Showing posts with label soil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soil. Show all posts

Bonsai Care

By Ahmed Hajouj.

What are the basics of effective Bonsai care. 

Caring for your Bonsai tree involves many of the same activities associated with caring for a pot plant or an indoor plant. Well developed and healthy fibrous roots are essential for the continued good health of your Bonsai tree and repotting is an essential way to manage this process. Normally a young or fast growing Bonsai will need to be repotted roughly once a year; for less prolific growers or older trees it can be done as infrequently as once every five years. You should always try to repot during late winter or early spring when the buds start to swell. 

How to repot a Bonsai tree. 

The process of repotting a Bonsai tree is one that you should take seriously and follow these simple instructions: 

First, you should tidy the tree by carefully pruning off any unwanted, long branches. Also, make sure the tree has been under cover for a few weeks if it is an outdoor Bonsai, this way the soil will be relatively dry. Once you remove the tree from it’s pot you will be able to see whether it really needs repotting. If it is root bound then you should repot it, however, if there are another few inches of room so the roots can grow a little longer then you can carefully replace the tree in it’s original pot and continue as normal. 

You should remove surface soil from the roots either by hand or using a nylon scrubbing brush. Brush away from the trunk and be careful not to damage any of the roots. Removing the loose soil will give the Bonsai tree a healthier look and feel. Once you’ve removed most of the soil in this way, you can use a small, fine bristled paintbrush to remove the soil stuck in the roots or that has collected in the roots. 

Use a Bonsai fork to comb out the roots. Do this by combing out the roots from underneath and then use scissors to prune up to a third of the roots and then cut out small wedges around the root base to allow fresh soil to collect and keep your Bonsai healthy. Add a layer of grit to the bottom of the pot and then add the Bonsai compst of your choice. 

Take the time to position your Bonsai tree in the pot and then push a little more soil into awkward places. Complete this as often as you need to as mentioned above.

Marjoram The Herb Of Happiness

By Ahmed Hajouj.

Called the “herb of happiness,” Origanum majorana, commonly known as sweet marjoram or knotted marjoram, is an herbal symbol of peace and well-being. Marjoram is grown as an annual in the colder parts of the world but is perennial in warmer regions. To keep it growing as a perennial, bring it indoors for the winter. Marjoram may be grown as a houseplant and as it has a tendency to trail when grown indoors, it makes a nice hanging basket. Marjoram has small, grey-green, oval-shaped leaves that are velvety to the touch. Tiny white or pink flowers, reddish stems, and the grey-green colour of the leaves make marjoram an attractive border plant. 

Marjoram grows 10 – 24 inches (25 – 60 cm) tall. Cultivation requirements: does best in full sun (will tolerate slight shade); well-drained soil; no fertiliser; water soil sparingly but do not let dry out; pinch back the tips or harvest sprigs to use in cooking to keep it bushy and productive. 

Marjoram is easily grown from seed or cuttings. For spring planting, start seed indoors 6 – 8 weeks before your last frost date. Keep the soil moist during germination. After germination, move the seedlings into a sunny position, and transplant into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. If you are bringing marjoram plants in-doors for over-wintering, pot up in fresh potting soil. Check for critters and if your plants are infected, spray with a soap and water spray.

Marjoram requires at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. If you are growing marjoram on a windowsill, turn frequently to ensure all sides receive light. Marjoram can be grown under fluorescent lights. Hang the lights 6 inches (15 cm) from the plants and leave on for 14 hours a day.

In the garden, marjoram entices bees and butterflies for maximum nectar production and pollination. It is a good companion plant for all vegetables especially beets, eggplant, pumpkin, onions, and zucchini as it aids in their growth and fights off insects. Grow marjoram in pots in the garden as well as in the soil. In the kitchen, use in tomato dishes, onions, dairy, eggs, potato salad, soups, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, oil dressings for salads, carrots, and cauliflower. Fresh leaves and young shoots can be added to salads. It is a major ingredient, usually dried, in sausages, poultry seasonings, Italian recipes, or stuffings. Sprinkle fresh or dried marjoram on pizza. Sprinkle finely chopped fresh leaves on meat or fish before roasting, grilling, or baking. A tea can be made with marjoram to treat colds, headaches, and stomach upsets. Add 3 teaspoons (15 mL) fresh marjoram to 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water. Let steep, then drink slowly. Use marjoram sparingly as it is deceptively potent. Add during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Marjoram will keep several days in the refrigerator. The leaves can be harvested as soon as the plant starts blooming. The leaves dry easily and can also be frozen. Many cooks prefer marjoram rather than oregano (closely related), as marjoram is much less pungent. To make potpourri, dry leaves whole and then crush to release the scent.

Fall Planting

By Ahmed Hajouj.

Most people don’t think of Fall as a time for planting new landscaping and garden plants. To most, it’s time to put garden ventures to sleep until Spring. While it may not seem so, Fall planting of trees, shrubs, Perennials, bulbs, and cool weather grasses like Fescue is a very good idea.

Roots of newly planted plants and trees can continue to grow and become established in temperatures as low as 40 degrees. And since the roots don’t have to supply the rest of the plant with energy to grow, more energy is focused on root production. Come Springtime, because of an established root system, plants shoot out of the ground with plenty of energy for top growth.

Soil Temperature

Planting in the fall, soil temperatures are still warm from a long Summer. The warmer soil temperature encourages root growth.

In the Spring, the soil is still cool from the Winter and roots are very slow to become established. Even if you grow plants from seed indoors and transplant outside when the temperature warms, new sprouts still don’t have the advantage of Fall planted plants.

When Exactly Is Fall?

The Fall season officially begins with the equinox in late September. However, Fall weather varies considerably from one part of the country to the next. Basically, the best period for fall planting is around six weeks before the first hard frost in your area. You can get an idea of the average first frost date near your area from here: . Just keep in mind that the roots need to have time to become established before Winter sets in.

Autumn Bloomers

Fall isn’t just a time to put the garden to sleep and start getting ready for Spring. The growing season isn’t quite over yet. You can add color and new life to the garden by replacing dying Summer Annuals and Perennials with Autumn blooming plants like Pansies, Chrysanthemums, and Ornamental Cabbage and Kale, Marigolds, and others.

It’s also the time to plant spring flowering bulbs and divide Perennials.

The Secret To Healthier Plants Let S Ask My Grandfather

By Ahmed Hajouj.

My Grandfather was an old school farmer from way back who depended on his crops for his living. He, like farmers then and now, knew that the secret to optimum yield and plant health begins in the soil. If the soil was just right and other conditions were favorable, his yields were higher and he could make a descent living that would get his family through the rest of the year.

My grandfather also knew that the condition and health of the soil directly influenced the plants ability to resist disease and insects. Having to use any type of insecticide on his farm was virtually unheard of. And yet, he had no insect problem.

So the question of what is the secret to healthier and more beautiful plants should really begin with the question of what is the secret to healthy soil.

Many factors will influence the quality and condition of your soil. And at the top of the list is the ph (acidity or alkalinity) of soil. Most folks have heard about soil ph but very few know how important it is and the difference it makes in color, yield, flavor, heath, etc.

If the ph of soil is incorrect, nutrient uptake is limited or restricted altogether. It doesn’t matter how much fertilizer you add, the plants won’t be able to use it efficiently. Iron, for instance, becomes locked into soil that is too alkaline. It won’t matter how much iron you add, the plant won’t be able to pick it up and use it.

If growing is not optimal, plants start to yellow or look sickly, and there is no obvious signs of insects, the first place to start is by testing the soil. In granddads day, folks would actually taste the soil to test the ph. If it was sweet, it was acid. If it was sour, it was alkaline. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to go out to our gardens and eat dirt. Modern test kits are available at garden centers, they’re inexpensive and easy to use.

Most plants prefer a slightly acid to neutral soil. Neutral is a 7 on the scale while slightly acid is a 6 on the scale. And I did say most plants. Some plants do prefer more acid soil and some do like alkaline. It’s a good idea to know a little bit about what you’re growing.

Now, my grandfather had a magic ingredient that he continually added to the soil. This magic ingredient would actually create healthy soil, buffer perfect ph, and facilitate proper nutrient uptake. It also made plants not so tasty to insects. 

A magic ingredient? Not hardly. A lost art and science. Definitely. His magic ingredient was that he dutifully returned everything back into the soil. Everything from plant wastes to manure to kitchen scraps. His magic ingredient was nothing more than pure natural organics. If a soil was found to be out of balance, it was a matter of a simple adjustment. A little bit of sulfur to buffer alkalinity or a little bit of lime to buffer acid and also tilling in more bulk organics.

Farmers and gardeners back then couldn’t rely on a lot of chemical fertilizers because they were either unavailable or they simply couldn’t afford them. Oh I’m sure they would have liked to have had them since it would have made life much easier. However, what we didn’t use then that we do use now is why they had healthier plants, higher yields, better tasting food, more nutritional food, and even more colorful flowers. Again, the difference is organics. 

Organically prepared soil eventually becomes stable and naturally balance in ph. All necessary plant nutrients become available and plants are able to use what they need and only when they need it. An excesses of individual nutrients in organic soil will actually be buffered and not do the plants any harm.

Plants grown in organic soils are naturally more resistant to insects and disease. They’re simply healthier and insects and disease generally attacks plants that are already unhealthy to begin with. 

Chemical fertilizers are like a quick shot in the arm and plants will greedily take in more than they need. This weakens a plants ability to resist disease and insects. Then, of course, you’re going to need insecticides. However, healthy organic soil is also full of millions of beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms. Chemical fertilizers and insecticides will kill these very necessary elements and weaken plants immune systems even further. And so in using chemicals, we create a never ending no win cycle.

Creating organic soil will take a little effort and won’t happen overnight. It will take a few seasons. However, the rewards will far outweigh the effort. And eventually you’ll find that you spend less time taking care of your garden and more time enjoying it.

To begin with, start saving those leaves and grass clippings. This is a wonderful no cost resource. If you don’t have any of your own, I’m sure your neighbors will give you some of theirs. You can compost them or shred them as top dressing that will eventually break down into the soil.

I’ll also suggest two books to you. Rodales Complete Book Of Composting and Rodales Encyclopedia Of Organic Gardening. These two books alone will give you all the knowledge you need for composting and organic gardening.

Other secret ingredients are all around you, are usually free, and are often found right in your own trash can. Kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and even some papers can be composted.

Have a friend with a stable? Some folks will let you clean out their stable just for doing it. This is a very inexpensive way to add a lot of bulk organics very quickly. Keep in mind though that manure is better composted as it is extremely alkaline due to a high content of urea.

On top of all of this there is an endless list of organic materials, mineral dusts, and rock fertilizers available through organic gardening stores and sites. 

So there you have it. I did learn something from my grandfather. And so did you.

Fun And Food In Home Grown Vegetable Gardening

Growing vegetables in your garden will prevent cash. throughout season, your own manufacture becomes a part of your meals. Home gardeners feel deep satisfaction in making ready dish or seasoning the casserole with freshly picked plants from their own vegetable gardens. Their feeling of the style is incommensurable. recent surplus area unit distributed to friends and love ones whereas some area unit keep frozen.

It doesn’t require much space to grow vegetables. Even a container pot or a window box will do the trick. Where space is limited, you can grow a mini-garden indoor or outdoor. If you have a good sun, access to water and enough containers, growing a garden’s worth of fruits and vegetables in a limited space is a no-brainer. You can even harvest more than one crop if your choice of plants and planting schemes are all well planned and executed. Windowsills, balconies and doorstep areas can be used, as well as empty packs of milks, pails, plastic buckets and cans.

When planting in containers, proper spacing is very important. One sturdy plant is better than several weak ones. Crowding chokes root systems will slow growth and poor production. With container vegetable garden, you no longer need to worry about poor soil types and bad drainage, or heavy-duty tiller to break up hard clay and rocks. There is no weeding to worry about and you can change the looks of your container placements by simply moving them around anytime to a place you wanted to. 

Vegetable gardening offers a change from the monotony of the supermarket. You can grow variety of vegetables that you want. When choosing plants for your vegetable container garden, consider container worthy crops such as beans, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and radish. Other root crops such onions and turnips can also do well in containers, but remember to always take care of these crops by ample fertilizers and water. Also consider grapes and berries. Though some take a while to get established, they bear fruits more each year. Planting for fall crops can be started in early summer, though summer planting can still be done in June in most regions.

One great advantage of growing vegetables and spices in containers involves the advent of the upside-down gardening. Crops with the likes of tomatoes, basil, parsley, rosemary and peppers do well with this approach. The ideas is that the vines will cascade downward instead of growing up a stake. A grow box can be treated by punching perforations through the bottom of a container. The other option is to purchase a device specially designed for this purpose. Upside gardens do not require a great deal of space and is perfect for balconies and patios.

Equally important, seeds and soil must properly be taken cared of in your vegetable container garden. Seeds do not always have to be bought. Reasonably fresh dill, anise, fennel, coriander and other seeds already on the spice rack should grow. If not, they are too old to add much to food anyway and should be replaced. Scoop out seeds from vegetables you’ve bought, dry them a week or so before planting.

Soil preparation on the other hand is very crucial for good results. Have the soil tested. Every state has a land-grant college that will test soil for a small fee. It will give abundant basic gardening advice, and garden resources tips. Start growing those veggies in your garden and turn your home made meals into something truly special. Take care of your plants to make them productive by keeping them watered and harvested.

Caring For The Indoor Bonsai Tree

By Ahmed Hajouj.

The indoor Bonsai Tree is a beautiful addition to any home or office, and once you learn how to care for these unique trees, they are a great hobby. 

Indoor Bonsai Trees are actually a miniature replica of a natural outdoor tree. The cultivation of the indoor Bonsai Tree first began in China and Japan centuries ago, but today growing the Bonsai Tree has become a popular hobby in many parts of the world.

One of the best aspects of the indoor Bonsai Tree is that it only becomes more beautiful with time with the right care. The indoor Bonsai Tree must receive enough sunlight without being exposed to temperatures that are too high or too low. If you live in a fairly mild climate you may want to place your tree on a patio or porch when temperatures permit.

If you live in a climate that reaches extreme temperatures, you may have to place your indoor Bonsai Tree in a room that receives plenty of light, but not right next to the window. 

Watering your indoor Bonsai Tree is another important element to properly caring for it. Your tree should be watered when the soil begins to appear dry, and it is very important that you never let the soil get too dry. 

Using the proper soil for the type of indoor Bonsai Tree that you have is also an essential element to caring for your tree. Always ensure that you have the right soil when planting or replanting your tree.

The correct use of liquid fertilizer may also determine how healthy your indoor Bonsai Tree will be. To guarantee that you are using the right fertilizer and applying it correctly, seek advice for the type of tree that you have.

For the indoor Bonsai Tree to grow properly, it is extremely important that you trim it at the appropriate times. Tropical and sub tropical indoor bonsai trees have to be trimmed throughout the year. Not only do the branches need to be trimmed but also the roots. Nevertheless, as different plants grow at diverse rates, you will have to assess your tree’s growth and change the trimming accordingly.

With proper care, your indoor Bonsai Tree can grow to be beautiful and healthy. Once you get the hang of caring for your Bonsai Tree, you may even want to add several more to your collection.

Planting Bulbs The Right Way

By Ahmed Hajouj.

This article explains a few things about planting bulbs, and if you’re interested, then this is worth reading, because you can never tell what you don’t know. 

How can you put a limit on learning more? The next section may contain that one little bit of wisdom that changes everything. 

There are many varieties of flowering plants, but few offer all the advantages of bulb plants. For starters, bulbs are generally inexpensive to buy, and they can be purchased through the mail or over the internet, since they are durable and easy to ship.

Bulbs are also beautiful, and some of the most beloved flowers in the garden, such as hyacinths, daffodils and of course tulips, are bulb plants. In addition, many bulbs can remain in the ground through the winter and bloom the next year. 

Even though bulbs are among the hardiest of all plants, it is important to exercise caution when planting them, and to buy only the best and most healthy bulbs. By choosing the healthiest bulbs, it will be easy to create a beautiful and healthy garden year after year.

When shopping for bulbs, it is important to look for the firmest, plumpest bulbs you can find. A good, high quality bulb will seem surprisingly heavy for its size. It is important to avoid bulbs that are too soft, since softness is often a sign of bulb rot. In addition, bulbs that are very light in weight, or that appear shriveled or cracked, should be rejected. These bulbs may have lost too much of their moisture to bloom in the garden.

The best blooms are generally provided by the largest bulbs. For instance, the largest daffodil bulbs will generally provide the biggest daffodils, and the biggest tulip bulbs will produce the largest tulips. Since bulbs bloom again and again, however, a most cost effective approach for the patient gardener is to buy small bulbs and allow them to grow over time. Each bloom will be larger than the last, and letting your own small bulbs grow can be a real treat for the gardener.

After you have bought the best bulbs you can find, it is important to exercise care when planting them. In order to thrive and grow, bulbs should be provided with a good well drained flower bed. If you have a poor draining soil, you may want to plant them on a slope or used a raised bed for better drainage.

Many people like to prepare an entire bed only for bulbs, while others prefer to intersperse their bulbs with other kinds of plants. Either approach can be great, but it is important to do the planting properly. To plant an entire bed of bulbs, you should first remove weeds and other vegetation from the bed. You should then spread between one and three inches of organic matter over the soil, then put down a small amount of a high quality fertilizer. When using fertilizer, it is important to follow the instructions on the package. After you have tilled and raked the soil, it is time to plant the bulbs.

Most bulbs should be planted three times as deep as the bulb is wide, so the average two inch wide bulb should be planted to a depth of about six inches. In sandy soils or hot climates, the bulbs should be planted a little bit deeper, while in heavy soil they should be planted a bit shallower. While it is fine to space bulbs close together, the more closely spaced the bulbs the more need there will be to divide them in a few years.

Using a bulb planter is a great idea when planting bulbs. If you do not have a bulb planter handy, you can use a garden trowel to dig the holes. Each hole should be dug a few inches deeper than needed, and a tablespoon of fertilizer should be placed in the base of each hole. The fertilizer should then be covered with a thin layer of soil, on top of which the bulb should be placed. The rest of the hole should then be filled with soil.

After planting the bulbs, you should be sure to water the bed thoroughly in order to get them off to a good start. Proper moisture at the start will allow them to establish a healthy root system.

Is there really any information about planting bulbs that is nonessential? We all see things from different angles, so something relatively insignificant to one may be crucial to another.

Growing Fruits And Vegetables The Way Nature Intended Them To Be

Gardening can add more quality to the way you live and even to some extent may also add quantity to one’s life. There are many benefits of gardening, particularly organic gardening that can make one can forget about whatever is bothering him or her. 

Organic gardening is the way of growing vegetables and fruits with the use of things only found in nature. 

Why would one want to indulge in organic gardening?

1. Organic gardening is less boring.

One can easily make his own compost from garden and kitchen waste. Though this is a bit more time-consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it would surely be one rewarding activity.

2. Less health harming chemicals on the food that you and your family may consume. 

Pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose kill living things. One of the best known benefits of organic gardening is the zero tolerance for pesticide use. This is the most widely know reason for the boom of organic gardening and is also the best of what we get from the benefits of organic gardening.

3. Less harm to the environment.

Organic gardening has residual effect on ground water. The Environmental Protection Agency says that 38 states have cases of contaminated ground water. 

The protection of the topsoil from erosion is another concern dealt with the practice of organic gardening.

The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 – 32 billion tons of soil erodes from United States farmlands every year. Commercial farming causes this.

4. Cost savings

One does need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. One example of organic fertilizer that one could make use of is as lowly as the stale coffee and coffee grounds. If one wishes to attract off aphids from vegetables, plant marigolds. 

One frugal garden pest spray could be concocted through mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on plants. 

Mulch, which is used to keep moisture in and weeds out, could be in the form of grass clippings and pine needles. 

5. Organic gardening makes one feel better knowing he is doing his part in safeguarding the future of the next generations.

On the average, a child ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult. This can lead to various diseases later on in the child’s life. With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.

Soil Plus Compost Equals Lush Healthy Plants

By Ahmed Hajouj.

You find that your plants are giving you fits in your landscape because it seems like a parade of weeds, insects or diseases have invaded and taken over. The problem is probably not due to insects or diseases but the poor soil that the plants are in. This poor soil is the major cause of invading insects and/or plant diseases.

With the poor soil comes weak and unhealthy plants that are more likely to get insect or disease problems. By improving the soil with compost, either before or after planting, will create a big difference. Anytime is a great time to add compost.

Compost is made of rich organic matter, which is crucial to growing healthy and fruitful plants. It is the result of a natural process of decay and recycling of materials such as leaves and twigs. In every corner of the world, in every meadow, forest and wetland composting is taking place. By copying this process, our plants will reap the benefits also.

The major benefit of compost is that it binds water and nutrients in reserve, freeing them when plants need it the most. It holds double its weight in water, hence cutting back the need to water and increasing a plants capacity for our dry months.

Utilizing compost is an inexpensive way to better the soil. Compost cuts the need to fertilize since it’s rich in plant nutrients and slowly discharges them over time. And by not having to replace plants every year and the costs connected with plants that die because of poor soils.

Humic acid is a plant-growth stimulant found in compost. Vegetable crops tests show that humic acid, even in low concentrations, produces healthy, lush plants.

Creating compost is an easy task. With all of the grass clippings, twigs and leaves from the yard, fall is a good time to make a compost pile. There are several ways to make compost. Even if you buy a compost bin or build one from wood pallets, here are several tips to help you get going.

1. A compost pile should be approximately 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. This measurement is ideal for getting the pile to heat up.

2. All items going into the compost pile should be wet. When the yard waste is dry when added, it will reduce the decomposition process.

3. Layers of the yard waste should be applied, that is, a layer of grass clippings then a layer of leaves and so on.

4. To turn a compost pile is not a absolute necessay task unless you are in a hurry. By turning the compost pile it will accelerate the decomposition process. 

5. The finished product compost can be applied to a new or an established garden or landscape. If you are still planning your project, be sure to add plenty of compost onto your soil before you plant. The compost, over time, will integrate itself with your existing soil. Therefore, no need to till or dig up the place you are improving. 

It doesn’t make any difference if your soil is sandy, clay, or rock; adding compost will improve it.

To top dress an established landscape, you can add a layer of compost on top of the existing soil. If you have established plants, add 1 – 2 inches of compost all around the plant. The plants will still get the benefits of the humic acid and other important plant nutrients abundantly found in compost. 

The plants and landscape will reward you with a lush, healthy growth. Additionally, it will step-up your plants’ natural resistance to insects and diseases. This method is nothing but back to basics.

Preparing The Garden For Winter

By Ahmed Hajouj.

Are you like me? Sad to see the summer end but at the same time relieved that there is one less task to tend to. Weeding, watering, pruning, and more weeding is over for this year and with a few more chores the outdoor gardening year draws to a close. Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up. Practical steps to preparing your outdoor garden for winter involve:

1. Protecting plants. There are different opinions concerning whether to cut down or leave plants standing through the winter. Here on the prairies most people leave their perennials standing for a variety of reasons. In particular, trapping the snow cover is important for protection of plants and retaining moisture. Snow cover acts the same as good mulch by insulating the soil. Many perennial stems and seed heads are also very attractive for winter interest and provide food for the birds. After the ground freezes, mulch perennials and shrub beds with pine needles, compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves. This protects the soil and plant roots and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter periods of freezes and thaws. 

2. Cleaning-up the garden. Harvest warm-season crops such as tomatoes even though they are still green. Lie out on windowsills; or layer in boxes with newspapers between the layers of tomatoes. They will slowly ripen or you can use green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes or various green tomato recipes. Pull out any remaining crops or spent annuals; clean up remaining debris and weeds to decrease the possibility of disease problems in the spring. 

3. Evaluating your garden design. Before you start winterizing your garden, take a few minutes to review what worked and what didn’t and make note of any areas that you would like to change in the spring.

4. Prepare the soil for early spring seeding. Turn over the garden soil late in the season while amending with organic matter such as leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure. In the spring, a light raking is all that is needed.

5. Caring for trees and lawns. Protect the tender bark of young trees from rabbits and gnawing critters by wrapping stems or trunks with chicken wire or commercial tree-guard products. To prevent rodents from nesting near buildings and trees, trim tall grass, and remove weeds. Deeply water trees and shrubs so that they go into winter well hydrated. Don’t prune shrubs and trees as it may stimulate new growth just before the harsh weather. Cut lawns and fertilise if you wish with a low nitrogen ‘winter’ blend. Use grass clippings for mulch or compost. Never send them to the landfill, as they are excellent fertiliser left on the lawn (if they are not too long) and/or make terrific compost/mulch dug straight into the garden or used for pathways. Once rotted on garden pathways, dig into the garden and replace with new grass clippings.

6. Planting before winter. Now is the time to plant bulbs. Garden centres carry many varieties suitable for the prairies. Remember: buy good quality as cheap is not better – the larger the bulb – the larger the bloom. Look for plumpness, firmness, clean skin, and surface. Directions for planting are included with the package.

7. Composting. Compost dead plant debris including leaves. Leaves are a valuable natural resource. Rather than a nuisance, they are the best soil amendment as well as terrific mulches. Leaves take very little effort to recycle into a wonderful soil conditioner – leaf mould – for the yard and garden. You can make leaf mould by the same process nature does. Pile up moist leaves and wait for them to decompose or shred the leaves into smaller pieces before piling them up. If you wish, you can enclose the pile with chicken wire, snow fencing, or something similar. In the spring, I rake up dry leaves and dig them straight into the vegetable garden. 

8. Cleaning your tools. Clean the soil from all your gardening tools, oil any wooden handles and moving parts, sharpen any blades, and then store them in a dry place for the winter. 

9. Water Gardening. Bring in pumps, drain, clean, refill (if necessary) and store tender water plants prior to freezing.

10. Bringing in your indoor plants. Before bringing in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors, examine them for critters, wash them, and spray with soapy water or insecticidal soap. Use sterilised potting soil purchased from garden centres or shopping malls if re-potting your plants. Don’t use garden soil as it may harbour insects, weed seeds, disease, and fungi.

Flower Cutting And Cultivation Tips

By Ahmed Hajouj.


Varieties good for cutting are magnolias, the luxurious waxy flowers are all beautiful for cutting. M.denudata is one of my favorites, once established you will get a dense covering of natural white super fragrant flowers.

Cultivation tips for magnolias, they need shelter from strong winds and like the sun, but can tolerate partial shade, soil ph should be neutral, the soil needs to be deep and must have good water retention, but not spongy. Best time to plant is in late spring


Varieties that are very good for picking from early spring are C.pratensis, the subtle pink shades of the cuckoo flower mix beautifully with bluebells. These splendid flowers grow naturally but I prefer to grow my own.

Cardamine cultivation, they just love the sun but can also thrive in semi-shade. They can tolerate a wide range of Soil ph (Acidic through to Alkali) but the soil must be moist or wet. Propagations tips, propagate from seed in spring or by division in autumn.


Varieties good for cutting are P.vulgaris or P.vernalis. These amazing pasque flowers are very exotic and have a sexy purple coloring, there are of course other colors available, but I prefer the purple.

Cultivation, they need the sun and can be slightly temperamental in shade conditions, the soil needs to be well drained calcareous (containing chalk). Propagate from root cutting in winter or fresh seed in late spring.

Arctotis Fastuosa – monarch of the veldt

Varieties that are good for cutting are the Vendidium fastuosum. This bright orange daisy with black markings on the petals and a chocolate center is one of my favorites, this variety lasts about twice as long in water as a marigold

Conditioning, strip off the bottom leaves. Cultivation, grow them in super drained sandy soil in non shady conditions.

6 Easy Tips On How To Care For Your Plants

By Ahmed Hajouj.

Many people worry a lot when it comes to caring for their plants. When talking about house plants, there is no need to worry. There are just a few things you need to consider. 

1. Watering

A watering can is a must-have in every garden. It is recommended that you purchase the one with a narrow spout to ensure adequate watering. But that does not always apply, so the finger test may come in handy. Insert your index finger up to the first joint into the soil. If you feel that the soil is damp, don’t water it. Otherwise, do.

2. Feeding

With foliage plants, they always need to be high in nitrogen. For flowering plants, on the other hand, K2O is needed. Fertilizers such as the slow release ones can be mixed with the compost. However, some plants like cacti and orchids need special feeds. Feed plants on the height of their active growth. 

3. Lighting

Plants like Sanseveria and Aspidistra require no shade. They can be placed away from a window. Spider plants need semi-shade. You can put plants like these near a window that does or does not get sunlight. Others need sun or no sun at all like cheeseplants.

4. Temperature 

With houseplants, they can survive in temperatures a little bit higher than 15 – 250 C or 55 – 750 F. But drastic fluctuations of temperature may not be good for them. 

5. Humidity

Some houseplants require a humid environment. One tip to maximize humidity is to put the pot inside a larger pot and fill in the gaps with stones or compost to keep in the moisture. The compost will not dry out. Plants are capable of creating their own climate if grouped together. This tip can also be used for keeping the soil moist. If you want, you can spray them with water once or twice a day depending on the day’s temperature. 

6. Repotting

Other plants require repotting for optimum growth but some plants may not be suitable for this idea. They would not want their roots to be disturbed or other plants’ root system is small. One way to check if your plant needs repotting is to turn it upside down. Tap the pot to release the plant and check its roots. If roots are all you see, then repot. 

You just need to have a little care for your plants and in turn, you’ll reap its benefits. You don’t only have a garden that can add to your house’s beauty you can also learn how to respect and nurture life in its varied forms.