What are the Best Compost Materials for Your Compost Pile

This is the topic of our new gardening blog poll. The choices range from: bird droppings, seaweed, horse manure and more. Please drop by and submit your vote. The poll and subsequent posts regarding composting, compost piles, compost tumblers, how to make a compost pile, starting a compost pile, how to make a compost bin, ect., will also be posted at www.mygardentips.net

They say that plants in Hawaii grow unbelievably in fast and furious. Is there a connection to the volcanic material in the soil?

Build your Own Compost or just Buy Compost?

Should we just give in and buy our compost from the local nursery, or build it yourself? I suppose the answer lies in whether or not you have place for a compost bin. If you do, I’d recommend making it yourself. If you don’t, research your local market, in search of the perfect compost. Ask at your local farmer’s market, as you’ll have a better chance of finding affordable home-made compost. Let’s assume you do have space in your garden for composting… the next question is: Should I build it myself or buy a ready-made compost tumbler?

Compost Tumbler or Compost Pile?

Ready-made has its advantages, but home-built is my choice personally, despite its disadvantages. There’s just no substitute for this natural recycling experience. What are the basic steps in building your own compost pile? How does one go about starting a composting pile?

What to put in your Compost Pile?

Actually, the real question should be, what don’t you put in it? The answer to that is simple: Don’t put in cat or dog droppings, or any type of meat. That makes it pretty simple. Put in everything else, like grass clippings, manure, straw, leaves, fruit and vegetable refuse, coffee grounds, seaweed, even ripped up newspapers. How’s that for recycling? The basic rule is 1 part green stuff to 20 parts inorganic stuff, like the leaves or newspaper. Remember to cover your live stuff with the dead stuff, so it doesn’t stink too much, and this also aids in the aeration and decomposition. Once a week or so, mix up the compost pile so that air and dry materials gets mixed in. The easiest method is to remember to cover your mushy organic materials with enough shredded paper or dead leaves, each time you throw in your kitchen scraps. For more Spring Time Tips, visit the no-crank site or gardening tips blog.

Dan is a writer for Hydro Industries. To learn more vist: No-Crank.com

Compost For Your Organic Garden

If you are one of the many gardeners who are into organic planting then one of the most important thing you will be needing in order for your plant to grow is to make a compost fertilizer right at your backyard or should I rather say right from your kitchen. Yep, those leftover from your dinner plate can turn into gold fertilizer for your plants to grow healthy.

Here’s what you need to make a good compost:

1. Organic materials – This can be the leftover you had on dinner, fruit and vegetable waste, leaves, woods etc.

2. Air – It is recommended that you place your compost in an open air.

3. Water – The amount of water in your compost should be enough to help the bacteria and other organisms break down the materials in your compost and turn them into fertilizers.

4. Gardening tools – Tools like rake, spade and fork would be useful.

Actually you do not need many things when making a compost fertilizer but how you do it makes it more important. There are so many things to keep in mind in order to turn your garbage into something worth consuming for your plants.

You should remember that not all garbage can be use to make a compost. Avoid putting in human waste, cat or dog waste, plastics, big piece of wood which does not only include trunks but as well as branches (you will need to trim or cut this into small pieces), metals. Also, keep in mind not to place too much water in your compost pit, it would be better if your compost is dry than overflowing with water. And you know what is the good thing about making compost? You can make use of your old newsprint.

You have to place it in a container with water and let it stay overnight then transfer it in your compost pit. If you want your compost to be more ‘healthy’ you can opt to use urine instead of water to provide he necessary hydration of your compost. It does not only contain acid which can help in breaking up the solid materials but the human urine is full of nitrogen as well as flushed out vitamins and minerals from our body which plants can still make use of. Now, you can use the urine ‘pure’ or you can mix it with water and pour it straight to the compost.

Making a Beeline To Your Target Market

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to market yourself. Your marketing campaign probably takes up a large percentage of your time, and maybe even your budget. It’s just too important to leave to chance.

Fortunately, you have a powerful way to connect with your precise target market, and it won’t take massive amounts of time or money. In fact, it’s so easy and affordable that you’ll be surprised just how effective it is.

Article marketing is a streamlined way to connect with your audience, by offering free articles to publisher in your target market. If you’re already writing articles about your business or website, that’s great! If you aren’t, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to get your name out there and start moving up the seemingly endless ladder of search results.

There are some important things to keep in mind when writing your articles, and two of the main things are: find and speak to your market.

How do you find your market? Your submission service, whichever one you use, has categories and sub-categories in which to classify your article. Think carefully about each article you write before you automatically choose the “business” specification. Is this article about business, or is it really more about marketing? Could it be helped by choosing the “management” sub-category, or maybe the “budget” category?

Honing the ability to find your market, not just in general but for each individual piece you write, will help put you in front of people who are interested in what you have to say.

And those people are already out there, waiting for good information. The content sites, email lists, newsletters and publishers to which your article is sent has already done the hard work of finding readers in their target market. Now, they need your content to keep supplying a steady stream of interesting ideas and opinions.

When you supply this content, the publisher is putting your article directly in front of interested readers in your market niche. If the newsletter, for example, is devoted to organic gardening, your article about proper storage and handling of organic gardening products will be a welcome addition. Give those readers something to latch on to, and they’ll be visiting your site for more.

The key is to make sure your articles are being sent to the places where they will have the greatest impact. There are already thousands of people out there looking at these websites, seeking answers or looking for content to put on their own sites, and if you aren’t supplying it, your competitors will. It’s that simple. Publishers have already drawn audiences interested in a particular topic to their site. Now you need to make sure your words make it onto those sites.

Now that you’ve found your market for the article you wrote about organic gardening, you need to develop that market. In order to be truly effective, an article marketer does well to focus on one market at a time. Write a series of articles about that topic, but with different sub-categories. For example, you could write several articles about planning an organic garden, pest control, organic fertilizers, which plants to grow together, and how to cook with fresh, organic tomatoes (mmm, yum).

When readers in your target market start seeing your name over and over again while they’re reading about how to keep bugs out of their garden, they are likely to view you as the expert in your field, and will look forward to reading more.

Finding and developing your market is key to becoming a successful article marketer. And you don’t have to stick to one category. You can write series about several different things — just to make sure that they are going to the right places.

Tiva Kelly is an expert at article marketing and offers support to authors at Article Marketer, a highly popular article distribution service. Do you want more traffic at your site? Discover the smart way to reach your audience and submit an article today!

http://www.articlemarketer.com

How to Add More Leaf Vegetables To Your Diet

Leaf vegetables are one of the healthiest foods on the planet as they are low in calories, but yet high in fiber and other essential nutrients. Leaf vegetables include vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, dandelion greens, beet greens, bok choy, mustard greens and lettuce.

Vegetables can help you to lose weight as well as help you to fight and prevent many serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Here are some practical ways to add more leaf vegetables to your diet.

Salads

Salads are very easy to make, and the good thing is that you can use any kind of greens and salad dressing that you like. However, to make the most out of the salad, you should opt for a lighter dressing such as olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

You can also use them in garden salads with tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives and other ingredients that you like.

Wraps

Some leaf vegetables such as kale, collards and Romaine lettuce have large enough leaves so that you can use the leaves in your wraps instead of tortillas. You can still have all your favorite ingredients in the center, but the outside wrapper will be much healthier.

Smoothies

Smoothies are excellent for helping you to sweeten the bitterness of the leafy greens as you can blend them up with all your favorite sweet fruits along with agave nectar, raw cacao and coconuts.

Fruits and Vegetable Juices

Juicing your fruits and vegetables is a great way to obtain all the nutrients, but without the fiber. Fiber is good for you, but sometimes you just need those extra vitamins in your body to help you function better.

For your first batch of juice make sure to juice more fruits than vegetables, as the green juice can be quite bitter. However, once you become more accustomed to the taste of green juice you can begin to add more leaf vegetables.

Purchasing

When purchasing your vegetables, try to buy organic whenever possible as they do not contain any chemicals. However, it may not always be possible to buy organic and you may have to settle for conventional vegetables. If that is the case, then make sure that you thoroughly wash the leaves before you consume them so that you do not ingest any more chemicals than what you have to. Also look for crisp leaves as they are fresher and will last longer in your fridge.

To find out more about raw and living foods visit http://www.livingfood101.com/. You can also join me at http://hubpages.com/profile/LivingFood.

Weight Loss: http://healthmad.com/weight-loss/lose-weight-with-leaf-vegetables/

Tips and Tricks Body Care During Your Bath

The bath is the place where we clean ourselves, and where many of us relax. It is very important to take proper care of ourselves during baths, as there are plenty of places for harmful ingredients in the water can get in and cause problems with the body. However, one of the best ways to take care of your body while bathing is to use a homemade bubble bath. This can not only help enhance the skin, but it can also create a soothing and uplifting feeling of calm and relaxation that is helpful to the mind as well.

When you create your own bubble bath, you know that you are better caring for your body because you are not using the chemicals that can be found in other bubble baths. Additionally, you know that your concoction is fresh, hasn’t sat for who knows how long on some shelf somewhere. And when you create your own bubble bath, you naturally learn about different essential oils and products that can help you better care for your body in and out of the bath.

One of the main ingredients in a homemade bubble bath is an essential oil of some sort. There are many oils that have many different purposes. Additionally, there is no need to add more than a few drops to your bubble bath, as they are rather potent. Be sure to avoid ingesting the oils orally, and avoid marjoram during pregnancy. It is possible to check with the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy to find out what other oils should be avoided during pregnancy.

Allowing your body to relax is part of taking proper care of the body. Soothing relaxation helps the nervous system and has many other health benefits as well, including stress reduction and the control of stress-related conditions like acid reflux. The bath is a perfect time to do this, and many women bring books with them to better help them relax during bath time. The right essential oils can contribute to this. You can choose a scent that you like best from among oils like lavender, rosewood, sandalwood, chamomile, and myrrh, all considered soothing.

It is also important that your body feel energized at times and uplifted. This contributes to mental health and well being as well. It is very difficult to take proper care of the body when the mind is unhappy. Some of the essential oils that can help you with this care of the body are eucalyptus, spearmint, peppermint, and lemon oil. Additionally, eucalyptus can help your body fight cold symptoms, as it reduces congestion. Many people who create their own bubble baths actually make one for relaxing and one for revitalizing, in order to have what the body needs on hand.

Other oils are especially good at softening the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body, and taking care of the skin is necessary to the proper care of the body. Almond oil and coconut oil are both excellent skin care choices. Almond oil has almost no smell to it, so it does not conflict with any oil you add for scenting purposes. Coconut oil has a nutty and floral fragrance which can help you feel as though you are in an exotic garden. However, it is possible to find scents that complement the coconut oil and provide other effects. In fact, many homemade bubble bath recipes call for the combination of different oils for better effect.

In addition to oils, there are other ingredients that are necessary to make homemade bubble bath. Many of these are found easily and relatively inexpensively at the store. Distilled water, castille soap, and liquid glycerin are these ingredients. They are necessary to help create the bubbles, add a liquid form to the bubble bath, and to provide a solution for mixing. None of these substances is generally harmful, and they add a great deal to the bubble bath mixture, as they are clean and can be used to clean the body as well as to create bubbles to sit in.

It is easy to improve the care your body gets during a bath when you create your own bubble bath to help you better cope with the general vagaries of life.

Michael Plante manages Womens…. Article Directory/Submission Site, offering free article submission membership. If you are looking for more free content, check out our sister site, go-Article.com .

Tips On Buying Used Sheds And Building Your Own

When you have made the decision to make a shed. You may either buy the perfect plan or design your own simply by replacing elements and features from the plan you purchase or buy used sheds. Used sheds will save you some cash but there are many traps included as well. You could decide among distinct styles of sheds that are used from used metal shed, used plastic sheds and used wooden sheds. While purchasing a used shed maybe a good idea to start with but make certain to examine the shed thoroughly before selecting it. The price tag on repairs and maintening your garden shed can easily dip into your savings especially if the shed needed lots of repairs.

You might wish to go and purchase your plans and build your garden shed yourself instead of getting a used one. After getting the plans, building your shed really should be a straight forward shot. Tool catalogs, magazines as well as the internet are a handful of the resources available to purchase or get free shed plans. Sometimes lumber companies offer free shed plans in the hope you will buy their products. These plans are normally basic and so they don’t offer you a chance to alter them as you desire. It is possible to design you own plan which for many individuals doesn’t always pin out well, although it offer the freedom to expand and add features that would suit your own needs and it won’t cost you anything because you design it yourself. By buying plans for your projects from the right source you receive professional designs more than one to select from sometimes.

In the event the plan you would like just isn’t at your disposal or you don’t want to buy it. Start by drawing your plan from scratch as that may help you get the ball rolling. Begin by drawing an elevated view of each exterior wall of your shed. It is a one dimensional view of the wall the way it would look had you been standing in front of it directly. likewise incorporate the roof and also the doors location and windows. The side elevation scale should show the end of the building and point to the slope of the roof. In the case the two sides of the shed are identical, you just need to draw one side elevation.

After completing your elevation drawings, sketch a bird’s eye view of your foundation. Also the exact spacing and alignment of the foundation, whether you decide footing holes, wooden skids, poles or concrete blocks. Your foundation plan should have the dimensions of the blocks and the spacing between them also.

The cost of building a shed’s foundation could be minimal, but that just assuming you have a level yard which doesn’t have boulders and trees. the cost can drastically heighten if you are going to require additional works like extensive excavation. Typically you ought to ask your building inspector department the type of foundation will be required for the shed or any outbuilding projects. It is actually nice to have an early warning whether your spending budget have to be enlarge to cover the expense of digging footing holes and pouring concrete piers.

Now for the finishing touches. The Semitransparent stains is really a nice selection for maintaining your woods organic texture. Paint provides a formal look to a building, it comes in a number of colors. The clear wood preservatives require less problems to maintain nice mainly they do not peel.

On our site we have an excellent resource that contains hundreds of simple and easy to implement shed plans that would suite any and every taste and level of experience. Diy Shed Plans Center is a free resource. For more great information on used sheds, visit http://www.diyshedplanscenter.com

Tips in Removing Mold in Your Home

Molds are not only disgusting to look at, but they can also carry a lot of diseases. Exposure to mold can lead to colds, respiratory complications, nasal problems, and sinus congestions. It can also cause sore throats and skin problems. If a family member suffers from asthma, molds can also trigger the attacks. Molds are also known to cause allergies.

Identifying Mold
Removing mold can be a tedious tasks and the first step in eliminating mold is to identify if it exists in your household. You would know that your house has mold if you smell a musty odor and see a mass of green or black slimy stuff. Mold is actually fungus that may float in the atmosphere much like pollen. They are usually found in moist and humid areas like the floors of your bathroom and outdoor patios or gardens. If you really want to detect mold in your house you can try reliable sampling. This may be quite expensive since this procedure can require special equipments and needs careful training of staff.

Where Mold Resides
Molds can be found in hays, grass, or leaf piles. Molds also grow in most organic resources like wood and paper. If our house has areas that are wet most of the time, chances are, mold will grow there. Walls can be one place where mold breeds. Painted walls that are washed from rain are also one place where mold can live. Molds can easily creep under cabinets and carpet padding. There are also some instances that molds can even penetrate the kitchen of your homes. When this happens, be alarmed. Since the kitchen is one place where you prepare your foods, it can be quite dangerous to cook foods in an environment with mold.

Removing Mold
When removing molds, remember that your safety should come first. Always use a respirator or mask to act as an air filter and prevent mold spores from getting into your lungs. Use eye protectors and rubber gloves. After using these types of safety equipment, it is best to dispose them immediately after use.

It is important to dampen or sprinkle some water on materials with mold. This can prevent airborne mold pollens from spreading into the air. You can use non-ammonia detergent or soap to clean hard surfaces. Hard surfaces include plastics, glass and metals. You can also use these in cleaning counter tops, kitchen, or bathroom tiles. It is important to note that you should never mix ammonia with bleach because they may give off fumes that can be toxic and harmful to your body.
It is sad to say, though, that it is not possible to remove mold from carpets or paper. Porous materials are usually impossible to clean if they have molds. There is no better way to remove these kind of moldy materials but to throw them away.

In walls or other wood structures, you can remove molds by scrubbing. But do not expect them to be completely gone. You can scrub them or sand them. Make sure that you use protective safety tools when you do this. Clean these stuff in a well-ventilated area, away from other equipments.

Use a commercial disinfectant after you have removed the molds. Bleach and water solution can also be used as disinfectant. The cleaning solution should contain one-fourth bleach for every gallon of water. Apply the solution in the material infected by mold and allow the solution to do its work for fifteen minutes. If there are too much molds in the material, you can use one and a half cup of bleach per one galloon of water. Be sure that you are in a well-ventilated area when cleaning. After several minutes, rinse the area with water and allow the material to dry. You can use fan or dehumidifier if you want them to dry immediately.

Lee Dobbins writes for http://mold.home-webzone.com/ where you can learn more about household mold.

Grow Your Own Organic Food Now

More and more research is now revealing the health benefits of organic food. For example, children on organic diets have been shown to have significantly lower exposure to nerve poison pesticides. An organic diet provides immediate protection for children against harmful chemicals.

If this isn’t reason enough to start growing your own organic food – what is? When we consider that we can produce enough vegetables to sustain a family right from our own backyard at almost no cost and with very little effort there’s really no excuse for putting it off until tomorrow.

Organic growing guide

There’s no time like the present, so read this organic growing guide and get started NOW!

If you have an existing garden you can easily begin by improving your soil, buying a load of good quality commercial garden soil or starting a no dig garden. But before you do, work out the size of your garden bed.

If you start with a small area, let’s say 2m x 2m (6ft x 6ft approx) you’ll be able to grow enough leafy greens for two people. Adding another bed this size will allow you to grow enough to feed a family.

Before you start, check that you have met these requirements:

Your plants are positioned where they will get at least six hours of sunlight daily
You can get to your plants quickly and easily when it’s time to harvest
Your compost, tools, water supply and fertilizers are easily accessible

Another good option is to make a path along the middle of your bed so that you can reach any small weeds as they appear. A simple tug at the right time will save you a lot of weeding later if you let them take hold.

Square plots can be set up on lawn or if you prefer in a straight line along a fence. If you choose the fence position, make sure you take account of where the shade will fall. Plants deprived of sunlight will not produce the best crops.

If you have only limited space available try gardening in pots instead. There’s one big advantage when gardening in containers – you can move them around according to the weather. If your porch is too hot at certain times of the year, move your pots to where the sun is less punishing. If the harsh winter brings frosts, move your Brassicas to a more congenial spot.

5 steps to better soil

If you have soil, whatever its condition, consider yourself extremely lucky.

‘But it’s never produced anything! My soil’s completely dead.’

No problem. Your soil can be improved very quickly. Here’s how to do it:

Water the ground a day before you start.
Get rid of any weeds.
Cover the area with compost, manure, lawn clippings, and organic fertilizer and then dig this in.
Cover the whole lot with mulch to make sure it stays moist.
After a week or so scrape away the mulch, add more of the compost and manure and then put the mulch cover back.

You should then repeat this process until you have about 30cm (12 inches)of  rich and crumbly soil ready for planting.

If your soil is okay to start with, use the technique above to make it even richer. Begin by removing any weeds, then spread your organic material over the surface. Here’s where you need to do a little hard work – break up any clumps of soil and dig down about a spade depth. You can now plant your seedlings.

Gardening in a trench

If all of the above sounds too hard, or if your site is not suitable, try improving little pockets of soil with the ‘trench composting’ method. You simply need to dig a hole, or a longer trench, fill it with green waste material and let nature turn this small area into a usable piece of ground.

The Bokashi composting system works on just this principle. Bokashi is a product made using a combination of sawdust and bran that has been infused with Effective Micro-organisms (EM). Bokashi buckets can fit easily under the kitchen sink. Add the EM and watch your scraps quickly ferment.

Buying seedlings

Organic seedlings are not generally available from commercial suppliers, so try farmers’ markets, organic farms and local organic growing groups first. Seedlings are usually quite expensive so try growing from seed. This takes longer but is probably the most satisfying way to start your organic garden.

I’m committed to promoting organic gardening and home food production as a way of life. Visit my website to get more information on organic gardening, or get my free mini-course and learn more about simple solutions to growing your own organic food.

Organize your Cargo Area With the Mazda Cargo Liner

Preserving the interior quality of your Mazda can be achieved by gearing it with fully functional and reliable auto equipments like the Mazda cargo liner. It is inevitable for road hazards to invade your interior, particularly your vehicle’s cargo area and if you are not armed with proper protective equipments, surely your interior will rapidly deteriorate and loss its vitality due to the negative effects that these elements. Elements such as water, mud, muck, snow, dirt, and other corrosive particles are the prime agents in wearing out your cargo area especially the sheet metal flooring and the carpet. Since the cargo area of your vehicle is designed to carry all your heavy loads, loading and unloading them can somehow cause some dents and scratches on the metal flooring. That is why by providing it protection in the form of a durable cargo liner you can gain the confidence of hauling your cargos without any hassles. Whether you are carrying frozen goods that can spill off water residues, gardening equipments that still have those soil remains or toxic liquid contaminants, you are guaranteed to be protected as the cargo liner will do its job of handling those corruptive elements and keep them from seeping through your vehicle’s metal flooring.

Cleanliness must be observed in your vehicle since a clean surrounding can make you feel energized, refreshed, and comfortable. And because your Mazda is your constant companion to any point of destination, it is just right to free it from all sorts of filth like spilled beverages, flies, and stains. But the part that is prone to such kind of dilemma is the cargo area. So equipping it with the Mazda cargo liner is the smartest thing you can protect it. This is categorized as an interior accessory that is not just designed to maintain a clean environment in your cargo area but also elevates its looks. During vehicle travel, especially if you are running through uneven terrains, the cargos at the back of your vehicle can slide and move. For this reason, this cargo liner is designed with textured profiles that will prevent the cargo from sliding and keeping them intact in its position. Also it provides a great degree of frictional rubber plane that firmly holds it in place.

Since the Mazda Cargo Liner plays an important role in preserving the look and efficiency of your cargo area, it is a must to keep it always at its tip-top shape so as for it to deliver its proper functions constantly. It can be easily cleaned by just scrubbing it with soap and water. And by letting it dry, you can continuously benefit from its usefulness. But though it is made to be durable, wear and tear can take a toll on its life and a replacement will necessitate. When acquiring a replacement, make sure to choose the one that provides a custom fit on your vehicle. And also bear in mind that it is wise to get a replacement that is made exclusively for your Mazda so as for you to get the same level of efficiency just like your original ones.

I’m a high school educator in the school near my place. But beside from being educator I enjoy writing about things that I like and love.

Designing your Vegetable Garden an Introduction to the Classic Designs

There are a number of different designs you can use when planning your organic vege garden – and choosing an appropriate design style for your home and personality will ensure your vege garden is an attractive feature within the garden as a whole, rather than a functional sideline.
 
It’s also important to consider the plants you want to grow. There is little point growing a pile of vegetables you won’t eat (although providing a local homeless shelter or food bank with homegrown vegetables is a wonderful way to use up surplus produce – a fantastic project if you have kids, too, as you can get them involved in gardening and charitable giving all at the same time.) You may also want to consider vegetables that you love, but can be expensive to buy. Salad greens often fall into the category with greens such as baby spinach ridiculously expensive in the shops, but so easy to grow at home.

Add in any considerations around companion planting and you will have a guideline to laying out your vege garden.

While there are an infinite number of garden designs to choose from, a few of the more classic vegetable garden designs are outlined below. You can choose the design that best suits your needs and personality, and then adapt it as you choose.

Potager:
The word ‘potager’ is now widely used in English to describe a formal vegetable garden which combines flowers, herbs and vegetables in an attractive pattern, with a clear structure. Fruit trees, often espaliered, are also used in potagers, together with topiary trees such as bay. Box hedging can be used to edge and define the beds, and can often be used to split the beds into geometric patterns. Pathways are made from traditional elements such as old brick, lime chip or shell, and create an attractive walk between the beds. with attractive pathways made from brick, shell or lime chip in between. You can include arches covered in roses or vine fruit, or highly structural plants such as artichokes. Potagers are ideal designs for organic gardening as the combination of vegetables, herbs and flowers allows for a huge range of companion planting options.

If you vegetable garden will be clearly seen rather than hidden away, a potager may be an ideal option for you. However before you begin, take some time to sketch out your design – to scale if possible. They key to a successful potager is in the geometric detail and this is not something that you can usually play by ear.

The Traditional Kitchen Garden:
The kitchen garden is usually walled – stone or brick being the traditional materials, however modern gardens can create the ‘walled’ effect using fences or hedging, to fit with the style of your home. The entry to the garden is usually through a gate or archway.
 
Kitchen gardens have a very organized layout. Both paths and plantings are run in straight lines, and pathways are usually made from gravel, or rammed earth covered in straw. Plantings tend to run north to south, to allow even access to sunlight.

Unlike potagers, kitchen gardens are primarily functional and don’t include ornamental elements such as flowers. Herbs, however, have a place and can be used as borders along your paths. Lavender, rosemary and bay all make attractive and fragrant hedges.

Vegetable Patchwork:
In a vegetable patchwork plants are planted in bold blocks of single plants. In this way you create high visual impact and can design your plantings according to height, color and texture to create an attractive, interesting tapestry.

There are usually wider, main pathways through the garden with smaller, narrower paths leading off into the beds to allow easier access to the planting blocks. Again, paths tend to be made from beaten earth or gravel. A patchwork garden is a easy way to manage your crop rotations – you simply move all your plantings over one block each year.

Cottage Gardens:
Cottage gardens are beautiful, care-free gardens which are characterized by a seeming lack of structure. Flowers are interwoven with vegetables and herbs to create an abundant, lush garden which can give joy to the senses. However as with all gardens a cottage garden needs some planning to work well.

Pathways are meandering and narrow, so there can be as much planting as possible. A casual garden chair can be placed in a small nook – you can even grow things over it – and it will look perfectly in place. Paths are covered in straw and you can leave you’re your garlic and shallots to dry in the sun, which will only add to the atmosphere. The overall feeling is of productivity, vibrancy and abundance. However, when gardening organically bear in mind that your plants need adequate airflow, which can be a problem in a cottage garden. Diseases and pests can also spread quickly due to the intensive planting. Therefore it’s worthwhile keeping a good eye on your garden for any telltale signs of disease or infestation.

City, or Container Gardening.
Finally, you can still enjoy the fruits of your labor even if you are not lucky enough to have your own plot of earth. There are a wide variety of plants and herbs which do very well in pots and containers – including small window boxes.

When deciding what to grow in your courtyard, balcony or patio, the type of tubs you use can be a key to your design. If you are simply keen to grow as much as possible then you can purchase organic gro bags from your local garden centre which will work well for a couple of plantings, and allow you to grow intensively. Otherwise choose your containers and pots in keeping with a theme – old English or Mediterranean, for example – and you can then grow plants which embrace this theme.
 
You can now buy a huge range of dwarf plants which are ideal for container gardening. Dwarf peas and beans are ideal, as are tomatoes, and they have been bred to crop heavily.

Remember, however, that your plants need plenty of sunshine – 6 hours a day is ideal – shelter from the wind and sufficient water. Your container plants will dry out far more quickly so will have higher water requirements than plants in a traditional plot.

By designing your garden in a style you find personally attractive you will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden and discover it is a place where you actually want to spend more of your time. And this, of course, is where you reap the benefits with wholesome, abundant crops you can enjoy with family and friends.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.