Garden Chess Sets for Family Fun

The summer is a time when families should try and spend more time together, catch up with each other's news and do some serious bonding. Invite relatives to the house for a barbeque on the few warm nights the UK gets, set up some chairs and a table, crack open a beer, and gossip about family, friends and local news.
One way to really enjoy yourself on a night like this where the mood is relaxed and the conversation, and wine, flows is to invest in a garden chess set and have some intellectual fun.
Oversized chess sets bring a sense of adventure to the game, it's challenging and stimulating but can be seen as too serious by some to get them interested. However, combine it with the outdoors and a giant board with life-sized figures easily set-up in the back garden, and suddenly you'll even have the kids interested in garden chess with everyone wanting to participate.
When deciding on a board to suit your needs there are 3 main elements to consider, the size of the board, your budget, and the type of material it's manufactured from. Before rushing out to buy anything measure the garden area as you'll need room to set it up and still move around comfortably, anything from 12 to 120 inches is available.
A giant chess set designed specifically for the outdoors looks just the same as regular tabletop sets, but the pieces can be up to 25 inches high and the actual board twenty times bigger. Commercial garden sets have special features to ensure they last longer, polyurethane plastic means they are resistant to rips and breakages and harsh weather so can be left outside.
The traditional black and white colours make outdoor boards more visible for play, and the pieces are weighted down to prevent them from being blown over or knocked down during play, but are still light enough to be moved around easily enough. Some have two-part screw off bases that are filled with sand or water to weight them down. Pieces are generally made from premium plastic molding which is suitable for all kinds of hot and cold weather.
Nylon chessboards fold up really small for fast, trouble-free setup and storage, however if you prefer something more durable then it might be better to take a look at conventional plastic interlocking chessboards. Although they involve more work in setting up they are sturdier and withstand tough surfaces. Supplied as 64 individual squares you put them together yourself which isn't too difficult.
First-class jumbo-sized garden chess sets should be weatherproof, and windproof as the board is pegged down in each corner. They are great fun for picnics, barbeques, family trips to the countryside, and any other kind of festive occasion. Kids and adults alike will get enjoyment from them, making them a sound investment. Mesh designs are better for the lawn as they enable the grass underneath to still have access to the light and moisture keeping it healthy.
Wooden chess sets, such as House of Staunton, are increasingly popular due to their durability and classic, simple style. Prices are low and they last for years. They are a good choice for a family to play on as they are strong and sturdy. Take a look online as there are many bargains to be found in traditional timbers such as walnut and mahogany, and boxwood and red sandalwood, each with their own unique grain.
Garden chess sets are a lot of fun and ideal for kid's parties, family barbecues or any other kind of celebration that can be taken outside in the summertime. They are also a subtle way to encourage your kids to learn to play; with figures almost as big as them they'll never think of chess as being boring again!
James Bennett has the ideal job. He's an enthusiastic player of chess and 3 years ago won the title of Grandmaster chess player. Travelling all over the world looking for high quality and affordable folding chess sets for the past year means he is a very lucky guy.

Spring Gardening Tips For Eager Gardeners

I don't know about you, but when the weather starts to get warmer I want to get right out in the garden and start working. Of course, it's usually way too early in the season when I get that urge and the ground is too cold still to do any type of planting. That being said, there are a few spring gardening tips for eager gardeners that can help to satisfy your gardening inclinations.
Take Stock
The first thing you want to do is take stock of your garden as well as your garden set up. In the garden, you can take this time to remove leaves, branches and other things that have accumulated and rake up some of the soil so that your garden is ready for spring planting.
In the tool shed, make sure that you have all the tools that you need and the tools are in good repair. This might be a good time to make a list of new tools that you need to buy and even take a trip to the home gardening center.
Make Plans
Early spring is the time to plan out this year's garden and there is nothing more fun than going to the home gardening store and seeing what goodies are available to help you in your gardening efforts this year. You can check out all the new tools as well as the new plants and fertilizers that can help you in the garden. Take your time and make notes of the interesting things you see and you will be able to plan out both a budget and a gardening plan that makes sense for you this year.
You can also take this time to actually draw out the plantings that you want in your garden. This might include removing plants and planting new ones and it's good to have this drawn out on the map so you can get an idea of how many plants you're going to need to make your dream garden come true.
Start Seeds
If you are really in the mood for some early spring gardening, then you'll definitely want to start sprouting some of your seeds. You want to do these indoors if the weather is very harsh. Growing from seed is very rewarding and you want to make sure you start them early enough so that they will be well-established by the time it's ready for them to go out into the garden.
Check Your Soil
Now is the time to get a soil sample and you can use your own soil tester to find out if your soil is lacking any nutrients. Some local gardening centers will test the soil for you if you just bring down a small sample. This way you can find out what types of nutrients you are lacking and buy the appropriate fertilizers and amendments to bring your soil up to the perfect quality so that you can grow lush vibrant plants this growing season.
Next, get more early spring gardening tips and find out how to grow gorgeous flowers and plants.

Choosing Gardening Tools

There are many tools that are available to gardeners. Indeed the range can be quite confusing to the newcomer to the hobby who may be uncertain about which tools are needed to perform given tasks. Hand tools are very important for both garden creation and subsequent maintenance. However, the spade, fork, hoe and rake are the most important. Few gardens can function successfully without all of these.
Spades are essential for digging, for planting and for removing various materials such as soil and sand around the garden. They are available in varying lengths and weights, some being lightweight and especially designed for ladies. There are two main kinds of spade, the digging spade and the border variety. The latter is narrow-bladed, light in weight and used for general maintenance and planting purposes, while the digging spade is a robust tool which is intended for turning over raw garden soil during fall and winter.
Garden forks come in similar variety, there being both border and digging kinds. The border fork is mostly used for pricking over the soil amongst plants. The digging variety can perform a similar function to the digging spade except that it provides only a complete inversion of the soil, whereas the spade can be used for both trenching and double digging as well.
Hoes come in a number of configurations and are used to knock down the lumpy soils created by the spade and fork. They are also used for cultivating between plants and rows of plants as well as for taking out seed drills. The Dutch hoe is a flat-bladed tool that is used solely for cultivating while the swan neck hoe is excellent for taking out seed drills as well as mounding-up potatoes.
Rakes are usually solid tined and made of metal. They put the finishing touches to soil preparation before seed sowing. Spring-tined rakes and wooden landscape rakes are mostly used for raking up cut grass and fallen leaves, although the spring-tined variety is tough enough to be used as a scarifier. A dummy rake, which consists of a flat board on edge that replaces the tines of a wooden landscape rake is used for grading soil, especially during lawn preparation.
Apart from spades, forks, rakes and hoes, most gardeners require a number of smaller complementary hand tools. For planting small plants a trowel is necessary. This is like a much-reduced version of a spade but with a blade, which is curved and bowed. While the trowel may be regarded as the diminutive version of the border spade, the hand fork is the equivalent of the border fork. It is used in confined spaces, such as the rock garden, for pricking over the soil amongst plants.
Onion hoes are like large swan-neck hoes in shape but much reduced and with very short handles. They originated in Europe and were first intended, as the name suggests, for using amongst commercial onion crops, not only cleaning the rows of weeds, but also removing crowded plants. Now they are utilized for all hoeing tasks where a larger hoe is difficult to manoeuvre.
Secateurs and loppers are essential in the majority of gardens. Secateurs are well-balanced hand cutters which are used in pruning and for cutting back herbaceous plants. It is always worthwhile buying a high quality pair so that they not only last for a long time, but also do a good clean job of cutting. For left-handed people it is possible to buy left-handed secateurs and there is also a design with rolling handles, which are easier for gardeners who have a weak grip to use.
Loppers are enlarged versions of secateurs used two-handed. They do all the same things that secateurs do, but on larger branches. They are usually straight bladed, but there are versions with curved blades that are popularly referred to as parrot bills. To complete the array of tools necessary for pruning, there are special small hand saws with narrow blades and coarse teeth that are especially designed for pruning.
There are many mechanically operated tools for the garden, but the lawnmower and rotavator are probably the most commonly used. Hedge trimmers are also important along with shredders and chippers.
Lawn mowers are available in two basic kinds, the cylinder mower and the rotary type. Both are well suited to specific jobs. Cylinder lawnmowers are used on fine decorative lawns. The more blades the cylinder has, the finer the cut, those mowers used for very fine lawns having as many as sixteen blades. Rotary mowers on the other hand can do a good job of cutting a domestic lawn in a backyard, but with adjustment can be used for much longer grass than might be thought conventional. They are available both electrically and petrol driven.
Rotavators cultivate the soil with a series of fast rotating slashing blades, sometimes on a spindle, occasionally on a drum. They are very effective at creating a tilth on sandy or medium loam soils, but on clay soils can often produce a polished pan beneath the surface at a spade's depth, thereby creating drainage and rooting problems. Most models are driven by petrol engines. With both mowers and rotavators it is wise to have a demonstration in the garden before purchasing. Not all are as good as they at first might appear and they really should be tested under realistic conditions.
Hedge trimmers are available powered by a small petrol engine or by electricity. Most of the modern brands are excellent value being of very light weight and in the case of electrical models having built in safety cut-out facilities. They have various cutter bar lengths, the size chosen depending very much upon the configuration of the hedge or topiary to be trimmed. Shredders are available as both petrol and electrical models. These shred garden waste prior to composting. Chippers on the other hand pulverize woody material and are best hired in rather than purchased.
Finally we have the most useful and probably most used tool in the garden - the wheelbarrow. A builder's wheelbarrow is far better than any garden wheelbarrow, unless you are not strong enough to wheel it when fully laden. Modern garden wheelbarrows are fine for pushing a few weeds around in, but the builder's wheelbarrow is what is necessary for moving soil, rocks or paving.
If you decide upon a standard garden wheelbarrow, then choose one of the models with two wheels. These are more stable and resilient than the traditional one wheeled kind. Generally avoid the kind of wheelbarrow where a ball replaces the wheel, unless you garden on very wet, heavy clay soil. They are not very efficient and most gardeners find them quite tiring to use.
Philip Swindells has over 40 years gardening experience. A former botanical garden curator and an international horticultural consultant, he has worked extensively overseas. The Author of more than 50 gardening books, he has been awarded a Quill and Trowel Award by the Garden Writers’ Association of America. He is also a former UK Garden Writer of the Year. He writes a popular daily garden blog with gardening news, views and updates

Garden Hose Reels - The Short Story

Are you tired of garden hoses that lie around in your garden all the time, looking dirty and posing a risk to the safety of you and others? Ever snagged a foot in a tangle of garden hose and fallen? Feels stupid, let me tell you! There has to be a better way, right? The best way to store a garden hose is to coil it up - It is just that there are many ways to do that. If you are not content making a sloppy looking loop hanging your hose over a large nail on your garage wall, you should look into getting a garden hose reel. This can be everything from the functional equivalent of a car rim mounted on a wall, to a fully motorized hose reel cart and everything in between. Something for every taste and budget then.
So what do you need then? Are you content with a wall mounted garden hose reel with a manual crank, or would it be better with either a motor to pull the hose back in, or perhaps a so-called retractable hose would suffice? This is the same principle used on your vacuum cleaner - where you press a button and the cord rolls back in, due to a spring-mechanism. Some models now do this with the use of water pressure instead of a spring. Wall mounted models are fine if you don't mind looking at the hose hanging on the reel, or if you don't have a really large garden. But if you just want that hose out of your sight whenever you are not using it, then a portable reel, like a garden hose reel cart, may be the solution for you. This is really just a hose reel on a frame with wheels on it, but it means you can easily transport the entire hose to the faucet located the nearest to where you need to use water, instead having the hassle of running 300 feet of hose halfway across your property. Some of you people with large gardens may have had a water tap installed somewhere out there - in your actual garden - to make watering tasks easier and faster to execute. This is where a good hose reel carts comes in very handy indeed.
When looking at hose reels, the choice of material often comes down to either steel or plastic. Painted steel reels can look great in a classic sort of way, and are often the only choice for larger garden hose reel carts. Plastic is great for the smaller ones and for the cheap and simple wall-mounted reels too. Both materials have their place and each may do the job you need done - depending on your needs.
More about garden hose reels [] and garden hoses [] at

Organic Gardening Pest Control Tips

Seemingly everyone has problems with pests attacking plants that you have worked so hard to get in the ground and to grow. Fortunately, you can find ways to deal with these small, unwanted pests without having to disturb the harmony in nature or doing harm to anything. Organic gardening pest control is definitely a critical component to keeping a lasting and vibrant organic garden.
Organic gardening pest control starts before planting anything into the ground. Preparing garden soil properly can certainly help repel unwanted insects and provide plants an excellent, healthy start making certain that they are much less vulnerable to attacks from insect pests and fungal infections.
All-natural, organic gardening pest control features quite a few things that you could currently have in your own home. Garlic cloves, rhubarb, strong tobacco, and fish are some of the malodorous items that will repel some of the unwanted insects. Other items include oils like mineral and vegetable oils, vegetable formula soaps, and even the burning heat produced by chili peppers.
It is a good idea to keep in mind that you ought to only use what you must to get rid of unwanted pests. Making use of commercial sprays, regardless of whether they are organic and eco-friendly can cause harm to the plants. If you still choose to use a spray, by no means apply the spray to the plants while there is direct sunlight. It could burn leaves and make them turn brown.
Do not discount the idea of using your eyes too. They are excellent deterrents for you to keep unwanted insects from damaging your plants. When you notice a caterpillar on a plant's leaf, just pick it off. Observe what exactly is all-around the plants. As an example, if you notice moths or butterflies hovering about the garden, work with an organic pest management soil mixture which is targeted for only on those kinds of pests.
Insect pests like to choose a broad swath of vegetation in a single section of the garden, therefore apply variety by simply placing other kinds of plant life in the middle of each other. Your own, personal organic garden does not need to be symmetrical with tidy compact rows. Bust it up with variety throughout the garden plot.
Still, insects will probably be your organic garden's best friend. Using ladybug, bees, lacewings, and various other beneficial insects help keep harmful, unwanted insects away from your garden. This truly does deliver results.
Try things out to determine precisely what works well with your own organic garden. One example is when you mix a soil repellent and discover that the unwanted insects you had been attempting to concentrate on are coming back again, remix it to be a bit stronger next time. Or add more of the active ingredients to the current soil mixture.
Fungal infections offer another set of issues other than what insects bring. Certain vegetation is a great deal more susceptible to these kinds of problems. As an illustration, peas, zucchini, and cucumbers are quite vulnerable to mildew; however, the problem could be removed using a cream milk spray.
Watch your garden with care and never panic when you notice an issue with unwanted pests. Organic gardening pest control has progressed significantly and the simplest answers to your own challenges start with looking on the internet for some answers.
There is more information for those looking for gardening help. You can find help for a good indoor herb garden or about developing some goodgardening soil. Visit to learn more.

Tomato Gardening Tips

You need to know right off that being able to grow the best tomatoes isn't an easy proposition. You need to know how to give them the best care and how to create the best growing conditions to ensure that they get everything they need. What they need is sufficient light, good soil, and lots of water. The soil needs to have warmed up enough before you plant them. Once you have your plants growing you then have to become a caretaker. You care for them by trimming the leaves of your tomatoes. This is done because it is believed that it's the leaves that have been responsible for most of the problems that occur when growing tomatoes.
Exposure to sunlight cannot be stressed enough. This can be either artificial or natural, but the more of it your tomatoes can get the higher yield you can expect to have. So to ensure that your young tomato plants get the light they need to grow, it is recommended that you put them under grow lights. Then once they have a good start you can take them outside. Then you can put them in a part of the garden where you know they will receive plenty of natural sunlight.
Any of the tomato growing experts will tell you that your tomatoes grow best under conditions of warmth. Before you ever start your tomatoes one good tip is to first cover or enclose the part of your garden you plan to use and heat it. This can take you as long as several weeks which is why early planning needs to take place. Warming up your garden spot is not a guarantee of juicy tomatoes, but it actually does accelerate the speed for their growth. This alone makes it worth doing.
A common mistake many gardeners make is to crowd their seedling so they can get a higher yield. I will let you know right now that this may get you some more tomatoes, but you lose a lot in quality. Tomato gardening works at its best when you space out your seedlings to let them have enough room and to spread out. While they continue to grow some experts recommend that you move them to a larger place that will further facilitate their growth and give them enough space to grow to their full size.
Another tip for your tomato gardening is fanning your seedlings. It's not really clear why this works but it is a common belief that tomato plants will grow better when placed under a constant light breeze. It might be that a breeze forces your plants to develop stronger stems. You won't need to keep a fan on them all day, but just half an hour a day should be sufficient.
For more information about growing tomatoes please visit our website Home Grown Tomatoes.

Aquaponic Gardening: Frequently Asked Questions

What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (the study and raising of fish and other aquatic life) and hydroponics (growing plants in water versus soil). While plants can be grown in water alone, it is necessary to add the nutrients a plant needs to the water. An amazing fact of life is that fish emulsion (all the nasty little things like ammonia that pollute your aquarium or fish tank) provides exactly what plants need to thrive. And to complete the great circle of nature, the process of the plant taking what it needs from the polluted water filters the water for the fish.
What types of fish are used in aquaponics?
The type of fish (or other aquatic life) you use is dependent upon three things: your climate, your personal tastes, and whether or not you plan to eat the fish you raise. Fresh water fish is most commonly used, with tilapia being the most popular choice--at least for edible fish. For areas where water temperature control could be problematic, catfish or bluegill could be used. If you don't necessarily want to raise the fish to eat, you can even use goldfish or koi. With goldfish though, you need to make sure that the fish can't get to the plant's roots, as they are known to nibble on them.
How does aquaponics compare with hydroponics?
Basically, aquaponics is an advanced form of hydroponics. The study of hydroponics is simply the process of growing plants without the use of soil. Soil-less gardening, in other words. As water has no real nutrients for the plant, these nutrients must be artificially added. Aquaponics takes it one more step by adding fish. In this way the plants get what they need in a totally natural and organic way.
Can aquaponics be done indoors?
Absolutely! In fact, many aquaponic gardeners have found that basements make a terrific space for their gardens. With the climate controlled temperatures of an indoor garden, you can raise vegetables all year long. Want a salad? Just go the basement and pick some lettuce.
One thing you do have to make sure of though, is that your garden gets enough light. In an indoor space, that means adding grow lights to your system. Luckily, this is not a difficult addition.
What types of plants can you raise?
You can raise just about any plants in an aquaponic garden. Of course, it will depend on where you place your garden and how much time you wish to spend on it. Some plants are simply easier to raise than others. Most of the green, leafy types of vegetables will do well in this type of garden. Other popular choices include herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers, cantaloupe, watercress, radishes, onions, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, melons, and even strawberries.You could quite literally have a fresh produce section in your for the picking!
In Summary:
Aquaponics can be a fun way to raise a sustainable garden and even some fresh fish to boot. The best part is that all this can be done inside your own home. Have you started your aquaponic garden yet? What are you waiting for?
If you are interested in starting your very own aquaponic garden, a great DIY guide is essential. For more information, feel free to visit my page on Aquaponic Plans for Gardening. Thanks for reading!

Organic Gardening - Growing Fresh Fruit in Containers

Container gardens are a great method of gardening that can be used with many different crops, berries, herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables can all be grown using this technique. Ideal particularly when limited space or even soil conditions are the reason you can't plant the gardens you want, even a great way to extend your growing season.
Container gardening is also a great way to get children involved in growing plants and to learn about how and what makes plants grow, from the soil to the mature plant. Letting them learn how to grow crops with organic methods will teach them how the ecosystem works naturally in nature.
Growing fruit and berries in container is becoming more popular with the home gardener. The ability of growing fresh fruit in a limited space makes this method of gardening a cost effective way to garden, along with being less work that the traditional method of row gardening. Containers can be planted with a variety of plants and are a great way to add an attractive appearance to a patio while providing a healthy crop for you to enjoy.
Container size, soil and drainage are the three concerns that need attention when growing a container garden. A good healthy organic soil or soil-less potting mix that retains moisture, nutrients and drains well is what is needed for this type of gardening.
With container gardening, you also can get a head start on your gardening by planting indoors and extend the growing season by being able to bring your plants in when cooler weather has a threat of frost. There are many benefits that a container garden can provide.
If you are new to this method of gardening, it is best to start out with small crops like herbs, lettuce or even strawberries. Tomatoes and peppers are also two good choices to be grown in a container. Stay with the berries, fruits and vegetables that you enjoy the most, you can always expand with more containers once you are comfortable with what you are growing. Trying to grow to many plants at one time, even with the traditional method of row gardening, can get you discouraged when they become to much work.
Companion planting and succession planting are two other methods of gardening that work well with container gardening. Grow crops that can benefit each other in the same container and replace early crops with crops that mature later in the season.
Keeping your containers well watered is very important. Containers are different than the traditional row method of garden that is grown directly in the soil, containers tend to dry out easier, especially in the hot weather months.
When you grow your own organic berries, fruits, herbs and vegetable in containers, you know where they come from and what was used to grow them. There is nothing fresher than a crop picked straight from the garden to the dinner table, along being grown without the use of toxic chemicals.
A environment friendly and healthy way of gardening. Organic Gardening is away of gardening in harmony with nature. Growing a healthy and productive crop in a way that is healthier for both you and the environment.
John Yazo

How to Grow a Vegetable Garden! Step by Step!

How to grow a vegetable garden requires knowledge of what your vegetables need to survive. So if your new to vegetable gardening do not worry because im going to guide you through the entire process. Also be sure to check out my bio box below for a free guide to get you through the process. But for now lets go over the basics you need to do to get your garden ready.
- Clear out the area and make sure its ideal for your vegetables to grow. So how do you know if its ideal or not you ask? Well just make sure you rake it clean so that no leaves or weeds are around to hamper your gardens growth.
- Next you will want to till the soil and really break it up so that your garden will be able to breath properly.
- Once the soil is tilled and broken up you should apply the fertilizer you plan to use.
- Once the fertilizer is applied you will once again need to till the soil to mix the fertilizer in so it works its full potential.
- Next you will need to add some water to the soil. Do not add to much water, make sure that none of the water is still standing at the end. Learning how to grow a vegetable garden can be a trail and error process at first so don't worry if you mess up your first time around. If you add too much water just wait a few days and try again.
- After the water is added you are now ready to begin planting once the soil is moist and there is no standing water!
See how easy that was? You know have a spaced cleared out and ready for your first little vegetable garden. Now the fun part really begins, you will need to go get your desired seeds at your local nursery and get started! You can check out my bio box below for a free vegetable gardening guide. I hope this little article on how to grow a vegetable garden has helped you, good luck!
Get A Free Vegetable Gardening Guide That Will Help You At And Ask Me Any Questions You Want OnHow To Grow A Vegetable Garden

Why Gardening for Children Is Essential in the 21st Century

The garden is a place of colour and variety seen in flowers, foliage, small wild animals and insects. For many people it is a place of relaxation, being positioned usually at the back of the home; the garden is seen as a quiet retreat from the bustling of the busy neighbourhood. Anecdotally, gardening has often been cited as a key pastime and means of exercise for older people, who literally are known to spend hours pottering around in their gardens. Amongst the busy professional it can be a status symbol with focus placed on the size, design and water features which will allow for sophisticated dining via garden parties and barbeques.
The interest in gardening is beginning to grow in momentum once again in light of the benefits for young, inquisitive and active children. Despite computerized interactive games, the internet and satellite television, physical outdoor exercise is paramount for the healthy development of children. With the array of activities possible in the garden, there are a growing number of initiatives worldwide focussed on increasing the number of child gardeners. For instance, in New Zealand, the Featherston School has seen the benefit of gardening for provoking innovation, teamwork and focus amongst the team of child gardeners who participated in a gardening competition. In Syria, a school teacher has been reported to have emphasised the role gardening can play to help provide a means of escapism for children caught in war-torn countries. The United Kingdom has now seen a growing number of families turn to allotments where they are able to grow and sell their own vegetables and fruit. In fact the waiting lists for allotments are lengthy for some neighbourhoods.
What does this mean for our children? Well, most countries are facing economic hardship and recession, in extreme cases there is increased poverty and risk of malnutrition as food costs and energy bills soars. The ability to turn to the garden for both recreation and sustenance has become a real and viable option for many. Children are best placed to be trained, enthused and exposed to the benefits of gardening, and growing their own food. There is a real danger that an entire generation can be far removed from the joys of gardening and to greater or lesser extent farming. To avoid this, children need to once again see the benefits of sowing, nurturing, and reaping ones' own goods, which can be used or sold. Society has a responsibility to equip the next generation on how to produce natural goods which are not necessarily reliant on high technology equipment. Children must also be able to enjoy the beauty of the garden and recognise they too can contribute to the stunning array of colours as seen on some of the nationals gardening events such as the Chelsea Flower show in the United Kingdom.
Gardening for children needs to be promoted in schools, children reading story books and television so that the youth of today can become the expert gardeners and farmers of tomorrow.
Why not get a copy of Rebecca and the Strangest Garden on Earth on Amazon Kindle Store: or go to

5 Important Benefits of Gardening Towards a Healthy Well-Being

It is not a secret that gardening has a lot of benefits. It does not only provide nutritious food on the table but it also allows you to have an improved your well-being. This is why more and more people are picking up their gardening tools to plant different kinds of herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers. However, knowledge and patience are just a few among the many elements needed for successful gardening. Most gardeners say that gardening is not an easy task but the fruits are definitely worth all the hard work. Here are some of the many benefits of home gardening.
1. Improve physical health. Gardening is a good form of exercise. Raking, digging, hoeing and carrying garden supplies can be good alternatives for expensive gym workouts or equipment. In a research conducted by the American Council on Exercise, activities related to gardening are proven to build muscles and effectively burn around 300 calories in the human body in an hour. Like almost all exercise routines, gardening also has certain cardiovascular benefits even when done at least 30 minutes a day. It can also lower insulin resistance which could result to metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
Being physically fit affects mental alertness and improves mental abilities. Experts suggest that a good exercise helps in the development of nerve cells in some parts of the brain where learning and memory retention are involved. It also boosts other mental skills such as scheduling, planning and multi-tasking.
2. Heal the mind. There is such a thing called as a "healing garden" which is said to work wonders on special children, Alzheimer's patients and stroke victims. Being one with nature and taking comfort with the familiar sounds, sights, smell and texture of a beautiful garden stimulates a patient's sensory organs in non-conventional ways. In a study done by Roger Ulrich, a professor at Texas A&M University, natural scenes improves stress recovery by stirring up positive feelings or emotions and blocking stressful and negative thoughts.
Gardening helps ease depression, anxiety and stress. Ulrich's research also states that by looking at nature, a person may incur a change in the electrical activity of his brain, respiration, muscle tension and alter emotional states. Thus, stopping and smelling the roses can actually help you have peace of mind and free yourself from stress.
3. Boost nutritional intake. It is most likely that gardeners will eat their vegetables than non-gardeners. Fruits and vegetables are rich with nutrients that the body needs to have a strong immune system. It is also an abundant source of antioxidants which keep the brain healthy and lessen the damages caused by aging. Dark colored veggies such as broccoli, beets, red, eggplant, bell pepper and spinach have high levels of antioxidants.
4. Self expression. Gardening is also considered as a form of art which can be used as an effective means of expressing yourself. Being able to express yourself improves your wellbeing. A garden can be used as an extension of your personality and thus, tells so much about you.
5. Develop good traits. Gardening helps you develop some valuable traits such as maturity and care for other living things. Furthermore, as you nurture your plants, you grow more attached to nature and develop a sense of responsibility to take care and preserve the environment. These traits can also be passed to your children as they see how much you value your garden and the importance of growing plants in your own backyard.
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Gardening Tips For Beginners

If you happen to be someone who is new to gardening, but are looking to get more serious about growing plants, this article will provide you with 4 essential steps you need to follow to maximize your gardening experience. Even if you haven't tried container gardening, follow these 4 gardening tips and you will be on your way to a positive experience.
Firstly, when it comes to home gardening make sure you are properly assessing the conditions on your gardening area. You want to make sure you consider how the location of buildings and trees affect your garden, as they can cast considerable shade and thus impact the amount of sunlight plants receive in a given day. Further, an excellent gardening tip for a beginner would be to assess the ability of your soil to properly drain, thus ensuring your plants are not over hydrated. Lastly, whether you are vegetable gardening or perennial gardening, you always want to check the fertility of the soil.
Once the gardening area has been assessed and deemed fit for your intended use, it is important that you clear the area of all debris. Removing large stones and miscellaneous other pieces of wood or even garbage will ensure that your gardening area is a prime to produce flourishing plants.
Taking a closer look at your soil is the next step in bringing your gardening ideas to fruition. When assessing the soil in your garden, it is important to ensure that you have the optimum mixture of clay, sand and silt present to promote strong plant growth. A strong gardening tip in this regards is to ensure that you take advantage of gardening tools such as fertilizers to ensure that you have the proper mineral balance in your garden.
The last gardening tip for beginners is to ensure that if you are buying pre grown plants, that you avoid those which look diseased on the shelves. Avoiding these plants will ensure that your gardening efforts are maximized. Also, should you decide to start from scratch and purchase seeds for your garden, ensure that the seeds come from a reputable brand.
Dontel Montelbaun is a regular contributor at and is an enthusiast on all things gardening and landscaping.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden From Scratch!

1. Plot out your garden area. Decide on what you want to plant and how much room you will need to grow those plants. Also, the amount of sunlight is very important in picking out the proper placement of your garden. You will want an area that gets direct sunlight most for the day. Something else to take into account is the drainage of the land. You will not want your garden in a depressed area of land because water will tend to flood those areas and won't drain properly. I prefer using a slightly sloped piece of land or a flat piece of land that retains and drains water properly. Once you have chosen the location and size of you garden you will want to mark the boundaries of the garden with stakes or flags.
2. Next is the part of the job that will likely take the most time, preparing the soil. Preparing the soil means two things to me:
A. Cutting and removing the sod. You have several options when deciding how you want to get rid of the grass and get down to the soil. If you have a very large garden you may want to hire somebody or rent the equipment (bobcat) to tear up the grass. If you own a rototiller (you can rent one), you can use this to remove the sod. There a two main types of tillers, front tine or rear tine. Rear tine tillers have the blades in the back of the machine and typically are a bit easier to use due to the fact that you (as the operator) get more weight/leverage over top the blades. Front tine tillers have the blades in the front and can be a bit harder to use on hard sod or compacted soil since there is not as much weight/leverage over top the blades to make them bite in as well as a rear tine tiller. If you have a very small garden area then you may also choose to use a shovel to tear up the sod. Personally, my brother and I used a tiller to tear up a rather large patch of land for our garden. We would run the tiller over the grass to break it up then rake the grass clumps into one large pile in the corner of our garden, which eventually decomposed to plain dirt. We had to run the tiller over the garden area several times and rake clumps of grass each time before we had a workable dirt area. This can be a back breaking task so make sure to take your time and rest occasionally.
B. Getting the soil ready to plant in. Plants will produce their best when they have a healthy, somewhat loose, soil to grow in. This means that you want a nutrient rich soil that retains just the right amount of moisture. You can take soil samples into many garden centers to get a test done. A soil test will tell you what you need to add or balance out in your soil. The three key nutrients in soil that you will need to worry about are: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Any and all of these nutrients can easily be added using organic or non-organic methods. Ask your garden center what you should use for your soil. I was fortunate with my garden because the land we put our garden on used to be old farm land and was great soil. We simply tilled the soil several times to loosen it up before we created rows.
3. Next you will want to create your rows and plant your seeds or seedlings. To do this, follow the directions for row and seed spacing on the back of your seed packages (you can also find all your planting information at the website listed in the resource box below). Many plants require 24" to 36" between rows. Make sure to leave adequate room between your rows to allow you to walk and/or till between them. I like to mark where my rows will be, by driving stakes into the ground on each end of the row and tying twine between the stakes (I use a tape measure to mark the distance between my stakes).
Steve Gunther is passionate about vegetable gardening. Though only introduced to gardening himself a couple of years ago, he has immersed himself in the gardening community. Steve is currently starting a website dedicated to vegetable gardening [] and a blog:

Do You Make These Mistakes When Gardening?

Gardening is a fantastic hobby to take up, especially the fact you will actually be reaping tangible rewards from it. However, gardening is actually quite a complex affair as there are dozens upon dozens of factors to take into account, it's basically its own science.
Because many people take a light approach to it they end up making a number of common gardening mistakes, and here is a look at some you have probably been making.
The Right Amount of Water
This is one of the first gardening mistakes people make, too little or too much water. Don't feel bad, as watering the plants may be the hardest part of the process. If they are going to be watered too often with small quantities, a shallow root system will develop, making the plant prone to catching various types of diseases.
Not enough water basically leads the plant to die. Only water your plants when they need it. How to decide that? Well, simply touch the soil. If it's still a bit cold and damp, then wait until the moment it is dry and warm to the touch. Also, make sure to water only the soil and not the plant itself, unless specifically instructed to.
Knowing your Climate
In this day and age where more and more things have become possible, we are forgetting that many plants grown outside in the world are designed for a certain climate and won't be able to properly develop and survive outside of it. Don't plant sun loving plants if your yard is in the shade, nor should you look to plant water-loving plants if your summers are very hot and dry.
Find out which plants are native to your current climate, and plan your garden accordingly, you will be much happier with the results.
Working on your Planting
Just like watering, planting is an aspect of gardening that needs to be done just right, or it can mess up your whole project. Many people put the plants far too deep in the soil, depriving the plant's root of sunlight causing irreversible damages. Every plant has a root ball, and that's how big your hole should be dug.
In addition to that, you will also need to de-tangle the roots if they are twisted; you can use a bit of water or just your hands for this part of the process. Finally, the last aspect of your planting technique is to recognize the quality of your soil; you may end up using compost or some kind of fertilizer.
As you can see, gardening is almost like the combination of art and science; there are precise methods to do some things while others are a matter of your preferences and creativity.
While there are many more common gardening mistakes which you are probably making every day, start by trying to implement the afore-mentioned tips next time you plant something; once you've got it down, then you can look up some less common gardening mistakes and improve yourself further.
For the absolute do's and don'ts in organic gardening, go to
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Planting A Fruit Garden

When choosing which fruit to grow in your garden, consider the position you are intending to plant them in. Select good specimens of reliable and trouble free varieties that you like to eat. It is important to choose healthy and vigorous specimens when you are buying fruit. Whether you buy bare root container grown plants is a matter of personal preference, most varieties are available as both. Garden centers usually offer a limited range, but for the best choice and for unusual varieties or for trained forms you will probably find that you need to visit a specialist nursery.
When choosing a fruit tree, look for one with a sturdy, straight main trunk and several well spaced branches that are not too vertical. This is important because the angle between the branch and the trunk will determine how strong the branch will be in later years and, therefore, how much fruits the tree can bear. Fruit tree varieties are all grafted on to a root stock, and it is essential that you choose a type to suit your particular needs. It is also important to check that the union between the fruiting variety and root stock is well healed and strong, look for a bulge about six inches above the ground.
When you buy plum or cherry trees you should also check the branches for rough areas of bark and oozing sap, a sign of canker disease, as well as foliage with a silvery sheen, a sign of silver leaf disease. Avoid buying suspect plants. Eggplant can be grown in pots indoors and moved to large containers in a sheltered position outside when the weather is warmer. Plants that are not grown under glass take longer to mature, and the fruit will not be ready for harvesting until the autumn.
You will have bushier plants if the growing tip is pinched out when the eggplant is about twelve inches high. Allow only one fruit to develop on each shoot. Pinch out the growing tips of these shoots three leaves beyond the developing fruit. Melons can be grown very successfully in a green house; the plants are supported on a wire frame and the ripening fruit is held in a net. Harvest the fruit when the flower end gives slightly when pressed gently. A wide range of flowers can be raised in the green house, both to populate beds and containers outdoors and to provide colorful pot plants for the house.
The author is an expert in Ballet, Gymnastics And Health Related Topics. For more information on Ballet and Gymnastics products and information, please visit and for health related products and information, please visit

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How to Avoid Back Aches and Pains Whilst Gardening

Few things are more relaxing and emotionally fulfilling than gardening, yet a bad back can be a painful distraction that can all but ruin it. Thankfully there are a number of simple techniques that can minimize or even remove the risk of back pain and ensure that you needn't give up gardening because of your back. Try these tips and see if they work for you:
Do Stretching Exercises
A common cause of back pain is when muscles are moved too suddenly at the beginning of work. Before you start gardening be sure to do some simple stretching exercises that will make your muscles limber and less prone to strain.
Rest Often
Another all too common cause of back pain is over exerting yourself. Take your time, and if you feel the twinges of pain coming on then rest immediately. You will often find that the pain subsides quickly and you can return to work. "Easy Does It" should be your gardening motto!
Avoid Repetition
Many gardening activities that are harmless by themselves may result in back pain if done over and over again. Therefore mix up your gardening routine and avoid doing too much of one thing for too long. For example, when weeding pause to do a little watering in order to break the repetitive cycle of doing the same thing without a pause.
Avoid Lifting
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how often gardeners with bad backs try lifting heavy objects when they really should know better. If you must risk lifting be sure to bend your knees and to use tools such as a wheelbarrow. Ideally you should just wait to do your lifting chores until someone else is around who doesn't have a back problem and have them do the lifting for you. Pay them if you have to.
Use the Right Tools
A lot of the physical strain of gardening can be relieved with the proper tools. Tools that have long handles and extensions make it less necessary to stretch in potentially painful ways. Making sure the blades are sharp on your tools further reduces effort. Wearing a holster with the most commonly used tools attached to your shoulder or waist will prevent the need to bend over to get them out of a toolbox.
Choose the Right Plants
What kinds of plants you grow in your garden can make a difference in how much care and effort you have to exert to keep them healthy. Slow growing plants require less frequent care, while potted plants can be placed where it is easy and convenient to reach them.
With just a little creativity you can truly practice rewarding and pain free gardening.
For further details on landscape design, fencing and general garden maintenance in Birmingham, please visit Genuine Home Services, who have a great deal of knowledge in paving, sheds and tree surgery.

How to Attract Garden Birds to Your Garden

Attracting wild birds in to our gardens has been a long term passion in Britain for centuries. It's a great hobby which brings pleasure to so many people all over the world. Plus, it's easy to get into, with a relatively low startup cost! Attracting wild birds into your garden is easy, but does require some patience and a few basic requirements:
It is important to choose the correct feed to suit your garden birds.
• Providing great quality wild bird feeds including Mixed Seed Blends, Straights such as Peanuts, fats and even live or dried Mealworms.
• Ensure that you provide a wide variety of bird feed, as this will attract a greater range of species. Experiment with different wild bird feeds, for example, Goldfinch just love Nyger Seeds and Greenfinch enjoy Sunflower Seeds.
• Think about the size of the seed you are offering. Larger birds such as Woodpigeon will eat most seeds and can manage larger types of seed, whereas smaller species will need little seeds.
• It is really important that once you start feeding the birds in your garden, that you continue all year round as they become reliant on you as a food source.
• During autumn/winter food can be scarce and birds will seek high-energy (high-fat) foods such as Suet Blocks, Fat Balls, Suet Treats, Peanuts, Sultanas or Mixes containing Suet Treats to help maintain their fat reserves and survive bitter cold nights.
• Spring and summer bring the promise of warmer climes and better natural food resources, however it is key to keep feeding your birds all year round. During this season, wild birds will need high-protein feeds whilst they moult and rear their young, such as Black Sunflower Seeds, Sultanas, dried or live Mealworms and Waxworms and all-round nutritious seed mixes.
• Avoid using whole feeds Peanuts outside of a strong Peanut Feeder and Fatty foods, during spring and summer as they can be harmful to nestlings.
There are so many different types of feeders on offer, here's a guide to choosing the right one for you.
• Starting is easy, choose a simple feeder such as a great value Flip Top Feeder to begin to tempting wild birds into your garden.
• Once you've started to attract visitors, specialise your feeders. To attract some Finch using Nyger Seed try a specially designed Nyger Seed Feeder.
• Having problems with Squirrels? Opt for a Squirrel Proof Feeder or Squirrel Baffle to stop these cheeky critters stealing your wild bird feed.
• After a while, if you want to attract more species, why not provide multiple feeders of different sizes on a Feeding Station or tree branch. This will reduce the competition and make your garden even more tempting.
• Be patient and introduce first one feeder as a time as it takes a time for wild birds to get used to new feeders. But once they've established your garden as a source of food, they are back in no time.
A Safe Environment
Most garden birds are naturally cautious of new situations and it can take time to feel at home in your garden
• Hygiene is of the upmost importance, so ensure that your feeders, baths and nest boxes are regularly cleaned and safely disinfected to avoid the risk of disease.
• Where possible, ensure that your garden is free from netting and garden fabrics that could cause birds to become entangled - especially during the breeding and fledging seasons.
• Provide an environment that minimises the risk from predators such as cats and hawks. Use a Humane Deterrent such to ward of cats from your feeding area.
• Place feeders as far away from your house as you can to avoid birds colliding into windows and use Window Alerts.
• Provide a safe home such as a Nest Box or Roosting Pouch.
• Place out fresh, clean water daily if possible in a Bird Bath.
• Plant wild bird friendly plants that can also supplement their diet such as wild meadow species.
• Give them as much cover as possible; the more trees, shrubs and hedges you have the more likely they will set up home.

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