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.
* Offer expires 12-31-17
Managing our natural resources during drought conditions takes mental observation of our situation, educating ourselves on what the causes and effects of drought are, and taking positive actions to provide the best remedies to reduce or at best eliminate the negative effects of drought conditions.
Managing soil organics and learning how to effectively improve your soil is one of the biggest steps you can take in your quest to deal with drought conditions in your landscape. By providing healthy, vibrant, microbe rich nutrients to our soil matrix, you can improve the overall growing conditions and health of all plant and tree materials on site. Biostimulants like CytoGro ( www.cytogro.com ) can provide special extracts and natural ingredients to improve the biological activity levels in a safe and organic way. The primary ingredients are cytokins & auxins that are combined with natural extracts of amino acids,vitamins, and nutrients derived from sea vegetables. This combination promotes deep, dense root development which strengthens plants and increases tolerance to stress by disease damage, insect infestation,lack of moisture,poor water quality, and other environmental factors
Another one of the best 'Ole Skool' methods of optimizing your soil is by utilizing organic compost and mulches to help retain vital minerals and nutrients in the soil and help create a living soil web environments for earth worms and other microscopic insects that create food and life for our plant and tree roots. As a bonus, this same mulch helps retain precious water so that our landscapes can survive under today's extremely hot weather conditions.
Proper water management through the use of 'Smart Irrigation' technologies and innovative approaches to saving and applying water to our landscapes is vital.
We are currently using one of the latest WiFi enabled controller that our clients and I can control water use on-site from anywhere in the world ! ( Contact me at this website under our contact form )
There are many water provider/supplier programs available now for you to learn more about what is available to help you conserve and use water wisely. Check with your water provider or online under "Landscape water conservation " and I am sure you will come across many websites that can help you learn more and apply proven techniques.
By educating yourself on the basics of proper resource management at your home or business you will be well on the way to saving your landscape investment, your precious time, and most of all our limited natural resources.
Pocket gophers and ground squirrels are pest and create serious problems in the landscape. Managing them is an art all into itself. There are traps,cages,pesticides,polymers, and various other 'control' methods that are being used to control and/or eliminate the furry visitors on a long term basis.
I have found a couple control methods that have proved quite effective and human friendly.
The first control product I highly recommend is a food grade polymer called 'Gopher Goo' that when poured into a gopher or squirrel hole and hydrated with water, will in turn swell up to at least 4 times it's size inside the hole and fill the opening and create a long term ' barrier plug' that seems to force the gophers to move on from our job sites. The polymer also contains a small addition of organic compost that helps in the rebuilding process of the damaged roots. The polymer will last up to 2-3 years in the soil before it breaks down naturally ,
There is no toxic ingredients inside this product so it is extremely safe to use around children and pets. The polymer creates a sticky goo all over the pelt of the pest and this creates a big problem for them as the pelt needs to be smooth so that they can move through the holes and tunnels in the ground. The pest are forced to move on from the site since they despise getting the goo on their pelts and we end up managing the pest off our job sites. You can learn more about Gopher Goo at www.gophergoo.com.
The next pest management product that I have had really great success with is a cage device called a squirrllnator.
This cage has two openings on two sides of the cage and a cage door on top to take out dead squirrels or release them elsewhere if you choose to do so. I have found the best 'Bait' for the squirrel is orange pieces,sunflower seed, and mixed nuts. This mixture of goodies seem to attract the squirrels into the cage and once they are in there the door they entered is a one way access. they cannot get out once they enter. This cage is a lot better than using poison baits and seems to work fast and efficiently and by using one or both of these management tools in your quest to rid your site of pocket gophers and squirrels, I am sure you will have great success.
There is a new kid in town that is becoming a valuable addition in the search for a low water use ground cover,alternative to a grass substitute that has beauty,function and versatility.
That new kid's name is Lippia nodiflora L. 'Kurapia'. Kurapia comes to the USA via the shores of Japan and has been tested for its unique characteristics at UC Davis and UC Riverside.
Kurapia was bred from the native plant Lippa nodiflora found in the coastal regions of Japan and is found to be highly tolerant of saline,acidic,and basic soils. Kurapia grows close to the ground and rarely exceeds one inch high. Most of the year, the plant is covered with small, white flowers that are sterile, which means it is unable to reproduce itself by seed.
It is a perennial,full sun to part shade utility ground cover that will spread up to 6 feet and to the depth of up to 5 feet under ideal irrigation conditions.
Kurapia's sturdy structure makes it ideal for many uses such as rooftops,public utility areas,slope areas,commercial properties and more .Kurapia can tolerate light foot traffic but is not recommended for heavy foot traffic areas like playgrounds or sports fields.
Kurapia has the ability also to survive in temperatures from 13-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Drought tolerant: Eto 20% by drip irrigation and Eto 40% by sprinkler irrigation make kurapia and great choice to help reduce watering requirements without giving up the green so many people love.
From my experience using kurapia the past 3 years I have been surprised,enlightened and excited to see the uses were we can incorporate kurapia into or project designs and also the benefits of using kurapia as a new innovative ground cover is unlimited.
* INQUIRE TODAY TO DETERMINE IF KURAPIA CAN SOLVE ANY LANDSCAPING CHALLENGES AT YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS,
Drought conditions have become a part of our regions reality for the past 4 years. With various cities and water districts nationwide demanding their customers reduce their water use especially outdoors. I have come up with some valuable tips and suggestions to help keep you in the "GREEN " this year and for years to come.
El Nino was supposed to bring us hoards of rain and needed water to our reservoirs but it appears to be just another "average rainfall year" here in Southern California. It is a good idea to educate yourself on what is available to the consumer and business owner to help reduce their outdoor water use and keep some of that well earned ca$h in your pockets.
1. One of the most simplest things you can do as a consumer or business owner, is to retro-fit your existing irrigation system to a more efficient and reliable one. There are irrigation sprinkler nozzles that help you better manage irrigation use, eliminate irrigation runoff, and reduce your water bills. The Toro Precision Series Spray Nozzles offer all the above and have been proven to reduce water usage by 35% . The Toro Precision Series Rotating nozzles supply matched precipitation rates at any arc and radius from 14 to 26 feet. The water is applied slowly and evenly thus helping to reduce runoff and wasted water. Both nozzles can be retro fitted into numerous other brands of popups and should be looked at at your local irrigation supply store such as Site One ( Formally John Deere Landscapes ) www.siteone.com or Ewing Irrigation Products www.ewing.com to see if they will help solve some or all of your irrigation watering woes.
2. The next best suggestion I have is to upgrade that irrigation controller to a more modern 'Smart Controller". Smart controllers such as the Toro Evolution Series controller offer standard functions such as manual watering ,setting water days and start times and also have the ability to add extra features such as the Toro wireless weather sensor which uses live temperature and solar measurements plus historical weather data to calculate the amount of water needed for irrigating various landscaping shrubs,turf, and other plant materials. Plus you can add a 'Rain Gage" to automatically shut down the irrigation system during a rain and, you can also add a Precision soil sensor to help monitor the soil moisture level in the soil so that the system only waters when the soil moisture level reaches a certain point to automatically activate the irrigation controller or keep it shut off if enough available moisture is contained within the soils profile.
3. After you have completed your irrigation system retro-fit, you are now ready to apply a remarkable moisture management product to your landscape turf,trees,shrubs, and potted plants to help minimize drought stress,control or eliminate dry spots,enhance nutrient uptake and much more. Ecologel's Moisture Manager will help keep all your landscaping plants hydrated. Proper soil moisture management is the key to healthy plant materials. Moisture Manager works by being applied to the soil and the hygroscopic and humectant properties of the product produces a thin persistent film on root surfaces and attracts available water in the form of water vapor between soil pore spaces to attract, capture, and retains that water vapor to have it available for the plants root system. This helps reduce and eliminate drought stress that can lead to disease and pest, and can also help you lower your watering expenses.
* utilizing drip irrigation when feasible and changing over various water hogging plant materials with water thrifty plants,trees, and shrubs will also lead a great pathway to water savings and a beautiful landscape.
By incorporating some or all of the suggestions above, you can realize some real water savings and reduce water waste and runoff. Check out my website for the "As Seen On TV " Moisture Manager banner and save on your purchase of Moisture Manager. Just use the special code "Unique" to receive your discount at checkout.
* For more information on the Evolution Series 'Smart Controllers' , Precision Series nozzles ( H2o chip technology nozzles and Precision rotating type nozzles, ,soil sensors, and weather sensors go to ( www.toro.com )
* Be sure to check with your local water districts and water providers as they may have rebate programs available for you from your purchase of "Smart Controllers", water efficient nozzles, soil sensors, and weather sensors.
"Rain rain go away, come back another day" ?
Well we are not singing that tune down here in Southern California. With record drought and heavy duty watering restrictions in place in many cities around the country, it is important to learn all we can on how to properly and responsibly harvest any and all available "Free rain water". We have been installing simple rain water collection barrels for the past year and have been successful in helping consumers reduce there waste water drainage to the sewer systems and increase available water for customers veggie gardens and potted plants around their homes plus utilize a free resource that can help consumers save money on water cost.
Rain water harvesting is not some new fad that was just coined up the past couple years because of the drought situation all over the U.S. and for that matter over the world. I remember we had a couple rain barrels at our family home back in Ohio that supplied "Soft Water" for cleaning clothes in our washing machine, supply water for watering flowers and garden plants around the house and in the winter, providing ice every now and then for use when my folks made home made ice cream. ( Yummy stuff I may add ).
The fine art of catching rain water goes back to early times when it was out of dire necessity folks saved every drop of water that fell so that they could properly water their crops,wash not only their clothes but also their bodies.
Today their are various ways to collect rain water and I will just share a couple with you in this blog and if you have further questions on what other water saving methods are available out there, please respond back to my comments section on the blog site.
* The easiest and lest expensive method of catching available rain water is a basic rain barrel. The barrel that I recommend to consumers is an smart, attractive system providing economical use of available rainwater for gardening and ecostorage. It comes in two natural color options ( Granite & Green )and it is designed to blend in to your landscape decor. You can store from 55-gallons to 110 gallons without shocking your eyes or budget. The storage and installation are effortless and multiple barrels can be plumbed together to create an integral rainwater harvesting system with unlimited capacity.
There is a integral all-in-one hydroactivated diverter ,first flush, and filter kit that is also available and highly recommended.
* The second system is a little more dynamic and is suited for large capacity water storage. It is known as a "Storage Bladder" These containers are easily hidden under a deck, in a crawl space, or behind greenery and can offer 500,1000, or 2,000 gallon storage capacities. They are built to last with durable, engineered construction and convenient camlock fittings for easy installation. There are also bladder kits that contains everything you need to get started collecting rainwater. Offered in three different sizes, the kits comes complete with your choice of bladder,a pump, and diverter.
* There are a number of local city water agencies that offer rebates on rain barrel installations and it would behoove you to investigate your water provider to see if they offer any rebates.
Start saving that "Free rainwater" today and start saving money on water cost and reducing water waste to the sewer systems in our towns and cities.
This month's blog will be one of thanks to my family, valued clients, talented sub contractor teams and reliable vendors who supply my company with the best products, service's and opportunities a contractor could ever hope for.
Throughout the year there has been challenge's, surprises, victories, and an exciting vision for the year ahead.
I have had the great pleasure to work with some of the most talented landscape designers in Southern California and have transformed their design concepts into visual realities.
The various landscape nursery plant material providers have produced over the year( even with limited stock supplies) outstanding quality landscaping plants ,trees,shrubs, and ground covers. The new discoveries of products that have helped my clients save water,sustainable resources, money, and still maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape has been exciting.
Working with the various water district professionals and Green Industry leaders from all over the state & country has taught me many new and amazing things to share with my clients and fellow contractors.
The landscape contractors association ( California Landscape Contractor's Association ) that I am a proud member of has provided my company with valuable friendships, professional knowledge access, and a venue to just have a great time with other Green Industry professionals is truly a blessing.
Being able to get up each morning and thank God for the opportunity to see another day, touch, smell, and taste the great outdoors each day is the experience I am lucky to have each day by being a part of making our environment beautiful place for many people including myself.
Leaving my mark in society as a landscape contractor is an honor. When I am able to go past a site where my team and I have taken literally a blank slate of dirt,weeds and neglect and converted it into a beautiful, useful, and pleasant living environment is a high all of us in the Green Industry aspire to achieve and appreciate.
And lastly seeing the award winning projects completed by my Green Industry "Buds" is the most inspiring way to look forward to the new year and set goals to do just as good or better than my buds so that I too can be saluted for a job well done and worthy of winners status.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Thank-you to all my "Ed's Blog" readers and followers and may the New Year find many blessings in store for you and your families.
Edward L. Wallace
Fall is traditionally the best time to consider installing drought tolerant and native landscaping plants,shrubs, trees, and ground cover. Below I have listed five great tips that have proven to be very valuable in my landscape project installations over the past years.
1. Dig your planting hole at right angles and at least 1-1/2 times the size of the container your plant material is housed in.
By digging at right angles, you are encourage the root system of your plant to grow in a more natural downward and outward process rather than possibly growing in a " soup bowl " root bound process.
Also the roots have an opportunity to stretch out and anchor in better with the extra planting hole width.
* Note: Be sure to plant your material at least 1-1/2 " higher in the planting hole so to help avoid stem root rot from having the plant planted to low in the ground.
2. Hydrate the planting hole first.
By hydrating the planting hole first, you help reduce the possibility of the plants root ball from drying out.
Placing a fresh plant into a "Dry" hole is a sure way to have the moisture from the plant wick out to the surrounding hole dry soil area. By hydrating the hole first, you are able to reduce the wicking effect as the surrounding soil within the hole has reached a saturation point and will not pull available water from the plants root ball.
* Tip: I use a product called "Moisture Manager" in the water we pour into the planting holes. The product is a food grade compound/humectant that pulls available water vapor from the soil pore space and makes it available for the plant roots for up to 3 months.
Send me a email to get you more information on this amazing product and to place a order for a quart bottle to try out.
3. Avoid using a lot of the soil amendments and soil fertilizers when back filling your planting holes.
I have found over the past couple years from following the specifications from one of my ace native plant landscape designers ( Mr. Rob Moore of California Native Landscape Designs www.californianativelandscapedesigns.com ) that it is not really necessary to use a lot of supplemental soil amendments and fertilizers when installing native plant materials.
In my experience the nurseries where I purchase my plant materials have taken every effort to supply the best living environment for my chosen plants and usually the plant materials have ample soil amendments and fertilizers already within the planting container already and only in very extreme crappy soil conditions such as new construction sites or planting areas that have been covered with concrete sidewalks, patios, driveways, etc... you would really want to consider amending the soil before planting your new plants.
* Tip: I do use a mycroryze product that helps increase rooting and help reduce the transplant shock levels when I install the new plant materials. Contact me for more information on what we use and recommend.
4. Monitor your watering habits.
You can over water or under water plant materials so be careful not to " OVER WATER" your newly installed plants.
It is much easier to hydrate a limp plant rather than attempt to "Dry Out" a overly water one.
By observing the plants leaves,stems, and understanding your chosen plants growing characteristics, you can help reduce the death cycle on your new landscape.
* Tip: Soil moisture meters help you to get basic readings on your soil moisture content and can be used as a help in monitoring your soil moisture levels. You can find inexpensive ones at your local home store garden section or online.
5. Enjoy the "New Growth Process"
This process is leaving the newly planted addition to your landscape alone and giving it time to establish it's root system and become accustomed to its new living environment. This process normally takes approx. 60-90 days based on weather temperatures, watering frequency, and the attitude of each plant.
Yes, plants do have an attitude so leave them alone and let them show you what type they have.
A positive attitude equals a new home for your plants and a negative attitude equals a replacement in my book.
Good luck and let me know how things are going and if this blog was helpful.