Understanding Dandelions

History:

Dandelions are herbs and have been around for millions of years. The Chinese mention this herb in the early 7th century and the Arabian doctors did not get around to the Dandelions until the 10th century. The dandelion is classed as an herb and for centuries was part of herb gardens.

Soil Type:

Dandelions need sun and light soil to grow well, however they will grow in any type of soil partially recently disturbed soil. So, having deserted the herb garden you will find them everywhere and how they relish it.

How they spread:

After they flower, they produce a seed head that blows on the wind or even a slight breeze. It has been estimated that a seed will travel up to a hundred miles. How they worked that one out, I have no idea. What I do know is that last autumn we had sand on our cars here in Oxford that had blown over from North Africa, so anything is possible. Dandelions are a master of endurance and you may be dismayed of never getting rid of them. However, they are ways of controlling them.

Iron Resolve

Getting rid of Dandelions must be treated as warfare with its goal: total annihilation of the plant. You must approach the task with a harshness and iron will, ferociously obliterating the Dandelion in your garden

How To Control Dandelions:

If they are in your lawn, you may think to your self: I will mow them to death. However, what happens is the dandelion just grow shorter. Keeps it head down, in other words. It was Darwin himself who first noticed this. So mowing is a no goer.

If you are into spraying chemicals, “Roundup” is the best. However, do be aware that “Roundup” will kill any thing that it touches and that includes Oak trees. So when you use it make sure that they is no wind at all.

Pouring boiling water will kill dandelions. You must make sure that you have enough boiling water to soak the plant, root and all. You should see results of this within four hours. The leaves will start to go brown.

Make a mixture of Isopropyl alcohol, that is rubbing alcohol, which can be bought at your local pharmacies. Mix two tablespoons of alcohol with two pints of water: put it in a spray bottle and spray until the Dandelion is dripping wet. The best time of the day to do this is midday on a hot afternoon. The plant will show signs of withering within two hours.

I use a mixture of vinegar and water. The mixture is: two pints of vinegar with a dash of liquid soap and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I put this in a hand help spray bottle and spray dandelions when ever I see them. The plant will die, never to return. However, others will spring up else where in the garden.

Dandelion are very easy to dig out.

The main way of controlling Dandelions is to never let the flowers turn into seed heads.

It Is Not All Bad:

Like every plant, Dandelion does have many uses, none of which I have tried.

Apart from using the leaves in salad one of the more useful ones in my view is extracting rubber from the plant to make tires for motor cars. Yes, you read it right:

Dandelions contain rubber, however before you rush out to your garden you may want to know that British plants do not contain enough to make it worth while. It is the Dandelion grown in Russian that contain the rubber.The milky sap is found in the root of the plant.

Just an Aside:

You may be used to seeing Dandelions six to eight inches high: However Mr Daniels from Bothorpe, Norfolk, UK, grew one in a pot that was just over 7 feet tall… truly a nightmare size plant.

 

Trying Aquaponics Indoor

Do you have an interest in growing organic foods?

Many gardeners who do traditional gardening or who have a desire to garden but do not have enough land have turned to Aquaponic gardening or farming. This method of growing allows production for fruits, vegetables, and fish. Both horizontal and vertical growing can be accomplished.

Beginners often start their first project in the home. Do you have an aquarium in storage or want to do more with your current fish tank? People enjoy the living art and the décor which this system introduces into living quarters. The beauty of the colorful fish and the greenery adds nature to the indoors while also growing foods. If there is no interest in growing foods many flowering plants may be considered.

Many gardeners enjoy traditional gardening. Some people like to use both methods.

Traditional Versus Aquaponics:

  1. Land vs water
  2. Large space vs small space
  3. Seasonal vs year-round
  4. Gardening tools vs some tools
  5. Seeds or plants are used in both systems
  6. Fertilizers vs organic fish wastes
  7. Pesticides, herbicides, insecticides vs none required for indoors
  8. Hours of maintenance vs one hour a day
  9. Manual labor vs automatic operating equipment
  10. Natural weather conditions vs controlled indoor environment
  11. Eat produce vs eat produce and fish

Growing plants with water and fish is much easier. This is a more pleasant way of obtaining organic vegetables and fresh fish raised on the homeland with minimum of effort and costs.

Fish has become very expensive at grocery stores. If you enjoy eating fish this becomes more affordable than shopping at your local store.

Why are home gardeners and commercial farmers using this method of growing crops or fish or the combination of crops and fish?

  1. Requires less water than traditional farming
  2. No waste water is produced
  3. No soil eroding conditions
  4. No requirements for harsh insecticides
  5. Toxin free fish

This type of farming coupled with fish farming has been done for thousands of years. Home growers have made great strides and the more ambitious gardeners are using abandoned buildings, such as warehouses, to build a commercial business. Once again, a hobby has become an entrepreneurs career.

How is this gardening accomplished?

  1. Select ornamental or edible fish
  2. A floating platform of containers with a plant or seed is placed on top of the water
  3. The roots are attracted to their nutritional needs with fish wastes
  4. The fish are placed below the plants.
  5. Feed your fish as their waste matter is the essential fertilizer for the plants
  6. The roots of the plants keep the fish tank clean

Gold fish are popular in the home because of their beautiful coloring. Edible fish will grow larger and when they reach the size which is just right for the dinner plate; go fishing by removing them from the tank.

There is your complete meal of fresh produce and meat. No license is required for this type of fishing.

 

Trying Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponics is definitely an innovative way of growing your fruits and veggies and never having to handle dirty soil-based growing solutions. Hydroponic growing actually means growing within water, however, often hydroponic methods blend a number of growing in water-base nutrient solutions and in organic and natural root-zone media. You need the most suitable hydroponic growing equipment to really make the best of your personal crop

Hydroponics horticulture is as elementary as common gardening. Each of them need an adequate amount of light, water, heat, in addition to moisture content. However with hydroponic growing, absolutely no soil is applied. Instead a soil substitution supports the plants roots whilst nutrition are transported by the water. Household hydroponic gardening is not that hard and plants and flowers respond effectively to this technique for growing.

Hydroponics farming should be as difficult as you allow it to become. It could be tricky if computing devices with alerts are used to control water cycles, nutrients, and light for the plants and flowers. Having said that, it’s also as elementary as a hand watered container which has a solitary plant.

As a flower develops, its nutrient requirements vary day by day. By way of example, nitrogen aids first stages of development such as root system growth, and phosphorous aids later development, for example fruit or flower development. Fitting two nutrient reservoirs can certainly make the bi-monthy switch of water and nutritional ingredients uncomplicated, especially if a new comer to hydroponics.

It’s important that you employ a suitable growing medium in your hydroponics garden. The variety of growing medium includes: sand, gravel, peat, rock wool, vermiculite, coco coir and many others. The growing medium you end up picking facilitates quick distribution of vitamins and minerals to the plant’s roots.

Growing herbs in the house is a great way for you to improve your plant life. In house grow sites are effortless to build. Opt for a compact room in your home or even a wardrobe or maybe a sectioned off place in your garage. The growing location will need to have an energy source

The hydroponic growing process will allow plants to grow much faster mainly because they have additional accessibility to oxygen and the minerals and vitamins are directly introduced to the roots of plants. This sort of grow technique is great for individuals who want to reap buds quicker and desired to grow far more crops in a year. Hydroponic growing processes provides the plants with the finest surroundings because they’re not prone to well-known infestations together with other soil-borne ailments. Gardeners end up getting more rapidly growing herbs simply because nutrients, much needed oxygen as well as water are introduced straight to the plant’s roots.

 

All About Greenhouse

A greenhouse is a plastic or glass enclosed building which is used to grow a variety of plants. The purpose of this structure is dependent upon how the gardener wishes to care for their plants. The style and design of the greenhouse is dependent upon the types of plants, amount of available space, location, and utilities.

Three basic types of greenhouses:

  1. Cold Frame Boxes: Portable framed boxes which service seedlings or plants to become stronger or acclimated to withstand an environmental change before being transplanted into the traditional garden.
  2. Lean-To Greenhouse: The lean-to green house is a three-sided structure which is attached to the side of a stable building, wall, or fence. Its design presents the appearance of a half-house with a slanted roof and three sides covered with plastic, shade cloth, or glass.
  3. Free standing building: A permanently constructed building for the serious horticulturist.

The cold frame box is a square portable container usually constructed of wood with a slanted lid covered with glass or 6 ml polyethylene sheeting. The purpose of the cold frame is to transplant young seedlings from an indoor setting to a temporary controlled environment before being planted into the main garden area. It helps the seedlings to not experience sudden shock or die from the abrupt temperature changes.

The Lean-to is often referred to as a half-house with a vertical slanted roof. The convenience of this style is its placement. It is most often placed against the wall of a house, barn, shed, or other stable structure which allows for the added convenience of utilities, storage space, and walking distance for hauling. This structure may be simple or designed to meet the architectural style of the stable wall.

The free-standing building is for serious horticulturists or commercial usage. For instance, you may live in a four-season state and raise tropical plants. These plants will not survive without the controlled environment of the greenhouse.

This permanent structure will stand for many decades. This building is fully equipped with hanging rails, shelves, sink and plumbing fixtures, controlled heat and air conditioning, lighting, fans, work bench, and other accessories which the gardener utilizes.

Other benefits for investing in this added protection includes protection from inclement weather, insects and critters, year-round growing, a hospital for sick plants, light-weight tools, automatically controlled utilities, and less stressful labor.

Are you passionate about gardening? Do you love watching seeds, bulbs, or young plants grow and mature into beautiful flowers, fruits, or vegetables?

The four seasons of the year offer an array of flora which we pursue with enthusiasm. It is because of this passion that a green house is given much consideration.

This type of building is an asset for growing our favorite plants under controlled conditions. The less our plants need to battle Mother Nature the easier it is for them to grow healthy and beautiful.

 

How To Growing Your Mint

Round leaf, Apple, Hairy or Horse, Middlesex, or Spearmint and Bergamot,to name but a few of the many species of mint that are used today.

Mint is one of the oldest herbs and comes from around the Mediterranean area, however the plant has been found everywhere expect the Poles. As far as I know there are well over 30 varieties of Mint.

The herb is very easy to grow and does well in cool, damp places, however Mints will also grow in the full sun quite well.

The plant was first written about in English by one John Ray in the year 1696.

There is something about Mint that not many people realize and that is the plant is a very hungry feeder. Before you plant, make sure that you put some well rotten manure or good vegetable compost at the bottom of the hole. If you grow mint in pots; do renew the compost every two or three years

I know many people think that mint is a bit of a rouge, in so far as it will spread and take over you whole garden. This is true up to a point. The reason is that, like many other plants (Mares tail) the roots spread under ground and spring up where you least want it.

Not many pests or disease trouble Mint. Every now and then my Mint will get Mint Rust and as I grow all my Mints in pots; I just discard the plant and the compost and start again in a fresh pot.

Whichever Mint you decide to grow in your garden, it is a good idea to taste the leaf from the stock you are thinking of planting. They are quite different and not all make a great cup of mint tea.

I have several, but the ones I like best are: Apple Mint and Spearmint.

Apple Mint is a vigorous growing perennial with long underground runners. The mint grows up to 18 inches high with leaves that are light in color. Apple Mint has reddish stem which is also hairy with flowers of dense spikes of pale lilac. This Mint gives off an aroma of apple and spearmint. The distinctive apple and mint flavor of this Mint adds a delicious taste to fruit salads, water ices, and cider cups as well as other fruit drinks. I use it to make Apple Mint Tea.

Spearmint is the common or garden Mint that everybody knows about, even to the extent of people forgetting that it is a growing plant! As such, it is also the oldest culinary herb to be used.

Like Apple mint, this grows to a height of 18 inches and as the same flower color.

Spearmint is mentioned in all the early writings of doctors and naturalists. The mint is used in food as well as medicine because of its value as a digestive.

Spearmint is most often used to make mint sauce or to cook with new potatoes. I also use it with other vegetables like carrots, green beans and roots.

A handful of chopped mint goes well with minces beef, giving a wonderful flavor to your meal.

 

Understanding Aquaponic

The definition of aquaponics is in its name – it is a combination of AQUAculture (the growing of fish) and hydroPONICS (the growing of vegetables and herbs). Aquaponics is a perfect example of sustainable food production, and many people are turning to this system of home food growing. Using aquaponics to grow your food will save you lots of money and give you food that is organic and of higher quality than what you’d buy in shops.

In an aquaponics system, the water from the fish reaches the hydroponic beds. The plants will take up some of the water, and with it the nitrogen in the water. This nitrogen will have originated from fish manure and decomposing feed. If the nitrogen is allowed to build up in the fish tank, it will reach toxic levels. However, this nitrogen happens to be a perfect fertilizer for the vegetables! This saves you from having to add artificial fertilizer, which is expensive and contains synthetic chemicals that are potential harmful. After the plants have taken up the nitrogen, the water returns to the fish pond squeaky clean. Hence, you won’t need complicated filtering systems for the fish water, as the plants will do this work for you!

The aquaponic system is a mixture between the aquaculture, as it requires growing fish in a special fish tank and hydroponics, as it involves growing plants with water and nutrients. You will probably wonder what role the fish play in all this business. Well, things are quite easy: the fish excrements contain ammonia which is later decomposed in nitrites and nitrates. The latter substance is benefic for the plants, offering them enough nutrients to grow and develop normally. Thus, there will be no need to supply your plants with chemical substances as they will already have all the food they need.

This leads to the several advantages that the aquaponic system has over the hydroponic one. First, the vegetables will have a better taste as they will grow only with natural food and at their own peace. This will give them that delicious taste you love so much in veggies. Then, the system is simpler, as you will no longer need to feed your plants each and every day. Just make sure that your fish are in good shape and then let nature take its course.

The benefits of aquaponics are many. It is a sustainable system of food production, where nutrients are recycled and external inputs are minimal. It is the most efficient method of food production as it can produce large amounts of food in the least amount of space and with the least amount of expenses. It is a very flexible system, allowing you to grow a large variety of fish and plants. And it can be set-up practically anywhere! In addition, it is very easy to scale according to needs, as the equipment required can easily be built at home. In other words, make it as big as you want. Maybe you just want a small unit to produce food just for your family. Or maybe you want to dedicate a whole room to it so that you’ll have lots of vegetables and fish to sell for a profit! Remember that all the foods grown in an aquaponics system are organic, as no additives are used. And, as you know, organic foods are of better quality and fetch higher prices than non-organic food. In fact, many are turning this hobby into a source of income.

Once you understand the concepts of aquaponics, you’ll realize that the set-up required is actually very basic, and it can be easily constructed using materials from around your house or purchased cheaply at any local hardware store. All you need are some core instructions and a few diagrams to get you started.

Last, but not least, with the aquaponic system you do not only grow vegetables, but you also have fish which you can use for decorative purposes or you can very well cook delicious meals for you and your family.

Aquaponics is an improved version of the hydroponic system. The crops are better and the process is easier. In addition to that you get to eat organic food! What more can you wish for?

 

Tips To Deal With Cucumber Bitterness

Latin Name:
Cucumis Sativus, part of the gourd family. In the Middle Ages the plant was called the Cowcumber.

Many people will not eat or grow Cucumbers because they are bitter to the taste. This is true of older varieties and is caused by a bitter gene which is part of the make up of Cucumbers.

Almost all the research that has been devoted to the Cucumber has been in and aimed at trying to remove this bitterness. The result of this research has been a host of new varieties that do not contain this bitter gene, or very little of it.

If you are harvesting bitter Cucumbers, the most likely explanation is that you are growing them incorrectly.

On no account let your Cucumber become stressed (lack of water, for example), they tend to bitter up.

If you grow the right kind of Cucumber, and keep the plant free from anything that might check their growth then you will have perfectly nutritious cucumbers that are crisp, refreshing pick-me-ups on a hot summers day.

However, if you want to be on the safe side, there is a trick for removing bitterness. This bitterness is almost all concentrated in the leaves, stems and skin of the Cucumber. If you remove one inch of the cucumber’s stem end and peel the skin back to a thin layer of flesh directly beneath the skin.

I have also found that scoring cucumbers with a fork makes the difference between faintly bitter and palatable cucumbers. You can try this out yourself. Peel a Cucumber. Take two center section. Score one and leave the other alone. Cut a slice from each and taste. You will find that the slice that has been scored is less bitter.

All this is aimed at making the cucumber less bitter, however you may well like bitter ones, in which case grow old varieties.

In the main there are three types of cucumber: field or standard ones, which grow quite large with a bright green color; smaller pickling ones with a more yellowish tone to the skin; and greenhouse forced varieties, which are bred to grow fruit in somewhat lower temperatures like the UK. I find in a good summer here in Oxford I can grow all three. In cool summers the outside ones do not do so well.

You can sow cucumber seeds straight into the ground, however I prefer to start my off in seed-trays and them pot them on until they are big enough to be planted out in the open or glasshouse.

I could list varieties here, but the best is to see what your neighbors are growing or which plants are for sale in your local shop.

Cucumbers are very heavy feeders so grow them in enriched soil with well-rotted manure or compost. Watch out for the usual pest and deal with them.

The cucumber should be harvested frequently because otherwise they become large and seedy.

If your gardening space is limited, you can plant next to a wire fence or trellis and they will grow right up it.

 

Guide To Spring Foraging

Spring is a time for rebirth. A call to leave the darkness of winter behind and head outside for sunshine and longer days. The shift from winter to spring happens quickly, providing the baseline truth in the phrase “spring has sprung”. You may be shoveling the driveway one day and then see a skunk cabbage pushing up through the snow the next. The plant world is undergoing the transformation from winter storage and dormancy to spring growth and expansion. This makes spring a wonderful time to get outside and forage.

Before heading out on your foraging journey there are a few tips and tricks to keep you and the plant world safe:

  • Identify the plant correctly. Always be 100% sure of the plant’s identification before you harvest and consume. Many plants have poisonous look-alikes so it is imperative you can ID with certainty. Pay attention to the old adage “when in doubt, throw it out”. There are a number of great plant ID books on the market that cover most geographical areas. You may also find foraging classes in your area which can be a fun way to learn about local plants.
  • Practice sustainable harvesting for any plants you harvest. Never take more than you need and be sure to leave enough for the plants to survive and prosper. Keep in mind that unless you are eradicating an invasive species, foraging should never negatively impact the survival of the plant population. Take time to learn what plants are invasive in your area and also what plants are endangered and should never be harvested.
  • Forage in areas you know are clean and have not been treated with chemicals. Be wary of foraging along roadsides and under power lines.
  • Harvest underground storage organs; bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, etc. with additional consideration as harvesting can kill the plant. Early spring and late fall are the best times to harvest underground storage organs as the plant’s energy is conserved below ground. In late spring and summer, the plant will redirect energy to above ground growth and production of flowers and seed. A few examples of bountiful roots to forage in spring are chicory, dandelion, and burdock.
  • Seek out leafy greens as they are the stars of spring foraging. This fresh food is available long before our gardens start producing. In most areas, there are quite a few leafy greens to choose from. Dandelion, chickweed, lamb’s quarter, garlic mustard, and violet are all commonly foraged greens. Do some research to find which greens are best eaten raw and which taste best steamed or sautéed.

Get out your rubber boots and garden tools and head outside for a foraging adventure. Foraging is free and can provide a fresh and delicious addition to your next meal. Take full advantage of spring foraging as summer is just around the corner!

 

Garden Design For Your Home

The garden is one of the most beautiful and peaceful parts of a home. It brings us closer to nature, gives us a glimpse and feel of greenery with the comfort of our lawn. You can spend a perfect afternoon in your garden reading a book or unwind after a tiring day enjoying the beauty of green, all these will bring you such solace which you cannot find even if sitting in a fancy decorated room. But in order to get peace and happiness in the garden, its look and design should be pleasing. If you are not happy about the look of your garden then you will hardly find any peace there over all the grumping. The design of garden plays an important role in your outlook towards it. So choose the design carefully.

Before choosing the design for your garden you need to understand the shape and condition of your yard. If the shape of your garden is small then you should not opt for a large number of tall trees. It will hog up extra space, leaving you only a much smaller portion. Medium plant pots with will well-trimmed grass and patio furniture will be a suitable option for small gardens. However, for big gardens, you can choose any design you want. Availability of space is a benefit.

The design of the garden also depends on the fertility of the soil you are reaping and the climate. Every season demands different plant. For example, if you wish to plant a tree which grows in autumn then all your effort will go to waste. Also the climate of the region you live in plays an important role. It is better to do some research before putting your hands in the soil. Make sure the plants receive the appropriate amount of sunlight to grow plus shade exposure as well.

Also, choose your design and theme according to the people living in your home. If your house is one of the kids then choose a theme which they find cute and attractive, like giving it look of a playground. This way they will be spending some time outdoors, doing some outdoor activity rather than just sitting in front of the television. If you are a bachelor then choose any design you find appealing.

Another tip, make your garden your look attractive so that you will be compelled to spend some time there. A garden is a great place for morning exercise. Not only you will get enough space for movement there, but you will also inhale fresh morning air, which is good for your health, plus walking on the grass blades barren feet is really good for brain and body. It is suggested by doctors also.

You give your garden a fancy look by adding garden lights. You can use solar garden lights or LED outdoor lighting. It will not only make your garden look beautiful but will also be perfect for outdoor theme parties.

 

All About Wooden Garden Shed

There are wooden shed kits or traditional construction materials for building a garden shed. This type of shed may be a simple box shape or designed to be a more elaborate structure. How the shed will be used is the major determination for construction. The neighborhood location or the architecture of the home determines the style.

Most garden sheds are used:

  1. To store small hand-held and large garden tools; manual and electrical
  2. A place to park the lawn mower, tiller, and other large gardening equipment
  3. Storing vegetables
  4. Cutting, planting, and transplanting plants
  5. Tool repairs

Many people prefer wooden constructed garden sheds rather than vinyl, resin, plastic, and various metal type sheds. It may be more expensive up-front, but lumber seems to have a longer life and therefore is less expensive. Wood is also easier to repair. The other types of sheds would need to be discarded and a new one purchased.

Plan before you start building. There are important considerations which need attention. Decide if you would like to build it or hire a contractor. Do you wish to assemble a shed kit or build it from scratch?

There is a wide variety of wooden type garden sheds which may be ordered from local sources or from online. Note any additional items which may be needed. These items may be concrete blocks, tools and other hardware accessories.

Manufactured sheds can be erected in a few hours or over a weekend. The do it yourself shed may also take the same amount of time or longer. There are variables for both situations.

If you’re anything like me I did window shopping, comparative price shopping, and talked to my friends and neighbors who had garden sheds for their opinions and experiences. Then I made my decision. In case you are curious, we decided to build a wooden shed as it could be designed and customized to meet our requirements.

Before you setup this is a list to review:

  1. Location
  2. Size
  3. Utility outlets (if electric and plumbing are to be installed)
  4. Local residential building codes, licenses, and permits
  5. Zoning requirements
  6. Location of underground cables
  7. Neighborhood restrictions
  8. Building inspections

The location of the shed needs to be in a clearing within short access to the garden areas and pathways for loading and unloading heavy gardening supplies. The size of this structure is determined by the tools and garden equipment which will be stored.

It is also critical to check overhead, underground, and around the placement of the proposed site. Are there any trees, shrubbery, or overhead wiring which may interfere with the structure? Before digging locate any underground cables, plumbing, or electrical wires.

Water and electrical utilities may or may not be essential. But if it is, planning is critical.

If there is the slightest doubt in your mind about legal requirements; check them out. Heavy fines or being told to remove your shed are not pleasant outcomes.