28 Aug

Quick Tip # 4: Preventing and Treating Fungus Organically

Cinnamon powder is an effective fungicide that can be applied directly on cuttings or  damaged parts of the plants. You can also mix cinnamon powder with cooking oil and preserve the paste for applying on cuttings or affected parts.

Another way of using cinnamon as fungicide is preparing a  concoction of cinnamon (2 tablespoons) and isopropyle alcohol (just a pint is enough). The mixture should be kept overnight and then filtered and used as organic fungicide spray.

27 Aug

Storing Kitchen Garden Harvest without a Refrigerator

One of our family friends is an avid kitchen gardener. He grows a lot of things – herbs, vegetables, fruits, beans etc. The harvest is always more than what his family and neighbors can consume, so I often receive vegetables and fruits that consume all the space in my refrigerator – hardly knowing that I could keep them fresh outside the refrigerator (How did people keep their edibles fresh when there were no refrigerators – either they grew their own food or purchased it on daily basis?). There must be traditional methods of storing food that we have forgotten since the introduction of refrigerators. Jihyun Ryou of Design Academy Eindhoven has devised a simple solution for storing vegetables and fruits using traditional methods.

Ryou advocates traditional methods of storing food and believes in ‘saving the food from refrigerator‘.

Though the product is still a prototype and not marketable but it does call for reviving traditional methods of storing the food in natural way.

Storing vegetables

“Keeping roots in a vertical position allows the organism to save energy and remain fresh for a longer time. This shelf gives a place for them to stand easily, using sand. At the same time, sand helps to keep the proper humidity.”

Storing Fruit Vegetables

The water tray keeps these fruit vegetables fresh for extended periods outside the refrigerator.

Storing Food without Refrigerator

“Apples emit a lot of ethylene gas. It has the effect of speeding up the ripening process of fruits and vegetables kept together with apples. When combined with potatoes, apples prevent them from sprouting.”

Storing spices

“Rice absorbs humidity easily. The spice container with rice inside helps spices stay dry without forming into lumps.”

Storing Eggs

“An egg has millions of holes in its shell. It absorbs the odour and substance around itself very easily. This creates a bad taste if it’s kept in the fridge with other food ingredients. This shelf provides a place for eggs outside of the fridge. Also the freshness of eggs can be tested in the water. The fresher they are, the further they sink.”

24 Aug

How to repurpose old box in to box garden

Today, I am featuring a simple and useful DIY project by Judd & Jessa. This quick DIY project should not take more than 15 minutes to repurpose an old wooden box in to an attractive box garden.

Step 1: Clean the box and prepare it for a simple paint job

DIY Box Garden - Step 1

Step 2: Select plants, design a layout and start planting

DIY Box Garden Step 2

Step 3: Place your box garden for a smart display

DIY  Garden Box

24 Aug

Cytisus, the Bridal Broom Plant

Cytisus is a genus of evergreen and deciduous shrubs from the family of Wisteria and Golden Shower tree, which is popular for its ornamental flowers. The genus of Cytisus consists of small shrubs that produce white, pink, red and yellow flowers in spring.

Propagation of Cytisus is done from seeds. Young plants require regular water and partial sunlight but established plants do not have any special requirements. Most species in the genus of Cytisus are adaptable to a variety of climatic conditions. Though light shade and slightly moist soil are preferred, Cytisus can grow in poor soil or under shade. One of the popular species is Cytisus x praecox which grows up to 2 meters and bears masses of small white flowers.

Cytisus praecox 'Alba'

Cytisus praecox 'Alba', Image by Leonora Enking

Cytisus x praecox is commonly described as Bridal broom.

22 Aug

Serruria florida, the Blushing Bride

Serruria florida, Blushing Bride

Serruria florida / Blushing Bride, Image by Martin Heigan

The beautiful plant in this picture is Serruria florida or Blushing Bride – as it is commonly known in horticulture. Serruria florida represents a genus of approximately 50 species of evergreen shrubs. Almost all plants from the genus of Serruria produce exquisite and long lasting flowers. Serruria florida itself is grown for long lasting cut flowers that are usually used in bridal bouquets. Flowers of Serruria florida have delicate shades of yellow, white, mauve and pink. The flowers are usually covered in colorful bracts.

Serruria florida grows as an evergreen shrub. The plant grows up to 1.5 meter and produces lovely and slightly fragrant flowers in winter and spring. The plant requires bright, sunny exposure and a rich soil. Water requirements are average.

22 Aug

Tropical Shrubs and Trees for Lovely Flowers: Tibouchina

Tibouchina (Buy Online), commonly known as Princess Flower or Glory Flower, is a genus of beautiful bloomers from tropical regions of Mexico and the Americas, especially Brazil. When in bloom, Tibouchina plants are perfect head turners with bunches of vivid pink and purple flowers.

Tibouchina lepidota 'Alstonville'

Tibouchina lepidota ‘Alstonville’, Image by Tatiana Gerus

How to Grow Tibouchina

The genus includes evergreen shrubs and small trees that love warm and humid climate. Most species of Tibouchina are sensitive to frost and require protection from freezing temperatures. Propagated from cuttings, these tropical plants should be grown in a loamy, slightly acidic and well-drained soil under full to partial sun. In tropical climate, Tibouchinas should be watered freely in summer and kept just moist in winter.

Tibouchina mutabilis

Tibouchina mutabilis, Image by Mauricio Mercadante

Popular species include:

T. elegans: Evergreen, tropical shrub with pink or purple flowers borne in summer; the plant grows up to 2 meters and requires regular pruning.

T. urvilleana (Brazilian Glory Bush): Grows as shrub, this lovely bloomer tends to grow into a small tree; the plant bears soft, hairy leaves, and vibrant purple flowers.

T. granulosa: Commonly described as Purple Glory Tree, the plant is grown as a small tropical tree (10 to 15 feet) in tropical gardens. The plant can be trimmed to different sizes and shapes, and bears plenty of flowers in spring.

Tibouchina ‘Jules’: Grown as dwarf tropical shrub (up to 1 meter), the plant bears soft, velvety leaves, and purple flowers that appear in spring/early summer.

21 Aug

Lovely Plant for Borders and Edges: Erigeron

Erigeron is a genus of small annuals, biennials and perennials with a worldwide distribution across many Mediterranean climates. Commonly known as Fleabane, the genus of Erigeron offers more than 400 plants that are easy to grow in almost all soil types. Most species are useful for planting in garden borders, edges, and other empty spaces in garden landscapes.

Erigeron karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus, Image by M. Martin Vicente

Erigerons are generally sun-loving and hardly plants that produce small but lovely flowers. With a long flowering season, flowers of Erigeron are yellow, white and pink and appear from early to late summer. Most species of Erigeron can be planted under full to partial sun. They require average watering and usually tend to grow as low-growing plant. The most popular plant from the genus of Erigeron is Erigeron karvinskianus which is grown as perennial shrub. The plant grows up to 40 cm and produce white flowers in early and late summer.

Erigeron karvinskianus is suitable for borders, edges and rockeries as a low maintenance plant.

19 Aug

Lovely Perennials for Sunny Gardens: Penstemon

Penstemon is a popular genus of perennials, shrubs and sub-shrubs that are grown for their colorful flowers. Native to hot and sunny regions of North America, the genus of Penstemon offers a wide range of perennials that can be grown at many different spots in gardens and landscapes. The taller species (1.5 to 3 meters) mix well with other perennials in borders. The low-growing species (1 to 1.5 meter) of Penstemon make good plant for rock gardens or flower beds.

Penstemon

Penstemon, Image by M. Martin Vicente

Most species of Penstemon produce dense spikes of tubular flowers that bloom in early summer and last till mid-summer. Penstemon are easily propagated from seeds or divisions planted in spring. These sun loving plants require good sunny exposure in rich and loamy soil that gives its roots plenty of room to grow. Once established, Penstemons requires average watering.

Popular varieties of Penstemon include:

Penstemon ‘Alice Hindley’: Grows up to 1 meter and produces large mauve flowers.

Penstemon ‘Osprey’: Grows up to 1.5 meter and produces pink and white flowers.

Penstemon ‘Raven’: Grows up to 1 meter and produces lovely purple flowers.

Penstemon ‘Stapleford Gem’: Low growing plant with large lilac flowers.

Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’: Another small perennial with greyish-blue flowers.