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Gardening is much easier with raised beds. They make many traditional gardening chores like deep tilling, weeding and amending the soil redundant. If you have poor soil, if it is too acidic or clayey, if the ground is rocky or uneven, raised beds can come to your rescue.
You can fill the raised beds with good quality compost and soil so the plants get to live in the best of soil conditions. Filled-in beds ensure good soil aeration and drainage. Plants can have excellent root run and they will escape competition from tree roots in the ground.
pH of the soil can be easily adjusted to suit the plants you’re growing. Adjacent beds can have ericaceous plants growing in one and have sweet soil in the next. Troublesome creepy crawlies are less likely to find their way into your raised beds. It is easier to fix protective hoops and supportive structures. When you top dress the beds occasionally, the rains won’t carry it away. You can grow more food in less space because closer planting is possible. Also, crawling plants can hang over the sides of a bed, leaving the space inside for other crops.
Well, the benefits of raised bed gardening are numerous. But what is even more heartening is that it is quite easy to make raised beds. You can make simple structures using locally available materials. The whole family can pitch in and get it done in just an hour or two.
Here are some quick and easy DIY raised beds to get you started.
1. Raised bed with sandbag for sides
To start with the easiest, this raised bed requires just sandbags. Ready-to-use sandbags could be available in many disaster management centers. Sand is usually available from many nurseries and building supply companies in case you want to make your own, but it might be illegal to collect sand from beaches. Garden soil does not work as an alternative.
To make a 4ft x 8ft raised bed, you may need 20 sandbags measuring 1ft x 3ft. A width of 4 ft is ideal for beds since you will be able to plant and harvest crops without stepping into bed. Walking on the bed results in soil compaction, which is something you want to avoid.
Mark the outline of a 4ft x 8ft rectangle on the ground. Place sandbags in a single file on all sides, making sure that the corners have a snug fit. Now, build a second layer and tamp it down.
Line the interior of the bed with cardboard or several layers of newspaper to make a barrier against weeds in the ground. Fill the bed with several layers using high-quality garden soil, grass clippings, crushed leaves, and compost.
If you have recently cut down some trees in the property or have old logs lying around, you can build a raised bed in no time. Sourcing straight logs of 1 ft diameter from a local lumberyard is not a bad idea either. Three 8 ft long logs would be sufficient if you have a chainsaw to cut one of them into two 4 ft long pieces for the shorter sides. You can easily get it done in lumberyards.
Mark 4ft x 8ft rectangle on the ground and place the two long logs 4 ft apart and parallel to each other. Place the shorter logs on the remaining two sides. Move the logs slightly towards one another to complete the bed. Wedge a few rocks in the space between the logs and the ground to keep the logs from shifting as you fill the beds. Alternatively, you can use 2 ft long sections of rebar to give strong support to the logs. Hammer them down close to the logs, 2-3 each to every side, until they are flush with the top of the logs.
3. Raised beds with
Garden year-round with these smart sheds
If you have a green thumb, or just want to try your hand at horticulture, a greenhouse can be a great choice for protecting plants during chilly weather, starting new plants or raising high-humidity plants like cactus. Gardeners love the ability of a greenhouse to trap heat and humidity, and it can help your vegetation to weather unseasonable temperatures or adjust to life outdoors after being raised from seeds in an indoor climate. There are greenhouses of all sizes — ranging from small pop-up units or simple shelving covered with greenhouse PVC to larger and more elaborate polycarbonate and aluminum or cedar structures. When you choose the best greenhouse to buy, consider your gardening needs, whether you want a freestanding ‘shed-style’ greenhouse or a lean-to, and if features such as built-in gutters and self-opening vents are important to you. Once you purchase a greenhouse, you can look forward to enjoying a ‘greener’ getaway right in your own backyard! Here, the best greenhouses for you and your garden.
Best Overall: Ohuhu Large Walk-in Plant Greenhouse
If you are looking for a greenhouse that will keep your plants humid and happy through almost any type of weather, the Ohuhu Large Walk-in Plant Greenhouse is our top overall pick.
This greenhouse offers plenty of space, but also has a small enough footprint that it won’t take over your entire backyard. The greenhouse measures a little over four feet long and four feet wide but offers over six feet of headroom inside — making it easy to tend to your plants without having to bend over or feel cramped. Inside, you’ll also have 12 shelves, with six on each side positioned in three rows.
Our top pick for a greenhouse is also easy to put together. Most people agree that the design is relatively simple and can be completed in about an hour. A few users added additional tie-downs to stabilize the structure in the event of high winds. People comment on the fact that the greenhouse accomplishes its purpose of keeping plants in a warm, humid environment – even when outside temperatures begin to dip. If you’re looking for an easy-to-assemble greenhouse with plenty of space for your plants and room to move around inside, order the Ohuhu Large Walk-in Plant Greenhouse.
Best Budget: Flower House PlantHouse 3 Pop-Up Plant House
This portable greenhouse is easily assembled in a matter of minutes and comes in a few different sizes depending on your needs. The PlantHouse 3 is 3.5″ x 3″ x 3″ so it can easily be positioned over existing shrubs, or place your containers inside of the greenhouse to protect from cooler temperatures. Another nice feature that sets this budget greenhouse apart is the fact that
The edible prickly pear nopal “stems,” known more widely as cactus paddles, pads, or nopales, are a centuries-old Mexican staple. This thorny plant was central to the Aztec tale of Tenochtitlan, which translates to “place of the cactus.” Today, that special place is Mexico City. Mexico’s coat of arms depicts this historical perspective with an eagle perched on a cactus and devouring a snake. In Texas, cactus is also the official state plant.
While the paddles look more like leaves, they’re actually stems (pencas) growing from the main stalk. Fruit (tuna), which is also an edible treat, sprouts from the pads. Because it is so easily grown in desert climates, you’ll find cactus a popular choice on New Mexican menus, too.
Of course, the Mayans and Aztecs were quite ingenious in finding medicinal and household uses for this plant. In the past, it has found its way into anti-inflammatory remedies and waterproof roofing protectant. Its edible parts contain high amounts of fiber along with an impressive list of minerals and vitamins. This combination of properties is proving to be effective in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Testing continues to prove its beneficial properties help reduce blood sugar levels for diabetes treatment.
Among the many nopal recipes, you’ll find egg dishes, relishes, and soups along with our classic stuffed paddles that are deep-fried to a golden brown. When nopales are sliced or chopped, they’re called nopalitos. Taste-wise, think of an extra-mild green bean. If you’re lucky, you’ll find paddles that are cleaned, but more likely you’ll have to remove the thorns, along with smaller hair-like spikes.
As you work, the cactus will begin to seep a slimy sap, similar to okra. Most of it will blanch and rinse off before cooking. The filling for deep-fried cactus paddles includes jack cheese, onions and jalapenos. Use a classic fry batter of your choice. Plan on a single paddle for each person, if you’re serving it with – or as – a side dish.
Deep-Fried Stuffed Cactus Paddles
Makes 6 servings
6 cactus paddles
1/2 onion, sliced
You’ve probably heard that you can use a banana peel and other compost to fertilize your garden, but did you know some items—like gelatin, coffee grounds, and even a matchbook—can have specific benefits for your plants?
Hydrogen Peroxide for Plant Roots
Help strengthen your plant’s root system with hydrogen peroxide—the extra pump of oxygen from the peroxide prevents root rot and over-watering. Just mix a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 2 cups water, and water your plant with the solution. Its disinfectant properties will fend off bacteria, mold, fungus, and other nasty soil-borne diseases.
Cereal Crumb Fertilizer
Did you know that cereal crumbs are great for plants? They supply much-needed nutrients to the soil, which makes sense given that they’re grains that came from the soil in the first place! Instead of shaking the box over the trash before ripping it up for recycling, dump the remains of the flakes into your houseplants or garden for a treat they’ll love.
Make Your Own Bonemeal
As you may know, bonemeal is an excellent source of nutrients for your plants. But instead of spending $8–$10 on a bag at your local gardening store, make your own! Bonemeal is just bones, after all. Save bones from chicken, turkey, steaks, and stews, then dry them out by roasting them in a 425ºF oven for a half an hour or microwaving them on high for 1–6 minutes (depending on how many bones you have). Then place them in a plastic or paper bag and grind them up by hitting them with a hammer, then rolling them with a rolling pin. Mix the resulting powder into your soil for a life-producing treat for your plants. And you didn’t spend a cent!
A Must-Have for Growing Carrots and Tomatoes
The best thing you can give your carrot and tomato plant seeds is also what keeps you going during the day—coffee! Carrots and tomatoes both need extra nitrogen, which coffee has in spades. Mix the seeds with coffee grounds (used is fine) before you plant them. The coffee will provide your growing plants with the nitrogen they need, while having some extra bulk to plant will ensure they don’t end up all lumped together.
For plants other than carrots and tomatoes, extra nitrogen can give them a boost, but too much can harm them. So use this nitrogen-rich DIY fertilizer that releases the nitrogen slowly into the ground. Dissolve a packet of unflavored gelatin in 3 cups warm water. Then use it to water plants in need of a little TLC. You’ll get all the benefits of an expensive fertilizer without the price tag!
Epsom Salt Lawn Fertilizer
Did you know Epsom salts are one of the best natural lawn fertilizers around? They’re composed of magnesium and sulfur, both of which are highly beneficial to grass. Magnesium kick-starts seed germination and is also a player in manufacturing chlorophyll, the substance that plants create from sunlight in order to feed themselves. Sulfur, meanwhile, also helps with
Do you keep any plants in your bedroom, adding a touch of natural color and beauty?
My personal favorite is a trailing spider plant that sits by the window. It’s an ideal plant for the bedroom, and fascinating to see new shoots slowly parachuting to the floor.
The plant kingdom is vast though, so how do we know which are healthy bedroom additions?
NASA plant study
NASA conducted a fascinating study into plants, looking for those that emit oxygen rather than carbon dioxide at night.
They also found plants which act as natural air purifiers. So those can potentially help keep the air in your bedroom as fresh and oxygen-rich as possible.
You can see some of the specific plants they discovered below. But let’s first take a quick look at how the plants work their magic in the home.
How plants improve the bedroom conditions
NASA’s study suggests that having certain plants in your bedroom could improve your sleep, assuming your sleep is negatively affected by air quality. But how does this happen?
Plants are natural, powerful air purification systems. Their ability to improve your sleep comes from the fresh air they provide, and in some cases the pleasant and calming scents they emit.