19 Mar

New to Gardening? Do it with ‘Sprout It’ iPhone App

I just came across a nifty iPhone app, Sprout It, that is built around the idea of providing step-by-step guide to growing a great kitchen garden.

Sprout It iPhone app provides with step-by-step guide to planning, growing and harvesting your vegetable and herb garden. I am writing down my initial experience with Sprout It.

The application has a built-in database of plants and varieties. You can read about the plants, their growth requirements, methods of growing, and care instructions.

Sprout it Library

Sprout It – Plants Library

Once you have selected plants that you want to grow, you can create a growth plan. The growth plan is customized according to your climate and growing conditions. Sprout It provides tips, tutorials, and resources for growing your selected varieties.

Sprout It Grow Plan

Grow Plan

After you have sown your selected plants, you can compare the growth and health of your crop with the virtual growth plan that Sprout It provides. While you can track and compare health and growth of your crop, the application provides you all the necessary alerts and reminders as your crop ripens.

Sprout It Crop

Crop Progress

Sprout It also provides interesting ideas for gardening experiments and interesting recipes that you can cook with your own herbs and vegetables.

Sprout It Gardening info

Tips & Guides

Sprout It is available as free iPhone and web application.

27 Jun

Storage and Security Solution for Gardening Tools: Asgards

Why You Should Keep Your Garden Shed Secure

Many burglars scout out the property before they break in, and can tell just by looking at it whether it is worth the risk of breaking in. They check out whether you have been sloppy and left any belongings out for the taking, whether there is easy access. One of the things that they have been known to break into is the garden shed. While this is not something that you immediately equate with much value, but you may keep your precious bike in there, gardening tools, perhaps a lawn mower, all of which seems worth breaking in for if you are a thief.

Keep Your Garden in Good Repair  

By this, I mean keeping the fences and gateways up to scratch. Leaving them to rot or not repairing them when they are broken means that your property looks dishevelled and not looked after- more inviting to burglars. It also means that it is probably easier to get into. The same goes for the material that your shed is made from. If it is wooden, then check that all the boards are solid and secure.

Keeping your garden neat and tidy in general also helps to contribute to the general atmosphere of someone who is at home and takes regular care of their garden and could be out to tidy at any moment.

Reduce the Risk

If at all possible, you should keep all your valuable belongings in somewhere more secure that your shed. However, if this is not possible, then marking your valuables with a UV pen with your postcode will mean that if they do happen to be stolen, then they can be traced.

Secure Your Shed 

Asgards shed

If there is no other place than your shed to store your valuables in, then you need to make sure that your shed is as secure as possible. While installing a big lock on the door might seem like a good idea to you, it probably will not put a thief off when they can see your big mower through that tiny plastic window. Instead, make sure that they cannot see anything by using a metal shed. Metal sheds are infinitely more secure than a wooden one. The metal sheds from Asgards are built from galvanised steel, have reinforced joints and include a five point locking system, so you know you are in safe hands. Click here for Asgards high security metal sheds.

20 Jun

SolaRadiance Lighting in my Garden

I am a big fan of gardening accessories and gadgets. My latest accessory is SolaRadiance – a simple and unique lighting solution for small gardens. I received my SolaRadiance kit in the last week. It came with live plants in a beautifully designed pots that give the look of vintage copper pots. On top of the pot fits the SolaRadiance light.

My Solaradiance

My Solaradiance

The light is powered by a AA size rechargeable battery that is charged by the solar cell that sits on top of the fitting. The pot can be used to plant your favorite varieties easily. The plants can be watered and fertilized just as ordinary plants and there is no extra maintenance required.  So far, the solar panel is working well. I have placed my plants on the terrace where they receive direct sunlight in early hours of the morning.

SolaRadiance

The light on the plants creates a dramatic effect in the evening. I do not have a lawn but I believe these illuminated plants will look gorgeous in gardens, walkways patios or near pools.

SolaRadiance Lighting

I am planning to plant succulents in my SolaRadiance pots. I will share more pictures of my SolaRadiance pots soon. For more details, you can visit their website www.solaradiance.com.

30 Apr

Teak Garden Furniture for Your Outdoor Living Space

Your outside space should be treated just like the inside. Your furniture, accessories, and of course, the plants that you choose can really make a difference to how your garden or outdoor space is perceived. Pay attention to the way your garden looks, feels and smells and it will be a beautiful place where you will want to spend time.

Outdoor Style

The world is your oyster when it comes to deciding which style you might like to go for. Britain’s climate means that a whole variety of different plants will grow and thrive here so you don’t have to go for an English country garden style every time.

English Country Garden

An English country garden doesn’t have to be strictly Victorian, instead, try a 1920s feel. Think traditional English flowers such as Forget-me-nots, Geraniums, Pansies and Snapdragons, but paired with art deco style wire furniture and an antique mirror or two. Arrange straight beds around a focal point such as a birdbath or a summerhouse.

Moroccan

Or alternatively a Moroccan style garden is a lovely relaxed place to be, with white walls and trellis style tiles, low tables and cushions for seats. Go for exotic plants in large terracotta plant pots and citrus plants. You can’t forget the essential for Moroccan style, a shimmering water feature. Think of an oasis, with a stone floor and leafy plants. Lanterns, stripy fabric on hand carved furniture and accessories like birdcages all work well to create a North African feel.

Japanese

Clean simple lines make Japanese gardens a place of sanctuary. The use of bamboo as separation and curved lines that mean you can’t see the whole thing at the same time, which adds interest and adds to the sense of mystery. Evergreens are a predominant feature of Japanese gardens as they rely on subtle differences in texture as well as color. A pavilion or tea house can be a feature in your garden where you can spend time entertaining or viewing your garden.

Teak Garden Furniture

Teak Garden Furniture

Cottage Style 

A cottage style garden is a garden that looks overgrown and untended. They are informal and free flowering, with traditional English flowers like roses, lavender and foxglove. Similar to the English country look, it differs in the fact that there is no structure. Homely furniture like teak garden furniture works really well and if it doesn’t match, all the better.  Cottage gardens also include wooden structures like arches for climbing plants to grow over.

So whatever your style might be, make sure it’s reflected in your garden too.

18 Apr

Choosing the Right Lawnmower

Purchasing a lawnmower can be a bit daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for with so much choice on the market, so below is a comprehensive overview of prices, types and things to look out for when choosing a lawnmower.

We’ll cover choosing the right lawnmower for your garden from cylinder lawnmowers to rotary lawnmowers and petrol to electric; along with tips to keep your lawn healthy and your neighbours envious. Things you need to consider when buying a lawnmower is what power source is best for your garden; electric, petrol or battery and the size, shape and surface of your lawn.

How to Choose the Right Lawnmower

Electric lawnmowers are popular in cities and small towns for their discrete engine noise and lightweight design. An electric lawnmower is likely to set you back from about £40 – £50. These are ideal for medium size lawns or anything smaller, however the majority of electric lawnmowers are mains power operated, which may be restricting for people with larger gardens.

Petrol lawnmowers have the key advantage of being cordless which is a lifesaver for homeowners with large gardens and makes extension cables a thing of the past. Another advantage is that petrol lawnmowers are significantly more powerful than electric lawnmowers, ideal for tackling out of hand gardens; however, this comes at a price starting at £80 for a basic petrol lawnmower and you can expect to spend over £250 on a higher end product.

Rotary lawnmowers are the most common type of lawnmowers that buyers usually opt for and range from roughly £200 depending on size and brand. Rotary lawnmowers are wheel based and have a rotating blade, chopping the grass as you push it along. These are ideal for medium and large gardens; however they are typically mains powered so this can be restricting depending your access to a mains socket. For lawns larger than 1/2 acre it would be worth considering buying a riding lawn mower.

Hover mowers are popular in the UK and are similar to rotary lawn mowers but they glide across the grass on an air of cushion, as opposed to having wheels. Typically they don’t come with a grass collector, which makes them light and portable. Hover mowers start at £30 and can creep up to £200 for a top of the range mower, complete with a grass collector. Hover mowers rotary blades are ideal for small gardens and uneven surfaces. Flymo offer a large range of lightweight and powerful hover mowers, Flymos found here.

Cylinder lawnmowers if your lawn is 50 sq m then a hand cylinder lawnmower may be suitable for your lawn, which start from around £30 and increase in price for electric and petrol powered machines. Cylinder lawnmowers have sharp metal blades rotating and one stationary blade, cutting the grass like scissors as you push it across your lawn. If you’re considering a push lawn mower the quality of the blades is important so it’s worth looking for ones which are self-sharpening. Perfect for small gardens, however you may need something with more power if you have a longer or rougher grass.

Tips

When buying a lawn mower it is important to check that it is comfortable to use. Most lawnmowers on the market have adjustable handles so you can suit it to your needs. Many petrol and electric lawnmowers are heavy which can be an issue if you need to lift your lawnmower and move it up and down steps in the garden. Bosch lawn mowers from Argos include a range of foldable lightweight electric lawn mowers for compact storage.

22 Oct

9 Unusual Gifts for Gardeners from Etsy

Gardening Apron by Growing Hope (12 USD)

The Growing Hope gardening apron is made of a heavy duty canvas material with 3 pockets and a waist tie in back.

'gets dirty' Gardening Apron

‘gets dirty’ Gardening Apron

Pressed Flower Glass Pendant by Dianne (24 USD)

An unusual glass pendant for someone who loves flowers, gardening, or something out of the ordinary. A very unusual gift for any season, or any reason.

Flowers Glass Pendant

Flowers Glass Pendant

Hand Made Wooden Utility Box by Christina O’Neill (97.12 USD)

A perfect for any gardener, to last a lifetime. The box contains 12 wooden monthly dividers, engraved with each month (so you can organize your seeds by the sowing calendar), a roll of jute, for tying in plants, 25 wooden plant labels, 10 seed storage envelopes for collecting and storing seeds, and a tube each of Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener’s Hand Therapy cleanser and moisturizing cream.

Gardening Box

Gardening Box

Miniature Gardening Tools by Carol (5.99 USD)

The set includes a hoe, a shovel and a garden rake! Very realistic looking and even usable for miniature garden projects.

Miniature Gardening Tools

Miniature Gardening Tools

Felt Wool Gardening Set by Hand Crafter (15 USD)

A lovely set of handmade, cute little gardening objects.

Felt Wool Gardening Set

Felt Wool Gardening Set

Hand Made Birdhouse by Natalie Bowman (39.95 USD)

The birdhouse is created using 2 gourds. The roof has gourd seed that has been placed one by one all around to resemble an old shingled roof. The perch is a gourd stem.

Handmade Birdhouse

Handmade Birdhouse

Gardening Utility Belt for Little Gardeners by Denise Hayes (21.40 USD)

This useful utility belt is made with waterproof canvas. All the pouches and loops will come off the belt to be re-arranged and easily slide back and forth so can be moved to the most comfortable positions.

Gardening Belt

Gardening Belt

Golden Brooch Pin for Gardeners by ErisJewels (16 USD)

A raised design of swirling vines and blooming flowers adorning a watering can of rich gold tone.

Golden Brooch Pin

Golden Brooch Pin

Hand Painted Spades by Julie Bass (19.95 USD)

Vintage pair of gardening spades with painted motif featuring bird houses, picket fences, butterflies, bee hives and flowers.

Painted Gardening Spades

Painted Gardening Spades

19 Sep

Growing with Mini Greenhouse in Your Garden

This guest post is written by owner of BetterGreenHouses.com.

Creating a greenhouse is not as difficult as it looks. If you are worried about budget and expenses and the cost of maintaining the structure of the greenhouse, you can be rest assured that even simple and small greenhouses, which require little upkeep and expense can be fully functional and serve your purpose easily. Juliana Mini Greenhouse is one such example of a really simple and small greenhouse which can be used to grow amazing vegetables and plants that generally flower in summer. You will be hard pressed to grow these crops in winter especially if winters are harsh where you live. Thus, the idea of a greenhouse, compact and easily operational, is capital.

There might be a lot of worries regarding the expenses needed to maintain a greenhouse. This is where the Juliana Mini Greenhouse steals the thunder. It is compact and easily accommodated in your garage, shed or backyard. It is about 5 foot in height and includes polycarbonate panels which are completely unbreakable. These are twin walled and are attached with aluminum walls. This also provides additional support and durability to the structure, making it long lasting, and thus, in the long run, cutting down on maintenance cost

What you can grow in the greenhouse is completely your choice. The range of plants that adapt to the artificial environment of a greenhouse is surprisingly wide. Care should be taken to factor in the additional parameters of a greenhouse environment. For example, if you wish to exclude artificial warming and lightening in the greenhouse during winter, the list of plants which can be grown in the greenhouse will automatically become shorter. However, with the Juliana Mini Greenhouse also, the range and choice of plants will not change. In fact it is ideal for people who have no choice but to build their greenhouses in constricted spaces.

The quality of food crops grown in a greenhouse is particularly good. This makes it ideal to grow your tomatoes or other veggies in the Juliana Mini Greenhouse. The artificial environment of a greenhouse is different from other artificial environments since the former is a controlled environment where plants receive additional care and attention. This leads to a proliferation of fruit and flower that is quite amazing and beautiful to look at. The quality is optimum as a result and the most aesthetically pleasing plant samples are also more often than not, greenhouse plants.

There are certain problems in a greenhouse environment as well. For example, diseases and pests are also part of the repertoire of problems which every gardener has to deal with. Despite being a controlled atmosphere, greenhouse plants are not exempt from these problems. However these problems can be neutralized to a great extent because the atmosphere is controlled. For example, even in a small-scale greenhouse like the Juliana Mini Greenhouse, the pest problem can be handled without the use of pesticides at all. Thus these are some of the benefits which makes the investment behind a greenhouse worth the time and effort.

 

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 Jul

My Garden Accessories Wishlist

Now that the month of fasting starts, I really do not get enough time and energy to attend to my garden regularly. My pastime these days is shopping accessories for my garden – umm… not shopping – in fact building my garden accessories wishlist.

I do not have a big garden; in fact, I have a small rooftop garden (20×30 square feet) that accommodates my collection of Agaves, Howarthias, Aloes and other succulents. I am planning to spice up the place with some decorative objects, some garden furniture and a couple of practical garden accessories.

Here goes my garden accessories wishlist for 2012:

Myto Chair: This is the top thing in my wishlist. I love this lightweight chair because of its ergonomic design. Made from recyclable material, Myto Chair can be easily stalked up and moved. So, this is possibly the best garden furniture that I can add to my small garden.

Myto Chair

Halley Solar Lamp – I just love thing solar lamp because it can be easily configured in different styles and direction. It is lightweight, portable and stylish.

Halley Solar Lamp

Wingspaces Timelapse Camera – I do not get much time to attend to my garden (half an hour before leaving for work in the morning and about an hour at night). So I often miss my blooming succulents (they usually bloom in the afternoon). This nifty and waterproof timelapse camera can take photos automatically for creating a timelapse movie of moments that I often miss – a practical garden accessory indeed.

Timelapse Garden Camera

Relaxing Hammock – I do not have sufficient space for this relaxing hammock for I seriously want this in my garden. 😛

Relaxing Hammock

Outdoor Thermometer/Humidity Gauge – May be this should be at the top of my garden accessories wishlist. It measures temperature and humidity (with daily highs and lows) on a digital display.

Acurite Humidity Monitor

Wheelbarrow Set – With changing seasons and new plants coming in, I often have to move my plants. They are either planted in large containers (old Agaves, Yuccas and some cacti) and many of the plants (Haworthias etc.) are in small pots. Thus moving them around is really tiresome. This lightweight and sturdy wheelbarrow would be a very practical garden accessory.

Wheelbarrow

20 Dec

Sow and Crop with SproutRobot

If you are on facebook and have the slightest flavor for gardening, chances are great that you are/have been addicted to FarmVille. I remember spending endless moments of sowing and cropping during my days of gross addiction – always thinking about withering crops and actually setting up alarms and reminders 🙂

Fortunately, for real gardeners, there is actually a service called SproutRobot that takes care of your sowing and cropping schedules and sends you reminders and seeds – excellent idea.

SproutRobot is simple and really useful. The idea behind the services is to “tell you when to plant fruits and veggies in your garden and send you seeds”.

SproutRobot

SproutRobot

You can sign up for a free basic account and start growing your favorite plants without hassle. You just have to provide your zip code. SproutRobot services suggests you suitable plants and gives complete schedule for sowing seeds in your garden as per your personal preferences.

The free SproutRobot account comes with a complete gardening calendar for the year and regular alerts, tips and reminders via email. You can also select and buy seeds online. Paid subscriptions of $ 19.99/year, $ 39.99/year and $ 59.99/year give you option to grow 3, 8 or 10 different varieties respectively. The seeds provided by SproutRobot are certified organic and come from Seeds of Change.

SproutRobot promises ‘hand-checked’ gardening calendars, heirloom organic seeds, free instructions and reminder via email, and 100% money back guarantee.

Start with a free account and let us know your experience with SproutRobot.