Archive of: Tips and Guides
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.
How To Start Designing Your Garden
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Like any project, creating a garden space will be more successful if you start with a plan and follow the steps to create a space that suits your vision for how you want to use it. Rather than leaping in and throwing your energy around before you have assessed the situation, a plan will make things a lot more manageable and organised. It will also help you to stay on budget, as well as to give you the space to make changes on paper, rather than when you already have things in the ground.
What Have You Got?
The first step is to draw up a map of the situation as it stands. This means drawing the current landscape, including its surrounding areas as well as what you already have growing there. You may be able to incorporate some of the existing garden attributes into your new design. If there are existing hard structures such as pergolas, paved areas and water features, your design plan could work in harmony with them.
How You Want to Use the Space
The next and probably most important question is how you want to use the space. Do you want a quiet Zen Space where you can relax, walk quietly and spend time sitting out in the garden? Would you prefer to use the space for growing food plants and creating a vegetable garden? Or do you want a bit of both? Knowing what you want to do with the space and how you plan to spend your time in there will assist you in creating a design that will work the best and deliver the results that will be most pleasing to you.
Combine the Existing Picture with Your Vision
Once you know what you have got, and what you want to create, start creating. This means drawing up a few different designs about where you want everything to go and what will work best for the vision you have in your mind. Pay attention to which parts of the garden get the most sunshine, and where there are shaded areas at different times of day. Certain plants will thrive best with full sun, while others prefer to have sunshine in the morning, and shade in the afternoon, or vice versa.
Choose Your Plants and Materials
Once you have your design ready to go, now you can make a list of the plants that you will need, what materials you are incorporating and start preparing for how you are going to tackle it. You may find that it is easier to manage if you do a section at a time, but really, it is up to you what feels right, and what will work best for your timeframe.
Tips To Make The Most Of Your Backyard
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We’ve all heard of the tiny house movement, but have you ever considered the joy that can be found in a tiny garden? Those who do not have the luxury of a large garden space to do with, as they please, will be presented with the interesting challenge of making the most of the space that they have. This will mean thinking outside the box, which is always the best place to get the creative juices flowing. The good news is that by implementing some creative gardening methods, a small space can be more than enough for the garden of your dreams.
Create a Focal Point
Even though your garden is small, it doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. If you are putting in an effort to create a garden, you will likely be planning to spend a bit of time in there, so make sure that you create a space that is aesthetically pleasing. Begin by creating a plan of how you want it to look and what you want to include; then draw up a design of your vision. Include a focal point such as a water feature, ornament, large rock or a bench for the garden.
Use Creative Garden Techniques
Make the most of a small space by creating more efficient garden areas. One way to use a wall area is to create a vertical garden. This can be done quite easily and it allows you to grow a variety of different plants along the wall. Vertical gardens are not only economical on space but also on water consumption.
Another technique is companion planting, a Native American tradition that allows for different vegetables to use the same space, assisting each other to grow together. One example of this is corn, beans and squash, which complement and support each other as they grow. There are many different garden techniques that you can use to maximise the space available, so talk to our gardening experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for more ideas.
The joy of sharing your garden with birds and bees is definitely worth the effort of providing a space where they enjoy. This means planting natives and food plants for them as well as providing a water source where they can come to cool off and wet their whistle on a hot day. A bird feeder invites birds to come into the space so that you can enjoy their company, and the sound of their sweet singing creates atmosphere in your garden.
Four Tips On How To Water Your Plants The Right Way
Written by admin
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.
Five Tips For Spending Less On Your Garden
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Gardening is a relaxing and enjoyable pastime that not only gives you a chance to recharge your batteries as you potter around in the green spaces, but it can also provide you with food that you can eat.
The benefits of spending time in a garden have been recognised by the mental health profession for many years as it is extremely therapeutic to while away a few hours getting your hands and feet into the soil. The costs of raising a garden can sometimes blow out though, which can cause people to think twice before they embark on the adventure of growing their own garden space. Here are some tips for spending less on your garden:
1. Make Your Own Compost
Why buy from outside when you can make your own very simply by using kitchen waste, garden clippings and any other garden waste including sticks and other bits and pieces. Most organic matter can go into your home-made compost, except for a few items of which you need to be aware. Talk to our staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for more information.
2.Grow Your Own Seedlings
Rather than spending your money on seedlings and raising pots from garden shops, make your own out of newspaper or egg shells. Both of these are biodegradable so you can simply put the seedlings in them in the ground, and they will help the soil as they break down.
3.Propagate from Existing Plants
Buying plants can prove to be quite costly, which is why it makes sense to propagate from plants you already have, rather than to go through the expense of buying new ones.
4. Mulching Saves Money and Time
Mulching your garden not only saves you money on water but it also stops weeds from growing, which then reduces your need to work on removing them; this could be costly if you choose to go the chemical method.
5. Do I Really Need This Plant?
Impulse buying, whether it be on miscellaneous items or on plants, can end up costing you quite a penny and in some cases – wasting money. As is often the case, if you buy a plant that you don’t actually have a space for in the garden, yet, you may leave it in the small pot that it came in, while you decided where to put it, and it may end up drying out and dying. Plan where you are going to put your plants before you buy them, so you do not lose money on impulsive purchases!
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.
What Makes Loam The Ideal Soil For Gardening And Agriculture?
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Loam is your best soil for gardening and agriculture because of the different soils of which it is made. The different types of soil affect how the water behaves, which then affects how much water the plants are getting. Loam is the perfect combination of the different types of soil, so it allows for the right amount of water to stay with the plants; also, the water doesn’t hang around too long, or disappear too quickly.
Loam is made up of 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt and 20 percent clay. Following, is information regarding the different types of soil, as well as how each soil’s properties work harmoniously in loamy soil to produce excellent results for gardening and agriculture.
Sandy soil is made up of large particles that allows for good aeration, so the water drains well and enough air can get to the roots of the plant, which prevents it rotting from overexposure to moisture. On its own, sandy soil may become compacted, which would not allow air to circulate but in the combination with the other two types of soil, this is solved. The sand percentage also helps the loamy soil warm up in the spring for planting, which makes it a good choice for gardening.
Clay soil particles are really fine, so they hold the water and nutrients. Because of this, the clay in your loamy soil is what helps to stop the plants from drying out. Another important function that the clay element in loamy soil serves is that it is heavier than silty or sandy soils, so it does not erode as quickly if exposed to the elements.
Silty soil is what makes up this wonderful combination of soils, with qualities that complement both clay and sandy soil particles. Silty soil is one of the most fertile, and is of a smooth consistency and has a good combination of organic matter and minerals. It does not stick together easily but appears to have a somewhat slippery texture.
If you have questions about different soil types or would like to bring a sample from your garden to get some help with what your soil might need for it to become more loamy, come and talk to one of the staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre today.
Alternative Gardening Ideas And Methods
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What exactly do we mean when we consider the term ‘alternative gardening’? An alternative to what? Largely, the idea of alternative gardening is about methods that are based around permaculture principles, and do not require or use chemicals. This will often encompass looking for alternative ways of doing things where conventional methods have failed, or are not the best course of action.
Alternative gardening methods have been around for centuries, and only replaced by chemical based gardening during the last century or two. There was once a time when everything was organic! Thankfully, the growth in the re-awareness and popularity of permaculture principles is an excellent move for our species, and it has inspired an abundance of creativity when it comes to doing things a bit differently.
At a time when we have a wealth of information at our fingertips, the eco awareness of the human race, combined with savvy new technology and innovative design, is gradually bringing balance back into our gardens.
Hydroponic and Aquaponic Gardening
One of the key principles of permaculture is that there is no such thing as waste. Which means using efficiency in the garden, even to the use of space. Hydroponic and aquaponic gardening do not use conventional garden beds with soil and produce very little waste. The plants are grown in pipes or bathtubs that are filled with large gravel, which allow the water to circulate, recycling nutrients in a symbiotic relationship.
Hydroponic systems use a system of pipes and can either be indoors, grown using lights, in a green house, or in the open sunshine. Aquaponic systems include a fish pool where fish are grown as well, which provides rich natural fertilisation for the plants that are grown in the bathtubs of gravel. Food that is grown in this way is usually robust, healthy and nutrient dense, especially the fish.
Straw Bale Gardening
Straw bale gardening is a really easy and cheap alternative gardening method because the straw bale becomes the garden itself, so there is no need for building anything. It is also handy if you do not have much space, or if you want to grow plants but do not have access to a patch of ground, as the straw bale can be placed anywhere.
The only downside to straw bale gardening is that once the straw bale is soggy, weedy and established it will not be easy to move, because of its weight, but by that time you’ll usually be ready to recycle it into something else in your permaculture friendly garden.
Come visit us at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre and we’ll talk you through other alternative gardening techniques including vertical gardens, pallet gardening and upcycled containers.
How to Treat Plants that are Infested with Pests
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If you have an infestation of pests on your plants, there is a good chance that you are providing comfortable conditions for them to be there through some means unbeknownst to you. Perhaps there are areas of your garden that are in need of care that provide places for insects to live and breed, with your plants being the feasting grounds. This can be very annoying if you are hoping to grow food for yourself to eat. First step—secure the perimeter!
Clear the areas around where your plant is growing, and ensure that your garden is in good health. Remove anything that is dying or looks like it may be infected or housing insects. Your best defence against an insect invasion is a healthy garden zone. Use natural composting methods to keep your plants strong and vibrant.
What Attracts Pests?
Usually pests are attracted to a specific plant, so rotating and interplanting your crops will assist with keeping infected plants quarantined rather than it spreading to all of them. Moisture that lingers on plants can cause fungus and other pests to take hold, so it is best to water them in the morning when they have all day for the moisture to dry.
Invite Friendly Pests
One way to combat a pest infection is to invite friendly pests to your garden by planting things that they like to eat. These beneficial pests include ladybugs, brachonids, lacewings, hover-flies and praying mantises. Different insects will be companions for your crop, depending on what you are planting. It often pays to do your research and find out which insects are the good ones to have around for that crop and invite them to the party by planting some of the plants that will attract them to the garden. They will then eat any pests that are trying to eat your crop, before it’s all gone!
While there is an array of different chemical solutions available for you to spray on your plants to protect them from pests, there is also the question of how safe the food will be after using them. Back in the old days, before chemicals were made in factories, people came up with their own remedies for combatting pests, which used ingredients that were found in the pantry. These include canola oil, soap, garlic and cayenne pepper, just to name a few. Do some research online for finding the right treatment for your infestation, or come and talk to our expert gardeners at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.