Whether you already have green fingers, or would like to improve your gardening skills, we welcome you to ‘Wildlife Gardening’, our green gardening guide. Learn all about the insects that help in our gardens, and the pests we could all do without. There are gardening blog posts offering advice on managing garden ponds, landscaping, and planting through the seasons. Whether you want to build the ultimate garden shed, encourage wildlife into your garden, or join like minded people on a gardening holiday or gardening course, our green fingered blog can cater for all. Why not pay a visit and see what you can find out!
Looking forward to the long weekend with some good weather thrown in, our attention is somehow drawn towards the garden. Green fingered or not, we keep aside some time to try a spot of gardening.
If a New York based tech start-up has its way, seasons will have nothing to do with gardening. You can grow any of your plants, any time of the year. Named ‘bitponics’, it actually is ‘your personal gardening assistant’. It works on the idea of a cloud-based hydroponics manager.
You would have heard of hydroponics used largely to grow cannabis, but what you may have missed is that it is widely used for farming as well. As the name suggests, hydroponics involves growing plants in water. The absence of soil is made up by adding nutrients to the water. The job of bitponics is to upgrade and automate the hydroponic systems.
The apparently simple technology consists of an electronic box with sensors attached. These sensors or probes are immersed in the reservoir to help in monitoring the temperature, humidity and pH levels of the water. The data gathered is sent wirelessly to the cloud. There are two outlets for lights or pumps, which aid the growth of plants. A growth plan is given by a web app, and you are duly notified by text or email when you need to add nutrients or change the reservoir water.
According to Dr Melissa Brechner, director at the CEA Center for Technology Transfer at Cornell University, ‘Hydroponics is the most-used technology in greenhouse vegetable production the US. If you are looking at it to make some money, try it first as a hobby, then as a business venture’. Brechner finds that it has opened a market for small growers but you may not be able to make a living out of growing lettuce in your backyard greenhouse.
Though most people probably haven’t noticed, the UK is definitely experiencing a slump in the gardening industry. More and more green space is paved over every day, it seems, and there’s less and less room for ‘a bit of a garden’ even in more rural settings. According to Chris McCall of the Falkirk Herald, this is a crisis that needs to be addressed, and one way is educating young people about the joys and rewards of gardening.
McCall cited a recent survey of 2,000 adults in which about a third said they didn’t know anything about the care and feeding of plants. Even more telling was the revelation that only one in 20 out of those who were under 50 years of age claimed to have adequate gardening skills.
Those statistics do seem to indicate that gardening is falling out of favour especially with younger people, but there are continuing efforts in many areas to arouse and hold the interest of the younger generation. Primary schools in the District of Falkirk are planting orchards and getting involved in numerous environmental projects that have won Green Flag awards; the trick is to keep the kids’ interest when they reach high school age and beyond.
One indication of continuing interest is at Denny High, where students are entering the national competition at Gardening Scotland, the ‘celebration of gardening and outdoor living’ that is taking place this weekend (31 May-2 June) at Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre. Second year Denny students are entering the pallet garden contest, which involves designing and creating a miniature garden (one square metre).
Sign of the times: the theme of this pallet garden is ‘social media’ and they’re using Twitter’s bluebird logo as inspiration. The idea is that gardening can be just as interesting and fun as other activities for young people – and it’s good for all sorts of things besides cabbages.
Rock gardens are very simple to create and as a bonus is also extremely eco-friendly making them a great gardening asset to learn about. Even better, rock gardens are extremely low maintenance once they are done.
One easy way to start is to gather a pile of dirt that is lying around in the yard somewhere. If you do not have a large amount of dirt, purchase some from a local store. The charm of the rock garden is that once you place it you will never have to invest much money into it again making the one time investment well worth it.
After laying dirt down across the garden, purchase some stones to create a path to the doorway of the house or simply to add in an aesthetic design. After this, the only thing left to do is grab some great ground covers that are going to creep across the rock garden slowly.
The best thing about choosing ground cover that is hardy and weedy is that it does not need any maintenance what so ever. Regular watering at first is required in order to help it get established, but after that it will maintain itself. Creeping thyme, sedums, and creeping Jenny are all excellent choices to get started with.
Of course, when picking out ground covers for a rock garden consumers need to think about what will work in their yard considering factors such as sun or shade, native or not, aggressive, or simple and well kept. There are some excellent native plants such as prairie crocus that really stand out because they are early bloomers. These easily can add a bit of color to a rock garden and only need to be planted once before they become fully rooted for years.
The Star Wars inspired Death Star birdhouse comes to The Fowndry
The Fowndry has a question for you? What is hotter than the twin suns Tattooine? The Death Star Birdhouse, that’s what! Do not fear if you think such a deadly abode for the avian visitors to your garden would be impossible to get your hands on, you simply head to the coolest website every created, The Fowndry, a site that is packed to bursting point with some of the most unique and unusual must have items you will find anywhere.
Measuring 13.5cm in diameter and weighing 670grams, the officially licensed Star Wars Death Star Ceramic Birdhouse, has been designed to make a cosy home for our feathered ‘Force’ fearing friends.
Costing galactically less than the original Death Star at just GBP24.99, the ceramic orb with hollow core will comfortably fit a small evilly inclined avian family.
Ben Fowler, Fownder of the Fowndry said: Here at The Fowndry, we don’t discriminate, we like to make sure that every galactic inspired bird is tucked in somewhere safe at night.
BBC had been airing the Gardeners World show at 8.30 PM for what seems like eons, but the show has been taken off the programme listings and replaced by the snooker world championships. The move, however, has irked gardeners who are up in arms against the BBC as is the host Monty Don, who has called the move by the BBC “cheap”.
The gardening show had been recorded to have a following of approximately 2.59 million viewers. The World Snooker Championship that has taken up the slot vacated by the gardening show only has about half that viewership. What is even more bad news for the gardening community is that soon after the end of the snooker event, Wimbledon would take up that time slot.
Don blames the schedulers of the television channels for what he has termed as “crazy hiatus” in his tweets. Tweets have followed from avid followers of the GW show with Bryan Appleyard mentioning continuity is important for a programme like GW to be of value.
Don tweeted his agreement in response saying football will never be seen being meted out the same treatment as GW. Roz Smith wants the GW show to be aired for an even longer duration and wondered why sports in most cases were given priority over programs like GW.
Gardening World is the only programme that the BBC airs in this genre and is therefore facing a lot of flak after its decision to drop it in favour of snooker. More so as this is the spring season, the time of the year that is most favourable for gardening. Also, the upcoming Bank Holiday is another period when gardeners are at their busiest. The BBC has defended their move saying sporting events take place as per their schedules and it’s not just gardening but all programme types that have to make way for the sports shows.
A survey has come up with interesting findings where the majority of children have been found to be unable to identify most vegetables that we grow and eat. The survey for children under 16 came to the conclusion that half of them did not know how a cucumber differed from a courgette. Similarly, a survey amongst the under 10 group found them to be ignorant of the leek.
The main reason for this lack of knowledge about vegetables, or to put it in a bigger perspective, the general disassociation from nature can be attributed squarely on the urbanisation process. There are few vegetable gardens in urban outdoor areas and the supermarkets have these vegetable in such a diced and done manner that their original features are completely lost. Children from the urban areas also get cramped with fear when they travel to the countryside or when faced with farm animals.
It is this that has prompted The National Trust to take on a project titled “50 Things To Do Before you are 11 ¾”. Alan Titchmarsh, the celebrity gardener and TV host has long championed kids getting down to one with nature has been highly critical about how children now wants a BlackBerry rather than raspberry. He is of the opinion that children getting involved in horticulture is very important to sustain life in the future.
Not only mankind but animals too would be affected if this were not taken seriously. While humans would find it difficult to grow food, animals would lose their habitats and therefore shrink further in number. There is a direct link between the two in his words and this link needs serious consideration if everything is to be kept in balance. The project therefore aims at children to often visit countryside locations having their parents in tow to be better acquainted with life and nature there.
There are not that many pleasures in life that beat walking through a well maintained garden. This is because gardens can be a visual delight that engage the sense of sight due to the many differ colors that are represented in the garden. The shapes of the different leaves, branches, and patterns can also excite the eyes.
In addition, the sense of smell is often heavily leaned up on while walking through a garden given the fact that there are plenty of great smells in a garden including the sweet smell of flowers, or the aromatic leaves that belong to some popular types of scented flowers such as geraniums. Even pine trees can lend their own scents to complement a garden.
However, there are even more senses that you can engage in a garden as part of a new gardening trend ion gardening that is called creating a ‘sensory garden.’ In this type of garden the aim is to engage all of the senses in the body.
For instance, you might engage the sense of touch by offering flowers in the garden with soft leaves that children can feel. Choosing to plant berries, edible herbs, or even fruit in the garden can help to create the stunning sense of taste in a garden. This is also a great way to grow inexpensive organic fruit in your own backyard.
Finally if you want you engage your sense of hearing you might consider adding a wind chime to a garden. With the mystical sounds of a wind chime going every time the breeze blows you can make sure that the garden truly comes alive for those who visit. The best part is these types of items can be placed in both the front and back gardens so that your entire home is an adventure.
Moisture is very important when you start to grow crops given the fact that you need to minimise any effects of drought should drought occur in your area. To do this you must make sure that soil is able to capture the rain that falls on it at all times so that it can store the moisture for later use.
One old gardening adage actually says treat your soil well and it will lead to plants that produce well. The best fertile soil is a combination of organic matter, water, minerals, air, and various nutrients. However, water is the easiest factor to control.
If you find yourself in drought like conditions there are two basic steps that you can take to lighten the impact. The first step includes using ground cover and the second includes adding more organic matter to the soil.
When you add organic matter you increase the ability of the soil to hold and retain the water that it receives. However, it should be noted that caring for soil is a continual process and it is important that you continue to add organic matters over time if you want your soil to remain healthy. In fact, you can increase the storage capacity of coil up to 16,000 gallons per acre for every 1% of organic materials that you add.
The second thing that you should do is add ground cover, because ground cover will help to increase the peculation ability of the soil when rain falls on it. This is because the ground cover will help supply the water to the soil while lowering the general evaporation rate. This helps to conserve the water that is available for the soil to soak up and can help keep the soil more moist between rains.
If you are looking to reduce your electrical bill and still keep it green, you can Shop Texas Electricity and see who offers the best rates and the greenest energy. One of the main ways to keep your bills down and remain green is to ensure the best insulation possible. This is good even in your gardening as well. Your green house can be sealed and insulated to ensure your heating bill remains as low as you can get it. There are many other ways to help keep your home energy efficient through landscaping and gardening.
Protecting your home from wind and sun is the first step in this process. By planting shrubs and trees that shade your house from the sun and keep cold winter winds by planting “wind breaks”, you can save a lot of money in your heating and cooling costs. Mid winter and mid summer energy bills are the highest and often dip to far into our wallets. They are easily prevented with a little forethought and planning.
Conserving water through Xeriscaping is another way to keep costs down through gardening. There are seven ways to be successful in xeriscape:
- careful design
- climate-specific plant selection
- limited turf
- improved soil
- efficient irrigation
- mulching and maintenance
Again, proper planning is key to successful green energy efficient gardening. You will be amazed at what you can do and save with this process. Gardening should be fun as well, so enjoy yourself and don’t make it out to be a job. Your whole family can help and the kids will love being out doors with your. Children absolutely love to garden and make things grow. They love to help with the planning process as well, so ask for their advice as you make your plans. They just may surprise you.
With National Gardening Week rapidly approaching, you can get together with your local gardening clubs or neighbors to swap ideas as well as plants. Garden parties are a lot of fun and people can teach others how gardening can help them become more energy efficient. In this way we can encourage more people to garden and be green!
Now is the perfect time to start those seedlings that you want to plant in your garden. There are many different ways to go about it, but if you have never tried it before, you can find seedling kits at your local store. Just pick what you want to grow, as well as and enclosed ecosystem seedling tray and the recommended soil. With just a little bit of effort, your seedlings will begin to sprout in just a few days and be ready for planting within a week. There are also easy to plant vegetable gardens, that you just roll out over your growing soil and water. They are guaranteed to grow and are so easy children can do it. You can pick from many different types of vegetables or herbs to grow. So, get out there and work those green fingers and become green energy efficient at the same time.
We British are a nation of cake lovers not to mention bird lovers!
Bird’day Cake for birds
And according to recently released figures, there is an ever growing interest in our feathered friends, in fact 60% of British adults have taken up regularly feeding the birds that visit their gardens. With the huge success of television shows such as the ‘Great British Bake Off’ it seems that we have tapped into the public’s complete obsession with all things ‘cake’.
Now bird food suppliers Farbook Farm have the perfect product – The Bird’day Cake a tasty treat that combines our love of birds with our interest in cake!
Each Bird’day Cake is made from a mixture of premium seeds topped with a pretty rice paper flower and is suitable for a wide range of garden birds, including Blackbirds, Sparrows and Robins.
The gift comes in a presentation box which includes three cakes and a bird guide to help identify which species are visiting the garden and enjoying their delicious ‘present’.
The Bird’day Cakes can be put out on a bird table, window sill or simply on the ground.
They make the perfect gift for young and old, whether they are avid ‘twitchers’ or someone who just loves to see birds visiting their garden.
Once the birds have enjoyed their gift, the silicone cupcake cases can be reused. The recipe is included in the box, enabling you to make more cakes with seeds supplied by Farbook Farm.
The set of three Bird’day Cakes from Farbrook Farm retails at just £5.99 and is available from www.feedyourbirds.co.uk or from their catalogue.
Other fun products include ‘Me & My Birds’ - a wild bird feed-making kit for kids, retailing at £18.99.
Farbrook Farm also stocks an extensive range of premium bird food and feeders.