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.

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!

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

Vegetative Propagation by Crown Division

Crown division is the easiest propagation method that amateur gardeners can utilise to show off their skills. It is a form of plant propagation in which new plants are not grown from seeds or bulbs but are rather separated from the parent plant. The crown of a plant is where its stem meets the roots. The idea is to divide the plant at its crown so that each separated plant has its own shoot and root system, and is capable of producing new plant. This propagation technique has long been used to propagate bulbs such as garlic and saffron. Flowering plants like Orchids, Carnations, Rose plant, Daylilies and Dahlias are also commonly propagated by this method. Read more

Vegetative Propagation by Layering

Stems that are attached to their parent plant are capable of forming roots on coming in contact with a rooting medium. Layering exploits this property of stems. It involves development of roots on a stem while the stem is still attached to its parent plant. A layer is the rooted stem following detachment from the parent plant. Read more