My 6 Secrets For Keeping A Healthy Veg Plot

veg_plot_tipsEver since I retired in Somerset, England, I spent most of my retirement caring for my vegetable garden.

I have loved gardening since I was young, but while I worked in the city as a mechanic, I never had the time or the space for a real veg plot.

Instead, I kept a little herb garden by my kitchen window that my wife would occasionally pick from when seasoning some dishes.

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Keeping your Garden and Yard Safe

After my aunt had to ask a solicitor specialising in personal injury to help her with an accident that occurred at someone else’s garden, I realized that I too have to be careful to make my garden safe. Not only will it make my garden safer for myself and for my wife, but it will also be safer for any children or pets that are around.

 

I want my guests to feel at ease, so I try to make my garden both beautiful and safe. Here are some of my tips for improving the safety of your garden.

 

Fence everything in

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 Adding a sturdy fence to your garden can prevent dogs and children from getting themselves into trouble, especially if you live in the city by a busy street.

Even if you live in the country, a fence can keep unwanted animals out of your yard that could harm whoever is in the garden. A good, sturdy fence of your choice can make your garden all the more safer.

 

Keep all of your garden tools in a shed

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Spades, shovels, picks, and garden shears are all sharp and dangerous objects, especially if left lying about. You should always pick up all of your garden tools and keep them in a shed, out of reach of children.

You do not want someone to accidentally step on one your tools and injure themselves, so be tidy and responsible by picking up your tools and storing them away.

 

Remove poisonous weeds, hives, and ant hills

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Stinging nettles and other nasty weeds tend to pop out of nowhere. It is better if you remove them, because they pose a hazard to yourself, your pets, and your guests. Wear gloves when removing them, because you can get injured.

It is also a good idea to remove bee or wasp hives and ant hills, as they could sting and hurt anyone who stumbles across them. You may need the help of an exterminator to get rid of a particularly large colony, but it is possible to remove them yourself if it is still small.

 

Avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides

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Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not good for your plants, especially if you are growing vegetable crops like me. Accidental ingestion of these substances are dangerous and could lead to vomiting, nausea, and even death.

If you absolutely have to use pesticides, try to limit the amount you spray, and make sure that you keep it properly sealed and locked away when not in use.

 

Properly light up your garden

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For evening parties, it is best that you light up your garden, especially if you have guests over. You do not want people to accidentally stumble all over your vegetable plots – not only will they get injured, but it could ruin your veg plot too!

Meanwhile Here is A Video about The Top Ten Most Common Gardening Mistakes:

How I Cultivate The Love for Gardening in My Children

Today I’m going to discuss how I spend my time with my children and how I try to cultivate an interest in gardening in them. I try to get them interested in the very least, if I can’t get them to love it.

Of course I don’t force them to do it, but I do admit to playing to the kids’ curiosities and allowing them to ask questions. Sometimes when they do ask questions I much prefer to show them how it works rather than talking to them.

Anyway, my children went to a summer camp for the day so I finally have time to write out this blog post!

Here’s how I get my kids interested in gardening:

I Explained The Basics
Okay so most science classes already cover the basics about plants, how they grow and how they live. But sometimes it’s easier to explain it to your kids in terms that are less technical and easier to understand.

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Sometimes it’s easier to show them—although I’m not quite sure how I can demonstrate how a plant turns carbon dioxide into oxygen I at least can demonstrate that taking some plants out of the sun can kill them.

The kids find everything quite fascinating, trust me.

I Started with Plants That are Easier to Grow
Because they are just kids and they are just starting out with their habits, I think it better to start with plants that are easier to grow.

The reason for this is because the harder a plant is to grow and culture, the more likely my children will get frustrated because they can’t get the results they want.

I’ve been frustrated in the past because I just can’t get certain plants to live, and I don’t want that for my kids as yet—I want them to fall in love with gardening first before they try the more difficult things.

I Let Them Plant Flowers, Fruits and Vegetables
To make things more tangible for them and to make them feel like they are actually achieving something, what I like to do is let my children plant things which will either bloom or bear fruit.

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That way they can see the flowers they grew or harvest the fruits or vegetables from the plants they grew. My kids always get excited this way—they keep checking to see if the flowers had bloomed or if their little plants had already born fruit.

I Get Them into Habits
Sometimes things get easier to do when you have a routine. So to get my kids used to watering the plants or checking on them, what I like to do is get them into the habit of waking up early.

I then give them a wonderful breakfast (for incentive, ha ha) then have them out to water their plants. Sometimes I encourage them to talk to them since we do know there is a visible effect to plants when you talk to them, as inexplicable as it is.

 

Here is a video tutorial about beginner’s tips: Gardening for kids…

The Best Herbs You can Grow for Your Kitchen

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The kitchen design around the stuff in my allotment is simply perfect for growing herbs. I absolutely love growing vegetables and other plants in my garden, especially since the wife loves her fresh vegetables. But there really is something special about herbs and eating foods that are seasoned with herbs.

I can’t remember the last time when a nice steak or a butter potatoes are not improved by a generous sprinkling of herbs.

 

Since my first experience with gardening is having my own little herb garden by the window sill, I admit that until now, I am still planting herbs as much as I can. After all, it is how I first learned how to take care of plants, so I wanted to make sure that I always keep myself rooted.

Meanwhile here is an easy way on how you can grow herbs indoors:

 

Here are the best herbs that you can grow for your kitchen, whether you want to use them for cooking, for décor, or simply for their heavenly smell. Herbs are fragrant and beautiful plants.

 

1. Rosemary

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Rosemary is as fragrant as it is beautiful, blooming with tiny little flowers in purple and white. It has thin, needle like leaves that smell like fresh pine, which makes it a wonderful addition to any robust dish. I know I love to give away fresh sprigs of rosemary during Christmas, which my wife uses to decorate gift baskets.

 

2. Sage

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Sage also has beautiful little flowers and has a very distinct peppery taste that is savoury and rich. Sage is a beautifully balanced herb that goes wonderfully with cheese and sausages, and is the perfect accompaniment to onion flavoured dishes.

 

3. Parsley

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Parsley is an all around herb that is great for garnishing and adding colour to any dish. Since parsley has a relatively mild flavour, I can add it to pretty much anything. Parsley is best grown in well-drained but properly watered soil, and thrives well at room temperature.

 

4. Thyme

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Thyme is a well known incense plant that also is great for savoury dishes. Thyme smells absolutely heavenly even if dried and burned, and they are a wonderful addition to robust soups.

Thyme grows well in well-drained soil but requires a lot of direct sunlight to grow.

 

5. Chives

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I prefer chives to onions sometimes, especially in summer dishes. In addition to their mild onion flavour, which goes well on cheese with crackers, chives are best grown around your garden in the nooks and crannies.

I like planting them around my more delicate plants, because they act as a natural barrier against insects.

 

6. Mint

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I grow both peppermint and spearmint because I like how their flavours are similar, but just different enough to keep things interesting. Mint plants prefer loamy soil and should be kept in planters because their roots can quickly spread and turn into weeds.

Make sure that you harvest the leaves before the plant blossoms, as they lose their mint flavour once the flowers sprout.

How to Make Your Garden More Environmentally Friendly

garden-imageEco-friendly gardens have become all the rage lately, and while I always thought that gardening was already an environmentally friendly activity, I realized that there is still much for me to learn.

For example, when I went on my golf holiday to France, I realised that the golf course had its very own compost heap, and using water off their pond to water all of their plants and grasses.

The pond was a great place to collect natural rainwater, so I felt that this was a great way to reuse the water without using water from the tap, which is chemically treated and takes energy to keep clean, therefore impacting the environment even further.

Once my wife and I came back from France, we decided to take some steps to become more environmentally friendly in our gardening. We put together some fun and simple steps here to help you make your garden eco-friendly as well.

Collect rainwater for watering your plants

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Collecting rainwater to water your plants is a great way to reuse water, and it also helps keep down your water bills too. While some people use ponds or other similar structures, I decided that the most affordable option for me is to place some barrels underneath my storm drain.

The run off from my roof funnels all of the rain water into my barrel, and I simply scoop it up and place it in a watering can. I knew someone who even managed to attach a hose to the bottom of the barrel, and the water pressure alone allowed him to just sprinkle the water directly.

Build a compost

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I think all gardeners should build a compost heap in their garden. I place mine behind my house and cover it with some left over sawdust and dry leaves to keep the smell from becoming too overpowering. All of my kitchen left overs and biodegradable items end up in my compost, while things such as paper and other materials are recycled.

Use organic and natural fertilizer

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Thanks to my compost heap, I have an all natural fertilizer at hand at all times. I just pick the compost that has turned into soil from the bottom of the pile, and sprinkle that onto my plants as needed.

If I do not have too much compost available, I purchase organic fertilizer to protect the ground water from being exposed to chemicals.

Forego the pesticide

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Pesticide can protect some plants from being eaten by aphid infestations and other nasty animals, but you have to try to use as little as possible.

I prefer organic planting, so I forego the pesticide, relying on nature’s bug control instead. I welcome spiders and other bug eating insects into my garden such as mantises and ladybirds. I also welcome several types of bug eating birds to help control my insect population. To entice the birds to stay, I have set up several birdhouses in the perimeter of my garden.

Now Here’s a video about Eco-Friendly Products you can use in your garden…….

The Easiest Plants to Grow Indoors

In the winter, my gardening hobby usually ends up in a stand still as many of the vegetables and plants die out in the winter.

I can cover some of them using some reused plastic sheets that I received from packaging companies in the UK online, but mostly I have nothing to do.

While I am enjoying my freshly harvested autumn crop, I end up missing tending to my garden everyday.

As such, I have a sizable number of indoor plants as well, which I keep in decorative plant boxes and containers.

I feel that they allow me to continue my gardening indoors through the winter, without having to worry about wind chill and the like.

They are also very beautiful and add a certain special touch to some of the more drab parts of the house. Well, at least my wife says so. She is the one who is in charge of all of the decorating!

However, the biggest problem I faced when growing plants indoors is that they do not thrive well in artificial light. They end up looking stunted and shriveled compared to the outdoor counterparts.

It took me some time before I wEnglish Ivy2as able to grow some healthy plants indoors, but some plants adapt to indoor lighting better than others, but they are still beautiful and ornamental. Here they are:

1. English Ivy

English ivy is widely available, and it is a very charming plant at that. Since it looks like a vine, it trails down your shelves and tables in a very elegant fashion, and their white and green leaves look lovely and delicate.

I often keep them in the cooler parts of the house, in small pots. They prefer moist soil.

2. Rubber Tree

The rubber tree obviously grows into a much larger plant, especially in the tropics where it originally came from. However, it grows fairly slowly so it is a wonderful plant to keep indoors. It is quite hardy and great for beginners.

3. Peace Lily

This beautiful white flower looks very exotic indeed and is a very popular house plant. Since it requires low humidity and little light, it is absolutely a charm to grow even in the winter months when there is little sunshine.

ficus-benjamina14. Ficus

The ficus plant is quite popular and you will see it in Chinese fortune shops being sold as a money making plant. It is loved because its stems can be braided as a young plant, and it is often topped with a red ribbon.

Highly ornamental, the ficus plant is a lovely addition to practically any space.

5. Aloe

If you enjoy the look of succulents, aloe is a hardy plant that can grow pretty much anywhere. This plant requires a little bit more sunlight than most, so you may want to plant it somewhere near a windowsill so that you can ensure that it will be healthy.

It also has wonderful medicinal properties, and you can even make a juice out of its leaves, although I have never quite tried it myself.

There are other plants that are great for the indoors, but these are some of my favorites, as they are easy to care for.

Saving (or Making) Extra Money with Gardening

What people don’t realise is that there is a potential for additional income when it comes to gardening. To some people it might just be a hobby, or a pass time.

And I do agree—I was of this opinion for a while. But to me now, it is that and more.

I love planting and cultivating seeds until I’ve got a few healthy crops. Let me tell you this right now—my hard work wasn’t for nothing.

The hours I spent working in my garden enjoying myself and the therapeutic gardening does pay. It wasn’t enough to be a full time job before, but now it has practically replaced my full time income since I’ve retired from my former job.

I’ve saved and made extra money with gardening in the past—here’s how.

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Grow Your Own Ingredients
I do enjoy cooking once in a while, but that is something that is truly best left to my wife, who knows better. But we save a lot of money at the grocery store and at the farmer’s market because instead of buying ingredients, we just use our own organically grown food.

Saved us a ton of money so far!

I’ve added the below video as it is the first in a series about growing your own veg which I found really informative and helpful when i first started out.

And you don’t have to use the produce strictly for cooking—I’ve got a friend who grows his own ingredients for dog food that he makes for his pets (spoiled pets!).

 

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Sell Your Produce

The quickest way to make money is by selling things. My wife and I have more than once sold our produce at the farmer’s market. On the weekends it’s a great little boost to income.

If you have too little to sell at the market, do as we used to. We sold produce to our neighbors who were interested.

For a charitable act, donate some ingredients to shelters and soup kitchens. They could sure use it.

article-1356937-0D2BF544000005DC-892_638x335Decorate with Your Flowers

If you regularly spend money to buy flowers to decorate your home with, forget about it! Save the cash and use the flowers you grow to decorate instead.

This can already greatly help you to save up, since you save the money you’d normally spend. Every little bit helps.

Sell Your Flowers

If you don’t have any use for the flowers you grow in your garden (not a fan of decorating with flowers? Me neither. But the wife likes it), you could always just sell them.

I’ve also done this in the past, I approached some florists to offer my flowers.

The worst case scenario would be they say no. But if they say yes I immediately make money!

My wife and I started making more money when we decided it would be a good idea to learn simple flower arranging. Once we knew how, we arranged some into bouquets and centerpieces, then sold them at the farmer’s market along with our produce. There are loads of How To videos on YouTube for flower arranging.

You can find out about farmers markets in your area on this website http://www.localfoods.org.uk.

It’s really great income on our off time—it’s been enough that we were able to have my wife cut down on her hours. Gardening can be a great supplemental income!

My 30 Minute Unique Planter Ideas

I once kept a herb garden by my window, and I remember that even though it was just a tiny window planter, I was incredibly proud of it.

When I moved to Somerset, I decided that even though I now have a beautiful garden, I still want to fill up every window sill with beautiful plants.

In fact, while I keep most of my vegetables in the garden, I still keep my smaller plants like my herbs in beautiful planters.

However, I did not want to use just any old planter — I wanted to go with something fun and unique.

Since I was a mechanic, I am also quite skilled at various DIY projects, because I have a very logical brain. In fact, my first planters were made from re-purposed warehouse shelving, converting the pallets into stacked vegetable planters.

Here are a few more tips I came across while researching about it online on DIY forums.

Mini-Planters-on-FenceFence Planters

This is one of the easiest planter ideas I came across. Simply purchase some plastic pots, and if you have a wooden fence, simply nail them onto your fence.

This is a great space saving measure and is perfect for small, lightweight plants. You can even paint the planters to make them look especially beautiful.

Boot Planters

I have tonnes of old rain boots that I have lying around. My children have a few old ones that they have outgrown, so instead of throwing them away, I simply punched a few holes into the bottom to allow water to leak out, and filled the boots up with soil.

Like the fence planters, you can nail this up on the fence or on a wall.

Tire Planters

This is actually pretty common sight. If you have old tires or know where to get them, you can turn them on their side and turn them into tiny gardens.

You can also paint these tires to make them look more colorful, though the tire tread already gives it an interesting pattern.

Colander Planters

Colanders already look like flower pots because they already have holes to drain from. Take a rusty old colander that is not suitable for food any more, and repaint them to turn them into flower pots.

Check this video out for further tips (not mine)

Picture Frame Planter

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Get an old picture frame and add a tray on one side to create a herb planter.

If you want a vertical hanging planter, add a chicken wire mesh over the top and hang it vertically.

Certain plants, such as various succulents, can easily survive in a vertical surface with very little watering required.

 Muffin Tin Planters

Perfect for small herbs and other plants, the muffin tin planter is a great idea for when you want a miniature garden right there on top of your table.

You can plant a different one in each tin, and keep it anywhere inside the house.

Even if you do not have a lot of space, beautiful planters can be made out of anything if you are creative.