Here’s a question about mulch asked by Dexter Roona.
Can compost be used as mulch? What is the purpose of compost?
Mulch reduces moisture evaporation, moderates the temperature of the soil, reduces compaction of the soil, suppresses weeds and should eventually break down and become part of the soil.
So, in answer to your question of can compost be used as mulch, it depends on the type of compost. If the compost you wish to use is has the traits described above, then yes, you can use compost as mulch. However it’s unlikely that it will perform as well as mulch. I would recommend you staying away from chipped or shredded mulch and try using composted mulch.
Nicotiana Paniculata: An ornamental plant with many uses.
Tobacco has been used by humans for thousands of years. It’s been used for medicine, rituals, gifts and pleasure; just to name a few of its many uses. In 1492, when Columbus landed his ships on the North American continent, he was greeted by Native American tribes who gave him gifts, including tobacco, which he brought back with him to Europe. Native Americans have been growing tobacco since at least 6000 BC.
Rodrigo de Jerez was one of Columbus’ shipmates who brought tobacco back with him when he came home. As one of Europe’s first smokers, Rodrigo’s neighbours were so terrified when they saw smoke coming out of his nose and mouth, that they had him arrested by the Holy Inquisition and he was imprisoned for 7 years! By the time he was released, smoking had already become popular. By the 15th century, sailors were planting tobacco at nearly all of their ports and by the 16th century tobacco was being used in nearly all European countries.
You can carry on this tradition; growing tobacco plants for your own personal use. This can be rewarding and can save you money over the cost of store bought tobacco, not to mention the satisfaction that can be achieved by cultivating and harvesting your own product. One type of tobacco plant in general, is the Nicotiana Paniculata. It’s an attractive plant with stems ending in green tubes, about an inch long with darker green tips. Its leaves are large rounded spade or scallop shaped and are bright green. This plant attracts bees and butterflies.
Like most tobacco plants, Nicotiana Paniculata can be easy to grow as it’s naturally resistant to many pests. Once they germinate, they are a weather-hardy plant, as well. Starting to grow tobacco is a relatively straight forward process. Once you have acquired some tobacco seeds, germinate them indoors and then transplant them outdoors or into your greenhouse after the last frost. Growing tobacco indoors using plant lights is also an option. If you are worried about damaging or poisoning the soil, you could consider using large pots to grow your plants in. If you do plant them in the ground, you should rotate them, making sure not to grow tobacco in the same place each year. There are very few pests or animals you need to worry about when growing tobacco. One you may encounter is the Hawk Moth and the Hawk Moth pupae; aptly called the Tobacco Hornworm.
Tobacco plants are not completely helpless when it comes to pests either. When caterpillars do begin to feed on the plant, a chemical in the bug’s saliva reacts with chemicals released by the plant. This chemical reaction acts as a beacon to the offending insect’s predator, the Geocoris, or “Big Eyed-bug”. Here’s a very interesting article in ‘Discover Magazine’ about this evolutionary defence mechanism. You should take caution if you grow tobacco where animals may graze or come into contact with it, as tobacco plants can cause illness or death in many domestic animals; such as pigs, goats, sheep, horses, etc. Children exposed to high levels of nicotine from wet leaves may require hospitalisation. Is it legal to grow tobacco in the United Kingdom? Do I need to pay taxes or duty on home grown tobacco? Although tobacco is a highly regulated product in the UK, it’s usually only after it’s been harvested. It’s absolutely legal to grow tobacco for your own personal use in the United Kingdom. However, once this tobacco has been harvested and dried, things become a bit more complicated. According to www.gov.uk/guidance/tobacco-products-duty#products-duty-isnt-payable-on, you generally need to pay duty on taxes to the HM Revenue and Customs as soon as the products become liable to the duty, or, as the government defines: “reaches a smokeable condition during manufacture”. So, according to the government, once your leaves have been harvested and dried, ready for a pipe or rolled into a cigarette they become taxable. Just something to consider if you’ve decided to grow your own tobacco.
Have you grown tobacco plants? We’d love to hear your tips, stories and see your photos. Please share in the comments section.
This article and many other horticultural articles can be found on https://www.cowenlandscapes.co.uk
Between the convenience of having flavourful herbs on hand whenever you need, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you grew them yourself, there are lots of reasons to consider starting an indoor herb garden. Imagine seasoning your fresh tomato sauce with a few leaves of freshly picked basil, sprinkling a pinch of cilantro in your homemade guacamole, or tossing a sprig of rosemary on your roasted vegetables. As idyllic as it sounds, though, these little herbs pose big challenges for the aspiring indoor gardener. Most require at least six to eight hours of bright light each day and enough water to thrive – but not so much water that their roots will rot.
Here’s a list of great herbs that you can grow right in your home!
Grow lemon balm plants for a single year for best flavor. Plant it indoors in the fall, grow indoors through winter, then you can plant it outside for spring and summer.
Chives grow almost anywhere. Harvest them at the base (like cutting grass), no more than one third of the bunch at a time.
Growing mint indoors may be the best plan for most of us. Containerizing mint keeps it from growing all over the yard and garden. All varieties are suitable for indoors.
If you choose to start parsley from seed, soak it in warm water to crack the seed coat before sowing it.
Use the smaller globe types of basil for indoor growing. Many of the larger types are too large and will cause space problems.
Also known as bay leaf. This shrub can get quite large if left unpruned. It works well indoors through the cold months, but performs best if kept outdoors in warm weather.
Cilantro is short-lived by its nature. Start a succession of seedlings at two or three week intervals to keep a supply going all the time.
Thyme is adaptable to pots as small as four to six inches. Simply repot it from a nursery plant, or divide a larger plant that has grown outdoors. Like rosemary and sage, it is easy to propagate from cuttings as well.
Lemongrass can be grown from seed, purchased as a starter plant, or propagated in water from the fresh herb in the grocery store.
Oregano is easy to propagate from cuttings or by division. Take a few cuttings at the end of summer and root out in a cup of water. Fresh oregano is much milder than dried. Use it at the end of the cooking process so that its flavor is not lost.
Take cuttings of outdoor rosemary at the end of summer to grow indoors through winter. Start with a four inch cutting from a branch tip, strip the lower foliage and stick it into potting soil. Cover with plastic to retain humidity as it roots.
Buy a starter plant or start it from cuttings off an established plant. Simply snip off the growing tips from a plant outdoors and stick them in a pot with good potting soil. Keep the cutting moist and it will root in a few weeks.
Kaffir lime is another woody plant used for its foliage. As with bay laurel, give it outdoor time in the summer if possible.
In this episode of Sound Builders, we went to Los Angeles, to meet with Mileece. She’s a sonic artist and environmental designer who’s developed the technology to give silent seedlings a portal to their own sonic expression.
Channeling a plant’s sentience into an instrument is no obvious feat. Mileece’s background as an audiophile and programmer dovetailed to turn a garden into an organic medium for music. She pulls this off by attaching electrodes to leafy limbs, which conduct the bio-electric emissions coming off living plants. The micro-voltage then gets sucked into her self-authored software, turning data into ambient melodies and harmonic frequencies.
It’s simply not enough for these green little squirts to just spit out noise. All this generative organic electronic music must sound beautiful, too. As a renewable energy ambassador, Mileece’s larger goal behind her plant music is to enhance our relationship with nature. And if plant music can have a pleasing aesthetic articulation then hopefully we all can give a greater damn about our environment.
While some may see the paradox in an organic medium generating electronic music, Mileece does not. She sees this as a symbiotic relationship, a vital one, and one that hints to a larger relationship she’s been trying to unify, which is that between humans and nature.
Frogmore House and Garden, a historical Royal residence situated in the Home Park of Windsor Castle, will open its gates next month as part of its annual charity garden open days.
A Royal retreat since 1792, when it was purchased by George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte, Frogmore was originally built during the 17th century. Over the years, many monarchs have enjoyed its peaceful gardens and surrounding landscape. The property is now frequently used to host the Royal Family’s private functions, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding reception last year.
The interior of the house is decorated with artwork and botany, reflecting the artistry of previous Royal residents, including Queen Charlotte and her daughters, the Duchess of Kent and Queen Victoria. May 2019 marks the bicentenary of the death of the flower artist Mary Moser, whom Queen Charlotte commissioned to decorate one of the rooms at Frogmore. Named in Moser’s honour, the space features a display of floral garlands reminiscent of an arbour open to the skies.
As well as exploring the interiors, the public are invited to venture into the 35-acre gardens and explore how previous monarchs have shaped its design, which is modelled on a ‘picturesque’ landscape. As you stroll around, expect charming views of Queen Victoria’s Tea House, the white-marble Indian Kiosk and the 18th-century lake.
Each open day will raise money for a different charity: the National Garden Scheme, which funds nursing and caring charities by opening private gardens; the British Heart Foundation; and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.
English – and Kentish – wine is flourishing, with record harvests and millions of bottles produced.
At the 2018 International Sommelier Awards, English and Welsh wines won more awards than Champagne for the first time. And Champagne house Taittinger has also invested in land in Kent to plant their own vines.
Despite all the accolades, English wine is still somewhat under-appreciated by Brits.
But an entrepreneur from Kent has launched Cycle The Vineyards, to be one of the first to guide small groups on tours to a selection of English vineyards – by bike.
Will Males aims to help cycling and wine lovers get to know the wines better through guided wine tastings and winery tours, as well as enjoying the scenic road biking routes of the South East.
The two-night Wine Garden of England tour stops at four vineyards that are part of the Wine Garden of England group. As well as being able to taste their wines, guests will be provided with food pairings, from platters of local produce for lunch at Hush Heath and Gusbourne Estate, to five and six course meals at Squerryes Winery in Westerham and the Swan at Chapel Down, Tenterden. As an added touch, dinner on the first night of the first tour on May 15 will welcome guests into Squerryes Court – home of the eighth generation of Wardes to live there.
Will, founder of Cycle The Vineyards, said: “We wanted to create something that was more hands-on for guests than your typical wine tasting, so we have worked with the vineyards to create some really exciting experiences on the tours.
“From a ‘sabrage’ masterclass at Chapel Down, to disgorging your own bottle of Gusbourne’s sparkling wine, as well as a private dinner at Squerryes curated by the head chef and their Master of Wine, our tours will be filled with unforgettable moments,” Will added.
The first two tours will run from Wednesday, May 15 to Friday, May 17 and Tuesday, June 26, to Thursday, June 28.
There will be two further two-night tours and two four-night tours running later in the summer.
Use an ice cream cone In the short video, a dry wafer ice cream cone is used to place seeds inside to help them grow. After the seeds have blossomed, the cone is then placed into a larger pot outside where it will eventually naturally decompose. It acts a biodegradable seed starter and will help flowering plants.
Growing green onions in an empty egg carton The next brilliant tip is to regrow green onions in an empty egg carton, instead of throwing them away. Turn the egg container upside down, pierce a small hole in the top and place in the ends of the green onions. Ensure there is water in the bottom and watch them grow overnight.
Rusty nails can help revive plants Not sure how to put your old rusty nails to use? This trick is an easy and smart way to save your plants, using something as simple as an old metal nail. Simply place rusty metal nails with water into a bottle and leave for a few days until the water has turned a brown-like colour. Then pour the water onto your wilting plants and watch their leaves revive again. The rust releases iron which is crucial in helping to nourish dying plants.