Improving your soils structure and nutritional levels is of utmost importance in today's gardening world.
Many DIY gardeners love to go to the local nurseries and big box home stores and buy pre-mixed bags of potting soil, compost, and other soil improvement products. We must all be aware of what we are bringing into our gardens and understand the value or lack of a particular soil amending product.
Many of the bagged potting soils are made up of a lot of wood based ground up products, fillers like perlite to help suspend and hold moisture in the soil mix and other nutrient enriched products to supply needed food to what ever tree, shrub, or vegetables you have or plan to install.
Keep in mind, plants grow in natural soil best,so it is my opinion incorporating natural top soil along with the bagged planting mixes, provides the needed natural minerals and nutrients that nature produces via biological actions.
Using organic compost like Malibu compost and other local brands which can be purchased at most of your
nurseries will add the needed boost to your planter mixes that will produce fantastic results.
I use compost in my soil blends especially when doing any containerized gardening as this technique guarantees soil quality and consistency in our mixes and gives all our plant materials a great start and environment to reside in.
Basic soil test are encouraged to be done so that you will know your actual nutrient levels in your soil when planting in the ground. By contacting your nursery professional or your local county extension office, you can find out where plus how to take some samples of your soil where you are planning to plant and see what you may be lacking in nutrient levels or have in excess and need to modify your soil to achieve maximum positive results for your gardens.
This may seem like a lot of effort to plant a garden but, the effort now is worth more than the mental stress later of trying to figure out why your fruits or vegetables aren't performing well.
* Be sure to click on the Hydretain logo at the foot of my website introduction page to take advantage of the special discount code on exclusive Ecologel Solutions products especially the Hydretain soil moisture managing products that we use on a professional basis.
With the availability of water to water landscapes becoming more challenging each day, being aware of what you can do to maintain a healthy, low water usage landscape is possible if you take a little time out to educate yourself on the products and technology available today to address the challenges. I will share a short list of valuable tools that you can include in your " Landscaping Toolbox " to deal with many irrigation related challenges When it comes to your landscaping.
By incorporating these suggestions and tips mentioned you can feel confident that you have done your part top help save water and the water you use on your landscape is being used efficiently.
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.
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 ( email@example.com 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.
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 )
Winter in Southern California typically brings us rain and that valuable resource is at a lot of times wasted by allowing that water to run off our roofs, down the rain gutter, out to the sewer system or most times draining out into the street where it collects excessive oils,fluids,and other toxic crap that ends up in the street gutter and then eventually that water ends up in our ocean.
By incorporating rain water catchment systems like rain barrels, and water bladders, you can save some of that water for future use.
Rain barrels: They come in various sizes with 55 gallon and 110 gallon barrels most often used. The rain barrel is normally made of a heavy duty plastic,and is available in various colors like Grey/granite, red, and green. They have a port on top where the water drains into the barrel, and a bottom spout to add a water hose to dispense the water. The water is normally diverted into the barrel with the help of a rain water diverted device. This device mounts in between the rain barrel and drain pipe and works by either diverting water into the barrel or diverting that water to flow as normal through the drain pipe.
The next storage catchment system is a storge bladder which is widely used back in the eastern and southern states to store free rain water. The bladder consist of a heavy duty flexible rubber bladder that comes in 500,1000, or 2000 gallon storage capacities. The bladder is plumbed to catch rain water from the rain gutters and store that water until needed to water the garden or other landscape plant materials. The bladder can be retro-fitted with a small pump to dispense the water for use also, Another bonus of using the bladder is being able to hide it under a porch,deck.or a number of other available unused space areas.
Another more natural rain water reuse system is installing a dry stream bed from the rain gutter. By designing and installing a natural flowing stream bed type of drainage system you can capture some of that rain water that may end up in the street gutters. This water can help recharge your local underground water table supply and also supply needed water for your landscape plant materials that you can design in to accent your stream bed and water garden to enhance the overall look of your landscape.
Take advantage of free rain water and do your part to help conserve and use it more prudently.
* Be sure to check with your local water supplier as a number of agencies provide rebates for rain barrel purchases.
Many consumers and professional landscapers are installing various landscape projects that require or may I say 'Suggest" utilizing various types of landscape fabrics ,mesh tarps, pond liners and yes even frost protection fabrics to reduce weed growth,help protect wind sensitive plant materials plus, create safe puncture proof 'buffer zones' when building pondless and other water features plus protect against extreme weather and climatic conditions.
Every home gardener and landscape pro has purchased and installed landscape fabric or as it is commonly called 'Weed Block' down before putting down mulch in planter beds, or in areas where you do not want weeds to rear their heads. There are various types of landscape fabric and I will give you a quick refresher course on some of those fabrics and also give you some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when installing some of barrier materials.
Your local home store probably carries a inexpensive brand of landscape fabric that normally comes in 3- 5 ft. to 50 to 100 ft. rolls. A lot of times this fabric is made out of some inexpensive rubbery/plastic like material made with a series of small holes in it throughout the square footage of the roll to allow air & water to penetrate through but, it is also designed to not allow weeds to grow up and through the fabric . This fabric is okay but really does not hold up well in the long run due to the thickness of the fabric and the quality of the material it is made from. You know this stuff, you can almost tear it apart with your hands ! May I suggest you steer clear of these types of fabrics as it will just break down through time and activity within the areas it has been installed and just give you weeds and frustration.
Spend the extra money and shop for some quality landscape fabric. What I mean by quality fabric is normally one made from NEEDLE WOVEN or NEEDLE PUNCHED FABRIC materials. The strength of these fabris far out weigh the inferiour 'homeowner brand' of fabric and it will last longer and provide more weed blocking power than the the later.
Speaking of weeds, please keep in mind that weeds are pretty flexible in where and how they grow. They seem to come up any and everywhere you do not want them but more importantly, thy are either wide bladed weeds or grassy bladed type weeds. Some examples of wide bladed weeds would be clover,dandelions,splurge and your grassy type weeds would be bermuda grasses,crabgrass, etc... The grassy weeds will still from time to time come through the weave of some of the woven fabric as when the grassy weed blade germinates and grows, it is almost like a sewing needle with is point that goes right through the weave seaking out sunlight. Just apply some horticultural grade vinagar to the grassy weed or a shot of glyphospate if your not to concerned about contaminating the world with weed killer and go about your business gardening.
When installing the fabric, make sure your area where you are installing is as clear and level of rocks and soil clumps so that you can get a nice level installation and when installing the fabric, I always use a strong steel fabric pins to help hold the fabric down and secure it to my project area. Search out the 'SQUARE TOPPED STAPLES' as they finish flush to the ground and the ' HOOP SHAPED STAPLE' is really ment to secure down drip tubing when installing drip irrigation.
Over-lap say 1/2 inch to 1 inch of the landscape fabric over each other when laying out your fabric in the project area and I usally install the pins with a rubber mallet every 5 feet or so along the overlap seam and in various areas on the fabric where it seemed loose..
Follow-up with your mulch if you are mulching and enjoy the beauty of your newly install landscape.
I will share other the uses of other types of landscape fabric I mentioned earilier in future blogs so come back soon.
* Blog Bonus ! Send me back your comment on this months blog and recieve back a really cool gift.
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