Home Vegetable Gardening – Two Tools You Should Not Be Without

Like most home vegetable gardeners, I started with simply planting seeds of the vegetables I wanted to grow, adding some water, pulled weeds, and waited it out. Over time I realized that although this simple method works to grow great vegetables, I was doing me and my garden a great disservice.

By not paying attention to the soil’s pH level and the amount of moisture in the soil I was limiting the production of certain plants that could have benefited by making some adjustments. Just like a really good NFL head coach who makes game time adjustments, you too as a home vegetable gardener need to make adjustments in your soil as the season moves along.

There are two tools you should get to know that will help you make these adjustments based on the vegetables that you grow. They are the pH tester and the moisture tester. Each tool can be found at a local home or garden center in your area or purchased online. Simple ones cost as low as five or six dollars while more advanced models can go as high as one hundred dollars. How advanced you want to get is up to you, but most home vegetable gardeners usually go with the low cost varieties since they do an adequate job for the tasks at hand.

Soil pH Tester
Let’s start with the soil pH tester. The pH level is the measure of how acidic or alkaline your soil levels are. If you remember from your high school chemistry class, the scale goes from zero to fourteen, where anything under seven is considered acidic and anything over seven is alkaline with seven being neutral which is water.

Certain plants like the soil more neutral. Cauliflower for instance grows best when the soil pH level is in the 6.5 to 7.5 range, where as carrots like the soil a bit more acidic in the 5.5 to 6.5 range. So what happens when the pH level of your soil is not in the ideal range? If it is too acidic or too alkaline then you may not produce anything, or your harvest is very limited. By using a soil pH testing kit you can get an accurate reading of your soil’s level and then make adjustments based on what the test tells you (most kits come with recommendation charts for your soil so you can adjust the level accordingly). For the cost of less than seven bucks at some home and garden centers it is well worth the price.

Soil Moisture Tester
Testing your soil for its moisture level means you are looking for a reading of how much water is in your soil and around the roots of your plants. This can become extremely important so as you do not overwater your plants. A couple of things happen if when you overwater.

First, too much water can wash away valuable nutrients in the soil such as nitrogen. Ever see your vegetable plant leaves turn yellow? A common cause of this is lack of nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen washes away easily and when you water too much you are removing a nutrient your vegetables need to grow.

Second, too much water can cause the roots of plants to develop what is called root rot. This is caused by overwatering creating a condition around the roots where they are unable to obtain the air they need. When this happens the roots will begin to rot and will kill the plant. If your land has excellent drainage you may never run into this problem but I would recommend investing in this inexpensive tool and measure your soil’s moisture level just to be sure.

With these two valuable tools you will now be armed with the information you need to ensure a healthy and prosperous harvest. Combined these two tools can cost you less than fifteen dollars (depending on where you buy them from of course). Do yourself and your vegetable garden a favor, use the tools.

Tips to Get a Great Look For the Home and Garden With Charm

Whenever anyone is looking for a way to bring some peace and tranquility into their lives and surroundings, garden d├ęcor is probably a good place to start. Wind chimes are an ideal way to bring some sound into a peaceful place and the tinkling of these superb pieces of equipment is evocative of cool summer days spent in the peace of the surrounding nature.

But not all decorations and additions to the homestead have to be outside. Indeed, there are many table top fountains that bring a surreal charm to any environment. It used to be that these wonderful pieces of equipment were only for those who had money to burn. Initially, they were very expensive which put them out of the reach of most people. However, with the advent of modern materials and resources, they are now attainable by most people.

Table top fountains, which look like a pile of pebbles on top of each other, hide a wonderful spring like attachment which pumps water out over the stones to give a natural look and sound to the whole thing. Powered by mains electricity, this little gadget looks great in any home.

These kinds of table top water fountains come in many shapes and styles. Even bonsai trees are incorporated in some and water wheels are another favorite feature. The hand of Buddha is another one that many people like because of the connotations of the gesture. African family groups, a flying eagle or perhaps a bamboo style fountain will suit the more ethnic tastes of many but whatever style it is, there is usually one that will suit the individual.

Outside, many people love the thought of helping birds and animals throughout the year. Bird feeders come in many different styles from the rustic to the romantic. These great little feeders will ensure that the birds keep coming back for more and will also encourage them to build nests nearby.

Still outside, solar fountains are also another great way to ensure that birds and small animals will have fresh running water at their disposal all through the year. Because of the small solar panel, the cost of running this kind of equipment is kept to an absolute minimum and it is also ‘green’ energy which is another plus point.

Finally, it is human nature to decorate our homes and patios with wonderful objects that remind us of nature and anything to do with tranquility. Many people these days are finding that when they want to retreat from the rat race, all they have to do is to go into their outside space to find what they need.

Keeping the surroundings simple, with some water features and feeders, is probably the best way to ensure that peace prevails in the green surroundings. Specialist shops have taken not of this and are providing a huge choice of rustic furniture and decorations to enhance the surroundings which has ultimately brought prices down to within reach of the man in the street. This is a great opportunity to get back to nature and peacefulness.

Fountains – Home and Garden Decor to Enhance Any Space

Fountains are no doubt one of the best additions to any garden. The sound of rushing water perfectly complements the green foliage, and the intricate stone designs make it a great focal point. But garden fountains are more than a lawn ornament–they also represent a source of sustenance for your plants. Whether you have a small patio or a sprawling backyard, a well-placed fountain can certainly liven up your outdoor space.

HISTORY OF FOUNTAINS

As with most ornamental pieces, fountains started out strictly functional. They were first used in the Middle East, where the weather was hot and the water provided relief from the heat. Most of them were simple, surrounded by trees and built in royal courtyards. The Romans also experimented with outdoor water features, building their gardens adjacent to public baths. They were mostly used for bathing rituals, which were a vital part of their culture.
Ornamental garden fountains first appeared in ancient Mesopotamia, but it was only in the late medieval period that they were used in domestic settings. Garden fountains were used in Spain before the 15th century and in Italy some years later. It took yet another century for home fountains to reach American shores, and by the early 20th century fountains were a common fixture not only in home gardens but also in offices, hotel lobbies and shopping malls.

FOUNTAIN DESIGNS

Fountains come in several styles, but only a few are suitable for the typical home garden. Some of the most common are wall, pond, and tabletop.
Wall fountains have a basin-like base and a relatively low spray. They are so called because they are attached to a water source coming from the wall. As such, they don’t take up a lot of space and are perfect for small home gardens.
If you have a larger space, you may want to consider a pond fountain. These can be literally as big as a pond, but there are smaller versions available for garden and even indoor use. Pond fountains are usually wired and programmed with lighting and spray patterns.
Some gardens are simply too small to accommodate water features. If this is your case, you can go for a smaller tabletop fountain. As their name suggests, tabletop fountains are placed on top of tables, usually as centerpieces. They are usually electrically powered and fairly simple to set up.

MATERIALS

Concrete and ceramic are considered the best materials for garden fountains. You can choose from all sorts of shapes, from simple rectangular blocks to intricate stone sculptures. Many are given a sandstone or soapstone finish, which gives them a more interesting texture. Marble is also very attractive, but it’s a lot more expensive and is not practical for medium to large fountains.
Wood, copper and porcelain make great tabletop fountains. Needless to say, they won’t hold up well in full size, but a well-made (and well-placed) miniature would have just the same effect. To add interest, try adding interesting lights or bonsai features.
If it’s just the look you’re after, try fiberglass. Fiberglass fountains have become more popular in recent years because of their weather resistance and flexibility in design. They can be made to look like wood, stone, marble and glass–while maintaining constant structural integrity. So if you’ve always wanted a wood fixture but don’t want the maintenance fuss, fiberglass fountains are the perfect solution.

BUYING TIPS

One of your top considerations should be water and power consumption. There have been questions on whether ornamental fountains should be restricted, as they are an unnecessary waste of water supply. Even those that are labeled environmentally friendly will still use up water and electricity. Choosing a simple watering system will not only minimize this, but also cut down on your operating costs. Besides, it’s often the sculpture and workmanship–not the water–that grabs people’s attention.

Also consider installation and maintenance costs. Installation shouldn’t be a problem with most store-bought fountains, but keeping them running is another story. Be sure to clean your fountain routinely, and pat attention to the pump intake area to keep it free of debris.
You can buy fountains ready for installation at most garden supply stores. In most cases, all you’ll need is an extension cord and enough space for the fountain and water source. But if you want something that truly suits your personality, consider having it custom-made. Look for a contractor that specializes in outdoor and water features, and have at least a rough design in mind during your consultation.