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Monthly Archive: November 2017

How To Compost Cat Poo

Like the poor man who had a pea growing in his lung (true!) most of us are growing a seedling of green conscience these days. We are being encouraged to recycle so many items that the ones that do make their way into the regular bin tend to stick in our minds. If you compost or otherwise dispose of organic waste youll probably end up with a bin bag full of plastic packaging. If you own a pet cat or dog the warm parcels of their waste will make strange accompaniments to all that inert plastic.

Toxoplasmosis & Toxocara
How can it be that something as natural, green and organic as your cat, can be contributing to landfill in this way? Almost anywhere you look the advice will be to keep your pet waste away from your compost heap despite a growing number of biodegradable litters appearing on the market. The advice is based on the danger of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic protozoa (not a virus as is often thought) present in cat faeces. This can cause toxoplasmosis, a potentially fatal disease especially for pregnant women and small children with their still-developing immune systems. Toxocara catis (roundworms) are also likely to be found and can infect humans as well as cats.

Hot compost kills germs
Good reasons to keep cat poo out of your compost then. Well, yes, but there are ways to cope with these pathogens if you know how to compost correctly and with due care. Composts can get to temperatures in excess of 130C at which point very little living matter can survive. At much lower temperatures in the range of 65-70C, pathogens will still die in a matter of seconds. The British Standard PAS100 ensure that green waste compost reaches 65C for a minimum of 7 days, twice, which is erring on the side of paranoia but they cant afford to take any risks. Whats amazing is that compost generates these temperatures on its own given the right materials.

Biodegradable litter
With cats, unlike dogs, its not just the poo that has to be disposed of but the litter as well. Litter made from clay or silica will not breakdown (in our lifetime anyway) and will get stuck in landfill. There are compostable litters available made from wood chips, sawdust, newspapers and plant derivatives such as wheat or corn residues and wood chips but composting them means removing the poo first, unless you can be sure of getting your compost heap hot enough to kill the germs. This is perhaps ironic as the faeces are rich in nitrogen (which heats the compost) and the litter in carbon (which has a cooling effect) a match made in heaven from a composting point of view. Remove the nitrogen and the carboniferous material will take an age to disappear. Together they would be much more likely to reach the elusive hot temperatures required to make the compost sanitary. Even if you choose not to try composting the excrement, the litter will have soaked up urine, rich in phosphorus and nitrogen and be a valuable addition.

Cat Poo Wormery
Dog poo wormeries are being found to successfully deal with doggie do but cat poo wormeries arent as straightforward because of the amount of litter that accompanies the faeces. The worms seem not to enjoy the quantity or the mix. Removing the poos for the wormery and having a traditional composter for the litter, kept separate from the compost bin youll be using for any edibles, might be one solution but if it sounds a palaver having three systems on the go, then read on.

NatureMill composter
One composter that has yet to reach the British market is the NatureMill. Designed by scientist and inventor Russ Cohn, the NatureMill has started to solve the pet poo problems of San Francisco and is spreading across the United States.
The composter automatically grinds the input waste so it acts like a digester where shredding is part of the process. It is normal for digesters to need additional carbon-rich materials such as sawdust or wood pellets to keep the contents at the correct moisture levels and NatureMill is no different. This makes it perfect for the constituents of kitty litter.
NatureMill also maintains an internal temperature of up to 60C (140F) as a small current is used to heat the bin and it is well-insulated. The total electricity used is said to be 5 kWh per month, the same as for a night light. It has a carbon filter to absorb unwanted smells and can be operated indoors or outdoors. The bin costs $299 but a further $82.50 to ship it to Europe, but it really does solve the problem and keep your cats waste out of landfill. Compost for the garden is ready in an incredible two weeks. For any cat lovers with no or limited outside space this clever little disposal machine could be the answer. The only problem then is what to do with the compost when the houseplants are well-fed and blooming! How about a spot of guerilla gardening – feed a tree.

Compost alchemy
A fear of germs permeates our culture to the point where stories of sterile homes being responsible for childhood complaints like asthma have spread in the press and the dreadful O.C.D. can lead to compulsive cleaning (not in my house). Yet our understanding of hygiene has saved us from cholera and typhoid epidemics so is there a balance to be aimed for? Perhaps the next stage of understanding germs will come from ecology and knowing how microorganisms interact and keep each others’ populations under control. The compost process is certainly a complex set of interactions of millions of these microbes, their numbers swelling and ebbing according to the conditions in the surrounding environment. And somehow, at the end of it, a clean, sweet smelling earth is produced that feeds our plants and stores potential greenhouse gas carbon in a stable form. Perhaps we can trust Nature after all.
Disclaimer: Composters of cat poo do so at their own risk.

Why Hydroponic Gardening Is Becoming More Popular

Hydroponic gardening has spiked in popularity recently mainly because the quality and productivity of hydroponically grown plants has been unmistakable. These plants grow faster and healthier than their soil-grown counterparts. This is due to the fact that they are grown in an environment where there is a virtual limitless supply of nutrients and water at their disposal.

These hydroponically grown plants, because they are not grown in soil, do not need to fight off diseases and pests which are natural in soil. Pesticides can be decreased or even eliminated.

And because the nutrients and water are delivered in just the right proportion directly to the plant’s roots, they are better equipped to grow – faster, healthier, larger!

Hydroponically grown plants have the following benefits:

– They will provide high levels of nutrition

– They will be better tasting

– They will be rich in color.

In hydroponic gardening you will find that the crop’s water and nutritional needs are less complicated and sometimes more effective. Just a few simple measurements and it will be evident what adjustments need to be made to the nutritional balance in the water. All the guesswork is eliminated!

Although nutrient solutions are available from local hydroponic suppliers and contain the correct proportions of essential minerals, gardeners may also make their own nutrient rich solutions. This may sometimes require quite a bit of extra work however.

When it comes to the growing medium that will provide plants their nutrition, different materials have been successfully used. Materials such as sand, porous rock, gravel, pumice, perlite, and vermiculite have all proven to be good choices. Fired clay particles can also be used. These all are capable of providing a way of getting the nutrient rich water into the plant’s root system.

Also, there are various types of containers and pumping arrangements for delivering nutrient solutions to the garden and draining it back to the storage tanks for reuse.

If you’re just starting out in hydroponic gardening you may be wondering which types of plants are most suitable for hydroponic gardens. The answer to this is tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and cucumbers. There are some types of tomatoes that will continue to produce year round.

Some plants can be started from seeds and seedlings. In this case use commercially available rock wool plugs submerged in the media. These make excellent incubators for germination and seedling growth.

And since hydroponic gardens are self-contained, they can be located just about anywhere space permits. It is not unusual to find these by windows, on rooftops, or in closets.

Greying Tigers

Greying tigers, the generation of over 65s who are becoming a more powerful generation in the market place. This is the generation that has seen all the changes take place and are reminiscent of the good old days.

They remember when the wallflowers were sold wrapped in newspaper and they remember the price. This is a generation looking for nostalgia and is very price aware.

This is still a generation that are loyal to many garden centres and dare one say it, but because of their loyalty they may be putting young people off visiting the same establishments.

This is a generation that we cannot ignore, but have to fit them into a marketing scenario that meets all generation needs.

Many garden centers have realized there is an opportunity, especially where they can get involved in celebrating the Red Hat Society as an event in the garden center. If you are not aware of this society, I recommend you check them out on the web. This is a growing group and a great way of introducing fun into our garden center with this generation.

Greying Tigers are the most adventurous retired generation that has ever been and as a result will experiment in there gardens. They are the nostalgia market and this is a huge opportunity for any garden centre who wishes to develop nostalgic promotional opportunities. Why not have a corner in the garden center for nostalgic products and plants.

Garden centers who are looking to attract this market need to be less abled friendly and have plenty of seating located around the center. The coffee shop needs to be price aware; many price decisions are made by judging the price of a cup of tea.

Many centers are allocating special days for this generation; I have one client who has built their traffic on a quiet day by promoting to this group. My local shopping center actually takes a mini bus around the local retirement homes on a Thursday. They invite people to the shopping center, provide them with a complimentary cup of tea and let them shop. This has proved to be very successful, not only to the target market, but has also grown community support for the center. The same concept could be applied to a garden center.

They may be lower spenders, but on quieter days that can make a difference. The Greying Tigers are also often collectors and this is also an opportunity to provide them with collection pieces, the gift market especially has developed this market, but the same could be applied to cacti and other plant products.

Dos

Ensure your garden center is less abled friendly. Have parking for the less abled in a prime location in your car park

Have a wheel chair available, but more important encourage your team to get in it and go around the garden center, this will give them an opportunity to experience it and make appropriate changes to the customer flow

Have plenty of seating located at locations around the garden centre

Promote nostalgia plants at key locations around the garden center and use words like remember and Nostalgia on the signage

Make sure signs are bold and simple; eyes fail as we get older

Ensure your cash point team are greying tiger friendly and are prepared to help .have a help service to the car for the less abled

Donts

Place delicate products in locations where frail hands may drop them

Talk down, this generation has a lot of background knowledge, especially on gardening self and will not consider the container as such an important element as, for example generation X

Put all your container plants in expensive containers, this generation will purchase plants for the plants it

Miniature Gardening All About Its Types

Miniature gardens and fairy gardens represent a scenic picture comprised of accessories, furniture, structures, gnomes, etc., making it a beautiful space in your home. If you are a beginner and want to know more about miniature gardening and its types then read the article.

Types of miniature gardens

Indoor miniature gardens: This type of garden has plants that can survive extreme conditions such as low light and indoor conditions.

Terrarium: Terrarium is a miniature plant or garden enclosed in glass container. It can tolerate low light and high humidity.

Pots and containers: For indoor miniature gardens, pots and containers with drainage holes help to drain out excess water from the bottom.

Place saucers or plates underneath the pot to protect surfaces from excess water draining from the container and to keep the surroundings clean.

Outdoor miniature gardens: For outdoor miniature gardens, it is important to consider the weather zones while planting in any climate.

Accessories made of terra cotta, wood, glass, etc., can be used in outdoor miniature gardens. Based on the materials the accessories are made of, remove the accessories from the landscape during adverse weather conditions to protect them and make sure to store them properly so that their life can be prolonged and can be used in the future.

Landscapes: Miniature landscapes are a congregation of soil, plants and imaginative theme that are put together for creating a scene.

For example, in case of miniature pond landscape ensure to keep it in a sunny location outdoors.

Pots and containers: Pots or containers used for outdoor miniature gardens should have proper drainage system. Using containers made of clay which are usually porous helps in leaking out excess water.

Requirements to develop indoor and outdoor miniature gardens

Plants: The one thing that differentiates indoor miniature garden from outdoor miniature garden is the type of plants that survive in varied conditions.

Indoor miniature plants grow well in indoor conditions like low sunlight, etc., whereas outdoor miniature plants require heat and more sunlight.

Plants that can survive in dry conditions can be used in indoor miniature gardens.

Location: Location of the garden determines the life and growth of the plants. Based on the plants you choose for indoor or outdoor miniature gardens choose a location with adequate temperature and light.

Pots and containers: Various containers made of materials like metal, glass, wood and plastic that come up different colors, sizes, shapes and styles can be used for indoor and outdoor gardens.

Accessories: Select the right accessories by keeping the theme of the garden in mind. Ensure that the accessories used in outdoor gardens should be resistant to extreme weather conditions, corrosion and rust.

Maintenance for the survival of miniature gardens: Maintaining the miniature garden is important for its survival. Following are a few maintenance tips for indoor and outdoor miniature gardens:

Check the plants frequently for pest invasions.

Potting soil with a blend of perlite, compost and other essential nutrients is preferred for containers to feed plants.

Under watering, over watering or using too much of a fertilizer is not good for miniature plants.

Use potting soil and drill holes into the bottom of the container for proper draining system and to keep your plants healthy.

Regardless of the type of miniature garden (indoor or outdoor) give them the care they deserve to grow.

Herb Garden Kits – A ”out Of The Box Simple Gardening Experience

I can remember at being very excited about a new project I was starting. At first I had already foreseen a long stimulating future at enjoying this hobby. I bought all what deemed to me as necessary to start digging in this new adventure. Unfortunately after a while I slowly varied my activities, the latter ending up occupying more and more of my time than my beloved pastime until I went on to new points of interest . A lot of the material is still in the garage, certain items still in their unopened packaging.

The same can be applied to gardening, especially if it is a new found interest or a lack of experience. It could be wise to begin this hobby with a miniature version and give you the opportunity to test how much you enjoy this activity and how well it may blend in your day-to-day routine.

Happily herb garden kits are a simple solution to get you up and running in a very short time and let you set the limits to how much time and efforts you are willing to devote yourself to this past time. Here are some instances when these ”kits” comes in handy.

Time
People are busy rushing from home to their jobs and everything in between. It is a great idea to cultivate herbs for whatever reason it is appealing to you and it is also fairly simple. How much time do you have to keep you herbs happy and healthy. Any herb that you plant has to be tended to, from beginning to end including harvesting. Does your time frame permit outdoor gardening or will it be more convenient and time saving if you choose the indoors gardening option?

Space
Another factor that can greatly influence your choice is space. City dwellers might not have a large space for gardening and are often limited to the confines of a small apartment, or perhaps outside temperatures would not be very friendly to the young plants. A small kit can be composed of a set of 3-4 plants of different herbs that can set on that sunny windowsill in the kitchen. You will find one plant of an herb is enough to fulfill the need. Know your herbs and how to tend to them because some plants can start spreading from a single sprout when out of control.

Commodity
Herb garden kits comes complete with everything you need except for the water and sunshine. Some kits might even contain grow lights that control photosynthesis. You can even get a kit with plants that grows submerged in water, this solution even eliminate the possibility of dirt spilling and creating a mess in your home.
All kits include step-by-step instructions on how to set-up everything, how to plant and care of the herbs, harvesting, characteristics of each individual plants and tips for best results.

Choice
Another pleasant aspect of buying a kit is that there is a tremendous amount of variation offered. You need to choose which category of herbs you plan on growing. Will the harvested leaves be used for culinary reason or, perhaps, you tend more towards medicinal herbs?

The quantity that you will need depends largely on the usage you are aiming for. Remember that with herbs 1 plant will go a long way.

Prices is also a factor but it should not be exclusive. Seed-based kits are less expensive than the sprout version but can be a bit more time consuming and even fragile. Also some herbs can be quite a challenge to a beginner when started from seeds.

Overall, available space and the time you can devote to its care are deciding factor for a kit that is best for you. A small kit containing 4-5 herbs that can grow on your windowsill and may require only simple occasional watering. A large kit offers all that you need to cultivate a 10×10 feet garden.

Take the time you need to plan your garden whatever the size, you will be happy that you did later. List the herbs that you wish to grow and visit a few places to compare prices and options that may suit you best. There is a herb garden kit waiting for you that thoroughly meet your need.