Posts tagged ‘Garden’

February 24, 2015

Chemotypes 



This is a picture I took in Mexico of an Oregano plant, also known as Wild Marjoram, but should not be confused with Origanum majorana, which is Marjoram. There are many common names of one plant that are confusing, so it’s best to use the universal Latin name to identify a plant. Latin names are usually in italics, to differentiate in print. The first Latin name is called the Genus, and the second name is the species of the plant. While marjoram and oregano are from the same Genus Origanum,  they are very different species: Origanum vulgare is Oregano, and Origanum majorana is Marjoram. 

The leaves on the Mexican Oregano are scalloped, unlike the smoother edged varieties in my garden. 

What other differences are there between Mexico Oregano and Greek Oregano? 

For starters the Mexican Oregano is grown in Mexico, and the Greek Oregano is grown in Greece. 

Plants that have the same Latin name can have different chemical constituents depending on where they are growing. Habitat influences plants, and alters chemistry because of factors like altitude, soil, climate, rainfall, and a host of other conditions. 

These types of plants are referred to as Chemotypes. They are the same plant in Latin name, but due to habitat may have different plant chemistry. 

Different breeding and natural selection of a Genus like Thymus, Thyme, creates many varieties of species and subspecies. 

The Mexican Oregano may have the same name as the Greek Oregano growing in my garden, but it looks different and tastes different. They may have mainly the same chemical constituents that make up Oregano, but there is enough variation in plant chemical constituents to change flavours and aroma. They may be used interchangeably, but expect different results. 


February 10, 2015

Creating a 24 Hour Garden

The summer of 2014 feels as though it was forever ago, but now we have reached February the temperatures are starting to rise and we are starting to get longer days and evenings. As the frost starts to recede and your garden begins to recover, it won’t be long until gardens start to come into full bloom once more. But, how do you change your garden into a 24 hour place to enjoy? This post aims to find out.

Creating a Pleasant Place to Sit… And Enjoy

If you want to enjoy your garden, then you need to make it a pleasant retreat; a place to be that’s away from the children, the noise and the hustle and bustle of family life; somewhere that you can sit back, relax and enjoy.
This can be done fairly easily, and at a relatively low cost, too. Increasingly, we’ve seen a number of people add patios to their garden, but there is obviously a large cost attached to this. If you’re after a cheaper option, then a small paved area is great. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature in a natural setting, this will arguably be better, as it will appear more natural and less man-made. If you add a dining set then you’ll even have a place where you can relax and eat outside; as well as somewhere to rest your wine and book.

In order to create a 24 hour garden, you have to create a place you actually want to be 24/7.

Lighting the Way

To make a 24 hour garden you need artificial light for when the natural light fades. Sadly, even in the summer, light can fade relatively early even when it is warm. To make the most of this natural heat and to enjoy dusk in your garden, you can add outdoor wall lamps to provide a suitable level of lighting for your needs. This can either be localised or cover the whole garden depending on exactly what you require.

Setting the Mood

Finally, consider the ambiance of the garden. Something like a water feature can make a lovely sound and convert your garden into a relaxing area to unwind after a long day at the office, or a place to sit and enjoy a morning coffee as you wake up to the world. Much like with patio areas, there’s no need for your water feature to be too extravagant, so you can even create a great look on a budget.

Follow these simple steps to make sure your garden is a place you can enjoy morning, noon and night.

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February 9, 2015

Octagonal Summerhouses Through the Ages

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source: http://www.ilikesheds.com/

February 9, 2015

Using Your Polytunnel to Grow Vegetables

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice, looking to be self-sufficient or supplement your salad bowl, we all want a bumper vegetable crop – but it can be tricky to achieve. A polytunnel is a great way to up your game and help you grow the veggies you’ve always dreamt of, so here’s a guide to putting up a polytunnel, and growing your own veggies.

Putting It Up

Putting up a polytunnel is a lot easier than you might think! You can choose to have it erected by a professional, or you can do it yourself – either way this definitely isn’t a job for a bad-weather day! In particular, you want to choose a day that isn’t too windy. It’s also important to put it up in warm weather, as the polythene will hand more tightly on the frame and make the job easier. A standard polytunnel has a framework constructed from hoops of aluminimum (or other metal) tubing, covered in a large polythene sheet. Assembly is pretty simple; first you’ll lay out the footprint and put up the frame, then you’ll dig a trench around the outside of the frame and use it to secure the sheet, before fixing the cover to the frame, and adding the doors.

What to Sow, When

One of the most important things to think about when trying to achieve the best possible vegetable crop when using a polytunnel is knowing what to sow and when. In spring you can sow early crops of lettuces, carrots and herbs. In summer all the half-hardy plants – the aubergines, cucumbers, peppers, chilies and tomatoes plus the more tender herbs such as basil and coriander can fill the beds. In autumn, winter salads, overwintering brassicas and oriental greens are ideal, while in winter you can enjoy cut-and-come leaves, spinach and chard and sow your onions. Peaches and nectarines can also be brought inside to avoid peach leaf curl.

Irrigation

For a bumper crop of veggies proper irrigation is vital. Overhead watering systems might sound attractive, but the environment tends to be humid anyway and as you are growing a wide range of crops means some are too wet and some too dry. For something a little lower tech but potentially more effective, irrigation tubing at bed level is a great option. You can also use this method to adjust the height of the water spray so plants that need to stay dry (say to avoid rotting) will, and those that need more water will be equally catered for.

http://www.premierpolytunnels.co.uk/top-links/useful-downloads/growing-guide/

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February 9, 2015

DIY Projects to Improve Your Garden

We all love our gardens, but sometimes they can get a little neglected – particularly during the winter months. So get into the DIY craze with a few easy and fun projects to upgrade your garden and really enjoy your outside space, no matter what the time of year.

Designer Flowerpots

Beautifully decorated flowerpots can make all the difference to a garden – particularly if you’re limited on space and pots are your main gardening space. But there’s just no need to spend a fortune on something pre-painted. Instead buy a few plain terracotta pots and grab a brush! A great way to upscale plain pots without too much effort is by dressing them in bold stripes. All you need to do is grab two contrasting colours, a brush, and some masking tape. Start by marking out some stripes with the masking tape, and painting between the tape lines with the first colour. Let this dry completely (probably overnight) and then remove the masking tape. Re-apply the tape up against the edge of the now dry first colour, and paint the remaining terracotta stripes in the alternate colour. Allow this to dry overnight and remove the tape – and you’re done! Plant away!

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Outdoor Movies at Home

Your very own outdoor movie screen might seem like a huge project, but it’s far more manageable than you think! You’ll need a selection of materials and tools. For the frame of the screen you’ll need wooden boards – they can be of pretty much any length as you’ll cut them to size with a power saw to construct a basic TV screen shape frame. Choose two anchor points in your garden such as trees or fence sections and use a power drill to insert heavy duty screws from which your frame will hang. To prevent it from swinging forward and back, you should attach small bungee cords to connect the bottom of the screen to the tree trunks, fence posts or whatever anchor point you’re using. Center the fabric and staple a few at the top/bottom centers, then the sides. Pull and staple your way to corners, making sure to stretch out any wrinkles for a smooth, tight surface. Then string heavy duty curtain wire (or similar) between the two anchor points and hang the screen from it, attaching the small bungees as you go.
Anglia Tool Centre have all of the tools you’ll need to execute this project, so check them out, order what you need, and treat your family to a fantastic outdoor movie experience!

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January 20, 2015

How to Make the Garden an Extension of your Home

When choosing a house, one of the non-negotiable priorities for many buyers is that it must have a garden. There’s something about having that patch of lawn bordered by flower beds, or that useful patio, littered with pretty flowerpots, that we just can’t do without. And even when it’s the size of a postage stamp, we cherish it. So how can you appreciate your garden even more?

Portal

Having a solid wall between you and your slice of outdoors will never do. And whereas most people opt for a set of French or patio doors, this won’t invite the garden in like a bi or tri-fold sliding door. The beauty of this type of door is that it’s possible to have wall-to-wall glass, which then slides open and neatly folds out of the way.

With this type of door, you’re truly extending your kitchen or living area into the garden. Even when shut, you can see your garden unimpeded, plus the extra light brought in is a real bonus.

Creating Flow

An interesting way of extending into the garden, is to have the same flooring going from room to patio. This ‘infinity’ look can be quite effective. Solid oak flooring is suitable for both inside and out, and together with the sliding, folding doors, will create a large, combined living space. If you’re not into the wood look, then limestone tiles would work equally well or some frost-proof porcelain tiles. If there is a step down, then you may want to consider raising the patio so that it’s on the same level.

Mirror Plants

By choosing varieties that are equally happy indoors as out, you can have mirrored plants. Get matching containers and pot them up with the same plants. Then place one just outside the door and its twin on the inside. This further confuses where the garden starts and the house ends. If you think flowering plants might require too much maintenance, why not choose some robust succulents, which include cacti and sedum.

Furniture

To blur those lines even further, particularly if the room in question is a conservatory or living area, you may wish to consider all-weather furniture, both inside and out. There are some very attractive and comfortable sofas and chairs available, such as a mock rattan design.
With a little ingenuity, and by making relatively small changes, it’s very possible to give the illusion of bringing the garden into your home, for maximum enjoyment.

http://www.barrier-components.co.uk/

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July 3, 2013

Dog strangling vine Threatening Native Species and The Monarch Butterfly

The dog strangling vine is a destructive invasive alien plant that is threatening to strangle out native species in North America. Even the name sounds so horrific I want to just call it the strangling vine for short.

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This strangling vine Cynanchum rossicum is from the milkweed family, but it is a different Genus than the native North American milkweed that the monarch butterfly lays their eggs on.

Flower They not only strangle out milkweed, the vine tricks the monarch into laying eggs on it, probably because it is from the same family. The eggs do not mature, which endangers the monarch butterfly population numbers. The loss of milkweed due to pesticide use and loss of habitat is having devastating consequences on the monarch butterfly population.

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This plant is tough to take out too, you need to remove all the roots or it will grow back.

I have removed all of these invasive vines from my garden. I pull them every year because I didn’t like they way they strangled everything, and now I know what a true danger they are I will pull them even earlier.

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I am growing a small patch of milkweed in my garden for the Monarchs and it surprises me how many people say to me why don’t I pull ‘those weeds.’

Between people pulling native milkweed or putting pesticides on them, destroying natural habitat and now invasive aliens competing, it is no wonder why the monarch butterfly population is in decline.

If you see this plant in your garden or anywhere else please remove it. As a caution wear gloves and long sleeves when removing it, it may cause a rash or wound.

Thank you for helping the Monarch butterfly and our native plant species.

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June 26, 2013

Why Comfrey is Essential for First-aid Medicine and Permaculture

Comfrey

Comfrey is a very beautiful beneficial addition to any garden, and an important herb for medicine and permaculture. Other common names for Comfrey are knit-bone and boneset, because of its amazing ability to regenerate and stimulate the growth of bone. Comfrey is a must have for the first aid herbal kit, because it has demulcent, astringent and vulnerary herbal properties that make it ideal to treat any type of injury, whether it be sinew, bone, tissue or flesh.

Its powerful cell regeneration is mainly due to its allantoin content, which has a calcium type of effect that stimulates cell production that repairs collagen, connective tissue and bone.

Comfrey has tannins that produce so much astriction, which means tightening together of the skin, that stitches might be avoided.

It’s mucilage content is demulcent, sweet and moist, which relieves dryness, acute inflammation as well as swelling, and provides good treatment for burns. It provides a protective coating that soothes, moistens and cools, making it a good choice to treat any type of ulcers, internal or external, inside or out. It is also good to use for arthritis.

It is also a nutritious restorative having many vitamins and minerals in it, along with other healing phytonutrient properties.

COMFREY USES:

PERMACULTURE – Works with the biodynamic forces of nature

There are countless uses for Comfrey in the garden, it adds much-needed nutrients and enriches the soil. Comfrey does not compete for nutrients with trees, so it is ideal to plant around fruit trees.
It attracts beneficial insects and earthworms, while it breaks up compacted soil and draws up nutrients.

The many uses in the garden include:

Compost- add to compost
Mulch- chop and drop mulch
Fertilizer- green manure
liquid fertilizer provides nutrients like potassium

FIRST AID MEDICINE:
Powerful cell and bone regenerator.
Stimulates the growth and healing of bone, flesh, connective tissues, collagen.

*Note that for broken bones, it is important they are set in the right place first before using comfrey to knit the bone together. If in any doubt about your injury please see a doctor for proper diagnosis first, before applying comfrey.

Use Comfrey leaves and root  externally in the form of poultice, compresses, ointments, tea infusions or tincture. The fresh tincture is the best choice for serious injuries with pain, or mix it with clay.

There are other species of comfrey. Russian comfrey and prickly comfrey are all used in the same way, but the officinale species is the one herbalists use the most.

It is from the Borage family, and like borage it has pyrrolizidine  alkaloids that have some cautions attached to it. Do not use internally, but caution comes from animal testing using isolated alkaloid constituents in high doses for long periods. There have been no human fatality cases reported.

Do not use internally when pregnant, lactating, liver disease, small children, frail elderly and caution with external use in these cases. Contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, avoid long-term internal high dosage use due to potential liver damage. For external use only. Internal use see a qualified practitioner.

The alkaloids are least concentrated in the mature herb. The young spring leaves contains 8-10 times the amount found in the mature herb. The root has the most which is 4-5 times the alkaloid level in the mature herb. The alkaloid content is higher in the Russian variety than the prickly comfrey.

Common Name  Comfrey herb/ root
Latin Name  Symphytum   officinale
Family Boraginaceae
Parts Used Perennial-   flowers mid June to July pick from before flowering to mid flowering/ root rhizome- Fall/ Spring
Target Organs skin, mucus   membranes, skeletal-muscular, connective tissue, collagen, bones, respiratory, digestive, stomach,
Common Uses External use only: broken bones, fractures, scars, ulcers, wounds, abrasions, burns, sunburn, bites, stings, bruises, dislocation, varicose veins, sprains, strains, any injury, periodontitis, pharyngitis, eye infections,
Internal use with supervision for inflammation and ulcers of the digestive tract, colitis,
Properties astringent,   demulcent, vulnerary, anodyne, emollient, tonic, pectoral
Constituents Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids, mucilage, gum,   tannin, allantoin, Essential Oil, triterpenes, resin, inulin, choline,   protein, steroidal saponins, mucopolysaccharide 29%, phenolic acids, vitamins   A, B12, C, E, mineral iron, calcium, phosphorus, trace minerals
Cautions Medium strength: Mainly external use only. Do not use internally   when pregnant, lactating, liver disease, small children, frail elderly and caution with external use in these cases. Contains pyrolizidine alkaloids, avoid long-term high dosage use due to potential liver damage. There have been no human fatality cases reported, all research backing this toxicity claim were conducted on animals using isolated alkaloid constituents and not the whole plant. The alkaloids are least  concentrated in the mature herb. The young spring leaves contains 8-10 times the amount found in the mature herb. The root has the most which is 4-5   times the alkaloid level in the mature herb. The alkaloid content is higher in the Russian variety than the prickly comfrey.
Dosage the average dose is 10 g or 2-4mls of tincture
June 4, 2013

Different Types Of Lilac Bushes

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I love the way Lilac shrubs/bushes/trees perfume the air in springtime. Come and sit in the garden and smell the fresh scent of lilacs blooming.

This Lilac is blooming now and the smell is really strong attracting hummingbirds, bees and hummingbird moths.

This lilac bush blooms later and has smaller flowers, but it has a larger fragrance.

This lilac bush blooms later and has smaller flowers, but it has a larger fragrance.

imageOther than the purple and white solid colours, I love this striped variety of Lilac, Syringa vulgaris L.

Enjoy the fragrance while it lasts.

Enjoy the fragrance while it lasts.

September 29, 2012

Making Wildflower mud seed bombs

Wildflower Power Movement: Making wildflower mud seeds ‘bombs’

 As a response to cities ripping out wild gardens that people have planted for growing food and a sense of community, make some wildflower mud bombs to seed cities and other areas with wild flowers and plants.  Looking down on the earth from a plane in the sky, square green boxes are all the eye can sometimes see and one wonders where have all the wildflowers gone? Turf the square green turf and return the wildflowers!!! Make sure you plant native flowers for your area.

here are some other strange alternatives :D

http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ggseedbombs.html

Making Wildflower Mud Seed Bombs:

Packets of wildflower seeds or any seeds you want to grow

Mud or plant soil, compost

Mix seeds in soil in 5:1:1 ratio. Wet soil and form into mud balls

Throw mud seed bombs wherever you want them grow.

Best time to mud seed bomb is right before rainy days.  Even if the flowers don’t grow, birds will eat the seeds. Their food supply has dwindled due to monoculture in society and lack of wildflowers.  

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