The History of the Orchid

No doubt, the orchid is considered as a unique plant that has a lot of meaning. Today, it is seen in many gardens, homes and it is used as bouquets for weddings and other anniversaries. This flowering plant is indeed worth peering into. If you are a lover of the orchids, perhaps knowing its history and symbolisms will increase your love for the different species available today. Orchids have some interesting facts that one should know about in order to grow and maintain them. Let us quickly take a look at the brief history of orchids.

Brief History of orchids

The Orchid family is one of the most diverse and widespread family of flowering plants that has its existence thousands of years ago. In 1845, the word “orchid” was derived from the Greek word testicles (orkhis), in response to the appearance of its roots. Orchids can be traced back to the era of dinosaurs and many Chinese written medical texts have proved that it existed back in the 28th century BC. Such writings have referred to the orchids with many meanings. In 551-479BC, Confucius referred to the orchid as the “the king of fragrant plants. From these writings, orchid symbolizes friendship, love, perfection, numerous progeny, retirement and all other things. The same Japanese and Chinese literatures written around 700BC reveals the importance of the orchids and how it is can be used as an herbal cure for different illnesses.

In Europe, the discovery of orchids was credited to Cortez. Cortez was a treasure hunter who made his first visit to Mexico in the year 1519 while searching for Gold. When he arrived, the Aztecs offered him a vanilla flavoured cacao drink to refresh himself. Interestingly, vanilla extract comes from the orchid vanilla, which serves as a healing herb, perfume and an aphrodisiac. Vanilla is still in use especially in Mexico where it was originally grown. It is also grown in other parts of the world including Madagascar.

The orchid made its appearance in the United Kingdom in the late 1700’s where it was imported from West Indies and China. During this period, 15 species including the Vanilla orchid were growing in the royal botanical garden in London. It was very difficult to maintain the growth of these species because of the new climate they were introduced to. Keeping them in good condition was a great ordeal. This led to further study of this amazing plant by Jean Linden in 1845. He travelled to South and Central America just to study their natural environment and how he can create such environment in the English soil. There was a little progress, but many merchants were still losing out because some of the species could not survive.

Dr. Salisbury’s studies were crucial in the germination of the orchid in London. From his studies, much was learnt and this enabled the industry to make progress. Further experiments were made to see if more species could be grown on the land. To this end, Vietch first tried to cross different species in 1853. Around 1856, the first orchid hybrid was created and this was when many hybrids sprang into existence.

Presently, there are over 100, 000 hybrids in existence. Many people now appreciate this special family of flowering plants and they want to learn how it is grown. Well, growing these wonderful plants is no longer an issue. It is grown in almost all parts of the earth. It can be grown indoors and outdoors provided the environmental conditions are met. In most cases, orchids are grown in pots or flower vases filled with well-drained soil.

Orchids symbolize different things. In the ancient world, the Japanese, Chinese and Greek believe that orchids can determine the sex of the unborn fetus. This means if the man consumes large tubers of an orchid plant, the child will be a boy and if the women consumes more than the man, the child will be a girl. This and many more of its symbolisms gave rise to its demands. Merchants who deal in orchid plants have made a fortune selling them. Orchids also became popular gifts for married couples who are expecting a baby. The orchid plants are also linked to other things like beauty, love, and luxury.

Container Vegetable Gardening

For those who wish to grow their own vegetables but do not have a garden or the space to do so, container vegetable gardening solves this problem. Vegetable container gardening is also a useful introduction to gardening for beginners. You can grow just about any vegetable in containers, not only giving you pleasure in growing your own, but saving you money as well.

Although most vegetables can be grown in a suitable container, there are some basic tips that apply to container vegetable gardening to ensure your crop survives. Most vegetables require full sun for at least six hours a day. So you will need to locate your vegetable container in a suitably warm, sunny position. Having said that, if you live in a particularly hot area, you may need to consider some shade for your vegetables in the middle of the day, otherwise they may scorch and die. For this reason metal containers are not advisable as the roots of the vegetables will cook. The same applies to dark colored plastic garden pots or ceramics.

Watering your container vegetable garden is very important. Your vegetables at the height of their growing season will need lots of water. You should aim to keep the soil moist but not wet. If unsure that your vegetables need water, the best way is to put your finger into the soil up to your knuckle. If the soil feels dry, add water, if it feels wet, leave for a day or two and test again. Adding too much water or leaving plants to sit in water will cause the roots to rot and the plant to die.

As well as thinking about the effect of heat on your vegetable container, you should also consider the cold. Many vegetables do not like the cold, especially frost. Placing your vegetable container somewhere where it can either be brought indoors or protected from the cold is a good idea. If you are unable to move your container, plants can be protected from the cold by using garden fleece.

When it comes to choosing your container, you are only limited by your space and imagination. Many containers make good vegetable container gardens. Garden planters and pots or even garden bags can all be used. Wooden garden planters and garden boxes are very popular and make very decorative additions to garden patios. Garden sinks and garden troughs make unusual vegetable containers.

Whichever container you choose it is important to consider drainage. Your pot or container needs to let excess water out of the bottom, so your plants won’t sit in the water. Make sure your container has at least one large hole at the bottom and a few smaller ones for drainage.

Growing vegetables in self-watering containers can be very useful, especially if you are away. However, if it rains hard you need to make sure that the excess water can be easily poured away or it has an over-flow hole. Plastic garden pots and ceramic pots are fine as are terracotta. Terracotta pots are harder to keep moist as the clay dries out very quickly. So if you live in a very hot area this may not be the best choice. Large garden pots mean more space for growing, even buckets make good vegetable containers.

Once having chosen your container, it needs to be filled with a good quality garden potting soil. It is not advisable to use garden soil as it is too compacted and may contain weeds. Buying ready prepared soil will also make sure it contains all the right nutrients to grow your vegetables in. Adding a garden fertilizer every couple of weeks will also help give your vegetables the right amount of goodness they need.

Lastly, you can start to plant your vegetables. These can be planted as either young plants or from seeds. Growing from seeds can be a lot harder than from young plants and they need a lot more attention. If you are a beginner to gardening, starting your container vegetable garden from young plants might be more successful.

Vegetables that are particularly suitable for container gardening are, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, lettuce, and zucchini. If you have enough height, runner beans grown in a large plastic tub with canes for support can yield a good crop in a very small space.

Container vegetable gardening can be very versatile not only giving you a lot of pleasure but by being an attractive addition to your garden, patio, roof garden etc. It will also produce a surprising amount of fresh vegetables easily and conveniently.

Container Gardening Ideas

There are many advantages to container gardening such as lack of room or space for a full size garden, apartment living or just to decorate your patio area. Container gardening is also ideal if you have very poor soil in your garden, as growing plants in a container can be controlled and easy to tend. Here I have suggested some container gardening ideas that will add color and interest to any area.

Before you start your container garden there are a few tips that will help to ensure your plants grow healthily. Firstly, although almost any container can be used for container gardening, it must be a container that has sufficient drainage to allow surplus water to drain away from the roots of the plants. If there is not adequate drainage your plants will rot and die.

Choosing your container is only limited by your imagination. You may opt for a traditional wooden garden planter or large plastic garden pots. But you may choose something a little more unconventional such as a garden sink, an old stock pot, buckets or even an old toilet. It all depends on the look you want and how much of a talking point you want your container garden to become. Most garden supply stores and garden nurseries sell a variety of containers.

Secondly, using a good quality garden potting compost should be used as this will contain all the nutrients your plants will need. They may be in the container for some time, so a regular feed with garden fertilizer will also boost the nutrients. Slow release pellets are very useful for container gardening.

Thirdly, consider the location of your container garden. Although your plants will need sunlight to thrive, too much sun and they may burn. Some plants prefer a more direct sunlight, while others prefer a sheltered spot. If unsure always read the growing instructions or seek advice from a garden nursery or online web site.

Once having decided on your container, your next step is to decide what to plant. This will depend very much on the climate of where you live, the size of the container you have chosen and the height you want your display to be.

If you wish to make the most of your container for the whole year, consider planting bulbs for the spring and then refilling your container with summer plants. A container filled with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will not only look beautiful, but smell fragrant too.

Other container gardening ideas for the Spring are bowls full of sweet perfumed Iris. They have beautifully formed blooms that range in color from yellows, blues, purples, deep reds and brown. Pansies and daisies are particularly good for an outdoor display of color at this time of year. These are also suited to a hanging container. A shallow container of crocuses can look stunning if tightly planted.

You may wish to have a color scheme for your container garden. Using gardening catalogues and garden magazines can often help you visualize how you want your container to look.

For a red hot look, sun loving nasturtiums make a long lasting a easy to grow container garden display. Their vivid scarlet flowers combined with decorative foliage make nasturtiums a very popular choice. These can be planted along with other plants such as apricot verbena to compliment the reds.

Of course it may not be flowers you want to grow, herbs make ideal container gardening ideas. Having your own fresh herbs for your cooking is made very easy in a container. Containers for herbs are best if the herbs can be grown at several layers, but is not vital. To make your container herb garden, plant your herbs in Spring. If looked after well they could last for several years. Herbs such as parsley, sage, basil, chives and marjoram all make good container grown plants.

If you want a container garden that has some height, putting a garden obelisk or canes constructed as a wigwam into your container for plants to grow up can look quite stunning. Sweet peas will happily grow in a container and give you many sweet smelling flowers to cut. A clematis will also grow happily in a container. These come in a wide variety of colors and shapes and will last for many years. If using a container in this way, other plants can be planted around the base to give extra color, trailing plants such as petunias will give an all summer long display.

Care of your container garden is very important. Although container gardening is fairly simple your plants need to be cared for on a regular basis. Regular watering, especially in hot weather is essential. However, too much water can do as much damage to your plants as too little. Always check your plants need water with your fingertips before you water.

Container gardening is a very enjoyable activity to do and the results can be quite stunning. It is something that the whole family can enjoy and also makes wonderful gifts to give to family and friends for any occasion.

Building a Raised Garden Bed

There can be several reasons for building a raised garden bed. One of the most obvious is the convenience of a raised bed. Raised garden beds can be built to any height or size to suit the design of the garden, making them an obvious choice for those who may have difficulty in bending.

Building a raised garden bed can improve the overall appearance of your garden and add height and structure to your garden design. It can also be extremely helpful if your garden suffers from soil erosion. Some gardens built on a slope can be difficult to maintain, especially if you want a neat, controlled flower or vegetable bed.

Before building a raised garden bed there are several things you need to take into consideration. Firstly, the location of your raised garden bed. For vegetables in particular, they need at least 6 hours of sunshine a day to get a good harvest. The location should be away from over-hanging trees and shrubs.

Once having decided on your location, you next need to decide on the design of your raised garden bed. The use of a professional garden design company will ensure the right raised bed in the right materials, but can work out very expensive. The use of gardening magazines and pictures is useful as is gardening help and advice from garden nurseries. However, there are now many good online gardening web sites that offer advice on both planning and planting a raised garden bed. Some online sites offer free garden design software to help you design and build your raised garden bed.

Once having designed your raised garden bed, you need to select the materials you want to build it out of. Raised garden beds can be made out of a wide variety of materials from wooden sleepers to bricks or garden rocks. If you decide this is beyond your skills, you can buy ready made raised garden boxes or raised garden bed kits ready to assemble yourself. This certainly takes a lot of the work out of how to build a raised garden bed from scratch.

Preparing the area of your bed should be next. This should be level and any over-hanging branches should be clipped back to allow for light. A good working size for a raised bed is about four feet by eight feet. Obviously this can be adapted to fit the space available in your garden. Raised beds that are too large will cause problems when it comes to weeding and sowing your plants as you will not be able to reach the center. If weeds are a problem in your garden, then laying a weed barrier fabric will help cut down on them coming through into your raised garden bed.

Next you can construct your raised garden bed in your chosen materials. This must be kept level and if using a ready made kit, you should ensure it cannot move around. This can be done by hammering stakes into each corner of the raised bed, leaving about six inches above the ground. If your bed is low, leave the stakes level with the top edge of the raised bed.

Having constructed your raised garden bed, you can now fill it with soil. Adding a good quality compost will not only provide all the nutrients necessary for your plants, but will improve the structure of the soil to ensure good moisture retention. Both soil and compost can be bought from garden supply companies or online from garden nurseries. Many garden supply companies will deliver saving you the back breaking task of getting it home yourself.

The soil should be watered well and left to settle. It may be necessary to top up the soil levels once this has happened. You are now ready to plant your seeds or plants into your raised garden bed. Having the proper tools for the job is always useful. A garden hoe and garden rake are probably two that will be used most. A garden sieve will also come in handy if your soil is stony.

Whether you are using your raised garden bed for flowers and plants or vegetables, the same amount of garden design can go into it as any other part of your garden. Think vertical gardening to add height to your planting area. Many vegetables such as tomatoes and runner beans grow up canes. Planning in garden ornaments and accessories, such as garden windmills or garden obelisks for a clematis to climb up will make the most of the space in your raised garden bed.

Raised garden beds need not be limited to the back garden or yard. Building a raised garden bed for the front garden too will mean you can design your own garden back or front. Whatever you use your raised garden bed for, the convenience and design of your raised bed will undoubtedly add to your enjoyment of your garden.

Vegetable Gardening Tips

Growing vegetables at home has always been popular, but has had a large resurgence in the last few years. This is partly due to rising food prices, but mainly in the pursuit of fresh organic produce. Knowing exactly what has gone into growing your vegetables is very reassuring. Growing your own vegetables also is a very satisfying and relaxing hobby. Starting your own vegetable garden can be quite daunting especially vegetable gardening for beginners. Here I have suggested some vegetable gardening tips that can be applied to small or large gardens or even to allotment gardening.

Before you start it is a good idea to plan your vegetable garden using a vegetable garden planner. There are several ways you can do this. You can use one of the many online garden web vegetable design planners. Some garden design online sites offer free planning software to help you plan your vegetable garden.

If you prefer to do it yourself, drawing it out on graph paper first or on the computer will help you design the right size and style vegetable patch for your garden. You may decide on a raised vegetable garden bed. These can be made from a variety of materials such as, wooden sleepers, bricks or rocks. Or you might decide to buy a raised vegetable garden bed kit, making the job very simple.

Next you need to choose the right location for your vegetable garden. To enable vegetables to grow their best, they need at least 6 hours of sunshine a day. The best location should not be shaded by over-hanging trees or shrubs As the position of the sun changes according to the time of year, it is important to bear this in mind when choosing your spot.

Once having chosen your location for your vegetable plot you need to prepare the soil. If your soil is very stony, vegetables such as carrots will not have the room to grow down. Investing in a good garden sieve or rotary sieve will help you to remove the stones. A garden hoe and garden rake are both good investments in tending your vegetable garden.

Making sure your vegetable garden has enough nutrients for a good harvest is important too. Digging in a good compost that is either ready bought or your own homemade compost will not only provide the correct nourishment for your vegetables, but improve the soil structure. Digging in garden compost to soil that is mainly clay will help to lighten it and aerate it. Soil which is very sandy and dry can be improved with compost by helping it to retain moisture.

Using a mulch on your vegetable garden will help to control any weeds and those that do come through will be easier to pull out. Not only does this cut down on the number of weeds, but helps prevent many common fungal disease spores from reaching young plants. A one to two inch layer of mulch is recommended.

Once having planned and prepared your vegetable patch you need to decide on what you are going to grow. One simple gardening vegetable tip is to only grow the vegetables you actually like. For beginners it is best to start with easy to grow vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, lettuce or runner beans. Start by making a list of the vegetables you would usually eat to make the best possible use of the space you have. Only plant enough of each plant that you are likely to need.

If space for your vegetables is at a premium, think vertical gardening. Many vegetables can be planted on canes vertically such as runner beans or tomatoes. These can not only be a practical way to grow your plants, but add another dimension to the overall design of your garden.

To keep your vegetable plot in order, mark out rows using string to plant your seeds along. The general rule is the bigger the plant the deeper they need to be planted. Make sure you leave space between seeds for plants to mature. Always follow the planting instructions on the back of the packet of seeds. It often suggests growing and watering advice too. Vegetable seeds or plants can be bought at your local garden nursery or garden supply store. There are now many garden catalogue companies that supply a vast selection of garden supplies as well as information and gardening help and advice.

Growing some flowers in amongst your vegetables can be beneficial to the vegetables. Not only do they attract bees and butterflies into the garden to pollinate, flowers such as marigolds will also deter some unwanted insects from your vegetables.

Of course watering your vegetable garden is vital. The use of soaker hoses or timed sprinkler systems will ensure your plot is never short of water. This is particularly important if you go away on holiday and have no-one to water your vegetables.

Once having planted your seeds you may need to consider protecting your crop from unwanted visitors to the garden such as cats or your seeds being eaten by birds. The use of garden mess or garden netting is useful for this problem. And if you need to protect your young plants from the frost, garden fleece or the use of garden cloches will give some protection.

Vegetable gardening can be great not only for the satisfaction of growing your own vegetables but it can be beneficial in relieving stress and very good exercise too. A vegetable plot can be designed to suit any size of garden on any budget.

Vegetable Garden Planner

As many of us are finding out, it is much healthier and satisfying to eat your own home grown vegetables. However, vegetable gardening for beginners can seem a daunting task. For this reason making a vegetable planner can save you a lot of time in the long run and save you making costly mistakes on your vegetable garden.

There are many resources you can use when it comes to vegetable garden planning. Many garden nurseries offer support, but you can also use gardening websites to help you grow a vegetable garden. Some online garden design sites even offer free garden design software for you to plan and design your garden.

The first step to getting your vegetable garden planner is to get it down either on paper or on the computer. It is best to start with a rough plan of your garden marking out what already exists in it, such as garden sheds, greenhouses, trees etc. You will need to measure out your garden in order to determine the size of your vegetable garden. You will also want to consider areas in the garden that are given over to other things such as a childs play area or flower beds.

The same principles can be applied to whatever size of vegetable garden you are planning, whether it is for a small or large garden or even for allotment gardening. However, if you are a beginner it is a good idea to start small, perhaps with one vegetable bed but allow room to expand when necessary.

Space can be very versatile in your garden. You may feel you don’t have the space for a vegetable garden, but this can be got round by thinking vertical gardening. Many vegetables grow up rather than out such as runner beans and tomatoes. Making a feature of your vegetables by using garden trellis or garden obelisks, can add height and structure to your garden design.

Having a raised vegetable garden bed is another option for your vegetable bed. These are a very convenient way of gardening and can be made from a variety of materials, from brick to wooden raised bed garden kits. This makes the job of planning your vegetable bed very simple.

To plan your vegetable bed you need to draw it out on graph paper. Transfer your rough drawing out onto the squared paper, keeping it to a scale, for example each square could represent one metre. You also need to decide if you want to include any garden ornaments, garden statues or accessories. Having done this you need to decide on the best place to put your vegetable bed.

This need not necessarily be your back garden. There are many roof garden designs and front garden ideas available if this is the only place for your vegetable garden. You will need to take into consideration how much sun an area gets and wind factors. For a successful vegetable garden, it should get at least six hours of sun each day and not be overshadow by trees or shrubs.

Once having planned out your vegetable bed you need to decide on the vegetables you want to grow. Choosing which vegetables to grow is part of your vegetable garden planner. For beginners it is best to start with easy to grow vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, lettuce and green beans. Don’t grow vegetables that you don’t like as this is a waste of space and effort. Start by making a list of the vegetables you eat on a regular basis and then see if you have room for them. If you only have a small space you may wish to avoid those which grow too large such as sweetcorn.

Only plant enough of each plant that you are likely to eat. Some plants produce a large yield and you may find you end up giving away your harvest because you have overloaded on it.

Once having decided on your plants and having prepared the soil you can start to plant out. Different vegetables have different space requirements. So read the growing instructions carefully on the packet and leave enough space for plants to mature. Don’t forget to water on a regular basis especially in hot weather. The installation of soaker hoses for gardens is an efficient way of keeping a vegetable bed well-watered and be included on your vegetable garden planner.

It is important when you have established your vegetable bed to keep a diary. Knowing when and what you have planted and how much produce you got from your crops will help you to plan for the following year. It is also important to rotate crops as pests and diseases can build up in the soil. This also helps avoid depleting the soil of nutrients. Vegetables such as brassicas, potatoes and onions should be rotated each year. Also, planting your perennial crops separately from annual crops will make cultivation of the soil easier.

Having a vegetable garden planner will help you to organise your vegetable bed in an efficient and productive way. It will give you not only the pleasure of seeing your crops grow, but the satisfaction that you are eating the very freshest of produce, knowing how they are grown and if desired in an organic way.

Small Trees For Small Gardens

When selecting a small tree for a small garden, it is important to first consider the full mature size of the tree. Garden nurseries and gardening websites can offer excellent advice, information and garden help.

Even the smallest garden or yard can make room for a tree. Not only are they part of garden landscapes, they can be of practical use in offering shade on a patio or act as a screen for added privacy.

It is important to select a small tree that has interest for the whole year. If you only have room for one small tree in your garden, then it needs to be eye catching, providing color, texture, preferably being as dramatic in spring as it is in the fall. There are now many dwarf forms of trees available or those which grow very upright. Once having selected your small tree it is best to buy it from a specialist garden nursery or garden centre online.

Trees which are particularly suited to a small garden are Japanese maples (Acer griseum). These come in a wide variety of forms and leaf shapes. They grow from two to six metres tall. They display stunning leaf color throughout the year but especially in the fall. They also have interesting bark that is a striking feature in winter.

Another small tree for small gardens is the Magnolia. These again come in a variety of types and sizes, so check before you buy. Magnolias have beautiful pink or white flowers in the spring and with careful pruning grow into interesting and dramatic shapes as they mature.

If you have a wall or protected area in your garden the fig tree is a good small garden tree. Figs originate from Syria and Persia, but can be grown in cooler climates such as Britain. They may not always fruit in a cooler climate, but their leaves are quite striking and can become a talking point in your garden. They add a decorative, Mediterranean feel to a patio and need very little attention.

The Japanese crab apple, (Malus floribunda) is another easy to grow tree for small gardens.. It is a deciduous tree which has very attractive crimson flower buds that when they open reveal white-pink blooms in late spring. In the fall small red and yellow crab apples appear. The Japanese maple grows to a height of about four metres.

The snow gum tree (Eucalyptus niphophila) is a tree for small gardens that provides all year interest. The bark is particularly interesting with grey, cream and green patchwork. The evergreen leaves are grey-green, and grow longer with age. The snow gum tree bears small white flowers in summer. It is suitable for most types of soil, but does prefer full sun. It can grow to a height of eight metres.

One of the most perfect trees for small gardens is the Prunus serrula or Tibetan cherry tree. It provides all year round interest. In spring it produces small, white flowers, which is followed by small fruits and red or yellow leaves in the fall. It has a shiny deep red bark that remains for the whole year. The Prunus can grow to a height of ten metres.

When it comes to planting trees or vertical gardening, you may feel you do not have the space in the ground for any sort of tree. In this case you could consider planting your small tree in a garden container. Wooden garden planters are ideal for this as they can be bought in any size or style to suit your garden design.

For a contemporary garden design, stone or even stainless steel garden containers will add a dramatic effect to a patio or decking area of your garden. Wooden garden planters or garden boxes add a more natural or classic look to a garden. Always check with your garden nursery if the tree you have chosen is suitable for a garden planter before you buy and ask advice on the right type of soil and garden fertilizer you will need to plant your tree in.

One advantage of having your small tree in a container is that it can be moved around when needed and be easily protected against adverse weather conditions. Either moving it to a warmer, more sheltered spot in the garden or covering it in garden fleece to protect it.

Certainly whichever small tree you choose for your small garden it should give you many years of pleasure and beauty. There are now many ways to seek garden designs for small gardens A garden nursery, gardening websites or garden design pictures will help you choose the right small tree for your garden.

Raised Vegetable Garden Beds

There’s nothing like being able to go down the garden to pick your own fresh vegetables. Making your own raised vegetable garden beds makes the growing of vegetables very convenient and an easy way to add a vegetable patch to your garden without having to dig up large portions of the soil before you start. Raised vegetable garden beds can also be an asset to those who find bending down to dig the garden a struggle, as raised vegetable beds can be constructed at any height.

If you cannot decide whether or not a raised vegetable bed would work in your garden there are various sources of gardening help you can go to. These include professional garden designers, garden nurseries or online garden designs. Some gardening websites offer free garden design software on how to build a raised garden bed. The use of a garden catalogue or gardening pictures can also be helpful.

Once having decided on having a raised vegetable garden bed, you next need to decide on the materials you wish to make it out of. Look at the overall design of your garden to see which materials would blend in best. Many people opt for wooden raised beds as these are not only quick and easy to construct, but you can buy raised garden bed kits, which make the task very simple.

Old railway sleepers have become a popular choice. These can be difficult to source, but many good garden supply companies stock garden sleepers specially made for the job. If you decide to build your raised vegetable bed out of brick or stone, then some skill at brick laying will be required or the need to employ someone to build it for you.

Before you start to build your raised vegetable garden bed, you first need to choose a sunny spot that gets at least six hours of sunshine each day. A south facing garden is ideal for this. You next need to clear the ground underneath the area where your raised vegetable bed will go to give you a flat even surface. If your garden is particularly prone to weeds, a barrier mat can be laid to stop them coming up in your raised bed.

The site of your raised bed needs to be made level before you start and any overhanging branches from trees or shrubs need to be clipped back. Next you need to construct your raised bed from the materials you have chosen. A good working size for a raised bed is about four feet by eight feet, but can be adapted to suit your needs and space in the garden. Making your raised vegetable garden bed too large will cause problems reaching into the center to weed and plant your vegetables.

Make sure your raised bed is stable and can not shift it’s position. This can be done by hammering stakes into the ground at the edges of the raised bed leaving about six inches above the ground or level with the tops of the sides if your bed is low. Once having done this you are ready to fill your raised vegetable garden bed with soil. Choose a good garden soil, this can be bought in bags, but might work out expensive for large raised beds. Garden supply companies or online gardening suppliers offer soil by the yard and will nearly always deliver.

Once having filled your raised bed with soil it needs to be watered well and left to settle. Further top ups of soil may be required until there is sufficient soil in the raised bed for your vegetables. Water the bed well and let the water drain and the soil dry out a little before planting your vegetables.

When you are ready to plant your seeds, mark out some rows in the soil with stakes and string for straight rows. It is useful to have the proper tools for the job, a garden fork and garden hoe are two of the essential garden tools you will need. Drag a garden hoe through the soil to make a shallow trench about one inch deep. If planting melons or cucumbers, mound up piles of soil and make one inch deep holes for the seeds. Using garden markers will help you remember what you have planted where.

Place the seeds in the rows and cover lightly. Follow the planting and care instructions on the packet carefully. Usually, the larger the seed, the deeper the hole. Small seeds need to be tampered down to prevent them from being blown away or eaten by birds. Lightly water the seeds until thoroughly wet.

Your seeds should germinate within six to twelve days, depending on the vegetables. If the weather is likely to turn cold, covering your seeds with garden fleece will help to protect them. If you wish to keep cats out of the garden, the use of garden mesh or garden netting is useful. This also stops birds from eating the seeds and young plants.

Raised vegetable garden beds make valuable additions to any size of garden and can add to the overall design of your garden by adding height and structure. They are convenient and will give you much pleasure and satisfaction in growing your own vegetables.

Indoor Herb Garden

By using fresh herbs in your cooking you can greatly enhance the flavour of the food. Using dried or even frozen herbs is a good substitute, but the flavour and aroma of fresh herbs is far better. However, depending on where you live growing your own outdoor herbs may not be possible or practical. If you don’t have a garden space or live in a climate that is too cold, then growing your own herbs is still possible. Having your own indoor herb garden will ensure a constant supply of fresh fragrant herbs all year round.

There are now available many indoor herb garden kits that make growing your own indoor herb garden very simple. These can be bought in a variety of designs such as pots, bottles, wooden garden kits, terra cotta planters etc. But if you want to make your own indoor herb garden, it can be made very simply and cheaply.

To make an indoor herb garden you only need a sunny, well lit spot. This could be on a window sill or in a porch area. A south facing spot is ideal, but if not available, any well lit area will do. Try to avoid a north facing spot, as this is unlikely to get enough sun to grow your herbs. There are many herbs which make ideal indoor herb gardens. These include, basil, oregano, mint, rosemary, sage, chives, thyme, and parsley.

Most herbs can be bought from a garden nursery or garden supply stores. There are many garden catalogue companies that do mail order herbs or you can buy garden supplies direct from suppliers online. If buying your herbs directly from a garden nursery or store check that seed packets are not out of date. And if buying young plants, make sure they are healthy looking and not straggly.

Next you need to choose your container for your indoor herb garden. This of course needs to fit in or on the area you have chosen for your herb garden. You can either use containers you already have or you will find a wide range of containers in a wide range of materials at your local garden nursery.

You can use any type or style of container to suit you. This could be anything from a conventional plant pot, or something a little different such as a mixing bowl, large cup and saucer or stainless steel bucket. You are only limited by space and your imagination.

Next you need to buy a good quality general garden compost. This is important as the herbs you will be growing will be in the container for some time and will need an ample supply of nutrients to grow healthily.

All you need to do now is choose the herbs you want to grow and plant them. One tip is to only grow the herbs you know you will use, or you will waste space in your indoor herb garden. Although easy to grow, they will need some care. Indoor herbs need to be watered regularly, but you need to be careful not to over-water them as this will cause your herbs to rot and die. Once every week or two should be enough to keep them healthy. Check the soil with your fingertips to feel if they are too wet before you water them. Feeding your plants should only be necessary once a year. Using slow release pellets are very useful for this.

Having your own indoor herb garden not only ensures you have a year round supply of your favourite fresh herbs, but it is something the children can do as well. It is fairly simple for them to do and shows fast results. Indoor herb gardens also make great presents for your friends and family.

Garden Compost

Like people gardens need nutrients to grow and flourish. Incorporating garden compost into your garden allows you to feed your plants and vegetables and improve overall soil quality.

You can obtain ready prepared bags of garden compost from most garden nurseries or garden supply stores. Many garden supply companies and gardening websites offer an online service and will deliver. It is important that you choose the right garden compost for your soil and particular needs. Some plants and garden shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas require special ericaceous compost to make the soil more acid. While other garden composts are suitable for general use for vegetable and flower gardening.

The main advantage of using compost on your garden is to improve the soil structure. Good garden soil needs to be loose and be able to hold water but with adequate drainage. Clay soil can be very heavy, so adding garden compost will improve the structure and drainage. For soils that are sandy, garden compost will absorb water and improve the water-holding compacity of the soil.

As well as improving the structure and water retaining properties of soil, the decomposing compost will gradually release nutrients vital for healthy plant growth. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient in plant growth which can be obtained from garden compost. The use of adding manure as well as compost will ensure a good supply of nitrogen if growing highly productive crops.

For those who do not want to buy their garden compost, making your own compost in your garden has several advantages. Firstly, it allows the gardener to recycle garden wastes. This means less waste to have to dispose of. Secondly, you will know what has gone into your garden compost. So if you want to be an organic gardener, you will have control over what has gone into your compost.

When deciding on your home garden compost bin it is best to design it into your garden. Making a home compost can be made from ready made plastic drums which turn, to wooden enclosures made yourself or from kits ready to assemble. Having some sort of structure for your compost will save space and hasten decomposition. If you find that the thought of your compost bin may spoil the look of the garden, then garden screens can be useful to hide it from view.

When you have to dispose of garden waste those garden jobs can become harder. But with your own garden compost patch or bin, garden clearance becomes a whole lot easier. Most organic materials will decompose, but not all garden wastes should go into your home compost. Leaves, grass cuttings, non-woody plant trimmings can all be composted. If putting grass cuttings into your compost, it is advisable to mix with other garden waste to keep it aerated. Branches, logs or twigs greater than 1/4 inch thick should be put through a garden mulcher or shredder first, as they will not decompose fast enough.

Kitchen waste is a valuable addition to your compost. Wastes such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells make good compost. Some organic materials should not be added to your compost as they could create a health hazard. Pet waste should not be added nor should meat, bones or fat. Whole eggs and dairy products should also not be added as they attract rodents. Any plant that is diseased should be avoided in your compost. This is because although the temperature in the center of your compost may reach 140 degrees and kill off many diseases, you can not be sure that your compost has been sufficiently mixed to the center to reach this temperature. Using a garden incinerator to dispose of diseased plants will ensure the spread of disease is contained.

Once you begin to fill your compost bin, decomposition can take from six months to two years. The process can be speeded up by mixing dry and wet materials and chopping or shredding waste as small as possible. The stage of decomposition will vary from top to bottom as you continually add more waste. The more finished compost will be found at the bottom of your bin and should be removed first.

The best system of composting is to have two bins on the go, one to add to and one for maturing. Remember that the site of your compost is important as you want it near enough to your area where it is to be used but not too close to your neighbours to be a nuisance. Once having set up your garden compost your garden will benefit from good quality garden compost to produce better plants, flowers or vegetables.