With spring already underway and various regions of our USA getting warmed up finally, the interest to get out and do some container gardening is encouraging gardeners to purchase gardening pots, containers, and various vegetable and flower starts to grow.
One of the things that is most important and a somewhat time consuming task to the gardener of the 21st century is properly watering the potted plants they have purchased. Various brands of potting soils tout the benefits of this ' special soil additive ' or that special 'water retention' ingredient but beware ! Not all potting soil mixes are really advisable to be using with your container plants because of proven scientific data that shows an ingredient used in some of those 'Water Retention Soils ' 'Polyacrylamide Hydrogels or other wise known as 'root watering crystals' are constructed of Acrylamide which is a lethal neurotoxin.
Acrylamide has been found to cause cancer in laboratory test * It can pass through the skin and also be inhaled as dust.
Years ago 'Cross-Linked Polymers' were the craze of most gardeners and landscapers. I used the polymers in various landscaping projects with the hopes of reducing water usage on lawns and my most interesting experience was installing too many polymers within a front lawn turf installation and once the polymer's hydrated, the lawn was like walking on a 300 sq, foot sponge ! So much for landscape use of polymers for me after that experience.
There are safer products that are available today that do not have the chemical dangers as the before mentioned Polyacrylamide Hydrogels that break down naturally in the soil after so many months and have no ill health effects on humans or pets which makes them safe for food production and around the home use.
Also by practicing safe 'Old Style' gardening practices such as compost use and mulching, today's busy gardener can have productive and enjoyable container gardens that will add good health and social benefits to their homes and communities.
Please check out this link to learn more about a product we use in our award winning projects that help our clients reduce and improve water use in their container plantings.
* Research notes derived from a great article by Linda Chalker-Scott, PH.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University. " The Myth of Polyacrylamide Hydrogels "
There are various landscape rebate programs available that pay home owners and commercial property owners cash rebates on upgrading their existing landscaping to reduce water use and to contain valuable rain water runoff onto the existing properties via rain gardens, bio-swells, etc..
Here in Southern California we have a state wide website: ( www.bewaterwise.com ) by entering in your site location the website will link you into available rebate programs and their requirements if they are available within your area. I encourage you also to check with your local water supplier or to whom you pay your water/utility bill to as they may also offer generous rebates on retro-fitting your existing landscape irrigation system and landscaping to become more water conservative.
Water thrifty landscaping does not always mean getting a 'Desert Look' or installing a bunch of cactus all over your old lawn areas. ( even though some of my clients love this look ) Incorporating native shrubs, trees, and ground covers will improve the over all look and environmental sustainability for beneficial insects and birds that help keep our living areas safe, beautiful, and economically sustainable.
I will be sharing in future blogs tips on the basics of native plant selection, wild life and local ecosystem health, growing native plants in containers , lawn substitutes, growing native food gardens, and much more so be sure to check back here at Ed's Blogs and be sure to leave your comments on suggested topics and questions on any of my postings.
Thank you !
Rain water in Southern California is a very precious resource. We usually only receive it during our winter months ( November through about Februry or March ) and in the past couple years, we have not really received that much rain at all.
Retaining rain water on-site is not only a wise move but it is also a great sustainable move too. By retaining rain water on-site by methods such as dry stream beds, rain barrels, and rain water gardens, we can keep that precious water on site and provide water for our landscapes plus reduce storm water run off and possible pesticide and herbicide pollution.
Rain gardens also provide useful needed environments for beneficial insects and bird habitats. By doing our part creating these gardens, this helps keep our ecosystem running smoothly.
You can create your own water garden by designing your current rain water down spout gutters to drain off the house into man-made bio-swale areas leading away from your home or business. The job is a lot easier to design when your down spouts lead down into an adjacent flower bed or grass area as it will be easier to design a natural, right sized, efficient water retention space . Go to your local nurseries, licensed landscape professionals and water supplier entities ( Who you pay your water bill to ) that provide needed supplies and information on where and how you can get help building your rain garden.
Also go to the Metropolitan Water Districts (MWD ) website: www.bewaterwise.com for more information on building water gardens and to learn more water thrifty and sustainable landscaping ideas at their informative website.
With the availability of livable working spaces in todays environment, it is exciting to see new improved varieties of flowers and vegetables that do not require a lot of growing space.
Burpee , the age old vegetable and flower seed producer ( They have been producing quality seeds since 1876 ) has a new line of vegetable varieties called the Spacer Saver line.
These vegetables are suited for the end con Sumer who loves to grow their own food and want healthy fresh foods for their families to consume.
The 'Space Savers' collection provide plants that thrive in small areas and containers which is is very hot with the increase in his rise condos and town homes in a large number of big cities around the U.S. I am listing some of the favorites I feel will be big sellers for the coming year ahead and for those of us that live in the sunny states like California, Florida, Arizona, and other warm winter southwest states we can take advantage of some of the varieties now.
Here's my top 10 'Hot List'
1. Jungle Parrot Pepper : grows 12-18" hgt. x 12-18" width.
2.Atlas Tomato : 24-36" hgt. x 24-36" width.
3. Red Robin Basil : 18-24" hgt. x 18-24" width.
4. Sweet Dani Lemon Basil : 22-24" hgt. x 22-24" width.
5. Seascape Strawberry : 12-18" hgt. x 24-36" width.
6. * Gold Standard Cucumber : 8-10" x 48-60" width. These cucumbers can produce 5 times the amount of beta carotene of other garden cucumbers. A member of the 'Boost Collection' of vegetables selected for their higher levels of antioxidants.
7. * Beanaza Bean : 15" hgt. x 10" hgt. Great small space gardening choice. Heavy producer.
8. * Big Flat Head Cabbage : 12-18"hgt. x 24-30" width. Speciality cabbage with mid tasty leaves. Very sweet dense interior, great for sandwich wraps.
9. * Bloomsdale Spinach : 10-12" hgt. x 6-8" width. Withstands heat better than other varieties. Heavy producer, sweet non bitter taste.
10. Quickstar Kohlrabi : 8-12" hgt. x 9-12" width. Slow bolt can be stir-fried in strips, grated for salads or eaten raw like a carrot. Wonderful source of dietary fiber, and vitamins C , B , and minerals.
Check out online at burtpeehomegardensbrand.com for even more varieties and be sure to check back at 'Eds Blogs" for more unique tips and ideas for your home garden or business roof top garden.
Did you know that there are a number of shrubs, ground covers, and trees that can be utilized within your landscape that will not only look fantastic but also give you back in return beneficial medicinal healing properties that have been known and used throughout history ?
I have been receiving quite a number of request for various landscape designs that incorporate natural, herbal, medicinal, and otherwise people and pet friendly plant choice's to beautify one's landscape. The use of shrubs like Rosemary, Lavander,and Roses have brought not only beauty to my client's landscape but medicinal value to their projects also.
I have listed what I call the " Simple 7" landscape shrubs,trees, and ground cover that is simple to grow and in most cases easy to grow in various climates within the United States and other parts of the globe.
Here is my list:
Aloe Vera: The gel from this plant is good for burns, wounds,dry skin, insect bites, and fungal infections, anemia, poor digestive function, and liver disorders.
Apple: Consume fresh apple slices for constipation, sour apples as a diuretic, infusions for rheumatic pains, feverish colds. The juice used undiluted or mixed with olive oil as a household standby for cuts and abrasions.
Lavender: Take the flowers and dry them in bunches covered with paper bags to harvest the flowerets as they fall. Also harvest towards the end of the flowering of the plant.
Applications include use as a essential oil, massage oil, and as a infusion for feverous exhaustion.
Mint: Infusion for nausea, travel sickness, indigestion, migraines.
As a wash for inflammation, repel mosquitoes, scabies.
As a massage oil for headaches, and fever.
Rose: Cream for dry or inflamed skin.
Lotion as a moisturizing lotion.
Rose hips for diarrhea, stomach weakness.
Massage oil to relieve stress and exhaustion.
Rosemary: As an essential oil, stimulant in feverous exhaustion.
As a massage oil for aching joints and muscles.For the scalp for hair growth. and around the temples for headaches.
Yarrow: Use as an infusion wash for eczema, inhalation for hay fever and mild asthma. As a poultice for cuts and grazes. As a compress, infusion of diluted tincture to soothe varicose veins.
As you can see, there are many beneficial uses of numerous commonly used landscaping plants, shrubs, and trees that will not only provide you with years of horticultural beauty, but also with years of beneficial medicinal uses.
* I researched the excellent book by Penelope Ody " The Complete Medicinal Herbal" to obtain my above mentioned information
One of the unique products we use in our installations of California native and water conserving landscapes is Ecologel Solutions HYDRETAIN ES PLIUS.
This amazing moisture management product helps MIDWEST LANDSCAPING reduce plant transplant shock and avoid overwatering of the plants that by their natural growth habits, do not require a lot of water once established.
HYDRETAIN ES PLUS is a root zone moisture management product that effectively reduces the over-all watering requirements of plants, shrubs, trees, turf, and agriculture as much as 50% or more.
The product is a propriety blend of the patented HYDRETAIN SOIL MOISTURE MANAGEMENT technology enhanced with an advanced naturally served soil surfactant. When used in combination the synergistic technologies provide positive water conservation and drought stress reduction through efficient subsurface soil moisture management.
Also in addition to reducing the overall water requirements . HYDRETAIN ES PLUS works to provide the proper soil moisture needed to maximize the effectiveness of most fertilizer products.
HYDRETAIN ES PLUS comes in a 40 lb. granular form or a 16 oz. hose end application bottle.
1/Gallon bottles of the HYDRETAIN can also be obtained by contacting us at ( firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone direct: (562) 755-9914.
BIOGRADABLE - ECO-FRIENDLY - CHILD & PET FRIENDLY - EFFECTIVE - ECONOMICAL
The important task of supplying needed water to your landscape plants and trees becomes very critical in the hot summer months we are experiencing. With the craze in installing 'drought friendly' and 'water conserving' plants and trees, some people forget that even though those plants and trees that are quote 'Water Friendly' some of those plants and trees do need a application or a drink of water from time to time to maintain their health and sustain their lives out in this extremely heated months of the year.
By first grouping the plant and trees in proper design configurations within your landscape you will be able to benefit from using the correct plant for the correct zone. Sun loving plants just do not do well in north facing project areas and vice versa for shade plants in a overly sunny spot around your home or business. There are many other resources that will help assist you in selecting the correct plant or tree for the various zones in and around your home or business and let me suggest you check out the Tree of Life website at www.californativeplantys.com for those of you who live here in California. For those in other parts of the country, please link to your local county extensions and water supplier websites and I am sure they will be able to assist you.
Watering Times: It is best early in the mornings when the soil is cooler and it can naturally dry out doing the day as to prevent possible fungus damage from damp, dark evening time watering which is prime breeding ground for water borne diseases. In the desert zones you can get away with more of your evening into night watering because of the lower humidity rates but by watering in the early morning hours you are safe with not possibly getting fungus challenges.
How Much : A good rule of thumb is at to at least 1" of water per week. Deep soakings of the water help develop strong deep rooting systems for your plants and trees. By using a soil probe which you can obtain from a quality nursery or online or by simply sticking a pencil or screwdriver into the soil you can see at what depth the water you apply reaches. This simple monitoring system is really effective as some folks think that if it is dry on top of the soil, it must mean my plants need water. Not always true. Some soils hold more water in the ground than others because of the clay content of the soil vs sand content. Clay soils hold more water longer than sandy type soils. By using a soil probe, screwdriver or pencil to see at what depth you have moisture before and after a watering this can help you determine your watering application rate. Another great thing to do is have your soil tested to actually understand what type of soil you have. There is a simple soil texture test you can do yourself by going online and typing in 'soil texture test ' and you will come across a simple ribbon test to help you determine your soil type.
How often: Depending upon the soil type and what size plants you have, the first 1-3 months @ 1/gallon plant it is suggested you water 1-2 time per week. After 3-24 months 1-2 times per month ( some plants may still need more waterings ) After 24 months some plants will be naturalized and no supplemental water will be needed ( Most Calif. native plant groupings) and other plants will need supplemental waterings throughout their growing periods.
An occasional quick rinse or sprinkle in the early hours of the day is always a plus, and for your landscape trees deep water soakings of at least 1-2" 1-3 times per month of water is a great.
Drip irrigation is fantastic but ole fashion sprinkler system or micro-spray watering of your plant materials would be my choice for a more natural watering approach. I do not come across a lot of drip lines out in nature.
With these simple tips on plant selection, location, watering times and depths it is my hope that you will be able to not only establish your shrubs and trees be maintain their life spans for many years to come.
With the recent wild fires that have devastated many homes and lives here in Northern and Southern California, I thought it would be a great idea to pass along some basic landscaping rules for helping reduce fire damage at your home or business from a landscaping prospective.
Firescaping is very important for all homes that border any open space,including houses built along canyons, and this landscaping involves designing landscaping plant materials to help in protection from wildfires. A successful design plan for choosing 'Fire-resistant' plant materials involves breaking down the property in four zones.
Zone 1 ( 50 ft. closest to the home ) Moist & trim. Turf,ground covers,small perennials,and annual color. Water these plant regularly and avoid using plants with high resin content such as pines,junipers,cedars,eucalyptus,etc...
Zone 2. ( 51-100 feet ) Low & sparse. Slow growing,drought-tolerant shrubs and ground covers can be used to keep the fire at ground level. Use plant material with a naturally high moisture content such as succulents, and aloes.
Zone 3 (101-150 ft. ) High & clean. Trees can be installed inn this zone making sure their branches are at least 10 ft. away from the nearest tree and they should have no branches that are closer than 15 ft. from the ground.
Zone 4 ( 150 ft. and beyond ) Natural area. This area may not be landscaped but, it still should be well maintained maintenance wise with the trees thinned twice a year and all low branches, leaf litter. and dead plants & branches removed.
On slopes or windswept areas,increase the spacing of the plant materials,use colored rocks or stones for a mulch and avoid using bark or shredded dry mulch.
Use materials that is inorganic or inflammable such as flagstone,decomposed granite ( Very popular ) rocks & pebbles, artificial wood for decks and fences.
* There is a fire safe mulch that is available that includes an additional process with a fire resistant additive that we have available if you still plan to use shredded mulch. Contact me at our website comment section for more information on this product.
By taking into consideration the four firescaping zone suggestions, it is my hope this will help reduce the threat of fire devastation to your home or business.
Normally you would tend to avoid planting shrubs and other 'Water Thrifty' landscaping plant materials in the hotter season's of the year. June, July, August are not your prime planting months especially for plant materials which normally in their native growing habit, hardly ever get supplemental watering during these hot months. Here in Southern California, we get most of our rains in the winter months of October,November, December up through hopefully March and April of the following year. Most water conserving/thrifty plants,trees, and shrubs drink up during those months and create a sort of reserve for the hotter months to come. Succulents like Agave,Cactus, and Aloes have a much better survival rate than their less fleshly cousins and the survival rate is much higher when planting these varieties during the warmer months.
There are still many landscape rebate programs going on here in Southern California and with that there are 'Deadlines' to get the make overs completed. This leads to customers needing to finish their projects as soon as possible even if it means planting in the warmer months of summer.
One of the best tip I can pass on to you is to be sure when you do plant your trees and shrubs, make sure you hydrate the hole for the plant with water and if possible mix within that backfill water some Moisture Manager water management product ( Check out the link on my website) which will help your plantings through the normal stress of being transplanted from a container where it has called home for many months and also help keep those water friendly plant materials properly hydrated by supplying available water vapor from the pore spaces within the soil at the root zone. The application will last up to 90 days so this is a real big plus as most newly planted shrubs,trees, etc... will take at least 60-90 days to grow out their root systems to properly anchor and stabilize the plant or tree before it actually starts to grow out in leaves,branches, flowering, etc.. ( I am writing a book which one of my chapter's' will cover the concept of root growth before a plant grows to it's maturity ).
Plant the shrub or tree a inch or so above the planting hole, be sure to create a nice water basin around the base of the tree or shrub and mulch within 3 to 40 inches of the trunk of stalk of the tree or shrub planted to help contain water when you do water your plants.( You can possibly get away with watering your new plants /trees 1-2 times per week especially after using the Moisture Manager in your water back fill when you first installed the plants.
Do your planting if possible early in the morning to help reduce the heat stress level or, in the early evening but, avoid excessive evening watering of your new plant materials as you do not want to welcome the opportunity for fungus of other diseases to have an opportunity to settle in especially if you live in humid zones of the state or country.
By being patient to when you do your planting, choosing the correct plants for the correct zones and utilizing the cutting edge products out there that can reduce planting stress levels and increase the moisture availability level for your landscape team, success during the hot summer month is within reach.
* Be sure to link to the "AS SEEN ON TV LINK" on my web site to be able to go directly to the 'Moisture Manager' website and receive a great discount on the product just by entering the discount code provided.
Who says, " you cannot garden in the winter because you live in an apartment in New Jersey and it's winter time dummy "
Well if you are thinking of the old fashion conventional way of gardening for fresh veggies outside in the dirt you could be absolutely right my friend. But, with the advances in Aeroponic technology, you can grow fresh basil and tomatoes for your pasta,lettuce and arugula for your Caesar salads, and fresh strawberries to top off that nice dish of vanilla ice cream for your dessert.
The use of 'Aeroponic Vertical Growing Systems' is catching on all over the U.S. and is providing thousands of avid gardeners an opportunity to grow fresh food daily in their own homes throughout the winter months with the aid of low voltage energy efficient grow lights and tank water warmers for those really cold spaces in your basements or garages. Their are many types of gardens one can grow with a quality Aeroponic Growing System.
Here are a few:
* Asian Green Gardens that consists of Asian basil, Chinese cabbage, Pak Choi, Komatsuna, and Red shiso.
* Herb Gardens that consist of Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Thyme, and Dandelion.
* Juicing Gardens ( Extremely popular ) that consist of celery, Cress, Kale, Parsley, Spinach, Swiss Chard, and watercress.
* Salad Gardens that consists of Arugula, Celery, Escarole, Kale, Lettuces, Mustard, Radicchio, Spinach, and Frisee.
Each of these unique gardens can be grown INDOORS with the aid of a quality indoor lighting system that generate little heat and consume as little energy as possible.
By growing your food and vegetables yourself from non GMO seed stock, protects you and your family from unwanted and dangerous pesticides and herbicides that are used on a lot of veggies and food items now-a-days. By growing your own food and vegetables you save hundreds of dollars monthly on expensive 'out-of-season favorites' like tomatoes and cucumbers that are usually greenhouse grown anyway so why not support your own family 'Green House' ?
The joy of harvesting daily from your Aeroponic Growing System is a feeling you will come to expect as you discover new and tasty vegetables to try out in your kitchen while it's cold outside and blustery.
Throwing in some freshly harvested chives and other herbs for that hearty potato soup you put together for the family or just for yourself and that special guest, will put you in a zone of your own when it comes to chefs bragging rights for your dish.
Check out my link ( www.urbanfarmer.towergarden.com ) and learn move from the great informational videos and take advantage of the low monthly investment to enjoy fresh food and vegetables from "INSIDE" your home this winter and save some $$$ in the process from buying those same veggies and food at your local grocery store.
* As an added bonus, I will throw in a personal stash of speciality veggies seeds for any new Aeroponic Garden order from the rest of January 2017 through the end of March 2017. ( Estimated value $25.00 )