Archive of: Sand and Soil
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.
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.
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.
What Is the Ideal Soil for Gardening All Year Around?
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Knowing your soil is an important part of getting your garden right, from the word go. There are many different types of soil, each with their own qualities and attributes that make them perfect for some things but not others. Depending on where you live, and the climate that you experience during the changing seasons, the various soils can have a different affect on how plants grow. Some soils are smaller in particle size, which helps them to hold water, while others are larger and the water drains straight through. The best soil to use for gardening all around is a combination of soils.
Different Soil Types
Sandy soil drains rapidly because of its large particles so it cannot hold water very well, which means that your young seedlings would not get enough water. Silty soil holds water very well, which would be great for your plants but it does not drain well so using this for gardening could cause problems with too much moisture.
Clay soil drains well and is rich in plant food but it becomes too dry during the warmer months of the year. Peaty soil has high water content and is rich in organic matter, but again, it can become too dry during the warmer weather. Saline soil has a high salt content which can stop the plants from being able to take in water, and can cause leaf burn, especially on the younger leaves.
The Winner Is…
Loam soil is the ideal soil for gardening all year around because of its high nutrient content and its ability to drain easily. Gardeners love this soil because it has just the right combinations of elements to be perfect for growing plants. Loam soil is made up of a balance of silty soil, sandy soil and clay soil. It is high in calcium and pH, and holds water but also drains well.
Loam soil is of a darker colour and has a crumbly consistency. If you don’t have loam soil in your garden, you can condition the soil that you do have by adding nutrients, layering compost over the top or spraying the plants’ leaves with a compost spray. For more information about the ideal soil for your garden talk to us at Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre next time you stop by.
Tips To Get Your Plants To Grow Fast
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There are few things in life that are as rewarding as planting a garden, watching it grow and enjoying the fruits of your labour. The joy of watching something that you have planted come to life right before your eyes is a joyous experience. As each new shoot opens itself to the morning sun and gradually stretches and grows, you will be able to watch its progress and delight in its journey. Like any new birth, there are many different ways of going about the process, but a few helpful tips can assist you in getting the most out of your plants.
Prepare the Ground
In pretty much anything that you undertake, there usually always needs to be the foundational preparations that create the space for the evolution of new growth. You would not place a newborn baby into a dirty cot, with harsh scratchy blankets, and the same goes with newborn plants. If the ground is dull or lifeless, or has had chemicals used around it previously, it will not produce the best yield that it can. So the first step to growing healthy, fast growing plants is to prepare the ground.
Fertilise the Soil
One way to prepare the ground is to have a look at the soil and ascertaining what it might need, to prepare it for growing plants. If the soil is too dry or too wet, it will not be a good place for the plants to flourish in. Prepare the ground by aerating the soil regularly for a few days and adding some organic matter into the soil. This could be done by mixing in vegetable scraps, mushroom or any other compost, or buying specific fertilisers such as dynamic lifter. Keep turning the ground over and water it regularly until it starts to show signs of life. Once the soil is looking healthy, it will be ready for you to plant.
Grow Your Own Seedlings
Another way of helping your plants to grow fast is to grow your own seedlings. Placing seeds directly into the soil can take a lot longer than if you germinate them inside the house, or in a green area where conditions are monitored closely. Plants that have had this start in life will be strong when they meet the harsh elements of being outside and they will have more chance of flourishing.
For more tips on how to get your plants growing fast or to pick up some healthy seedlings to get your garden started, come and see us at the Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre.
Sandy Loam Soil – What are the Alternatives?
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You may have read our article about the uses and benefits of sandy loam soil to the garden.
This article outlines what sandy loam soil is and what you need to do to help get your own garden soil to this condition, which is the most popular growing medium.
If you want to grow plants that thrive in this particular soil then by all means, come visit us here at Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre. Our staff members have the know-how to create any blend you need to get your garden blooming.
Today, however, we want to share with you the alternatives that can be equally satisfying.
Sandy or Clay Soil
There are many beautiful plants that you can grow in these soil mediums.
In a clay soil, you can grow asters, goldenrod, daylily, yarrow, canna or black-eyed Susan with ease.
In a sandy soil broccoli, asparagus, crape myrtle, lavender, gazania, and cleome will thrive.
If you do not have a set idea of how you want your garden to look or what you want to grow then you will be safe to select plants that grow in the type of soil you are blessed with. By doing this, you may also be contributing to your community as these plants have a good chance of being native to the area.
Freeing You Up For Other Projects!
Choosing to work with what you have will free up your time to move on to other projects such as creating rock or paved pathways, garden edging and retaining walls. Maybe even that Balinese hut or outdoor spa you have been dreaming of.
Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre stocks a complete range of drainage and decorative rocks ranging from the 20mm Tuscan pebble or rainbow rock all the way through to large 120mm granite.
The sand also comes in a variety of grades to suit any job.
Our Adbri masonry range of pavers comes in an assortment of styles and colours.
We also supply a large range of reinforced mesh, a variety of cement and mortars, and many tradesman’s tools to suit just about any DIY or commercial job.
Come in and visit our friendly and knowledgeable team. Their wide knowledge base will not only get you on the road to creating your own pathways, walls, and edging but can also save you time and effort as we share some tips of the trade, so to speak.
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Sandy Loam Soil: Use and Benefits to the Garden
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In gardening, one big challenge is obtaining the right soil to make the plants grow and to make them grow healthy. The type of soil to use will depend on the type of plants being cultivated. Some plants need clay types while others thrive with sandy types. In between, there is sandy loam. This type of soil provides just the right balance perfect for many kinds of vegetation.
What is Sandy Loam?
Sandy loam is made up of a good amount of sand, silt and clay. The composition makes it an ideal soil type for many plant types because of the balance it gives. Sand gives the soil better drainage capability, something that clay is not very good at. Clayey soil tends to absorb water, so if the composition is not balanced with sand particles, the soil becomes oversaturated.
Most of the existing garden soil types are already sandy loam such that most of the time, there really is no need to add extra top soil. But in some cases, the soil is not balanced with the right amount of silt, clay and sand.
One of the best ways to ensure that the garden soil is just right is by testing it for acidity levels. Sand is acidic, so too much of it will make the soil too acidic. The gardener can use a pH tester to determine the acidity of the soil. If the plants that will be used require slightly acidic soil, then all that is needed is to add a bit of sand to the soil.
Improving Top Soil
Even with the right mixture of sand, silt and clay, sandy loam is not necessarily the perfect soil for cultivating plants. This type of soil often requires regular irrigation because water tends to seep through the soil during irrigation. It may be necessary to treat the soil to make it amenable to some plant types. For instance, adding compost or peat moss will greatly improve the topsoil’s ability to retain water to minimise the need for watering. Treating sandy loam will also help the topsoil to retain nutrients needed by the plants.
To get just the right soil for the garden, it will be good for the gardener or garden DIY enthusiast to consult with a trusted landscape supplier such as Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre. The landscape supplier provides quality soil to grow healthy plants. Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre can also provide landscape supplies that will greatly improve the quality of the topsoil.
What Makes a Good Garden Soil?
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When planning to set up a garden in your front yard or backyard, we tend to focus on picking which pants, trees or shrubs to plant. We imagine how the greenery and those blooming flowers will make our yard pleasing to the eyes. However, in order to have happy, healthy plants, the garden soil must be the correct texture and contain full nutrients.
Before starting a new garden, know the quality of soil in your yard, including the pH level, which fertiliser the soil will require, as well as what additives and organic matter will be effective to help you achieve a robust, vibrant garden.
Plants need three major nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen plays a major role in making leaves healthy and growing stems. Phosphorus is responsible for root growth. This nutrient is very vital in flowering bulbs and root crops. Potassium is used for overall plant health. Plants grow and develop stronger immune systems with potassium. Aside from the three major nutrients, plants need a number of trace elements to be healthy. These include calcium, magnesium, zinc, molybdenum and more.
Soil acidity or alkalinity is measured by pH level. Soil pH is important because nutrients in the soil can only be used by plants if the soil pH is within a certain range. Various plants require different pH levels. The only method to know the pH level of your soil is to have it tested. Changing soil pH will take a while and your soil will tend to return to its old pH level over time, requiring frequent treatment.
Compared to soil fertility, it is more complicated to alter soil texture. Texture means the size of the soil particles. Sandy soils have very big particles, whereas clay has small particles. A simple test to determine soil texture is by making a ball of moist garden soil. Sandy soil breaks apart when you tap it. The soil is clay if you can press it between your thumb and finger and fashion a ribbon.
An ideal garden soil is what is called a sandy loam. It is light and permits air and water to move freely. The soil should also have some tilth, which has a fine, breadcrumb-like texture. This texture is created by adding sufficient organic matter to the soil.
Organic matter refers to decaying plant or animal matter. Soil contains some organic matter, but it is not adequate to meet a plant’s needs. Your soil can achieve tilth by adding decaying organic matter, or humus. Organic matter helps sandy soil keep water and makes clay soil looser to allow for water, air and root movement. The primarily role of organic matter is that it promotes the growth of beneficial microbes and supplies some nutritional benefits.