compost heap well stacked

composting garden waste including leaves

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composting garden waste including leaves

composting garden waste including leaves

Of course, most gardeners know all about composting. From small gardens to large gardens then composting is probably one of the most common things that gardeners all over the world have in common. So, there are many ways that this can be done from home made composters to specially bought ones, they are all useful in their own ways.

In fact a pile of leaves will compost down on its own without any other help. Indeed this is what I do myself. I am fortunate to have a large garden and during autumn time(fall) collect all my leaves and place them in a pile in a sheltered spot. Of course the leaves start the rotting process immediately. At the end of winter the pile has shrunk and is well on its way to becoming healthy compost.

Local councils gave away compost bins

Composting is a natural process that converts organic materials, such as yard and kitchen waste, into a rich, soil-like substance called compost. So a few years back, this was taken up by several local councils, here in the north of England. These compost bins were large and made of black plastic. Ideal for soaking up any of the suns rays. I still have mine, but do not use it as much as I should!

The organic micro organisms, including worms do like a warm environment to carry out their work of composting. Indeed once the composting process starts you can feel the heat not far below the surface of the composting materials. Fortunate people who live in the countryside can see the same effect on a pile of cow manure. On cold days you can see the steam rising from the pile as it heats up during the composting cycle.

Naturally then compost is a great addition to gardens and can help improve soil structure, promote healthy plant growth, and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. As I have said earlier then leaves are a great addition to a compost pile. Providing a number of benefits when they break down. The rotted leaves are rich in nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and will help improve soil structure and fertility.

Here are some tips for composting leaves:

  1. Collect leaves in the autumn (fall), when they are abundant and easy to gather. Rake them into a pile or bag them up with black bin liners and store them until you are ready to compost them.
  2. Shred the leaves before adding them to the compost pile. This will help them break down faster. I use my electric lawn mower for this job but a leaf shredder is just as good.
  3. Add a mix of green and brown materials to the compost pile. Green materials are high in nitrogen and include things like kitchen scraps and grass clippings. However I find grass clippings difficult in winter as the grass is often too wet to cut. Brown materials are high in carbon and include things like leaves, twigs, and shredded newspaper. A mix of the two is ideal for composting.
  4. Keep the compost pile moist but not waterlogged. Water the pile regularly, this is highly important especially during dry spells, to keep it moist. Too much water, however, can create anaerobic conditions that can slow down the composting process. Sometimes too much water and create a horrible slimy mess and no good for the garden.
  5. Turn the compost pile regularly. This is also important and helps to aerate the pile. Thus, speeding up the composting process. You can use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the pile every week or two.
  6. The compost is ready to use when it is dark and crumbly and looks like soil. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the size of the pile and the conditions.

By following these tips, you can effectively compost your garden waste, including leaves, and create a rich, nutrient-dense soil amendment for your garden. Some people build large compost heaps from old wooden pallets and split the composting into different stages. The final stage produces the compost ready to use on the garden.

seed germination

Effective Germination

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Effective Germination

Effective Germination

Of course, there are two main ways of producing new plants with differing variations. We can either use seed germination or take cuttings. Taking cuttings ensures that the mother plant is correctly cloned. Importantly, though, the key part of any germination method is having the correct conditions for either propagation or germination. Of course, to produce new and healthy plants,

The “radicle” is the first part of seed germination to develop. So, it is the embryonic root that will grow downward. This is the first thing that I can see when germinating my large avocado seeds in water. I actually grow these in a small glass of water that suspends the large seed halfway out of the top of the glass. Of course, this ensures that I can keep an eye on germination. So, the radicle is the first thing, followed by the real tap root. I then pot them up, and they turn into a nice houseplant. This is a great way to teach young people about growing things!

Next development

The next thing to start growing is the “hypocotyl” which is the embryonic axis that forms the seedling leaves, or “cotyledons.” In the case of my avocado, this can take a few weeks. Eventually the true leaves will appear, and the plant will grow away to reach the light source.

Typically, all seeds will eventually burst into life when the correct conditions are met. Good germination rates can be aided with experience from the gardener. For example, many seeds are hard-coated. This protects the seeds until the correct moisture levels are met. So, the grower can help this happen by putting the seed on a damp cloth or piece of tissue paper for the night. So, one good example of this is sweet peas.

Sweet peas must be soaked before planting in a warm seed tray with a potting mix or by using an hydroponic system.

new root of an Avocado seed
© Can Stock Photo / Barriolo82

Seeds can be helped along

Of course, in hydroponics, there are more up-to-date methods before sowing your valuable seeds. Many growers will soak hard-shelled seeds in a solution of water that includes a rooting stimulator. Such a product comes to mind as “Katana Roots.” Secondly, once the roots and sprouts appear, a specific plant food can be administered to aid instant growth. One that comes to mind is sold as “Shogun Start,” which contains very low levels of micronutrients that a young plant requires when first starting out.

You may have learned as a child that sprouting an avocado seed is simple. Purchase an avocado, savour its lush, green flesh, and then clean the seed. The top and bottom ends of the seed should be kept in mind. Next, insert many toothpicks into the seed’s equator and set the toothpicks on a glass of water so that the seed’s bottom inch is submerged.

You may have to be patent as rooting can sometimes take a while.

Since the seedling will still be indoors at this point, you can plant it anytime of the year.

Place the glass in a warm location away from direct sunshine, adding water as necessary to maintain the water level at the bottom inch of the seed. A seedling emerges after the development of its roots.

Of course, you should germinate your seeds in a warm and moist environment where possible. Most keen growers will purchase an electric propagator. These are not all that expensive these days and will ensure a good rate of success. You will still need to soak any hard seeds overnight, though. Most seeds, however, will germinate easily if soaked between damp tissue paper before planting.

In hydroponics many growers will use coco coir as a growing medium and rockwool cubes to plant on the germinated seeds in. These are accepted methods in many different fields of gardening these days.

coco fibre the next gold

Peat to be Banned – For All Plant Growers

Peat to be Banned

Peat to be Banned

So the government in their wisdom have finally decided to put a time limit on the total ban of using peat. Of course peat has been the central material for all growers and gardeners. Especially for the making of compost. In the past few years then garden centres and peat suppliers have been working on a self imposed ban. However, this does not appear to have done the trick. Bowing from the environmentalist lobbies the UK government have decide to impose a legal banning date.

Personally then I am not concerned because other materials that will do the same job ,if not better will be available. First thing to mind is the now well used “Coco” derived from the husks of the coconut during the seeds transformation in to different types of food product. Also better know to the standard gardener is materials. Such as rotted wood-waste, used mushroom compost, composted garden materials or green kitchen waste, leaf mould or well-rotted farmyard manure are more effective and less expensive soil enrichers.

I suspect though that the use of “Coco” is a going to continue as a favourite. So, this replacement is very similar to garden peat. Consequently, Coco fibre is lighter in texture and feels very much a lighter version of peat. Of course as I have mentioned the famous grow media is made from pure coco fibre. Both organic and resourceful. The coco product ensures a perfect air and water retention ratio. Available from all the Hydrostore shops and online the product is part of Canna’s high-performance grow media range. Importantly, which ensure rich root growth and accelerated plant development. Of course every much as good as the now to be banned peat.

Stocking up could be a good idea!

Subsequently, there are many good articles for my readers to digest. About the reasons that stop using peat will do for the planet. Of course, if you believe in this sort of stuff! Personally then I have an open mind about these things. So, as long as there will be good alternatives then perhaps we should not worry too much about it.

So to conclude this important message I think it would be prudent for any large user and supplier of the Coco option to buy plenty of stock in if possible. This ban could go global and I am sure that the world supply of Coco will be stretched to the limit. This will also be a target for Entrepreneurs eager to make a fast buck out of the situation.

I am old enough to remember a sugar crisis and shortages led to rich people filling warehouses with the stuff and making a fortune out of it. Product shortages always lead to inflated prices and I cant see why this wont effect the Coco fibre industry! So watch this space.


Growing Flowers

Growing Flowers

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Growing Flowers

Growing Flower

Of course in the general run of things then most gardeners will grow vegetables under hydroponics conditions. However this is not always so. Especially when starting off when growing young plants. As can be seen flowers can be grown under strict conditions when using hydroponics. To start with a strict control can be used to measure the correct amount of light. In other words lighting can used to lengthen the amount of daylight. So, tricking the young plants about the time of year. Importantly, this can be seen when driving passed the large growers.

Glasshouses are lit to give the flowers a full days sun light. Of course this is the reason that we can buy out of season flowers such as roses. Not too long ago then roses could only be bought when in season (summer time). Now because of hydroponics and day light extending lighting systems then roses can be bought at any time of the year.

Nutrient controls

Of course the other big advantage with hydroponics is that plants including flowers can be grown with full control of nutrients. So growing without soils enables the flower plants to draw in nutrients into there roots. At the same time the young plants are not effected by pests such as weeds disease or insects.

Hydroponics can be used by large and small growers alike. As I have siad in the past then I started out with a self watering system. Consisting of a plastic reservoirs for the water and nutrients to be added. Also there are various systems for connecting up plastic piping to you growing pots. So, the video below gives a good example of what can be done using hydroponic systems to grow flowers.

Although I do grow my own flowers, so they are mainly used as companion plants. For example, I use French marigolds to deter white fly from my tomato plants.