Get The Gardening Glow

 

With almost 67 per cent of Australians living in our capital cities, we’re one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world. Considering the day-to-day stresses or urban living, traffic, overcrowding and simply not enough time – this means up to 16 million of us could benefit from the physical and mental advantages provided by gardening.

Whether it’s a sprawling veggie patch in the backyard, a flowerbed in a small courtyard, a window box or even a community garden space, almost anyone can achieve a gardening glow. 

Gardening is a great workout, It not only works all those major muscle groups, it burns calories as well. Also, gardening improves the mood almost instantly, so it’s fantastic for the soul.

The Fitness Factor

Forget about working hard in the gym or building up a sweat on the treadmill, gardening is just as good as a workout, if not better. Prolonged light exercise such as gardening can burn more calories than a gym session, despite being much easier to do.

Stress Relief

Gardening can increase life satisfaction, reduce and promote recovery from stress, enhance self-esteem and reduce feelings of depression and fatigue. Ask any gardener and almost all will insist that they feel better after getting their hands dirty in the soil. An activity like gardening gives you something to celebrate and care about. When you’ve tended and grown something it gives you a sense of purpose and pride, which in turn make you feel good about yourself.

Mood Enchasing

Having flowers in and around your home not only looks beautiful, they also have amazing health benefits, such as reducing stress and depression. Flowers increase positive energies and soothe and relax the soul. Plants in the home also increase energy levels and vitality. 

Immunity Boost

We often avoid getting our hands dirty but there are health benefits to be gained from exposure to soil. We need to be 100 per cent hygienic but we don’t need to be 100 per cent dirt or germ-free because our immune system needs something to spar with.

Air Quality

Plants have been shown to absorb and degrade all types of urban air pollutants, thereby reducing air pollutants, thereby reducing air pollution levels. We have a vital need for constant connections with plants for cleaner air, so gardening time is vital. Spending just 15 to 20 minutes each day in the garden can also improve sleep quality because breathing fresh air stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system in the brain, which is responsible for relaxation.

 

Grow Your Winter Herb Garden Indoors

 

I’ts officially winter out there and the coming of winter is a not always the most exciting or activity packed time in most gardens. During this season of short, dark days, indoor herb gardens offer welcome greenery and fragrance. You can easily bring herbs indoors for the nippy months even if you have little experience with plants or very little space to work with.

Some herbs naturally lend themselves better to indoor growing conditions. Parsley, basil, sage and thyme are known to hold up stronger inside. Extra perk is they are all perfect herb solutions for winter stews, casseroles and roasts. Isn’t it great when those things work out?

To bring your herb garden indoors for winter you need to find a table or shelf with sufficient fluorescent light (you must remember that to a plant, light is food) this will guarantee that your herb plants obtain all the necessary light and will also prevent them from die-back that occurs from being against a cold window. In warmer months, you can move your herbs to a sunny window or a shady balcony that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day so that they thrive.

The easiest way to start your indoor winter herb garden is to buy established plants especially if you’re only a novice gardener. There are several types of containers you can use for the plants, but terracotta planters are very popular and can me the modest option if you’re only starting out. Make sure the pots and container you select have drainage holes in the bottom Whatever container you select it should be deep enough to promote proper root development. You can plant multiple herbs in one container or select individual pots for each herb plant. You should also make sure that your herbs are not to overcrowded as this, too can lead to fungal problems that may kill your plants.

When repotting It’s a good idea to go with a store-bought potting mix. Be sure the mix is lightweight and will drain well. Pour a 5cm layer of potting soil into the bottom of your container and place your plant gently in its location. Finish filling it with potting mix, pressing it firmly around the plants. Leave about an 3cm of space at the top to make room for watering.

Remember that too much love can kill your herbs by watering too often: Excess water is harmful to the roots and causes rotting. Fertilize your herbs once a month with an organic fertilizer. Once you start to see new growth, you can begin to use your herbs for cooking.

Here are a few herbs that are particularly well suited for indoor growth:

  1. Parsley: Parsley needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. If you can’t provide enough natural sunlight, grow the plants under fluorescent lights.

  2. Basil: Requires bright light and warm temperatures.

  3. Sage: Appreciates a manicure (prune back spindly branches) and drier conditions.

  4. Chives: Member of the onion family is best used fresh. Chives like bright light and cool temperatures.

  5. Dill: Choose a dwarf variety. You’ll need to make successive plantings to ensure a continuous crop since dill doesn’t grow back after harvesting.

  6. Lemon balm: This is easy to grow from seed and its fresh fragrance can be enjoyed in salads and drinks.

  7. Oregano: The soil must need to be loose and well-drained to prevent over-watering. The plant requires partial to full sun light either in a well-lit window seal or under a florescent light for at least 6 – 8+ hours per day

  8. Rosemary: Soil needs to be well drained, but don’t let it dry out completely.

  9. Thyme: Many varieties of thyme are available. Very well-drained, or gravelly soil is especially important for woolly or creeping thymes. Keep the plants moist by misting until you see new growth.

 

Starting a Vertical Garden

 

Vertical gardens have been around for centuries all though the designs were not as we know them today. Grape vines and fruit trees adorned the walls of ancient Egyptian Palaces, so living walls are certainly achievable in even the harshest of climates and quite capable of bringing our modern day residential and balcony walls to life.

Vertical gardens are great at providing privacy, a touch of nature and colour but they are also a great solution for growing those plants often thought to be restricted to a vegetable patch in the backyard such as varieties of lettuce and herbs. They take up less space, especially when room is scarce, and are wonderful at masking say an unattractive wall or dressing up an alfresco area.

You also have the added convenience of having your plants in an accessible location which makes maintenance and use easy and your chance of success at vertical gardening just about guaranteed.

CHOOSING YOUR PLANTS

Choosing your plants is like choosing a pet. Different plants require different amounts of care and it’s important to use plants that suit your lifestyle and the environment.

There are a wide variety of suitable plants that can be used for vertical gardening, the most common being succulents. Your other options include creepers, ferns, flowering annuals, herbs, natives and even trailing varieties like Devil’s Ivy.

Herbaceous plants are great at always looking lush than woody plants because the herbaceous kind are much more flexible in the way they fall. Woody varietals—like trees, shrubs, or vines have rigid, wooden stems, so they’ll grow parallel to the floor and stick out instead of flowing down nicely. On the other hand, herbaceous plants, like flowers and ferns, have soft, green stems, making an attractive vertical garden. Until you’re a seasoned green thumb, it’s best to opt for low-maintenance species before trying your hand at the needier varieties.

ENVIRONMENT OF YOUR VERTICAL GARDEN

Although a vertical garden can be fixed to just about any indoor or outdoor wall, the chosen location of your vertical garden will be crucial to its success. Even a small yard or garden has variances in air, light, soil, and water known as micro-climates. If your vertical garden is being kept indoors then you’re looking at the micro-climate in your home.

Micro-climates are very important zones that exist within or around your home and are crucial to the success of any garden including the vertical variety. To determine various micro-climates in your home, you will need to consider these four conditions: Temperature, Patterns of light, Humidity distribution and Air circulation. These factors are not just for determining the location of your vertical garden but will also assist you in working out what plants will do well.

In general, you’ll want to group all-sun or all-shade plants, using ones that have the same rate of growth and characteristics. Let’s say for example you put one that has slow growth next to one with faster growth; the more aggressive kind is going to take over and shade out the other.

TYPES OF VERTICAL GARDENS

There are many different varieties of vertical gardens available, from DIY readymade systems to homemade ones incorporating and using wooden pallets from example. These do-it-yourself homemade vertical gardens are great and have the same vertical green effect of that of the commercial bought systems available.

The only difference is the set-up time, as you’ll want to grow the plants horizontally for a few weeks to let the roots establish themselves and help hold the soil in place. If you try to plant it vertically straight away, you’ll have to contend with gravity pulling your soil and plants out as the soil is less contained. A solution for those of us with the impatient gene would be to use wire mesh to prevent the contents from spilling.

My preferred option for the home vertical garden is the easy option of a container vertical garden, which means potted plants (terracotta, plastic or metal) are attached to a wall or displayed in row in a clip or slot in system. Due to the popularity with vertical walls, there are now engineered options in the market which are self-watering and have the planting depth and functionality of a container garden.

Some of the containers and systems available are modular, or better yet, individually removable so you can hang them outside for the summer and bring them indoors for the winter or even relocate the pots when the weather changes for the worst. The individual pots can easily click into the sturdy frame and like the frame itself, be oriented in a choice of directions. 

Another is a “pocket” garden, featuring plants tucked into pockets made from felt or canvas which are lined for moisture retention. The pocket system is a simple and for the budget conscious gardener.

MAINTENANCE

At first, your vertical garden might need more maintenance than a regular in-the-ground garden or container plant. These living walls are more compact and therefore have less soil, so they may need to be watered more often. Watering can be tricky and the bigger the living wall, the more likely you will benefit from incorporating drip irrigation.

The correct potting soil mix can also help retain the water and hold in the moisture and I would suggest incorporating peat moss in the soil mix which helps water retention. Another important factor is gravity, which pulls the water down. Plants that don’t need as much water are recommended for the top part of the vertical garden, since these plants will dry out first. Place the ones more suited for wetter conditions at the bottom of the vertical garden. You can also use a watering can as you would with containers, but you’ll want to be sure that water is being evenly distributed

Small scale vertical gardens have the advantages of no weeds and reduced ground compaction, so you won’t need to work the soil as hard. A vertical garden is pleasing to the eye and can transform a small space into a green area or oasis. Vertical gardening is also being investigated as a means for air filtration so you have the added bonus of cleaner air within or around your home. As people think of maximising their growing space to increase food production the concept of vertical garden farming is emerging as a viable alternative to traditional farming and can be the solution to growing your own produce in small urban city spaces.

 

Appreciate Your Environment

Climate change has become increasingly identified as a challenge to mother earth and human kind.

Changes in seasonal patterns, weather events, temperature ranges, and other related phenomena have been reported and attributed to noticeable changes in our environment. Numerous experts in a wide range of scientific disciplines have warned that the negative impacts of climate change will become much more intense and frequent in the future particularly if environmentally destructive human activities continue.

Like all living members of the Earth’s surface, atmosphere and sea, medicinal and aromatic plants are not immune to the effects. Climate change is causing noticeable effects on the life cycles and distributions of the world’s vegetation, including wild plants. Some are even confined to geographic regions or ecosystems particularly vulnerable to change, which could put them at risk.

The life cycles of plants correspond to seasonal cues, so shifts in the timing of cycles provide evidence that climate change is affecting species and ecosystems. In some areas of the world, plants are experiencing not only earlier seasons but also warmer temperatures that are more typical of summer.

Changes in climate are also causing plants to migrate into new ranges, shifting towards the poles and/or to higher elevations in an effort to “reclaim” appropriate growing areas. Some slow-moving species may not be able to migrate quickly enough to keep pace with range shifts generated by climate change. Natural and human-made barriers to migration could also affect the survival of some species undergoing climate-induced range shifts.

And so it’s also expected that movement of cultivated plants would occur for the same reason, it is not entirely clear what type or degree of movement might take place. There is some indication that agricultural crops will be more adaptable to climate change than natural ecosystems, but some regions may become significantly less productive.

Extreme weather events such as storms, droughts, and floods have become more prevalent and intense across our planet in recent years. The frequency and severity of these events are expected to increase in the future as a result of continued warming, having negative effects on human health, infrastructure, and ecosystems. (It is important to note, however, that although trends in extreme weather events have been observed and projected, it is still difficult to attribute individual weather events directly to global warming.) Extreme weather events have been known to affect harvesters’ and cultivators’ abilities to grow and/or collect medicinal plant species, and such difficulties have certainly been reported in recent years.

Climate change may not currently represent the biggest threat to native plants, but it has the potential to become a much greater threat in future decades. Many of the world’s poorest people rely on medicinal plants not only as their primary healthcare option, but also as a significant source of income. The potential loss of medical and aromatic plant species from effects of climate change is likely to have major ramifications on the livelihoods of large numbers of vulnerable populations across the world. Further, the problems associated with climate change are likely to be much more difficult to combat than other threats to our botanical world.

The changing climate and its effects will certainly increase in the near future, although the extent to which they do so cannot presently be determined. The effects of climate change on medicinal plants, in particular, has not been well-studied and is not fully understood. As the situation unfolds, climate change may become a more pressing issue for the herbal community, potentially affecting users, harvesters, and manufacturers of medical and aromatic species.

We need to appreciate our environment for what it gives us, and we can’t take for granted what we currently have available to us, as one day we might just be without the wild medical herbs and plants that we obtain so many benefits from as well as the chemical understanding we gain from experimenting with mother earth and nature.

5 Tips to Keep Your House Plants Healthy

 

Best ways to decorate your home with plants

Decorating your home with pot plants is easy and doesn’t take much to make that eye catching feature you want. Choose a pot that makes a statement, decorating your home with some quirky pot plants not only adds some greenery to your life but adds character by using clean and white pot plants for a sleek finish or golds and bronze pots for a rustic look. For a bold statement in the home add plants with big leaves such as palms, umbrella trees and ferns. You can maintain these to appear as big or small as you like. If you have a very neutral home spice it up with some colour. Orchids are great because they not only are interesting to look at they are a beautiful flower as well and can add feature to any dull room. Violets are also extremely easy to grow, maintain and bloom all year round.

Why pot plants make better decorations than materials

While pot plants make a great natural feature for the home they also boost your mood and improve wellbeing. Plants also create a fresh natural environment, which you can style to different décor styles and homes.

Benefits of having house plants

Plants add a sense of life and energy to a home which is why you should add them to your interior styling as it creates a natural and vibrant ‘wow’ factor. Indoor plants set a welcoming tone as the colours of nature make our homes feel fresh, calm as well as renewed, which is a nice ambiance to enjoy after coming home for a long day of work. Not only do indoor plants make a space feel alive, they also add great texture, shape and colour to a room. Plants are also a long term design solution as they can stand the test of time. This can save you money in the long run.

What you need to know about pot plants

When gardening indoors it’s important to take into consideration the follow points. Do I have the right light? Different pot plants thrive on different lights, make sure you tailor your indoor garden to the right lighting needs. Make sure you understand that some plants are poisonous to animals such as the peace lily to cats and dogs – so check these details about your chosen plants before bringing them into the home.

You also need to understand your plants needs – a lot of plants are seasonal based so a lot of your greenthumb work needs to go into the off season. Making sure you have a clear understanding of what is required to care for you plant is really important for the survival.

Tips on looking after indoor plants

Make sure you position pot plants around the home according to their light levels and temperatures, some plants thrive in the colder temperatures, where some need light. Do not over water your plants. While you think you might be doing them a favour some pot plants only require a small amount of water and too much can drown them. 

Be aware of the types of diseases your indoor plants can catch. For example, indoor palms can catch mealy bugs. To avoid this, wipe down the palm leaves and spray a palm safe insecticide. 

5 tips to keep your plants healthy 

1. Keep soil moist with regular but light watering, keep a tray to catch any excess water below to avoid over watering them.

2. Make sure your plants have the right air supply, especially if they are inside. They not only need fresh air to grow it also helps reduce diseases.

3. Fertilise every one to two months pending on your plant. Always make sure you have information about your plant as so many indoor plants vary.

4. Keep an eye out for bugs, if you notice any bugs on your plants remove them and get rid of any dead excess leaves to prevent diseases.

5. Repot your plants every 1 – 2 years pending how quickly they grow. This will help your plant thrive and grow.