The Ultimate Indoor Gardening Cheat Sheet: Guest Post by Emma – Fixtures and Flowers

It’s a scientific fact that plants breathe life into the atmosphere. Without plants or trees to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen the human race would have no source of clean air. The world would be forced to breathe recycled or artificially produced oxygen.

The more plants there is then, the less pollution there is. Cities with more trees have healthier populations than those that only have a park or two. This premise applies to individual homes as well. A household would greatly benefit from having more plants inside the residence.

The size of the home is irrelevant, what matters is that there are plants indoors to help clean the air. Other than a natural air purifying system, indoor plants can also produce fresh herbs, vegetables and even fruits. Starting an indoor garden is not all that difficult. Take a look at this ultimate indoor gardening cheat sheet to make it easy…

The Ultimate Indoor Gardening Cheat Sheet: Guest Post by Emma - Fixtures and Flowers

Planting in Soil using containers

The style of using pots and decorative planting containers is the classic method for indoor gardening. It is also one of the most popular and convenient ways to start an indoor garden. The containers can be made of any material, ceramic, metal, plastic or even stone.

There is a timeless beauty in using free-standing containers. They bring a touch of nature indoors and brighten any room as well. They are also easy to handle because one can move them around the house with ease. There are a few things to keep in mind before starting an indoor garden using containers.

Sun spot

Choose an area in the house that takes inadequate sunlight. Proper sunlight is essential for a plant to reach its full potential. As long as the spot gets at least four to six hours of daylight then that should be enough.

Position the plants in that sun spot and decorate around it. Setting the plants in sun-filled setting will be easier than having to move the pot or container outside for it to get some sun.

Soil

Choose the kind of plants that are suitable to be grown indoors. Different types of soil fit the needs of specific plants. Research the type of soil required for the plants before starting an indoor garden. Each kind of plant needs a particular kind of soil.

Preparing the right soil for potted plants is crucial to keep them healthy. For most plants, a store-bought potting mix is an excellent soil base to start with. Then mix that with some compost, and that will create the perfect soil to nurture indoor plants.

Succulents would need a gritty mix that drains well. This is one of those cases where crushed gravel would be the perfect top dressing. Don’t forget to add homemade fertilisers to give your plants more nutrients.

Water

All plant life needs water on a regular basis. That is their primary form of sustenance. Plants absorb water and carbon dioxide to jumpstart photosynthesis.

Water the potted plants using a watering can. Water them early in the morning so that they have the whole day to absorb the water through their roots.

Hydroponics

Indoor gardening has gone through many innovations over the years, and hydroponics is one of them. Hydroponics is a soilless growing system that substitutes soil with an inert media. The purpose of the inert media is to hold the plant upright. It is the base of the plant which suspends it over the water.

Water culture

This is often used in the most basic hydroponics systems. To grow plants in water culture, first put each plant in a container or a growing tray filled with inert medium.

Then immerse the plant containers in an even bigger container filled with nutrient solution. For best results, use an air pump to create bubbles in the nutrient solution to help with aeration.

Nutrient film

This technique foregoes the use on any inert media and suspends the plants right over the nutrient solution. Holes are drilled through PVC tubes to house the plants, and their roots are allowed to grow at the bottom directly immersed in the nutrient solution. It is also advised to use an air pump when using this method to promote root aeration.

Drip system

Instead of the plants being suspended over the nutrient solution. This hydroponic growing technique circulates the nutrient solution throughout the growing media. A water pump continuously pumps the nutrient growing solution.

Aquaponics

This indoor growing technique would be perfect for people that own and love their aquariums. Instead of suspending the plants over a container with a nutrient solution this technique uses the nutrient from fish waste and feeds it directly to the plants.

The plants are set on top of a growing media which is then placed atop the fish tank. The microorganisms in the growing media would then break down the fish waste into proper nutrients for the plants. The plants would then absorb these nutrients.

The microorganisms found in the growing media would technically clean the water of any waste. Aquaponics is an efficient solution to the disposal of fish waste and cost-effective as well because it forgoes the need for the nutrient solution.

Aeroponics

Aeroponics is another new growing technique that can be used for indoor gardening. Here, the plants are housed in containers that do not have any soil and isn’t immersed in any nutrient solution. The containers are there to support the plant and provide access when water is sprayed.

The lower half of the container is filled with small holes or grills which allow the grower to spray water or nutrient solution directly on the roots. This is the same growing technique used by astronauts and is gaining popularity all over the world.

Conclusion

There are several paths to start practising indoor gardening. Choose the technique that best suits your personality. Consider all the factors, pros and cons of each growing technique. No matter what method is used the end results will be the same. Cleaner oxygen, fresh vegetable, fruits and a healthier lifestyle.

Author Bio

Author picture - Emma - Fixtures and Flowers

Emma is a part-time property developer, part-time home improvements and gardening blogger at Fixtures and Flowers, and full time Mum. Given her background, Emma has a lot of advice, tips and tricks that she loves sharing on her blog.

What Food Can You Grow In Winter?

If you enjoy growing your own food, you maybe wondering what you can grow over the colder months and how to prepare your garden now autumn is here, ready for winter. So here are some tips…

What Food Can You Grow In Winter?

Greenhouse

Whilst some plants can survive directly outdoors in winter, is useful to have a greenhouse to successfully grow your own food during the colder months here in the UK. Variable temperatures, hard frost and possible snow means that some won’t thrive without help. If you don’t already have a greenhouse, it is worth investing. Even if you don’t have much space for something larger, there are plenty of options such as these lean to greenhouses for sale from GBC Group for example.

What to plant

There are several things you can still plant outdoors or in a greenhouse to grow over the winter months. Don’t forget you can also plant herbs inside to. Here are some ideas of what to consider planting around October, if you haven’t aready:

Winter salad

This is best planted in a greenhouse, as it will need some protection from the elements.

Leafy Crops

Rockets, chard, kale and other leafy crops manage over winter with some help. Cabbage also does too.

Broad beans

These tend to do quite well over winter and can then be harvested much earlier than those planted in spring.

Peas

Peas tend to be quite hardy so these can be planted outdoors if you wish.

Onions

Onions don’t need much care but they do take a long time to grow. If you plant some now they will be ready next summer. So no time like the present!

Growing onions

Garlic

Growing garlic is similar to onions; planting now will mean they are ready to harvest next summer.

Carrots

Carrots will both just about manage over winter with a little protection. Pop them in the greenhouse and they will do just fine!

Parsnips

Parsnips are also hardy and will do well over winter.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts take up alot of space for a fairly long time, but they do well over winter so are worth considering.

Tips

• Protect your plants from hard frost by covering them over with a plastic sheet, tunnel, frame, or grow them in a greenhouse. Adding a layer of mulch will also help protect them.

• Use netting to protect your crop from birds over winter. Also beware of insects during these months, as you would throughout the other seasons.

• Water your crop sparingly over the wetter winter months.

Do you have any tips for preparing your food garden for winter? What else do you grow? 

*This is a collaborative post.

 

 

5 Tips on Staying Safe While You Garden: A Guest Post by Gardenknow

With our garden often just a few steps from the comfort of our home, sometimes it’s easy to forget the risks associated with gardening. In this post written by Gardenknow, we explore tips on staying safe while you’re doing your gardening. Below is a list of 5 simple steps that will help keep you safe when you’re doing your gardening…

5 Tips on Staying Safe While You Garden: A Guest Post by Gardenknow

1. Wear Protective Gear

Regardless of the task you’re doing it’s always important to consider protective wear. Even for jobs as simple as weeding, it’s recommended that you wear knee pads. Although this isn’t the most strenuous task, years of bending down to weed without knee protection could quite easily cut your gardening years short.

For more intensive jobs such as string trimming, remember to always wear the appropriate head and eye protection. All it takes is for the one time you forget to wear your visor, a rock to be flung up into your face to cause serious damage.

2. Stick to What You Know

There’s no two ways about it; gardening is addictive. However, don’t let this lead you to jumping into tasks you haven’t done before without any prior consideration. This can lead to safety risks for you and others around you.

We recommend reading guides for carrying out tasks prior to attempting them. This way you’re going into it with some understanding of what’s required. An example of this would be in our pruning guide post which you can read here. We detail the tools, techniques and precautions required before attempting pruning.

3. Drink Plenty of Fluids

If you were planning a trip somewhere involving lots of physical exercise, you are likely to consider staying hydrated. Gardening should be no different. Again, due to gardens being so close to the comforts of your home this is something that’s often overlooked.

Staying hydrated is vital, operating machinery within your garden will take lots of your strength. This is why it’s vital that you make sure you have all the nutrients needed for a long days work in the garden. This applies to food as well as staying hydrated.

Hand holding plant and woman smiling in background.

4. Bend Properly

We don’t want to make this post sound like a manual handling induction, but please don’t forget the importance of bending with correct form. Bending is one of the most common exercises in gardening. You’ll often find yourself bending down to remove weeds, or picking up branches and leaves.

Remember to always bend your legs and keep a straight back. We’re sure many of you do this already but it’s vital we emphasise how important correct form is in preventing injury.

5. Wear Sunscreen

This is something tons of people forget all about when gardening. Often you’ll pop to the garden for a job that would take minutes then end up spending hours there. Remember, whether you’re going out for 5 minutes or 5 hours skin protection is vital.

This doesn’t only apply for the summer time either. Whether the sun is glaring down or not, you’ll still want to make sure you have all the protection you can from UV rays.

Author Bio

Linda, a writer at Gardenknow, has a real passion for spreading her knowledge gathered through decades of gardening experience. She runs the website along with her Husband Paul. They formed the site as a way to document great quality information gathered through their combined gardening experience with the hope of sharing this with others.

Keeping Things Simple: A-Z of 30 Days Wild

K is for…

Keeping things simple.

A - Z of 30 Days Wild

One of the things I most love about 30 Days Wild is that it isn’t about expensive days out and organising extravagent activities; it is about celebrating the simple everyday things, slowing ourselves down and stopping to appreciate the small things. It is about reconnecting with nature, and our natural environment. Being, not just doing.

I love how 30 Days Wild achieves so much in so many ways. It helps us to shift our mindset; supporting both of our physical and mental health. As well as fostering a desire to nurture and protect wildlife, and our planet.

Squiggle in the garden. Tree. Blue sky.

On that note, I am not going to rush myself to finish my A-Z by the end of the month. For me, that would contradict the whole purpose of the challenge. There would be little point in stressing over getting that done when I could be outside, watching the birds and observing the insects. Playing with Squiggle. Chilling in the sun. Enjoying just being in the moment.

I love 30 Days Wild. The A-Z will continue, in my own time. It’ll be done when it’s done. And that’s ok with me.

Stay Wild folks. I hope you have loved 30 Days Wild as much as we did. xx

Garden, Growing, Grounding… A-Z of 30 Days Wild

G is for…

A-Z of 30 days wild

Garden

We spend alot of time in our garden. We help to encourage wildlife and nature into it, then take the time to enjoy it! During 30 Days Wild, we did many simple activities in our garden that embraces the whole concept of 30 Days Wild. You don’t have to just go on adventures to appreciate wildlife and nature; you do that anywhere!

Growing

We also use our garden for growing our own food. This is something we loved doing as part of 30 Days Wild, and generally too!

View this post on Instagram

#30DaysWild – Day 6: Grow Your Own

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on

Grounding

Grounding is such a simple but effective act – walking barefoot on the ground – and one Squiggle does regularly. I really should do it more often too!

A – Z of 30 Days Wild: A is for… Ants!

As I explained yesterday, I am not going to be blogging about 30 Days Wild as heavily this year due to other commitments. But what I do intend to do is share an A – Z of my highlights from previous years, with a few snippets of our activities this year, and some guest posts too! So today I thought I would kick off with my A – Z of 30 Days Wild Highlights.

A - Z of 30 Days Wild text Forest of Dean image

A is for…. ANTS!

One of my favourite highlights was in the first year of taking part (2016) when Squiggle discovered a large groups of yellow meadow ants in our garden. I took a quick video clip, then we observed them for a while – they were fascinating!

At the time I thought it was just grass seeds they were crawling over, as we had just put some down the day before. It was only when I shared the video to the 30 Days Wild Facebook group that a wildlife expert (Sean Foote) told me that actually they were pupae, which I was really excited about! I had no idea!

The video clip is poor quality unfortunately, but still very cool! Here it is…

Coming Up…

Tomorrow will be the first of my 30 Days Wild themed guest posts. So look out for that! And remember if you would like to take part, email me at livinglifeourway@outlook.com or fill in my google form.

What Random Act of Wildness did you do today? Tell me in comments!

Grange Raised Urban Planter: GardenSite’s Gardening Solutions for Small Spaces (Review & Giveaway)

As you all know, we love being outdoors in nature, and part of this includes gardening. I have written before about some of the food we have grown, or at least attempted to grow! So what do we think of our new urban planter from GardenSite? Read my review…

Grange Raised Urban Planter from Gardensite title with image of planter

About the Planter

Grange Raised Urban Planter is built using only FSC timber that has been pressure treated, and is resistant to rot and fungal decay. In fact, it actually comes with a 20 year guarantee against rot. It has six pre- divided sections to grow a selection of plants, and it also has a handy shelf underneath. The planter usually retails for £89.99 RRP but is currently on sale at £77.99 at the time of writing.

Delivery

The planter took just under a week to arrive after ordering. We were kept updated with the progress of our order and delivery details. The courier company they used was a good choice; they followed our delivery instructions, and they were friendly and helpful.

An image of all the parts of the planter pre- assembly

Assembly

The Urban Planter is very well designed so it only requires basic assembly instructions. It is very high quality thick wood, so you will need a decent power drill though; it couldn’t be done manually, or with a small basic electric drill that people have around the house to put together flat pack furniture. It took well under half an hour to assemble with the right drill.

Tip: The PDF instructions on the website are different to the paper version it comes with. Take a look to see which you find easier to follow! We personally found the website PDF version clearer.

It is worth noting that the planter is very heavy so ideally it needs two people to move around. Or assemble it in the right place!

Grange raised urban planter

Our Verdict

We really like this planter. It is really sturdy and of excellent quality. The shelf underneath is useful as storage, or even for small potted plants that like the shade.

The six sections make it easy to grow a selection of plants within a small area. It doesn’t take up too much space, so is a genuine solution for small urban gardens. Also, we often have cats hanging around our garden, so we appreciate the benefits of a raised planter!

It is not cheap but it is made extremely well and is therefore worth the cost, in my opinion; I personally would consider it decent value for money. Overall, we definitely recommend this planter!

Grange raised urban planter by GardenSite

Check out the full range of stock on GardenSite for other planters and a wide range of other garden items. I spent ages browsing their website, they have an excellent selection!

Giveaway

I have teamed up with GardenSite for one very lucky person to win a Grange Raised Urban Planter! Competition open to UK residents only and ends on 3rd June 2018. Other T&Cs apply. Enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I was sent the urban planter for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden

With summer almost upon us, and the recent spell of hot weather, you might be considering building your own swimming pool in your garden. To many, it might seem like a waste of space and money in a country that doesn’t often reach warm temperatures! However, there are quite a few benefits to having your own pool, and don’t forget it can be heated so once you are in it is fine; I remember having an outdoor pool at my Primary School and it was such a huge asset.

It is relaxing and good for your wellbeing. And of course it is a wonderful luxury to enjoy the peace and privacy of your own pool. But also, there’s nothing more sociable than having a swimming pool in your back garden that you can then invite friends and family to enjoy too.

At this time of year you’re probably already thinking about getting your garden into shape and the thought of having such major excavation work done in your back garden might feel prohibitive; indeed, the process of building a swimming pool does necessitate the need to bring in diggers to excavate a huge hole in the middle of your lawn. In many ways, that’s the trade-off, as the pool is likely to take a huge chunk of your garden lawn out of the equation. That said, if you’ve always dreamed of having a pool in your back garden, here are a few simple steps to help turn your dream into reality…

How To Build a Swimming Pool in Your Back Garden with swimming pool background image

Design

The first factor to consider is size, which will obviously be constrained by how large your garden is, and the next factor to consider is depth. If you are having children use the pool or you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, then it is recommended to keep it under 1.2 metres, which is what most fancy gyms set their pool depth to. You also need to consider what colour you would like the tiles to be – blue is the classic colour, whilst there are many startling designs that embrace deep reds and purples to create more of a design statement.
The next consideration is lighting and shape. Generally speaking, the more complex the design, the higher the cost to create the swimming pool.

Get Permission

In order to build a swimming pool in your back garden, it’s likely that you’ll need to gain planning permission from the council.

Excavate The Area

The first step in terms of building the pool, once you’ve designed it and been granted permission, is to start excavating the area! You could employ a contractor to take care of everything, or if you’re on a budget, you could hire construction equipment yourself, as at this stage all you’re really doing is digging a big hole in the back garden. It is, however, vitally important to have been granted permission before starting to dig, as there may be hidden wires or pipes that you could unearth.

Consider Material To Use

The three main options to choose from are concrete, fibreglass, and vinyl.

Grade the Ground and Frame Walls

The next step is to even out the ground. This will make building the walls and laying the floor much easier. With the hole dug out, and the land flat, the walls can now be built with wood and metal rebar.

Put in Plumbing and Electricity

You’ll want to get an experienced plumber to take care of this specialist task, as you don’t want to have to undertake emergency plumbing should there be an issue down the road. Indeed, it’s important to hire a plumber that is experienced in swimming pools, as an inexperienced plumber could ruin your pool.

You’ll then want to hire an electrician to install the lights. Understandably, bad wiring plus water is not a good combination; so it’s advisable that you read up on how to prevent electrocution before going any further, or attempting to do it yourself.

Pour the Floor, Build Walls and Tile

The next step is to pour the floor and build the walls, then tile them, but remember to add a moisture barrier to stop the water from seeping out.

Fill The Pool

The final step, of course, is to fill the pool with fresh water that is subsequently treated with a cleaning agent such as chlorine.

Lady swimming in a pool

Have you ever considered a pool in your garden? For most it is just a pipe dream… but if it ever becomes your reality, now you know what to do!

*This is a collaborative post.

Relaxed Summer Living: How to Make Your Garden More Private

All going well, we’re going to see some pretty fine weather in the UK this summer. While there are never any guarantees (especially in England), the buzz around the weather stations is that it’s going to be one to remember, with long sunny days and clear blue skies the order of the day. This means a lot of us are going to be spending many an hour in our gardens, enjoying the weather with our friends and family.

Sign saying we are in the garden. Watering can to edge of picture.

But this isn’t always as relaxing as it should be if your garden isn’t private. It may be that you are surrounded by other properties and your garden is very overlooked. Some people don’t mind this of course; I know many neighbours enjoy spending time together, often popping in and out of each others’ homes. But this is not always the case; others enjoy peace and quiet, and value having their own secluded spot to relax. Or it might be that your garden back onto a public space and is therefore exposed to passers- by. For whatever reason it might be, lack of privacy can make your garden less appealing. If this is the case with your property, then take a read below…

Relaxed Summer Living: How to Make Your Garden More Private title with faded background image of a secluded garden bench amongst bushes for privacy

Fill it Out

If you’re just got a bare garden, one with only a large patch of grass and a chair, blanket or lounger in the middle, then it’ll be no wonder that you feel on display when you’re out there sunbathing. Even if no-one is looking, it’s hard not to feel a little self-conscious if you’re the only thing that anybody can see. If this is the case, then look at “filling out” your garden. If you have a shed, plants, water feature, and so on, then your garden – and thus you – will feel much less exposed.

Build Up

If you’re concerned that you are overlooked when you’re in the garden, especially if your kids are playing out and there are strangers looking in as they walk by for example, then why not just neutralise this problem by blocking their view? By installing solid fence panels around your property, or building up the wall at the back or side of your garden if there’s one already there, you’ll be limiting the view that others have of your backyard space. The taller the fence, the less that they’ll be able to see. This is a quick process, so you’ve got more than enough time to get it installed before summer arrives.

Find a Cosy Corner

You’re unlikely to be using all of your garden when it comes to simply unwinding. So instead of working to make the whole garden private, pick a cosy corner in which you’ll relax, and focus on making that space covered. If you have a corner with a few trees already there, then you can attach a hammock, and you’ll feel like you’re in your own private oasis, even if you know there are dozens of people living around you.

A large patio area with porch. Seating and table. Two ladies with snacks and drinks chatting, one playing guitar.

A Porch Area

Of course, a hammock isn’t going to be much good when you’re hosting friends and family for an afternoon outdoors! To make a more private social space, consider building a covered area at the back of your house. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it can be as simple as installing a wooden structure with plants that grow up the side. It won’t bring total coverage, but will be enough to feel more comfortable. A gazebo would also do the trick.

What tips do you have for a more secluded garden? Tell me in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.

How To Get Your Garden Ready For Summer

The sun is starting to finally make an appearance and Spring is now well underway! But is your garden ready for the summer yet? If not, don’t worry! There is still time yet to get it into shape for those lovely long summer days ahead! Read my guide and your garden will be ready to enjoy in no time…

How To Get Your Garden Ready For Summer title with faded background image of garden

Tidy Up

Get the lawn mower out, or at least use a trimmer around the edges. Weed the nettles and cut back any overgrown sections. There is no need to overdo it, especially if, like me, you prefer a more natural feel to your outdoor space. Just a quick neaten up is all it really needs. Also, put down some grass seeds if it is looking bare in places too.

Close up image of a lawn mower

Get Planting

Now is the time to make sure you get planting, if you haven’t already done so. Growing your own food is a brilliant way to enjoy your garden, be healthy and help the environment too! Choose companion plants to protect your crops and encourage pollinators to your garden.

Consider your senses when selecting your choices of plants and flowers too; for example, lambs ears are wonderfully tactile, and herbs will give your garden some lovely scents, while flowers will provide vibrant colours. Also consider growing some climbers for shade and privacy too.

A flatlay picture of gardening gloves, hat and pruning shears

Furniture

A well chosen piece of garden furniture really helps to maximise enjoyment. Table and chairs are a popular choice of course, particularly for dining al fresco, or perhaps you might like a garden bench. This teak garden furniture guide is a useful read before you invest. Don’t forget some cushions and blankets for your outdoor comfort too!

Also, it is handy to include a parasol in your garden set- up for shade. Or perhaps even consider a gazebo, especially if you are likely to have guests outside.

An image of a garden patio with various items of furniture, including sun lounger, table and chairs, and a bench. Plus parasol for shade.

Lighting

Get some solar outdoor lighting so that you can continue to enjoy your garden long into the warm summer evenings, even as the sun sets. Fairy lights, around the edge of a gazebo for example, also look really pretty.

Remember the Wildlife

Whilst getting your garden ready for summer, remember the wildlife too! Take care when mowing that there are no creatures hiding anywhere, and also spare a thought for their habitats when gardening. I personally like to leave a section of garden growing freely to encourage wildlife into our garden as well.

Bird baths and feeders, bat boxes, hedgehog hideaways and insect hotels are an asset to your garden all year round. Being around nature is relaxing and therapuetic; you will likely find you enjoy your garden even more when you share it!

Bird house hanging from a branch of a tree

What are your top tips for the perfect summer garden? Share in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.