Hydroponic Gardening


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Hydroponic Gardening is beneficial for any small based root systems such as strawberries, herbs, or small leaf lettuce. To build a hydroponic drip irrigation bucket system you will need: 5 gallon bucket with lid, reducer, ½” clear tubing, ½” x ¼” Bushing, hose bar adapter, plumber’s tape, drill with 5″ hole saw bit and a 2″ hole saw bit, submersible pump with 3.5 foot chord, nutrient brand, irrigation stake, seedling and 5″ net pot.

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  1. Keeping your net pot in mind, you will need to cut a hole in the top of the 5 gallon bucket lid with the 5″ hole saw bit. Make sure the net pot fits.
  2. Drill a hole in the side with the 2″ drill bit to fit the pump’s chord through. Drill another hole off to the side of the 5″ hole on the lid to feed the clear tubing through.
  3. Thread the chord through the hole, and attach the clear ½” tubing to the pump and feed the clear tubing through the top hole and attach the reducer. Fill the bucket with about 3 gallons of water and your nutrient.
  4. Firmly secure the lid, test that the water comes out of the reducer.
  5. Place the plant into the net pot and place the irrigation stake into the soil with the reducer that has the ¼” tubing attach

shutterstock_153204299Any type of hydroponic drip system will be able to provide your plants with much more nutrients than any other classic planting system. Nutrients are provided to the top of the grow media by gravity or a pump which draws much needed oxygen into the media as the nutrients drain out.

This method should work well for almost any type of plant. The only down side to this type of planting is that pumps can fail, and drip lines can get clogged. Hydroponic systems provide a steady stream of nutrients to the plant and allows it to grow faster and bigger.

Save Water Without Sacrificing a Beautiful Lawn


Save thousands of gallons of water and have the best looking lawn on your block by using these simple tricks.

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Every year I look forward to winter for one very big, very important reason…no more lawn care or yard work. I used to live in the northern states where in the winter you would trade in your lawn care tools and tasks for snow removal tools and tasks. But Now that I live in the warmer southern states I don’t have to worry about snow removal (except for a few freak incidents resulting from this year’s totally bonkers winter – but that’s another topic altogether!)

But alas, the end of winter is coming into focus and it won’t be long before we will all have to get out our lawn mowers and weed wackers. So lets review some simple ways you can save water this summer while creating the greenest most beautiful lawn on your block

Mulch

2014-02-24_10-04-28spin_prod_242147301Mulching your grass clippings and allowing them to return back to the ground instead of bagging them and discarding them will help to conserve water use. The clippings act as an insulation of sorts preventing the moisture loss. Even if your lawn mower is not designed to be a mulching mower, you can buy special blades that will help to chop the clippings more finely allowing them to fall down into the grass.

When To Water

shutterstock_71595412Knowing when to water is key. It is sometimes mistakenly thought that the best time to water is at the height of the days heat and direct sunlight exposure; possibly because it is thought that the moisture will provide a break from the intense stress of the sun and heat. However, this is just simply not true, the best times to water is the early morning and the late evening… when the sun is lower on the horizon and the winds are typically at their lowest. These conditions help the water to not evaporate uselessly.

Timer

shutterstock_172496273You lawn has needs too! Be sensitive to the needs of your lawn and give it what it wants! Far too many people think that a sprinkler system is a set it and forget it type of system. (And while we hope that it does function in a set-it-and-forget-it fashion, the timing does need some attention on a month to month basis,) As the seasons change, the amount of water required by your lawn will change as well. In northern climates where sprinkler systems are decommissioned in the winter and blown out, the watering times shown below will only apply to the months where you are watering, whereas in warmer southern states climates year round watering should follow a pattern resembling this one. The following table shows a general idea of the amount of water you need to apply to your lawn based on the time of the year.

January – 12 minutes July – 49 minutes
February – 10 minutes August – 60 minutes
March – 17 minutes September – 48 minutes
April – 40 minutes October – 43 minutes
May – 64 minutes November – 32 minutes
June – 50 minutes December – 16 minutes

Cut It High, It Won’t Be Dry –

shutterstock_122944705During the growing season of the lawn, it is best to allow the grass to stay higher. Taller grass is much more healthy and robust than a tightly shorn lawn is. Some people advocate that the first mowing of the season be a very close one, however, we recommend that you de-thatched your lawn prior to the first mowing by using a power-rake to remove last years remaining dead matter. This process along with aeration will give the lawn the best access possible to fresh air, water and sunlight. Then going forward throughout the growing season the lawn should not be mowed down really short — taller grass is healthier. This does mean that you will have to mow more often, but it will provide you with a much greener, much more beautiful and less thirsty lawn.

Water Brown Spots with a Hose 

shutterstock_1505857972014-02-24_11-19-07During the main growing season of the year, if you have a brown spot in your yard, and you have checked to ensure your sprinkler are hitting it, rather than running the system for longer time, you can water that single spot using much less water  by using a hose with sprinkler on the end. Purchase and incorporate an automatic shutoff to prevent from over watering. Simply set the sprinkler to cover the brown area of the yard and set the timer to shut it off, so you don’t forget about it.

If you find that the brown spot is not greening up after being given plenty of water, then you should probably look into other issues such as a fungus, or grubs which can cause a brown spot or dead spot inspite of receiving plenty of water. There are solutions for applying all-natural insecticides directly through the sprinkler system.

Collect Rain Water –

rainbarrel_greenshutterstock_127813637You can conserve a tremendous amount of water by using recycled rainwater to water your plants, especially if you are the type who uses a running hose to water your plants. The good news is that if your home has rain gutters already installed, then collecting rainwater may be easier than you thought! Simply allow the water to collect on it’s own in a rain barrel designed to collect and store water, whenever it rains and use that water in a watering can to water your plants.

Use a Rain Sensor With Your Sprinkler Timer—

Open-box-things-out_bundleTechnology has brought so many different area of our lives into the 21st century digital world. This is no exception for the area of sprinkler controllers. By incorporating the use of internet connections, and sensors seeing a sprinkler system running while it is raining is now a thing of the past! Get a controller which can access the weather report and adjust it’s control automatically, or install a rain sensor to shut down the system when it senses rain.

Installing Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting


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Before starting your outdoor lighting project make sure electricity is off or unplugged before setting up your lighting. The easiest lights to install are solar powered lights, no cables are required, and they usually come pre assembled. If you do not think that you will receive enough light throughout the year, or that your lights will be placed somewhere very shaded, to use solar powered outdoor lighting then the conventional lighting with cables will work best for you.

A kit is the easiest way to start if you are using a conventional wire connecting system. They usually come with everything you need, sometimes including a GFCI. GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) this provides extra shock protection or if you don’t have a GFCI you can use a regular outdoor outlet.

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Steps to installing a cable connected outdoor lighting system:

  • Connect all of the pieces for each light before laying them out.
  • Lay out the lights as you would like them, without staking them into the ground.
  • Lay out the cable and connect the light to the cable with the connector cap, so that the cap punctures the cable and makes contact with the wire.
  • Dig a narrow trench along the cable path, connect the cable to the power pack and then plug the power pack into the GFCI or outlet.

*If any lights are not working double check the connectors.*

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Another great product to have is a control transformer. These transformers provide you with the current time, photocell, function, and line output readouts. A great one is the LX-300SS 300 Watt Digital Lighting Control Transformer. The LX provides an active load bar displaying usage in 10% increments.

Easy to read both day and night the LED screen is high quality. Easy to set up and can be used as a standalone unit or added to an existing system for more power. Pick up an LX Transformer here. Check out Sprinkler Warehouse’s assortment of outdoor lights here.

 

Common Mistakes:

  • Make sure you position the lights so that you see the effect not the fixture.
  • Not placing lights where they are needed, such as pathways or the driveway.

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Xeriscape


The term xeriscape is derived from the Greek word ‘xeros’ and ‘scape’ which translates into ‘dry scene’.

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There is a misconception that drought tolerant plants are dull and unattractive, when in fact many of them are vibrant and colorful. If you want to save money on your water bill, but still have a beautiful yard, xeriscape might be the new landscape for you.

More than 50% of your water usage goes to the landscape outside; having a xeriscape could reduce your water usage by 70% or more.

 

Principles of Xeriscaping

Plan
Plant low-water-use plants
Incorporate turf sparingly
Irrigate efficiently
Consider improving the soil
Use mulch
Properly maintain your new xeriscape

Let’s Look at 3 Regions across the US, which are the best and the worst for xeriscape:

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Region I

   Plants:

      – Coronilla varia, Cistus Albidus, Buddleia Nivea, Abelia x “Edward Goucher”, Phalaris arundinacea “Picta”

    Maintenance:

      – Water if the plants look very dry and cover during very cold seasons. Hand water, or install drip that will provide water directly to the base of the plant.

Region II

    Plants:

        – Bougainvillea, Buccaneer Palm, Live Oak, Swamp Fern

    Maintenance:

        – Make sure any unexpected cold fronts are tackled with covering plants. Drip may need to be installed for certain plants.

Region III

    Plants:

        – Butterfly Bush, Juniper, Texas Red Yucca, Oat Grass

    Maintenance:

        – Very low maintenance and a few drip may be necessary, Drip Irrigation

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Planning:

  • Look for partially exposed areas, protected areas, prep your soil
  • Draw out your landscape (need help? Click here)
  • Look for water-conserving and drought tolerant plants. Water-conserving plants retain moisture rather than releasing it into the air. Drought-tolerant plants can survive bouts of dry weather.
  • Visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, this provides users with helpful knowledge on your region based on temperature.

** It is important to note that very rainy, or very dry areas are perfect for xeriscape because the native plants will thrive almost entirely without drip irrigation or any further assistance.**

Insect Repellent Techniques



Wanting to control or rid yourself of those non-beneficial insects in your yard? Mosquitoes, snakes and no-see-ums are all bothersome and some are harmful to you or your home. That is why we recommend an organic concentrate. One of our favorites is from Skeetobuster and it’s called PCO Choice.  Made from Cedar Trees, this organic concentrate is very potent and effective.

PCO Choice will keep away the following pests:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Fleas
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  • Flies
  • Chiggers
  • No-see-ums
  • Mites
  • Moths
  • Japanese Beetles
  • Carpet Beetles
  • Ants
  • Mole Crickets
  • Termites
  • Box Elder Bugs
  • Silver Fish
  • Roaches
  • Aphids
  • Palmetto Bugs
  • Lice

Termite Damage

Not only will this concentrate deter those non-beneficial insects, but it is easy to add to your sprinkler system. These injection systems connect directly to your irrigation system and are easy to refill. Certain parts of the country can be severely damaged by some of these insects, termites are a great example of the havoc that can happen to your home. Others aren’t exactly harmful– but stinky or unsightly. Not only will this concentrate deter those non-beneficial insects, but it is easy to add to your sprinkler system. Skeetobuster’s injection system connects directly to your irrigation system and is easy to refill.

If you aren’t comfortable with mixing a chemical, organic or not, into your irrigation water there are many plants that you can incorporate into your landscape. Many plants are natural deterrents for mosquitoes and other pesky insects. Many plants, like mint, come in a wide variety of colors, smells, and look different.

 

Here is a list of beneficial plants that will not only help keep insects away, but will also look good:

  • Citronella Grass
  • Rosemary
  • Ageratum
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Cadaga Tree (Eucalyptus)
  • Catmint
  • Catnip
  • Clove tree
  • Horsemint

With potentially deadly viruses like West Nile looming around, it is important to have protection for you and your loved ones. Spending every moment you can enjoying your yard will be much easier when you don’t have to bother with all the bugs.

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Don’t forget that fertigation and pestigation products such as Skeetobuster also help to conserve water over time. Since the system uses a light fertilizing system that runs systemically from the roots to the top of the grass blades, there is not a high requirement for the roots to conserve as much water. Conserving water can save you money, and sometimes can even give you a rebate from the city.