Zodiac Gardening

Flowers can brighten your mood even on the darkest of days.Be it an elegant bouquet for your mother on mother’s day, a red rose for your beloved or a pretty bunch for a sick friend, flowers have a way of conveying feelings when words fail.

They are sometimes the central theme for a poet’s verse and sometimes a muse for the artist. The sheer beauty of a flower makes it a natural go-to choice for decoration and gifting.

Have you ever wondered if there is a certain flower for every person of a zodiac sign? Well there is and the concept is called Zodiac gardening. Zodiac gardening as the name suggests, is planting and growing flowers according to your zodiac signs. For many out there, Zodiac flowers are a way of self-discovery. These flowers are a reflection of one’s personality.You don’t need to be a believer in zodiac astrology to try this out. All you need is a curious mind, the desire to experiment and of course an unrequited love for gardening which all of you visitors at GreenMyLife surely have.

Go on and find out the flower of your zodiac sign!

ARIES- THE FIERY HONEYSUCKLE

Honeysuckle

A fire sign Aries represents confidence, dynamic energy, and true adventure. They are true leaders and trendsetters. The fiery nature of Aries syncs perfectly with its birth flowers thistle and honeysuckle. There are some other flowers too that suit the characteristics of Aries such as bryony, peppermint, tiger lily, geranium, hops, impatiens, onions, hollyhock, thorn-bearing trees, and shrubs.

TAURUS- THE SENSUOUS FOXGLOVE

Foxglove

Taurus is an earth sign and its attributes are stubbornness, sensuality, and sensitivity. Along with those characteristics, they show humility, strength, warmth and are well grounded. Apart from Foxglove, other flowers that signify the characteristics of Taurus are poppy, daisy, violet, columbine, mallow, berries, sundew, ash, cypress, vine, apple, crab apple, pear, fig, citrus, and palms.

GEMINI-THE PLAYFUL LILIES OF THE VALLEY

Lily Of The valley

Known for their multifaceted, playful personalities Gemini also embodies deep passion and an introspective attitude. Their creative and illuminating imagination blends in with their birth flower: Lillis of the valley. Other flowers that symbolize the characteristics of Gemini are lavender, maidenhair fern, myrtle, fern, orchid, chrysanthemum, lilac, azalea, nut-bearing trees and hazel.

CANCER-THE SERENE WHITE ROSE

White roses depict the emotional, strong-headed and sensitive nature of the Cancerians. Other flowers that bear these characteristics are bear’s breeches, morning glory, geranium, lily, water lily, cabbage, lotus, verbena, Southern magnolia, cow parsley, and white flowers

LEO-THE CYNOSURE MARIGOLD

Marigold

Bold, energetic and extrovert, Leos surely love attention and their birth flower Marigold mirrors these traits. Other flowers that depict their personality traits are sunflower, passion flower, vines, rosemary, aster, larkspur, dahlia, heliotrope, palm, bay, laurel, walnut, olive, and citrus trees.

VIRGO-THE METICULOUS BUTTERCUP

Perfection is the middle name for those born under the zodiac sign Virgo. Along with those traits, an analytical, methodical and reflective approach makes buttercup the birth flower for the people with this zodiac sign. Other flowers in the gamut are narcissus, chrysanthemum, aster, all brightly colored small flowers (particularly blue or yellow), cherry and nut bearing trees.

LIBRA- THE BALANCED BLUEBELLS

Bluebells

Librans are known for their ethos of justice, belief in truth and their penchant for striking a balance in their life. Since the birth flower is bluebell for Librans, these flowers should be grown in a well-organized and balanced proportion(owing to their characteristic of balancing things in life). Other flowers that depict the characteristics of Libra are large roses, aster, hydrangea, mint, daisy, berries, plum, ash, and poplar.

SCORPIO- THE PASSIONATE GERANIUMS

Germaniums

For the passionate, intense, insightful, creative and tenacious Scorpios, Geraniums are the flowers that embody all of these traits. Other flowers that symbolize these attributes are rhododendron, holly, black-eyed Susan, scarlet monkey flower, anemone, heather, gardenia, honey suckle, cactus, Arian flowers, yew, blackthorn, and bushy trees.

SAGITTARIUS-THE INTENSE CARNATION

Carnation

Sagittarians represents intellect and strength. They also have an eye for adventure. So, the Carnation is the flower that perfectly symbolizes all of these qualities. Other flowers that symbolize the characteristics of Sagittarius are – Pinks and carnations, dandelion, clematis, peony, blackberry, thistle, moss, sage, rush, lime, birch, mulberry, oak, ash, and chestnut.

CAPRICORN- THE ROOTED PANSY

Pansy

Practical and willful Capricorns are synonymous with deep-rooted flowers like Pansy. Other flowers that mirror their persona are Ivy, heartsease, love-lies-bleeding, pansy, knapweed, hemp, Scotch broom, trillium, baby’s breath, camellia, magnolia, pine, elm, yew, willow, aspen, poplar, and hemlock.

AQUARIUS-THE INSIGHTFUL ORCHID

Orchid

Insightful, independent, romantic and faithful Aquarians have Orchids as their birth flower. Orchids is a perfect symbolization for their ever-romantic personalities. Other flowers that symbolize the characteristics of Aquarius are Solomon’s seal, orchid, golden rain, goldenrod, jack-in-the-pulpit, bird of paradise, gladiolus, trillium, kiwi, fruit trees, elderberry, olive, and alder.

PISCES- THE COMPASSIONATE WATER LILY

Gentle attitude, imaginative thinking, and reactive nature makes water lily a beautiful birth flower for this water sign. However, there are other flowers too symbolizing its nature. They include poppy, rhubarb, yarrow, clematis, wisteria, lilac, orchid, willow, fig, and other trees growing near water.

Now that you know your birth flowers, select flowers that would complement your personality and garden on!

How to make your own seed bombs ?

What is a seed ball/seed bomb ?

Seed bombs/seed balls are a fun and effective way of re-seeding depleted landscapes where you reintroduce. Seed bombs are usually small balls of about 1-3 inch diameter – made of clay, potting soil or compost and seeds. Once they have been made, and dried for 24-48 hours – they are then either sown or more commonly “thrown” across land which needs new flora. Perhaps throw them on the land on the side of highways or barren patches of lands in urban areas like apartment complexes etc or soil on road dividers, to create a green cover.

There are some advantages of using seed bombs instead of using seeds directly:

  • Because there are nutrients in the seed bomb in the form of compost or potting mix or cow dung,  it gives a leg up to germinating seeds – gives them nutrition in the early days when the young plant needs a little help to survive in harsh conditions.
  • The ball prevents animals or birds from eating up the seeds.
  • It takes less time to cover a large area – since you can simply throw the seed bombs – so you could, for example, drive around in a car with thousands of seed bombs and a slingshot, and disperse the seed bombs all around while cruising in your vehicle. In fact, there have been scenarios where seed bombs have been used for aerial reforestation by dispersing hundreds of thousands of seed bombs using a low flying aeroplane !

What sort of seeds should you choose ?

You should choose seeds of varieties of plants or trees that are native to the region where you are going to carry out your seed-bombing activity, so that they are likely to survive. You can choose trees as well as plants – for foliage, flowers or even vegetables !

When is a good time for seed-bombing ?

In India, doing it a little before the beginning of the rainy season is great – that’s when the tiny saplings would grow very fast when the first rains hit. Doing it in the middle of the rainy season may wash away the seed bombs.

Steps to make your bag of seed bombs

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 parts potting soil or compost
  • 5 parts pottery clay mix from an arts and crafts shop or some river bed clay
  • 1-2 parts water
  • 1-2 parts seeds of your choice
  • a bucket to mix ingredients
  • a cardboard box to dry and store seed balls

Directions:

1.Mix the potting soil, clay and 1 part water thoroughly. Make sure there are no lumps.
Slowly add more water until the mixture is the consistency of play dough or toy store modelling clay.
2.Add seeds. Keep kneading the dough until the seeds are well mixed in. Add more water if necessary.
3.Take small bits of the clay mixture and roll into ball about one inch in diameter.
The balls should hold together easily. If they’re crumbly, add more water.
4. Dry seed balls for 24-48 hours in a shaded place before sowing or storing. They store best in a cardboard box. Do not use plastic bags.

This is a great activity for both adults and kids alike – its great fun making these seed bombs with your own hands, as well going on a seed bombing drive with friends and family, once your hand moulded seed bombs are ready !

Health Benefits of Gardening

HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARDENING

Gardening has been recognized for its recreational benefits for long now. A lot of people see gardening as an escape from the chaotic world around them. Little did we know that along with peace of mind, gardening also brings us physical well being. That is because happiness and health are mutually related entities.

In urban areas, people lose touch with the simple wonders of nature. They live a stressfully scheduled life. Gardening is one good way to deal with all the stress going around in one’s life. Gardening helps us lower Cortisol (stress hormone) levels in our body. Chronically high Cortisol levels not only influence our mood but also affect our immune system, heart health and memory. So gardening helps us in directly combating the ill effects of elevated Cortisol levels in our body. Few researches have also shown that people assigned to gardening experienced a more significant decrease in stress level as compared to people assigned to reading. So yeah, gardening proves to be a better stress-buster than reading a good novel.

Gardening can easily replace the 2-2 ½ hours of exercise each week. Which means regular gardening can yield benefits equal to regular fitness exercise. Gardening keeps heart diseases at bay just like regular exercise does. Regular gardening is known to decrease stroke and heart attack risk by 30% for those who are over the age of 60. Gardening is like a work out for the body and releases endorphins (happy hormones), which eases the stress level of our body. For elderly people, gardening provides the best kind of physical therapy since strenuous exercise cannot be a wise option for them. Mid-day is the most efficient time for gardening for them, at least for 10-15 minutes, when they can soak in the beneficial vitamin D from the sun, which, in turn reduces the risks of various heart diseases and osteoporosis (condition of having porous bones due to loss of bone tissues).

Vitamin D soaked in by the body from the sun helps in regulating the immune system. it helps us fight off cold and flus. Also, the friendly soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae commonly found in garden dirt, if inhaled or ingested helps in alleviating the symptoms of allergies and asthma, all of which is an outcome of poor immune system. Thus, we see, gardening helps us in regulating the immune activity of our body.

Gardening keeps our blood moving and makes us sweat out and burn the extra calories in our body. It is a kind of work-out for the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Apart from physical health benefits, gardening also helps us enhance mental health. The process of gardening involves a lot of attention and all the critical brain functions are involved. This proves as a mental exercise and enhances our abilities like thinking, problem solving, endurance, patience etc. Various researches suggest that the activities involved in gardening can help lower the risk of dementia (a condition of mental deterioration).

For people who are already suffering mental decline, just a simple walk in a garden may prove to be therapeutic. An emerging field of treatment called horticultural therapy is providing best results for patients with depression and other mental illnesses. These results are an outcome of the combination of physical and mental activity involved during gardening.

A garden can prove to be a peaceful sojourn. A place of solace and serenity. Just sitting in a garden and observing nature closely can be a therapy in itself. It teaches us to be humble, calm and sensitive. It makes us believe that nature has its own call in everything. Just by looking at the greens around, we can soothe ourselves and a feeling of tranquillity sets in.

Gardening offers a relationship with nature which provides a sense of psychological well-being. One cannot really be in a bad mood for too long when they are working in a garden.

Food gardening can be even more beneficial. Along with the health benefits we can get fresh produce as a by-product. The joy of seeding to the thrill of harvesting, all the tasks involved, big or small, can be a source of physical exercise for us. And at the end of all this, during the growing season we can get fresh produce as a by-product.

So, why don’t we start gardening already? If you have some employed men to take care of your garden then you’re actually paying them to take away all the benefits gardening would otherwise provide to you.

It’s time we awaken the gardening enthusiast in us and evolve as healthy and responsible gardeners. Happy Gardening!

Top-10 ornamental plants for vertical garden

Top 10 ornamental plants for vertical garden

In a vertical garden, we can grow a wide range of plants; some are edible, some strictly for beautifying purposes, while some are for both. Vertical gardens are a green solution to urban gardening problems within a limited space. Ornamental plants not only add to the aesthetic sense of the place but also help in making the space eco-friendly.

In this write up we will discuss the various ornamental plants including both foliage and flowering plants.

NOTE: Check out our portable vertical gardens – these are easy to install and maintain – and you can buy them online and get them home delivered anywhere in India !

Foliage:

  • Sword Fern: They are most common vertical garden plants used, nowadays. Often grown in hanging baskets on green walls.
  • Botanical name: Nephrolepis exaltata
  • Light and temperature: light to heavy shade; most ferns like an average temperature of 65-75 degrees F
  • Soil: pH should be around 7-8
  • Water: regular watering and never let the soil get completely dry.
  • Height: up to 4-5 feet

 

  • Golden Pothos or Money plant: It is a vining plant that is super easy to care for. They easily grow and spread over a wide length of the wall. Botanical name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Light and temperature: money plant prefers indirect light and will tolerate low light; thrives better in humid areas such as bathroom walls
  • Soil: grows best in fertile loamy soil of pH range 6.0-7.5;
  • Water: needs watering every 7 to 10 days when the top 2 inches of soil is dry
  • Height: grows up to a length of 20 feet
money plant

money plant

 

  • English ivy: Ivy is a hardy, evergreen vine. It attaches itself by aerial rootlets to the walls and other surfaces. Grown primarily for its lush foliage, which forms a cool green cover on walls or whichever vertical surface they’re grown on.
  • Botanical name: Hedera helix
  • Light and temperature: full to partial sun; 50-70 degrees F
  • Soil: well-drained loamy soil, either acidic, neutral or alkaline in nature
  • Water: average watering is required
  • Height: 20-90 feet
english ivy growing vertically

english ivy growing vertically

 

  • Giant lilyturf: They have dense spreading strap-like leaves that are glossy and dark green. Though it is grown for its dense green foliage, it does bloom in summer and its flowers are quite showy.
  • Botanical name: Liriope gigantea
  • Light and temperature: full-sun to full-shade; 60-70 degrees F
  • Soil: well-drained loamy or clayey soil with pH ranging from neutral to acidic
  • Water: needs regular watering throughout the growing season.
  • Height: up to 4 feet tall.

 

 

  • Philodendron: It is easy to take care of, because if you watch the signals, the plant will tell you exactly what it needs. They are comfortable both as indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Botanical name: Philodendron scandens
  • Light and temperature: bright indirect sunlight; 75-85 degrees F
  • Soil: a soil of pH 6.0-6.5 is ideal for philodendron
  • Water: while watering philodendron plants, allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Height: grows up to a length of 10-20 feet
philodendron and peace lily distinctly visible on a wall

philodendron and peace lily distinctly visible on a wall

Flowers:

  • Geranium varieties: They bloom in burst of deep reds, scarlet, pinks, white, purple etc. with flowers lasting the entire gardening season.
  • Botanical name: Geranium dissectum
  • Light and temperature: bright to medium light is needed along with 60-70 degrees F.
  • Soil: well-drained potting soil of pH range 6.0-7.5
  • Water: known to be drought tolerant, occasional watering can be carried out
  • Height: grows up to 12 inches tall
  • Flower colours: pink, blue, orange, white, red.
geraniums

geraniums

 

  • Wedding vines: Wedding vine derives its name from the decoration purpose it serves at weddings. It’s grown vertically widely for its pure white, waxy, intensely fragrant flowers.
  • Botanical name: Stephanotis floribunda
  • Light and temperature: 70-90 degrees F
  • Soil: high content of loam and peat moss.
  • Water: water until the soil mixture is drenched; the mixture should drain freely
  • Height: grows up to 6 feet or more
  • Flower colours: pure white

 

8) Peace lily: Peace lily is used in a vertical garden owing to its quickly growing ability. Easy to grow as they are tolerant to lower light and low humidity.

  • Botanical name: Spathiphyllum wallisii
  • Light and temperature: bright to medium light; 65-80 degrees F temperature
  • Water: water at least once a week and spritz the leaves with distilled water throughout the summer growing season.
  • Height:up to 2 feet (60 cm)
  • Flowers: white
peace lily on a green wall

peace lily on a green wall

9) Star jasmine: Evergreen plant and can be easily trained on trellis.

  • Botanical name: Trachelospermum jasminoides
  • Light and temperature: full to partial sun
  • Water: average watering is needed.
  • Height:3-9 metres
  • Flowers: white
star jasmine vine

star jasmine vine

10) English lavender: Evergreen garden herb thrives in summer heat and dry weather. They are also grown for its medicinal and culinary uses.

  • Botanical name:Lavandula
  • Light and temperature: full sun; 70-75 degrees F
  • Soil: neutral to alkaline soil
  • Water: regular watering is not required
  • Height:1-2 metres
  • Flowers: lavender in colour

 

english lavender

english lavender

NOTE: GreenMyLife offers landscaping services in Bangalore – we can build beautiful vertical gardens for residential and commercial spaces ! Get in touch.

Top 10 indoor low maintenance plants

INDOOR LOW MAINTENANCE PLANTS

Indoor plants or houseplants are used to make our house look lively and fresh. But maintaining it becomes a task sometimes. Taking out time to take care of these plants is not always a feasible option and we end up neglecting it and they eventually die. Well, this trouble can be avoided by choosing low-maintenance houseplants that are very easy to take care of.

The top-10 low maintenance houseplants are:

  • Snake plant:
  • Botanical name: Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
  • Other names: Mother in law’s tongue
  • Light and temperature: low to bright light; 60-85 degrees F
  • Water: occasionally, as it is drought tolerant
  • Height: up to 4 feet tall
snake plant

snake plant

Snake plant is a carefree succulent plant, it is quite indestructible and has lovely, long architectural, snake-like leaves. The only problem with this plant is that it’s very likely to develop root rot if we overwater it.

  • ZZ plant:
  • Botanical name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • Other names: Zanzibar gem, Zeezee plant
  • Light and temperature: low to bright light; 60-75 degrees F
  • Water: allow the soil to dry between waterings
  • Height: 2-3 feet tall
ZZ PLANT

ZZ PLANT

This plant is sometimes called the eternity plant because it lasts so long. It’s thick, fleshy leafstalks are very durable and thus, very resistant to harsh conditions. This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed by children or pets.

 

  • Cast iron plant:
  • Botanical name: Aspiditra elatior
  • Other names: Bar-room plant
  • Light and temperature: low light; 45-85 degrees F
  • Water: should be kept evenly moist during active growth period
  • Height: up to 2 feet tall
Cast-Iron-Plant

Cast-Iron-Plant

This plant literally lives up to its name, it is nearly indestructible. One of the toughest houseplants one can grow. It withstands all adverse conditions.

  • Money plant:
  • Botanical name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Other names: Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy
  • Light and temperature: bright to medium; 45-85 degrees F
  • Water: moderately; let the soil dry between watering
  • Height: climbs up to 7 feet (around 2 m) in containers
money plant

money plant

Money plant is the most common and most planted houseplants in India. It is seen in almost every other house in India. It can be grown in a pot as well as a hanging plant.

  • Peace lily:
  • Botanical name: Spathiphyllum wallisii
  • Other names: Cobra plant
  • Light and temperature: bright to medium; 65-80 degrees F
  • Height:up to 2 feet (60 cm)
  • Water: the plant should be kept moist most of the time
  • Flowering season: blooms repeatedly all-year long
  • Flower colours: white
peace lily

peace lily

Because of its low maintenance and pure white blossoms, Peace lily, is one of the most popular varieties of houseplants. The soil of the plant should be moist at all times but there shouldn’t be any standing water.

  • Arrowhead vine:
  • Botanical name: Syngonium podophyllum
  • Other names: Goosefeet, African evergreen, Arrowhead philodendron, Arrowhead plant
  • Light and temperature: low to medium
  • Height:up to 3 feet
  • Water: drench; let dry
arrowhead vine

arrowhead vine

Arrowhead vine is one of the most common houseplants. This plant may cause irritation of lips, tongue and throat if any of its parts are eaten or chewed.

  • Asparagus fern:
  • Botanical name: Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’
  • Other names: Foxtail, Plume asparagus
  • Light and temperature: medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F
  • Height:up to 4 feet tall
  • Water: should be kept evenly moist

 

Many varieties of Asparagus ferns are used as houseplants because they are the fastest growing, least demanding and easiest to take care of. Best grown in bright light without direct sun, shade tends to cause them to yellow or drop.

  • Hens and chicks plant:
  • Botanical name: Sympervivum tectorum
  • Other names: Houseleek, Jupiter’s eye plant, Thor’s beard plant
  • Light and temperature: medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F
  • Height and spread:up to 2-7 inches tall, 2-36 inches wide spread
  • Water: Leaves are succulent; watering is only necessary in drought conditions
hens and chicks plant

hens and chicks plant

Since houseleeks are succulents, maintaining it is not a task at all. Keeping them in sunlight brings out the bright colours in this plant. If kept in shade, many varieties fade to a plain green colour.

  • Peperomia:
  • Botanical name: Peperomia spp
  • Other names: Radiator plant
  • Light and temperature: low to medium light; 60-75 degrees F
  • Height:up to 1 foot tall
  • Water: moderately, let the soil dry between watering
peperomia

peperomia

Peperomia is a diverse group of small houseplants with waxy colourful foliage which adds liveliness to any room where it is kept without taking up a lot of space.

  • Coleus:
  • Botanical name: Plectranthus scutellariodes
  • Other names: Painted nettle
  • Light and temperature: low to medium light; 65-75 degrees F
  • Height:up to 2 feet tall
  • Water: moderately, let the soil dry between watering
Coleus

Coleus

Coleus plant’s tallness can be maintained at a desired height. Pinch the stem tips to control the height and increase the bushiness which is favourable for indoor planting.

How To Grow Chilli?

Chilli is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, and members of the Solanaceae family. There are many varieties of chilli plants, some of which are the hottest peppers known. They can be herbaceous or shrub-like but are branching with green-brown stems and simple oval leaves. The plants produces flowers with five petals, usually white in colour. They are found mostly in Britain, Australia, South Africa, India and other Asian countries.  Read more

Recycle for Gardening

Gardening is the best antidote for stress and boredom. It works like a magic-potion. But it can prove to be heavy on pocket especially if you are a newbie green thumb, as you will need to buy seeds, pots, fertilizers, insecticide, tools and what not! An easy and economical solution would be to start building your own garden by recycling household items and using them for building your own recycled Garden!

To begin with, here are a few common worn out house-hold items that can be recycled as excellent planters:

  • Old fish aquarium
  • Old bathtub
  • Buckets
  • Old wicker chair
  • Worn boots
  • Food cans
  • Coffee mugs
  • Paper cups
  • Old tea pots
  • Commodes

You can use small containers like coffee mugs and cans for starter plants in the spring and place them in your kitchen or drawing room to give a vibrant and dynamic look to the area. Not only planters but important gardening tools can also be found in your kitchen collection. From everyday used cutleries to aluminum foils and from egg shells to coffee grounds, all can be used to give your backyard an awesome and cost-effective makeover. This way you can have everything needed to set up and maintain your own garden without spending any money. Read through to know how your old household items can be used in the garden.

Aluminum Foil

If you thought that the versatile silver foil was restricted to kitchen use, then you are in for a surprise. It can do all your hard work while you repose. Below are a few of many purposes that aluminum foil solves:

  • Scare birds away: Birds are scared of shiny things. Dangling aluminum foils from your fruit tree will ward off the birds and prevent them from having fruits of your labor.
  • Repel the invading insect population: Mix strips of reflective aluminum foil in garden mulch to keep insects from spoiling your veggie garden.
  • Deter pets and other animals: Hang strips of used foil on strings around the garden to deter birds, squirrels and other unwanted pets, too.

Egg Cartons

Make a small hole at the bottom of crates for water drainage. Fill them with soil and plant your seeds in them. Now all you need to do is wait till the seeds sprout and then you can cut the individual crates and bury them in the soil. If you have used a cardboard egg carton, you need not worry about removing the crates as they will biodegrade with time.

But if you’ve used a plastic egg carton, you would want to remove the crates before burying the seedling. Besides egg cartons, you may also use toilet paper rolls or aluminum foil rolls for starting seeds.

Egg Shells

Starting seeds in eggshells is by far one of the most healthy way to raise your plants. This is because eggshells provide some of the vital nutrients for your plants to grow.

Crushed egg shells act as a vital calcium source for plants. Rinse the egg shells after use and allow them to dry before you add them to soil. You may use a coffee bean grinder to crush the shells into fine dust. Larger shell pieces can be used to keep snails and slugs away.

Tea Leaves

Used tea leaves are excellent fertilizers. Tea leaves are rich in minerals and brewing extracts only a little percentage of these rich resources. Instead of throwing them away after use, sprinkle them around acid loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc. and enjoy your cup of tea while you watch your plants grow.

Cutleries

Table utensils such as spoons, forks and knives are tough and sharp enough to do many gardening jobs without causing damage. They can used to lift seedlings, make path for tiny seeds and mixing soil. Take a pair of kitchen tongs outside with you when it’s time to trim back any prickly vines, limbs, or rosebushes. The tongs will allow you to hold or bend the branch painlessly while you snip with the other hand.

Apart from cutleries you may also use the back of an old tooth brush for making holes to plant your seeds! Colorful wine bottles serve as enchanting Garden decor  which makes a garden look lively. Borrow a glass cutter from your neighbor and turn your used wine bottles into beautiful wind chimes to dangle them in your backyard.

Building a little water fountain in corner will also be a good idea. Place old kettles or clay pots over each other, or use an old musical instrument such as a tuba may come handy in building a water fountain.

Coffee Grounds Coffee grounds are an excellent source of organic matter. They are approximately 1.45% nitrogen. They also contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals. Sprinkle the beans at the bottom of any plant to improve drainage in clay soils. It will be a feast for plants that like rich and moist organic soil like azaleas and blueberries.

Soap

Few people know that soap has wide utility in garden maintenance as well. Its insecticidal properties make it an ideal weapon to knock off the little marauders like mites, aphids, white flies and immature leafhoppers etc. But note that insecticidal soaps are not the same as dish soap or liquid laundry soaps. They are potassium salts of fatty acids and their purity and concentration is controlled. A simplest insecticidal soap is nothing more than a 2% soap solution.

To make it at home, you will need –

 Sprayer – Any clean spray bottle or garden sprayer will work fine for spraying insecticidal soap. Make sure the sprayer or bottle hasn’t been used for herbicides

 Pure Soap – You need liquid soap, such as pure castile liquid soap, that does not contain additives (like fragrance, moisturizer and other additional chemicals)

 Water – Tap water is fine for making insecticidal soap. If you have hard water, you may want to use bottled water to prevent soap scum from building up on your plants.

To prepare 2% soap solution, mix 1 heavy tablespoon of soap to 1 quart of water or 4 to 5 tablespoons of soap to 1 gallon of water. Coat the soap solution to the infected parts from top to bottom. Understand that in order to be effective, the soap solution should be in direct contact with the insects.
Note- Sometimes plants may react negatively with the soap solution. To make sure that the soap solution suits your plants, test it over a few leaves and observe for 24 hours. If you see any signs of spotting, withering or browning of the leaves, do not use that soap solution. There are a few additional ingredients that may be added to the soap solution to solve the purpose.
Adding two tablespoons (per gallon water) of light cooking oil helps the soap solution to stick to the plant little longer. Chewing insects can be kept away by using a teaspoon of ground red pepper and/or garlic (per gallon of water).

Below are a few other ways in which green thumbs may find soap solution handy:

 Remove light blocking dust that settles on the leaf surface by wiping the leaves with soap solution. This is particularly important in winters when plants struggle to get sunlight

 Soap is a natural surfactant. Spraying soap solution breaks surface tension and penetrates water deeper

 Swiping a bar of soap over saw blade will lubricate the saw and make wood cutting easier

 Hanging a broken piece of soap bar from trees and plants will repel dears.

Newspapers

Mulched newspapers are excellent to control weed growth. They retain moisture and add carbon-based organic matter the soil as they decompose. You can use newspaper mulch in the vegetable garden, shrub beds, on perennial borders and walkways. Pretty much anywhere where weeds grow, which, of course, is everywhere.
At the beginning of the season, spread newspaper 6 to 10 sheets thick over the area. You may find it helpful to either wet the newspaper first so that the water keeps the paper from blowing over to the neighbours or wicking moisture from the soil. The newspaper can be then covered with more attractive organic mulch like shredded bark, compost, mushroom soil, chopped leaves, straw, hay or grass clippings. For areas with existing plants, you may also mulch thin newspaper strips 2-3 inches from the trunk or crown of the plant Apart from these, coffee mugs and cans with perforated tops can serve as watering cans for plants. You can also make a birdbath out of a light shade plastic or glass container.

So be innovative and flex your creative muscles while you make useful and decorative garden accessories from old household items that have run their course.

Practising Organic Gardening- 102

Practising Organic Gardening- 102

In the previous article we discussed the basic components of organic gardening, like, organic fertilizers, organic pesticides, water conservation methods etc. In this write up we will discuss at length about mulching, composting, crop rotation and companion gardening.

  • MULCHING:

The main function of mulches is to cover the soil and help enrich and insulate them. They are used for a variety of reasons, some of them being:

Mulching bed around the house and bushes, wheelbarrel along with a showel.

Mulching bed around the house and bushes, wheelbarrel along with a showel.

  • Conserves soil moisture
  • Prevent and control weed propagation
  • Traps heat
  • Prevents soil erosion
  • Protects plant roots from extreme temperature

Mulches serve as a physical barrier that dissipates the chances of soil being washed by rainwater. It also serves as a vapour barrier and prevents the loss of soil moisture by evaporation.

Types of mulches: Materials commonly used for mulching are as follows:

  • Rocky mulch(small to big stones)
  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Bark chips and sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Pine straw
  • Wool
  • Cardboard
  • Animal manure
  • Pebbles
  • Grass clippings

 

  • COMPOSTING:

Composting refers to a process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil called compost which enhances the quality and texture of the soil. The plant and animal matter are further decomposed by micro-organisms into rich, organic material called ‘humus’ which provides the soil with the nutrient required by the plants.

 NOTE: You can buy compost bins from our online store – wide variety available.

Compost also known as ‘black gold’, serves as an organic fertilizer. It can easily replace the task of an artificial fertilizer. It enriches the soil with inorganic nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, all of which is required for plant growth. Compost has lots of minerals and micro-nutrients in an easily accessible form for plants.

compostbin

compostbin

What to compost and how to compost?
Composting can be carried out in an enclosed compost bin (plastic or wooden), where our kitchen waste, lawn and garden debris are dumped and broken down into rich, dark organic material. The compost bin needs to be perforated with holes for proper aeration.

All compostable materials are either nitrogen or carbon based, to certain degrees. The key to making a healthy compost pile is to maintain the ration between these two elements i.e. the greens (nitrogen rich) and the browns (carbon-rich). An approximate ratio of greens:brown is taken as 1:3 for best results.

Greens consist of moisture laden materials like grass clippings, green leaves, vegetable scraps etc; while browns include woody materials like branches, stems, pieces of wood, bits of paper, dried leaves etc.

compost do's and dont's

compost do’s and dont’s

Types of composting:

  • Backyard composting: composting carried out by using proper balance of greens and browns is known as backyard composting. It is the kind of composting we discussed above.
  • Vermicomposting: process of composting using different kind of worms like white worms, red wigglers and other earthworms which decompose vegetable matter and food waste to form a heterogeneous mixture of organic materials.
before and after of composting

before and after of composting

Besides working as a natural fertilizer, compost also helps in waste management. Kitchen and garden waste can be easily cultivated into compost and this leaves us with little or tension about dumping the waste in garbage bins.

NOTE: You can buy vermicompost online from the GreenMyLife garden store.

  • CROP ROTATION:
crop rotation plan

crop rotation plan

The best way to ensure the health of plants in organic gardening is achieved by crop rotation. In crop rotation we rotate plant families from one season to the next. So, related plants are not planted on the same spot for more than three years. Crop rotation serves the purpose of maintaining the balance of nutrients, micro organisms and organic matter necessary for a soil to be healthy.
Let’s take potato as an example. While growing potatoes, over a course of a season, scabby skin patches causing fungi and tiny nematodes may proliferate in the soil. If we plant potatoes again in the same spot, these pathogens will be ready to attack the crop. But if we plant an unrelated plant in this spot, it may deprive the potato pathogens of their host plants, thus causing the destruction of these pathogens. It should be noted that no plant from the same botanical family as that of potato, because the pathogens may attack them as well.

Benefits of crop rotation:

  • Balances soil fertility – Different plants have different nutrient requirements. Thus, by employing crop rotation we can reduce the chance of particular soil deficiencies. By avoiding planting the same general category of plants successively in the same area we can keep the soil nutrients balanced.
    We must alternate nitrogen-fixing legumes (peas and beans) with nitrogen-loving plants (lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes). Also, follow the heavy feeding crops with light-feeders.
  • Disease and pest prevention: specific pests and diseases attack specific family of plants. So by adopting crop rotation, we rotate crops in between spots and this way, pests tend to decline in the absence of its host plants. This helps us to reduce the build-up of such pathogens and pests.
  • Weed control: crop rotation also facilitates weed growth control. Crops like potatoes have dense foliage which doesn’t allow weeds to grow. Hence, reduces weed problems in following crops.
  • COMPANION GARDENING:

Companion gardening, as the name suggests, means planting different crops in proximity to ensure pest control, pollination, increase the productivity of the crops.

Companion-Planting

Companion-Planting

Benefits and examples:

  • Companions use garden space efficiently: the shorter creepers grow as ground covers while the taller ones grow upright.
  • These plants prevent pest infestations: some plants repel pests; eg: onions
  • Companion plants help each other grow: taller plants give shade to shorter ones
  • They attract beneficial insects and birds: intelligent gardeners always pair pest-sensitive plants with plants that attract pest-predators.
companion gardening

companion gardening

Best companion examples:

Cabbage and tomatoes
Pepper and pigweed
Roses and chives
Corn and beans
Raddish and spinach
etc

NOTE: You can buy seeds online from our garden store – all of the above seeds are available with us.

So, we see that over all, organic way is the best way. Opting for organic gardening can be fruitful in so many ways. Let’s begin now, let’s take a pledge to go the organic way for once, to realize how enriching it turns out to be!

Happy gardening!

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Indoor woody plants are a great source for oxygen yield that helps in reducing the sickness syndrome that develops due to air pollution in indoor closed environments which are not suitable for prolonged healthy life. Staying in closed environments can protect you from being vulnerable to diseases but can cause other ailments due to the lack of exposure to fresh air, which are remedial for problems related to physical and mental well-being. Read more

Vegetative Propagation by Stem Cutting

Stem-cutting is another common asexual propagation technique, suited well to herbs and house plants. It involves taking a section of stem from a parent plant and manipulating it to create a new plant. Since the reproduction is asexual, the new plant is genetically identical to the parent and is often referred to as a clone. Read more