Archive for the 'General Principles' Category

How To Place A Trellis, Water Fountain, and Lighting For Maximum Effect In a Feng Shui Garden

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of placing elements in your garden to encourage the beneficial flow of Chi (Energy Force) to create harmonious change. It is believed this affects your health, wealth and relationships. Feng Shui is becoming increasingly popular in the West, and I hope to explain a few of the Feng Shui design principles that you can easily use when placing a trellis, water fountain, and lighting in your garden.

Create Harmony & Balance

Optimizing Feng Shui takes nature’s lead as much as possible with the primary aim of creating harmony and balance. Follow these fundamentals when you plan your garden, and take note if your health, wealth, and relationships do indeed benefit.

1. Curve the paths through your garden to encourage chi to move more slowly and freely. Straight paths cause chi energy to run too quickly towards your home. To slow the chi energy on existing straight paths, allow plants to grow over them so the chi can circulate freely around them.

2. Create ‘living spaces’ in your garden for friends and family to sit around, relax and enjoy the sunshine, along with your plantings, garden decor, and a gentle breeze. Stone, metal, or wood benches, rustic furniture, and patio chairs all offer different types of seating to work with your gardening theme.

3. Plant trees, large shrubs, and/or vines on a trellis to provide privacy and protection at the back of the garden. A clematis or other vine growing on a trellis could give the height and protection where space is limited.

4. Mix different sizes, shapes and colors of plants to enhance your Feng Shui garden so that no one species is overwhelmed by another. Diversity is the key to providing balance here.

5. Add fountains, pools, and ponds for their beauty and to encourage beneficial chi. Water features symbolize prosperity and create yin (feminine) energy.

6. Create more Yang (masculine) energy by using garden lights to brighten different aspects of your garden – a statue or stepping stone, the outline of a path, a lovely flowering plant on a trellis, or a water fountain or feature. These may include lighting accessories such as smaller solar lights, lights along a path or spot lighting.

Remember how important balance and harmony are to A Feng Shui garden. Finding just the right the lighting accessories , water fountain , trellis , and other key elements is easy when you visit which provides a large selection of many of these elements for your Feng Shui garden design.

Off the Wall – a Look At the Trend For Vertical Planting

Next time you are driving along Piccadilly in district you may be taken aback by the installation of the vertical planted gardens on the side of the newly refurbished Atheneum five star hotel they stretch from ground level up to the penthouse apartments on the 10 th floor! This is a signature piece of the now well known French botanist turned living sculptor that is Patrick Blanc, complete with dyed green hair and green finger nails. He is the proclaimed grandfather and trailblazer of this fairly new trend for covering buildings with a variety of living plants. His work can be seen in many of the most cosmopolitan cities around the world, many of which are in his home city of Paris where they have been established for a few years now. The process is complex and works on the principle of hydroponics. Small, practically soil-less plants are stapled onto a foam board and covered with a capillary blanket which holds them in place. Water and a controlled diet of essential nutrients are then washed from top to bottom in a carefully controlled manner and recycled constantly.

The process is highly sophisticated and complex, but the effects are startling; a true “WOW” factor moment. However they are incredibly expensive and near impossible to copy and down-size to a domestic scale. But, like all good ideas, there is then a proliferation of similar processes that claim to offer the same effect. These have mainly developed for commercial schemes but then can be tailored for private commissions.

Take the Westfield Shopping Centre which boasts the largest living wall in Europe. It has a serpentine wall which runs the entire length of the shopping centre shielding it from Shepherds Bush. This system uses a plastic tile system with pockets containing soil and plants known as the system which uses a leak hose irrigation pipe to deliver water and nutrients via a simple dosage unit.

Another system also uses plastic tiles filled with horticultural rock wool (an inert blotting paper-like medium) and the small plants, again with no soil, are acclimatised in greenhouses before being installed at their final location.

Prices are not cheap. 300 – 400 per M will be the price installed and the planting can be adapted to suit most sites and climates. It is amazing how many plants that will grow vertically given enough water and nutrients. A ride down any country lane in Devon or Cornwall will show you how much will grow out of the natural walls you pass by.

Here are my top tips when planning you green wall:

Think about the aspect of your wall and plan appropriatelyif the wall is basked in sun for much of the day you will chose different plants to a wall in the shade. Try plants that naturally do well such as many of the ferns; for example Harts Tongue ferns, Maidenhair ferns and the smaller leaved varieties seem to do better. Heuchera, Bergenia and Euphorbia are also popular choices. Try sedum at the top where it is lighter and dryer with the more shade and moisture lovers lower down. Keep the planting bold in sweeps and drifts of single varieties Avoid using plants that will grow quickly and outgrow the space or any that require lots of pruning. Remember to keep an eye on the scheme once set up. It should be trouble free but remember if the irrigation scheme fails so will the wall. So the whole thing should be treated very much as you would do for window boxes or hanging baskets. So, if you have struggled to get something to hide that ugly garage or utility area and want the latest horticultural chic vertical planting could be just for you.

Rodale Organic Gardening – An Introduction


Rodale organic gardening is something that every organic farming enthusiast should be aware of. The guidelines of proper organic farming have been mentioned in a clear cut way in this method of gardening. This particular method gives a lot of importance to the soil and helps you know how you can improve the quality and fertility of the soil making it ideal for cultivation of vegetables and fruits.

The soil is said to have been handled properly only if it becomes very dark, which is the result of carbon accumulation. This is what determines the fertility of the soil. Such soil contains more compost which helps in retaining moisture and absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere. Black is the color that distinguishes fertile soil from that which is low in fertility. This simply means that your soil is said to be extremely fertile only if it is black in color.

Rodale organic gardening primarily states that one need not use fertilizers for their plants if they add compost twice or thrice a year. This method emphasizes on the five principles of organic farming. Compost takes just 3 months to get prepared but the benefit it bestows on the plants sustains for an unbelievably long time. Hence it is of prime importance to leave it unperturbed for the duration mentioned.

Rodale strongly feels that walking upon compost beds is not a good practice as it prevents nutrients from combining. Aeration gets obstructed too due to this. Rodale is completely against the usage of any form of pesticides, even those that are fully natural. He suggests the usage of insecticidal soap to ward off pests. This method being extremely natural helps in keeping pests at bay and thus improves the bio-diversity. If you are successful in following this method you can see many birds in your garden eager to drive away pests.

Clint Sidney is a gardening enthusiast and enjoys giving information about Rodale Organic Gardening . You can learn more about gardening at .

Methods of Rodale Organic Gardening


For those interested in organic farming, it is a great idea to know something about Rodale organic gardening, and how it can help you. This method of gardening specializes in the knowledge of proper organic farming, and provides information and guides to others who are interested in it. A method of gardening which claims to be soil-centric, it can give technical inputs on how to make better soil conditions for growing.

The handling of soil in a correct manner allows the soil to become very dark, as it gets carbon which makes the soil richer and compost filled. Its advantage is that the compost will help it retain moisture and also absorb oxygen from the air. This in turn stimulates and feeds the organism in the soil. Soil which is brown in colour will not perform anywhere near this dark type of soil. The darker the soil, the better it is, as the black color indicates that it has been made from plant material, and how very good it is as a fertilizer.

The basic theory from Rodale organic gardening states that if you create and add compost to your soil two to three times a year, you will not need to fertilize. Basically the system promotes five principles for organic farming. Advocating that too much money should not be spent on organic farming, it recommends thinking long term. The intent being that over a period of time with continuous handling, the soil becomes very very fertile. Generally compost takes over three months to get ready.

Rodale suggests that compost beds should not be walked upon as it prevents nutrients from mixing well. It also prevents aeration. An infested plant must be destroyed. Rodale also suggests the help of insecticidal soap for pest control. Even natural pesticides are considered harmful to the soil as the soil may get contaminated. As chemical pesticides are not used, planting a variety of herbs and annuals throughout the garden helps bio-diversity. And in the cycle of life, this will ensure that birds appear in the garden helping to keep pests under control.

Clint Sidney is a gardening enthusiast and enjoys giving information about Rodale Organic Gardening . You can learn more about gardening at .

Early Spring Vegetable Planting – How to Get in the Garden Sooner


Vegetable gardeners are always anxious to get out in their gardens as early as possible in the spring. The sooner the temperatures warm up, the sooner you can plant your seeds and seedlings, and thus the earlier and longer harvest you’ll have later in the year. In this article, we’ll discuss a few methods for early spring planting so you can get your vegetable plants in the ground sooner this year.

Early in the spring, the primary threat to plants is the volatility of temperatures. Spring temps tend to be warm during the day and cool at night, and late spring frosts can occur in various parts of the country well into May. Young vegetable plants are very fragile and will easily be killed if temperatures drop too low. Thus, the key to early spring planting is keeping your plants warm. There are a variety of different ways to do this. The three methods we will discuss are row covers, cloches, and cold frames.

Row covers are one of the most basic methods of spring crop protection. For a simple and inexpensive row cover, you can use old bed sheets, cut and sewn to the right width and lengths. A better option, though, would be to purchase row cover material from a nursery or mail order catalog. Row cover cloth is specially designed to allow water and some sunlight to penetrate through to the plants. When used effectively, row covers keep the air temperature around your plants at least 2 or 3 degrees warmer than the surrounding air, which can be enough to save plants from a late spring frost.

The next best type of crop protection is a cloche. Cloches are a type of small container that fits around individual plants, using the principle of the greenhouse effect to warm and protect plants from cool spring temperatures. While you can buy commercially available cloches, it’s also very easy and inexpensive to make your own using gallon size milk or juice containers made of translucent plastic. Simply cut out the bottom of the jug, washing and drying the inside thoroughly. Cut a small v-shaped slit at the top of the jug’s handle; this will allow you to insert a small stake down through the slit and into the soil, securing the cloche in place over your plant. Be sure to save the container caps, as you’ll want to put them on if a spring frost is forecasted. Otherwise, leave the caps off the containers so the plants don’t overheat. Cloches should be removed when temperatures are above 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The last, and by far the most effective, form of crop protection that we’ll discuss are coldframes. Coldframes are essentially a miniature greenhouse that sits directly over the top of small plants in the garden, warming and protecting them. The biggest benefit of coldrames is that they warm the soil in addition to the plants, which is very important when it comes to early spring planting. In fact, it’s a good idea to set your coldframes over the empty garden soil one to two weeks before you intend to plant, so they can warm the soil up in advance. The pre-warmed soil may allow you to start planting up to a month sooner than would be possible with only cloches or row covers for protection.

While it is possible to build coldframes yourself, it’s just as easy and cost effective to buy them through a nursery or mail order supply store. Commercially available coldframes are usually very well built and will last you many years. Be sure to only purchase coldframes that have UV-treated plastic, as this will prolong their useful life significantly.

So remember, when it comes to early spring planting, the most important thing is to keep your plants warm! Regardless of whether you use row covers, cloches, or coldframes, you’ll still get the added benefit of being able to plant your plants a little bit sooner, and thus prolong your vegetable harvest later in the year.

Home Products ‘N’ More offers free shipping on coldframe greenhouse kits for your garden. For more information on how to use mini cold frame greenhouses, visit us at

Point of Nutrition

Manuring is an important means of ensuring the healthy growth of fruit plants and of regulating vegetative growth, fruit yield and quality. Each kind of fruit has its own requirements for manures and what is best for plums and black currants will not give the best results for apples, gooseberries and strawberries. This post deals with general principles only and should be read in conjunction with the special recommendations for individual crops.

The main manures for fruits contain nitrogen, phosphate and potash. Potash is of outstanding importance for all fruits, phosphates are not so important for the tree fruits and the needs for nitrogen vary. For example, plums and black currants benefit from heavy dressings of nitrogen, but generous nitrogenous manuring for apples, raspberries and strawberries may make the plants over-vegetative and reduce yield and fruit quality.

A balance must be kept between shoot growth and fruiting, with the aim of obtaining heavy crops of good quality for successive years. This can only be achieved by careful manuring, combined with other management practices, and in particular by the prevention of mineral deficiencies and excesses.

No fruits are real lime-loving plants, not even the stone fruits. Most prefer slightly acid soil conditions, or soils with only small supplies of free lime in them, whilst some fruits will grow well on strongly acid soils provided they are well manured. The great danger from overtiming arises in the fact that fruit crops are very susceptible to deficiencies of the so-called trace elements, particularly iron and manganese, and in a soil of high lime content these two elements may become unavailable to the plant.

A first principle in growing fruits should be to avoid highly calcareous soils and to be sparing in applying lime. Lime should only be applied if the soil is very acid.

The second point to stress is the importance of organic matter in fruit soils. Fruit plants must have a free-rooting medium for healthy growth and longevity, and this can be assured only by maintaining a good content of organic matter. For tree fruits such as apples and pears, this may be best achieved by growing the trees in grass after the first 3 or 4 years in clean cultivation, or by dressings of bulky composts or manures used as surface mulches. The grass and other organic materials must be kept clear of the tree trunk. For soft fruits the usual method is to dig in bulky manures or compost before planting.

It is usually necessary to use concentrated organic manures or inorganic fertilisers in addition to bulky manures to supply the right amount of nutrients needed. Any of the usual manures and fertilisers used for other crops are suitable, though a few precautions are necessary in some cases to avoid injury. All chloride-containing fertilisers, such as muriate of potash, should be used with caution, or not at all, on soft fruits, particularly red currants. Manures and fertilisers should be applied to the soil, and late winter and early spring – February and March – are the best times to apply them.

Excessive manuring, especially with nitrogen, is shown by over-vigorous growth, large dark green leaves, poor fruiting or large, poor-quality fruits.

Garden Site Preparation – Digging

All hardy fruits with the possible exception of figs, need to have the site deeply dug and thoroughly prepared. With shallow soils it is almost impossible to grow good fruit over a number of years unless the subsoil is well broken up. Deep digging should not be carried out close to the roots of any fruit bushes or trees after planting. Soft fruits are surface rooting and much harm is done by digging too near the roots. The sites must therefore be thoroughly prepared before planting and all perennial weeds removed. The land should be well drained and there should never be stagnant water on the site.

The types of soil which suit individual fruits are referred to in the text; where the soil is not of a type likely to be suitable, efforts should be made to improve it when the ground is first dug and prepared, but no manure should be in contact with the roots at planting.

Digging one spit deep. This consists of breaking up the soil to the depth of a spade or a fork. A trench is taken out and the soil from the next strip is turned over into the trench.

If manure is to be applied it is a good plan to spread it over the ground to be dug to ensure even distribution, leaving the breadth of the first spade-cut clear of manure. When the strip has been dug and the soil removed, the manure from the next strip to the width of a spade should be placed in the trench, laying it on the sloping surface. Then the next strip of soil should be turned over into the trench, burying the manure, which is evenly distributed in the soil from the bottom of the trench almost to the surface.

Double-digging cultivated ground. Divide the plot into two, and mark out the boundary and dividing lines with a spade; then take out a trench, 2 feet (60 cm.) wide, and with vertical sides, to the depth of the spade at the end of one half of the plot. The soil should be placed at the same end of the plot, but opposite the other half, where it will be ready to fill in the last trench. Then break up the bottom of the trench to the full depth of a fork. Take care to break up the soil in the middle and the sides of the trench. Next, a second strip of exactly the same width should be marked off, and for this purpose it is a good plan to keep a stick cut to the right length at each side of the ground which is being trenched. Put the line across at the end of your sticks to mark how broad the next trench is to be. Then take out the second trench, placing the soil from it on to the broken-up bottom of the first trench. A trench 2 feet (60 cm.) wide can be conveniently worked in three spits. Each time the first of the three spits to be moved should be the one farthest from the trench which is being filled in, and it should be placed so that it forms a good wall to the second trench. Then the second and third spits may be removed. The second trench, like the first, should be to the full depth of a spade before the bottom is broken up. To do this, it will be necessary to remove the ‘crumbs’ from the second trench with a shovel. When this has been done, the bottom of the second trench is broken up with a fork, and filled with the soil from the third and so on.

When manure is to be applied in double-digging, it should be spread over the broken-up bottom of the trench, and forked into the loose soil there. The manure may be spread over the ground in the same way as for single-digging, but each time before a top strip of soil is moved into the trench the manure is transferred to the broken-up bottom of the trench.

Soils and Conditions of the Site

As a rule, the amateur fruit-grower has little choice of soil or even site. He has to accept the soil and site on which his house is built. If, however, he wishes to plan his garden to the best advantage, he must know the conditions that suit the different kinds of fruit. The conditions most favorable for soft fruit are described under each fruit.

Apples, pears, plums and other top fruits can all be grown successfully on many different types of soil, but the ideal one is probably a slightly acid, fairly deep, well-drained, medium loam. Dessert apples, especially ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, require the best positions, soils and drainage. Pears are rather less tolerant of very dry conditions than are apples. Plums and cooking apples can be grown satisfactorily in a wider range of soils and conditions. Heavy soils will give good results, provided drainage is good and the ground is well prepared with the subsoil thoroughly broken up. Gravel and chalk soils are not good, but if they are well trenched and plenty of dung or composted material is incorporated with the subsoil, results may be reasonable. Light, dry soils present a problem, but here again generous applications of organic manures or compost before planting will help considerably.

Frost can have a serious effect on fruit. Cold air, being heavier than warmer air, tends to collect in pockets in low-lying ground, particularly in valleys where there is no outlet for it. Such frost pockets should be avoided if possible. It is very difficult to obtain regular crops in such situations without elaborate precautions. Some cultivars of fruits are less prone to frost damage and these are indicated in the lists of recommended cultivars. In the case of cordons and small trees some protection against late spring frosts can be given with sacking, frost proof mats or hessian supported on a framework, but this must be made very secure so that the blossoms or young fruitlets are not damaged.