Category Archives: Quick Gardening Tips

The lazy gardener’s favourite season: using leaves as mulch.

Autumn leaves

With autumn firmly in place here in the Southern hemisphere, I’m starting to deal with a part of my garden that I both love and loathe: Autumn leaves.

I don’t know about you, but I love the colours of autumn almost as much as I love the freshness of spring.

The leaves are a problem though, I have a LOT of deciduous trees shedding their coats right now.

I do what any sensible gardener would do: ignore it.

5 Advantages of mulching.

Autumn leaves provide a lovely mulching in the coming winter months. Mulching has many advantages, but these are my favourites

–          Prevents moisture loss with up to 75%.

–          Protects plants from the cold

–          It helps curb weed growth

–          It adds nutrients to the soil.

–          It improves the texture of the soil as it breaks down.

Except where it creates a problem or looks too untidy, I just leave the leaves to decompose through the season. It has the added benefit of creating a habitat in the garden. I love seeing the birds digging through the leaf matter looking for grubs.

Autumn leaves are one of the best things in the garden, providing benefit without costing you a cent!

 Image by harold.lloyd on Flickr, adapted under CC  BY-NC-SA 2.0.

This tip about compost additives might suprise you

Daisy macro

Building a successful compost heap is about more than just piling up some dead leaves and kitchen scraps.

Even if you do create a perfect environment to create compost by making it the right size, feeding it the right material and making sure that it is at an optimum temperature, how do you start the composting?

It seems that composting do start more or less by ‘magic’: the materials used in the compost will contain sufficient micro-organisms to get the process started. If your compost pile consists of a good combination of carbon and nitrogen, it will not need any additional nutrients supplied by a compost additive.

The truth about compost additives

There has been no conclusive evidence to show that adding commercial compost additives will in any way improve the process.

Indeed, it seems that the best compost activator is finished compost or topsoil from your own yard.

If you do feel that your compost needs a helping hand (especially if it contains a lot of carbon-rich material such as dead leaves and other brown material), the nitrogen content of the activator will determine how much is needed.

It is always great to save money in the garden, and if material you already have in your garden will work just as well, that is even better!

Do you use anything specific to get your compost heap going? I’ve asked the same question on Twitter recently, and it got me a suggestion of using urine. Don’t think I’ll be following that advice anytime soon though!

Image: White flower by Doug 88888 on Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

Encourage flowers in your garden, even if you only have 5 minutes

Flower photo

Deadheading plants will encourage them to form more flowers.When you plant perennials and flowering plants, you do it with the expectation that it will bear more than one flower.

Deadheading is one of the quick fixes in your garden, you can do it while taking a stroll and it doesn’t need any special tools. Deadheading can be done by hand, or at most you’ll need secateurs.

The idea behind deadheading is to prevent the plant from moving into the next stage of fertilization, namely forming seed. Deadheading will encourage the plant to form more flowers rather than seed.

Different flowers have to be deadheaded differently, but generally you can deadhead as soon as the flower starts to fade. This season, I kept picking my poppies as soon as they opened because the flowers couldn’t survive the hot conditions we’ve been experiencing.  This kept them blooming like crazy, supplying me with flowers for the house for weeks.

What do you do to keep your flowers blooming?

Image: Flower photo, Doug Wheller on FlickrCC BY-NC-SA 2.0