into one main central barrel. Seal it and
save it out of the way, for whenever you may need it. Then the next time
it starts to rain, you’ll be able to quickly put all your catching barrels
into place without having to lug around all the water you’ve accumulated
so far.

The use of water barrels might sound like an antiquated idea. However,
when you’re in the midst of a drought and you’re able to spare that extra
couple of gallons for your garden in addition the city allotment, you’ll
be grateful for every bit of time and money you spent on collecting all
that rain. All it takes is a few trips out in the backyard every time it
starts to sprinkle, and you’ll be a very happy gardener when water isn’t
so abundant.