Gardening: leaf mulchers make brilliant compost

If you got a gardener’s got an awful lot of trees and there’s an awful Olaves you’re going to be able to compost then I would highly recommend duties of a leaf mulcher. Leaf mulchers serve a million different useful purposes and each one of them result in you having a far more comfortable and better ambiance in your garden. So in this article we are going to go through some of the best Leaf mulchers on the market available today and how much they cost and why I would select them as one of the tools to have in my garden shed.

One of these benefits of having a leaf mulcher is a fact that you don’t have to pay for compost. It’s really expensive to buy potting mixture or anything similar to this these days and so when the opportunity that you have from getting this for the garden arises for free, I would totally take advantage of this . We will look at the leaf mulchers that help you to do that. Leaf mulch can be broken into potting mix in less than 12 months and as a result that all mainly due to the machinery that used which we’re going to discuss further in the article.

What is a leaf mulcher?

What is a leaf mulcher? Quite simply I would actually say to you it actually a leaf blower vacuum that has the function to mulch leaves as well. There are some of the most amazing items on the market at the moment and one of them that’s extremely well priced if you’re on a bargain hunt is something called the VonHaus 3 in 1 Leaf Blower Which has built-in automatic leaf mulcher system when it vacuums and sucks up all of the leaves from your garden.

You’d be absolutely shocked to know that you can buy this little piece of kit for £35 and it actually blows, sucks, and collects all the leaves around the garden and turns them into amazingly valuable compost. Can you actually believe you can buy such an amazing piece of equipment for this price? I certainly couldn’t believe it and actually when I tested the item I was shocked to see if it was extremely powerful. The only drawback I could possibly find with this machine was the fact that it was a corded electric version which means I needed to get a power extension out but on top of that the only other thing that I can actually find was the fact that it had such a huge container that I found it really heavy towards the end when the bag filled up with leaves.

I can hardly fault them for the fact that they’ve given you such a high capacity I would certainly suggest that you consider emptying the bag out way before it begins to feel because it really was quite heavy and I’m quite a big strong person and I’m sure that if someone was a little bit weaker they would really struggle with this. Overall that you can hardly say that this is a negative, they’ve just give me the option to keep on going with your work if you want it. Personally I just found that it was just a little bit too heavy and if I wasn’t in a rush there was absolutely no need to allow the bag to be totally overfill. But the way news is that the way that this thing sucks up so many leaves you going to get her huge amount of compost from this leaf mulcher very quickly

Best leaf mulcher on the market: Mcculloch GB355BP Petrol Backpack Leaf Blower, 46 cc

It’s only my personal opinion but honestly I believe tha the best leaf mulcher on the market is the McCulloch because it’s incredibly power to and it’s a phenomenal weight to power ratio that I have not experienced from any other piece of leaf mulching equipment in the industry today. It was so heavily powered. I just couldn’t actually believe what I was using. The only issue with the McCullough leaf mulcher is that I found is actually quite hungry on the fuel why don’t know if that’s because I was using it far too extensively or I was a bit too aggressive with it but either way I did think that it was going through quite a bit of petrol and obviously we have to consider the cost in this day and age, we really are tight budget all the time.

Mcculloch GB355BP Petrol Backpack Leaf Blower
Mcculloch GB355BP Petrol Backpack Leaf Blower

I’m not entirely sure though, if you bought this petrol leaf mulcher that you’d be all that excited by the fact that it’s if economy isn’t all that great, don’t get me wrong, but it is an incredible piece of kit, I absolutely loved it. I’m not on a budget and therefore I’d be more than happy to fill this thing up with fuel and use it all day long. That’s all down to personal preference. And as I mentioned earlier on this much cheaper versions that only cost £35; an electric corded which are extremely economical but at the same time they don’t provide you with the same level of comfort that this thing did. I didn’t have to worry about any power extension reels or anything like that I just picked it out the shed and away I went. You could argue that I need to store fuel but anyway what’s that in comparison to having her leaf mulcher on hands that can help you make high quality compost.

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Basics Of Composting

By practicing basic composting, you can save a lot of money, make good use of kitchen waste material, make your soil healthier and benefit the environment …

Basic Composting 101

Learning basic composting will save you dollars off your fertilising budget. In fact, you can spend ZERO DOLLARS to make your kitchen garden produce healthier and more plentiful! You will even make good use of kitchen waste material, make your soil healthier than ever before, and do a great service to the environment by practicing basic composting.

Composting – Environmental Impact

Our environment choices have grown so limited that more and more states have been legislating measures to reduce waste that ends up in public landfills. Did you know that the kitchen and yard waste of American households makes up 30% of the nation’s total waste? If we practice basic composting we could cut close to a third of the volume that ends up in our shrinking landfills.

In short, we should compost because pretty soon, we will have no choice.

Composting – Practicality

It just doesn’t make sense to spend on fertiliser when you regularly throw away material that you can use as a better substitute! Using compost is one of the best things you can do for your soil to improve its texture, composition, aeration (especially for clayey soil), and water-bearing qualities (particularly for sandy soil).

Even basic composting can improve fertility and plant health many times over. Your garden’s health depends on its soil’s microorganisms, which composting feeds in a natural way. Composting can help you completely do away with commercial plant fertilisers.

Composting – How To Start

You can dig a hole in the ground, build a square mesh-enclosure with stakes, or use a barrel or garbage can pile up compost.

Start with plant waste, twigs, and dried, dead weeds. You can use vegetable and fruit scraps from your kitchen, but alternate dry and wet material and soil, lightly tamping down three-inch layers each time. Speed up decomposition by using farm manure; but never use cat or dog manure.

A good rule of thumb would be:

3 parts brown to 1 part green ingredients. Then, you need to water each layer – lightly if in wet weather, thoroughly if in dry. Turn the pile every couple of weeks.

Do not put processed food scraps in your compost pile; neither should you use any meat, fat, or dairy products (apart from crushed eggshells). Bread is fine, unless it has peanut butter or mayonnaise.

After a couple of months, you can start using your compost – sooner if you can no longer distinguish the ingredients in the dark substance.

Basic composting will reap you such immediate, cost-efficient benefits that you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried it before!

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How to improve your soil

Growing Media

One of a plant’s requirements is for support which is usually provided by its roots anchored in the soil. Soil is not used in hydroponic systems but there are other types of mediums which are suitable. Sand, gravel, scoria, pumice, Vermiculite, Coir, Expanded clay etc, or a mixture of these mediums can be used.

Virtually any inert material can be used provided that the material is clean, will not add any extra chemical constituents to the nutrient mix, and that it will provide good drainage. Always wash the medium well before use, and if you are in any doubt, use a weak solution of household bleach to sterilise the medium. Coarse, washed, river sand is a good medium when used with a drainage base of gravel. Gravel alone is also suitable. The best sizes to use are between 3mm and 10mm.

Gravel lasts well which is why it is used by many commercial installations. It is also easy to remove plants from gravel without leaving quantities of root material broken off in the medium where they will rot. Scoria can cause problems because small roots will grow into the scoria so it is better used for growing indoor plants which will not need frequent repotting.

Pumice, like Scoria, is a very porous medium but you will have to make sure that the pumice is free from chemical contamination. It often contains sulphur.

Vermiculite is a lightweight and very porous medium, ideal for starting off seeds and exceptional for raising cuttings in.
Vermiculite is quite expensive when compared with other products so it pays to reduce the amount you need by mixing it with other substances. Perlite is another medium which retains moisture well.

I would recommend that you try gravel as your medium with a layer of perlite or vermiculite worked into the top 40cm.

You can easily combine any of the mediums mentioned, to a degree it depends on what you have available locally. Remember your medium should provide a place where the plant’s roots can support the plant while still allowing air and the nutrient mixture through without adding any extra substances.

Worms are valuable in the garden because while dragging decaying organic matter underground they form small tunnels which allow more oxygen into the soil. That is why plants will grow well in a light, well cultivated soil. A key job is to ensure you can handle the worms

Don’t over water your plants

Plants will often die if the soil is over watered, making it heavy and cutting off the oxygen supply to the plant’s roots. All hydroponic systems therefore, have to include some way of introducing oxygen to the plant’s root structure. Keep this in mind, it is very important.

A number of different methods for bringing oxygen into hydroponic systems are described later in the post. One simple way is to use a small air pump of the type used in goldfish tanks.

The air pump is plugged into a normal power point and the plastic hose running from the pump is placed into your solution of water and nutrient elements. Air is bubbled into your nutrient mixture for the benefit of the plant’s roots in the same way as it is bubbled into an aquarium for the benefit of the goldfish.

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Garden Visit: Painswick Rococo

Painswick Rococo – ‘Snowdrops in a Snowstorm’

Do you hanker for serious garden design critique? Lesley and Robert of ‘The Hegarty Webber Partnership’ are professional garden designers who battled the elements to visit the Painswick Rococo Garden exclusively for Ryan’s Garden.

‘You are taken to a pompous and gilded building, consecrated to Venus for no other purpose, or so it seemed, that the squire riots here in vulgar love with a couple of orange wenches from the purlieus of the play-house’.

So wrote a ‘garden reviewer’ in the 1750’s! This quote succinctly sums up the frivolous and short lived Rococo style of garden design. From about 1720 to 1760, tastes moved away from the French formal influence towards the more natural landscape gardens of say Stowe or Blenheim. A very quick affair in garden history terms, Rococo was an intermediary stage which amalgamated elements of both movements, but lacked the gravitas of either. Combining straight lines and informality side by side, the style was ornate, curlicues, whimsical and folly laden. In what amounted to horticultural theatres, aristocrats could indulge in fetes champetres. This particular garden fashion quickly became a joke and ended before it got a firm foothold.

Painswick is thus one of the few remaining and most complete examples of such a garden in this country. Stuffed with enough follies for the squire to conduct affairs with a whole playhouse full of orange wenches, it is also the kind of ‘lost and found’ story which newspapers love. Two centuries of decline and adaptation had blurred the original design almost to extinction, when in the 1960’s the owner, Lord Dickinson had a bright idea. He concluded that the garden shown behind the family’s mansion in a painting he owned was actually buried under a tangled wood which he himself had planted!

Heligan, but without the hype, because it was genuinely lost, the Rococo Garden has become a story of discovery, dogged determination and painstakingly slow renovation. Trees have been felled, ponds have been drained and ground regraded. In some cases the follies have been completely reconstructed. Lord Dickinson and the Painswick Rococo Garden Trust have by now restored a huge part of the garden – a mammoth and heroic task. But is it anything more than a partial record of a brief stylistic fling? Does it make a successful garden?

In point of fact the fundamental design problems are still there. The combination of the sinuous and the straight is not successful. Wedged into a slender Gloucestershire combe the central vegetable garden with its strong diamond shaped pattern somehow manages both to lack conviction and jar. Formality on a slope, without using steps and terracing as the method, always seems odd.

More use could be made of water is this garden. There are abundant springs of startling clarity to have made this a really sizeable feature. The central pond of the vegetable garden for example is pitifully small. It seems possible that a fairly central bowling green might actually have been a large shallow pond. If so that might start to pull things together.

As it is, the disparate architectural elements, since they lack in themselves a cohesive style, need somehow to be linked up and with some conviction. As you pore over the painting that inspired the restoration you sense other follies and linking hedges and paths which might somehow have made rather more sense of it. But you are also tempted to think that even if they put it all back together it would still be a hotch potch, because that is what the original style was. The word ‘rococo’ itself as a term applied to the arts and architecture derived from a combination of the words rocaille meaning rockwork and coquille meaning shell, themselves two very different materials. In the world of Rococo garden design there appears to be a similar incompatibility of elements.

However, these days Painswick Rococo Garden has a second claim to fame – as one of the premier snowdrop gardens in the country. No one knows for sure how it all began, but one James Atkins, a snowdrop grower for who ‘Atkinsii’ is named, certainly lived in one of the estate cottages during the 1800’s. Of course these Cotswold combes, with abundant moist and dappled shade, are exactly what snowdrops crave.

Even in the 1890’s there were so many that locals used to be let in to gather bunches of them. But now that the snowdrops are big visitor business this is no longer allowed. It is obviously imperative that the snowdrop season goes with a bang since it is very clear that without the lucrative early visitors the rest of the garden would never have progressed to the stage it has today. There are volunteers and stewards on hand and crucial paths are strewn with aromatic, shredded conifer to protect your feet.

The display is fabulous. We are great fans of massing plants. Almost anything used that way works and the commoner the better! While there are liberal quantities of snowdrops throughout the garden and we do sense some serious bulking up taking place to play on the fame they now have, the real location to see these wintery stars naturalised is the Snowdrop Grove at the bottom of the garden. Here on the banks above a tumbling stream the ground is frost-white with them.

We looked round in half a snowstorm. But even so there were plucky galanthophiles showing the true brit Dunkirk spirit as they braved the elements. Fortunately it wasn’t settling so they could still see the snowdrops for the snow. So get yourselves to Painswick Rococo Garden asap to make your own decision about the garden and enjoy the snowdrops in one fell swoop. You can’t have worse weather than we did!

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Astrantia bavarica and Snowdrop

Astrantia bavarica

I have been looking for an Astrantia for a while now. I’m not the type of gardener who is after the latest cultivar or the Chelsea favourite. I prefer species types or plants that are not widely available.

I found my Astrantia at a favourite haunt of mine, although slightly unconventional in gardening terms. An art gallery in Carmarthen. The two ladies who run the art and craft supplies floor of the gallery propagate their own plants and they always have a different selection available.

I had never heard of Astrantia bavarica before and although superficially it is the same as Astrantia major I have been informed that it is in fact a separate species and as the name suggests originating from Bavaria.

The small plant cost me 75p which, when talking Astantia’s, is a steal to say the least. I think every Astrantia I’ve seen recently is around the £5 mark and as I’m a complete cheapskate I couldn’t possibly justify that! I snapped it up rather quickly and I’m rather chuffed to have it in my collection.

I’ve placed the Astrantia next to my half barrel pond where it has room to grow and plenty of wildlife to enjoy it.

Astrantia enjoy full to part sun with moist rich soil. They are great in woodland or riverbank settings and are pretty tolerant of all conditions when established. As the half barrel garden has a wildlife area feel to it, I thought that this Astrantia would benefit from the dappled light that the Viburnum casts and the cool, moist soil.

The Snowdrop: A cure for disease?

The Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the archetypal stalwart of the Winter/Spring Garden. A small and delicate looking plant, with its fine foliage and nodding snow white heads tipped with green, which is truly deceptive in terms of its hardiness and sheer resilience against the elements. This plant is always one of the first to emerge in my garden; a true sign that things are set to change. I love the way that, unlike many other plants, a thick layer of snow does nothing to damage emerging shoots and flowers of the Snowdrop and as soon as snow has thawed the Snowdrop remains completely unaffected. Totally unaware of the chaos and hardship the snow created.
Snowdrops are best planted in the green. This means planting them after flowering when only the leaves are visible. I have always read that this is the preferred technique, however, I planted mine as bulbs and they’ve taken off quite nicely. I tend to prefer to plant these in drifts and let them to naturalise. The outcome of this is a blanket of white that can brighten up the darkest of gardens.

What you may not know about the Snowdrop is that it contains many compounds that may prove useful to science and medicine. In a recent study a team of researchers from the University of Barcelona discovered that Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus elwesii, contain seventeen bioactive compounds including three alkaloids that are brand new to science. The new discoveries may prove useful in treating Malaria and Alzheimer’s.

The delicate Snowdrop appears to be not only beautiful but also potentially important in creating breakthroughs in the treatment of hard to treat medical conditions and a whole raft of other things. After all, the most inconspicuous of new discoveries can produce groundbreaking outcomes.

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