Tips for Chainsaw Safety, Operation, & Maintenance

Tips for Chainsaw Safety, Operation, & Maintenance

Using a chainsaw comes with its own hazards. It is because it has the potential of injuring the user, especially if he/she is unfamiliar of some safety, operation, and maintenance tips.

Aside from wearing the proper personal protective equipment, it is also possible for you to keep yourself safe by applying safe operating procedures. There is no need to be afraid of the chainsaw, though. All you have to do is to master the basics of safely using it.

Fortunately, you will receive more guidance on how to operate the chainsaw without compromising your safety through the tips included in this article.

I. The Importance of Personal Protective Equipment

Chainsaw is the perfect tool, which you can use to cut large branches, fallen trees, and other items. However, you might find it challenging to figure out how to use it for your intended job safely. Probably, the best way to start is to gather all the needed personal protective equipment, including the following:

Tips for Chainsaw Safety, Operation, & Maintenance

1, Hard Hat

You need a hard hat, as you can use it to give full protection to your head. Ensure that the hard hat comes in a highly visible color, too, while also meeting the standards in terms of protecting your head.

2, Googles

You also need protection for your eyes, and that’s something that a pair of goggles can provide. By wearing the goggles, your eyes will receive full protection from flying chips and splinters.

3, Hearing Protectors

Hearing Protectors

It is also crucial to note that a chainsaw often produces a lot of noise when it operates. To protect your ears from possible injury caused by the unnecessary, loud noises, it is important to wear hearing protectors.

4, Gloves and Mitts

These items should also form part of your personal protective equipment. Your best bet is a pair of leather gloves, which also features a reinforced ballistic nylon at the back.

You can expect such to provide more than enough grip when you’re operating the saw while also properly absorbing some vibration, thereby protecting your hands. The leather gloves are also helpful in preventing cuts when you are sharpening your chainsaw.

5, Proper Safety Clothing

Proper Safety Clothing

Ensure that you wear proper clothing that can keep you safe while working on and using the chainsaw. Choose a well-fitting clothing, one that can prevent you from getting entangled with the chainsaw. It would also be best to go for close-fitting clothes, those without cuffs.

In addition, the clothes should be constructed from close-woven fabrics. As for the lower clothing, go for chaps or trousers that also feature sewn-in ballistic nylon pads. You can also wear pants or trousers capable of protecting your belt line while having additional protection than the ones that tend to stop at the upper part of your thigh.

6, Protective Footwear

Of course, your feet are also among the specific parts of your body that require the highest level of protection when you’re using your chainsaw. You need to wear a well-fitted, heavy-duty, and durable safety work boot, which meets the standards in terms of protective footwear.

Avoid slippery shoes. Go for a boot with an anti-slip function. Wear a boot constructed from cut-resistant materials, too, as such can offer utmost protection once it comes in contact with the operating chainsaw.

If you want a footwear, which offers the highest level of cut protection, then go for that constructed from ballistic nylon. In addition, a safety boot, which features a rubber sole designed for snow and wet weather is also the best bet. It should also have either cork or grip soles designed to handle rough terrains.

II. Precautionary Measures

Aside from gathering all the personal protective equipment that you need, it is also necessary for you to familiarize yourself about all the precautionary measures that you can apply when using a chainsaw. These include the following:

Read and understand the instruction manual – The manual, which comes with your saw, can give you an idea about how you can correctly use your chainsaw. You’ll know exactly the steps in mounting the guide bar and chain, mixing fuel, lubricating the chainsaw, and starting it.

Never underestimate the importance of reading the manual as it has most of the information you need regarding the proper use of the chainsaw. By fully understanding the instructions stated in the manual and implementing them, you know that you are safe when using the tool.

Precautionary Measures

Refuel – Do the same precautionary measures you often apply when using other gasoline-powered equipment, like a lawnmower. It would be best to stop the saw’s engine while also avoiding smoking in case you need to refuel it. Avoid spilling gas when the engine is still hot.

If you need to fill the tank, then make it a point to utilize either a gas can or filtering funnel – both of which should feature a versatile hose, too. Avoid starting the chainsaw in the area where you refuel it. Also, apply additional precautionary measures, especially during a hot weather, to prevent fires.

Know how to properly carry the chainsaw – Make sure to shut it off when you need to carry it from one place to another, especially if you need to handle hazardous working conditions, like steep slopes, slippery surfaces, and heavy brush.

A wise tip is to carry the chainsaw in such a way that its guide bar points to the rear. Another tip is to point the guide bar in front, especially if you need to go downhill.

Know how to properly carry the chainsaw

First Aid – Another precautionary measure is to ensure that there is someone around you when working using the chainsaw, even if there is no need for you to hire an assistant. It’s also advisable to gather the address and contact number of the closest emergency unit.

In addition, you should have a first-aid kit with you all the time. Such ensures that you are fully prepared to handle any accident that you’re facing.

III. Other Safety Tips to Take Note of

Prior to using your chainsaw, it is a must to familiarize yourself with the following helpful safety tips. By following them to the letter, you have an assurance that you won’t end up having injuries from the process:

Check all the features and components of the chainsaw – Among the things you have to check prior to using the tool are the controls, bolts, and handles, as well as the chain tension. Ensure that all of them function properly. It is also important to make some adjustments to them based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Check the sharpness of the chain, too. It should always be sharp. The lubrication reservoir should be full, too.

Check all the features and components of the chainsaw

Know exactly the safest way to start the saw – The best way to start it without the risk of harming yourself is on the ground. You can also look for another form of support, aside from the ground, but make sure that it is firm. It is never a good idea to practice drop start.

In addition, you need to start the tool by a minimum of ten feet away from the fueling area. It is also important to engage the brake of the chain.

Fuel the chainsaw properly – Another thing that you have to be aware of when it comes to operating the chainsaw safely is to learn about the proper way to fuel it. In this case, it is crucial for you to make use of the right and approved containers when it comes to transporting fuel into the tool.

Another tip is to dispense fuel by a minimum of ten feet away from any ignition source. This is important especially if you need to conduct construction activities. Avoid smoking when fueling, too, so you can prevent possible injuries.

You can also keep yourself safe by ensuring that you use a flexible hose or funnel whenever you need to pour the fuel into the tool. Avoid the fueling activity when the chainsaw is still hot or in operation.

Remove all forms of obstruction – Ensure that the chain path of the saw is free of any debris, rock, small tree limb, and dirt. Check if there are any nails, metal, or spikes in the area prior to cutting, too.

Also, exercise caution so there will be no tree limbs or trunk that will bind against the tool. If you are cutting a tree, check whether there are branches under tension, as well.

Remove all forms of obstruction

Turn off the chainsaw when necessary – The tool should be shut off if you need to carry it on uneven or rough terrains. Keep the chain brake engaged, as well. To further guarantee your safety, ensure that your hands are away from the handles. There should also be a secure footing when you are using the tool.

Wear the right personal protective equipment – Personal protective equipment has already been mentioned in a section of this article, and you have to make sure that you invest on them if you want to stay safe. PPE often include protection for the head, face, eye, leg, foot, hand, and your hearing.

Avoid loose-fitting clothes. Go for those that fit you correctly, as loose clothes might end up getting in the way when you are supposed to have an easier time operating the saw.

Take care about kickback – Equip chainsaws powered by gasoline with a protective device, which you can use in minimizing the risk of chainsaw kickback. To prevent this problem, avoid sawing using the tip. Also, the tip guard should stay in place.

IV. Proper Chainsaw Maintenance

Aside from learning how to use the chainsaw properly and safely, it is also crucial for you to familiarize yourself with the different ways to maintain its excellent condition. With the following chainsaw maintenance tips, you have a guarantee that your tool will serve you for a long time.

Learn about preventive maintenance Such involves investing a small portion of your money and time to taking care of your chainsaw so you can avoid spending more in case it gets damaged in the future. Make it a point to service the tool before it begins to act up.

In addition, be aware of certain warning signs that indicate whether or not the saw is already on its way to getting damaged. Some of the signs that you have to watch out for are difficulties in starting it, loss of power when used at full throttle, and lack of sharpness.

Learn about preventive maintenance

Avoid running the tool’s chain into dirt – Among the specific elements that might damage your chainsaw are dirt and sand. In this case, you need to exercise extreme caution to prevent the chain from running into the ground.

If you need to cut a tiny sapling from the base, then dig at the bottom of the tree to cut the trunk at or below ground level without having to come in contact with the dirt. If you need to cut tree limbs, there should also be proper support off the ground.

Conduct a regular check on the chain tension – Note that a loose chain has the tendency of damaging the tool’s sprocket or bar. Furthermore, it is a safety risk. Each time you use the saw, make sure that you check its chain tension prior to putting it back to store into its case.

Conduct a regular check on the chain tension

It is also important to tighten its chain based on the manual’s specifications. If you need to use your tool for a huge project, which requires you to perform numerous cuts, make sure to shut it off regularly, so you can check its chain as well as its other vital components.

Lubricate the chain – Chainsaws often come with a tank designed for chain oil, and it’s a big help in lubricating the chain while circling the bar. Prior to using the saw, check the level of oil in the tank. For extended use, shut off the tool once in a while, so you can check whether the oil level is still enough.

V. Final Words

While a chainsaw is one of the most complicated tools to use for certain cutting tasks, it is also considered as the most important. It can perform a number of functions but you need to gain awareness on how you can use it properly as well as how you can maintain its excellent condition for a long time.

Let’s Make A Splash! 60 Backyard Pond Ideas For Any Budget You Can Start This Weekend!

Have you ever looked at your backyard and thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to add a pond? I wish I had the time”. Well, look no further than these ideas right here! In this article, I’ll show you 60 easy pond ideas that you can get started on this weekend, regardless of your budget! Are you ready? Let’s dive right in!

Ponds For A Small Budget

Who says you can’t have nice things on a tight budget? As you can see below, there are plenty of pond options for you even if you don’t want to break the bank.

#1

Pond Picture

Source : http://homesthetics.net/create-extraordinary-diy-pond-upcycled-old-tire/

A great way to recycle an old tire, this pond makes good use of cheap materials. Simply dig a hole for the tire, line it, fill it, and decorate and you are set!

#2

Pond Picture3

Source : http://yourhouseandgarden.com/15-stunning-diy-water-features-to-adorn-your-garden/

Waterfalls are one of the best features any pond can have. With a bit of planning and some old watering cans, you can create a simple, yet eye-catching display for your pond.

#3

Pond Picture2

Source : http://homestead-and-survival.com/how-to-build-a-duck-pond/

All you need for this idea is a simple kiddy pool which you can purchase at any number of stores. Once you have it installed, line the outside with wood or rocks to create a simple backyard pond.

#4

Pond Picture4

Source : http://www.thegardenglove.com/how-to-build-a-pond-easily-cheaply-and-beautifully/

If you have a lot of extra rocks laying around, you can make this beautiful backyard pond. Take the time to carefully lay the rocks on the pond border to create a symmetric backyard paradise.

#5

Pond Picture5

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

It doesn’t get much simpler than this pond idea! With the cheap plastic liner, all you need to do is dig a hole to fit the liner and then decorate to fit your style.

#6

Pond Picture6

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

Small, symmetrical, simple, and serene, this backyard pond is too cute! The rectangular design will give your yard a fresh and modern vibe that your guests will be sure to be talking about.

#7

Pond Picture7

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

Three ponds for the price of one! Each is simple and small, but when you put them all together, you get a simply divine display for your back yard. You could easily customize the layout to suit your needs better.

#8

Pond Picture8

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

Another tractor tire idea. However, for this one, you won’t need to do any digging! Instead, simply wrap the tire in plastic and build up stones around it for a unique pond.

#9

Pond Picture9

Source : http://www.woohome.com/outdoor/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens

Who doesn’t have a few extra bottles lying around? Don’t throw them out, upcycle them to create a unique and beautiful waterfall for your DIY pond.

#10

Pond Picture10

Source :http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

Oh, would you just look at those wonderfully lovely waterfalls! Not only would this be nice to look at, but the bubbling noise would be so peaceful too!

#11

Pond Picture12

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

Small? Check. Waterfall? Check. Simple? Check. Absolutely peaceful and gorgeous? That is a huge check! The large rocks make the pond look a bit small, but it certainly is big enough to attract some interesting wildlife.

#13

Pond Picture13

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

This pond is a great idea if you live in an area that gets lots of rain. The tunnels leading to the pond can collect rainwater and turn your backyard into a burbling brook. This would also be great for boat races with the kids, too.

#14

Pond Picture14

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

Even though this pond is on the smaller side, the perfectly placed patio pavers, as well as the statue, would make it a great addition to your yard.

#15

Pond Picture15

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

There is a lot to love about a natural looking pond. First off, once it is installed, you don’t need any fancy filters, which will save you money. You can just let nature and your aquatic plants take over, which will, in turn, create a safe haven for lots of animal life.

#16

Pond Picture16

Source : http://photobucket.com/gallery/http://s26.photobucket.com/user/mammasue/media/Yard/DSCF0229.jpg.html

If you don’t like to dig, look for an item that can hold water and turn it into a pond! These oversized tubs make for a great backyard display, and won’t make you break your back get it either.

#17

Pond Picture17

Source : http://decorating-hq.com/diy-backyard-pond-ideas/

If you’ve got an old boat lying around, then you have a perfect pond idea just waiting to be built. Since the boat is made to be water tight, you don’t need to do anything special to it. Just simply fill it up, decorate, and enjoy!

#18

Pond Picture18

Source http://www.laspilitas.com/garden/howto/Garden_fish_pond.htmlhttp://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/diy/how-to-make-a-mini-pond/

Simple, small, and carefree, a backyard pond for fish will keep your kids entertained for hours as they watch the little fishies swim all about!

#19

Pond Picture19

Source :http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/diy/how-to-make-a-mini-pond/

Even though this pond is on the small side, this water can support plenty of aquatic plants! This would be great for a back patio, especially if you can fit more than one. That way, you’d be able to create a lush, green landscape without using up your yard space!

#20

Pond Picture20

Source : https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/df/54/21/df5421cd1b4b180a232d7e68ef8b8816.jpg

If you ever have a neighbor or a friend who is remodeling and throwing out their old tub, take advantage of it and use it to create a cheap DIY backyard pond.

Ponds For a Medium Budget

If you’re able to spend a little bit more money, you can start to make your backyard pond a bit bigger and a bit fancier.

#1

Pondmedium1

Souce : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard/

This beautiful setup would be easy to do yourself. All you need is the time and the energy to dig it out and fill it in. The waterfall makes for a relaxing touch.

#2

Pondmedium2

Source : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard/

If you are looking for a modern solution to your backyard pond, this might just fit the bill! The clean cut corners and symmetrical design would make this a beautiful addition to anyone’s sitting area.

#3

Pondmedium3

Source : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard/

Holy big waterfall! This pond would be a great addition to anyone’s backyard but would be especially great for someone with children. They wouldn’t be able to look away from that mesmerizingly large waterfall.

#4

Pondmedium4

Source : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard/

Another wonderful natural display. If you are a nature lover, then this is the pond for you. You could spend each evening listening to your very own frogs.

#5

Pondmedium5

Source : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard/

Not only is this pond beautiful, but take a look at all those flowers too. What an absolutely peaceful little slice of nature to sit by.

#6

Pondmedium6

Source : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard

The best way to make an outfit pop is to accessorize. This is also true for your backyard pond. All of those plants and landscaping is sure to take any guests breath away.

#7

Pondmedium7

Source : http://www.fantasticviewpoint.com/18-lovely-ponds-water-gardens-backyard/

Simple, elegant, and tasteful, this large pond has just the right amount of landscaping. It adds to the beauty of the pond without distracting from it.

#8

Pondmedium8

Source : http://gardenthymewiththecreativegardener.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-great-water-features-for-garden_22.html

This is such a cool idea! The oversized waterfall and smaller pond would be a great place to relax. The large drop of the waterfall would easily help you to drown out any unwanted sounds, leaving you with peaceful white noise.

#9

Pondmedium9

Source : http://gardenthymewiththecreativegardener.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-great-water-features-for-garden_22.html

A simple small pond with a cool focus point, this copper leafed tree is sure to make your backyard pond the talk of the neighborhood, as well as provide some awesome curb appeal should you decide to move.

#10

Pondmedium10

Source : http://gardenthymewiththecreativegardener.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-great-water-features-for-garden_22.html

While a bit on the larger side, this pond, and its accompanying waterfalls make for an attractive and peaceful retreat for your backyard. You could easily make the pond a bit deeper and add some fish to make it even more appealing to the eye.

#11

Pondmedium11

Source : http://www.architecturendesign.net/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens/

Who doesn’t love a private oasis? Nothing can provide you with that sense of isolation like your very own island! With bridges over the pond being the only access point, you will feel like you went on a vacation each time you go into your yard.

#12

Pondmedium12

Source : http://www.architecturendesign.net/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens/

If you are looking for a quiet place to take some time for self-reflection, this is the pond for you. The glorious foliage and the gentle waterfalls all combine to make this perfect for those times where you just need to think.

#13

Pondmedium13

Source : http://www.architecturendesign.net/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens/

A relatively simple pond that you could do yourself in a weekend, it would be great for a house with children. Not only is it nice to look at, but the jetting water would be a great place to wash their hands and feet after playing in the yard.

#14

Pondmedium14

Source : http://www.architecturendesign.net/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens/

The depth, the beautiful river stone, and cascading waterfalls make this another great idea for your own private, quiet place. Imagine sitting and watching the fish swim peacefully along as you let your cares wash away.

#15

Pondmedium15

Source : http://www.architecturendesign.net/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens/

I just love the way that these waterfalls are formed! If you are looking for a more modern take on the waterfall, then this just might be the perfect backyard pond idea for you.

#16

Pondmedium16

Source : http://www.architecturendesign.net/35-impressive-backyard-ponds-and-water-gardens/

There are literally hundreds of free pianos out there, just waiting to be snatched up and turned into this breathtakingly beautiful display.

#17

Pondmedium17

Source : https://learningasigotips.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/diy-water-garden-and-koi-pond/

This simple to make pond is extremely versatile in where you can place it. It can be put right next to your house or in the middle of your yard, making it a great choice for anyone looking to add a backyard pond to their landscaping.

#18

Pondmedium18

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas

Why stop with one waterfall when you can have a whole cascading hill of them. Your kids will love to watch the water flow down to the bottom, and the water’s noise will be music to your ears.

#19

Pondmedium19

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you already have a garden sitting area setup and just want to add a pond, just take a look at this idea here! It easily fits in with, and accentuates the other garden ornaments, making it the perfect backyard addition.

#20

Pondmedium20

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you want your pond to look as natural as possible, then you don’t have to look any further than this idea right here. The lush vegetation and sitting area under a pergola make this pond look like it is in the middle of the woods instead of in someone’s backyard.

Ponds For a Large Budget

If money is not a problem, there are no limits to what you can do to your backyard pond to turn your yard into your own personal oasis.

#1

Pondlarge1

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

There is so much to love in this setup! From the pergola for shade to the beautiful stone in the pond, this just screams peace and tranquility. The coolest feature, however, is definitely those stepping stones. They just tie the whole thing together so well.

#2

Pondlarge2

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you are trying to decide between a pool and a pond, whey not choose both! Natural swimming pools are all the rage right now, and this setup, with a large swimming area and smaller sitting area, complete with a waterfall, would certainly make your backyard the place to be.

#3

Pondlarge3

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you are willing to break the bank, take the time and get a deck built on your pond! You won’t be disappointed since it will give you a quiet place to relax.

#4

Pondlarge4

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Not only is this waterfall simply gorgeous, but it would be a great way to cool off if you got too hot as well. The only problem with this idea is you might not be able to get your kids to stop playing in it on those long, hot summer days.

#5

Pondlarge5

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

What an absolutely breathtaking setup! It has everything that you could ever hope for in a pond/natural pool. Waterfalls, a bridge to a private island, and great landscaping, this is truly a work of backyard pond art!

#6

Pondlarge6

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Imagine being able to sit next to your backyard pond in the rain, entertaining your guests during lunch without getting soaked. Why just imagine it? Build a gazebo and start living it.

#7

Pondlarge7

Source :http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you have a large property, this pond might be the right choice for you. While the waterway and waterfall are beautiful to look at, they could also serve multiple functions, too. You could collect the water to water your plants or let your kids have boat races. The possibilities are truly endless.

#8

Pondlarge8

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Would you just look at this idea! It’s almost like the backyard has been transported to a pond. You could build bridges between all of those islands or simply go out in a little boat, making for hours of peaceful relaxation.

#9

Pondlarge9

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

As natural a pond idea as they come, this takes some of the ideas in the budget sections and grows it exponentially! Depending on how big and deep you are able to make this pond, you could put some sportfish in and go fishing at your leisure.

#10

Pondlarge10

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you don’t want to have your pond go too deep, but want it to be expansive, then something like this might be right up your alley. The lovely stone makes it a showpiece, and the depth makes it easier to install!

#11

Pondlarge11

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

If you have the room, why settle for a simple waterfall? Why not make your backyard into a bubbling brook, complete with river rocks for crossing, making it seem like you’re on a hike in the mountains instead of your yard.

#12

Pondlarge12

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

The best part of this backyard pond isn’t actually the pond itself. While the fish, depth, and landscaping are nice touches, what really makes this a peaceful retreat is the deck. Imagine being able to sit, entertain, and grill right on the water. Paradise!

#13

Pondlarge13

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Another great natural setup, this pond has a little bit of everything for everyone. With bridges to cross, rocks to climb, fish to watch, and plenty of beautiful scenery, this is a wonderful idea for a backyard pond.

#14

Pondlarge14

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

There is nothing quite as magical as being able to walk over your very own bridge, over your very own pond. It will make your backyard idyllic and perfect for prom, wedding, or family pictures.

#15

Pondlarge15

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Oh, those lights! They add another great element to this backyard pond, making it an awesome place to entertain both day and night. The outdoor barbecue and patio furniture make this the perfect setup for outdoor parties.

#16

Pondlarge16

Source : http://www.availableideas.com/40-amazing-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Peace, tranquility, and plenty of water make this a great setup for someone seeking a quiet backyard pond. It doesn’t have any loud streams or waterfalls. Just perfectly still and perfectly clear water, perfect for helping you to clear your mind.

#17

Pondlarge17

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

What makes this particular backyard pond such a beauty is the landscaping that has been built up around it. The deck and flower garden all make this a wonderful backyard concept.

#18

Pondlarge18

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

The oversized and natural looking waterfall make help this pond’s islands to stay moist, increasing the likelihood of moss growth. This moss makes the entire pond seem to glow with green, making it a great piece of backyard décor.

#19

Pondlarge19

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

While the pond itself is pretty straightforward, that dock is anything but standard! Just imagine yourself in that chair, jutting out over the water as you let the sounds of nature wash away all your cares and worries, all while remaining in the comfort of your very own backyard.

#20

Pondlarge20

Source : http://www.digsdigs.com/53-cool-backyard-pond-design-ideas/

Ponds aren’t only meant to be enjoyed during the day! Talk to your installer about adding some light fixtures. If you want to get especially fancy, you can even get different colored lights that run on a timer, creating a one-in-a-million display.

Backyard Ponds: A Fine Concept

Hopefully, you will be able to draw some inspiration from all of the different pond ideas that this article presented you with. Regardless whether you are on a tight budget or don’t have to worry about a budget at all, there is no better time to start planning and installing your very own backyard pond then right now! So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get started!

How to Harvest Basil

Planting herbs such as basil, cilantro, oregano and parsley is a rewarding pastime.

In order to grow a decent volume of healthy plants, you really need to learn the proper way to do it. After growing these herbs successfully, it’s time to harvest.

When harvesting, you should know there are specific ways to harvest certain herbs. You can maintain beauty, foliage, growth and health. You do not just pick a plant and pull the leaves irresponsibly. There are laws of nature to follow.

Here, we will discuss how to harvest basil. We’ll also look at some other famous edible herbs. These bring magic to our cooking while delivering beauty and fragrance to our homes and garden.

Read on!

How to Harvest Basil without Killing the Plants

harvesting basil

Basil is an annual herb that grows during summer. It gives out an incredibly fragrant, relaxing smell.

Here are some ways to harvest basil without killing the plants…

  • Your own fingers are the most important tool to pick the leaves
  • Pinch the leaves. Do not cut them
  • When harvesting basil, wait until the plant starts to produce flower buds and several leaves
  • Regularly pruned, basil plants will produce about 6 cups of leaves a week
  • Frequent basil harvesting promotes more growth of new leaves
  • It is important to harvest basil leaves once they start to blossom
  • Carefully pinch off several leaves in the middle of the plant
  • Leave at least half of the stem intact
  • Do not pick the topmost leaves
  • Pick only what you need one at a time. Let the plant recover from the harvesting
  • Pinch only mature foliage. Leave all new ones. This will enable the plant to produce two branches from the same stem
  • Harvest basil leaves when winter starts to arrive as this plant cannot withstand low temperatures
  • After harvesting the basil, wash and place on a paper towel or wax paper
  • Leave them on a table to air dry for a few hours
  • Wrap the basil with the paper towel or wax paper and refrigerate

Ways of Drying Basil

harvesting basil

Drying basil is a way of preserving its flavors and aroma to ensure you can have a year-round supply.

Here’s how to dry basil leaves:

Air Dry

  • Wash the basil leaves after harvesting
  • Secure them with elastics in bundles
  • Hang them upside down in the kitchen until dried up
  • Leave the bundles to dry for 3 to 5 weeks
  • Check daily for discoloration and remove if present
  • You may also try wrapping each bundle with newspaper while hanging to avoid discoloration of the leaves

Food Dehydrator

  • Preheat the thermostat to 115 degrees F
  • Rinse the basil leaves
  • Spread them on a dehydrated tray
  • Place the tray inside the food dehydrator thermostat
  • Dry for 4 hours
  • Check the leaves every 30 minutes until it totally dries up
  • Check for crumbliness
  • Place in a jar or pouch
  • You may also crush the dried leaves into smaller pieces and put them in spice bottles
  • Store in a dark place or freezer

Oven Dry

  • Again, wash the leaves first
  • Remove the leaves from the stems
  • Discard the stems
  • Shred the basil leaves into small pieces
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F
  • Place the leaves on a parchment sheet
  • Lay the sheet with basil on a baking pan
  • Never use a bare pan as the metal will burn the leaves
  • Put the baking pan inside the oven
  • Leave for 15 minutes
  • Check if the basil has dried up
  • The leaves should crumble in your fingers upon touching
  • Put it back in the oven if the leaves haven’t reached the desired dryness
  • Leave again for another 15 minutes
  • Do not over bake. The leaves should stay green in color and crisp
  • Cool it down after removing from the oven
  • Check it again for crumbliness
  • Store in a tight sealed pouch or jar
  • Keep inside a kitchen drawer or freezer

Sun Dry

There is no better way than drying naturally under the sun.

  • Place a wooden rack outside your house
  • Lay the basil leaves on the rack with parchment paper underneath
  • You can place mesh or net as a cover to prevent the leaves being blown by the wind
  • Drying takes about 2 weeks
  • Take the rack inside the house at night time
  • Remove any discolored leaves

How to Cut Basil for Cooking

The technique of slicing herbs like basil is called chiffonade.

Cut herbs in a thin and long manner. Never use a dull knife for it will only hinder the desired ribbon-style cuts.

Let’s delve into the proper ways to cut basil for cooking…

  • Pinch leaves about an inch from the main stem
  • Stack about five leaves over each other
  • Roll them lengthwise
  • Use a very sharp knife to slice the leaves thinly crosswise In a rocking manner
  • Add the basil ribbons to your dish after it is cooked

Pruning Basil to Make It Bushy

Pruning time for basil plants is when you notice the plant has flourished vigorously.

When the basil starts to fill your garden, that’s when you should carry out the pruning. You can also prune basil as early as when it sprouts 6 leaves.

Below are a few basic hints on pruning basil to make it bushy.

  • Avoid pulling the leaves off the stem. This will kill the plant
  • To stimulate new leaf growth, pinch the stems after the last leaf cluster
  • Pinch more if you don’t wish the plant to grow tall and thin
  • Avoid pruning too much of the plant in one day
  • If you need more basil leaves, you can shear the whole plant. Don’t pinch it
  • If you cut the entire plant, be sure to leave at least half the size of the stem to encourage new growth
  • If the plant shows signs of dying, cut the whole plant and leave ample stems to grow new leaves
  • Check for flowers blooming and pinch them at once unless you intend to allow the plant to seed and die
  • Use shears if the stems are thick and hard
  • Disinfect the shears before cutting the stems

How to Harvest Cilantro

coriander

Cilantro is an annual plant that can survive cold weathers. It is a Chinese parsley that is also known as coriander.

  • Harvest when the stems reach 6 to 12 inches tall
  • Use kitchen shears
  • Cut off the cilantro stalks when the seeds start dropping
  • Stems should be snipped near the ground
  • Cut off the smaller leaves about 2 inches above the crown
  • Larger leaves should be cut an inch above the stems
  • Cut only what you will need
  • You may harvest the entire plant if you wish but you have to wait until they start to grow more leaves back before you can harvest again
  • Store the harvested cilantro in a resealable pouch and freeze or dry
  • If you want to have coriander seeds, leave some of the plant to turn brown
  • To harvest the seeds, cut the seed-bearing stems
  • Place the coriander seeds on a paper bag to dry

How to Harvest Oregano

oregano

Oregano is a perennial herb that has a strong zesty flavor.

Here are some tips on how to harvest oregano leaves.

  • The proper time to harvest oregano is when the sprigs of the plant have reached about 4 to 6 inches tall
  • Mid-summer is the best season to harvest it
  • Harvest only the leaves that you will need. Do it early in the morning when its taste and aroma is at its peak
  • Always remember to pick only the leaves that already have flower buds. They taste best before the flowers blossomed
  • Harvest everything when the cold season sets in. Oregano dies in very cold temperatures
  • With oregano, you will need sharp scissors to cut the leaves at about an inch to the stem
  • Remember to always disinfect your tool with alcohol
  • Freeze the leaves in winter time

How to Harvest Parsley

harvesting parsley

Parsley is highly nutritious and dubbed as the most popular herb in the world.

It has two types of leaves. There’s the flat-leaf parsley and the French (curly) type.

Parsley has a vibrant, delicious lemon taste and enticing aroma.

Here is how to properly harvest parsley.

  • Harvest time is when mature leaves start to appear. You need to wait two and a half months for that
  • Clip, do not pull nor pinch the stalks of parsley
  • Use sharp scissors when clipping the stalks
  • Make at least a 3 inch cut from the leaves to encourage new and better growth of leaves
  • Rinse the clipped parsley lightly with water to remove any dirt or soil
  • Place the stalks in a glass half filled with water to preserve its freshness

Wrap Up

Everyone has their personal preference on how to harvest their planted herbs. More tips are always useful, though.

We hope these simple pointers have helped enlighten you further on how to harvest basil, cilantro, parsley and oregano.

Comments, queries and suggestions are always welcome. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Enjoy harvesting!

Calandiva: Growing Succulents Is Easy!

Growing plants indoors is often challenging.

How about if you’re just too busy or on vacation? The last thing you need is to worry about excessive plant maintenance.

Calandiva is a succulent with a striking appearance.

calandiva

Source: Helpful Gardener

What Is A Succulent?

succulents

Source: Pinterest

Succulents are great news for anyone with a hectic schedule.

They don’t just look great, they require almost no effort to look after.

All succulents are able to store water. They have thick and rubbery parts that are fleshy and luxurious.

There’s no standard succulent. They come in a diverse range of shapes and sizes. They do tend to look rather exotic. This is one of the main attractions alongside the lack of care required.

Generally, the leaves, roots and stems of a succulent are extremely thick. This is where they store up water.

In their natural surroundings, succulents are able to cope with high temperatures and very little rainfall.

Cacti are often referred to as succulents. There’s a certain disagreement among botanists, though. Some consider the cactus is a stand-alone variety.

Why Are Succulents Easy To Care For?

succulents caring for them

Source: Agavaceae

Before we move on to explore the calandiva plant, we’ll take a quick glance at why succulents are so easy to look after…

  • Succulents need very little watering
  • There’s no need to go over the top with pruning
  • Most pests are not attracted to succulents
  • You can keep succulents in containers very easily
  • They can be simply transported from their native areas
  • Succulents work well alone or with other plants

So…

Now you’re tempted to give these attractive and aesthetically pleasing plants a try, how about calandiva?

Calandiva Plant

calandiva

Source: PlantShed

Kalanchoe is a genus of tropical succulents from the Crassulaceae family. There are about 125 species.

These flowering plants are mainly native to parts of Africa and Madagascar.

Calandiva is formally known as Kalanchoe blossfeldiana “Calandiva”. This cultivar was developed in Holland.

For a closer look at calandiva vs kalanchoe, check out this great article.

This plant will flower for 6 weeks. This takes place towards the end of winter or the start of spring. It grows outdoors if the conditions are right.

Growing calandiva indoors is a breeze. It demands precious little care and will flower in the middle of winter.

Leaves are substantial and scalloped. You’ll be rewarded with clusters of blooms that double-flower. You can sometimes find more than 20 petals on just 1 bloom.

Colors vary wildly.  From white and pink through to orange and red, these awesome succulents will brighten any home.

How To Grow Kalanchoe Calandiva

Equipment

  • 6-8 inch pot
  • Bypass pruners
  • Perlite
  • Sphagnum peat
  • Compost or fertilizer
  • Plastic bag

Calandiva Propagation

  • You use calandiva cuttings to grow this succulent
  • Choose a 2 or 3-inch stem. Make sure there are 2 sets of leaves. Remove the bottom 2 sets of leaves
  • Pop the cutting in your pot. A mix of perlite and sphagnum peat works well
  • Moisten the pot but go easy on the water. Do not drench it. Less is more with calandiva
  • Place a transparent plastic bag over the pot. This will give your plant the humidity it needs
  • Position the pot so it gets full sunlight for 21 days while the cuttings put down roots
  • When watering, just moisten the soil. Allow it to dry it before wetting again
  • A complete 10-10-10 fertilizer is a smart choice. Feed monthly. Compost works as an alternative
  • If you want to take your calandiva outside, the weather needs to be right. Kalanchoe needs temperatures of 50-0 Fahrenheit during the day. At night, 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit is an acceptable range
  • For the first 6 weeks, 15 hours of complete darkness each day enhances flower growth
  • Deadhead lightly to keep your calandiva looking resplendent. This will also lengthen the blooming period so it’s a win-win
  • Once your calandiva is done blooming, you can move it to a larger pot
  • You can take cuttings after the second year of blooming

Handy Hints for Growing Succulents

While they are remarkably straightforward to grow, there are a few pointers to watch out for when you are growing succulents…

  • Use a pot that drains well: Succulents dislike wet soil. In their natural habitat, they are used to minimal moisture and soaring temperatures. Think deserts and steppes. Overwater your succulents and you invite disease, rotting and possibly death. Drainage slots in your planter lessen the chance of excessive moisture
  • Water heavily but seldom: Put simply, if you water your succulents every day and leave the soil saturated, your plant will die. Don’t go to the other extreme and settle for misting. This will leave your plant parched. Instead, water heavily perhaps once a week. Allow the soil to dry out. Repeat
  • Use well-draining soil: Getting the soil type right will help your succulents to flourish
  • Keep things warm: Try to replicate the native climate of succulents. 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit over the winter and 70-80 degrees in summer is ideal
  • Go for plenty of sunlight: Most succulents, including the calandiva plant, enjoy full sunlight. Over winter, they are likely to be dormant. In the warmer months, allow anywhere from half a day to a full day of sun

Calandiva: Common Problems

Although they should present you with very little hassle, there are a handful of issues when growing calandiva.

Stem Rot

The roots of your kalanchoe are prone to rotting indoors or outside. Avoid overwatering at all costs.

Water thoroughly then let the soil dry out properly. Ease back further during early growth and over winter.

If you find the soil holds water, use lighter soil. Perhaps add some sand.

With full sun and proper watering, there’s less chance of stem rot.

Pests

Indoors, you won’t face any problems at all.

Outside, it can be attacked by mites, mealybug or scale. One solution is to spray. You can use insecticidal soap, oil or a synthetic control. Another option is to introduce predatory bugs. Wasps or ladybugs work wonders.

Lack of Flowers

When it comes to flowering, your calandiva needs plenty of sun but also dark days. This helps it ease into dormancy.

Is The Calandiva Plant Poisonous?

Some kalanchoe can be harmful to animals. Be careful if you have this plant outside and your cat likes to chew on things.

As far as humans are concerned, the plant is perfectly safe. In fact, some species of kalanchoe are used in traditional medicine.

Wrap-Up

Hopefully, this article will inspire you to add a touch of color to your house with some succulents like the mighty calandiva.

Here are a couple of calandiva images to tempt you further…

calandiva 1

Source: Permies

calandiva 2

Source: Pinterest

If there’s anything you’d like us to cover here, just drop us a line. We welcome suggestions and we’re always delighted to hear from our readers.

Now go and get some great indoor plants to liven up your home!

Many Mint Flowers

Mints are perennial herbal plants and belong to the lamiaceae family.

They are considered among the hardest herbs to eliminate because they are so invasive. They can literally overcome other plants. It’s tough to get rid of them. You’ll need to locate them one by one.

It is best to plant mints in pots or containers. This will prevent it overpopulating your garden.

mint

These mint flower plants are very beneficial to your overall health. There are many varieties. Each one has its own specific health benefits, both for humans and animals.

Mint, like all herbs, can be ingested whether as a tea or a garnish to any dish.

Mint is grown easily and rapidly. It can be found all over the world. Plants sprout practically anywhere.

Read on for a detailed look at the types of mints, their uses and benefits to our bodies.

Types of Mint Plants

Apple Mint (Mentha Suaveolens)

apple mint

Source: Gardening Know How

Apple Mint is a perennial herb. It has large, bright green, oval shaped leaves. These have hairs all over.

Flowers are purple-pink colored.

It grows as high as 3 feet and towers over other mint varieties. It smells and tastes a bit like apples thus the name apple mint was given.

Health Benefits

  • Use apple mint to alleviate skin irritations brought about by insect bites. Crush the leaves and rub onto the affected areas
  • Apple mint flower tea offers great relief for stomach aches, indigestion, bloating and stress
  • Apple mint tea also helps to reduce fats in your body. It can regulate your metabolism
  • Powder the leaves. Use the paste to whiten teeth
  • Oil extracted from apple mint leaves can be used to treat headaches, stress, acne, pimples and gas pains. It works to stave off dizziness, muscle and stomach cramps
  • Apple mint leaves also have vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and potassium. They have anti-carcinogenic properties

Apple mint is generally a kitchen herb. Here’s a tasty recipe that might tempt you to try growing some…

Apple Mint Strawberry Pie Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ pack Oreo cookies
  • 1 pack fresh red strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 3 tablespoons apple mint (chopped thinly)
  • ½ cup non-fat strawberry yogurt (frozen and cut 2 inches thick each piece)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees C
  • Rub oil onto a baking dish
  • Blend Oreo cookies and melted butter into the food processor
  • Pour the mixture. Press it firmly onto the sides and bottom of the dish
  • Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove when done. Let cool for 30 minutes
  • While waiting for the cookies to cool down, blend honey, strawberries and apple mint in the food processor until a perfect puree is achieved
  • Place the frozen yogurt into another bowl. Pour the strawberry puree onto it. Press gently
  • Transfer the mixture onto the cookie crust
  • Leave inside the freezer for 2 hours
  • Serve after at least 20 minutes out of the freezer

Chocolate Mint (Mentha x Piperita f. Citrata ‘Chocolate’)

chocolate mint

Source: Agrowtopia

The chocolate mint plant is a perennial herb that smells like chocolate. It has beautiful brown-purple pointy leaves and purple flowers.

They are best planted in pots. They grow only 15 inches high.

Health Benefits

  • Chocolate mint can be used as tea. This eases indigestion and gas pains
  • It also soothes respiratory issues like asthma, coughs and colds
  • It has anti inflammatory, anti viral and anti-allergy properties
  • Chocolate mint strengthens the bones
  • Boosts the immune system and slows down the aging process
  • Aids in regulating blood pressure

Uses of Chocolate Mint

Like its mint siblings, chocolate mint can also be ingested as tea.

It can be added to various sweet dishes like ice creams and pies.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chocolate mint leaves (freshly picked)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 oz chocolate chips

Directions

  • In a mortar, pound mint leaves with a pestle
  • Heat the pan. Add 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of milk along with the sugar and salt. Whisk together
  • Remove the mixture. Add the chocolate mint leaves
  • Cover the mixture for an hour
  • Remove the mint leaves. After 2 hours, set aside
  • Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl
  • Add the other cup of cream and whisk
  • Pour this mixture into the pan. Cook and stir
  • Add the vanilla
  • Transfer the custard into a bowl and cover
  • Refrigerate overnight
  • Remove from the refrigerator the next day. Add the crushed chocolate chips
  • Mix again then place in the freezer for about 5 hours
  • After 5 hours, you’re good to go!

Ginger Mint (Mentha x Gracilis)

ginger mint

Source: Plant Zero

Ginger mint has spicy, oval shaped leaves. Other names

Other names include Scotch mint, golden apple mint and red mint.

They are perennial herbs with short, slender stems. The stems are a distinctive dark red.

These plants love to sprout in old and abandoned places. They spread rampantly through runners.

Ginger mint is the product of Corn mint and spearmint. It smells much like spearmint.

A spread of these mint plants can be seen on the border of Sweden and Russia.

Ginger Mint Health Benefits

  • Ginger mint tea relieves nausea and motion sickness
  • It’s an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
  • Improves food absorption

Ginger Mint Uses

  • Often used as a beverage enhancer
  • These mints are also made into marinades and sauces
  • Used along with butter and sandwich spreads
  • They make a beautiful landscape plant attractive to birds and bees
  • Fresh ginger mints are also used in jams and jellies

Ginger Mint and Cucumber Lemonade

mint lemonade

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch ginger mint leaves
  • 1.5 liters water
  • 1 medium sized cucumber (peeled and sliced thinly)
  • 1 lemon

Directions

  • Boil the ginger mint leaves in 1 cup of water
  • Put the cucumber slices into the blender. Blend thoroughly
  • Squeeze the lemon into a pitcher of the remaining water. Cut some lemon zests
  • Pour in the boiled ginger mint along with the boiled water
  • Add the blended cucumbers
  • Refrigerate or serve as is

Orange Mint (Mentha x Piperita Citrata)

orange mint

Source: California Tea House

Orange mint is also known as lime mint, yerba buena, bergamot mint and eau de cologne mint.

Orange mint was named for its leaves’ spicy orangey smell when crushed. It produces pink flowers.

It grows as tall as 61 cm. Green leaves rest on burgundy stems.

The orange mint’s flavor is particularly strong.

This mint is best used fresh but can also be taken dried or frozen.

Health Benefits of Orange Mint

  • The leaves and blossoms of orange mint are used as painkillers and antiseptic
  • Orange mint extracts can relieve palpitations and calm the nervous system

Uses of Orange Mint

  • Dried orange mint leaves make great potpourris
  • Its essential oils are used to make perfumes. It has a strong minty-citrus scent
  • Chopped orange mint leaves are used for garnishing dishes, salads and desserts
  • It blends well with lemonade and cocktail drinks
  • Can be added to ice creams and sorbet

Orange Mint Passion Fruit Juice Recipe

orange mint passion fruit juice

Ingredients

  • 2 passion fruits
  • 2 oranges
  • ½ cup orange mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup water

Directions

  • Scoop passion fruit meat
  • Put the scooped fruit meat into a blender along with the seeds
  • Add orange mint leaves, ice cubes and water and blend together
  • Juice the oranges
  • Pour the blended mixture into a glass
  • Add the orange juice extract
  • Refrigerate or serve at once

Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)

penny royal

Source: The Toast

Among all the herbs in the mint family, pennyroyal is the most controversial due to its toxicity. Several women have overdosed on this plant.

Pennyroyal smells like peppermint but its oil is fatal for both humans and animals.

Pulegone is the active content that brings about this poisonous effect. Its oil can cause cancer and multiple organ failure. Pennyroyal is a water mint which is also called Mosquito plant, Pudding

Pennyroyal is a water mint which is also called mosquito plant, pudding grass and pennyrile. This mint plant has glossy green leaves and mauve flowers.

Health Benefits of Pennyroyal

  • Pennyroyal tea eases headaches and fevers
  • The leaves are a beneficial cure for flu, small pox and chickenpox
  • Induces menstruation and sweating
  • It is said to help treat tuberculosis
  • Aids with all stomach diseases

Uses of Pennyroyal

  • Due to its toxicity, it is used as an insecticide and pest repellant. These mint plants can kill even snakes or rats that attack the crops
  • Pennyroyal is also used as an abortifacient. It can induce menstruation and cause miscarriage
  • Crushed pennyroyal leaves rubbed on clothing can ward off mosquitoes and fleas

Pennyroyal is no longer used today in food due to its toxic effects.

Pineapple Mint (Mentha Suaveolens Variegata)

pineapple mint

Source: Specialty Produce

Pineapple mint is a member of the apple mint family. It’s a hybrid of grapefruit mint.

It has variegated green leaves with white edges and creamy white flowers.

This mint is an ornamental plant that smells distinctly like pineapple. It’s best grown indoors.

Health Benefits of Pineapple Mint

orange mint passion fruit juice

  • Pineapple mint essential oils have antiseptic properties

Uses of Pineapple Mint

  • Its pineapple scent makes it a great potpourri product
  • Ideal as an ornamental wreath and bouquet
  • Used as garnish for dishes, especially in Polynesian and Caribbean cuisines
  • Great for cocktails and dessert
  • Its fragrance serves as an air freshener
  • Leaves can be used as a marinade or flavorful syrup once boiled
  • Its fruity smell attracts bees and butterflies to your garden

Pineapple Mint Salsa

Ingredients

  • ½ pineapple fruit (diced)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 pineapple mint leaves (chopped)
  • ½ lime (juiced)

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss.
  • Best served chilled

How To Grow Mint From Cuttings

mint

  • The soil should be moist with good drainage
  • Cut a healthy green, vibrant sprig from a mint plant about 10 cm long
  • Place the mint cuttings in a glass container half filled with water
  • Place the container near a window. Mint enjoys indirect sunlight
  • Replace the water every 2 days. Keep the soil moist
  • Transfer the cuttings to a pot or garden soil once it has produced roots about an inch long. Give extra care to the newly sprouted roots
  • If planning to keep it indoors,use a pot about 5 inches wide and long
  • Fertilize with water-soluble fertilizer (optional)

How To Grow Mint From Seeds

  • Plant seeds on moist garden soil in spring. For pots indoors, go for late winter
  • Mint plants are very hardy. They can grow with or without fertilizing
  • Mint loves partial shading and indirect sunlight but full sun won’t kill them
  • Water the plants when the soil has dried up
  • Do not cover indoor mint as it needs sunlight to grow
  • Outdoor mint should be spaced about 30 to 47 cm apart
  • Pinch off stems from the tip to accommodate bushier growth
  • Mints grow rapidly. They should be given their own space away from other plants or they will dominate the spaces provided for the others
  • Harvest mint leaves in the morning. Their flavors and aromas are strongest at that time

Wrap-Up

Mint is one of the most popular herbal plants. It has both medicinal and culinary uses.

Be careful, though. However useful it can be, ingested excessively, mint can be harmful. Menthol and karvol, the nutritious contents of mints, are also poisonous if taken too much.

These herbs are not advisable to be taken by pregnant and nursing women. Mint is not ideal for babies or children.

The versatility and flexibility of mints make them a top choice for potting, especially indoors.

So…

Why not try growing them yourself?

We hope this article has widened your knowledge on a range of mints. Any queries and suggestions are always openly accepted.

Happy planting!

All About Purple Basil

Among all the various types of basil, purple basil is perhaps the most attractive and in-demand.

Purple basil has eye-catching purple coppery leaves and pink flowers. This annual plant is scientifically called ocicum basilicum purpurascens. It has a wide range of purple varieties.

They have a sweet, licorice taste and grow up to 2 feet tall.

Purple basil is used mostly in Asian and Italian dishes. Purple basils are both edible and ornamental.

While the color purple signifies royalty and elegance, the name basil itself means royal or king in Greek.

Purple Basil Health Benefits

purple basil health benefits

Source: Natural Society

In general, all types of basils have a number of medicinal benefits. Purple basil is no exception.

The following health factors are solely attributed to purple basil…

Anti-Aging Properties

The purple coloring of this basil comes from the anthocyanin pigment. This is a powerful antioxidant. It helps to enhance memory and prevent premature aging.

It also has loads of Vitamins A, C and also calcium. All of these are highly beneficial for eyes, skin and bones.

Anti-Cancer Properties

The antioxidant anthocyanin helps prevent the risk of certain cancers. Purple basil helps to stop the spread of malignant cells in the body.

Others

Purple basil is also known to aid in digestive problems if you use the leaves as tea.

It also relieves nausea and is used to treat acne and pimples.

Pound purple basil leaves and rub the paste on your skin to soothe insect bites and itching.

Purple basil can also reduce muscle cramps and spasms.

How to Grow Purple Basil

purple basil

Source: Fresh Veggies In The Desert

Purple basil is remarkably easy to grow.

Its seeds germinate quickly in temperatures between 24 to 29 degrees Celsius.

This spicy herb enjoys full sun and must be planted in moist, garden soil.

It is grown mainly in Asia and Africa and it hates cold weather. Water it regularly.

Purple basil grows best with tomatoes and peppers in a row.

In winter time, the seedlings must be protected by a frost blanket.

Prune basil stems to promote proper growth. They must be planted about 4 to 7 inches apart.

Purple basil can be harvested in summer. It will die in cold weather but can be preserved well in a freezer.

Uses of Purple Basil

Culinary

Purple basil is best for salads and pesto. Its leaves are widely used for Italian and Asian dishes due to its aromatic smell, sweet taste and spiciness. It also blends well with vinegar, tomato and pesto sauces. Burgers and sandwiches get a bit of a kick in taste when served with purple basil leaves.

Cosmetics

As mentioned above, purple basil leaves can relieve acne and pimples. Pound the purple basil and use its extract on your hair to bring more shine and luster to it.

Air Freshener

Purple Basil’s aromatic fragrance can be used to add a sweet scent to the air. The leaves can be dried up and used as a potpourri.

Purple Basil Varieties

purple basil leaves

African Blue Basil

This hybrid genus is the result of the marriage of dark opal basil and African camphor basil.

African blue basil is a huge, bushy plant which has lavender flowers and newly grown purple leaves that turns into green with shades of purple as it matures.

The leaves of African Blue basil are shaped like eggs. Their stems are a deep red to dark purple in color. These plants grow up to 91 cm tall and they have a sweet, camphorated smell.

Purple Ruffles Basil

This genus is otherwise known as osmium basilicum. This hybrid plant has large, dark purple ruffled leaves with red undertones that taste like cinnamon and licorice. Its lavender flowers are also edible.

This variety was introduced in 1987. Purple ruffles basil is the offspring of green ruffles basil and dark opal basil. It was created by scientist Ted Torrey in 1980.

Purple ruffles are not as fragrant as the other purple basils though. They grow up to 2 feet high. Its beautiful appearance and ease of cultivation has awarded purple ruffles the All American Selection and Mississippi awards.

Dark Opal Basil

Perhaps the most renowned purple basil hybrid, dark opal basil was hybridized by John Scarchuk, a professor at the University of Connecticut.

This creation was formed from wild basil seeds brought from Turkey in the late 1950s and some dark purpled-leaved basil seeds. This hybridization process took Scharchuk and his partners years until they came up with the perfect basil product which they called dark opal basil.

Scientifically termed as o.b. purpurascens, dark opal basil gave professor Scharchuk his very first All American Selection award in 1962.

Dark opal basil forms deep purple plum leaves that change into shiny bronze-green whenever it is swayed by the wind. Its lavender to deep fuchsia hued flowerettes add to its glorious purple beauty along with its reddish-purple stems.

Due to its magnificent appearance, dark opal has been used for cultivating new hybrid forms of purple basil plants.

Red Rubin Basil

O.b. rubin is a hybrid of dark opal basil and looks similar to it. Its color, however, is lighter than its parent plant.

This basil is stronger and more disease resistant than dark opal. Red rubin basil was introduced to the gardeners’ world in 1993 and is considered a superior version of dark opal basil.

This cultivar is said to be the easiest basil to grow from seeds. They have dark red leaves that are smooth and large, growing up to 10 cm long. The plant itself reaches to 1 foot high. This basil also has a sweet and spicy taste combination. And, just like any other purple basil varieties, red rubin is also extremely aromatic.

Purple Bush Basil

This is another offspring of dark opal basil which was crossed with Armenian basil. It is also named well-sweep miniature purple basil because of its dwarfed appearance of only a foot high.

Purple bush basil also has the same sweet and spicy fragrance as the other variants. It is edible as well.

This variety, though, is not so successful when it comes to having all purple shades. Although the flower bracts are purple, the entire blossoms are pink and the leaves are green with dark purple undersides. True to its name, the Purple Bush basil tends to grow bushier as summer continues.

Purple Basil Recipes

Purple Basil Lemonade

purple basil lemonade

Source: Pinterest

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce purple basil leaves
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 cups cubed ice

Directions

  • Mix water and lemon juice in a pitcher
  • Blend purple basil leaves, water and sugar in a food processor
  • Pour the mixture into the pitcher with lemon and water. Stir thoroughly until mixture turns pink
  • Add ice. Best served cold

Purple Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • 3 cups packed purple basil
  • 6 garlic cloves (peeled and chopped thinly)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil

Directions

  • Blend the ingredients except for olive oil in a food processor
  • Make a puree. Add the salt and a bit of cooking oil and blend again
  • Refrigerate
  • Add to a pasta or chicken dish afterwards

Purple Basil Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed purple basil leaves
  • 1 ½ cups yogurt
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar

Directions

  • Blend all ingredients in a blender until it produces a frothy consistency
  • Refrigerate more or serve immediately

Purple Basil Cookies

Ingredients

  • I cup purple basil leaves (cut thinly)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 ½ all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pounded almonds

Directions

  • Mix the butter and 1 cup sugar in a mixer on a medium speed until the mixture becomes fluffy
  • Add egg, basil and orange juice. Mix them all together
  • Place the baking soda, flour and salt in another bowl and whisk. Pour the mixture into the mixer and mix further
  • Cover with a foil wrapper. Refrigerate for 1 hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees after an hour
  • Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar and almonds in a separate bowl. Make rolls of dough from the cold mixture and roll them to the mixed sugar and almonds
  • Place on a baking platter rubbed with flour. Flatten the rolls a bit on the platter
  • Bake for 15 minutes until the rolled doughs turn brown
  • Remove from oven. And voila! You now have nutritious purple basil cookies!

Purple Basil Cucumber Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch purple basil
  • 1 small cucumber (small, pared and sliced thinly into round pieces)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small onion (pared and sliced thinly)
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • Powdered pepper

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  • Toss thoroughly
  • Refrigerate: it’s best served cold

Grapefruit and Purple Basil Gin Tonic

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch purple basil
  • 4 tablespoons grapefruit seeds
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vanilla syrup
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • ½ cup ice cubes

Directions

  • Pound grapefruit seeds and purple basil together
  • Put inside a shaker along with the other ingredients
  • Add ice and continue shaking until the shaker gets too cold
  • Pour in a glass and serve at once. Enjoy!

Wrap Up

Purple basil, as with other edible and nutritious herbs, offers a wide variety of colorful and gorgeous looking plants. Greens, as we all know, are considered very healthy and beneficial to our body. Purple plants can serve up even more health benefits.

We hope that you’re now armed with plenty of useful information regarding purple basil.

We also welcome any comments and queries you have in mind regarding this topic. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Till then, happy planting! And enjoy, too, the sumptuous recipes you can make with your purple basil herbs.

Best Chicken Egg Incubator Reviews

One of the best things about gardening is the fresh, organic produce you can enjoy.

From peppers and potatoes through to strawberries and tomatoes, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fruit and veg.

How about keeping chickens, though?

Although this is not everyone, if you’ve got a big enough garden and you don’t mind the effort involved, a few chickens can supply you with more than enough eggs for the family.

We’ll look today at the top 5 best chicken egg incubator reviews…

Using Chicken Egg Incubator

If you’ve got chickens and need to give the eggs a helping hand, getting an incubator is a smart move.

Why Use A Chicken Egg Incubator?

Although they have the best intentions and fuss over their eggs constantly, chickens simply don’t always get the job done right.

If you want to enjoy a steady supply of eggs, you’re much better off giving nature a helping hand.

Buying the chicken egg incubator is a surefire route to maximizing the number of eggs you can enjoy throughout the year.

What Is A Chicken Egg Incubator?

A chicken egg incubator is a straightforward way to enhance the number of eggs that hatch if you keep chicken at home.

In order to replicate nature, the chicken egg incubator needs to accomplish 3 basic tasks:

  • Temperature: Incubating eggs is an exact science. An incubator needs to be at a constant temperature of 99.5 degrees. Any variation in this will kill the embryo so it really is crucial to get the temperature right
  • Ventilation: An egg shell is porous. Air can get in while carbon dioxide escapes. All incubators need to have vents or holes. This allows the fetuses to breathe properly
  • Humidity: This is also critical. For the first 18 days, you need to maintain humidity levels between 40 and 50 percent. In the days leading up to hatching, ratchet this up to between 65 and 75 percent

It’s perfectly possible to make your own incubator.

Get an insulated box. For your heat source, go for a light bulb with a dimmer switch or an adjustable heating pad. A bowl of water with a sponge inside can help to control humidity levels.

In effect, the cheaper chicken egg incubators on the market amount to little more than this. When you step up to more robust and advanced models, you’ll enjoy more control over humidity and temperature.

The success or failure of an incubator rests on the accuracy of the thermometer (temperature) and hygrometer (humidity). Many of the best incubators have LED readouts so you don’t need to interfere with the carefully regulated micro-environment.

A worthwhile feature on the chicken egg incubators is a turning device. When hens fuss over their eggs, they tend to move them relentlessly. By automatically rotating them, your incubator can save you a lot of precious time.

When it comes to placement of your incubator, shoot for somewhere like a basement. You want somewhere that the temperature and humidity remain fairly constant. This will make your job that much easier.

What To Look For When Buying The Chicken Egg Incubator

Still or Moving Air?

An air circulating fan helps to maintain your required 99.5-degree temperature.

Regular incubators without a fan are designed to keep a steady temperature. It pays to have a fan to iron out any inconsistencies.

Thermostat

Keeping the temperature at 99.5 degrees is central to successfully incubating and hatching eggs.

If you intend to keep different birds, look for one with an adjustable thermostat. Different birds require their eggs to be kept at varying temperatures.

With some of the chicken egg incubators, you’ll get a timer. This will turn off the heat for a determined period each day. This is a handy feature with waterfowl. Their eggs call out for a cooling off period.

Humidity

More danger is caused to your budding eggs if the humidity is too high than too low.

That said, it’s essential to do your best to sustain the right sort of level if you can. You want to do all you can to increase your chances.

Incubator machines have 1 of 2 types of automatic humidifying built in:

  • Water being dispensed to an absorbent pad
  • Water vapor generation: ultrasonic humidifying

Rotators

All eggs need rotating while they incubate. This is doubly important during the first 3 weeks.

So…

Eggs need turning. It’s just a question of how that is carried out.

  • Manual rotation: If your chosen incubator does not come equipped with rotating functionality, you’ll need to turn the eggs by hand. This needs to be done 3 to 5 times daily
  • Semi-Automatic: With semi-automatic models, you provide the impetus for the eggs to turn then they are all rotated simultaneously
  • Automatic: The most convenient automatic rotators are timed and take care of business without you needing to lift a finger

Ease of Cleaning

Whichever way you look at it, when eggs hatch, they make quite a mess.

Look for one that’s simple to clean out and eliminate the chance of any disease in your incubator.

How About a Contact Incubator?

As technology continues to rocket forwards, contact incubators aim to duplicate the natural environment.

Warm air is blown into a pillow. This is meant to simulate the hen’s body and breathe warmth into the eggs. They warm the eggs from above only.

So…

Now you have a decent overview of what to look for in the top 5 chicken egg incubator, it’s time for a look at 5 of your best bets to enjoy an abundance of eggs year-round.

5 Chicken Egg Incubator Reviews

First up in our reviews is a superb fully automatic incubator from Magicfly.

This incubator works perfectly with chicken, duck or goose eggs so it’s a versatile piece of kit.

While Magicfly offer a semi-automatic model good for 10 eggs, this fully automatic version can accommodate 9-12 eggs and does all the work on your behalf.

This is such a simple piece of kit that all you need to do is pop in your eggs.

It’s made from PC and ABS so you can sit back and wait for your eggs without worrying about harming the embryos.

There’s a completely automatic turner so you won’t need to be up and down the garden constantly to take matters into your own hands.

The automatic temperature control keeps things perfectly in balance.

LED displays allow you to keep your eye on things without needing to open and close the incubator. This helps with a nicely calibrated environment.

If you’re looking for a dependable and affordable chicken egg incubator that delivers in fine style, this Magicfly is tough to beat.

Next up in our look at the best chicken egg incubators is the 1588 from GQF.

The Hova-Bator has a digital thermometer and hygrometer built in. This takes care of all your temperature and humidity requirements fuss-free. Changes in temperature, humidity or dust will not affect the thermostat. There are handy sensors to prevent any burning of the eggs.

If you are keeping different types of birds, changing the temperature is straightforward.

The LCD display can be set to either Fahrenheit or Celsius for your convenience.

There’s an automatic turner available saving you the grief of carrying out this task manually. You do need to buy this separately.

Without this turner in place, the Hova-Bator will hold 50 chicken or duck eggs and up to 130 quail eggs. That should be more than enough for most residential needs.

You’ll get a 12V DC power converter so you can use 110V or 220/240V as you require.

Although the Hova-Bator is not the cheapest incubator on the market, the best things in life are rarely free. The price tag is the only reason this awesome piece of kit doesn’t top our list.

Next is a top-class but pricey option from Brinsea.

The rotating disc in the incubator will take up to 7 hen or duck eggs.

If you want to house quail or pheasant eggs, you can buy a rotating disc for these smaller eggs separately.

A fan-assisted airflow ensures the eggs are evenly heated.

The transparent chamber means you can view your eggs without interfering with their environment.

You can take care of the incubator’s functions using a control and crisp LED screen. Keep your eye on the figures that count.

Egg turning is fully automatic and there’s an autostop feature to make sure your embryos enjoy the best chance.

The cabinet is made from antimicrobial polyurethane plastic so there’s no chance of unwanted contamination.

If you want a top-notch chicken egg incubator and your budget can stretch to it, the Brinsea is well worth popping on your shortlist.

We’ll look next at a still air incubator at a keen price point from Farm Innovators.

There’s a full view through 360 degrees so there’s no need to open up your incubator to keep an eye on the progress of your eggs.

You can view all the important data on a crisp digital screen. This is a very user-friendly unit. You can count down the days to hatching on the LCD.

You’ll be notified with a flashing light if the temperature dips above or below dangerous levels. This helps to minimize the chance of any mishaps with your eggs.

This incubator has a very generous capacity. You’ll get up to 48 chicken eggs in there which is more than enough for most purposes.

If you have bigger duck or goose eggs, the deep tray will accommodate them no problem.

The Farm Innovators incubator is made from a highly insulating polystyrene foam.

You can buy a range of accessories and add-ons from an automatic turner through to an egg candler.

For a solid, no-nonsense chicken egg incubator which is versatile, inexpensive and built to last, check out this great budget option from Farm Innovators. It will not disappoint.

Another incubator from GQF, this time another Hova-Bator, the 1602N.

There’s a radiant heat tube to warm the eggs in a very efficient and cost-effective fashion. Thermal air flow helps the chicks to dry after they hatch.

You can look out for the eggs through a couple of windows on the top.

This model is no good if you want to incubate goose eggs so bear that in mind if it’s applicable to your needs.

The polystyrene case gives excellent insulation.

There is an optional egg turner available but you’ll have to pay for it separately. This will hold up to 41 eggs.

You get a 1-year limited warranty so you can buy with complete confidence.

If you want an effective and affordable incubator from a brand you can trust, road test the GQF Hova-Bator. It delivers in fine style.

Wrap-Up

We trust you’ve enjoyed these reviews. Hopefully, your buying decision should be a walk in the park.

If you have any questions about any aspect of gardening don’t hesitate to get in touch. We love to hear from our readers and we’ll help in any way we can. We always get back to you as promptly as we can.

Now enjoy those fresh eggs!

Cherry Bomb Pepper

The intriguingly named cherry bomb pepper is an annual plant. Annuals germinate and die within a year.

Cherry bomb pepper is also known as capsicum annuum and hot chili cherry.

This is a product of a U.S. hybridization to produce a bell pepper that looks like a cherry but is not as explosively hot as the other chili peppers.

It has a very sweet taste and its thick flesh is suitable for making it into pickles.

Cherry bomb peppers are members of the nightshade family (solanaceae). They grow up to 61 cm tall and are only available for harvest during the summer season.

These peppers are commonly used in stuffings, baked goods, salsa, salads, pizza, barbeque and sandwiches.

A Few Facts about Cherry Bomb Peppers

cherry bomb pepper

These hybridized genuses which originated from the US produce plump, globular pepper fruit 1 to 2 inches long. They produce about 15 pods per plant.

Cherry bomb peppers can be harvested when their colors are green, orange and fiery red. Their chili pods are hotter than their flesh, though.

The cherry bomb pepper has a moderate heat rating (2,000 to 5,000 SHU) from the Scoville Heat Unit.

SHU is a method of measuring the capsaicin (heat chemical) content of a chili pepper.

This rating places the cherry bomb pepper as hotter than a regular bell pepper like pimento but slightly lower than the Serrano and habanero chili peppers. Their heat rate is the same as jalapeños but their taste is totally different.

This hot pepper plant is rarely found sold fresh in regular groceries or stores. Most often, you can find them in bottled form as pickled cherry bomb peppers.

The best place to buy fresh cherry bomb peppers is at a farmer’s market. Hunt one out in your area if possible.

If not…

How about growing your own?

How to Plant a Cherry Bomb Pepper

To achieve the best from this hybrid fruit always buy your seeds from a reputable source.

Cherry bomb peppers are very easy to grow. You simply plant the seeds in moist garden soil. This should be done in the spring.

Preferably pot them or encase the soil in a small, black plastic bag.

Once the tiny stems start to sprout, transplant them into the ground or into a bigger container to allow them room to grow.

These peppers enjoy plenty of full sunlight.

Water the plant sufficiently but not too often. The soil should be kept dry in the winter season.

Fertilize the plants once a month using a non-burning soluble fertilizer.

The cherry bomb pepper grows abundantly and is also highly disease resistant.

The pepper fruits are ready to harvest after 65 days or when the fruit has turned to orange or bright red in color.

Few plants could be easier to grow!

5 Awesome Cherry Bomb Pepper Recipes

Once you’ve harvested your cherry bombs, how about a few ideas to bring them to the table?

Check out 5 great cherry bomb pepper recipes here…

Pickled Cherry Peppers

Ingredients

  • 2kg cherry bomb peppers (stems removed and cut in halves)
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely crushed and chopped)
  • 5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups distilled water

Directions

  • Put all cherry peppers inside a clean jar leaving at least ½ head space
  • Combine last 3 ingredients in a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil until thick
  • Simmer and remove the garlic
  • Pour the hot liquid into the jar with the peppers inside. Leave at least ½ inch space from the jar lid
  • Discard all air bubbles. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes
  • Refrigerate when done right after the jar has cooled down

Cherry Bomb Hot Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 kg cherry bomb peppers (finely chopped, stems and seeds removed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves garlic (thinly chopped and smashed)
  • 1 ½ cups white vinegar

Directions

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and make a puree
  • Drain the puree to leave just the juice. Transfer to a medium-sized jar
  • Refrigerate to have a delightful hot and cold taste combo!

Cherry Bomb Cocktail Drink

cherry bomb pepper

Source: Media Cache

Ingredients

  • 4 cherry bomb pepper slices
  • 1 cup cubed ice
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce syrup
  • 2 ounces apple juice

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients
  • Put 2 slices of cherry bomb pepper in each glass. Pour in 2 glasses You may adjust the ingredients if you have to serve more guests with these deliciously, hot drink

Stuffed Cherry Bomb Dish

Ingredients

  • 6 pieces cherry bomb pepper (2 inch pieces) sliced near the stem
  • 2 ounces small shrimps (shells removed, deveined)
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup green olives
  • 2 teaspoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 lbs bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl except the breadcrumbs and cherry bomb peppers
  • Roll a handful of the combined ingredients into the breadcrumbs. Stuff them inside each cherry bomb peppers
  • Place on a baking dish. Bake at 250 degrees C for 20 minutes
  • Makes 6 servings. Eat while hot

Cherry Bomb Salsa

cherry bomb pepper salsa

Ingredients

  • 3 cherry peppers
  • 6 pcs cherry tomatoes (minced thinly)
  • ¼ teaspoon peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small white onion (chopped)
  • 3 stems cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Directions

  • Mix tomatoes, peppers and onions in a bowl. Blend them in a food processor
  • Pour back into the bowl. Add cilantro and lime juice. Season with black peppercorns and salt
  • Put all the remaining ingredients in and mix thoroughly
  • Refrigerate before serving. Enjoy!

Wrap-Up

Growing plants is never easy. That’s why gardening is challenging and rewarding. It would help, though, to pick something that isn’t only beneficial but also requires minimum effort and tending.

Choosing a cherry bomb pepper to plant is a smart choice and fits the bill perfectly. In only 2 months you can expect to reap the fruits without much hard work on your part.

We hope that you think about growing some cherry bomb peppers and perhaps trying one of the recipes.

As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback. We’re always delighted to hear from our readers.

Happy planting!

Ten Purple Plants For Your Flower Garden

Purple is regarded by many as the color of money, love, penance, prosperity and relaxation. It is also known as the color of royalty. In olden times, no one aside from those with royal blood was allowed to wear such a hue. Due to the rarity of this color then, fabrics of such a shade were only used by the nobility.

Purple also symbolizes magic and spirituality, charm and mystery. Anyone who wears purple clothes exudes intellect, courage, dignity and elegance. Just imagine how regal your garden will look if you grow purple plants there…

Allow us to give you some simple tips about 10 purple plants for your flower garden that are not just long-lasting but also remarkably simple to grow.

Ten Purple Plants For Your Flower Garden

1) Allium Bulbs

allium

Source: The Garden GloveThe Garden Glove

This beautiful purple flower bulb has many different varieties to choose from. The tall purple globes or giant alliums are the most popular types. Some have a combination of white and pink along with the purple while the majority are all plain purple.

This purple genus is a perennial plant which means they live for more than 2 years. They belong to the group of garlic, onion, leeks and shallots. The name allium itself means garlic. These plants are extremely easy to grow.

2) Balloon Flower

balloon flower

Source: Pinterest

Scientifically known as Platycodon grandiflorus, balloon flowers are star-shaped, perennial purple flowers which come from balloon-like buds. Like alliums, balloon flowers also have many different species for you to choose between. There are also varieties in white, blue and pink, but mostly they are a rich purple. The most popular among them is the Hakone double blue. These plants also grow easily.

3) Catmint

Source: Gardening Know How

At first glance, you might mistake of catmint for lavender, especially from a distance. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is a perennial herb that is very resistant to dry weather as well as deer and rabbit attacks. Unfortunately, their sweet fragrance is very attractive for cats!

These plants, which produce purple-blue flowers and gray leaves, bloom from April until late May. Catmint flowers and leaves can also be made into a tea which can relieve colds or flu, pain, anxiety and stress.

4) Dwarf Iris

verbena

Iris reticulata or dwarf iris blooms in May and grows up to about 1 foot tall. They are also very straightforward to grow. There are lots of dwarf iris varieties too and they range from indigo to deep blue colors. Their flowers are bigger than the stems.

Like catmint, these beautiful flowers are fragrant and also deer and drought-resistant. They are not fit for human consumption.

5) Echium Fastuosm

echium

Source: Annie’s Annuals and Perennials

Among the echium varieties, echium fastuosm (Pride of Madeira) can be considered the best species due to its becoming appearance accentuated by vibrant purple coloring. These plants grow up to 6 feet tall and are ideal for landscaping.

They will make your garden look like a mini palace. They should be planted in dry soil and watered only when the soil is thoroughly parched. This genus is very tolerant of foggy, coastal conditions but might not survive temperatures below 15 degrees. They bloom from spring to summer and give off lovely purple spikes of flowers.

6) Lavender

lavender

Lavender is arguably the most famous purple plant. You hear and see its name everywhere.

This plant has a number of medicinal uses. Its aromatic fragrance and oil are converted into perfumes and scented essential oils for massages. It also provides therapeutic relief from respiratory ailments, stress, depression. It even acts as an insect repellant too. Lavender was also used for embalming mummies in ancient Egypt.

Lavender has long indigo to deep purple flower spikes. It can be grown almost anywhere and they grow easily and abundantly. Lavender loves the sun. Plant them a foot away from each other and water after they are totally dry.

7) Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower

Scientifically known as pulsatilla vulgaris, this wild flower blooms only during Easter. This is why it was named after the Paschal feast. It is also called the Easter flower.

These are perennial plants which rabbits absolutely hate. Pasque flower has a few varieties as well with some cultivars having either red or white shades.

These plants are one of the early spring bloomers. They are usually grown along edges and driveways. They often adorn rock gardens. Pasque flower should be planted under lots of sunlight and be watered regularly.

This flower, however, isn’t fit to be ingested as it is poisonous.

8) Purple Cacti

purple cacti

Source: Tanque Verde Construction and Outdoor Design

A cactus can live in arid areas without much water. They are capable of storing water inside their stems.

The purple cacti is a member of the opuntia class of cactus family and they have the same characteristics.

Apart from their lovely blooms and color, purple cacti are also succulent and safe to eat. Cactus plants have been gracing backyard gardens since time immemorial. Wouldn’t it be appealing to grow some attractive, colorful purple cacti in your own place? Give it a try!

9) Purple Orchid

purple orchid

The purple orchid is just one of the many varieties in the orchid family.

Orchids grow most effectively and healthily in tropical countries without much caring needed. In countries with harsher winter seasons, they will require special treatment with plenty of ventilation.

Purple orchids should be grown under a shade or behind a curtained window because direct heat will kill them. These plants can be placed inside near a window during winter to acquire enough air and indirect sunlight.

10) Verbena

verbena

Source: J Parker’s

These beautiful purple perennial plants need constant watering. They simply cannot withstand a dry environment.

They grow anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall. They are very resistant to heat and drought but also need constant watering.

Verbenas require 8 to 10 hours of complete sunlight but they also appreciate cool afternoon shade.

Wrap Up

The color purple is always a very welcoming treat to the eyes. How about if this was the dominant shade that will greet you every day when you head out into your garden? All at once, you will feel relaxed and perfectly prepared to face the tensions of daily life.

We are hoping that this exploration of 10 purple plants for your flower garden article has given you some great ideas. If you have any suggestions or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Happy planting!

Bonsai Tree Care

The art of bonsai continues to be a popular form of gardening all around the world.

Check out our bonsai tree series for a snapshot at several different types of bonsai.

Today, we’ll take a look at bonsai tree care so you can cut through the confusion and confidently take on what can be a very rewarding project.

bonsai

Watering

You’ve got to keep your bonsai properly watered. Dehydration can kill your tree so get this part right.

In general, make sure the soil never gets dry.

Check the soil daily to monitor things.

For a variety of reasons, watering early in the morning works best.

Bear an old Japanese saying in mind when it comes to watering your tree…

“With the bonsai, it rains twice.”

This means you should water until it runs from the holes in the pot. Hold fire for 15 minutes then repeat.

You can mist your leaves to help keep them breathing and free of dust.

Never water your bonsai with a hose that’s been laid in the sun. Let the water run through for a few minutes so it cools down.

If your bonsai has flowers, do not water them.

In summary, you should strike a delicate balance and give your bonsai just enough moisture for its needs without going over the top.

Feeding/Fertilizer

Feeding your bonsai on a regular basis is essential for healthy growth.

Bonsai fertilizer contains the following:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

These elements will have numbers to indicate the proportion of each in the fertilizer. There will also be some inert filler.

With bonsai, you’ll want a balanced fertilizer.  Whereas for some plants and trees a 15-0-15 fertilizer works wonders, bonsai call for a 20-20-20 mix. This has even amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium with 40% filler.

Always water your bonsai thoroughly before applying your fertilizer. Never feed it when it’s dry.

Do not fertilize your bonsai if it’s in poor health. Rather than overcompensating with feed, wait it out until your tree improves before fertilizing.

Don’t keep using the same brand of fertilizer. They all contain slightly different nutrients so it’s worth mixing it up.

Always exercise a light touch. Over-reliance on fertilizer can be damaging for your tree.

Soil Mix

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Bonsai trees have different needs. It pays to be familiar with the type of soil preferred by your bonsai.

Some people swear by pre-mixed soil but this is an expensive approach. Mixing your soil at home is a far more economical solution.

It’s crucial that the soil has good aeration. The roots of your bonsai need to breathe easily and produce food.

The soil must also be able to drain effectively. Too much water not draining can lead to suffocated roots.

You also need to be sure that the soil can retain enough moisture so it’s a fine line to tread.

There are 2 principal types of bonsai soil:

  • Conifer mix
  • Tropical/Sub-tropical mix

As long as your soil has the attributes above, you can then tweak and fine-tune it to your requirements.

Location

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You owe it to yourself to choose the best environment for your bonsai to grow in.

They need to receive plenty of sunlight and air with a well-maintained temperature. It should be between 50 and 70 degrees at all times. Monitor this with a small thermometer.

If you are growing your bonsai indoors, place it in the brightest window as long as it’s not next to the fireplace.

Grow lights are a great solution if you can’t provide your bonsai with the natural light it demands.

As well as lighting, you’ll also need to think about proper air circulation. Poor quality air can lead to the photosynthesis process in the bonsai being messed with. Sufficient movement of the air can also help keep pests away. Good air circulation also helps transport essential moisture to the leaves and promotes the evaporation of surplus water.

Take action to crack the windows and door allowing some breeze through. Consider purchasing a fan if necessary.

Pots and Containers

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When you are re-potting your bonsai, opt for a pot that’s slightly wider than your tree. Smaller pots force you to prune more frequently and you will need to re-pot more often. With larger pots, the soil might not dry out properly and in turn the roots can rot. Take your time and get the size right.

There are 2 main styles of bonsai pot:

  • Training pots
  • Display pots

Training Pots For Bonsai

While your tree is in the training phase, keep it in a special training pot made from mica, wood or plastic. You need adequate room for the roots to take and the trunk to settle. Large drainage holes ensure there’s no saturation of the roots leading to rotting.

Display Pots For Bonsai

Once you are up and running, you can re-pot to a ceramic display pot.

These pots are much easier on the eye and come with a variety of finishes. They are available in a wide range of colors and often feature striking designs.

Bonsai pot selection is all part of the fun so embrace it and make sure you get the best pot for the job.

Re-Potting

It’s crucial to re-pot your bonsai. The roots grow and need increasingly more space. The soil also hardens so it’s a smart move to replace it.

Failure to re-pot your bonsai at the right time can cause it to wither and subsequently die.

When you’re re-potting, it’s a good chance to prune the roots and conduct some general reshaping.

If the roots of your tree are outgrowing the pot, it’s time to give it a new home. Another sign is water remaining on the surface of the soil. This shows that the soil has hardened and the water is not permeating properly.

Young evergreen conifers should be re-potted every 2 or 3 years. This can slide back to once every 5 years for adult trees. With young deciduous trees, re-pot annually. When they are adult, you can move them every 2 to 3 years.

Re-pot either in spring before the buds start growing or in early fall when they have matured. Carrying out your re-potting at these times will help with rapid root growth.

In the lead-up to re-potting, allow the soil to dry out somewhat. This helps lessen the chance of root damage.

  • Remove and replace some of the old soil. With conifers, replace half the soil for young trees and one-third if they are fully grown. Young deciduous trees need two-thirds of the old soil removed while you can take away half with older trees
  • Clean the old soil from the roots
  • Prune the roots next to stimulate growth. Prune the thinner roots first then the taproot
  • Cover the drainage hole and add wire
  • Put down a layer of coarse soil then some planting soil
  • Place your bonsai tree on top of the planting soil and fix in position with wire
  • Add planting soil until level
  • Flush your soil with water
  • For 2 or 3 weeks, keep your bonsai in a light but shaded area. Keep it clear of wind or direct sunlight
  • Do not let it dry out
  • Do not fertilize until the roots have taken

Tools and Bonsai Supplies

You don’t need much by the way of tools to enjoy the art of bonsai.

Bonsai Wire

Bonsai wire is available in an assortment of shapes and sizes.

Copper is extremely strong but can be unwieldy to use.

1-2mm wire is a sensible starting point. As you practice, wiring becomes easier.

Bonsai Wire Cutters

These cutters are expressly designed for cutting bonsai wire. Don’t be tempted to use regular wire cutters instead. With proper bonsai cutters, you can prevent any damage to the trunk or branches while still enjoying enough jaw pressure to cut evenly.

Consider a good pair of bonsai wire cutters as a sound investment.

Bonsai Shears

These large-handled shears are a fundamental tool for bonsai growing.

You can trim roots, branches, buds or leaves. These shears are very versatile. The blades are sharp and tailor-made for dealing with bonsai.

Japanese Saws

These saws are the size of a large knife with handles for precise movement.

They cut effectively but using relatively little force. Use these saws on branches but not on the roots of your tree.

Root Rake

This is superb for disentangling roots. You can use a root rake safely without worrying about damaging the rest of the true while rescuing the roots.

Pests and Diseases

Bonsai trees are liable to be attacked by a fairly wide number of pests and diseases.

  • Powdery Mildew: This often happens if you water your tree in the evening. If you notice any tiny white granules, remove them. Switch to watering in the morning
  • Thrips: These tiny pests feed on woody plants including the bonsai. Use traps or insecticide depending on what plants you have nearby
  • Spruce Spider Mite: These mites bite into bonsai trees and eat the sap. Although the mites are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye, check for any signs of yellowing on the needles. Spray with insecticidal soap to get rid of the infestation
  • Red Spider: This common pest also eats the foliage of your tree. Since they are resistant to insecticides, introduce predatory mites to kill them off
  • Root Aphids: These aphids attack bald cypress bonsai. Check the outer branches for any signs they are dying off. If these attacks are left untreated, the entire branch can die
  • Caterpillars: Several types of caterpillar feed on various bonsai trees. Remove by hand where possible
  • Snails: Snails can plague tropical bonsai. Use predators rather than chemical treatment. Try to remove them by hand if you catch them early enough

Wrap-Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed this glance at bonsai tree care.

If you have put off taking on a bonsai for fear of it being too complicated, hopefully now you’re ready to give it a try and armed with plenty of valuable information.

Please contact us any time with your queries or feedback. We love to hear from our readers.

Go and try a bonsai for size. They make a perfect conversation piece either indoors or in the garden. Keep coming back as we will continue our bonsai tree series over the coming months.

Now happy planting!

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