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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Jul 18

The Urban Garden Guide : Growing greens in a gray landscape

By chadchaffin | Gardening

When I was still living with my parents, we had no space at all to garden. We lived in the city. It was unthinkable then to tear up a front
lawn and use it for a garden—something I wouldn’t hesitate to do today. However, the next-door neighbor offered us the use of an empty yard between our houses. My mother, who grew up on a farm, sat up at night with me at the kitchen table, planning how to use that little space for gardening.

Most of what I learned about what to plant (and not to plant) was the result of making mistakes.

I began by planting herbs, tomatoes and corn, all neatly arranged in north-south lines with some pathways in between. I knew nothing about fertilizer, mulch or pest control and just planted what I believed would make the best garden, and I watched the results.

Herbs—mints, fennel, oregano, lavender and rosemary, among others—took care of themselves. They tended to be drought tolerant, insect repelling and required very little time and effort. (They are good choices just about everywhere, assuming they are herbs you would normally use.)

Tomatoes grew well, too, but I learned that they just grew and grew—longer and longer—and only began to produce lots of tomatoes when I pinched back the stems so the branches would not grow as long. And, of course, these plants got tomato worms, which I just picked off and tossed to the birds.

Corn was quite an education. It grew tall, and the ears formed. As they got bigger, they became infested with lots of ants, aphids and earwigs.

In horror, I would take the hose and wash all the bugs off. This worked to some extent, because it was a small garden. That first season’s corn was a disaster: The ears were bug infested and half developed.

I experimented with some natural pest repellants and made my own insecticide from a mixture of garlics and hot peppers that I liquefied in the blender and sprayed on the plants. I even added a little Basic H to the mix. I had some results, but I was still trying to grow crops in poor soil.

"I LEARNED THAT … THE HEALTH OF THE SOIL IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN PRODUCING PLANTS THAT ARE DROUGHT TOLERANT, INSECT RESISTANT AND ABLE TO SURVIVE IN THE GREATEST RANGE OF TEMPERATURES."

In desperation, I studied all I could about natural pest control. I refused to use any of the various commercial liquid and spray insecticides (I still had fresh memories of an uncle who had to dress in what looked like a bee suit every time he went into his apple orchards so he would be protected from all the pesticides he sprayed on the apples. He eventually died of cancer).

Shouldn’t farming and gardening be about life and not death, I wondered? Can’t nature take care of itself? Isn’t there a way to find a balance so that insects keep other insects in check?

I knew, instinctively, that even in my small garden, nature could find a balance and that through natural methods, I could grow food and encourage good insects to eat the bad ones. Little by little, I learned that this was, indeed, possible.

Drought-tolerant Plants

Some plants naturally grow in the dry deserts and are well adapted to surviving and thriving with little water. Do a little research to find out which plants are native to your area, and then determine if any of them can be used for food or medicine. Here are just a few examples of plants that will grow in desert and drought areas.

Remember that there are special varieties that do best in arid areas. Also, the techniques you use will aid significantly in the success of these plants. Contact local nurseries for native and drought-tolerant plants that will do well near you.

  • Trees

    Fig, olive, carob, pomegranate, date palm, mesquite

  • Bushy plants/shrubs

    Cactus, especially Opuntia spp., jojoba and toyon

  • Vines

    Grape, blackberry

  • Herbaceous plants

    New Zealand spinach, Lamb’s Quarter, certain wheat strains, certain corn varieties, gourds and squash as ground cover, beans

"I KNEW, INSTINCTIVELY, THAT EVEN IN MY SMALL GARDEN, NATURE COULD FIND A BALANCE AND THAT THROUGH NATURAL METHODS, I COULD GROW FOOD AND ENCOURAGE GOOD INSECTSTO EAT THE BAD ONES."

What To Grow In An Urban Garden

  1. WHAT GROWS THERE NOW?

    Before you start buying various fruit trees and vegetables from a nursery, take stock of what you already have. What already grows in your yard with little care? Do those plants have uses? Investigate what is growing in your space, and you might fi nd that some of the vegetation is useful and valuable.

  2. WHICH PLANTS ARE NATIVE TO YOUR AREA?

    Find out what grows naturally in your area and talk to someone at a local native plant society to see what plants will grow “on their own.” As you look over a list of such plants, consider which ones would grow in your yard. Many local native plants can be used for food and medicine, and they are easy to care for.

  3. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO EAT?

    Make a list of what you already eat and what you’d like to eat. Some of the plants on that list will do well where you live, and some will not. How can you determine the difference?
    Start by talking with folks at a local gardening club or neighbors who have successful gardens. You’d be surprised to find that there are gardening clubs in most cities.
    When you start growing fruits and vegetables, observe which plants grow well and which don’t, as well as those that take a lot of work and attention.
    When you find plants that seem to love it in your yard and do well without much work on your part, grow those.

BUILD THE SOIL

One of the principles of agricultural ecology is that nature can take care of itself more easily the larger the plot of land happens to be. It’s a bit harder to have all these natural systems operating if you’re only dealing with a plot of land that’s about 40 by 20 feet—the size of our little garden. This meant I had to give the little plot a lot more attention, at least in the beginning, until “balance” was found.

I learned that regardless of what I grew and where I lived, the health of the soil is the single most important factor in producing plants that are drought tolerant, insect resistant and able to survive in the greatest range of temperatures.

My next experiment in that small yard was to go to the grocery store and get boxes of old produce. I dug holes here and there in the garden and buried the old vegetables so they’d decompose and enrich the soil. Simultaneously, I went to the local cemetery and obtained bags of grass clippings.

I began to layer the bare ground around the base of the plants with liberal amounts of the clippings. This was a thick layer, the top
of which would dry out a bit. However, underneath, it stayed moist, softened the soil and provided an environment in which earthworms and lots of other insects thrived.

With the layered grass clippings on the ground, I noticed that the herbs and vegetables also thrived and grew well and that the insect infestation was at a minimum. In addition, I didn’t need to water as much.

I continued to get as many bags of grass clippings as possible and mulched the soil. And I continued to bury old vegetables in the garden. I produced onions, tomatoes, Swiss chard and zucchinis, along with lots of herbs. I decided to skip the corn, because it still seemed to require more work than I was willing to do to keep it insect free.

I’m not sure everyone would want to get boxes of old produce and bury its contents in their garden space. That was part of my learning. Instead, I suggest you keep a compost bin in your yard and begin to make your own compost from kitchen scraps and yard trimmings. It’s not that hard, and you’d be surprised how well you can supplement your soil from what you ordinarily throw away.

Raise earthworms, which naturally enrich the soil. There are special bins you can buy to raise them, although I have always managed to do so in dedicated compost bins or piles. They cannot tolerate all the heat generated by adding a lot of kitchen or vegetable scraps at one time, so you need to raise earthworms separate from your main compost area. Gardeners generally use redworms for composting, because they reproduce rapidly and tolerate great temperature variations.

"MOST OF WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT WHAT TO PLANT( AND NOT TO PLANT) WAS THE RESULT OF MAKING MISTAKES."

The Hilltop Garden

A few years later, I lived in a little hilltop house in a hilly part of Los Angeles. I had an enclosed yard and kept some ducks there. I grew many vegetables—corn included. I didn’t use grass clippings, but I did maintain a compost pit in which I produced my own fertilizer from kitchen and yard scraps.

I invited a tree pruner to dump his massive load of wood chips in my yard, which saved him the dumping fee at the local city dump. I used the wood chips to mulch every square inch of my garden. At night, I would put the hose in my corn patch and let it dribble out. My ducks would spend the evening there, because they loved to eat all the earwigs and other insects the water brought out.

The corn grew tall and strong—this time, without all the insects I experienced in earlier corn patches. Perhaps the ducks served as my “insecticide.” Standing in my little duck-fertilized corn patch was like being in another world. It was like my own postage stamp-sized field of dreams, my own “Walden Pond.” My garden contained only non-hybrid varieties of vegetables whose seeds I could harvest and replant.

These were also known as “heirloom” varieties. (At the time, I was not aware of how today’s farmers are captive to the corporations that produce the hybrid seeds—that widely touted miracle of “modern farming.” I was always disturbed about hybrids, whose seeds would not produce the same plant they came from.) I have always made an effort to use non-hybrid, or heirloom, seeds and will save some of the seeds for the next season, just as small farmers and families have done for centuries.

Part of my garden grew the famed “three sisters” of the Southwest: corn, squash and beans. This “three sisters” type of garden is a common theme in arid Southwestern gardens, and its plants are easy to grow.

I allowed the squash to sprawl on the ground as ground cover, keeping some moisture in the soil. I planted corn throughout the area. Once it grew to about a foot tall, I planted native beans nearby. (Bean roots “fix” nitrogen, meaning that the roots increase the nitrogen content for the corn.) The corn provided a trellis of sorts for the beans. You can see that it’s not out of your reach to create and maintain your own thriving garden, even in a survival situation.

You can actually be very successful without the chemicals, commercial seeds and other “enhancements” you won’t have access to if things get really bad. With a little effort, experimentation and patience, you can confi dently become a self-suffcient urban gardener.

Jul 07

Best expandable water garden hose reviews

By chadchaffin | Tool Reviews

What you need to know before buying

Garden Hoses are a big help when it comes to any outdoor chore at home. Whether it will be used for gardening, home cleaning, portable pool filling, and car washing, equipment cleaning, hoses are definitely a big help.

Conventional rubber hoses though may be a pain to carry round, use and store. Yes they are durable most of the time, but it can be difficult to use when bent, kinked and even a pain to drain and store. It can also be quite heavy to lug around when you have to use it again.

Fortunately, Expandable Garden Hoses have been introduced in the market, making outdoor chores a lot more bearable. Expandable hoses are usually lightweight, shrinks when not in use, drains on its own, and can be easily stored and reused. As its name suggests it does not take up too much space because it expands only when it is being used.

Most expandable garden hoses in the market today are made of nylon, and durable connectors like brass. The inner lining of the garden hose usually varies, but most of the more prominent brands in the market today boast of durable material like double latex that will keep the hose from bursting.

In this buying guide, we will be discussing what you need to know when purchasing an expandable garden hose. These include how it works, the many features of expandable garden hoses, the advantages of using one, its various applications, as well as factors to consider when buying one. We also included an extensive buying guide to help you make a purchase decision. The buying guide features five of the top performing expandable garden hoses in the market today.

Various Uses for Expandable Hoses

Expandable garden hoses are extremely useful. Apart from the usual gardening activities like watering plants, the trees and the lawn, it can be used in cleaning the exteriors of your home. The roofing, the patio, the driveway, as well as the deck among other parts of the house.

It is also very useful when it comes to washing vehicles, as it will basically make cleaning your car extra easy.

Moreover, for families with outdoor portable pools, an expandable garden hose can be very beneficial. Pet owners will also find this hose extremely useful in cleaning pet cages.

The Advantages of using Expandable Hoses

There are many benefits of using Expandable Garden Hoses. These includes the following:

1.Expandable Garden Hoses are Lightweight.

Have you tried lugging around a conventional rubber hose? The longer a rubber hose gets, the heavier it becomes a pain to carry around especially when it is time to store it.

To give you an idea, conventional hoses are three to five times heavier than the standard expandable garden hoses available in the market today because it is made of rubber or plastic material. Expandable garden hoses on the other hand are made of lightweight materials like Nylon and latex.

Expandable Garden Hoses do not retain water as well, so you would not have to carry around that extra weight too when packing away. And because it is lightweight, it is easier to transfer from one place to another, and you would not even have second thoughts about storing it safely after a day of outdoor chores.

Since it is lightweight, even children can help around in the garden as well as other washing chores that would require the use of a hose! It is also very user-friendly to senior citizens and those who may have difficulty carrying heavy things because of a physical condition.

2.Expandable Garden Hoses do not take too much space.

Unlike its counterpart, expandable garden hoses shrink when it is not being used. So there is no need to find a permanent area for it to be kept because it can fit in almost any cabinet in the garden, patio or garage. To sum it up, it does not need a reel when storing, you can get by with storing it by using a hose hanger.

3.Expandable Garden Hoses are very easy to store and pack away.

Forget coiling 50-feet long rubber garden hoses because expandable garden hoses drain and shrink by itself, so you can just keep and store accordingly.

4.Easy to use when mobile.

Travelling in a camper van or RV? Bringing a hose for camp out purposes will not be troublesome because expandable garden hoses will not take up space, and will be easy to carry in and out of the RV.

5.Gives Extra Convenience.

Garden hoses have added convenience features like the ability to drain itself, expand three times its original length, 360-degree flexibility, and it being non-twisting.

How does an Expandable Hose Work?

Expandable Garden Hoses works much like conventional garden hoses, only it is much more convenient to utilize. It works basically by harnessing water pressure. For instance, once it is connected to a water source, and the faucet is turned on it automatically shuts off the valve on the other end so that it can fully expand.

Once the expandable garden hose has maximized its full length, it will be ready to use just like any other normal garden hose.

When watering or washing is done, leave the garden hose to drain itself, then pack it away

Factors to consider when buying Expandable Hoses:

1.Materials Used

It will always be wise to consider all the materials used in manufacturing an expandable garden hose. Since expandable garden hoses are not as heavy duty as the conventional rubber hoses, choosing one that is made of materials that can withstand harsh elements is a must. The materials used in the hose will definitely dictate its durability factor.

Nylon is usually the outer material used in expandable garden hoses. As for the inner lining, it can either be TPU or Thermoplastic Polyurethane or Dual Latex. The latter is much more durable compared to TPU and can last relatively longer when properly maintained and cared for.  Dual Latex is usually paired with a brass connector. A brass fitting should always be used to join the inner layer to totally prevent leaks.

2.Quality of the connector and the valves.

One of the factors that will determine the usefulness of any garden or outdoor hose is the connectors. And why not, without a durable one, it cannot be useful and it can just spring leaks that will only increase your utility bills. Find one that is made of heavy-duty materials such as brass, and those with good threading. Find ones also that can easily adapt to the plumbing fixtures in your property.

3.Check out the Measurements.

Check out the length of the expandable garden hose that you are eyeing, as well as the width of the hose. Make sure that it measures up to the areas that you will be using it on. Ensure maximum convenience by taking all these into consideration.

4.Cost and Warranty.

There are a lot of high-end expandable garden hoses in the market today, but this does not mean that low and mid priced ones will not serve its purpose. With careful planning and research, you can end up with the expandable garden hose that gives you the best value for your money. Always keep in mind though to not expect really durable and high quality products from those bought at a really low cost.

Ensure as well that necessary warranties are in place so that if there are any after-sales concerns, you can be sure that either you can get a refund or a replacement.

5.Added Features.

Always take into consideration the special extra features of the expandable Garden Hose that you are eyeing to buy. Usual additional features are the pack way containers, extra nozzles, extra connectors, various watering patterns, and hose hangers.

General Tips When Buying An Expandable Garden Hose:

  1. Always measure the area where you will be using the hose so that you can purchase the hose that is just the right length. Buying a hose that its too short, nor too long will just be a waste of money and effort. You may have to double up on the gardening or washing effort simpy because too long a hose can be more expensive, and too short a hose may require repeated transfering of water source.
  2. Know the surface where you will be using the expandable hose most of the time. Expandable garden hoses are not as durable as rubber garden hoses that withstand even a car running over it. Make sure that your hose can withstand everyday use, and abuse especially if your garden or outdoor area is made of rough concrete or has sharp stones, or if the garden has plants with thorns.
  3. Compare prices and features of at least three expandable garden hoses. It is critical to know the prices of similar products in the market and what features that come with it so that you can be sure that you have made the right purchase decision. Never buy the first garden hose that you come across with before comparing it with other expandable garden hoses in the market.
  4. After-sales will always be important. Know the warranty and after sales services available to customers of the brand. A money back guarantee and a long warranty is definitely helpful making a choice of what hose to buy.
  5. Do not be fooled by the price. Too low a price may mean that the hose can be made of low-quality materials. Too steep a price on the other hand does not necessarily translate to being the best expandable garden hose in the market. Always compare the prices of at least three similar products before picking a hose to buy.
  6. Do a research. Do not be too busy to read up on the features of the product that you are eyeing and compare it with the others that appeal to you as well. Reading up on the features, feedback and reviews will definitely help in determining the best expandable garden hose to buy.

Phantom 100′ Expandable Garden Hose Bungee Style Expanding Hose Solid Brass Connectors Expandable Hose

via Amazon.com

The Phantom 100 Expandable Garden Hose is a Bungee Style hose that comes with Solid Brass Connectors. It is one of the highest rated expandable garden hoses in the market today because of its leak-free and highly durable materials.

The double layer latex inner lining holds up even high water pressure without bursting or causing a leak. It is really convenient to use as well because it shrinks back and drains water by itself, removing one or two tiring steps before you can store and pack away this hose.

PhoebusTech 100ft Expandable Garden Hose Set

Via Amazon.com

The Phoebus Tech Expandable Garden Hose is one of the most popular expandable Garden Hose in the market today given the great client feedback received by the brand. It has evolved into an even better product as the manufacturers endeavored to improve its make and performance.

It also happens to be one of th most durable expandable hoses out there as it is made of 100% Solid Brass, and Triple Layer Latex Core that does not only withstand punctures, it can also handle the highest of pressures. The Quick Connect Type fittings as well as special features like a great ariety of spray patterns and bonus inclusions make it a popular choice among homeowners.

50 ft Expandable Garden Hose 5 piece BUNDLE

Via Amazon.com

The Gardenirvana Expandable Hose boasts of the most durable inner lining made of Triple Core Latex supported by Brass Connectors. It also comes with a collapsing technology that allows for very convenient use.

And because it is durable and very easy to use, more and more customers are raving about this brand. It comes with bonuses in the package that includes a spray nozzle, a hanger, a storage bag and a splitter.

iZEEKER New Design in 2017,Three Times Expandable 50 Feet Magic Hose

Via Amazon.com

The I-Zeeker Expandable Garden Hose is not called a magic hose for nothing. It expands and lengthens to three times its original size when there is water pressure. It also is made up of a dual-layer inner lining that is made up of latex core. Its outer fabric is extra strength making it even more durable even when used in rough surfaces.

It is lightweight but it can withstand high water pressure. It does not kink nor tangle and is the ultimate space saver. No wonder it has earned a lot of great customer feedbacks and is recommended by most people who have bought the same item.

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Phantom 100’ Expandable Garden Hose

PhoebusTech 100ft Expandable Garden Hose Set

Gardenirvana 50 ft Expandable Garden, Car Wash, RV Pocket Shrinking Water Hose

iZEEKER New Design in 2016,Three Times Expandable 50 Feet Magic Hose

Length

The Phantom Expandable Garden Hose has a length that runs up to 100 feet when in use.

This expandable garden hose has a 100-feet full length measurement.

Fully expands into a 50-feet garden hose.

This expandable garden hose has a 50-feet full length when in use.

Material Used for the main body (hose)

The Inner layer of the Phantom Expandable Garden hose makes use of a double-layer latex core that is puncture resistant. Its ends are made up of Solid Brass.

Its inner lining is made up of a triple layer of latex and a 5000 Denier Woven Casing.

Its outer fabric is made up of an extra strength elastic fabric that can withstand harsh environments and sharp surfaces. Its inner lining meanwhile is made of a triple layer core latex that helps this expandable garden hose withstand high water pressure.

The iZeeker Expandable Garden Hose has an inner layer made up of triple core latex, which makes it highly durable.

Strength and Durability

It is very durable considering the double lining made of latex and the brass fittings that prevent leakages. It can definitely withstand high water pressures without leaking or bursting. Definitely perfect for any outdoor chore that requires high water pressure, such as washing and cleaning.

This is one of the most durable explandable garden hoses in the market today. Apart from having a triple-layer latex core lining and Denier Woven Casing it has 100% Solid Brass Ends and Fittingswhich can completely work on any type of faucet made in the United States.

This explandable garden hose is extra ordinarily durable given the three-layer core latex inner lining. This is complemented by an even more durable outer layer of fabric made of an extra strength elastic material. This durability combo makes this expandable garden hose even better stronger when it comes to punctures and sharp corners, as well as thorns.

The triple core latex inner lining of this expandable garden hose makes it withstand high water pressure.

Coupling and Connector Features

This hose is connected using Solid Brass Ends.

Its connectors and ends are made of 100% Solid Brass which would not crack or break.

The connectors of the expandable garden hose is made of solid brass that is heavuy duty and can withstand harsh environments. The ¾ Inch Solid Brass Connectors come with a shut-off valve that prevents leakage and breakages.

The ¾-inch fittings can adapt to most faucets within the United States as well as US-made faucets.

Pricing and Warranty

It has a 12-month Manufacturer’s Warranty. It is priced in the same range of mozt 100-feet expandable garden hoses in the market today.

It has a 12-Month Worry-Free Warranty and it comes with a Free Life-time Technical Support for all after-sales needs. Price-wise, it is within the cost range of the same products in the market .

Has a 12-month money-back guarantee that will allay your hesitations about purchasing this expandable garden hose. When it comes to pricing, it is relatively expensive, especially when compared with expandable garden hoses that can expand up to 100-feet when in use. This is maybe because of the superior materials used in manufacturing this expandable garden hose.

This explandable garden hose comes with a 30-day money back guarantee that is meant tomake your purchasing decision even easier. Full refund awaits dissatisfied customers.

Other Special Features and Accessories

It has a puncture resistant protection afforded by its double layer latex core.

It comes with eight watering patterns which include mist,center, jet, shower, cone, flat, soaker, and rinse. It also comes with a hook and a storage bag which comes very useful when it needs to be stored or moved some place else.

This expandable garden hose does not scrimp on freebieas and bonus features. It comes with a free spray nozzle. It has at least seven watering patterns that will suit the needs and preferences of any homeowner. It also comes with three extra rubber washers, a hose hanger for easier storage, a two-way splitter, and a handy storage bag.

It comes with an extra shut-off valve.

Winning Product:

The Gardenirvana 50 ft Expandable Garden, Car Wash, RV Pocket Shrinking Water Hose is hands-down the best expandable garden hose in the market todaty. Its superior product features helps customers fully experience all the convenience using an expandable garden hose comes with.

The highly-superior and genuine materials that it is made of make this product highly useful and super durable. Definitely, the triple-layer core latex inner lining, extra strength outer fabric that can withstand harsh environments and rough surfaces, plus very durable 100-percent solid brass fittings make it the best hose to purchase among the many choices available in both online and physical stores.

Moreover, the 3’4” brass fitting can be used on all types of faucets within the UniteD states as well as all standard faucets. No need to worry about adaptability at all.

It is also super convenient. It stretches on its own once connected into a water source. At the same time it drains water by itself, and shrinks automatically for easier storage and keeping. Twists, tangles and kinks are definitely a non-issue with this product. It is super lightweight too!

Another thing that makes it a runaway choice in the best expandable hose in the market are its special features and additional freebies. The package comes with three extra rubber washers, a two-way splitter, a spray nozzle that comes with seven patterns, as well as a wall mount hanger and a storage bag. You will definitely not regret purchasing this product. And if in the slim chance you ever regretted your purchase, you can return it with a full money back guarantee within the next 12 months from the date of your purchase.

Yes it may be quite expensive, but it is definitely worth it.