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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Indoor Culinary Herb Gardens

I have been thinking about adding to my indoor garden so that I can make the process of growing and eating my own food much more streamlined. I did mention before that my love for gardening bloomed while I was still just growing herbs on my windowsill.

 

Now that I have more experience and space, I decided to design a herb garden in my bespoke kitchen. I wanted something along the lines of a culinary indoor garden – something that I can use directly for cooking.

 

Meanwhile here’s how to make an Indoor Herb Garden:

 


My new bespoke kitchen has just been renovated, so I have more space than ever to plant new herbs. I even got myself a custom table counter with a built in plant box so that I can easily grow medium sized plants right on the table.

 

The great thing about a bespoke kitchen is that everything is exactly where I want it to be, so it really gives me enough leeway to build the perfect indoor herb garden. If you want to make your own kitchen herb garden, here are some tips to get you started.

 

 

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Custom planters and plant boxes

Kitchens tend to have limited space available because of all the appliances and counter tops. It will be a good idea to invest in custom planters and plant boxes.

 

If you have a bespoke kitchen, you can ask your designer to help you create the perfect planters. I chose a design that allowed me to incorporate plants right there on my table top, but I also put together some planters by my window sill. It leaves me with ample amount to plant as many herbs as I need.

 

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Get enough light on your plants

Herbs thankfully do not need too much light to stay alive. Remember that in the wild, many of these plants can be found on the forest floor, which does not get that much sunlight to begin with.

 

Nevertheless, you will need a big, bright window that allows the sun to freely shine into your kitchen. I suggest that herbs that require the most sunlight be placed near the windowsill.

 

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Choose the best herbs that thrive indoors

My bespoke kitchen is made gorgeous by the many plants that I have grown indoors. If you plan on growing your own herbs to add freshly picked flavors to your meals, I suggest the following plants:

• Basil
• Bay
• Chives
• Parsley
• Dill
• Cilantro
• Rosemary
• Sage
• Marjoram
• Chervil

 

 

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Leave some space to regrow cutting

There are many vegetables that you can regrow from cuttings and bulbs. My favorite is of course onions and garlic. All I need is to place a few cloves or bulbs into the soil, and a new bulb sprouts.

 

There are many plants that you can use to regrow from cuttings other than garlic and onions. Hot peppers grow quickly and you can just plant them in the soil for them to sprout by themselves.

 

Fennel on the other hand, needs to have its roots intact, so you just have to cut off the roots and bury them in the soil. Bespoke kitchens are the best places to grow your indoor culinary garden.

Reasons Why Gardening is Basically a Workout

Okay so I’m not the fittest bloke in the land, I’ll admit that. I don’t quite have those six pack abs to die for or those arms more muscular men like to call ‘guns’.

 

I’m not really all that into keeping personally fit—not the way society’s standards dictate anyway. For me keeping fit is being healthy. It’s being able to constantly climb up and down stairs without gasping for breath.

 

And well.. I do like to think that I classify for that because I eat all organically grown food from my own garden, and apart form that… working on your allotment is like having an outdoor gym.

 

So to all those people who have been telling me to start exercising because I need exercise? Well.. this one goes out to you. I’m telling you. Gardening is basically a workout.

 

It may seem simple and relaxed to some people but maybe when they hear gardening they think of trimming rose bushes or mowing the lawn—which are both actually physical work too.

 

Gardening is physical work. And if you want examples as to why it’s actually a work out? Well… read right on, my friend.

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You Have to Carry Heavy Tools

Those who garden probably know that gardening actually involves a lot of lifting. You have to lift heavy tools—shovels, axes, wheelbarrows… and then that doesn’t count the fact that you have to drag heavy sacks of soil and fertilizer around.

 

Of course you could have vehicles and machines to do all the work for you, but I like to do my gardening with love, hard work and perspiration. And let me tell you—spending all day gardening day in and day out leaves one quite drained at the end of the day.

You Have to Walk a Lot

If your allotment is relatively large, as mine is, you are going to have to do a lot of walking. Or alternatively, you can go on a bike. Personally I use my bike with all-terrain wheels and drag a wagon behind me which carries most of the things that I need.

 

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Often I have to do multiple trips. It’s quite a work out, if I do say so myself! Now I’m pretty sure those who said I need exercise probably are starting to realize that well… I really don’t.

 

Stand, Sit and Bend

As a gardener you are going to find yourself having to stand, sit and bend often. Usually this is a cycle. Not all plants are the same.

 

Not all of them have the same height. Sometimes I find myself even having to get up on a ladder just to reach a few things. And sometimes I even have to climb trees.

 

Of course I actually just let my children harvest the fruit so they can know the meaning of good old labor and work, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that as someone who cares for plants you are going to have to move a lot.

 

And that is basically why I laugh at anyone who tells me I need to join a gym and work out so I can get six pack abs and muscle definition. Nope! No thank you. I’ll do all my exercise in the garden.

 

Take a look at this video about gardening, exercise and nutrition:

A Bit of Sad News Today—and A Reminder to Stay Safe

I hate being the bearer of bad news but I do have a bit of it to share… but before I go ahead and get right into it I first want to remind you that I have posted some time ago about keeping your garden safe. Please do have a read, I think you might find it very much useful.

The following blog post, or well whatever else you read information to that post. Here, can then be taken as complementary I know that I was advising you all to keep your gardens safe and secure, and well… apparently for good reason.

I keep all my tools in a shed, but I wasn’t really locking it because I knew that I lived in a nice, safe neighborhood in a nice, safe town.

Here’s a few good tips to keep your home safe from burglars:


I had thought that people would not do anything remotely resembling thievery. But apparently, I was wrong. And yes…this is the bad news. Perhaps to you it’s not such a big deal, but to me…well.

I lost not just money when my tools were stolen right from under my nose. I lost a lot of things that had sentimental value to me too, things that were passed on through the generations.

Yes. Someone broke into my shed and stole a lot of my tools. For what reason, I can’t be sure. But they also trampled all over my plants, and my beloved petunias.

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So what was the next logical thing to do?

Well… it’s safe to say that I was very upset. I wanted to go around waving accusations at people who were despicable enough to steal my tools.

Unfortunately, those little accusations will do nothing at all to get anything back. I have no way of knowing who it was. So instead of making a big fuss, I just started buying new tools, one by one, to replace my old ones.

I just took it as a new little lesson I suppose—an expensive one. Even if you think that you live somewhere safe, it’s important you still lock your doors. I just thank the heavens that I had locked my house doors—what if the thief decided to try burgling my home?

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Fortify Your ‘Defenses’

If you are worried about theft of your possessions, as I most definitely am now…well, it may be a good idea for you to fortify your shed. I personally fortified mine with more wood and a bit of metal, to make it harder for anyone to just knock it down and steal anything inside.

It may be overdoing it a bit, but I figured in the end I would also be protecting my tools from weather and the elements. And of course I looked up a locksmith to make my shed secure. And by secure I mean really secure!!

I hope that you will never have to deal with this situation, my friend—it’s one I would not wish on anyone.

Finding a Company that Can Make You a Great Garden Shed

 

 

I wanted to get a new garden shed because the old wooden one that I was using for the past couple years has started rotting away and becoming unstable.  I needed something that would last longer, while still being small and lightweight enough to work as a good garden shed.

 

After some deliberation, I have decided to get a new garden shed that was made with a combination of weather proof, treated wood and cut sheet metal. This way, my garden shed would be better at withstanding the elements while still being easy to move around if I need it to. I wanted a garden shed that I could pick up with the help of someone else and moved to a better location if I needed it to.

 

Since I already drafted my design, I now needed a company that could cut sheet metal with precision according to my specifications.  I wanted a company that had experience not only in cutting sheet metal to size but also knew their way around basic architecture.

 

On the other hand here is a compilation of Garden Shed Ideas. Enjoy:

 


Below is the criteria that I put together for a company that can get me the precision sheet metal that I need. Choosing a manufacturer can be tricky, especially if you wanted to save money like I did.

 

My garden shed will be a do-it-yourself, customised home project that is designed specifically to fit into my garden space. That is why I  needed custom cut sheet metal that matches my exact measurements, rather than simply buying pre-fabricated metal sheets at a hardware store or home depot.

 

Affordable

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Naturally, I wanted cut sheet metal that was affordable. I know just how many companies tend to overprice their custom cut sheet metal so I wanted something that was affordable, or at least had relatively lower prices compared to other companies.

 

Good quality metal sheeting

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Since my metal sheeting will be used for building my garden shed, I needed high quality metal sheeting that can withstand the weather. This means that it should be made of a stainless, rust free material that will not oxidize even if exposed to the rain and the cold.

 

During the late fall and winter, my home is also pelted with ice, so my shed needed metal that was of a sufficient hardness so that the hail will not dent it too much.

 

Precision custom cuts

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I need a company that can do precision custom cuts on its sheet metal based on what I need. They should have the latest laser or die cutting technology available that will give me clean, precise cuts. I want the edge to be clean so that I can spend less time sanding the area down so that it does not cut. After all, I would not want any local wildlife to get injured if they decide to climb my shed.

 

Searching online, I finally settled on a company that had all of the things that I was looking for. My sheet metal arrived in a timely manner and I was able to put up my new garden shed in no time.

 

 

Vegetable Gardening Is More Than Just A Hobby

 

I love the great outdoors and adore environment friendly ideas. I am proud to say that I have a green thumb. I grew up having this great appreciation for plants, trees and nature plus the knack for gardening and landscaping.

 

This is perhaps because I was raised by my loving, green living parents who are fulltime gardeners or shall I say organic vegetable growers.

 

When I do not have work, particularly during the weekends, most of my vacant time is greatly spent on gardening in our wide gorgeous backyard garden. Learning about various plants, cultivating seeds, planting and taking care of them are some of the things that I really find to my liking.

 

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Aside from flower plants, I have also planted and grew many different kinds of garden vegetables like tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, spinach, mesculin, beans and basil.

 

 

I made space for all of these vegetables in our garden as they are top essential plants to grow. All of them are easy to grow and harvest; they can be grown in the garden or in a container.

 

Vegetable gardening is a wonderful hobby for everyone. It is a fun and wholesome activity that provides a healthy relaxation and gentle exercise especially for working individuals like me. Gardening allows us to be outdoors hence we can enjoy the warm sunshine especially during the summer and spring. It takes away stress, boredom and depression.

 

There are a lot of benefits from growing vegetables in your garden. In fact, gardening has provided and still continues to provide free, fresh, natural and healthy food for our family as well as something to share to our neighbours.

 

 

We can have healthy ingredients or foods, green salads in particular, anytime we want without purchasing from the local market or grocery store. Since we control what goes on our garden vegetables, we are able to control what we eat and stay away from unhealthy eating habits. Getting food from our organic vegetable garden allows us to save a lot of money.

 

To a lot of people, planting, cultivating seeds and growing vegetables may seem like a tiresome task. It definitely requires knowledge, patience and passion but I do not think it is tiresome since I love working in our garden.

 

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It creates a good extra income source as well. When it is time to harvest, I felt that all of my hard work and time spent on it was really worth it.

 

Such activity serves as my gentle workout and escape from work related pressures; I really find it therapeutic. I as well as my parents have greatly benefited from vegetable gardening.

 

After harvest, I usually sell our vegetables and I used Welsh slate to display my produce. All of my harvested crops are sold every time I sell them. This makes me happy and this simply means that I make money out of my hobby.

 

And you can do this, too! If you do not know where to start, you can always look online for articles that provide tips about vegetable gardening.

Starting your own vegetable garden is the best way to eat safer and healthier. Selling your home-grown vegetables is indeed a very quick way to make money. It will be really rewarding as you go along not to mention that you will reap a lot of healthy benefits.

 

Here is a short video that talks about  Important Plant Nutrition for Organic Vegetable Gardens:

 

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.