Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Lush, green, and hardy, bamboo sets the stage for the perfect garden getaway. When planted in thickets, the grass forms walls that provide privacy and quiet. When in clumps, bamboo is an excellent highlight to just about any backyard.

You already know who’s got the best selection of bamboo clothing and textiles on the planet, but Paso Bamboo Farm and  Nursery is the only place on the Central Coast where you will find timber and exotic bamboos ready to be planted in your yard! The Nursery carries thirteen different species that tolerate extreme temperatures and are available in 5, 15, and 25 gallon containers, or can be dug to order. The staff is also able to create bamboo installations for home and business.

In addition to growing the their beautiful specimens of bamboo, the Nursery holds educational talks throughout the county. The owners love to inform the public as to the remarkable qualities of the plant. Easy to maintain, bamboo is an attractive way to sequester carbon and filter the air. Able to harvested for  building material, craft, or textiles, the giant green stalks are as practical as they are ornamental.

Interested green thumbs are encouraged to visit the Paso Bamboo Farm and Nursery at 5590 North River Road in Paso Robles. For more information, head over to their official site and discover a world of versatile, verdant bamboo!

Nowadays, if you have a smartphone and a thumb with the slightest hint of green, you can wire your garden to produce high yields, monitor conditions, and even remind you when to water and fertilize. There are a whole host of new gadgets, applications, and technologies that can help create the perfect backyard farm, regardless of size or skill level.

HarvestGeek- Automate your entire setup with HarvestGeek, a web based application that allows you to not only keep track of soil, water, air, and temperature conditions, but also automate equipment like watering timers, fans, and lamps to switch on and off. Designed by Mike Alt, the HarvestGeek uses the HarvestBot sensors to keep tabs your plants and alert you via social media, email, or smartphone when adjustments need to be made to create the highest yields possible. The HarvestGeek platform also allows users to talk to other gardeners, sharing tips and methods as well as aggregating data that can be used to predict when to plant and when to harvest.

Flower Power- Enabled by Bluetooth, the Flower Power  by Parrot is a twig-shaped sensor that you can stick directly into the soil. It keeps an eye on moisture, sunlight,, humidity, temperature, and fertilizer levels. The corresponding application holds the optimal growing conditions for over 6,000 plants, and will send you reminders on your smartphone when it is time to give your plant a little TLC. It is powered by a simple AAA battery that remains charged for 6 months.

Future Tech  Farm- For those with restricted space, Future Tech Farm takes advantage of limited areas with their modular gardens. The small, aquaponic grow systems are connected to the internet, and once they fill the units with water, fish, and plants, they can plug them in and watch them flourish. Participants can track all of their info online, and compare with a community of other techies.

Growing up near a watershed in Northern California, I was fortunate during my childhood to have had direct and constant contact with nature. I would spend hours outside, observing native plants and animals, digging in the dirt, and making a general mess exploring my backyard. The smells, sounds and textures of the landscape wove themselves into my everyday experiences and became a powerful influence over my decision to pursue a career in science and conservation.  While parks and nature preserves are wonderful to visit, there is something very profound about being able to sustain a dialogue with the environment on a daily basis.  Now that I live among housing developments and manicured lawns, how can I bring a little wildlife back to my home without having to pitch a tent in a forest?

The National Wildlife Federation provides tips for creating a backyard habitat that draws wildlife and promotes sustainable gardening practices. The organization even offers official certifications for homes that have met their guidelines through the NFW Certified Wildlife Habitat Program. Planting native species with a minimum of pesticides and fertilizers will help attract local fauna as well as reduce water consumption and pollution from runoff. Removing lawns and replacing them with vegetation that animals can use for food, cover, and places to raise their young helps to establish a thriving ecosystem.

Backyards can be customized depending on the types of wildlife you wish to attract. Bird lovers can contact their community’s Audobon Society for information on how to become a way-station for migrating fowl and a home for year-round residents. Many branches of the Society also offer certifications as official backyard or balcony sanctuaries.

Flower enthusiasts should encourage pollinators by growing their favorite nectar-rich plants, setting out bird feeders, or even keeping a hive of bees. Butterfly admirers here in California make sure to include the milkweed on which Monarchs lay their eggs and the caterpillars feed as well as hang hummingbird feeders.  Small ponds provide a place for animals to drink, bathe, and feed on the algae and insects that inhabit them.

Apartment and condo dwellers without yards can take advantage of balconies and roofs to add a little nature back into their living spaces. The online article  “Geek Gardening: A Wired Guide to Domestic Terraforming” offers some examples of how to transform lounging areas into productive gardens.  While most of “Geek Gardening” is focused on food production, the blueprints laying out how to best maximize the use of a limited area are great sources of inspiration.  Plants best suited for your area’s climate can take the place of the fruits and vegetables, although any amount of green is good for the soul and health of wherever we hang our hats.

As for my patch of earth, I have decided to start planting drought tolerant species native to California.  Luckily, there are a number of nurseries nearby that specialize in regional flora close to where I live.  Alongside my herbs, fruits and veggies are sages, buckwheats, fuscias, lupins and a couple of baby oaks.  I have already begun to see insect, lizard and bird activity, and am hoping to catch some glimpses of a mammal or two.  As a nature nut, it’s nice to know that I’m not only official, but certified.

 

The days are growing longer, the rain is falling — albeit intermittently — and the pollen on my porch is in an uproar. In the land of permanent sunshine and perpetual springtime, this could only mean one of two things: spring is either here or very close at hand!

And if you’re a perpetual gardening enthusiast like myself, then your thumbs must be perking up, as green as the oxalis rioting in your flower beds.

I don’t know about you, but when I get to feeling this way, the first thing I do is walk around the side of the house to inspect my compost pile. For me, there’s nothing like a happy heap of compost to put a smile on the face of an organic gardener.

So in order to ensure that happy heap, here’s a quick list of Dos and Don’ts to help you maintain a healthy, well-balanced mound of compost.

Compost Tips for the mindful gardener

1. DON’T let your compost get slimy. This is of paramount importance. If you’re regularly adding buckets of wet “green” kitchen scraps to your backyard heap, you will definitely need to add some dry “brown” waste to the mix.

2. DO add dried leaves, dried lawn trimming and wood chips to help break down the wet kitchen scraps and fresh green garden waste. Ultimately, you want a mix of about 50-50 wet waste (nitrogen) and dry waste (carbon).

3. DON’T just dump your kitchen waste on top of the pile and leave it there for all the world to see. Mix it in, and try to cover it with some older and/or dryer waste.

4. DO add wood and paper ash from your fireplace. Ashes are a great source of potash, or potassium carbonate, an essential component of a rich soil mix.

5. DON’T add ash from petroleum products like starter logs, or from cigarette butts.

6. DO add eggshells in moderation, but generally DON’T add animal products like meat or cheese. They will rot rather than compost. They will also attract unwanted, carnivorous pests and scavengers.

7. DON’T put poop in your compost, either from your pets or yourself. Fecal matter can harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites.

8. DO pee on you pile. A healthy compost pile needs to be kept moist, and readily-available urine actually adds trace minerals that can benefit the mix.

9. DON’T add too many orange peals. Too much of anything can throw your compost out of balance, but the acidity of citrus peels (esp. if clumped together in the pile and not spread around) makes them slow to decompose and attractive to fruit flies.

10. DO add coffee grinds and tea bags. These contain great soil-enriching ingredients. A healthy compost will also break down the paper filters and bags without a problem. Same goes for bathroom tissues and occasional paper towels.

11. DON’T expect wine corks to break down very fast, but they can make a good addition. Natural wine corks are made from oak tree bark, definitely organic matter that will eventually, slowly decompose. In the meantime, their porousness can help with aeration and provide a niche for beneficial microorganisms.

12. DO cut your twigs and branches as small as possible before adding to the heap. Thick branches can take months or years to break down. (One or two long branches across the middle of the pile can actually be helpful for aeration purposes, but they won’t break down.)

13. DON’T worry too much about flies around the compost. That’s pretty normal, as long it doesn’t start looking like a 1950s science fiction movie. With any luck your compost will become home to herds of earthworms. We also get legions of pill bugs loitering in our compost; they thrive on the moisture. They also help break things down because they will eat anything that doesn’t move, and yet they’re relatively harmless as far as garden critters go.

14. DON’T expect your compost to do all the work. You’ll need to prod it with a shovel from time to time to make sure it’s not drying out or staying to wet. Periodic shoveling will keep it well blended and aerated. Eventually (after 3-6 months), you’ll want to flip the whole pile (so the fresh top layer ends up on the bottom and the more decomposed bottom layer ends up on top), and then start a new pile.

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