Tips For Selecting The Right Companion Plants For Your Garden

Companion planting is not a new thing. It has long been known that certain plant species have mutually beneficial effects when they are planted together. Each plays a part in the system. In many places in the world, people apply the agricultural knowledge to improve the yield of food crops. Definitely, the planting method can also be applied on a smaller scale. If you are into home food production, interplanting compatible crops will allow you to use garden space efficiently. There are some considerations, however, before adding new plants to your garden.

Before anything else, think about what you want to achieve. Think in terms of which plants can help the existing ones grow. If you are growing fruit trees, you can try to plant beans beneath them. Beans will interact positively with fruit trees by adding nitrogen to the soil. In North America, corn, beans and squash are planted together for better yields. Taller corn support beans, and in return, beans provide atmospheric nitrogen to the corn and squash. The broad leaves of squash create healthy ground cover, preventing the loss of moisture in the soil. Lupin, wildflower which is actually a legume, can also be used to fix nitrogen for your trees’ high needs.

If you are into veggies, intercropping radishes with lettuce is something worth trying. Lettuce, as you know, is one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. Not only it is an easy plant to grow and maintain, the leafy green can yield more than one crop per season. More than that, the leaves of the plant will serve as a living mulch to prevent moisture evaporation, helping the other plants get established.

Some people employ mixed plantings in order to minimize pest problems. The use of living plants to discourage harmful insects is definitely a great way to reduce the need for chemical treatments. Garlic, for example, is a good companion for tomatoes, as it can act as a natural repellent for red spider mites. Garlic, as well as onions, also makes a good team with fruit trees. They repel fruit tree borers that attack the woody parts of apple and pear trees. Onions and garlic are also beneficial as a pest repellent for insect pests that favor celery and carrots.

Another purpose of companion planting is to attract pollinators. Flowers like Spring bulbs, for example, can help with pollination by attracting bees. Talking about pollination, it is worth noting that fruit trees are either self-pollinating or require a pollinating partner to successfully bear fruit. If you are growing apples or pears, the technique of multiple planting may be needed for fertilization to occur. When choosing a good companion for them, you can simply opt to plant another cultivar of the same species to meet their pollination requirements.

While it is true that mixed planting offers various advantages, it is important to know what not to grow. To minimize nutrient competition, it is best to select species with different structures of roots. Cabbage, for example, goes well with carrot as they have different rooting patterns. Also do not forget that some plants can be somewhat invasive. Pairing cabbage family plants with strawberries is not a good idea. The rapid growth of strawberry may offend your older plants. Chemical or flavor interactions is another thing to consider. Growning onions and beans in the same spot is something to avoid.

When it comes to companion planting, many relationships have not been scientifically verified. Furthermore, there is no one magic solution. Like borage, marigold seems to benefit a wide variety of plants. It discourages various harmful insects. Even so, not all plants will tolerate its presence. With all that being said, growing a diverse mix of plants is usually beneficial. Your own experiments with different combinations and arrangements will in the end help you create a harmonious garden. Many resources are available which can be a good starting point.

5 Ancient Farming Practices That Are Worth Trying

It is always interesting to see the advancements of modern gardening practices. But that does not mean that older methods of planting can be forgotten. A number of centuries-old techniques can still be adapted by small-scale farmers or home gardeners for better plant growth. Here are some of them:

Floating Garden
The idea of floating garden has existed long long time ago. Aztec Indians are believed to have implemented this farming method for their crops. According to historians, sand-covered rafts served as floating gardens where squash and beans were grown. This creates an efficient delivery system for water and nutrients. The system is self-watering and self-fertilizing. Fish bring nutrient rich water to the plants while plants create food for the fish. More than that, it is very productive. This age old method of planting can also be a great way to protect crops from animals. For those with lakes or ponds, this proven old technique is definitely worth considering.

Clay Pot Irrigation
Watering can be a tricky thing. But in today’s world, modern devices exist that allow you to more efficiently use water. Water timers and controllers come in many different configurations. Some even allow you to control irrigation based on weather patterns. However, you may prefer to use a more traditional method of irrigation. If so, thenn this centuries-old technique is worth trying. The concept is simple. Unglazed, burried clay pots are used to provide constant drip irrigation. The porous nature of clay pots allows water to seep through the wall of the burried pots when the soil dries. Plants are grown around the base of the pot. Because the water source is in the ground, this little known watering system can help reduce water loss through evaporation.

Terracing
The Incan terrace farming system is known to be very productive and efficient in terms of water use. Today’s gardeners can tap into this ancient strategy to make the most productive use of their sloping gardens. Leveling or terracing a sloping garden helps reduce erosion and allow rainwater to seep into the soil. It also makes gardening easier. Since it allows planting at different levels, you can irrigate different areas at different times. A great way to create several mini-gardens in your backyard. Terracing a sloping yard may not be as easy as it sounds. Every garden is unique and requires a different build approach. However, it is well worth the effort. A range of materials — treated wood, bricks, rocks — can be used to form the retaining walls.

Lithic Mulching
As the name implies, lithic mulch or rock garden is to cover the ground with a layer of stones. Ancient Rapanui people are believed to have implemented this strategy to reduce soil erosion from wind and water. Prehistoric lithic-mulch gardens also have positive effects on soil moisture and soil temperature. Compared to bare soil, less water evaporates from lithic-mulched soil. Unlike organic mulches, lithic mulchs do nothing to improve soil structure. That said, using this strategy, fluctuations in soil temperature can be reduced. The rock material acts as a solar collector during the day and then releases that heat energy into the soil at night. It also prevents soil temperature from becoming too hot during the day. This is possible because rough surface increases wind turbulence.

Biochar
This soil-building method was first discovered by Amazonian tribes. Basically, Biochar is produced by slowly burning organic matter under oxygen starved conditions. The porous nature of biochar enables soil to retain water and plant nutrients much longer than unimproved soil. It also serves as a habitat for many beneficial organisms. Another environmental benefit of biochar is that it is carbon negative, meaning it can keep carbon out of the atmosphere. There is scepticism about the effectiveness of biochar as a soil enhancer and a reliable carbon storage. As a gardener, it is up to you whether or not to adapt this ancient knowledge to the needs of your land.

5 Tips For Low Cost Greenhouse Gardening

A well-designed greenhouse can help you grow a wide range of plants during unfavorable conditions. Unfortunately, setting up and operating a greenhouse can be a costly endeavor. If you have thought about having a greenhouse, there are ways to keep your expenses to a minimum.

Foundation
A solid foundation will make your greenhouse more secure and stable. However, though it is desirable in some circumstances, a greenhouse foundation is actually not a necessity. Many greenhouses are installed as a free-standing unit and sit on compacted soil. Just be sure the ground is flat and level, and the frame is well anchored down to prevent weather damage. A solid concrete pad can be quite expensive. Unless you are planning to build a large unit, there is no need to spend money on unnecessary materials.

Frame
When it comes to framing greenhouses, there are a wide variety of materials to choose from. Each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Aluminum does not offer good insulation value. However, it is relatively inexpensive. Unlike steel, it will not rust or erode. A good option for you looking for a very low-maintenance material. PVC is a cheaper option to alumunium. As with aluminium, it is lightweight and easy to work with. UV-treated PVC is long-lasting. Many hobby greenhouses sold in kits come with PVC frames. Unless you garden in a very windy location, building a greenhouse out of PVC pipes can be a great route to take.

Covering
Greenhouse coverings are made of many different materials, including glass, polycarbonate, polyethylene, and acrylic. They are available in various thicknesses. Polyethylene is the least expensive option. Polyethylene film and PVC pipe are often used for constructing hobby-type backyard greenhouses. Glass and acrylic, though are best for multi-year applications, are very expensive. In houses with double glazing, the difference in up-front cost can be very large. Co-poly film is available in thicknesses of 3 mm, 4 mm, and 6 mm. The low-cost material is only good for one or two seasons. That said, greenhouse grade, UV protected polyethylene can last several years. For cold climates and heavy snow areas, you will definitely need more than thin polyethene plastic covering for your greenhouse. But for many of us, it is a good, cheap option to get started.

Heating
One primary purpose of a greenhouse is to extend the growing season. That said, heating a greenhouse can be expensive. To lower energy expenses, passive heating methods can be implemented. Thermal mass materials like water or stone can be used to store solar energy during the day and release that energy at night when the greenhouse drops in temperature. This natural heating method is very popular due to its low upfront cost. Compost pile heater is another common greenhouse heating system. This method takes advantage of the biological activity of aerobic bacteria that breaks down organic material and give off waste heat. These methods alone may not be sufficient for four-season operation. Some people who operate four-season greenhouses combine active and passive heating. However, the above mentioned heating systems can help provide increased warmth during the colder parts of the year.

Cooling
There are ways to cool down a greenhouse without spending a lot of money. Depending on where you live, exhaust fans and passive ventilation may be all you need to extract the warm air out of the house. Shade cloth or materials that reflect radiation can be added to protect the house from the sun’s burning rays. When better cooling performance is needed, evaporative pad cooling system is one of the options available. As the name indicates, lowering temperature is accomplished through the use of fans and wet pads. The fans pull the air through the pads. When particles of water evaporate, the level of humidity will increase. This leads to a drop in temperature. This method provides the most benefits in dry climates.

Building a greenhouse, even a hobby-type unit, requires careful planning. To keep costs down, careful selection of materials needs to be made. Weather conditions, plants grown, and greenhouse location are important factors to consider. A well-designed greenhouse will prevent you from having to spend your hard-earned capital on expensive supplemental devices and reduce your energy requirements to a minimum.

If you can find an ideal southern location for your greenhouse and your greenhouse covering diffuses sunlight well, additional grow lights may not be needed. Proper roofing materials that create an evenly diffused light will also help keep your greenhouse moderately cool during hot days. This, along with strategically placed vents, can eliminate the need of an electric cooling system or at least help lower your electric bill.

Gardening In Sandy Soil – 3 Different Options

Gardening is a rewarding hobby. Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with fertile soil. Many of us live in dry locations with high sand-content. As you know, sand particles are microscopically large. They cannot hold as much water. Organic matter is also limited in sandy soils. Even then there is hope. There are some solutions that can be employed to successfully establish a good garden in light soils.

Sand-Loving Plants

Though most plants grow best in soil a healthy loam, there are ones that do well in sandy soil. You can try to plant your garden with cacti and other succulents. They store water in their leaves or stems. If you prefer edible plants, root vegetables such as carrots and radishes are worth trying. Potatoes also thrive in acidic conditions that sandy soil provides. Watermelon which is a native of southern Africa can also be planted in loamy sand.

Improving Soil Structure

Mixing sandy soil with clay can improve its ability to retain water and nutrients. Soil will hold more moisture for a longer period of time, meaning you will use much less water. To promote plant growth, humus levels need to be built by adding soil with organic matter. Microbes will then turn it into nutrients. Better soil structure will develop over time. These days, compost machines are available in the market that you can use to turn leaves, grass cuttings, or kitchen waste into compost.

Sand Hydroponic System

Due to its advantages, sand is one type of growing media that is often used in hydroponic systems. An automatic system can be built by utilizing small sand beds. A pump that is controlled by a timer can be employed to distribute water and nutrients to the plants. In a wick system, two pots are used. One pot is filled with growing medium (sand) and the plant. The other pot acts as a nutrient reservoir. Inside the system is a fibrous wick that moves nutrient solution from the reservoir to the growing pot as the sand dries out. This system works through capillary action. Think about the rapid wetting and retention of liquids by absorbent paper and fabrics.

When it comes to sandy soil, there is no one magic solution. Different things will work for different people. One thing is sure, sandy soil is not a curse. There are always ways to successfully grow plants in high sand-content soil

4 Different Solutions For Home Food Production

There are many benefits of growing our own foods at home. Planting our own vegetables and culinary herbs is a great way to provide our family with healthy meals. We control what goes in and what does not. If you wish to start a food garden but always feel that you do not have the room, there are a number of growing systems that allow you to get more out of less space. Here are some of them:

Square Foot Gardening

Unlike traditional row planting, Square Foot Gardening requires minimal yard space. This planting method, which was developed by Mel Bartholomew in 1981, uses a small raised bed (typically 4 feet by 4 feet) as the growing area for your crops. The garden box is then divided into equal planting sections, allowing you to grow a variety of edible plants. A formula is used to calculate how many plants fit into each square. Put it simply, you plant by area instead of rows. It is also worth mentioning that Square foot gardening gives you the opportunity to plant in succession. The fact that the method can produce greater yields with much less space than traditional gardening makes it perfect for home food production. There are countless plant combinations that you can try. Numerous spacing guides are available online.

Aquaponics

For urban gardeners who wish to enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables, aquaponics can be a great solution. An aquaponics system works by converting fish waste that is rich in ammonia content into plant food with the help of bacteria. In other words, fish waste acts as fertiliser for your plants. The water, that initially contains fish waste, then returns to the fish tank purified. Simply put, fish, plants, and bacteria work together to create a healthy ecosystem. Creating and maintaining a well-balanced aquaponic system may not be as easy as setting up a regular soil garden. This gardening system involves a number of extra tasks that include feeding the fish and testing the ammonia level in the water. However, compared to conventional gardening, aquaponics offer higher productivity. Also remember that the plants grown in an aquaponics system are 100% organic. Another advantage is this gardening method uses less water. Many simple and quick solutions for aquaponics set up are available in the market to help you create a proper system.

Vertical Planting

Vertical gardening is becoming very popular these days. It is a simple way to boost growing space. Hanging baskets and trellises can be utilized to grow nutritious produce. There are plenty of advantages to vertical growing other than using less ground space. Infestations will be easily noticed since all are right in front of your face. Harvesting will be much easier too. Climbing vegs and fruits will happily thrive in a vertical garden. Of course, your options are not limited to plants that naturally climb. With the help of stackable planters, you can grow any vegetable that can adapt to containers. Many different ready to use products are available for you to try. Some incorporate automated hydroponics, allowing you to easily grow your own fresh food without soil. Utilizing soilless growing medium, such systems eliminate weeding and digging. The Tower Garden allows you to grow up to 20 edibles in less than three square feet. Featuring a compact design, the vertical aeroponic growing system can be placed virtually anywhere.

Urban Cultivator

If you are into indoor gardening then this product can be a great solution for you. Brought to the market by a Vancouver-based company, the indoor gardening appliance is designed to fit into any kitchen. The innovative product comes complete with removable grow drawers, humidity domes and grow lights, allowing you to easily turn your kitchen into a source of fresh greens and herbs. The company sells 100% organic, non-GMO seeds to their customers that include cabbage, chives, dill, komatsuna, fenugreek, arugula, sorrel, lettuce, basil, wheatgrass, and radish. Organic plant nutrients and compressed soil are also offered by the company. Urban Cultivator is a high-tech indoor growing system. Watering and light cycles are controlled by an intuitive computer interface. With all of the advanced features, the fully automated kitchen garden does not come cheap. That said, for health enthusiasts who want to experience fresh cut microgreens and herbs year-round, then buying the smart fridge-like apparatus can be a great move.

As you can see, it is not impossible to people with small areas of land to grow their own food. There are plenty of ways to make the most of the minimal yard space. The above systems can also be used by those living in areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Obviously, some crops are not the best fit for a home garden with limited space. However. With proper practice, even a small home garden can supply a good amount of fresh and clean food for personal home use.

10 Edible Fruits To Grow At Home – You May Have Too Many Options

The rewards of growing fruit-bearing trees are many. While many plants grow to be enormous in the wild, some are naturally small trees. Furthermore, many fruit tree varieties are now available in dwarf form, giving you more fruit growing options. They require less space than standard-size trees while still grow enough fruit for fresh eating. Clearly, there is a wide choice of suitable fruit trees for home gardeners. Just choose the ones that excel in your climate. Of course, you can try to modify the microclimate for the plants that are not naturally found in your region.

Avocado
Most varieties of avocado grow to 40 feet in height so generally are unsuitable for small gardens. In optimum conditions, avocadoes can attain heights of 80 feet tall. Despite this, the true dwarf variety, Wurtz, only grows to about 10 feet. Wurtz (Little Cado) is suitable for growing in containers. The small variety can produce abundant fruits at early age.

Banana
Banana tree can be a great choice for adding a touch of the tropics to your home. Not all varieties produce edible fruit. The best known edible variety is the cavendish. It is also one of the best for cold climates. Cultivated banana plants are typically kept at a height of 16 ft. Dwarf cavendish banana grows as much as 10 feet. Super dwarf cavendish grows only 2-3 ft., making it suitable for indoor growing.

Carambola
With attractive foliage and distinctive star shape fruit, it can be an attractive alternative for planting in the backyard. Carambola trees can grow up to 30 ft. However, they rarely reach that height. Small varieties such as Maher Dwarf are suitable for small backyard or container growing. Carambolas will also serve well as an espalier.

Grapevine
Grapevines may not be the easiest fruit to grow at home. Proper pruning is important for fruit production. However, a grapevine can be a very rewarding addition to your home garden. While it is true that grapevines can climb 80 feet or more in the wild, they need very little space if pruned carefully. The growth is also limited by the climbing structure’s height. Most varieties are self-fertile, meaning you do not need more than one plant for pollination. Vines are also known to have a very long lifespan (100 years or more).

Jackfruit
Jackfruit is one of the largest fruit in the world. The trees are huge. They can reach up to 100 feet in their home tropical climate. That said, dwarf varieties like black gold stay between 8 and 10 feet tall. The Australian variety probably has the most cold hardiness, making it a good choice for subtropical climates.

Mango
Mangoes are fast-growing, especially in a hot climate. A mango tree can reach a height of 100 feet or more. Container growing is possible with grafted dwarf varieties. Pickering is probably the top choice when space is severely limited. With compact growth habit, the tree can be kept at a height of just 6 ft. Mangoes are self-fertile. A single tree will produce fruit without cross-pollination.

Papaya
Papaya (Carica) exists in many areas throughout the world. This fast-growing shrub requires little maintenance. They are perfect for home gardeners who like to start growing fruit trees. Papayas are easy to grow from seed. Trees begin bearing after first year of growth. There are male, female and hermaphrodite papaya trees. The male will not produce fruit so you will want to sow more than one seed to ensure you will have a fruit-bearing tree. Like other fruits, there are a number of different varieties. The compact variety Waimanolo can bear fruit when only 4 feet tall, making it a great choice to grow around the home.

Pineapple
Pineapples grow to about 5 feet in height. Pineapples are easy to grow as houseplants. They grow well in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Pineapple plants do not need much water nor high quality soil. You can even keep the plants in containers and have them indoor. The roots do not need much space. Pineapple plant only fruits once. However, you can get a new fruit-producing plant easily by removing the crown of the fruit and planting it into the ground.

Sapodilla
Also called chiku or sapote, Sapodilla trees can grow to more than 30 m tall. There are dwarf cultivars, however, that are well suited for home garden. A dwarf variety that is reportedly highly productive is called Silas Woods. It can be maintained at less than 5 feet in height. The Makok cultivar is another small compact grower that is worth trying.

Watermelon
Like most fruit, a standard-size watermelon requires a lot of garden space. If lack the garden space then miniature watermelon varieties, such as Sugar Baby are probably the best choice. This variety spreads just 3 to 4 feet. Some people even grow watermelon on a trellis, saving even more space.

As you can see, many tropics and subtropical edible plants can grow very large. That said, hybrids and cultivars exist that are not too tall for most home environments. Whether you live in the big city or rural property, there is always a place to be found in the garden for at least one fruit tree.

Smart Lighting Solutions For Growing Plants Indoors

Not everyone has access to outdoor garden. Fortunately, with today’s technological advancements, it is becoming much easier to grow houseplants indoors. When it comes to artificial light source, different solutions are available for replacing or supplementing natural sunlight. Here are some of them:

LightRail Light System On Rail

Plants need the energy of light to grow. Unfortunately, distributing light evenly can be fustrating. stationary grow light does not maximize light during photo period. This can lead to limited growth. Worse, the heat from static lighting can damage your plants. This is where the LightRail light mover comes in. Manufactured by Gualala Robotics, LightRail is simply an extension of your indoor plant lights. As the name implies, it is designed to move any indoor grow light. More leaves get light. Hot spots and shadows will be eliminated. Three versions are available, that include LightRail IntelliDrive 3.5, LightRail AdjustaDrive 4.0, and LightRail 5.0 Side by Side. The basic system consists of a motor, rail and hardware needed for hanging. The next model, LightRail 4.0 AdjustaDrive, has the added feature of adjustable speed control. Unlike the LightRail 3.5 that comes with a fixed setting, the drive motor can be set at 6rpm to 10rpm. The highest end model, LightRail 5.0, is shipped with a longer 8 foot rail.

Soybot Mobile Sun-seeking Robot

By combining art and agriculture, Purdue profs have designed a robotic device that helps indoor plants seek out light automatically. To detect sunlight or LED grow lights in a room, Soybot is equipped with two light sensors. The robot can also be guided by pointing flashlight beams to its sensors. Soybot is more than just a light-seeking robot. It is an artwork. In fact, the modified Roomba robot was originally designed for an art exhibition. When Soybot is part of an exhibit, its movements is plotted on a visualization window. Sensor data is also transmitted to the window to display variation in light intensity at different areas. As the
name implies, the planter box contains soybean plants that have long been recognized as a plant food. With an average protein content of 40%, soybeans are one of the world’s most important agricultural commodities. Their significance for global food production is one reason they were chosen for this project. Soybot is not the only robotic plant holder with a light-seeking directive. With the help of solar sensors, IndaPlant, a mobile potted plant developed by researchers from Rutgers University, can autonomously chase the sunlight around. The three-wheeled robot also comes equipped with moisture sensors that alert the owner when their plants need to be watered.

OGarden Rotating Indoor Garden

Countless automatic indoor gardening systems are readily available out there. What makes OGarden different from the rest is that it utilizes a slowly revolving wheel to get the job done. A grow light (125W CFL) that drives photosynthesis is placed in the center of the wheel. The unique design ensures all the plants get equal light exposure. It definitely helps to reduce lighting consumption. Roots grow in a coconut matting. They are automatically fed with organic liquid fertilizer. The wheel’s gravity effect supposedly leads to better plant growth. OGarden is designed to produce a continuous stream of fresh greens at home. Featuring circular design, it is able to grow up to 100 plants at a time. Despite its primary purpose, the rotary garden is small enough to fit into a corner of a room. It is worth noting that the first rotary garden was built by NASA to provide astronauts with fresh food. With all of its advantages, it could be a great solution for urban gardeners who want to grow more food with far less water, fertilizers, and energy.

There is no a cure-all solution to indoor gardening problems. But it cannot be argued that improvements in plant lighting offer many benefits for indoor growers. With innovative lighting solutions available today, our options for plants are not restricted to the ones that thrive in low-light conditions. No need to rotate the pots every week or two to ensure each side of the plants get the same amount of sunlight. The placement of the plants get much more flexible. Of course, such automatic lighting systems will also add excitement to your hobby.

7 Innovative Planters To Make Indoor Gardening Easier

Growing plants indoors can be a very rewarding hobby. Not only provide visual interest to the interior, indoor plants also come with health henefits. Plants turn the carbon dioxide into oxygen and naturally remove harmful compounds from the air. They can reduce your stress levels and boost your mood. If you want to grow something indoors, there are noteworthy innovations that you might want to include in your gardening projects. Here are some of them:


Greenhouse/Hot House Kit
11 x 22 x 7
– $49.95

Greenhouse/Hot House Kit with heated mat 7″ helps control humidity for better rooting and growth from seedlings and cuttings from your prized plants. This dome features 2 top mounted adjustable vents and side vents to achieve fresh air flow and desired humidity levels..

Ambienta Table Lamp
When it comes to table lamps, there are a lot of makes and models out there that make perfect bedside companions. But, while they can be a great choice, this product takes one step further. Designed by French designer and architect Daniel Pouzet, the Ambienta multi-function table lamp features grow and ambient lighting. Three grow light settings (low, medium and high) are provided to accommodate different plant light requirements. The company, Sage Vertical Garden Systems, offers pre-grown rooted plants that are ready for transplanting. The hydroponic growth medium is made of natural volcanic rock, eliminating the unpleasant side effects of standing water. Adding water can be accomplished easily through the smartly designed central watering system. Whether you want to use it to grow tropical plants that deliver eye-popping blooms all year round or ferns that act as a natural humidifier, this product is something you should check out.

Biopod Smart Microhabitat
This creation of a Canadian biologist, Jared Wolfe, really deserves a big thumb up. Being claimed to be world’s first smart microhabitat, Biopod can mimic the natural environment of a wide range of plants and animals. The fully automated system has different parts and components. LED lighting, misting with reservoir, aeration system, heating, and temp/humidity sensor are what make up the enclosed ecosystem. From lighting to watering, it can take care of various aspects of maintaining the ideal environment for what you are growing or housing. Equipped with an HD camera, the app controlled microhabitat allows you to monitor your system from anywhere. With the help of the Biopod mobile app, you can enjoy the time lapse visualization of plant growth. The data collected from your system can be shared with others via the company’s cloud-based server. If you have had limited success with growing herb or vegetable indoors, the Biopod ONE can be a great starting point.

Click & Grow Smart Garden Kit
LED grow lamp, built-in timer, and water reservoir are some of the major pieces that make up the system. Click & Grow is more than meets the eye. The “real magic” does not appear on the surface. The built-in light, for instance, only requires 6 watts of energy to operate. The specially developed growth medium eliminates the needs for fertilizers or other additives. New plants that are compatible with this system are constantly released. As of this writing, selection of refills include chili pepper, mini tomato, peppermint, parsley, basil, thyme and lemon balm. A number of combo packs are also offered by the urban farming company. The Divine Tea Mix combo pack, for instance, contains peppermint, lemon balm and stevia, allowing you to enjoy flavorful tea from your own homegrown herbs without much effort. It cannot be argued that the Click & Grow System has solved different plant cultivation problems that many home gardeners face.

Zero-Gravity Planter
By harnessing the effects of zero-gravity, this ultramodern creation can be a great conversation piece for you and your guests. The growing system is designed by Simon Morris, an art scientist that has brought us the FLYTE hovering lamp. Priced nearly $200, the planter may not come cheap but the maglev technology behind it is certainly interesting. The unique hovering system, that consists of a magnetised planter and an oak-finished electromagnetic base, is more than just a cool decorative element. Though the impact of magnetic fields on plant growth and development is not well-understood, some studies show that magnets help plants grow. It is also worth noting that the pot rotates 360-degree, ensuring the plant to get better sunlight exposure and air circulation. Coming with a geodesic design, the 12 sided levitating planter also produces interesting shades as it rotates.

Pikaplant Tableau Houseplant Tray
Automatic watering system is not a new thing. However, the innovations that have been made in this field are still interesting to watch. Pikaplant Tableau, the automatic houseplant watering tray from an Amsterdam design company, is one product that any indoor gardener will want to take a look at. Pikaplant Tableau is not a timer-based watering system nor a constant-feed pot. The tray does not require electricity to run, meaning it can be placed anywhere in your house. At a glance, the self-watering planter seem to involve nothing more than a transparent tank, a steel base, and three plant pots. That said, unlike many self-watering products out there, it is your plants that determine how much water they need. Designed to mimick the wet-dry cycle in nature, water is sucked up from below. A valve system that works based on humidity and pressure controls the entire process. Pikaplant Tableau is not just a set-it-and-forget-it system. It also severs as a work of art, something that you can use to brighten up any room.

Springworks Microfarm Aquaponics
Aquaponics is a symbiotic system where plants use waste from live fish as fertilizer and clean the water in return. If you are interested in owning your own but not ready to build it yourself, then the Springworks Aquaponics is worth taking a closer look. It allows you easily converts a standard 10-gallon aquarium into an indoor aquaponic garden. Grow bed, tank lid, timer, water pump, high-output light are all included in the kit. This closed loop system is not ideal for root vegetables and fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers. It works best for greens such as lettuce and arugula. Herbs like parsely should also grow nicely.

Citysens Vertical Garden
Featuring vertical design, this indoor gardening system is ideal for small spaces. It can holds up to 4 pots (148 cm height). The system is designed in such a way that it does not need constant watering. The base holds about 1.5 gallons of water. An energy-efficient pump moves water through the system. It can irrigate your plants for more than 30 days. To accommodate different plant families, the self-watering vertical garden comes with a programmable irrigation timer. Another plus point about this system is that you can choose between conventional growing with soil or hydroponics. A number of plant families are available for you to choose from that include air-cleaning plants and herbs, allowing you to get the most environmental benefit from growing plants indoors.

We do not need high tech gardening devices to setup an indoor garden. That said, with the help of modern technology, it will be easier for us to create suitable conditions for our plants to grow. It can lessen the maintenance and work we need to do.

7 Eco-Friendly Alternatives To Traditional Plastic Pots

There are many different ways to reduce plastic waste. When it comes to gardening, we can replace our non-degradable plastic posts with biocontainers or biopots. Plastic containers are still widely used due to their durability. They can be reused year after year, so are therefore cheaper. That said, biocontainers have several advantages over traditional plastic. Unlike petroleum-based plastic pots that take a couple hundred years to break down, they are weak enough to either degrade in the soil or be composted. Plantable containers make transplanting quicker and easier. This reduces the chance to root injury. For this reason, biodegradable pots make a lot of sense when it comes to seed starting. Biopots also promote better drainage and air circulation to the roots. Clearly, eco-friendly pots can benefit your gardening practice in many ways. There are a huge variety of materials to make eco-friendly containers. Each has varying levels of strength and decay resistance. Here are some of them:

Bamboo Fiber
Bamboo pots can hold up well for many years. They are not suited to direct planting into the ground. Just like plastic containers, bamboo pots come in a range of sizes and color. This one by Rossos International resembles a durable, colorful plastic. The scalloped edging around the top adds aesthetic look to the pot. The pot will fully biodegrade within 3-6 months when placed in a landfill so natural resource will return back to your soil.

Composted Cow Manure
CowPots is the commercial name for containers that are derived from composted cow manure. They offer an easy way to grow plants from seed. According to a study, CowPot offers faster degradation in soil compared to paper and coir containers. They last for months above ground, plenty of time to give seedlings a robust start, and will break down naturally within 4 weeks of planting. As composted manure is nutrient rich, soil conditions will get improved as the pots break down.

Coconut Coir
Seed starter pots made from coconut coir is another environmentally friendly alternative to plastic pots. The fibrous material is a byproduct of coconut harvest, meaning it is entirely sustainable. Because of its antifungal properties, this renewable resource also makes an excellent substitute for peat. Plants in coir pots can also be planted straight into the ground. Just keep in mind that coconut fiber containers has lower level of decomposition compared to Cowpots.

Wood Fiber
As you can see, a wide variety of containers that are truly biodegradable are available on the market. Fertilpot is one product for you who are asking for ready-to-use wood fiber pots. Composed primarily of spruce wood, the pots are intended to be planted directly in the ground. They do not require a composting situation to degrade. Depending on soil conditions, Fertilpot will be signficantly degraded in about 6-8 months. A study found that wood fiber container has a higher rate of sidewall water loss than then ones made from composted manure and coir. This translates to higher water use.

Rice Hull
Just like coconut coir, rice hull is a material that would normally be thrown away, so using it as plant containers is a great way to become more environmentally friendly. Plants grown in rice hull containers do not require more water than those grown in plastic pots. With thicker and rigid walls, rice hull containers have good dry vertical and lateral strength. EcoForms pots that are made from rice hulls and natural binding agents last up to five years outdoors. The pots are intended to be used above ground only.

Pineapple Waste
If you have been looking at “out of the box” uses for used pineapple waste, then have a look at these compostable flower pots. Reportedly, the pots stayed intact for an average of 45 days hence they are mostly appropriate for herbs or vegetables that have short preproduction phase. Pineapple is a powerhouse of nutrients so using pots made of pineapple waste can be a great way to naturally fertilize soil.

Corn Waste
For you who I like anything that is recyclable and sustainable, the becausewecare seedling pots are worth taking a closer look. Made from a combination of corn starch and other natural ingredients, the pots are designed to be planted in the soil with a seedling. They will start to break down in anywhere between 2-6 months.

The above are just some examples of biocontainer materials. The list does not stop here. There are numerous natural and sustainable materials to make eco-friendly plant containers. You can even cheaply make your own biodegradable pots using waste materials at home. Hopefully, we can lessen our dependency on plastics.