Awnings, Current Issues, Guest Posts, New Products, Watering

smart technology garden

When smart technology first arrived, many just thought it was something that controlled thermostats and helped save on HVAC costs.

Then it morphed into motion detectors, smart doorbells and security systems. As you know, smart technology applications continue to grow at a rapid pace, and if you want to keep your garden growing also, check out the latest innovations:

Smart irrigation

Whether you live in an apartment in Eugene, Oregon or a penthouse in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, we know you can get your plants to grow and keep your grass green by simply standing outside with the hose and watering by hand, but by using a smart app, you can control when you water and why you water.

A good smart system that is integrated with your sprinkler configuration can tell you when it is the best time to water. Those in hot climates know that random watering done during the heat of the day is wasteful since there is a lot of evaporation, and a smart app can pin down the correct times to give your plants a good drink. The best innovations can interface with the weather so that you don’t water when it is raining.

smart irrigation

Smart mower

Wouldn’t it be great to just sit on the lawn chair while you grass is being cut? This is now possible with robot lawn mowing systems, and of course, these can be controlled from your mobile device.

Here’s how it works; available for lawns of all shapes and sizes, robot lawn mowers are relatively easy to set up and program. They’re powered by rechargeable batteries, so you don’t have to keep buying fresh batteries. Plus, they’re super quiet, which means you can turn them on at any hour of the day without bothering the neighbors. You’ll use bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, and a mobile app to get them set up and get to work. Remember, if you have a large lawn, you’ll need to purchase a model that can handle larger areas and things that get in the way such as flower beds, trees, and bushes.

smart mower

Smart garden hub

These gizmos, such as GreenIQ, put it all together:

  • Soil temperature
  • Garden lights
  • Smoke alarms
  • Motion detectors
  • Personal weather stations

A smart garden hub will capture this information, interpret it, and allow your app to dictate plant watering cycles.

GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub, specifically, supports various Smart Home Integrations such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest, and Apple Watch and allows you to complete your Smart Home with a full Smart Garden experience.

The system factors in weather data from public weather stations or private like ones, Netatmo and Davis. It detects pipe leaks and clogs when connected to a flow meter. If you want your GreenIQ to factor in the soil moisture level, add a soil sensor to your system.

The possibilities are endless with smart garden hubs like GreenIQ!

Soil condition

Do you want to know your soil moisture content, fertilizer readings, temperature, light intensity, and what to do about it?

A soil sensor like Spiio can provide all of this information and your app can advise you of any corrective action that may be necessary.

With a good soil sensor and an integrated app, you will no longer have to guess about which fertilizer will adjust your lawn’s pH to the proper level for the type of plants you are growing.

smart soil

Smart awnings

Electric awnings have transformed the garden shade experience into something that can be managed with ease. You can extend your awning at the touch of a button and retract it the moment the conditions become too blustery. But now electric awnings have entered the modern age with the adoption of smart technology – you can set them up to be controlled from you mobile phone.

Camera

This is simple, but totally necessary if you go on vacation. A friend of ours was a great gardener but lived in the hot southwest and was afraid to go on vacation in July because three days without water would be a disaster for his garden.

One year, he had to leave for a wedding and primitively set up a mechanically timed DIY sprinkler system. It was set to go on twice a day. Our friend left for a week and hoped for the best. When he came home, he found out that while his concocted sprinkler system worked, it had also rained every day, and our guy came home to a flooded backyard.

With a simple camera, he could have seen from his mobile device that the sprinkler system needed to be turned off, and he could have asked his neighbor to help. Since he didn’t know what was going on, he had to clean up the mess.

The moral? Even if you don’t want to invest in a smart watering or gardening system, at least set up a smart camera so you can see what your yard looks like when you are gone, and subsequently take action where needed.

garden camera

RadbilSam Radbil is the lead writer for ABODO Apartments, an online real estate marketplace with available apartments from small towns like Eugene, Oregon to big cities like New York City. ABODO’s research and writing has been featured nationally in Curbed, Forbes, Realtor.com, HousingWire and more.

Gardening Year, George, How To, Watering, Weeding

prepare your garden for holiday

If you’re going away this summer, the last thing you want is to come back to find your garden overgrown or worse – dying. All your hard work throughout the start of the year gone to waste. So we’ve gathered the top tips on how to prepare your garden before going on holiday. These will give your garden the greatest chance of staying on its best form for your return.

1 – Mowing

A day or two before you leave, make sure to mow the lawn. Avoid the temptation to cut it too short as in hot weather this can cause it to dry out and go brown.

2 – Watering

Keeping your plants hydrated is the biggest challenge of leaving them while you’re away. If you can, ask a friend to go round and water them for you. Otherwise, you could set up an automated watering system with hoses and timers.

If neither of these are possible, then give your plants a thorough watering just before you leave. Move potted plants into the shade and leave them in a saucer of water to soak up moisture throughout your time away. With smaller pots, you can even place them directly into flower beds (watering the ground around them) which helps them stay hydrated. Covering the surface with mulch is also great for locking in moisture.

watering

3 – Harvesting

It always seems a shame to go away on holiday just as your crops are coming to fruition. So pick what you can before leaving, freezing your fruit and veg for later. It’s often best to pick them early as some, like beans and courgettes, go tough if left too long. Alternatively you can welcome a friend to come and harvest while you’re not there (perhaps in exchange for watering!).

4 – Weeding

One of the toughest jobs to keep on top of in the summer months is weeding – they just grow and grow. No one wants to come back from holiday to find their garden overrun with weeds, so it’s worth clearing them out before you go. Also deadhead flowers and remove fully open ones to allow room for a fresh bloom on your return.

Weeding the patio

5 – Ventilating

Sod’s law says it’s bound to be sunny at home whenever you go away, so make sure you garden is ready for the heat. In particular, if you have a greenhouse then keep it ventilated, either with auto vents or leaving the window ajar.

6 – Security

Don’t let your empty garden become a prize for thieves. Lock up any gardening equipment in a shed or outbuilding, and cover up the windows to deter opportunists. You may also consider installing a motion activated security light to ward off robbers while you’re gone.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Gardening, Grow Your Own, Guest Posts, How To, Indoor Plants, Plants, Watering

hydroponic gardening mistakes

When starting out a hydroponic garden, it’s important to consider vital aspects that might seem unimportant but keep your plants healthy. A small mistake such as not cleaning your tools can have disastrous consequences by infecting healthy plants with pests or diseases.

Alongside guaranteeing that you introduce the right hydroponic nutrients, you also need to keep the following common mistakes in mind as a beginner:

Mistake #1: Not paying attention to the soil’s pH

Nutrient solutions and pH levels need to be monitored; if you fail to see what kind of soil you have, you may kill your plants due to unbalanced pH. An optimal level is necessary, so your plants don’t suffer nutrient deficiencies. You can easily find a pH testing kit or make your own to measure your soil’s pH levels.

For a DIY testing kit, all you need is water, baking soda, two soil samples, white vinegar, and two containers. Add vinegar to one of the samples and, if it fizzes or bubbles, then your soil is alkaline. Should you not see a reaction, add baking soda and water to the other sample and, should it fizz and bubble, your soil is acidic.

Mistake #2: Insufficient lighting and air flow

Plants need adequate lighting to thrive and your hydroponic garden is no different. As a beginner hydroponic gardener, you might not notice some clear signs that you’re not providing enough lighting, such as weak growth or no growth at all. Likewise, inexpensive lights may also underperform. Don’t expect natural sunlight to be enough – you’ll need hydroponic lighting for healthy plants.

Air flow and good ventilation are vital to keep pests away and for plants to not deteriorate. Regardless of your greenhouse space, you’ll need a fan or a blower that ensures proper air flow and air exchange.

hydroponic lighting

Mistake #3: Overwatering

Watering your plants is essential, however, overwatering can be a big issue for beginners. Continuous overwatering of plants leads to waterlogging and eventually you’ll notice leaves drooping, wilting, and plants’ growth stopping.
If not addressed, overwatering can lead to root rot and kill your plants. Wait for the top layer of the soil to feel dry before watering again.

Mistake #4: Unhygienic conditions

Keeping surroundings and tools appropriately sanitised is an important step to keep pests and diseases at bay. Debris or dead plant matter are commonly left behind, alongside non-sterile equipment and we floors. These elements can cause fungal or bacterial growth, which might settle in your plants.

    • Dispose of plant waste
    • Clean and sterilise tools, system equipment, and containers
    • Clean and dry floors and surfaces

Mistake #5: Using the wrong plant food

It can be extremely tempting to use the same plant feed for all plants, however, not all fertilisers and feeds have the same nutrients and dosages. You may have chosen a plant feed that won’t dilute properly, leading to tubes and drains to be clogged in your hydroponic system.

In addition, you may introduce nutrients to the system that cause the soil to either become too acidic or too alkaline for plants to thrive. You also need to ensure that you don’t overfeed your plants, as you can cause fungal accumulation and salt deposits to form.

Sterilised Compost

Mistake #6: Not placing new plants in quarantine

Purchasing and growing new plants is always exciting, but it can lead you to eagerly place all plants together and accidentally introducing pests or diseases in your growing system. All new plants should be quarantined in a specific location until you can be absolutely sure that no pests or diseases have infected it.

This area can also serve as a plant hospital, where you can place any affected plants to keep healthy plants from being contaminated. Following simple steps can make a big difference in helping your plants to grow healthily and happily.

Craig HollandCraig Holland is the brand marketing manager at Plant-Magic. Although his initial dream was to become a pilot, he settled for the lively and vivacious world of plants. He has years of experience in caring for plants and writing about it and when he’s not doing that he can be found eating super noodles and cheering for Liverpool FC.

Annie, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Planting, Plants, Trees, Watering

very dry trees

When you think of British summer time you might think of maybe a few sunny days where you can enjoy a refreshing glass of pimms in your garden. Or you think of the fact that whenever anyone suggests a barbeque it starts raining. You definitely don’t expect there to be endless sunshine with soaring temperatures for weeks on end. You certainly don’t expect temperatures of over 30 degrees and neither does your garden.

This summer has been something of an anomaly and seems set to continue. While we might be basking in the glorious sunshine we should spare a thought for our poor gardens which will need a little bit of extra TLC while the endless summer stretches on. The lack of rain and the unrelenting heat brings its own problems. Young trees and shrubs may struggle to thrive and might even die. However, all is not lost! There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your garden remains looking green, healthy and beautiful all summer long.

Contents:

Water, Water & More Water

It may seem obvious that during the hot weather you may need to water your plants more regularly. Young trees especially need frequent watering as they have a much smaller root system than that of an established tree. Young roots can dry out very quickly during a hot spell and that can ultimately lead to your young tree dying. So if your tree is newly planted you should ensure that it is watered every day for at least the first two weeks to help provide the roots with the moisture and oxygen it needs. After that you should make sure you water your  tree at the very least once a week, if there has been some rainfall, but even more frequently during a heatwave.

When should I water?

However, it isn’t just about the frequency with which you water young trees and shrubs it’s also when you water them as well. You should either water your garden very early in the day or in the evening when it is cooler to help keep the soil moist for longer. Watering plants during the heat of the day is actually a lot less effective and can cause damage. Water droplets on the leaves act like a magnifying glass for the sun’s rays. They make them more intense and so even though you think you are helping hydrate your young tree or shrub you can actually cause more damage.    

How much water?

So you know to water your tree frequently and you know when you should do it as well. However, you also need to know how you should water young trees. People are often tempted to water their plants little and often. However, you will find that your young tree or shrub is happier when given a slow drench of at least half a large watering can every few days. This period of dryness encourages them to make deep roots which is good for supporting the tree and will mean less maintenance in the future.

If you are unsure about whether your tree needs to be watered or whether it has been watered enough there are a couple of simple ways to check. If you want to check whether the tree needs to be watered you can do this by checking the soil beneath the mulch layer early in the morning. You just stick your finger in the soil and if it is damp your tree should be fine. If it is dry then you do need to water it. To check you have given your tree enough water you should check that the root ball is wet and can use a trowel to do this if necessary.

Watering hacks

Mulch

Laying downs some mulch around the base of the tree prevents water running off when the ground is hard and allows much more of it to sink into the soil. Woodchip is excellent, spread it in a circle approx. 3 foot in diameter.

Create a bowl

Best done when planting, if you create a bowl like shape around the base of the tree this again aids with retaining water and funnels it down towards the roots of the tree. You can build a little mud wall around the tree if already planted and it will serve the same purpose.

The upside down milk bottle

Insert an large bottle upside down into the ground and cut the end off. You can then pour water into it and it will soak slowly into the ground, directly where you want it. You may find that a bamboo cane for support helps it stay in place.

What if there is a hosepipe ban?

A hosepipe ban could be on the horizon this year. Especially if the heatwave is set to keep going. As the main way to keep your young trees or shrubs alive is to water them you might think that trying to keep young trees alive is fruitless. However, there are a few ways that you can get around this. Firstly, you can install a water butt. Nowadays there are thousands of styles to choose from so you don’t necessarily have to end up with an ugly tank in your garden. As long as you have an outside wall or guttering system in place you should be able to collect plenty of rainwater and use that to water your garden.

You can also use grey water. Grey water is waste water that has come from places such as your bath or kitchen sink. You can even collect the water from your washing machine and use this to water the plants when you are not allowed to use a hosepipe. If you are going to do this though you need to be aware of what is in the water. Grey water that has come from these areas is likely to contain harmful detergents. So if you are going to use this method you should make sure that the products you use are environmentally friendly.

What if it is too late!?

By the time you are reading this, it might be already too late. There will be many arboreal casualties this year, and even the best of gardener will struggle with their losses. It is a sad time, unless you sell trees of course. A simple Cambium test is the best way to check if your tree has expired. Scratch away the top layer of bark with your thumb. Make sure you do this on the main stem because, in extreme weather, the tree will start by sacrificing its extremities first. If  you reach moist green flesh, then your tree is hanging in there!

If not, as cold as it sounds, it’s time to start planning its replacement. You might like to consider  holding off until autumn to plant your next tree. Autumn is by the best time of year to plant; the ground is still warm, there is good rainfall, the trees are entering dormancy and they have all winter to establish a strong rootbase. In fact, the majority of young trees that you see struggling this year will have been planted in spring, not the autumn before. 

Head over to the plants section of the primrose website to order you bare root trees for delivery at the perfect time. Or, if you are impatient, we have potted trees available now!

Annie CorcoranAnnie works for the Primrose product loading team mainly creating web pages and writing product descriptions. When not at her desk you can find her writing for The Independent, re-reading Harry Potter or out for a walk.

See all of Annie’s posts.