Gardening As A Workout

Spring is almost here and with it comes gardening and seeing new foliage grow and flourish, it’s the season for rejuvenation.

But did you know that while you’re getting your garden ready for the sunny season your also working up a sweat! Wow. Maybe we can have our cake and eat it too.

As a gardening enthusiast, you’ve probably spent hours reading and exploring how to produce a healthier, more beautiful garden or simply how to keep your plants alive and thriving. But have you ever considered how gardening can produce a healthier you without ever having to consume a single home grown meal.

There are so many simple gardening activities like raking, fertilizing, weeding and mowing that can all give you an enjoyable and rewarding workout. Gardening is, in fact, a legit physical activity. Sweet! It’s also a great alternative to traditional exercise because it incorporates elements of exercise while enabling you to engage in an enjoyable activity in the privacy of your own surroundings and amongst your own family.

Elements of gardening such as digging, weeding, trimming shrubs and mowing the lawn can require the same energy requirements as other physical activities such as walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics. It gives you zest for life and can even make you feel younger, after all it reminds us of those days as kids looking for the latest insect.

Gardening helps tone your physique while also tending to the plants. Work such as raking and carrying leaves can tone the upper arms and increase flexibility and strength. Gardening tasks qualify as moderate to high-intensity physical activity, you can expend as much effort raking the lawn as you would during a leisurely bicycle ride…it’s also great at perfecting your squat technique when pulling out those rude weeds.

Not only does gardening help you physically, but it provides us with the satisfaction of a beautiful lawn to look at or fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy. So as the gardening season approaches, consider your gardening time as an opportunity to get a healthier lawn and a healthier you! Go green to get lean, seriously it can put a spring back in your step.

So tell me have you been gardening lately? Would you give up a day of working out to work in the yard? I highly recommend it. You can also incorporate this time and include the kids. Teaching the little ones about plants and seeing them discover the process and transformation plants undergo with both time and seasons is beautiful.

I love the idea that just gardening as a workout can exercise nearly every part of your body. It’s also soothing for the soul to be in touch with the earth, a concept known as “grounding”. It can also be a very meditative activity as you’re absorbed with the task at hand, so it’s great for clearing the mind of white noise. Finally sit back and enjoy the literal fruits of your labour. Simply being in the presence of trees and plants reduces stress, so once your garden is looking neat and tidy it will be time to start the barbeque.

Caring For Your Monstera – Swiss Cheese Plant

 

Swiss Cheese Plant; Monstera deliciosa is a native to the jungles of Southern Mexico and Guatemala, and is one very easy houseplant! Yet it needs space to grow giving your home that instant jungle feels. Possessing all the qualities that are required of a good houseplant this plant is making a comeback.

The Monstera’s leaves are a rich green in colour and have a natural gloss to them which is heightened when plants are cleaned with a damp cloth, unless the leaves a new, lime green in colour and soft. Cleaning the leaves will also help keep pests under control as they are prone to mealybugs on the undersides of the leaves. It’s also ideal to give them the occasional misting of water to help increase humidity levels if located in climate controlled conditions such as a office.

They grow well shaded from the sun and in reasonably warm environments but need to be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent leaves scorching.

Watering? Let the top 4cm of soil dry out between watering as over watering may lead to root rot, signs of this are yellowing or wilting leaves. For best results Monsteras should enjoy conditions that are fairly moist so avoid artificial heating and cooling, they will require quarterly feeding in spring and summer when planted in containers.

In ideal conditions the monstera will produce quite enormous leaves that, as well as being deeply serrated along their margins, will also become naturally perforated. The leaves on a young plant are not serrated, as it grows the leaves become larger and their shape will form so don’t be alarmed when you bring home your new plant and notice un-serrated heart shaped leaves, it’s a matter of patience.

Occasionally the Monstera produces aerial roots, plants will do better if the aerial roots that grow from the main stem can be directed into a container of water from which supplies will be drawn for the plant, thus reducing the need for too frequent watering of the mixture in the pot, these roots can be also directed into the potting mixture when re-potting.

When potting plants on into larger pots, a mix comprised of equal parts potting mixture and sphagnum moss will do the job, also once the plant reaches heights of 80cm tall it will need the support of a moss pole or bamboo cane as its naturally tendency is to grow up.

Mature Monstera deliciosa plants grown outdoors produce flowers that only last a few days, but they develop into a rich-tasting fruit, which can be picked for eating once it’s ripe.

 

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.

 

The Perfect Plant For The Hanging Basket

 

Space planning in high density living is a key factor in making sure your home works for you and the same concept can be applied to your urban garden or balcony.

Lucky for us we have so many options, being wall planters, balustrade planters the traditional pot or the lovely hanging planter/basket all being fantastic choices. Unfortunately though we don’t see hanging planters and baskets used enough.

The use of hanging planters as a decorative means is lovely, as they are perfect for colourful annuals and cascading succulents. There are some great plant options that look brilliant especially when placed above eye level, so today I’m sharing our favourites, so you too can enjoy the understated simplicity of cascading plants hanging from your balcony, patio and alfresco areas.

Christmas Cactus Schlumbergera – A humid loving and low light succulent with its origins in Brazil. The more humid the better, so it’s perfect for the north east coast of Australia. They don’t require replanting often as they thrive in a cramped, competitive environment. Keep them root-bound in well- draining, sandy soil. They bloom during late winter to early spring with spectacular flowers in colours of pink, fuchsia, purple and apricot.

Donkey’s Tail Sedum Morganianum – A Fantastic trailing plant with blueish-green clusters of rain-drop leaves. Native to Mexico and growing in long, hanging bunches. This succulent is easy to care for, requires less water than traditional house plant and adds interest to any environment. The leaves are susceptible to dropping off when handled, so they won’t do well in areas of high wind or clustered against other plants.

Rabbits Foot Fern Davallia fejeensis – Its name comes from the furry rhizomes (which are petable) that grow out of the pot and downward like creeping rabbit’s feet. The lacy green foliage makes a spectacular display when cascading from a hanging planter. A low maintenance houseplant that does well in bright, indirect light or outdoors in a sheltered environment.

Golden Pathos Epipremnum aureum – With marbled green and yellow heart-shaped leaves hanging elegantly, able to adapt and enhance to almost any environment, whether its trailing off a bookshelf, or acting as a privacy screen in a window this is one plant perfect for an indoor hanging planter. Takes low or bright light and doesn’t mind the occasional water-logging or neglect. The variegated foliage can provide a colourful accent to your home.

Fuchsia Fuchsia Spp. – If you intend to use a fuchsia use good soil and give it a spot with shade as they’re not great sun worshippers. Fuchsias flower for a long time, usually October through to March and will flower abundantly with spectacular flowers that look like ballerinas. They prefer to be on the damp side, so keeping them well watered is essential.

Tahitian Bridal Veil Gibasis geniculata – Delicate and dainty trailing plant with attractive foliage ideally suited to hanging baskets, can be grown indoors in a sunny position and outdoors under shelter. Prefer humid conditions, watering when the soil feels dry to the touch. Soak the plant well in a bucket of warm water rather than adding small amounts of moisture ever so often.

Petunia Petunia x hybrida – Lovely annuals and great for a north facing environment, as they require full sun and will bloom from spring into autumn. They are low growing and can either grow bushy or spread on the ground. Pinching some off after the first bloom will encourage more dense growth and flowers. They are available in a vast array of colours and just “wow” when mixed amongst other colours.

Boston Fern Nephrolepis exaltata – Popular for patios with their lush and arching foliage giving it a graceful look. They prefer slightly humid conditions and a well-lit, protected position, so get these growing conditions right and you’ll have a lovely fern all year round. They can also be grown indoors making them quite a versatile plant.

Silver Falls Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’ – An exotic ground cover that works well in hanging baskets, with small silver-grey kidney shaped leaves The wonderful silver foliage of the silver falls is a useful colour contrast in the garden. Drought hardy with foliage that can trail down over the sides of the planter. Will require trimming back to assist keeping the plant dense and full. Great for areas subjected to direct sun.

Nasturtium Tropaeolum polyphyllum – A hardy and delightful perennial, from South and Central America, with edible flowers prefect for a bright salad and well suited to borders and hanging baskets. Tolerates wide range of soils (not too fertile) and dry conditions. Great for either full sun or part shade. Colours, as well as being edible, are what make these wonderful flowers very popular. They come in Yellow, Orange, Red, Cream, and variations of all these colours including a beautiful Ruby.

No matter what the style, size or aspect of you balcony, patio or garden hanging baskets and planters offer endless ways to give it a boost. The only limit is your imagination.

 

The Jade “Money” Plant

 

The Money Plant or Jade Plant is one of the most famous and popular of the many succulents used as indoor plants and known to be a symbol of vibrant energy; the owner’s fortunes are believed to increase with each new leaf and Feng Shui enthusiasts even claim it provides positive mental health benefits by nourishing the chi.

The idea of keeping plants indoors is to harmonise human life with the surrounding environment and placement of such plants are chosen to hopefully reflect this growing energy in your own bank balance.

The Jade Plant is easy to look after and has amazing longevity, this is reflected in its past popularity. The impolite phrase “old fashioned” might be slung around when describing the Jade Plant, but as with anything, fashions come and go. So if you like it, pay no attention to the reputation.

This is a plant whose characteristics can evoke emotions. Whether by its radiant beauty, its tiny white flowers, the shape of its leaves or its majestic height, you will no doubt, as have those in the past, experience the overwhelming reasons why you would want to keep such as plant.

With that said, we all know money doesn’t grow on trees, but this one looks a million bucks, so start cultivating that wealth.