An Insight to Indoor gardening

Indoor gardening can have many advantages and may depend on what part of the globe you live in from a weather perspective or what you are trying to get out of it. Having the garden indoors or even a few garden boxes indoors can soothe the souls of many green finger enthusiasts during the cold winter months, or if you simply grow or have a vegetable garden indoors to grow your own organic fresh veg to the extravagant indoor Hydroponic gardening or greenhouse gardener, indoor gardening can tick a box for all.

Indoor Hydrponic gardening system

A great Indoor Hydrponic gardening system to get you started

Indoor Hydroponic gardening has been around for decades but is becoming more popular as of late. This is basically soilless growing, instead the crops or plants grow in mineral nutrient solutions. You would need an equivalent to an indoor gardening system for this where the nutrient solution is kept flowing constantly passed the roots by pump and you have a lighting system also- not a cheap form of gardening. Hydroponic gardens are generally for people who are trying to grow a lot of plants in a small amount of space – indoor vegetable gardening is the most popular type.

Most garden centres now have a section for all this and of course the internet is full of indoor gardening supplies to cater for all needs, in fact you can get indoor gardening kits to cover such things as growing your own herb garden, countertop greenhouses and vertical indoor gardens (ideal if space is at a premium.)

Trying to replicate Mother Nature’s garden indoors can be harder than most people anticipate so try and decide in advance the type of garden you are after,  what we touched on above Indoor Hydroponic gardening or the more traditional indoor container gardening, which is like what it says , plants in standard containers with soil, the conventional way like pot plants. Both of these methods would also be ideal gardening gifts for someone who is looking to get started or someone who has started and is looking to add to their indoor garden/veg garden.

Once you have chosen the type of indoor gardening you wish to do, next you need to choose the right space either in your house or conservatory to position it. This is a very important stage as you want to give your plants or vegetables the best position in which to thrive. Choose an area that has lots of natural light preferably west or southerly facing, ideally beside a window. If this is not possible you can use indoor gardening lights. Never choose a cold room like a garage or attic with no natural light or any form of heating, this will either kill or hinder your plants from growing and developing. If you live in a climate that has air-conditioning try not to place them near a vent as this will just dry them out.

You control their environment – One of the main reasons for having indoor pot plants or a form of indoor garden is that you have more control over the process and the environment, this might mean more work but your plants will prosper.

The three main things you will be in charge of controlling are a) Temperature, b) soil condition and c) water frequency.

Once you know the type of garden or the process you will use next you need to decide on the plants to grow. Before you grab your garden cart and head off to the nursery or garden centre research and decide in advance or you could chat to the horticulturist in the nursery to give you some tips.

Good pointers for vegetables would be the likes of: tomatoes, beans, peppers, peas.

Herbs: basil, garlic, thyme, chives, parsley, rosemary.

Plants: lily, African violet, begonia, ferns and spider plants.

Indoor gardening growing dome

A tidy example of an indoor vegetable gardening growing kit

Having fresh herbs and vegetables home grown all year round especially if you enjoy cooking and gardening can be extremely rewarding seeing your veg and herbs being used in your dishes.Yum!

Plants like us humans get tired, old and die. If you have old plants in the house that have been around for a while and look jaded all the love and care in the world will not bring them back to life perhaps it’s time to replace them. Remember that dying and withering plants attract insects that can spread to your healthy plants so just make sure you don’t leave it too late to remove them. Something to remember is that gift plants like azaleas and amaryllis generally have to be discarded after the first flower as they can be very hard to nurse to a second flowering.

While on the topic of dying plants and something I should have touched on earlier is that when you are using tools for planting your indoor plants, herbs or vegetables try not to use the same garden tools as you would for outdoors use. The main reason is cross contamination of bugs and weeds that would wipe out your indoor crop.

Now that I mention indoor and outdoor a great way to have some of your favourite outdoor garden flowers indoors is to ‘force’ them to grow indoors. Forcing flower bulbs in winter is a great way to bring some spring into the house a little early. Almost any spring flower bulb that blooms can be forced indoors but some bulbs are more popular; for example: Daffodil, tulip and crocus. Choose flower bulbs that are full or fat and firm, the larger the bulb the bigger the bloom.

Vases for forcing flower bulbs

Some vases that can be used for forcing flower bulbs indoors

Steps involved in forcing. Firstly you need to chill or prechill your bulbs for up to 12 weeks. This can be in the fridge or a cold place in the house like a garage or attic. Once this is done then you can start to force the bulbs indoors in flower pots with soil (never use garden soil) or indeed you can use water. If using a soil like pot plants, make sure the bulbs are ¾ of the way in the soil with the pointed top of the bulb facing upwards out of the soil. Water and keep soil moist. If growing in water more or less do the same process except you want to have the roots of the plant in water, only the roots. To achieve this you can buy special pots or vases or you can improvise by using stones of pebbles to ensure that the core of the bulb is in soil with the pointy part facing upwards and only the roots dipped in water. Once they start to flower you can move them to a brighter part of the house but it is very important to keep the soil moist.

If you have read this far and it has given you some ideas to start your own indoor garden excellent but also there are plenty of ideas here to make up some garden gifts for special people in your life. Happy gardening.



What are garden centers? And what makes a good one?

We all love a good stroll around a garden center but what are garden centers?

According to Wikipedia “A garden center is a retail operation that sells plants and related products for the domestic garden as its primary business. It is a development from the concept of the retail plant nursery but with a wider range of outdoor products and on-site facilities. It is now usual for garden centres to obtain their stock from plants which have been propagated elsewhere, such as by specialist nurseries or wholesalers.”

I know that local garden centers near me sell not only plants but tools and landscaping equipment, garden furniture, garden ornaments all types of garden accessories and they even have a pet section to get all you can think of for your pets! Some garden centers have even branched out into selling camping equipment and have a party section to get inflatable balloons and accessories for all aged birthdays and occasions.

Garden accessories ideal for gardening gifts

Garden accessories ideal for gardening gifts

Large chains like B&Q and Homebase and in the US The Home Depot and Lowe’s are home improvement stores and DIY stores and have incorporated their own garden departments within the stores – these ‘departments’ are often larger than traditional local garden centers.

Flower bulbs buy in garden center

Stargazer Oriental Lily – Buy one now

So what makes a good garden center?

A lot of the time it will be a personal choice, parking, layout, friendly staff, good value, good choice and so forth, but I know that in the UK most leading garden centers are members of The Garden Centre Association and are inspected annually and so have to ensure certain high standards, which for us the customer is a plus and to be honest what you would expect – you can be assured you are not buying dud flower bulbs or plants and the above association assure their customers that they are buying plants in confidence and if any hardy plant that fails to grow can be returned to the garden center where purchased, within a year, and it will be replaced. This is buying with confidence.

But overall having a horticulturist floating around or a few of them giving simple tips and advice and not being a salesman in the process is the best and most important thing in any garden center. Most people visiting lets say garden centers Houston tx are just looking for something pretty for a certain part of the garden and might not think about soil type, drainage, if you want an annual or perennial, shrub or bush – so to firstly be told the difference between all of these is a plus but then to be given some useful planting advice along with pruning or feeding tips is that added personal touch that we all love, which leads to happy customers and returning customers, a win win.

On top of garden centers you also have landscape garden centers which are like bespoke garden centers there they would have a landscape designer or architect on hand to give advice and try sell their wares. They will guide you through the whole process from flowers, plants, trees, paving, patio even your pool so your space looks even better than you could ever imagined …..And charge you for it! If you were thinking of gardening gifts for someone very close to you and could afford it this would be a five star gift.

garden ornaments

Landscape ideas to use garden ornaments, structures, patios in your garden.

I witnessed this type of approach not long ago while I was in a landscape center looking for some railway sleepers and while rambling around there was a customer getting some advice on a computer stand – I turned into a nosy shopper and observed from a distance. It was a very clever system where the customer had a picture of their garden and on the design computer they were creating a garden design instantly, and it was a free service. Where the clever part was that all the plants, hardscaping and all other materials needed were conveniently in stock in the center ready to be paid for and taken away. Once the design was complete it prints off a quote with all plants and materials listed and I suppose forces the customer to make an on the spot decision.

I know garden centers are great and they are a must, a source for buying all things ‘garden’. I came across an article in Readers Digest www.rd.com that I thought was very useful and could save you some money also.

SECRETS YOU WON’T LEARN IN A GARDEN CENTER:

  • Newspapers makes excellent mulch
    • Lay sheets of newspaper over soil and then cover with mulch – helps retain moisture and suffocate weeds.
  • Tea is natural plant food
    • Sprinkle new or used tea leaves around your plants and cover with mulch – when you water nutrients form the tea will release into the soil.
  • Aluminium foil deters insects
    • By mixing strips of aluminium foil with mulch will keep bugs away. The light will also reflect light back on the plants to help growth.
  • Salt is a natural pest killer
    • It kills snails and slugs when sprinkled on them.
    • It also kills weeds on patios or paths – simply mix 1 cup of salt with 2 cups of water and sprinkle it on the weeds

 

On the topic of saving money and where I am it is now summer time and it is the thick of the gardening season and the bugs, ants, snails and weeds are all thriving and invading the plants and the house! Of course local garden centers supply all types of sprays and weed killers and potions to keep all at bay but this all comes at a costly amount and more or less a weed killer contains herbicides and no matter what way you jazz it up a herbicide is a herbicide whatever the container looks like. Garden centers stock all the big brands and labels the high value brands with a big mark up for the owners.

I recently bought a weed killer in a local discount store and also a more well known brand at a much higher price in a garden center. And the results are in …..

weed killer

One of the big weed killer labels on the market

They both performed the exact same and it what it says on the tin, killed the weeds. I then bought some ant powder in the discount store and again served its purpose – I suppose it just shows the competition that your local garden center is under from the likes of local discount stores for some of the smaller and more common feeds, powders and weed killers etc but I am still a lover of my local garden center and love to see the plants blooming and hear the birds singing while sitting outside admiring my creations and talking to my plants to will them on and giving them their nightly drink to encourage them to bloom some more all the time plotting my next trip to the center and what garden decoration I might position in a certain area of the garden. Sometimes the garden just seems like a bottomless pit pouring more and more money into it but it is my escape and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

On a finishing note some of my little garden tips for this time of year when plants are at their peak:

Constant weeding, dead-heading – a must to encourage growth, watering but be creative with how you trap water, use rain water or bath water (make sure not too use detergent or suds), slugs, snails and caterpillars are at their best – see my note above about salt or if using pellets and have children or pets please be careful and use the correct type and quantity, but overall enjoy and happy pruning.

I would love to hear any tips or advice you have. Please get in touch by our contact page or share this post.



Some ideas on garden accessories for your garden

There is no doubt that garden accessories help complement your garden design.  Garden furniture is not, however, the only garden accessory you need to think about when at your garden design stage. Garden accessories are a key part of your garden as they help you to feel comfortable in it and will also entice you to use your garden.  Garden accessories help you define the style and theme of your garden.

A Garden Statue to brighten up the garden

A Garden Statue to brighten up the garden

From small garden ornaments to substantial garden statues you can make a style statement in your garden. Garden statues can create a centrepiece in a variety of gardens whether large or small. If you have a patio you can introduce a touch of the traditional with stylish stone garden ornaments which never go out of fashion.  In fact, using a variety of garden statues and garden ornaments your garden design can reflect your personality.

There is a selection of garden ornaments and garden accessories to suit every style and taste.

A Larger examples of garden statues

A Larger example of garden statues

Quite a part from tending to plants and flowers or cutting the grass most people tend to dream of warm weather and lazy, hazy days spent lounging on beautiful outdoor garden furniture with family and friends.  The range of garden furniture is simply amazing and some garden furniture is designed specifically for the patio area whereas other garden furniture such as gazebos, parasols, fencing and decking and of course decorative lighting are suitable anywhere in your garden.

If you and your family enjoy barbequing and dining al fresco on summer evenings why not shed a little light on your outdoor dining experience using outdoor garden lanterns.  The range of garden lanterns  is simply incredible today, in fact you will be spoiled for choice.  As the light fades the soft light emanating from garden lanterns is both soothing or indeed romantic.  Some garden lanterns are solar powered so are effective year round.

Looking across the range of garden accessories there is no doubt but that garden water features definitely enhance a garden area.  They will both impress your neighbours and delight your family.  The sound of flowing water is always an attraction and if one has a small pond for instance you can add fish as a further enhancement to your garden  water features.

Security is obviously very important when young children play in the garden, consequently garden gates are essential.  These do not have to be a simple wooden gate which makes no statement.  There is a wide variety of wonderfully crafted garden gates available today at affordable prices.  Garden gates are indeed part of the family of garden accessories that help differentiate your garden entrance or exit from that of your neighbours.

Garden accessories help make your outside space or garden area more creative.

Garden flags are an example of this as they add a distinctive style to a patio or garden area.  Garden flags also make excellent gifts for family or friends who like to take pride in their garden area.  Garden flags can be changed with the seasons so you can have fun deciding what to represent on your flag for each season.

Fairy garden accessories kit...so much to choose from

Fairy garden accessories kit…so much to choose from

 

One can dedicate a small portion of the garden to the children and create a fairy garden.  There is a vast range of fairy garden accessories which will bring the fairy garden to life.  The fairy mushroom or stone effect hump back bridge or fairy swing or miniature woodland fencing are all part of the fairy garden accessory range that help bring the fairy garden alive for children.

Fairy garden accessories mushrooms - so cute!

Fairy garden accessories mushrooms – so cute!

Not everybody has access to a large garden area, however, miniature gardens can be created using any container that will hold soil and allow water to drain.  This is where miniature garden accessories come into their own as you can place your miniature garden accessories in amongst the flowers and plants.

 

Having a garden party for family and friends affords you a real opportunity to show off choosing from the wide range of garden party accessories available.  Friends can walk around and either complement you on your range of garden accessories or say nothing simply because they are jealous.  Either way you can relax on your garden furniture and survey your garden ornaments, garden statues, garden water features and as the dusk sets your garden lanterns will throw some light on your wonderful range of garden accessories.

A book on fairy garden accessories - how to create your own miniature garden - would make a great gift

A book on fairy garden accessories – how to create your own miniature garden – would make a great gift

 

Got a friend or colleague who likes fairy gardens? Why not share this post with them.