Benefits of Hydroponics

You can call the unique method as a relaxing and rewarding hobby. There are no weeds to worry about compared to the traditional backyard planting. The absence of wild plants means that you do not have to buy anti-weed chemicals or engage in strenuous manual labor. Besides, gardeners need not worry about cultivating or using tons of compost for nourishment.

According to numerous agriculturists and nutrition experts, produce from hydroponics is full of flavor and wholesome nowadays. Thanks to modern techniques and improved nutrients. Commercial veggies may look good in supermarket shelves but hydroponic greens are softer and taste better. In fact, research shows that “hydroponically” grown veggies can contain almost 50 percent more vitamins than ordinary crops. These include Vitamins A, C, E and B complexes.

Another advantage is that hydroponic plants are more consistent. If you choose conventional gardening, there are many factors to contend with. Some of these are weather conditions, pests and soil quality. With hydroponics, plant growers have more control over the crops. You can look forward to more yield with a shorter growing rotation. All that should be done is to become familiar with the process. It is possible to anticipate three times as much yield from hydroponics as against soil growing.

Perhaps, this approach resolves the problem of water scarcity and contributes to conservation. Hydroponics makes use of one half up to one-third amount of water compared to the long-established procedure in planting. The water can be recycled along with less utilization of fertilizers. You can call hydroponics environmental-friendly gardening. All mildews, microorganisms and soil contamination are eliminated.

In hydroponics, stimulants are infused in the water and dispersed directly to the roots for most favorable results. The plants stay fresh since these can receive nutrients until the final growing phase. Many people say the technique is too costly and unreasonable. The truth is upfront investment cost for hydroponics is more affordable than normal farming procedures. This can be the ideal option for conventional farming particularly in very dry regions, mountainous areas and remote locations. You can easily cultivate crops even if there is snow since you do not have to use garden soil.

Benefits of Planting a Garden

Tomatoes are packed and full of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants and are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. The tomatoes are associated with the benefits of the cure for cancer combating the formation of free radicals, diabetes and heart diseases. Also, they have folic acids that help with depression. Whether you refer to a tomato as a fruit or a vegetable, a tomato is a nutrient food that most people should be eating.

Water spinach is another one that has essential nutrients like vitamins A and C as well as a high concentration of beta-carotene. Due to its healing and detoxifying properties, it helps in providing relief in case of skin itching or insect bites. Just add salt to water spinach and grind it into powder. Dab it on the sore spot and wrap it for immediate relief. Another property of this plant or should I say vegetable is that it acts as a sedative for people who have insomnia or sleeping difficulties. Water spinach also is effective in treating ulcers, menstrual pains, toothache, launched urination, nosebleed etc.

Aloe vera, there so many benefits in aloe vera that this plant is a must have in our garden. It’s excellent in skin conditions like burns, eczema, and is also a quick pain reliever. It has numerous nutrients, one of which is vitamin B12. Aloe Vera can also be used as a body cleanser (blend the crystal inside with the pineapple). I don’t want to forget to mention that it’s great for digestion. Vital to the growth process and healthy function of our body. The benefits are so many that I encourage you to keep it close. Even in a pot in your kitchen you can grow a beautiful Aloe Vera plant.

Watermelon seeds are good sources of magnesium with 100 grams of seeds providing 139 percent of the recommended daily requirement. Magnesium is vital for normal heart functioning, contain lycopene which is good for your face and also helps in improving male fertility. It is also effective in recovering health after illness and sharpening your memory. It can even be used as a tea for treating diabetes, boiling a handful of watermelon seeds in 1-liter water for 45 minutes while keeping the pot covered.

Ginger, this is another terrific plant full of benefits for our good health, usually called the traveler medicine because it helps with most indigestion problems, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. It will also help with menstrual cramps, bloating and much more. Keep this one in your garden.

Sage, one of the must have good for digestion, ulcers, sore throat, improving memory and one more thing; that I know keep most women at the edge. It is known to have properties to reduces menopausal sweats. Sage is also good for menstrual irregularity. So let say goodbye to those menstrual cramps and night sweats with a sage tea.

Maintenance Tips To Keep Aquaponics Working

Feed your fish every day: Fish make an essential part of an aquaponics system. It is important to ensure they are fully nourished at all times. Ensure you feed them at least once every day, although two meals are highly recommended; one in the morning and the other before sun set. It is always great to be physically present when feeding your fish because you can carry out health checks and look for unusual behaviors. However, you may consider getting an automatic feeder to help you when you are not available.

Check the condition of your aquaponics system

  • Temperature: Check whether the temperature of the fish tank is within the ideal temperature range for your fish. Adjust when necessary to ensure your aquaponics system offers the ideal environment for the species that you are rearing.
  • Insects: Check for insects every week to ensure any insect problem is corrected before getting out of control. It is also good to remember that most insects tend to reside in stem sections and underneath plant leaves. With this tip in mind, it’ll be easier for you to look for insects in your system.
  • pH level: It determines the health of your fish, reproduction rate of bacteria in the system and the ability of your plants to absorb nutrients. Therefore, the pH level of any aquaponics plays a very significant role in determining whether your aquaponics will work. Check the pH level weekly. The ideal pH for most systems is usually 6.8-7.0 and some systems can steadily maintain it. However, the pH level for most system tend to decrease naturally. Always increase the pH level when it falls below 6.5 by adding hydrated potash or lime.
  • Ammonia and nitrate levels: Check the ammonia levels weekly so as to notice any problem that may turn disastrous. For instance, a sudden rise in ammonia level is indicator that the system may be having a dead fish. The levels should not exceed 0.5 ppm. On the other hand, the nitrates levels should be checked monthly and they shouldn’t exceed 150 ppm. Levels beyond this are an indicator that the plants in the system are fewer to take in the nitrogen released by nitrifying bacteria. You can solve this by adding more plants or harvesting some fish.

It is the dream of every beginner to be well-oriented about aquaponics and get the best yields. Consequently, it is essential to bear the above maintenance tips in mind before starting your aquaponics journey. In addition, be sure to feed your fish regularly and monitor the condition of the system from time to time to ensure all your efforts are rewarded accordingly. With the proper aquaponics maintenance, you will be assured of harvesting your vegetables, fish and fruits anytime of the year.

Ways to Conserve Water in Garden

  • Using Magic Soil, also called Potting Soil is one of the best ways to plants your bulbs this summer season. Magic Soil or the so called Potting Soil has a unique quality of absorbing maximum amount of water when it is being watered. It then stores this water and releases it only when the plant needs it. This way, it helps in the healthy growth of the plants and makes sure that they are not deprived of water in the summer season
  • Using decorative terracotta pots will be a huge mistake you would be making this season. Since terracotta is porous in nature, the pots tend to lose water keeping the plant deprived of it.
  • Use of ceramic pots instead will be a great option for growing flower bulbs in the summer season. Ceramic is not porous in nature and is also opaque in nature. Therefore, it will not allow the plant to lose unnecessary water and also it being opaque will not allow sunlight to pass through it keeping the plant cool in this hot season.
  • The direct scorching heat of the sun can be fatal for the plants. Therefore placing them in shade is a good option. Along with that, grouping them together is also one of the ways to protect them from direct sunlight. The leaves of each plant will shade the others, helping them remain cool this summer.
  • Use of large plastic containers is also not such a bad idea for conserving water. Plastic also is not porous in nature. Therefore, it will prevent loss of water helping the plants conserve water and grow healthy.

Basic Care of Bonsai Ginseng

  • Watering – A ficus ginseng bonsai must be watered when the soil becomes dry. Occasionally, it can tolerate under or over watering, but if you can, avoid this as it can lead to problems. The water must be at room temperature. You can also spray the tree daily to maintain the proper humidity, but don’t exaggerate with this. Also, if you keep you bonsai in a warm place, it should be watered more often. On the other hand, if you place it in a cooler place, then you can water it once a day or every other day, depending on how much moisture it retains.
  • Repotting – This is a significant process in the care of bonsai ginseng. The miniature tree must be repotted each spring so the tree has time to recover before the growing period begins. When doing so, you must use a special bonsai soil mixture that can be found in the specialty shops or online. Root-pruning is also a good option for a ficus ginseng.
  • Positioning – You must keep in mind that this particular species is an indoor bonsai. As a result, it cannot endure frost or cold temperatures. In the summer, you can keep it outside, but only if temperatures go beyond 15°C. Keep it under plenty of light both outdoors and indoors. The ficus ginseng bonsai doesn’t like shady positions. Also, try to maintain the temperature constant.
  • Pruning – If you want to take proper care of a bonsai ginseng and maintain its shape, then you will have to prune it regularly. Once 6 to 8 leaves have developed, you can prune up to 2 leaves and over time this procedure will reduce the leaf size and encourage the foliage to thicken evenly on the bonsai. You can also thicken the trunk, but only after 1 or 2 years. At the time, the bonsai will be solid and healthy enough to endure the strong cuts and develop new shoots.
  • Fertilizing – During the summer, you must fertilize the ficus ginseng bonsai every two weeks or on a weekly basis. In the winter, fertilize it every 2 – 4 weeks. Best to use organic fertilizer pellets or liquid fertilizer.

It Only Takes One Seed

Many offer excuses for not planting a single seed whether it is a flower, herb, or veggie because they don’t have the room, time, or the ambition to farm for their livelihood. False fronts always deny the teller of inspiration that can alter lives and bring individuals closer together by understanding why we are here and what our mission in life is. If you don’t have an acre of land, then a flowerpot or even empty coffee can will do. Flowers may not be our forte but a fresh herb added to your famous pot roast recipe will bring you untold pleasure not only from words but from being privvy to others finding pure enjoyment in what you have accomplished in your kitchen. No time – in less time then answering a single email, or stepping away from a commercial on tv, you could begin the process of bringing life to a piece of heaven right in your kitchen or den. As to no ambition to be a farmer – maybe that is not your dream in life but you have to attest to the fact that every time you pick up a fork, or place a flower in your lapel – somewhere a farmer has added to your life’s beauty and taste sensations. Food, flowers, herbs, even a cactus plant gives you moments of inspiration or meditation. You cannot keep that smile hidden behind your frown on the day when you see that first shoot breaking its way through the soil right there on your kitchen window sill. Try as you might, yelling at it just doesn’t come to mind as you marvel at what nature has so conveniently placed in your hands to nurture and develop.

Gardening on a single scale or a whole delightful garden is up to the individual, but no matter the size, the choice of plant, or even the reason that you received a free packet of seeds from your corner deli as a spring promotion – you were meant to be given the gift of being part of the life of this earth’s very core – life – and the beauty of being part of this part of creation on this planet that we call home. Living alone, or with a whole family of sizes and ages, everyone can enjoy a single seed planted where it can bring “spice” to your life, a “rosy” outlook to your day or even a “lettuce” get together moment. It will be what you make of it but you have to plant that seed.

Gardening and growing things is so basic in our human genes that we can try and cover it up with mountains of concerns, but when you see that flower or taste that fresh salad at your favorite restaurant, or even sprinkle oregano on your pizza delight – you have reached into your gene of realizing that everything in life is not manufactured, additives included, or colored from a laboratory tube; it is true, unadulterated pleasure to be part of this basic life component. You don’t have to start by ordering a ton of wheat seeds, but maybe a bedding plant with “monkey faces” better known as pansies from your local Wal-mart. The really weird outcome of starting on this venture is that it multiplies and some day you might just find yourself embracing that seed catalog that is placed in your mailbox. You can hug the mailperson who put it there while you go skipping back to your house to go through your recipes to see what spices you can grow fresh, or what new veggie you can add to your menu with all its “good for you” components.


Helleborus are long-lived and very tough perennials that bloom with big, beautiful flowers in the winter. Also called “Lenten Roses”, they are known for being the first plant to do much of anything in the very early spring or, in some areas, the middle of winter. Yes, often even before spring flowering bulbs. Hellebores are quick to send up thick stalks and bloom when the days start to get longer and the sun barely warms the soil. Blooms will last a long time too – often a couple of months. Cultivars offer blooms from white to almost black, and every color and many pretty patterns in between. Their foliage stays evergreen. They do well in shade and don’t get big. People who have added hellebores to their gardens quickly fall in love with them and are often the beginnings of garden plant collections!

Most garden zones of 5 to 8 and are able to enjoy the full range of available hellebore cultivars. The best types for temperate gardens are the hybrid types, which come in most of the colors and forms that you see. More northern climates are limited to the species ‘helleborus niger’ which are generally white-blooming, but they are still lovely. Hellebores pair lovely in the shade garden with other typical shade plants, like astilbe and hosta.

Helleborus originate from Asia and Europe and have been in cultivation for a long time. Lots of myths and stories originate from these plants, centering on their toxicity. It used to be associated with witchcraft and was sometimes used during ancient Greek times as a cure for insanity. The plant itself is not palatable, but when planted in the garden great care should be taken to make sure kids and pets don’t eat it.

Hellebores aren’t necessarily new. Gardeners who enjoy branching out from the normal selections often have groups of hellebores in their gardens- but they’re not very common in most landscapes. Thankfully, we are carrying the best performing and beautiful hellebore cultivars now priced affordably so they can be planted in a wider range of gardens.

Keys to Successful Vegetable Gardening in Alabama

Alabama Planting Zones

Alabama has three plant hardiness zones. They are zones 7, 8 and 9. This means lows of 0 – 30 degrees F at night. It’s important to plant the right plants in the zone you are in if you want a flourishing garden.

Frost Dates

It’s also important to know the last frost date and the first frost date. Warm weather crops like tomatoes can’t go out in the garden until the last frost date. Dates can vary by city, but the earliest frost date for Alabama is around March 21st. The last frost date starts around 10/7, but for many areas is later in October.

Know Your Soil

Fall is the time to start working compost, leaves, and other natural soil enhancers into your garden area. Have your soil tested to see what the pH balance is. Find your local Alabama extension office number and arrange to have your soil tested. You can get kits that will allow you to test it yourself. The soil pH should be around 6.0 to 6.5. Once you know the pH of the soil, then you can add the correct amount of lime or fertilizer to balance things out.

Vegetables That Grow Well

In Alabama, you can grow a wide variety of vegetables. The long, hot days are perfect for vegetables like tomatoes that need a longer growing season. Be sure to choose varieties that are heat resistant and resistant to local pests. All this information will be on the seed packet or in the seed catalog.

Here are vegetables that do very well in Alabama:

  • Radishes – Plant in early spring and again in the fall. Best choices – Cherry Belle, Icicle or Scarlet.
  • Tomatoes – Plant in April and again in July. Best choices – Atkinson, April
  • Celebrity, Better Boy, Big Beef, Husky Gold, Monte Carlo, Small Fry or Sweet Chelsea.

  • Peppers – Plant in April and again in July. Best choices are cayenne, habanero or jalapeno for hot varieties. Sweet varieties choose any banana or bell.
  • Potatoes – Plant in February and again in August. Best choices are Sebago, Red Pontiac, Red LaSoda or Superior.
  • Peas – Plant in February. Best choices Arrow or English.
  • Green Beans – Best choices – Contender, Derby or Green Crop.
  • Pole Beans – Best choices – Kentucky Wonder, Kentucky Blue or Dade.
  • Lima Beans – Best choices – King of the Garden.
  • Oriental Cabbages – Plant in July. Best choices – Bok Choi, Michihli, Napa or Pak Choi.
  • Collard Greens – Plant in July – Best choices are Top Bunch or Champion.
  • Spinach – Plant February – September. Best choice is Bloomsdale Longstanding
  • Mustard Greens – Plant February – August. Best choices – Red Giant or Florida Broadleaf.
  • Okra – Plant April through June. Best choices – Clemson Spineless, Emerald Lee or Burgundy.
  • Squash – Plant April and again in August. Best choices – any summer squash. Winter varieties choose acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.

Pests To Watch Out For

Healthy soil can help keep pests away, but every garden has to deal with them. Some of the ones you will see in your Alabama garden include slugs, cutworms, wireworms, white grubs (Japanese and other beetles when mature), aphids, asparagus beetles, squash bugs, and weevils. You’ll need to hand remove pests such as slugs and beetles. Check your local nursery for what insecticides work best for the insects in your area.

Blossom-End Rot Disease

Although the disease does not spread from plant to plant, it is dependent on environmental conditions. As a physiological condition, neither fungicides nor insecticides will control this disease. However, environmental conditions can eliminate the condition:

  • Consistent water and calcium intake, and avoiding drought conditions.
  • Do not cultivate close to the roots, since destroying their root systems limits the roots’ ability to supply adequate water and nutrients to the plant resulting in Blossom-End Rot.
  • Excessive soluble salt which causes a decrease in the availability of calcium as salt increases.

Factors that can limit a plant’s ability to absorb calcium required for proper growth include fluctuations in moisture (either too wet or too dry), an excess of nitrogen in the soil, root damage during cultivation, and a soil pH that’s too high or low, or cold soil and soil high in salts.

To reduce risk of Blossom-End Rot:

  • Plant in well-drained, adequately aerated soil.
  • Maintain adequate soil water, at least 1-2 times a week during dry spells to a depth of 6 inches. Tomato plants need about 1.5 inches of water per week when growing fruit.
  • Always ensure the soil is warm enough prior to planting, to reduce nutrient loss.
  • Using fertilizers that are low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous provide the nutrients needed for proper growth. A fertilizer high in superphosphate, such as 4-12-4 or 5-2-50. However, applying too much fertilizer can cause the plant to grow too fast inhibiting the calcium from moving through the plant quickly enough.
  • Watering cones can be used to ensure water reaches the roots.
  • Applying mulch minimizes evaporation and helps maintain consistent soil moisture.

Innovations in Gardening Retail

Self-Watering Containers

Watering is one of those tasks that a gardener cannot neglect when healthy plants are the goal. Instead of trying to remember to keep the soil moist, special self-watering containers can now take care of this task for you. The planters themselves are stylish and attractive, fitting in virtually any growing area. They are ideal for holding either flowers or vegetables, and many even have an integrated trellis for climbing vegetation. After filling the container with soil and plants, simply fill the self-watering reservoir with water. The reservoir will release moisture slowly and evenly to keep the soil perfectly moist at all times. Plants will usually thrive when they receive this perfect level of moisture, and you can cross the watering off your to-do list. Explore a gardening retail center to find containers in different sizes and styles to fit any space and fulfill any need. Many are available in cedar and metal, and they often have additional shelves for storing tools.

Vegetation Monitor

Take the guesswork out of determining how and when to water plants by using a plant monitor. This ingenious device has a wireless sensor that will keep track of moisture levels in the soil, as well as a plant’s temperature, fertilizer, and light needs. The sensor will even take the monitoring a step further by sending reports directly to a smartphone or another mobile device, enabling you to provide the perfect amount of water, light, or fertilizer for a plant.

Garden Camera

Anyone who has struggled with yard damage from animals or insects will want to know the exact cause of the destruction. While camping out in the flowerbed is an option, there is an easier alternative. Installing a garden camera amongst the flowers or vegetables will enable you to record all the activity that occurs in a landscape. This camera takes pictures at varying intervals, as frequently as every minute. Situate the camera where it will have a full scope of the area. After reviewing the footage, you might just catch the culprits that are damaging your plants.

Realistic Garden Owl

Placing an owl decoy in a garden is not a new tactic; however, pests often catch on and stop fearing a decoy that never moves or makes any sounds. In contrast, an electronic owl will perch in a landscape to scare off critters that threaten flower and vegetable beds. This type of owl actually moves and makes realistic noises in response to special sensors that detect movement. The owl will turn its head in the direction of the movement and make frightening hoots to scare away little rodents.