Archive of: Organic Gardening
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.
Five Tips For Spending Less On Your Garden
Written by admin
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!
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.
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.
How Much Do You Expect to Pay for a Professional Gardener?
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Often when we first design and put in a garden the enthusiasm is there in bucket loads, but for some of us either it begins to wane over time, or we just don’t have enough hours in the day to maintain it. If you are finding that you can no longer keep up with your garden, it might be time to look at getting in some professional help to keep it in good shape for you. One of the most frequently heard questions that we are asked at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre is what will a professional gardener do and how much would you expect to pay.
Services Offered by Gardeners
Depending on what level of gardening you want, there are many different services offered by gardeners that can include designing, landscaping and maintaining the whole garden for you. This can also include installing retaining walls, pavers and water sprinkler systems. If you simply want a gardener to come in on a regular basis and maintain the existing garden with weeding and clearing away refuse, that service is also available. Getting clear about exactly what you are seeking beforehand and what work needs to be done, will give you an idea about what you are going to be asking for.
Cost of Gardeners
Depending on what work you need done, prices can vary around $30 per hour for basic, semi-skilled labourers to do mowing, weeding, clearing and mulching. For professional garden services that are hired on a contract basis, usually the cost can be anywhere from $60 to $80 per hour. Often if there is a specific job that needs doing such as removing trees or installing a retaining wall, this will often be quoted as a flat rate, on a job by job basis. Talk to the staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for information about local gardeners’ referrals or information relating to what you might expect to pay for particular jobs.
What to Look for When Hiring a Gardener
Remember that when you hire a gardener you are essentially inviting them to come into your personal space, so you will want to choose someone who is trustworthy. If a gardener turns up for a job late, without the required safety gear, lacking in tools or generally causing you to question their work ethics, it might be a good idea to look somewhere else. There are some pertinent questions you can ask while you are on the phone booking them to ascertain whether they are the appropriate person before you give them the address. What services do you provide? Do you have insurance? How long will the job take? Can you provide a written quote? Do you have any references?
Organic Gardening as a Business
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With what we understand today about many of the practices of mainstream farming, we are aware that there are often several chemicals used in the production and growing of many of the fruits and vegetables we buy. It is for this reason that a growing number of people are changing to choosing organic produce in an effort to reduce the amount of toxins that we absorb into our bodies. This means that even the smallest organic growers now have the opportunity to sell their produce, whether in large amounts, or simply at smaller markets, or to neighbours and friends.
Before you start, it is a good idea to put some thought into what produce you would like to grow. This will mean working out what is sustainable for the amount of land that you have, as well as the climate where the plants will be growing. You may also want to take into account the other local growers in your area. Investigate whether you can fill a niche that they are not fulfilling with their own produce. It is also important to factor in how much time you are prepared to put into your growing business. Some crops will require more from you, while others such as squash, sunflowers and corn will practically take care of themselves as long as you keep the weeds down.
How to Grow
Organic farming is all about reducing the amount of chemicals used in the soil, by using natural ways of keeping weeds down, reducing pests and cultivating crops. Choosing your growing method for organic produce means doing some research and working out how you want to go about doing it. There are different methods involved for keeping pests at bay. One such method involves growing specific companion plants that invite good pests in to eat the ones that will destroy your crops. Do as much research as possible to find out what will work for you, as well as how to go about achieving success. Different plants will need different nutrients so ensure that the crop you are growing is getting everything it needs for optimal health of the plant and the best yield possible.
Where to Sell
If you live in rural areas, the honesty box outside your house is still a popular choice for selling organic produce, as well as farmers’ markets. Many cities and suburban areas now have organic farmers’ markets on weekends, which provide a perfect opportunity to sell all your tasty, chemical free produce to happy customers who will keep coming back.
When to Plant
Research the plants that you are thinking of growing, and the season that you want to grow them in, to ensure that the conditions will be the best for them. The moon planting guide is an excellent resource for knowing what to plant and when, so pick up a chart and follow it as a guide for the best times of the year for particular produce. Don’t forget to talk with other organic farmers whom you will find are an invaluable source of information, and stop by the Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre to talk to us about what we know about organic gardening practices.
Is Your Garden Bland? Increase The Interest Level With Natural Materials
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For centuries, gardens have been created to enhance the appearance of homes and buildings, large and small. From well-planned, formal and structured to rambling and free-spirited, gardens have been a very visual way of expressing creativity and providing a natural environment for us to enjoy.
Gardens Need More Than Plants to be Interesting
Regardless of the types of garden we all have, there is always room for improvement. An attractive garden isn’t just about what plants or shrubs we have planted, but about the overall appearance and the ambiance that it creates. To get the right look and feel for a particular area or climate, gardeners often include ponds, water features, seating areas and other interesting items such as pebbles and rocks.
In fact, the use of landscaping materials like rocks of various sizes, polished river pebbles and natural stone has given the modern garden an extra dimension. Careful placement of these pieces offer a contrast between their stark beauty and the soft and colourful effect of flowers and foliage.
Stones, Rocks and Pebbles Mirror the Natural Environment
Customers of Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre see our range of decorative rocks and many of them return with sketches of their gardens. They can choose from three sizes of Tuscan pebbles and granite, and a range of scoria, white pebbles, rainbow rock, river rock and lightweight rock. Our friendly staff are always on hand to offer advice on the best type of rocks for the designs they have sketched.
Japanese Gardens – Peaceful Perfection
While rocks and pebbles have always been a part of garden designs in most parts of the world, it was the Japanese who brought their appreciation of rocks and their placement to the Western world. A walk through a genuine Japanese garden is a path to tranquility. There are no excesses of colour or mixing of styles or anything that is out of place.
Every piece is placed carefully to complement its surroundings and every rock serves the purpose of creating a three-dimensional picture individual to each garden. Placement is vital and great care is taken, especially with large rocks, to give the impression that they have been naturally dispersed in a random fashion. The effect is one of balance and harmony.
The Best of Both Worlds Together in Harmony
Home gardeners have incorporated the best of these ideas into their creations, with waterfalls, pebble gardens, statues and ponds all featuring alongside our lovely native plants. The natives attract our beautiful birds and the local wildlife find the rocks, pebbles and other landscaping materials a great place to hide from predators.
If you want a space like this in your back yard, we have all the rocks, pebbles and natural materials you need.
Solve Watering Problems By Knowing Your Plants
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Getting just the right amount of water into their plants to keep them healthy and growing has always been a challenge for most gardeners. We have all been guilty at some time of over-watering and having a favourite plant die from drowning, or finding a wilting plant, remembering too late that it was some time since it received any water.
Is there a Secret to Successful Garden Watering?
So what is the secret? Well, there is no secret, but the answer is a frustrating one – it depends. Knowing how often to water your plants means that you must also know what type of plants you have, as the watering requirements will differ from one type to another. It also means that you need to know how well your soil retains moisture.
If you are new to gardening, our staff members at Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre are happy to recommend a range of mulches that will assist to keep the soil in your garden moist. We also have top soil, sandy loam, triple mix and mushroom compost and they will help you choose which is best for your particular needs.
Soil and Moisture Balance Only Half the Story
Getting the soil and moisture balance right, however, is only half the story. Mulches, for example, reduce evaporation especially in the summer months, so that the water used on the garden stays in the soil longer than it would without mulch. However, if regular watering is not done, the soil will still eventually dry up, with the obvious adverse effects on the plants.
A Regular Light Sprinkle or a Once-a-Week Deluge?
The number of times a week that watering should be done depends on the season, the location and the types of plants in the garden. Hardy plants native to the area may only need watering once a week. Also think about how long the watering takes. Are you only giving the garden a light sprinkle or a lengthy watering that penetrates the soil to a reasonable depth?
Most gardening experts recommend the latter for a couple of reasons. Doing a lengthy watering once a week uses less water than a light sprinkle three or four times and is much more effective. Installing an automatic trickle watering system when constructing a new garden is another way to make watering easy, and take out the guesswork.
Still Confused? A Pebble Garden and Succulents could be the Answer
We supply a range of pebbles to customers with small garden areas who like the modern look of pebble gardens filled with succulents. These require minimal watering and the pebbles act as a barrier to evaporation in the same way as mulch does. Whatever type of garden you decide to create, getting the right plants for the right location will solve the watering problems at the outset.