Archive of: Firewood
Tips For Keeping Your Firewood Dry
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If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace to keep those cold winter evenings toasty, then you will want to have a well-stocked supply of dry firewood. It is imperative that you keep your wood stock well organised and dry, to ensure that the wood does not take in moisture or become corrupted by animals.
Why Only Burn Dry Wood?
Freshly cut fire wood has a moisture content of around 50%, but this wood cannot be used as firewood due to a natural bio product that is released when burning wet wood – creosote. Creosote tar lines your chimney, and gradually builds up to the point where it can cause a chimney fire if not cleaned regularly.
Additionally, wet wood tends to give off a lot more emissions and smoke, which are unhealthy for the environment, odorous to your home and harmful to your lungs. Regular inhalation can lead to a variety of health complications.
If all of those reasons aren’t enough to convince you, dry wood is also more energy efficient than using wet wood. During the burning process, wet wood needs to evaporate more water content, which reduces the energy (heat) that is given off by the wood.
The optimal moisture content of dry firewood is around 15-20%. Wood that has been split and dried in the correct size for your fireplace is easier to light, and correct storage prevents rot and fungus from settling in.
Air flow around wood allows it to evaporate moisture without it causing rotting, so having a good storage facility/shed/box is important. Additionally, air flow underneath the wood will assist in your wood drying evenly, and allow for any moisture to evaporate without rotting the wood or growing fungus.
Where to Store Wood?
Best practice is for storing the bulk of your wood at least five feet away from the home. This allows it to have enough air flow to dry easily. However, wood that is to be used immediately should be brought into the home at least one day before it is to be burnt. This is because humidity in the home condenses on the surface of the wood if it is cold, which will make it hard to light.
Firewood that is being stored inside needs to be a safe distance away from the fireplace to ensure that there is no chance of it catching a spark and going up in flames. Different local governments have their own regulations about this, so be sure to check what the requirements are for your local area. For tips on building a fire storage area in your garden, talk to one of our gardening experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
From The Ground Up: Knowing The Importance Of Soil In Landscaping
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When landscaping your garden there is much to consider. What sort of plants you want to grow, how you want to design your garden, what you plan to use your garden space for, how much money you want to spend on it, what you need to build to complete the space and who is going to do the work. One area that is of the upmost importance is having a healthy foundation for your plants in which to grow. The health of your soil is one of the fundamental considerations because it can make a huge difference to the longevity of the space and how much maintenance work you will need to do, to keep it at its best.
Healthy plants cannot grow in unhealthy soil, the same way good ideas cannot grow in a negative headspace. We all know that keeping your soil in balance is imperative to ensuring that your plants get the best start in life, and that they continue to flourish as the days, weeks and years roll on. But even more important than that, is to ensure that your soil is alive with life and vitality. Your soil is a living breathing organism, so get it into shape before you even think about buying plants. Talk to one of our garden gurus at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre about how to get your soil into shape.
Reduce Pests and Disease
Believe it or not, but the health of your soil will have a big impact on the amount of pests and disease that frequent your garden. Pests and disease are a natural part of the way that Mother Nature cleans up after herself. They come in to clear away anything that is not healthy, to correct the imbalance in the garden. Healthy soil keeps your plants in optimal condition so that your plants are thriving and there is nothing to clean up.
Keep Weeds at Bay
If there are key nutrients missing from your soil, the weeds will come in to provide the missing ingredients that your soil is lacking. They also come in to fill in the spaces that are not covered, which is why mulching is such a great weed deterrent. Creating that balance yourself means that your garden does not have to take matters into its own hands, leaving more of your energy to enjoy your garden, and focus on the fun stuff, rather than fighting weeds, pests and disease.
Four Tips On How To Water Your Plants The Right Way
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Like you, if your plants do not get enough water, they start to dry out and will begin to wilt and look unhealthy. Plants need a balance of both water and oxygen to their roots for them to be in optimal condition and have the best growth. Finding that balance is important to ensure that your plants are looking good and in good health. Different planting methods will need a different watering schedule, so do your research and, most importantly, get to know your plants!
Use a Soaker or a Drip Irrigation System
The first tip is to use the correct system for watering. The idea with watering is for the plants to get a thorough watering, evenly, but not too often. It is actually better to do it less often and give them a really good water, than to do it often and give them a quick sprinkle. As the root system benefits from drying out a little, a good soaking after they have been dried out will promote growth of the roots.
Focus on the Roots
When you water, stay away from the leaves as much as possible and focus on the roots. This includes watering evenly around the root area of the plant, to ensure that there is even growth. The roots are the part of the plant that draws all of the nutrients from the soil up and into the plant. Watering the leaves makes your plant much more susceptible to diseases so stick to focusing on the roots.
Water in the Morning
The idea is for the plant to get as much moisture as it needs from the soil around its roots, and then for the soil to dry out enough so that there is not too much water left overnight when the temperature cools down. Watering your plants in the morning allows for the water to be absorbed throughout the day and does not leave too much dampness in the soil overnight, when it can cause problems. Another benefit of watering in the morning is that if the leaves do get wet they will have enough time to dry out before the temperature cools down in the evening, and so prevent disease.
Use Quality Soil and Mulch
Know your soil and ensure that it is in good health before planting. Different types of soil will retain water or allow it to run off and be lost before the plant can get what it needs. You may have to prepare the soil by adding particular fertilisers or organic matter to get it into optimal health before planting. Use mulch to prevent water running off and drying out your soil.
If in doubt about any of these tips, or if you need more information, pop by the Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre and have a chat to one of our friendly gardeners.
How To Create Your Own Stress-Free Garden At Home
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If you are looking for a quiet place to escape from the world at the end of the day, look no further than your own garden. This is a place where you can invite the birds and the bees to take up residence by planting accordingly, as well as possibly creating a food source for yourself, and somewhere that you can relax and unwind. Making it a stress-free experience will have a lot to do with your planning and preparation, as well as how you choose to work with the space.
Make a Plan
The first thing you need to do is to work out exactly what your expectations are of your garden and prepare it accordingly. If you want to grow food to eat, you will likely design the garden differently from how you would if you want simply to have somewhere to sit and relax with a good book. Your plan will assist you in working out what sort of plants you want to get, as well as where you are going to plant them. The most stress-free way of growing food plants is to companion plant, that is, plants that complement each other, which keeps pests down, utilises the space well and assists your plants to be happy and healthy.
Preparation is Key
Organising all aspects of your garden will help immensely in keeping the place as stress-free as possible, because you will know where everything is, and be able to find it easily when you need it. Create a board for your tools to hang and organise your seeds so that you know what is what and where to find them when you want to use them. Prepare the soil to accommodate the plants that you are choosing for your garden, and plant them in places that are conducive to them surviving.
Make Plant Tags
Part of being a happy gardener is having the knowledge of what you have growing in your garden. Research your plants and learn all about what they like. Make sure that your plants have tags so that you can easily identify them later. Often when we are planting our seedlings into the ground we imagine that we will remember what they are, but sometimes things can get mixed up and we may forget.
Choose Appropriate Plants
For stress-free gardening, you need to plant items that are going to be happy where you are planting them. Putting a plant or vegetable that likes the shade in full sun is not going to lead to stress-free gardening because if your plants are not happy you won’t be happy either. Ensure that the plants you are choosing are going to thrive in your garden and deliver the results that you are seeking. If you aren’t sure about a particular plant or need more information about complementary planting come and talk to our gardeners at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
Sustainable Gardening Tips You Should Know
Written by Michael
‘Sustainable’ – it’s the newest buzz word, but what does it mean? The Oxford Dictionary defines sustainable as ‘being able to be maintained at a certain rate or level’. When it comes to gardening, this relates to the methods that you choose to use in your garden. One of the key ideas that is encompassed in sustainable gardening is that the focus is on natural methods of production. Sustainability involves looking at the big picture, and employing forward thinking. It is about preserving natural resources and protecting them from any harm that may be caused by your choices and actions, either now, or in the future.
Keep Your Garden Chemically Clean
With the idea of preserving natural resources for the future in mind, the use of chemicals in your gardening would not be a sustainable practice, because chemicals alter the eco system dramatically, affecting it in all areas. Chemicals do not only kill the nasties, but they also destroy the goodies too, and are somewhat akin to napalm for your garden. Even if you used them in one particular area with a mind to ‘keeping them away from the vegetables’, there is a likelihood of possible contamination into all other areas.
Compost, Compost, Compost
Composting is one of the best practices you can use in terms of sustainable gardening, because it encompasses everything that sustainability is about. It both recycles your garden waste, and enriches the soil. Using it in your garden also means that it is not joining the tonnes of other stuff that contributes to landfill in your community, so in the long term you are benefitting your family as well. Composting techniques can include raking the dead leaves and using them on garden beds, to using a composting system or growing a worm farm. It reduces waste and produces strong, vibrant plants and vegetables.
Take Care of Business
The topic of using chemicals and compost leads us to the important topic of taking care of business in your garden. Many a person has had the exciting idea of growing their own vegetables and spent their money to create a garden, but then do not maintain it. Being in your garden and spending time watering, weeding, pruning, composting, turning the soil over and doing what needs to be done will not only maximise your garden’s productivity but it will be beneficial to you as well.
Choose Appropriate Plants
Another important tip for sustainable gardening is to choose native plants and plants that are appropriate for the climate that you are living in. Different plants need different conditions to survive and thrive. If you are living in a warm climate, choosing plants that like cold temperatures is not going to be a wise decision. For more information about plants that are suited to your local area, talk to one of our plant whisperers at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
Landscaping Tips: Which Is Better? Cultivars Vs Varieties
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‘Cultivar’ and ‘Variety’ are two terms used by gardeners and horticulturalists that form a part of the scientific name of a plant that describes its characteristics. Asking which is better out of cultivars and varieties is a difficult question to answer, as they each have differing characteristics, which may or may not be suited to the gardener or landscaper who is using the plant.
In terms of how often they are used, and which is used more by landscapers today, some horticulturalists believe that there are more cultivars being planted than varieties but this cannot be easily verified. Additionally, when it comes to the naming of plants, sometimes gardeners and horticulturalists can be lazy in how they write this information, so this can be even more confusing. The best way we can assist you in answering this question is to provide an overview of each type, and perhaps you will be able to make a decision for yourself as to which you feel is better for your garden.
The word ‘cultivar’ is a shortened term for a cultivated variety, which is a plant that has not been propagated by seed, but rather through human intervention such as via stem cuttings. The offspring of a cultivar will maintain the characteristics of the parent plant for only one generation. This means that the seeds from this plant are not guaranteed to have the same characteristics of the plant from which they came.
An example of this is if the cultivar has a particular colour of flower that is sought by the landscaper. Rather than being able to save seeds from the plant at the end of the season, the landscaper would need to buy a new plant as the seeds that the current plant produces would not be guaranteed to produce offspring with the same characteristics as its parent plant. The advantage of using cultivars is that you may find plants with characteristics that are desirable, such as a particular colour of flower or aroma, which you would not find in a variety.
The word ‘variety’, which is often abbreviated as ‘var’, refers to plants that grow and reproduce naturally. The seeds of these plants are more likely to produce offspring that have the same characteristics as their parent plant, for example, if the parent variety had purple flowers, the seeds that are produced from the plant will most likely have the same. Because cultivated varieties are patented by the plant developer, they might cost a bit more than varieties that grow and reproduce naturally, which makes varieties often cheaper to buy.
For more information about the different types of plants that we have at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre, come in and talk to one of our experienced gardeners.
How to Improve the Quality of Your Soil for Healthier Plants
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Having healthy soil is imperative to having healthy plants, so no amount of work that you do will assist your plants in being as healthy as they can be, unless your soil is healthy. There are a various types of soil, and each will need different things to improve it to the point where it will be able to give its best to your plants, and keep them as healthy as possible.
Know Your Soil
Knowing what your soil in order to be at its best, means getting to know your soil; therefore, don’t be afraid to get your hands into it. Grab a big handful and really get the feel for it. There are four basic types of soil that you will find in your garden. These are sandy, loamy, silty and clay. They each have attributes that could benefit from adding specific ingredients to the mix.
Feed Your Soil
Sandy soil doesn’t hold on to its nutrients very well, so adding lots of organic matter to it, especially before sowing your seeds will get it in good shape for your plants to grow. Silty and loamy soil are the best in which to grow plants, so they do not need much work, except for some fertiliser. Clay soil is not very aerated so it will need lots of organic matter that has already broken down. If you have clay soil it is best to add the well broken down organic matter at least a month or two before you want to use the soil. If you aren’t sure about what sort of soil you have, feel free to bring a handful into Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre and one of our experts can assist you in getting the balance you need.
Check pH Levels
Depending on what you are choosing to plant, the pH levels of the soil can be an important aspect to consider. Neutral soil will be best for most plants, but some prefer it to be slightly acidic, or alkaline. You can test your soil by using a pH testing kit, which is available at any garden centre. Once you know the pH levels of your soil you can adjust it accordingly to suit whatever plant you are growing in it. Ground lime will make your soil more alkaline and adding sulphur will make it more acidic.
Design Your Own Garden With the Right Gardening Tools
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There was once a time when we did everything ourselves because that was the only way things would get done. Then, over time, as we got busy it became common place to always get a professional in to do work around our home that we need done. We believed that this was the only way to get the job done, but with some things this not always the case. If we have the right tools, we are able to do just as fantastic a job without the hefty price tag that accompanies getting someone else to do it and with the added joy of having done it ourselves.
Computer Garden Design Programs
The DIY movement has made it a lot easier for people to design and landscape their own gardens without needing to get a professional in to do the work. One tool that will be invaluable for the owner who wants a hands-on approach is a design program that you can use on your computer to plan your ideas and work out exactly what you want. It can take you through the whole process, step by step, allowing you to design and build your perfect garden.
Let’s face it, if you’ve got money to burn, there are a lot of different tools you can buy for working on your garden, and if you have space to keep all your gadgets safe and the money to purchase them, go ahead and do it. But often a lot of the things that are advertised are not needed, and will be more likely to be used once and left to collect dust in your shed. But before you go out and spend your cash buying the latest gadgets let’s have a look at some of the tools that you really need, starting with a wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow will be invaluable for you in moving things around your garden, so make sure you have one of these.
Spade and Hoe
A spade is another tool that you cannot live without if designing and building your garden. It can be used not only to shovel dirt, but is great for churning up the garden beds and turning them over. A hoe is another important tool that will assist you with breaking up hard dirt and allowing air into the soil.
Without water, your garden will not survive, so ensure that you have a good long hose with an adjustable nozzle, to ensure that you can get water to those hard to reach places. Having some sort of hanging storage device for keeping your hosepipe in order, will help to keep it out of the sun when you are not using it, and also prevent it from getting tangled.
At Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre, we know all about designing gardens, and what tools you will need, so if you have any questions about tools, plants or design ideas, stop by and have a chat with one of our experienced staff.
A Guide for Gardeners – Soil and Nutrient Management
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In the same way that we test the soil before we lay the foundations of a house, the preparation that you put into your garden lays the foundation for the quality and quantity of your yield. This depends largely on the health of the soil in which you plant your garden, so getting the soil right is the most important step to having plenty of healthy vegetables, herbs and other plants.
One easy assessment that will provide you with some important information about the health of your soil can be done simply by viewing the colour of the soil. Dark brown or black soil indicates the presence of decaying organic matter, which means that the soil is likely to be quite fertile. Pale-coloured or yellow soil shows that there is a lack of organic matter and nutrients so the soil will need organic matter added to bring it up to where it needs to be for growing healthy plants. Red soil indicates the oxidising of iron compounds and although this soil will have good drainage, it will need the addition of organic matter and nutrients before planting.
Healthy soil is alive with vitality and provides food for the plants to ‘eat’ while they are growing. Organic matter is responsible for this life and vitality and this is where the nutrients for the soil live. It also holds moisture and attracts microorganisms and earthworms, which assist the fertility and structure of the soil. Organic matter consists of anything that was once alive such as compost, manure, mulch, lawn clippings and leaf matter.
Testing your soil for nutrients is a good way of working out what it needs and how you can provide it. Different fertilisers have various chemical compounds so testing the soil will give you an idea about which one is needed for the different plants you are growing.
Another way that you can provide nutrients for your soil, apart from organic matter, is through adding water soluble fertilisers. Nitrogen fertilisers need to be added frequently in small doses, so that the plants have time to use them without the fertilisers making the soil too acidic, which will burn the roots of the plant. Organic fertilisers such as manure will release nutrients slowly, and give the plant time to use them.
For more information about getting your soil as healthy as it can be, come in and talk to one of our experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre today.
Urban Gardening: How to Begin Composting
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Living on a farm makes it a lot easier to grow your own food and compost your scraps to produce more food – thereby continuing the cycle of growth and renewal. But often it is the case that for those living in urban areas, it is a lot more challenging to have the motivation and know-how of doing these things. The restrictions of space and time often prevent urban dwellers from knowing where to start with composting. However, achieving the dream of being as self-sufficient as possible, no matter where you live, is an attainable lifestyle choice.
Don’t Waste Anything
When someone dies and you attend a funeral, often somewhere during the proceedings you will hear the line “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. This could refer to the idea that organic matter comes from the earth and returns to the earth. In the funeral context we remember that humans are made of organic matter – we are raised from the earth, and return to it once we are finished with our physical bodies.
Every organic item (and some non-organic items) that you come into contact with, have the ability to go back into the cycle and become something else. So start thinking outside the box. Look at things from the perspective of ‘how can this be used’ before throwing it in the bin.
Save Your Scraps
Preparing a healthy meal usually produces a bunch of vegetable scraps that are often thrown away into the bin where they go to landfill, and rot away next to a plastic bag or a disposable nappy. In this scenario, their use is limited and the cycle ends when they rot and become nothing. However, saving your vegetable scraps and composting them allows you to produce something from what would normally be discarded. Compost scraps can become food for your plants, so you can eat again, and again and again, from the same organic matter.
Compost does not need to be something that takes up a lot of space in your garden, especially if you have a limited area to use for what you want to do. Having a compost bin in the corner of your garden provides somewhere for you to throw your scraps, where they can become of use. Composting assists you in turning your vegetable scraps into fertiliser for your plants.
Did you know that worms love to eat your scraps? Worms will eat breads and grains, vegetables and fruits, as well as tea bags and coffee grounds. They turn this organic waste into rich soil that can be used for growing fresh food. You can easily create a worm farm with a little know how, and they do not take up much space, making them the ideal compost buddies for those living in urban areas.