Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bay Area: Where to Buy Soil/Compost for Your Garden?

Compost is basically decomposed organic material made out of shredded twigs, leaves, and kitchen scraps. To gardeners, this material is nothing less than "black gold" as it offers several benefits. For instance, mixing compost with clay soil makes it easier for the gardener to work with the soil. In sandy soils, mixing compost enhances the water hoarding capacity. Compost can also help improve plant health and growth.

How Is Compost Made?

Composting is also an eco friendly activity. It involves four main ingredients: moisture, organic matter, bacteria and oxygen.

Organic matter comprises of animal manures and plant materials. Organic materials used for compost  include a mix of twigs, dead leaves, manure (brown organic material) and fruit rinds, lawn clippings, etc (green organic material). Green materials tend to supply nitrogen while brown materials supply carbon.

As a general rule, gardeners must plan on using compost in the beds before every planting season. Here is the schedule for mixing compost so that plants grow healthily and yield better results:

   Cool season: mid-September to April is the cool growing season, so compost needs to be added in late August or during early September.

    Warm season: mid February to March is when the warm-season planting happens. One must add finished compost before the spring planting season.

Where to buy compost in Bay Area?

A lot of gardeners, who have the space and time, make their own compost.  But in case a compost fix is required then there are several resources out there in the Bay Area that offer such materials. In fact, some of these dealers are also known to offer high-quality compost at a very reasonable price. Users can also contact landscaping experts of their area to find out about the best compost dealers or to get the services of these experts. Such companies offer comprehensive maintenance programs that make sure the plants stay healthy and the owner’s investment is protected.

Buying from outside:

Buying compost from outside should not be taken casually. The user must keep certain things in mind, such as,

Quality: this may seem odd but smelling the compost is a good way of determining its quality. Even though the product is created out of decaying materials, finished compost still smells decent. It must not smell like ammonia or garbage. In case it does, that means the composting process is still not complete and that it won’t provide the plants with adequate nutrition.

Examining the compost: another way of determining the quality of the compost is by examining it with hands. Compost must have a dark color, and when touched with the hands, it must feel fluffy and light. If the user can distinguish the raw materials by looking at the compost, the process of composting is not complete.

Diversity: gardeners must avoid buying compost that only contains one kind of organic matter. Rather, the experts advice on buying composts created from several organic sources, such as grass clippings, leaves, food scraps, manure and plant scraps. More the variety, more are the benefits.

Apart from reaching out to the dealers, gardeners can also order online or through phone. All they need to do is locate the contact information of the manufacturer and discuss the requirements. When buying from a manufacturer, however, procuring in bulk rather than by bag is normally more cost effective. Also, since checking the quality during virtual deals is impossible, the buyer must make sure that the manufacturer is dependable. It is also advisable to avoid buying from big box stores. Chain retailers are more likely to offer low quality compost than individual dealers.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Best Houseplants for Removing Toxins

There are several air pollutants inside a house that can affect the health of its inhabitants. These toxins include volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, airborne biological pollutants, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and pesticides. These elements contribute heavily towards symptoms such as, headaches, allergies, fatigue, cancer, through to nervous-system disorders, and even death.

One of the best ways of fighting pollution is to keep houseplants. Here is a list of some of the most popular indoor plants that help remove toxins:

Areca Palm

Also known as the “Butterfly Palm”, this upright houseplant can reach ten to twelve foot in height. It grows best in humid conditions and requires pruning. When choosing a palm one must look for the one that has a larger trunk as the palm with pencil thin stems have a tendency to topple over. It releases large amounts of moisture in the air, eliminates chemical toxins, and also enhances the look of the space by its beauty. This plant is rated among the best plants to remove indoor air toxins.


The Dracaena has dark green leaves that look extremely attractive. It is believed to be one of the best houseplants for removing toxins such as trichloreoethylene. The plant can also tolerate dimly lit environments and does best in medium, indirect sunlight. However, it is important to keep the soil moist to make sure it grows well.

Rubber Plant

The rubber plant is known for its toughness and its ability to tolerate all kinds of temperatures and light, making it an excellent house plant. This species is easy to grow and works well to remove toxins such as formaldehyde. It expands more in bright, direct sunlight to medium, indirect sunlight.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily is a very compact plant that prefers high humidity and indirect sunlight. For best results, the plant should be watered thoroughly. Peace Lily has a very high transpiration rate and excels in removing acetone, alcohols, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene. Its capability of removing air pollutants makes it an excellent houseplant.

Boston Fern

Boston fern is a beautiful plant that is best displayed in a basket. The plant does require extra attention if kept indoors. It should be misted and watered frequently, to ensure excellent health. Boston fern works wonders in removing air pollutants, particularly formaldehyde, and for adding a bit of humidity to the inside environment. The plant grows best in medium and indirect sunlight.

English Ivy

English Ivy is used extensively in lobbies and atriums. The plant is extremely easy to grow and can adapt to Californian home environments very easily. English ivy has the qualities to kill several kinds of air pollutants.

Raphis Palm

This palm has fans that are approximately six to twelve inch wide with thick, glossy leaves. It has a very high resistance power when under attack from plant insects and is an excellent choice when trying to enhance indoor air quality. Raphis Palm is extremely easy to maintain.

California, particularly San Jose, has a climate that is conducive to the breeding of different kinds of pollutants. Hence, it becomes all the more important for people to keep the air clean and purified. One of the best ways to ensure that right kind and quantity of plants are kept is to get in touch with an expert. There are several reputed landscaping professionals in California that can offer advice on indoor plants. As per these experts, each household (approx. 1800 sq foot) should have about fifteen to eighteen of such plants. Apart from this, at least one of these plants must be placed in the bedroom.