7 Factors Needed for a Compost Pile

Compost, made from decomposed grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and branches, becomes a dark, crumbly mixture of organic matter.

Learn how composting works. Even a newbie to composting can make good quality compost. It can be compared to cooking as art or part science. The following 7 factors will help you master the art of composting.

1. Materials
After a time anything that was once alive will naturally decompose. But, not all organic items should be composted for the home. To prepare compost, organic material, microorganisms, air, water, and a small amount of nitrogen are needed.

These items are safe to compost at home:
* grass clippings
* trimmings from hedges
* vegetable scraps
* leaves
* potting soil that has grown old
* twigs
* coffee filters with coffee grounds
* tea bags
* weeds that have not went to seed
* plant stalks

These items are not safe to compost at home:
* weeds that have went to seed
* dead animals
* pet feces
* bread and grains
* meat
* grease
* cooking oil
* oily foods
*diseased plants

2. What To Do To Make It Work
There are small forms of plant and animal life which break down the organic material. This life is called microorganisms. From a minute amount of garden soil or manure comes plenty of microorganisms.

Nitrogen, air, and water will provide a favorable environment for the microorganisms to make the compost. Air circulation and water will keep the microorganisms healthy and working. The nitrogen feeds the tiny organisms. You may have to add a small amount of nitrogen to the pile.

Putting on too much nitrogen can kill microbes and too much water causes insufficient air in the pile. You just cannot add too much air.

3. Beneficial Microorganisms
Bacteria are the most effective compost makers in your compost pile. They are the first to break down plant tissue. Then come the fungi and protozoans to help with the process. The arthropods, like centipedes, beetles, millipedes, and worms, bring in the finishing touches to complete the composting.

4. Smaller is Better
The materials will break down faster if the microorganisms have more surface area to eat. Chopping your garden materials with a chipper, shredder, or lawnmower will help them decompose faster.

5. Size of The Pile
The activity of millions of microorganisms generates heat in the compost pile but a minimum size 3-foot by 3-foot by 3-foot is needed for a hot, fast composting pile. Piles that are any larger may hamper the air supply needed in the pile for the microorganisms.

6. Moisture and Aeration
If you can imagine a wet squeezed out sponge with its many air pockets, then this would be the ideal environment for the microorganisms in the pile to function at their best. Pay attention while your pile is composting, to the amount of rain or drought you may have. Water in a drought and maybe turn the pile in a lot of rainy days. The extremes of these two may upset the balance of the pile. The use of a pitchfork would come in handy at this time.

7. Temperature and Time
Keep your pile between 110F and 160F and the beneficial bacteria will love it. Not too cool nor too hot.
The temperature will rise over several days if you keep a good ratio of carbon and nitrogen, maintain lots of surface area within a large volume of material, and maintain adequate moisture and aeration.

-Importance of Compost-

+Compost has nutrients, but it is not a complete fertilizer.

+Compost provides nutrients in the soil until plants need to use them.

+ It loosens and aerates clay soils

+ Retains water in sandy soils.

-Using the Compost-

+ A soil amendment, mix 2 to 5 inches of compost into gardens each year before planting.

+ A potting mixture, add one part compost to two parts potting soil.

+ Make your own potting mixture by using equal parts of compost and sand or perlite.

+ A mulch, prodcast 2 to 4 inches of compost around annual flowers and vegetables, and up to 5 inches around your trees and shrubs.

+ A top dressing, mix finely sifted compost with sand and sprinkle evenly over lawns.

The final thing I would suggest once you have mastered the art of composting is to look very seriously at making your very own aerated compost tea. This elixir will give you results that are hard to believe.

 

7 Timeless Garden Decor Practices

Are you looking for a way to add to your garden decor?

Want something everlasting, nature-based or stylized? There are many things that you can add to your outdoor living space to make it comfortable and inviting and still provide you with a few hours of work on maintenance. Here are 7 ways to add decor to your garden.

Tip 1: unadulterated Is Best. When adding products outdoors, like the furniture to fountains, you should always look towards the most organic products. When you do this, you’ll allow for something that fits within the landscape, not something that sticks out in it.

Tip 2: Flow Is Essential. If you have a large garden or landscape, you can create a flow throughout it to make it a much more livable and organic environment. For example, a pathway leading through the garden is important as it provides for a way to move through the area enjoying all of the principle sights along the way.

Tip 3: Overboard Isn’t Good. Overcrowding a space with too much decor or even too a multitude of plants is bad business. Instead, look for a more nature-based landscape component. Overcrowding plants can cause them to eventually die or take over the entire garden. To much decor can make it look cluttered instead of lavish.

Tip 4: Use Lines. Lines from your home or your edging can help to create a lovely look within the garden. The roofline of the house can be a line that leads the eye to something excellent at the end. Use the lines that you have to create a flow to the eye.

Tip 5: Charm Means Theme. While you don’t need a specific theme throughout your garden decor, you should look towards the same or similar offerings. For example, if you place a white metal table under your trees to produce a restful place, make sure that the chairs that go with it match it. Add a white picket fence or other matching pieces to tie certain areas of the garden together as well.

Tip 6: Uphold it. a large amount of the aspects within a garden are going to need some upkeep. If you pull your weeds, don’t let this be overshadowed by the fact that you haven’t washed those white possessions in a year. Keep up on broken or misplaced items as well. Within the duration of harsh winter months, make sure to put as much as possible in storage that can be broken.

Tip 7: Garden decor is not done without the look for lovely patio items. Allow it to mesh with the settings that you have created too. For example, in a woodsy area, look towards an organic, lovely product such as teak to keep it looking as if it belongs there.

The aforementioned points can help to contribute to a lovely and fashionable garden decor that is everlasting, easy to manage and a welcoming place to call your own.

Bird Feeders

Bird- table or bird feeder is a platform on which food for birds is placed, usually in a garden. Bird feeders offer the best way to turn your own backyard into a mini oasis for the wild birds in your area. They are usually filled with a variety of grains to suit the different species of our feathered friends. The most popular varieties of seeds include millet, safflower, sunflower, and thistle.

Apart from satisfying the hunger of birds, bird feeders also provide an excellent ornithological treat. To everyone’s surprise, the conglomeration of the rarest species of birds is often witnessed in our very own backyards rather than go miles in search of a bird sanctuary. To capture the essence of bird behavior, modern bird feeders are fitted with webcams. Bird feeders come in different varieties and design depending upon the species of bird they cater to. The most common types are ground feeder, seed tube feeder, hummingbird feeder, suet feeder, oriole feeder, etc.

Seed feeders are very much popular; they come either with tubes or hoppers. Mainly these feeders are laden with sunflower seeds to attract birds like chickadees, nuthatches, siskins, and finches. They usually have a partition to segregate the different types of seeds. A suet feeder comprises a cage-like structure made of metal, coated with plastic. It is this plastic that contains a cake or suet. Suet is basically a bird feed containing animal fat, which prevents the feed from turning rancid and protects it from the adverse effects of moisture. Also, they could be hung from windows or any treetops thus giving us a clear view of the birds in action. These bird feeders attract birds like woodpeckers and flickers.

Unlike the seed feeders, Hummingbird feeders offer the feed in a liquid form. This usually consists of a sugary syrup solution that is particularly preferred by hummingbirds. To attract the bird, the solution is painted in a bright color. But care should be taken while choosing the coloring material, for often birds fall ill to harmful coloring agents.

Oriole feeders are orange in color. They too supply a liquid form of nourishment. They especially cater to new world orioles, a species of birds having a uniquely pointed beak and tongue. Apart from the quality of the feed provided in a feeder, the success of a feeder largely depends on the strategic location on which it is placed, its remote proximity from intruders like squirrels and cats. Squirrels pose a persistent problem for the birds as they tend to carry away the feed to their home, distorting our entire objective of feeding the birds. The best way to deal with them is to build feeders that can withstand the weight of a bird and collapse under any further weight.

In spite of the various advantages it offers to the birds, feeders still do have their own negative impacts on the bird community. The water and feed if not maintained clean would lead to the spread of diseases among birds as they come in contact with one another. It also leads to the growth of certain dominant species leading to an ecological imbalance.

So go get yourself a bird feeder and experience the vicarious thrill experienced by our avian fellow mates.

Japanese Gardens a guide

Ready for something different in your garden? Take a look at Japanese bridges. These beautiful ornamental bridges bring the Far East right into your back yard or garden.

Japanese bridges add elegance to gardens and look beautiful when placed over a koi pond or Japanese style dry river bed. There are many flowers, shrubs, and trees that complement Japanese bridges also.

If you are interested in Japanese bridges for your garden you may want to look online for ideas and suggestions. There are excellent sites that not only feature the bridges but have information about planning an entire garden space in the Japanese style.

Many of the designs for these Japanese bridges are taken from ancient drawings. The Japanese bridges are graceful and unique. Place a Japanese bridge in your garden and create a space to meditate, a quiet area for contemplation and dreaming. These are just a few of the benefits of having a Japanese bridge.

You might want to begin planning a Japanese bridge by surveying the space you have to work with. Make sure the Japanese bridge is the correct size. The Japanese bridge will not look as lovely as it should if it is too big or too small for the area. Think carefully about the other things you will have in the space. You will want to coordinate the flowers, trees and any other ornamental elements you plan to use. If you have a pond you will need to determine the best Japanese bridge for the pond.

Plan carefully and you will be able to add a little Oriental flair to your yard even if you live in New York City!

 

Choosing Your Bonsai Tree

When you go to choose your Bonsai Tree, you will find that there are a great many varieties to choose from. In reality, any plant that has a trunk and branches can become a Bonsai Tree.
A lot of people choose the tropical Bonsai Plant because they are beautiful and can be grown indoors all year round. Tropical Bonsai Plants include such plants as the as azalea, fig, bougainvillea, fuchsia.

Though tropical Bonsai Plants are popular, there are also other types that very closely resemble the full-grown outside variety. These Bonsai Plants include such trees and shrubs as the elm, birch, apple, ginkgo, and spirea. These types of plants lose their leaves in the winter when the days grow shorter. They require cooler temperatures, but above freezing in the winter. In addition, they don’t need light when they don’t have any leaves.

When choosing a Bonsai Tree it is important to consider where it is you will be growing your plant before deciding on which type to get. The tropical Bonsai Plant can be grown in the window as long as you keep close tabs that the temperature is not getting too cold. These types of Bonsai Plants require a lot of light. If it does get too cold by the window, you may use a fluorescent light to help substitute for natural sunlight.

The Evergreen Bonsai Plant can be placed in a window during the winter and outdoors once the temperature is staying above freezing. These plants cannot be placed directly in the sun but must be put in a shady place so that they do not die from too much heat.
Pruning your Bonsai Plant is important, as this is how you create the illusion of a mature, full-grown tree. If you are not adept at pruning and have never cared for your own Bonsai Plant, you may want to begin with the tropical Azalea Bonsai Plant. They are very adaptable to trimming and this will be helpful for you when you are first starting out with a Bonsai.

There are many different styles of Bonsai Plants, including the upright tree, the windswept Bonsai Plant, as well as the cascade and forest styles of Bonsai Plants. Before deciding on which style you would like to try and grow, it is a good idea to discover as much as you can about each type and how to care for them.

 

Garden Gazebos

A garden gazebo is a perfect way to accent your garden. Imagine being able to walk along the path between the koi pond and the flowers, the hedges and the willow tree, pausing to rest on a bench inside a gazebo. Its shade will comfort you, and its architecture will add that special geometric touch to your garden, striking the balance between nature and humanity.

No matter what the environment of your garden, there is a garden gazebo out there just waiting to be bought.

In creating a garden gazebo, first choose your material from wood, metal, or vinyl options. Wood is the most common choice, and for good reason: it goes with any natural environment. Wood is available in pine, cedar, and redwood. Pine is the softest wood, ages to a rich yellow, and complements surrounding evergreens. Cedar is higher in overall sturdiness, is less prone to rot, and ages to a gray-brown. American redwood is the darkest, longest-lasting wood. Other woods can be used, but those are the most common.

Metal gazebos come in cast aluminum or steel and wrought iron. Go with steel and wrought iron if you want your garden gazebo to add a lovely dark and long-lasting effect. These gazebos are often open-roofed, and so are great for stocking with plants, climbers, and other materials, making for a lush shade that changes with the seasons.

Vinyl comes in white or black. Just as with wood and metal gazebos, they come in a variety of shapes and styles. Get trellis walls for a cottage feel.

For enhanced usability in harsher weather conditions, get an enclosed garden gazebo. These can be partially enclosed, with partitions and movable screens, or totally enclosed, with solid walls and tinted windows.

Whether looking to expand a large corporate garden, or just to complement a small neighborhood plot, a garden gazebo is an inviting structure for rest, meditation, or meeting up with other people to enjoy the weather.

Bonsai Trees for Beginners

We are often asked which bonsai trees are the easiest to care for.   As a result, we have added this category of bonsai trees that are among the easiest trees to maintain indoors and are more tolerant of lower lighting conditions and some watering neglect. Good for beginners and gifts when you are unsure of the recipients’ bonsai expertise.
All of the bonsai trees listed in our Indoor Recommendations category are also very easy to maintain indoors but will require more natural light from a window.  We consider most flowering & fruiting bonsai trees more difficult to care for in that they require more direct sun from a sunny window sill, bay window or placed outdoors in moderate (50 degrees or above) temperatures.

Planning Your Patio Garden

A patio can be a wonderful place to relax during the warm days of spring, summer and autumn; or all year if you live in warmer climes. At times when the lawn may be too wet or even muddy, the solid floor of a patio means you can sit outside even after heavy rain and make the most of the fresh air, and visual pleasure of your garden. You can even turn your patio into a patio garden to make it more interesting.

You can turn the plainest of patios into a patio garden with the good use of containers or outdoor planters. If you are starting from nothing, and designing and building (or having designed and built) a completely new patio, then it is worth giving the garden aspect of the patio some forethought.

The reason for the pre-planning is that you have an opportunity to create something very special with little extra expense beyond the foundation work and the patio floor. Here are just a few thoughts to build in at the design stage, so your patio garden can be more than just a flat area of paving slabs.

Colour Scheme for the Patio

When planning a new patio it is best to consider the color scheme beyond just the color of the paving slabs. If you want a patio garden, then you will need containers to grow plants in. Try to be sure that you can obtain containers or planters which blend well with the color of the slabs. For example, light brown paving slabs above may look very nice, but are not so easy to blend in naturally with surroundings, or find complementary planters for.

Natural grey stone, on the other hand, is much easier to find suitable planters for and can have a much more natural appearance in the garden.

That is not to say paving slabs other than grey cannot be used, but just bear in mind the rest of the decor you will need to fit in to make your patio garden attractive.

Consider Height

As with many aspects of garden design, height is important when planning a patio garden. This can be achieved in a number of ways, which can all be used at the same time. Here are some examples:

1. Consider having a wall around the patio, on which you can put a few containers. On a patio or terrace, columns and balusters can be very attractive, and add a distinctive style.

2. Consider having a covered or partly covered patio. That gives you the opportunity to not only provide shade and cover but allow for a trellis on one side. That way you can grow climbing plants on the patio which add that all-important height to the patio garden.

3. Choose some high containers that will immediately contrast with your smaller containers.

4. Choose some tall growing plants and container suitable shrubs, to contrast with the low growing and trailing plants.

Consider Your View and Adjacent Garden

It is best not to design the patio in isolation, but consider it in conjunction with the view you would most like to see. This means that the positioning is especially important, as are the garden design considerations in the surrounding garden.

For example, if you want sweet-smelling plants to fill your senses on a warm evening, you can plant them next to the patio. Or, if you want a private area in which to sit, some taller shrubs outside the patio in that area may provide you with just that.

By using a combination of the above features, you can develop a patio garden that will be a pleasing and impressive feature of your garden overall, and also be a great place to relax on those balmy sunny days. Try to visualize it in full before starting work on construction, and your garden patio could end up as your dream garden patio.

 

 

Palm Trees – Uses And Locations

Palm trees, scientifically known as Arecaceae or Palmae, are trees belonging to a family of monocot flowering plants. There are approximately 2,600 different species of palm trees, the majority of which are native to tropical or subtropical climates. Some well-known trees that belong to this group include coconut trees, rattan trees, and date palm trees.

Uses of palm trees

Palm trees have many uses. Palm tree sap is sometimes fermented in order to produce palm wine or palm toddy. To make palm wine from the sap of palm trees, the sap is first collected by cutting between the tree kernels. A container is placed below the cut to collect the sap, a process that takes one or two days. The sap begins fermenting immediately and creates a wine within two hours. If the palm sap is allowed to sit too long, however, it turns into vinegar.

Heart of palm is also derived from several species of palm trees. Heart of palm is also referred to as swamp cabbage, palm heart, or palmito. Heart of palm is a vegetable harvested from palm trees. Because the vegetable is taken from the inner core of the palm trees, however, it kills the tree when it is harvested. Therefore, it is quite costly and salads in which it is added are often referred to as “millionaire salad.”

In addition, oil palms belonging to the genus Elaeis are used to produce palm oil. This form of vegetable oil is obtained from the palm tree’s fruit. The edible form of palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit. This is what is generally referred to as “palm oil” or “edible oil.” This oil is generally reddish in color and contains high levels of carotenoids. It is most often used in margarine or in cooking oil.

“Palm kernel oil” is derived from the kernel of palm trees. This oil is not edible but is used mostly to make soap. Palm kernel oil contains olefins and lauric acid. Both forms of palm oil also contain a large amount of tocotrienol, which is part of the Vitamin E family.

Palm trees in the United States

Very few palm trees are capable of tolerating severe cold. The hardiest palm trees include the Trachycarpus, which is native to eastern Asia, and the Rhapidophyllum, which is from the southwestern United States.

Other palm trees are native to warmer climates in the United States, such as California, Florida, and southern California where a tropical climate is prevalent. Other states with Mediterranean climates, such as the Gulf coast states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and southern Georgia also are home to native palm trees. Some desert states, such as Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah are also home to some species of palm trees.

In addition, the Atlantic coast of South Carolina contains numerous palm trees, earning the state the nickname of “Palmetto State.”

Palm trees have also been known to grow as far north as Arkansas and Maryland in the United States, as well as along the Pacific Coast to Washington and Oregon. Some species of palm trees have also been successfully transplanted to states as far north as New Jersey.

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History of the Bonsai

History of Bonsai

While the art of bonsai has long been associated with Japan, it actually originated first in China, and then spread eastward to Korea and then Japan. The art of bonsai was spread by Buddhist monks who wished to bring the “outdoors” inside their temples. From ancient paintings and manuscripts, we know that “artistic” container trees were being cultivated by the Chinese around 600 AD, but many scholars feel that bonsai, or at least potted trees, were being grown in China as far back as 500 or 1,000 BC. Bonsai first appeared in Japan during the 12th century.

It is no accident that artistic plant cultivation originated in China. The Chinese have always loved flowers and plants, and the country is naturally endowed with a rich diversity of flora.

The Chinese also had a passion for gardens. In fact, many of these gardens were on a miniature scale and included many miniature trees and shrubs, planted to reinforce the scale and balance of their landscapes.

The Chinese, however, were also infatuated in miniaturization as a science in its own right. They believed that miniature objects had concentrated within them certain mystical and magical powers.

The development of Chinese and Korean ceramics played an important role in the development of bonsai as we know it today. Without the development of beautiful Chinese containers, bonsai trees would not have been admired as much as they have been. Bonsai literally means “tree in a tray.”

The tree and container must form a single entity. Even to this day the most desired containers for the finest Japanese bonsai are often antique Chinese containers.

Bonsai has evolved and developed along different lines in China and Japan. Chinese bonsai is still very much in the ancient tradition, and often appear “crude” to the uninformed. On the other hand, the Japanese styles are more pleasing and naturalistic. The Japanese trees are for the most part more refined and better groomed. Both types have their own individualistic charms and admirers.

In the post World War II era most of the bonsai seen in the United States and Europe are Japanese in origin.

The monopoly that Japan has enjoyed until recently is coming to be shared with a number of other countries, although the quality of Japanese trees continues to be of the highest quality.

Finally, we owe a great debt to the Japanese and Chinese artists for developing this beautiful art and for keeping it alive for almost 2,500 years.

Without their enthusiasm, artistic tradition, and patient stewardship, we would not be enjoying bonsai as we know it today.

The aesthetic sensibilities of bonsai, which have their roots in the Zen Buddhist tradition, contribute significantly to the complete bonsai experience.

text taken from bonsaiboy.com