Grow Your Own Spice & Herb Garden – The Essential Starter Kit

Herbs & Spices.

Welcome! In this series I want to discuss with you, what are herbs and spices and why people are crazy about it. In my second article I will discuss how to prepare your garden to start cultivating it, and in my final article I will give insight on how to prepare your cultivated herbs and spices for cooking and daily use.

Today I want to discuss the very popular debate on what is considered an herb and a spice. Furthermore, I would also like to give you an idea of all the herbs and spices you can cultivate as well as their health benefits.

Let’s get started!

Herbs and Spices. Photo by monicore

What is the Difference Between an Herb and a Spice?

There’s a hefty debate going on about what is an herb and what is a spice, and no one seems to come to a conclusion. Sure, you can define it, but only up until a point.

Generally herbs are classified as the leafy parts of the plant and spices are considered the seeds of the plant. But in between many things are classified as herbs or spices that fit one description or neither. Take cinnamon for example, it is considered a spice even though it is a bark of a tree.

I think it boils down to additional factors, like whether the spice or herb can be ground into a finer texture as well as what texture it retains after being dried. For more info on the differences, read this article.


List of Spices and Herbs – A Flavorful World

There is vast number of herbs and spices out there and some that haven’t even come to the world’s plates yet. The world is filled with wonderful flavors. Wouldn’t you agree that our world will be very dull without herbs and spices?! In this short list, I discuss my favorite picks among the many.

Herbs

  • Aloe
    • Yes, Aloe vera is edible. Apart from its topical application, you can cook it or ingest it raw. But, there are very few edible species; one of them being Aloe vera var chinensis.
    • You can use the gel (clear) to treat sunburns and wounds as well as other skin problems like acne. But just remember this, the natural gel is extremely bitter compared to your sweetened beverage counterpart.
Aloe. Photo by Sergio Roberto Bichara.
  • Catnip
    • There’s an abundant use for catnip; it has been used since the 18th century. The majority of these uses treat intestinal ailments such as indigestion, diarrhea and cramps.
    • Furthermore, it opens up your respiratory system and alleviates stress and insomnia.
    • Catnip can be steeped in hot water and drunk as a tea.

Catnip Plant. Photo by laurelljm

  • Ginseng
    • This herb is great for bringing your body back into balance, but it can also improve your mood and mental wellness.
    • This herb has been proven to improve cognitive ability in some mental illnesses as well.

Ginseng. Photo by markroad1230

  • Lavender
    • This herb is known for its well-known scent. Many people place it in their gardens for scenting potpourri but what very few people know is that it can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes as well.
    • In the culinary field it can be used in beverages and desserts, as well as preparing meat dishes. It is recommended that you use it sparingly, as a little of this herb has incredible flavor.
    • On the other hand it can relieve stress, anxiety and inflammation. It can also naturally improve your sleep.

Lavender Beverages. Photo by couleur.

  • Lemon Grass
    • As stated, it is from the grass family, but is has a distinct citrus flavor. It’s popular in the use of eastern dishes and can be used as curries, soups, sauces and even for teas.
    • It is preferably served fresh but can be dried (when dried it needs to be soaked again to activate its flavor). You can expect light but fresh floral citrus flavor when used in dishes.
    • Market bought lemongrass stems can be rooted to continue growth and as it is not frost hardy it should be moved indoors before the frost period. The white portion of the stem is the most desirable for use.

Lemongrass. Photo by Andrea Nguyen

  • Milk Thistle
    • This is a very old traditional medicine. Over time many of its healing properties was discovered, and the list is long!
    • By consuming this herb you can improve your health with regard to kidney, liver, gallbladder, heart, brain, eyes as well as your skin.
    • It also prevents free radical damage (acquired mostly every time you eat food).

Milk Thistle. Photo by JamesDeMers

  • Peppermint
    • The famous herb produces violet flowers but to maintain its great flavor, these should be snipped off.
    • It is a hardy plant that cover a space quite quickly so it should preferably be planted in a raised bed to control it.
    • You can find the most flavor in new leaves, so pruning the stems will promote new leaf growth.
    • Mint has been used to prepare pork, lamb and beef.
    • It can be preserved in water or be dried and wrapped.
    • Not only does it offer great flavor to food but some health benefits include soothing upset stomachs, nausea, nasal congestion and headaches.
    • It is also a natural remedy for depression.

Peppermint. Photo by silviarita

  • Rosemary
    • This herb contains rosmarinic acid and it alleviates allergy symptoms. It gives the scent closely associated to eucalyptus.
    • Although it has needle like leaves, it prefers a warmer climate and even flourishes indoors. Transferring the plants will cause it to suffer in its growth rate, so its best to plant in a container (inside or outside).
    • If you are able to buy it in the supermarket, you can plant it from those stem cuttings.
    • Rosemary can be used in a variety of recipes including game, fish, lamb, pork, poultry, cheeses, creams, butters and cream sauces. But be warned to use it sparingly.
    • Health benefits include increased concentration and immune system as well as lower stress levels.

Rosemary Herb. Photo by Vincent Foret

  • Sage
    • Its name means to save.
    • Sage delivers a pungent, minty oil scent, almost piney but it is sweet to the taste.
    • It can be used with veal, turkey, beef, fish as well as tomatoes, cheese spreads, vegetables and breads.
    • Seeds take a long time to produce a harvestable crop, so it’s more ideal to take cuttings and plant them.
    • This herb can be dried and kept in a sealed container for roughly 2 weeks if it is refrigerated.
    • It’s health benefits include improved memory as well soothing pains during the menstrual cycle.

The sage plant. Photo by congerdesign

  • Stinging Nettle
    • Yes it stings, but it is something you can deal with. To remove the stinging hairs you just need to boil it in hot water with added salt for a few minutes. Remove it and let it cool.
    • Apart from that there are dozens of medicinal applications for stinging nettle which includes improved wound healing times, red blood cell production and energy levels. It is also good for cleaning the body of toxins.
    • It reduces the occurrence of stones in the kidney and gallbladder.
    • For women, it lowers the pain during birth as well as the amount of bleeding.
    • You can use it in soups, salads, pastas etc.

Stigning Nettle. Photo by Couleur


Spices

  • Allspice
    • It sounds like someone mixed a bunch of spices together but, this isn’t the case. It’s a single spice with the flavor and smell of several spices. It smells like a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & pepper.
    • It delivers a flavor that is sweet and savory.
    • It is harvested from the Jamaican Myrtle tree but there is also a Mexican variety of it.
    • It can be used in puddings, rice, cakes, pies, cured meat & stews.
    • It is a natural antioxidant but other health benefits include the alleviation of gout, arthritis and & muscle pain as well as boost immunity and dental health.

Allspice. Photo by monicore.

  • Cacao
    • Cacao is a spice? Yes. Indeed, it is. Maybe you’re thinking of sweet cocoa; instead think of this as the dark chocolate flavor. Nonetheless, these two can be infused.
    • The other question is… Is it healthy? Of course it is! Some of its many benefits include is its ability to regulate energy levels which in turn regulates appetite, which leads to weight control! It also improves your mood and those nasty depression symptoms. Lastly, it can also improve your brain function via improved blood flow to your think tank.
    • It is harvested from the Theobrama cacao tree and you can commonly find it in supermarkets either ground or as nibs. Yum!

Cacao Whole Beans. Photo by dgchocolatier

  • Cayenne/ Paprika
    • This is known to be remarkably hot, and those properties are what makes its health benefits so unique. Cayenne also labeled as paprika or chili pepper contains capsaicin which gives its flavor.
    • It boosts metabolism and lowers your appetite which lead to higher fat burning rates due more ghrelin found in your body.
    • It can be added to casseroles, minced beef, dips and spreads and other everyday recipes.

Cayenne Pepper. Photo by uroburos

  • Cinnamon
    • Cinnamon is farmed from several species of trees in the Cinamomum genus. The bark is stripped from the tree and dried and can be used whole or ground.
    • It is mainly used in sweet and savory dishes as well as a multitude of other products, for e.g. breakfast cereals. You can add it to coffee and tea as well, and you will see why in a moment.
    • Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, a compound responsible for lowering blood sugar levels; so it has a strong anti-diabetic effect.

Cinnamon Serving Suggestion. Photo by Joanna Kosinska

  • Citrus Zest
    • Zest refers to the outer layer of citrus fruits being dried and ground. You can achieve this either with a zester or a grater. Just stop when you see the white pith of the fruit.
    • It is this part that is even higher in vitamin C and antioxidants than the inner fruit itself. It protects against cancer and regulates insulin. Meaning it’s a natural medicine for diabetes.
    • You can use it in smoothies, yogurts, soups, chicken dishes, salads and even desserts.

Citrus Zest. Photo by Nathan Lemon

  • Horseradish Powder
    • This spice is notoriously pungent. When you buy it fresh, the best way to prepare it is where you have good ventilation. Freshly grated horseradish root can be preserved with vinegar. But the dried ground root can later be mixed either vinegar or lemon juice to bring out that flavor.
    • It is most commonly served as a condiment but can also be added to salad dressings and sauces, giving it a zesty taste. The is due to it being from the mustard family.
    • Health benefits include weight control, improved immune system and lower blood pressure. It is also a great food to fight cancer.

Horseradish Root. Photo by San906.

  • Mustard
    • There are 3 types of mustard, each species with a unique seed. You get the white (yellow), brown and black seed and the flavor gets more intense the darker the seed. Real mustard sauce is made from ground seeds and the takeaway version cannot compare to the real thing.
    • White mustard seeds are cultivated with Sinapis alba. Brown mustard seeds are cultivated with Brassica juncea, and black mustard seeds are cultivated with Brassica nigra.
    • The seeds can be used whole to preserve food, such as pickling brine. But mustard sauce can be applied to bisque, pork, sauerkraut, barbecue etc.
    • When consumed in moderation it will have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial affect and is great topical for healing wounds. Along with horseradish powder it can also fight cancer.

Mustard Seeds. Photo by gokalpiscan

  • Peppercorn/Black Pepper
    • Black, green and white peppercorn seeds are all harvested form Piper nigrum. It all depends on when you harvest and how you dry them. Each particular version has its own unique flavor.
    • Black pepper has a stronger flavor than white pepper, but that is because it is harvested early, leaving the later white pepper to have a milder taste. Taste may even differ from region to region.
    • Peppercorn is a spice that goes well with other spices, meaning they complement each other. This is mostly due to peppercorn allowing you to absorb more of the other nutrients.
    • Some of its many health benefits include the limit of cancer cell growth, improved energy production, digestion and skin conditions.

Black, Green & White Peppercorn Seeds. Photo by Couleur

  • Shallots
    • They are part of the onion family and is a flavor blend of onion and garlic. There are many varieties, one of them being Allium stipitatum.
    • It can be used in Indian curries as well as lentil dishes. It is known for its strong, sweet and spicy taste.
    • It is a good regulator of gut bacteria which in turns improves your disease contraction rate; but it also is a tasty food to keep you lean.

Shallots. Photo by Couleur

  • Saffron
    • Right off the bat I’m going to say it is the most expensive spice on the market. The reason is because it is the stigma of a flower that is very difficult to cultivate. You get very to harvest in return. The flower that produces the stigma is the Crocus sativus.
    • It contains crocin, a compound known to fight cancer, acts as an antioxidant and promotes hair growth. It may even promote puberty and libido.
    • This spice can be combined with garlic to complement its flavor and can be served with fish, chicken and rice dishes.

Saffron Spice. Photo by hodihu


What’s next?

Don’t you feel a bit more interested in the tastes herbs and spice has to offer? So many flavors to choose from! What will you try first?

These are my top spices and herbs I recommend you try. Tell me what you think of this article and look out for my next article where I will discuss how to prepare your garden for the herbs and spices you are about to plant.

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Your Feedback is important!

World Seeds Catalog is my entry into the world of online marketing. Educating people on how to develop a sustainable lifestyle is my goal. Furthermore, I am a big enthusiast of the outdoors; it is my dream to see the world’s natural wonders for myself and also share it with you. There is a lot to discover out there and I want to bring it to your front door.

The point of this page is, I want to offer you the best reading experience on the market when it comes to sustainable gardening and lifestyle. And it doesn’t stop there; there is so much potential for this site and you as its reader. What you are seeing now is just the beginning. So I am offering the opportunity for you to take part in the development of World Seeds Catalog!

If you have any constructive feedback, it will be welcomed! Leave me your comment below and help me shape World Seeds Catalog to your liking. Don’t know where to start? See what I’m interested in hearing from you below.

Lady Bug on plant. Photo by Bart Christiaanse

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Thank you! Photo by athree23

Best Black Friday Online Deals – Frontera Luxury Furniture

This Friday through to the 24th of December, Frontera will have amazing deals available that I think you should take a look at! They have ideal gifts that is suitable for families and close friends. If you are looking for something to spruce up your outdoor and indoor living area or even want to stay warm this winter, Frontera has a selection of products that will comfort you this festive season!

For those of you who do not know, Frontera offers luxury living products for your patio as well as all the baubles that come with it. Have a look below for some examples of their products.

Frontera Furniture Company

So, what’s the deal?

You can get up to 20% discount on select items at Frontera starting this Black Friday, through Cyber Monday up until the 24th of December. That’s a long time for you to decide on which product would be an ideal addition to your home furniture. Not only that but you can select some decorations as well. Some practical and some pleasing to the eye.

What’s more is that you can get up to 70% free shipping, which allows you to buy more valuable gifts than spend money on the part that’s the least favorite! XD

Frontera discount features a range of products; from outdoor furniture, tabletop patio heaters, outdoor wall art, planters, Melamine Dinnerware to holiday themed rugs.

Get rewards back as you purchase from Frontera. Join their rewards program and earn credit for future purchases.


Luxury Products – Modern Living

Outdoor Furniture

Exclusive! World's Finest Rocker - Indoor MahoganyThis rocking chair brings tradition back to home. It is ideal for handing out presents and brings nostalgia to those who are reminded of the true spirit of Christmas.


 

POLYWOOD® Round 38' Conversation TableSpark up jovial conversations with this POLYWOOD round table for only $319 and save $141!


Tabletop Patio Heaters

SUNHEAT Square Tabletop Patio HeaterStay warm and comfy this festive season with heated lamps. Keep the conversation going and enjoy yourself.


SUNHEAT Traditional Round Tabletop Patio Heater


Outdoor Wall Art

West of the Wind Outdoor Canvas Wall Art - Spiral AloeAdd some color to your home with this vibrant canvas. An ideal gift for plant lovers!


West of the Wind Outdoor Canvas Wall Art - Birds of a FeatherThis canvas conveys the cheerful nature of birds.


Planters

Origami Planter - 23'

The simplistic angular design of these planters contrast the plants in them. It will make people stop and think about natural look it creates.


 

Daniel Round Planter

These planter pots appear out of balance but still holds its sturdiness, creating a brawny display. Place them anywhere in open spaces to accentuate the room.


Fire Pit Sale – Keeping Warm this Winter

Another way to stay warm this cold season is to consider placing a boulder fire pit in the center of a conversation. Just imagine the heat this rock can retain!

Boulder Fire Pit at FronteraIt clearly appears that they placed a lot of effort cutting the boulder in half. XD

For limited time only you can purchase this fire at a 35% discount! Add to this free delivery and you can celebrate along with the neat savings. This discount runs from the 8th of November through to the 30th of November 2018. Time is limited!

For more deals on Frontera holiday promotions you can visit them here. It is my sincerest interest to spoil you this festive season! I hope you enjoy it with those close to you and that you get spoilt and let your troubles melt away! Happy Holidays!

Smart Indoor Herb Gardening Planter Review – Grow Your Own Garden

Good day everyone! Today I will review the Smart Indoor Herb Gardening Planter! It is a unique planter that ensures your plants grow at their maximum potential. Its most important features are its hydroponic system (water) and light features which makes sure your plant receives the ideal amount of light. I will be discussing its disadvantages as well.

It’s one of my recommended products, and if you want to know more, or where to buy it, you have come to the right place.

Product Specifications – Very Important Details 🙂

Product: Multi-Functional Smart Indoor Herb Gardening KitSmart Indoor Herb Gardening Planter by Ton Top.

Price: $71,40

Cheapest Place to Buy: www.tomtop.com

Guarantee: Yes

Water Storage: 1,5L

Work Life: > 35000 H

Light Functions: 6 Options (Including Reading and Growing Mode)

My rating: 4/5

What does it include?

1 x Planting Basin

1 x Growing Light

2 x Plant Pot (with Vermiculite clay)

1 x Power Adapter

1 x User Manual (English)

What makes it unique? – Smart Features for a Smart Home

The Smart Indoor Herb Garden has some nifty features. All it requires is an alarm clock and you can put it at your bedside! Jokes aside, here are some really cool features! XD

Hydroponics

This device creates the ideal environment for plants to grow in. Its hydroponics system keeps your plants constantly hydrated and you can even add fertilizer to the water to sustain the plants.

Light System

The light system allows for extended hours of growth. It comes with a light sensor that activates and deactivates the special LED’s to mimic sunlight. If you keep it somewhere in your sleeping quarters it can even be programmed to automatically deactivate the LED’s so the light doesn’t bother you. Along with white LED’s it can display red light as well, which is very important for photosynthesis and leads to improved growth.

Reading Lamp

Apart from its practical application, it can be used as reading or a lamp in general. Place it in your kitchen, study, living areas or even your room. Did you know that plants in our living environments improves our mood. It is our natural mindset to associate relaxation with natural objects. It is something that is in little supply these days.

Water Shortage Alarm

If you forgot to refill the tank, or just haven’t noticed the water level getting lower, the device will remind to refill the tank with an alarm.

Simple & Tidy Design

It has a sleek and simple design. You won’t have trouble finding a small space for it to fit in. Why just have a reading lamp and a desk plant when you can combine them to create something more aesthetically pleasing.

A Gift to the Curious

I am very curious when it comes to gadgets, especially those that make gardening easier. Do you know of a friend who would like to experiment with green house technology at an affordable price? Then this will make an ideal gift for that person.

With the festive season approaching as well as winter (in some places), this device will brighten up your day and add greenery to the somewhat bleak environment.

If you would like to start an herb garden or want to brighten up your office space or even want to wake up to the sight of your seedlings next to your bedside, this is the ideal device to buy.

What can be planted in it?

You’ll be surprised to find quite a variety of seeds that you can plant. For the full list, visit Tom Top here.

FlowersSmart Indoor Garden Planter Specifications by Tom Top.

  • Rose
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Oregano
  • Sunflower

Herbs

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Rugosus

Vegetables

  • Spinach
  • Cellery
  • Onion
  • Coriander

Fruits

  • Cushaw
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant

There are many other options of course. You can add anything to the plant pot as the growing medium does not limit your choice.

Some Disadvantages

To ensure you have a full breadth review, here are some disadvantages that I have noticed.

Space is Limited

With only 2 pots to plant in available, you cannot consider planting a large crop that will last for the entire season. The growth rate should make up for it though. I would consider planting special herbs or flowers that is difficult to come by or requires little additions to your recipes so that it can last longer.

Light Appendage Appears Flimsy – Handle with care!

The arm the light attaches to allows for adjustment as the plant grows, but I think the manufacturer had ergonomic value in mind when building this. To keep the price affordable they used materials that should keep the price down. If you don’t work too rough with it, the device will last indefinitely.

Keeping the Water Container clean

In a successful growth cycle you should have a nice crop growing. The disadvantage of this is that the nutrients and fertilizer you add will dirty the tank the plants grow in. I recommend cleaning it thoroughly after every growth cycle and rinsing it out to keep your next fresh crop organic and avoid getting harmful chemicals into your food.

Planting Medium Degradation

Plants require nutrients to grow, that is a fact. The planting medium, vermiculite, will have to be replaced every few cycles to ensure maximum yield. You can always opt in to add fertilizer to your water to make up for the nutrient loss, the more you use the planting medium.

Where can I buy seeds?

In one of previous articles, I took a look at vegetable garden plans for autumn. In it I discuss the seeds you can use and where you can buy them. If you want to read more on this topic, read my article here.

For affordable non-GMO seeds look on Amazon for a great variety!

I believe this is an affordable product that is a great introduction to planting. It is also ideal for the people who are too busy tending to large gardens. Kids can also learn a lot from this making this the best way of teaching them about plants and gardening in general.

I would like to hear from you! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this product. I will leave you with a video showing what aeroponics achieves with similar industrial products.

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Affiliate Marketing. Photo by Pantanea_

Best Fall (Autumn) Flowers – Outdoor Garden Ideas

Welcome back everyone! Today I would like to touch upon the topic of Fall or Autumn Flowers. With the cold season approaching, many people will tuck away their garden gloves. I would like to let you know that you can still add some vibrant color to your garden before winter arrives!

Best Fall Winter Flowers – My Top 5

I am looking for more than just beautiful flowers in this list. What other characteristics or traits are out there that could potentially make a big difference to your garden from fall to winter?

Grass of Parnassus – Parnassia grandifolia
In my opinion, this can be considered the most beautiful flower in the world. It’s flower is completely unique, you won’t find something similar anywhere.

Grass of Parnassus. Photo by KTTrainer.

It’s mainly found in the southern regions of the US, in boggy and wetland environments. It usually blooms in September. The sad truth is that this flower’s native habitat is being destroyed by agricultural development and it can only be found in pockets of its former habitat.


Iris – Iris unguicularis
This flower is sentimental to me. It brings back memories of my childhood years. It has a unique blossom that is rarely found among other flowers. It thrives in poor soil and requires little to no soil improvement. Although this sounds good, you will require patience for it to bloom as it has sporadic bloom cycles. The buds of the flower are frost proof but not the flowers, which means you have to cover the blossoms during frost periods.

Iris Unguicularis. Photo by Consultaplantas.

Cherry Blossoms – Prunus subhirtella autumnalis
The Cherry Blossom Tree has a deeply rooted history in Japan, whose sensation has spread across the world. In some people it evokes nostalgia, as it reminds them about the coming spring season. But there are also species that have sporadic blooming periods in autumn and winter. The nostalgia doesn’t stop there; there are even perfumes and treats made from this blossom which is edible, such as ice cream.

They tend to have a paler pink flower than its spring variety, but varieties exist between the white and pink spectrum. I found to my surprise there are more than 200 varieties out there!

The tradition of celebrating the cherry blossom dates back centuries and is known as hanami, which is to have a picnic under the cherry blossom tree. This flower has moved thousands of people’s hearts, and reminds them of the ephemeral nature of life.

Hanami under the Cherry Blossom Tree, with Mount Fuji in the background. Photo by JJ Ying.


PansyViola sect. Melanium (aka Violet or Viola)
The Pansy is a hardy flower. Don’t let the name deceive you. Apart from offering you a variety of colours, it’s a versatile and prominent blooming plant that can withstand cold weather and if treated correctly will pop up back when spring arrives. It prefers a sunny spot in your garden and is ideal for filling the gaps. The blossoms have a tendency to last for a long period.

Photo by KreativeHexenkeuche.


Chrysanthemums – “Mums” for shortChrysanthemums. New International Encyclopedia
This is probably one of the easiest flowers to maintain. It’s low maintenance and its great abundance of blossoms is its attractor. For newbie gardeners that would like to spruce up their garden in the cold season, this is an ideal introductory plant to cultivate.

It is known for its brilliant colours and abundant blossoms. It is not frost resistant though, you’ll have to cover it during frost periods and if you have a knack for cultivating flowers, they will last for more than season. Their blossoms appear as daylight hours decreases, but you can also artificially enact this.

Chrysanthemums. Photo by Digigalos.

 

 

 


List of Additional Fall or Autumn Flowers.

Colchicum – Autumn Crocus

Colchicum or Autumn Crocus. Photo by Hans.

Japanese Toad Lily – Tricyrtus

Japanese Toad Lily. Photo by André Karwath aka Aka

Witch Hazel – Hamamelidaceae

Photo by manfredrichter.

Honeywort – Cerinthe

Cerinthe or Honeywort. Photo by Alastair Rae

Nemesia – Scrophulariaceae

Nemesia cheiranthus. Photo by Julie Anne Workman

Additional Reading

If you would like to read up on more topics related to autumn garden ideas, have a look at the list below:

FALL & AUTUMN VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANS – YOUR HARVEST DOESN’T END IN THE SUMMER!

ORGANIC GARDENING: FOR THE URBAN DWELLER

GROW YOUR OWN SMALL GARDEN – EASY GARDEN IDEAS

Flowers Look Different to Insects

Did you know that insects like bees see the world in ultraviolet? Ever seen what the world looks like in ultraviolet? I will leave you with an article that’ll show what flowers look like in ultra violet light. Click on the image below.

Flower in ultra-violet light.

Fall & Autumn Vegetable Garden Plans – Your harvest doesn’t end in the summer!

Welcome! It is that time of year again where the leaves start to fall and the growing season ends? Or does it? Some people stop growing in Fall or Autumn (depending on where you’re from), but a few people know that this isn’t so! We are going to discuss which vegetables are best suited for the cold climate, when and where to plant these vegetables as well as taking the precautions to protect them.

I hope you are looking forward to your harvest! Let’s brighten up your day for the coming season!

What vegetables grow in Fall (Autumn)?Fall Season Garden Plans. Photo by Free-Photos

In this section I want to offer more than a list of vegetables that can be planted in Fall. I had a look at all these plants and I’ve compiled a list of characteristics to look for when considering your harvest. Compare the species you want to plant against this list, and you’ll see which morphological characteristics to look for that will ensure they’ll survive the colder season.

Dark Leaves – This is to ensure that your plant captures as much sunlight as possible. The darker the leave the more chlorophyll it has to generate energy (sugars) for growth. An example of this is Kale.

Broad Leaves – The more broad the leaves, the more surface area is available to produce energy for growth. Smaller, more intricate leaves, have the potential to die during extreme cold and frost.

Bunched or Compact Growth – When the plant grows in a compact spot, its leaves will cover the most vulnerable areas during the cold season. If it was spread, more surface area is exposed to the cold and more harm will come during extreme weather conditions. A thick undergrowth offers the same protection, meaning the closer you plant your vegetables to each other, the more they will be protected. An example of this is lettuce.

Thick Green Stems – By having a thick stem, more of the important areas (insides) of the plant will be protected. If the stem is green, it will also contain chlorophyll to help with photosynthesis.

Root & Tuber Crops – The soil offers great protection against the cold which means vegetables that are produced underground are ideal for cold weather sowing. Examples of this include onion, carrots and potatoes.

Now that you know which characteristics to look for we can continue on to the vegetables that will survive the cold weather. Have a look at the list below; they are all non-GMO seeds. For a greater variety visit Amazon!

Top Soil Species

Organic Spinach Bloomsdale Longstanding Heirloom Seeds at Amazon.Package of 300 Seeds, Early Flat Dutch Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) Non-GMO Seeds at Amazon

Pod Species

Vastravel Snow Pea Purple NON-GMO Vegetable 20 Seeds at AmazonBean Seed, Black Turtle Bush Bean, Heirloom, Organic, Non Gmo at Amazon

Tuber & Root species

Organic Radish Seeds at AmazonSimply Seed - 5 LB - Kennebec Potato Seed - Non GMO at Amazon

 

When to plant vegetables in Fall (Autumn)?

There are several factors you need to take into consideration when picking the time to sow. As every environment has a different climate, trust in your instinct and experience over the years of living in that region to help you. If you are new, consult your local nursery on the times when frosty weather will arrive.

You may start sowing any time from 12 weeks foregoing signs of frost. The intermediate period would be any time between 10 weeks and 4 weeks. It is also dependent on the time it takes for your crop to be harvested. You do not want to plant cabbage 4 weeks before frosty weather arrives in your region. The faster your crop grows, the closer to the frost period you can sow it. I would stop sowing 4 weeks prior to frost.

To make sure you have a consistent harvest, sow a new batch of seeds regularly (i.e. a week). If you are interested in ensuring faster crop growth read my article on raised garden beds.

Where & how to plant the vegetables?

I have touched on this topic in several of my articles. I discuss ways to improve your gardening methods. If you are interested in reading it have a look at my list of articles here:

Taking the right precautions – Protecting your harvest.

Apart from regularly managing your garden, you can take extra care for your crop by modifying your garden against the cold weather.

Top Soil Protection

You can protect your soil by adding mulch to it. Snow also acts as an insulator but to avoid damage, remove excess snow from your plants. To avoid tender plants from being damaged, consider using mesh to cover them. When your crop has grown considerably you can stack mulch against it, almost like an anthill, which should offer more insulation.

Moist Soil

By keeping your soil moist, it will retain more heat than its surroundings and thus adding more protection to your crop.

Location is key

Remember this; warm air rises, cold air descends. By planting your crop in a lower area in your yard, it will have a higher potential of frost than higher areas.

Windbreaks

Wind is a big factor when frost hits. It carries the cold weather; by breaking the wind with nets or mesh you buffer the wind and break its speed and thus its potential cold touch to your crop.

Do not Prune

Summer and Spring is ideal for pruning leaves. But when fall arrives, growing speed for plants decrease. Even when the leaves are damaged, leave them be!

Protect the Crowns

Having a damaged crown will leave your crop stunted and it needs time to recover and recover its growing stem. To avoid this, you can wrap a mesh around the crown during blitz cold fronts.

That’s it people! I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, leave me a comment! What else would you like me to discuss before winter arrives? I am looking forward to hear from you!

Grow Your Own Small Garden – Easy Garden Ideas

Welcome back everyone! In today’s article I would like to discuss how you can start your own small garden. This article is especially aimed at people who do not have a lot of green space, and I will show you just how creative you can be! Whether you have a small backyard or a balcony, I will share with you some neat ideas to make the most of that space. Let’s get started!

First I would like to supply a list of my previous articles that should assist you if you need some prior knowledge.Balcony Garden. Photo by Nihad Dedi.

What is the best use for a small garden?

It depends entirely on what you want to use the space for. I on the other hand would create a mixture of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

For example, I would place climbers near walls to grow flowers or peas. I would utilize pots to stand on balconies and in spaces where box planters cannot be placed. If you have a niche where a draft comes through, I would place flower pots to give your home a scent in the flowering season. Use all surfaces to your advantage, even your walls and balconies!

To spruce it up you can divide your space into smaller subdivisions so that there is always something new to look at. You can also avoid clutter by adding furniture that can be easily stored away when not used. Furthermore, think of ways that you can use the plants to create some privacy, after all you want to create a space where you feel comfortable in.

Take note on the species that grow in your surrounding area; using them in your garden will allow you to attract insects and birds from the surroundings.

When adding decorations, consider using geometric shapes and designs along with a small selection of plant species if you want to keep it simple. If you are an outdoors person and like it natural, you can add natural materials and bushy plants to give it the no-one-has-trod-here look.

In times when you are away from home  for long periods, consider using evergreens and species that are hardy.

Rose. Photo by Sushuti

How do I get a maximum yield?

This is related mostly to vegetables gardeners, but the same can apply to flowers, herbs, trees etc. When you are cultivating crops to eat or want cultivate a flower or tree as a hobby, you will be required to do research on it. It depends on factors such as exposure to sunlight, type of nutrients required and how much water it requires.

But don’t stress! If you develop a regular routine you can sustain the base requirements for any plant! Just by tending to your garden you’ll notice the small things necessary to change as your plants grow!

Is a greenhouse viable?

In a previous post I discussed how a raised garden bed can have a plastic sheet covering as an additional accessory. Anything is possible when you put your imagination to it. Having a small garden space does not limit your options! Instead, having to improvise with limited resources can be a great boost to the potential you can bring into a small garden.

But this is not limited to just having a small greenhouse in your backyard or balcony; there are countless great examples of small spaces being used creatively.

Be creative!

Having limited resources, time or space is a great driver for imagination. It gets you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to think on your feet. At the end of the day you’ll realize just how much potential you and your garden have! Have a nice day!

I always appreciate feedback so leave me a comment and let me know how creative you needed to be with small spaces. 🙂

Raised Garden Bed Kits – Are They Worth it?

Welcome! In my previous post we discussed the preparation of your raised garden bed, from choosing your site to your material. Today I want to discuss whether a kit (prepared DIY raised bed) will fulfill the ideal bed you have planned. I will tell you right off the bat, that I noticed a few peculiarities with the products I want to discuss here. But they aren’t all negative! We will have a look at variety, versatility and quality.

Raised GardenBed Kits - Are They Worth It?

Variety – What are your options?

Among the suppliers, there is quite some variety. From plastic, corrugated sheets, pine, cedar through to a combination of these choices. A material that I hoped to see was stone which was absent from the majority of suppliers, which is a let down since stone’s durability far outweighs the other materials. So if you were hoping on spending a larger budget on a large project, your options are very limited. But then again, with a larger budget you might as well hire someone or plan a creative project on you own.

As far as I can tell, the suppliers cater for the entry level or cheaper options for their clients which leaves a gap for people who wish to invest in unique designs. On the topic of designs, there is limited choice, as you will mostly find the traditional square design with sizes that will only hold a small garden. A few designs for a walk-in raised are present but certainly not a large variety.

Versatility – Is it practical?

When I think about versatility, I consider the plant species you can plant as well as the scale of the project you can create in a single raised bed. Another versatile function of garden beds is to be aesthetic and socially functional (I was looking for built in benches as well as protection).

The secondary functions that raised beds can serve are not addressed in the straightforward designs that suppliers offer. They are opting for cheap, easily placed designs above the more eccentric tastes that you ought to find in a private garden. Don’t get me wrong, cheap is good, but for the creative mind to be at ease in especially gardening; there simply aren’t enough options available. Protection against pets and children squishing your seedlings is something the suppliers have considered as there are ample products out there that include raised legs and fences.


Quality – Will it last?

My first impression was that the cheaper options do not offer enough quality for your raised garden

Get unique products for your garden at Serenity Health

bed to survive many a season to come. The intermediate options do address that by making use of steel and even offering extra accessories to support progressive gardening.

There is one thing though, for my local readers in South Africa, I have noticed an extreme price range for raised garden bed kits. It is much more expensive than its US counterpart. I think, in my opinion that the trend is taking root in the US, hence why the basic designs are actively advertised. In other parts of the world, I would imagine the price would fall as the trend grows and more local suppliers offer this product.

I see a great deal of kits sold with untreated wood, which offers you as the client the option to add your own treatment of choice. This is ideal if you plan on growing vegetables as the treatment of the wood is a big no in organic produce. Be careful when buying kits with treated wood or rather opt in to use rot resistant wood. Both topics have been discussed in my previous post which you can find here.

Plastic, this the base option. I’m not a big fan of plastic, but more on that in another article. With a limited budget this option will work in the short term. I picture that a wood raised garden kit will add a rustic effect as it degrades over time; plastic on the other hand will not look the same after one season outside.

An intermediate option that would consider is corrugated sheets. They keep your budget on the cheap side with the additional sturdiness that wood would offer.

For more info on why I am not a big fan of plastic visit the Clean Seas initiative. My environmentalist side kicked in for a moment, but it is still an important topic.

Worth it?Rating for Raised Garden bed Kits

As the trend is taking root in the US, the product is definitely worth it there. The option that are available is something that grow as more people become aware of the advantages of raised garden bed kits. I would like to hear from the readers in other countries. Is this product available there? do you consider it affordable?

I know in South Africa it is currently expensive as the initial notice of the trend is taking place. With more awareness, I think the price will even out.

Overall, the traditional kits that are available is a good starting point for beginners and those who wish fulfill a practical goal in their growing season. I would even recommend combing kits to get more out of your product!

I want to play on your creative strings, because this is your garden after all! I would buy a pre-built kit and use it resources build something more creative out of it. 😛

I want you to imagine walking into your local botanical garden or park. The picturesque landscapes that they create should be an indicator on which raised bed kit will have that ideal appearance in your garden without sacrificing its practicality. No one ever said you should choose between just one of the two!


What did you think of this article? Leave a comment!

Raised Garden Bed Guide – Planning Your Layout

If you followed my previous post, you will have an idea of whether you want to implement raised bed gardens in your green space. If you are interested in building a raised bed garden, this is the post to read.

I will discuss which location is best suited, the different types of designs I have come across and irrigation layouts for that ideal watering area. Let’s get started!Photo by Oregon State University

Choosing the Ideal Location

Raised beds absorb heat into the soil, so when considering the ideal spot to build it, you must look for an open, north to south space that will receive ample sun during the daytime hours. You may be required to remove some overhanging vegetation to ensure that the bed receives the heat it requires for your crops to flourish.

Types of Designs

I have come across several designs to choose from, and this can be grouped into design and the material used. The option you can imagine are limitless! Have a look below, and imagine combining some of these designs!

Shape

You can fit a raised garden just about anywhere; it can take any shape you wish it to. If you want to add corners, you must remember that those corners need to supported in the long run so you don’t end up with a bed that topples out halfway through the growing season. The bed needs to support the stress that the soil exerts on it as well as withstand the weather over time. Think of quality of quantity. When you plan this layout, in every step you consider what will improve its structural integrity. Below is a description of the different directions you can construct in.

Square – The traditional square is the easiest to construct and the resources need are uniform. Pair this with a grid pattern within the bed and you’ll be set to plant as many squares as you need for the season.

Wheel – For a rugged look you can shape this bed into pie slices and with a bigger bed, you can have more slices. To have more elegant round design you will require a specifically cut material.

Antique – I know, some of us love antiques! But to leave them out in the weather and let nature take its course is an increasing trend. Have antiques that contain multiple drawers? Utilize them and plant a crop or flower in each unit!

Multi-level or Tiered – If your surface area is limited, build upwards! Create multiple tiers as tall as the building material can handle. This will require some extra research on keeping the structure sturdy. Ask a friend or colleague who is crafty with woodwork to help you out on this one.

Vertical – This works on the same principle as the multi-level design but the difference is you can construct it to stand independently in a pyramid shape.

Green House – This is a really neat design! You have a miniature green house that is protected without having to budget for a greenhouse you can fit in. All you have to do is hinge it on one side and ta da! You can lift it whenever you need to work on your crops.

Corrugated – Nothing beats gathering heat like a thin sheet of corrugated aluminum. If you want to beat your neighbours to the first harvest, this is the design for you!

Counter top – If you are an outdoor person bat don’t have the stamina to work kneeling all day or you would like to some sensitive work on your growing plants, the counter top design will allow you to work from a comfortable height. Simply adjust the height of your raised bed, add the soil and cover with particular sections where you want to plant your crops. Imagine the pipework you can add below to make sure your crops are watered. This is a design that can even be used for aquaponics!

Extra additions

Here is a list of additions you can make to the above mentioned designs to add to your own taste!

Kids size – Ideal for teaching the young ones the ropes of gardening.

Side Fences – Add removable fencing or just keep it to protect against unwanted tramplers.

Legs – Add legs and raise the bed to a height where you and only you can access your plants. For safety of course 😉

Benches – This is the best add on in my opinion. Think about being able to sit among your plants and watch their growth spurt from the sidelines!

Decorations – If you are creative then you can add some light to heavy decorations. After all, it is for your leisure that you are doing this. Add your personality to your green space!

Material

As with the shapes, the materials can be anything you think would hold the soil in place. But that doesn’t mean you lose some incentive to be creative! If you are on a tight budget or have some cash to spare the materials below along with a bit of initiative can be a raised bed in no time!

  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Corrugated sheets
  • Containers (for e.g. crates)
  • Tires
  • Stone
  • Laced branches
  • Logs
  • Masonry
  • Plastic
  • Cinder Blocks

For additional designs, visit Epic Gardening.

Stone Raised Bed. Photo bt Neptuul

Planning Your Irrigation

If you like visual cues on how to construct things I would recommend going on Pinterest. There are dozens of examples where you can gather ideas just by looking at the image alone. I would also appreciate it if you could share this post on your media channels.

There are several types of irrigation methods you can use; here are 3 of them:

Soaker Hoses – These hoses are spread over an area on the top soil; the water perforates through the hose over a low pressure. It drips continuously for a long period as the water leaches into the soil. It is a growing trend that saves water by not spraying a continuous stream of water just in one location.

Drip Irrigation – This is an over the surface, rigid irrigation method. You can protect your pipes from being nipped or accidentally damaged by placing this system above your bed and allow the low pressure water to drip continuously. This design is ideal to use in conjunction with the green house raised bed design. To remove the clutter of pipes, you can hinge Grid Irrigation Layout. Photo by TrafB12the irrigation system along with the top of the green house.

Underground Irrigation – To me, this is the most efficient irrigation system. Roots will be promoted to grow deeper and you have no surface water loss through evaporation. The only snag is that you may damage the underground system when using tools like digging forks. This system will also ensure that your plant roots do not get concentrated at the source of the surface drip areas.

Each of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages. With a budget that allows a combination of these systems, you’ll find the perfect balance in keeping your soil moist.

My favourite design – Railway Sleeper Bed With Benches

This design is ideally my favourite. It allows you to spend some personal time in your green space and sit back and relax as you watch your handiwork! It is also at a height that allows you to comfortably tend to your seedlings and on top of that, you have room below the bed to implement an irrigation system in a tidy manner. You also have several areas to add decorations or accessories that you deem necessary to make your outside hangouts comfortable.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this article! What design do you like the most. What trends have you seen in your region with raised garden beds?

Railway Sleeper Raised Bed by Railway Sleepers