Garden Essentials




Bed Maximizing
Companion Planting
Cover Crops
No-Dig G.Beds
Morag Gamble
Planting Time Ref
Potting Soil
Seed Germination












Video: My Secret For Great Container Tomatoes Jeff Bernhard, Houston: tomatoes are heavy feeders, you need

1) Epsom salts helps the photosynthesis process & keeps leaves green, add some to soil mix, then every few weeks add a tsp. in a gallon of water and feed your plants. It will leach out of the soil after a month if have heavy rains.

2) Fish bone meal. Phosphorus. Cheap. [bat quano, rock dust or colloidal phosphate (also called “soft phosphate”), or from bone sources, such as steamed bone meal or fish bone meal. Mineral phosphorus sources are cheaper and last longer in the soil. Bone sources are more readily absorbed by plants. Phosphorus is needed for root development, stem formation, and fruiting in summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, and cucumbers. Inoculating seedling roots with Endo-Myccorhizae increases their ability to absorb soil phosphorus. ] Mix a few tbsp. with your soil to encourage flowers for fruit. Add every 2-3 weeks after the first month since it can also leach out. Try Hydrofarm BGC1002 Guano Grow Crazy 5-1-1, 3 pounds 5* $15.95 prime. Powder form.

3) Calcium Nitrate or Kelp 4 [Organic Calcium Sources for Gardens Dried, finely ground eggshells--flour are a great source of calcium for vegetable container gardens. Or dolomite lime or calcite. Calcium is a component of plant cell walls, and it’s needed for enzyme formation and nitrate uptake. Organic calcium can also be used to help neutralize excessively acidic soils, which is especially important when you’re growing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, or cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Try Dolomite Lime - Pure Dolomitic / Calcitic Garden Lime (5 Pounds) 5* $9.95 & FREE Shipping] Blossom end rot from deficiency of calcium. Mix a few tbsp in your soil. Every 4-5 weeks a tsp in water and let absorb overnight.

These three are critical.

He also uses LiquiFeed by Miracle Grow. 9-4-9. A tsp every week.

Uses chicken wire to support the vines. Uses mesh bags to protect them from rats, mice, birds.

The Benefits of Baking Soda in the Garden ~ Noreen's Garden Wash hands, clean and soft.

Brassicas call cabbage worms; mix 1:1 baking soda and flour and dust your plants: the cabbage worms will eat it and die.

BS is excellent weed preventer. Sprinkle in crack of cement and they won't grow back.

Make tomatoes sweeter by sprinkling BS on ground--top dressing. ''t get it directly on the plants. Will burn the leaves. Rabbiits, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, slugs ''t like BS. Pour BS or salt directly on slugs.

Test the pH of your soil. Wet some soil and sprinkle BS on it. If it bubbles it is acidic.

Gardening With EPSOM SALT For A Greener & Healthier Plant--DO NOT USE TABLE SALT! IV Organic. Made from magnesium and sulfur. Will make leaves greener. Magnesium is crucial to cell wall development and aids plant uptake of essential nutrients. Sulphur corrects soil alkelinity. 1 tbsp per gallon of water. Once every three months, but not in winter.

Citrus care notes: citrus trees tend to get sun burned.

Why & How to Use Epsom Salt in Your Vegetable Garden Gary Pilarchik. Hard to over-fertilize with ES. Use it on all plants. Container plants tend to suck the life out of your soil. Add 1 tbsp for every 5 gal of soil; mix thoroughly. Then weekly spray leaves with 1 tsp in a quart of water. Or 1 tbsp in a gallon and soak the plant leaves and soil every two weeks. When you water or rain a lot of nutrients get leached out.

In ground, add 1 tbsp ES into planting hole. Mix well; ''t leave a pile of chemical. Really disperse it through the hole. Add 1 tbsp in 1 gallon of water makes a leaf drench; a foliar feed. Soak the leaves. Do when the flowers come on veg. Also add 1 tbsp to the soil. Then scatter 1 tbsp around the base of the plant, 3-4 inches from the stem. Repeat mid-season or sooner if the plant is struggling.

Soil Soup Liquid supplements like Soil Soup® can be purchased at local nurseries then fed directly to the plants. Teeming with good organisms, this enhances the overall health of the soil and therefore your plants.

Creating a No-Dig Garden

V How to Make a No-Dig Garden: Morag Gamble's Method for Simple Abundance - Our Permaculture Life Put newspaper or cardboard under the mulch layer. Weeds in compost defeated by cardboard or newspaper. In hot climates it also acts as an insulator. Also, the compost then adds nutrients to the life of the soil. Quickly improves soil.

Step 1 Open up the soil to allow air and moisture to penetrate down and deal with any compaction. Leave the weeds which add to organic matter. Throw any fresh green stuff on top. Use a fork and just gently open the soil leaning fork about 45 degrees. ''t fork in the pathways. Won't damage the earth worms. Important not to step on it after opening. Adds air and moisture without ruining the soil structure.

Step 2 Add in extra food for the soil organisms. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, worm liquid or castings, comfrey tea plus the sludge, compost, biochar, leaves. Do after watering the site; capillary action helps it get down into the soil. For sandy or clay soil add cocoa peat, cocoanut fiber: adds structure and fiber to the soil. Comfrey greens: just break off and it will grow back in a week. Pigeon pea, cannas, greens available.

Step 3 add compost. About 10 centimeters thick [1/2 inch]. Wet everything down really well.

Step 4 is newspaper to stop weeds. If a slope, start at the top to catch water. Soak the newspaper. About 10 sheets thick. Overlap about 10 centimeters [1/2 inch] in every direction. Keeps soil temp more stable, keeps the moisture in. Water it in to make sure it doesn't suck any moisture from the soil; also check for holes.

Step 5 mulch heavily. Use seed-free hay, sugarcane mulch, straw. Break up and spread 1-2 inches thick at least. If the sun hits the newspaper it will break it down quickly. Wet down so it doesn't blow away if there is wind.

To plant, make a bird's nest down to the newspaper. Consider the newspaper the new topsoil. Use a pointed trowel to make smallest possible hole through the newspaper. Make hole, wiggle around, add handfull of compost. Plant and add another handfull of compost around it. Bring mulch around but not touching it. Firm in. Level to plant: remember your newspaper is the new topsoil. Use seedlings or large seeds.

For seeds, make a line in the mulch and add compost or potting soil and plant the seeds in that. Carrots, beets grow really well in these beds. Check out society garlic. Stems and flowers are edible. Garlic chives. Comfrey; grow it all over the garden: makes tea, compost activater, scatter on new beds, plant around fruit trees to improve the soil.

Morag channel site

Blogspot: Morag Gamble: Our Permaculture Life

Best Potting Soil Mix

Mel's Mix [from one foot gardening} is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss or sphagnum peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite or coir. Add epsom salts, calcium [dolomite lime or eggshell flour], Phosphorus nitrate [bat guano].

Every month, fertilize with worm castings and epsom salt water.

Square Foot Gardening (SFG): Growing More in Less Space GrowVeg. SF Gardening Foundation, founded by engineer.

Organic Seed-Starting Mix: Contains Bio-Blended Compost (composted manures and plant materials), sphagnum peat moss, perlite, mineral and nutrient amendments


Plants for Alkaline Soils Soils that are derived from limestone or those overlying marl favor the growth of certain plants. A neutral reaction may be satisfactory for some plants, but the addition of lime will increase the alkalinity that can enhance their health and well-being, not to mention flowering. [Lists of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants.]

Clay Soils: Plants for Heavy, or Dense Soils Clay, while generally fairly rich, is also a heavy, dense, cold soil. Drainage can be a problem and plants like lavenders, which hate wet feet, ''t thrive without soil amendment to promote aeration and drainage. [Lists of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants.]

Soil pH The number can range from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic, or “alkaline”), and a value of 7 is considered “neutral.”

Seed Germination

How to Get Better Germination From Your Seeds

1. ''t overwater your seeds.

4. Protect your newly planted seeds by using bird netting.

5. ''t plant your seeds too deep.

6. Protect your seedlings against "dampening off". Sterile soil, adequate air circulation.


Containers recycled from previous uses should be first sterilized by soaking in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water.

carefully shake three or four seeds into each pot, allowing at least 1/2 inch between each of them

The tiniest seeds can slide out too quickly so, for better control, I fold a small piece of stiff white paper in half, pour the seeds into the strip, and dole them out by lightly tapping the paper strip.

If the seeds are large enough to easily see, I use my fingertip (making sure it’s dry so seeds '’t adhere to it) to push each seed gently against the moist, soilless mix, so it makes good contact.

Instead of burying the seeds, I use a sieve to cover them with a thin layer of the reserved seed-starting mix.

If the seeds require light to germinate, I '’t cover them at all.

It’s important to keep the seed-starting medium moist to speed germination; I use a very fine mist to water the pots from above, or pour water into the tray and let the pots soak it up from the bottom.

15 Clever Gardening Tricks Plastic forks to deter pets and animals,

Seed Starting Basics Good news! Seed starting is amazingly easy, consumes little time, energy and money, and brings you a whole new level of gardening satisfaction. It’s an adventure that, once begun, leads you to a brand-new sense of pride and joy in the plants you grow.

If you have been buying mainstream seedlings down at your garden center each spring, mail-order seed offerings are a real eye-opener. There are dozens, indeed, hundreds of varieties to explore. The only difference is you’ll be raising them! Fans of seed starting often tout how much money they save. True, seed packets tend to be fairly inexpensive compared to bedding plants, which have time, effort and storage factored into their pricing. And seeds can lead to a lot of small plants.

Still looking for an excellent reason to raise your own plants? By giving them a little TLC from seed to planting, you know the seedlings are well rooted because you’ve seen them grow day to day and tended to their needs. The seed-lings will be naturally husky if you raise them in good soil at the proper distance from a light source and you '’t hurry them along with chemicals. You’ll also know they’re healthy because the soil-borne diseases that sometimes plague big operations are easily prevented at home.

First, know when to start the seeds indoors based on your last spring frost. Second, you should know how long it takes from seed planting until the time it produces flowers or fruit. This helps you decide if the plant is suited for your climate and if it must be started indoors for longest bloom and greatest productivity once moved outdoors.

Prepare a spot to grow them. In milder climates, gardeners are able to sow seeds in a cold frame or greenhouse, if they have one. The rest of us have to make do indoors.

The best spot to grow seeds is in an area out of the path of household traffic. You won’t want people bumping into your tender sprouts, or curious pets coming around. It should also be a spot that is warm and out of drafts. A basement, sunporch or spare room are all good options. Some people even raise seeds on the tops of dressers, cabinets or refrigerators! Think I’m kidding? The top of the refrigerator is an excellent place to grow seedlings because it generates a little warmth. Many seeds germinate better with some heat.

Provide sufficient light. Some seeds germinate under a thin layer of soil mix, some are pressed lightly right on top, but in all cases the seedlings that sprout will require between 12 and 16 hours of light per day. Sunlight from a window is not at all ideal. It’s pale and limited in late winter and early spring. To make it work, you’ll need artificial light. Fluorescent is best, and a timer at the outlet will help you regulate the hours it is shining on your baby plants. Given these two critical requirements – location and light – some gardeners purchase a seed-starting setup for their house, while others make their own.

Planting seeds indoors is not as hard as you think if you keep these simple tips in mind…

Begin with damp (but not drenched) sterile seed-starting mix, filling containers about three-fourths full. Tamp the surface flat and level with the flat of your hand or a small piece of wood before sowing.

Read the backs of seed packets for the information you need about sowing depth (or whether the seeds need light to germinate). The backs of seed packets have a wealth of important information, such as how far apart to sow the seeds, how many days they usually take to germinate and when to plant outdoors. Sow carefully by hand. A pencil tip can be a very helpful tool when placing small seeds.

'’t sow too many seeds. This can lead to a forest of seedlings growing too thickly for you to thin without damaging them. Make little furrows if you’re using flats, spacing seeds up to an inch apart (closer if they are tiny seeds).

Cover seeds with plastic. Do this the very day you plant. This holds in warmth and humidity, giving the seeds the best chance of absorbing moisture and getting going. '’t seal tightly, though. That causes condensed water to drip back down onto the mix, making things too soggy.

Check on the seeds daily. The planting mix must not dry out, or seeds’ growth will immediately halt. The best way to keep seedlings evenly, consistently moist is with bottom watering. Just set the container into a few inches of water (in the sink or in a tray) and let it wick up what water it needs before returning the container to its designated spot.

It usually takes a week or two for the first little leaves to poke up their heads. But what a thrill it is to see them! Once they begin to sprout:

Snip away extras. When the first true leaves appear, use sharp scissors to snip some weaker seedlings right at soil level. The properly spared survivors gain better air circulation, important for their health, and their roots won’t have to compete for precious nutritional resources.

Water from above with a fine spray as the seedlings grow bigger. The plastic covering can be shifted on and off as your developing plants need ventilation. After a while, they’ll be too tall and you’ll have to remove it completely.

Fertilize seedlings after they germinate with a diluted flowering houseplant fertilizer (about 50 percent of the recommended dilution). Do this about every 2 weeks or less until you begin “hardening off” outdoors. When seedlings are husky, well-rooted (tug gently on the leaves, never the stem, to check) and several inches high, it’s time to get them ready for outdoor life.

In their original containers or transplanted into new individual pots, they may be moved outside in late spring to a sheltered spot out of the sun. Bring them indoors or cover them on chilly nights or if a frost threatens. A few days or a week of gradually introducing them to the sun and outdoors makes them much better prepared for life in your garden.

Damping off: This refers to a fungal disease that attacks developing seedlings, causing them to shrivel and die right at soil level. The fungi thrive in stagnant air and high humidity. The best ways to prevent this problem are to use clean containers and sterile mix and to monitor your seedlings, removing the plastic covering if the environment is too damp and…not to overwater! Seedlings affected by damping off must be discarded; start over with a more sterile, less humid setup.

Pricking off: Once seedlings are a few inches high, they may start to outgrow their quarters. They need to be carefully lifted out or “pricked off.” Depending on how little they are and how closely you sowed, you can use your fingers, tweezers, a fork or a small stick. Gingerly tease interwoven roots apart. Move each plant carefully to its own pot, where it will enjoy more root room and better air circulation.

Hardening off: After the threat of frost has passed, it’s time to get your babies ready for outdoor life in the garden. Move your seedlings outside to an area sheltered from the sun and wind. Bring them indoors or cover on chilly nights or if frost threatens. Stop fertilizing your plants and gradually increase the amount of sun they receive each day for a week or so. They should be ready to place into the garden once the soil is slightly dry rather than waterlogged.

GROW SEEDLINGS FOR TRANSPLANTING Lee Reich. Does it all outside.

Garden Planting Guide Most soil mixes consisting of peat, perlite, and vermiculite are excellent seed sowing media for bedding plants. Besides light and moisture, seeds need warmth to germinate well. A soil temperature of 70°F is sufficient for most crops. Please see the planting depth of most seeds for optimal conditions. Some seeds prefer growing just below the soil including most vegetables, herbs and flowers. Although some flower seeds need light to germinate and should be placed on top of the so

Direct Sow Seeds Sow these seeds directly into the garden and watch them take off. Direct sow seeds are easier to start outdoors than other seeds. Known for high germination rates and fast growing habits. These warm-season vegetables take little effort to start and produce high yields of lettuce, beans, cucumber, squash, peas and more.

High-Yield Veg

7 Secrets For A High-Yield Vegetable how to maximize a bed

1. Build Up Your Soil... raised beds

The fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. Raised beds yield up to four times more than the same amount of space planted in rows. That’s due not only to their loose, fertile soil but also to efficient spacing—by using less space for paths, you have more room to grow plants.

2. Round Out Your Beds

The shape of your beds can make a difference, too. Raised beds are more space-efficient if the tops are gently rounded to form an arc. A rounded bed that is 5 feet wide across its base, for instance, will give you a 6-foot-wide arc above it—creating a planting surface that’s a foot wider than that of a flat bed. That foot might not seem like much, but multiply it by the length of your bed and you’ll see that it can make a big difference in total planting area.

Lettuce, spinach, and other greens are perfect crops for planting on the edges of a rounded bed.

3. Space Smartly

Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed.

Just be careful not to space your plants too tightly. Some plants won’t reach their full size—or yield—when crowded. For instance, when one researcher increased the spacing between romaine lettuces from 8 to 10 inches, the harvest weight per plant doubled. (Remember that weight yield per square foot is more important than the number of plants per square foot.)

Overly tight spacing can also stress plants, making them more susceptible to diseases and insect attack.

4. Grow Up

No matter how small your garden, you can grow more by going vertical. Grow space-hungry vining crops—such as tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash, melons, cukes, and so on—straight up, supported by trellises, fences, cages, or stakes.

Growing vegetables vertically also saves time. Harvest and maintenance go faster because you can see exactly where the fruits are. And upward-bound plants are less likely to be hit by fungal diseases thanks to the improved air circulation around the foliage.

Try growing vining crops on trellises along one side of raised beds, using sturdy end posts with nylon mesh netting or string in between to provide a climbing surface. Tie the growing vines to the trellis. But '’t worry about securing heavy fruits—even squash and melons will develop thicker stems for support.

5. Mix It Up

Interplanting compatible crops saves space, too. Consider the classic Native American combination, the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash. Sturdy cornstalks support the pole beans, while squash grows freely on the ground below, shading out competing weeds. This combination works because the crops are compatible. Other compatible combinations include tomatoes, basil, and onions; leaf lettuce and peas or brassicas; carrots, onions, and radishes; and beets and celery.

6. Succeed With Successions

Succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, many gardeners are able to harvest three or even four crops from a single area.

To get the most from your succession plantings:

  • Use transplants. A transplant is already a month or so old when you plant it, and so will mature that much faster than a direct-seeded plant (one grown from seeds sown in the garden).

  • Choose fast-maturing varieties.

  • Replenish the soil with a ¼-to-½-inch layer of compost (about 2 cubic feet per 100 square feet) each time you replant. Work it into the top few inches of soil.

7. Stretch Your Season

Adding a few weeks to each end of the growing season can buy you enough time to grow yet another succession crop—say a planting of leaf lettuce, kale, or turnips—or to harvest more end-of-the-season tomatoes.

To get those extra weeks of production, you need to keep the air around your plants warm, even when the weather is cold, by using mulches, cloches, row covers, or coldframes.

Companion Planting

Companion Planting, 200 best videos #1 Top five companion plants:

1) beans or peas, nitro fixers, in container with chard, lettuce, spinach.

2) Alliums--onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, et al. repel pests with brassicas like cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, also tomatoes, carrots, celery, peppers in containers.

3) Marigolds "the wonderdrug of companion planting" french marigolds in particular produce a pesticide which lasts for years; plant with brassicas and cucurbits like squash, cucumbers, melons; even put in small pot and move around the garden to keep pests at bay.

4) Herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, and sage; enhance the flavor of tomatoes and repel pests; plant at base of tomato plants.

5) Radishes, plant with plants which will be tall or slow growing like eggplants [slow until summer heat], peppers [same], and good with squash [prevent squash borrers]

The Benefits Of Growing These Plants Side-By-Side Organic gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and beautiful garden. Many believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (even mysterious) powers to help each other grow.

Companions help each other grow—tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. And the technique uses garden space efficiently. Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up, allowing for two plants in the same patch. Companions also prevent pest problems. Plants like onions repel pests and other plants can lure pests away from more delicate plants. Or one plant may attract the predators of another plant's pests.

Roses + Garlic

Marigolds + Melons

Tomatoes + Cabbage, carrots

Cucumbers + Nasturtiums + squash

Peppers + Pigweed/ragweed

Cabbage/broccoli/brussels sprouts + Dill

Corn + Beans

Lettuce + Tall Flowers [Nicotiana (flowering tobacco) and cleome (spider flower)]

Radishes + Spinach

Potatoes + Sweet Alyssum

Cauliflower + Dwarf Zinnias

Collards + Catnip

Strawberries + Love-In-A-Mist (Nigella damascena)


Submerged plants are the oxygenators of the pond—a must if your pond is to be healthy and support fish.

You can put the filtration system and pumps into mothballs, because if its 'e properly it will virtually look after itself. You can add native fish and frogs (some will find it themselves). The birds love it as well. Adding fish provides a natural way of controlling mosquitoes.

Adding a small water spout or a mini waterfall fills the backyard with the lovely sound of falling and splashing water. This helps to circulate water in the pond and keeps it aerated right to the bottom.

Building a Backyard Pond by Converting Your Swimming Pool

Will the pond water smell? Pond odor is not generally a problem once the pond ecology is established with the plants keeping the nutrient levels under control. The surface area of a pool is large and this makes sure that the water is kept well oxygenated. It is only stagnant water that smells. You can boost the aeration of deep ponds with an aquarium style aerator or a small pump for a fountain or waterfall. Just ensure that the inlet is drawn from the bottom of the pond. Huge reservoirs are kept circulating with simple aerators. Circulation stops the pool going stagnant which causes most smells.

Are Aquatic Plants necessary? Yes, plants are essential because plants act as natural filters and recycle nutrients that would otherwise feed algae (cause the water to go green and smell). Ideally aquatic plants will occupy about 50% of the pool's area. You may need to add structures on which the pots containing the plants can be placed.

Do You Need to Retain the a filter? No. This is not required as particulates tend to settled out and the water can be a little cloudy but still healthy.

If the pool turns green, will it stay that way? The pool may go green initially but will clear when the pond ecosystem is fully functional. You can buy various non toxic remedies for green pond water. Keep the pool scoop for removing leaves and dead pieces of algae and any rubbish that blows into the pool.

Step I: Stop Adding Chlorine and Reduce Salt Concentration

Step 2:The preliminary construction phase and addition of plants Lower the pool level a little and make adjustments to the landscape surrounding the pool by adding rocks and boulders, pot plants to add shade. You can also add the plumbing for a waterfall or fountain.

Adding a pond conditioner can also be a good idea.

As long as the pool is managed as a water garden...plant centered with just a very small fish load to control insects it needs no filtration, no water changes. I have had liner ponds from 50 gallons through thousands of gallons and never once did I have a filter on them...they all stayed clear and clean.

algae is very important for the health of the pool – but you can have too much of a good thing. Algae blooms are to be avoided as they can suffocate life in the pool. A balanced algae population can be regulated in three ways: 1) reducing nutrient input (i.e. harvest some fish), 2) reducing light (i.e. add a translucent shade, or a living vine, over part of the pool), or 3) simply scoop some algae out if you get desperate and use it for mulch or compost.

A bio-filter doesn’t need to be too complicated or expensive. Water could be pumped out of the pool and through a gravel trench, and then back into the pool (a solar pump could be utilised). As the water passes through the gravel it gets filtered/cleansed (by the algae that will develop there) and oxygenated. Reeds growing on the gravel aid in making the biological filter itself a closed system.

Submerged plants: Submerged plants are the oxygenators of the pond—a must if your pond is to be healthy and support fish.

Submerged plants may become aggressive if plantedin earthen ponds... Roots of these plants are not used for nutrient or water uptake, but for anchorage, so oxygenators may be potted in gravel.

Submerged plants should be stocked at a rate of one bunch per 2 square feet of surface area, in groups of 6 to 12 per pot depending on the size of the pot. Caging these pots is often advisable if the pond is to contain fish, which tend to forage on submerged plant foliage.

Free floating plants such as duck weed, water lettuce, and water hyacinth, though not necessary, add the finishing touch to anatural appearing water garden. These plants move with the breeze and produce an ever changing appearance for the pond. Functionally, they add to the oxygenators and produce varying casts of shadow that the pond owner and the fish will appreciate.

There are several reasons to rock an organic pond. First off, the rocks and gravel offer suitable surface area for millions of beneficial bacteria to colonize in the pond itself, in addition to those in the biological filter. These bacteria help break down the fish’s waste and convert it to usable plant fertilizer. In effect, when you construct your water garden with rocks and gravel, you turn your entire pond into a giant biological filter, constantly working to keep your pond clean and your water clear.

In an organic pond, plants are a very important part of the natural filtration of the pond. Rather than keeping their root systems in pots and having to add plant fertilizer to the system, we let most plants out of their pots, where they are forced to take nutrients directly from the pond’s water. They literally starve the algae out of the system!

In order to let the plants out of their pots, you have to have something for them to root out into. That’s another important reason to have gravel lining your pond.

SHIPPING IS TRAUMATIC FOR PLANTS! - They need water as soon as possible to prevent transplant shock.

1. It is important upon arrival of your plants to put them in a plastic tub of some of your pond water (not tap water) and keep them in a shaded area outside with indirect sun exposure for a day before placing them in your pond. The roots of the plants start drying out during shipping. The roots need to get restarted pumping water to the leaves again before they are exposed to full sun.


1. Water Hyacinth
2. Frogbit, Frog's Bit
3. Anacharis


water thyme
Matt Boring Those of us who practice organic water gardening with a balanced ecosystem approach know how relaxing it can be to have Mother Nature help keep our pond water clean, clear, and healthy. Our ponds are there for us, not the other way around.

They stay clean on their own by virtue of the theory behind their design, a design based on nature’s own freshwater ecosystems. A balance is attained between the plants, fish, and beneficial bacteria living in the biological filter and on the rocks and gravel– just like in natural waterways.

As long as the pond’s ecosystem stays balanced, our pond water will be clear. And it’s precisely because they stay clear on their own that it’s easy to tell if something goes out of balance. It’s just like a natural creek. It should be clean and clear,

Rather than merely treating the symptoms, we should go to the root of the problem. Any time you have excess string algae or green water there is only one root problem– too many available nutrients in the pond water! If nutrients weren’t available to the algae, it couldn’t grow– it’s that simple.

We can then check for leaks, adjust how much fish food (if any) we’re adding, reduce the fish load, add aquatic plants, or whatever we know our individual system needs.

Most of the plants in the water garden are planted directly into the gravel substrate of the ecosystem pond. Their roots are allowed to grow unconstrained by pots. The plants will perform better for you this way, but more importantly, their roots will spread out into a giant natural filtet, becoming a magnet for the free floating nutrients in your pond water. The less nutrients available in the water, the less chance you have for out-of-control algae that makes your water the color of pea-soup or forms large strings across the pond.

We typically plant oxygenating plants like hornwort and water thyme in the lowest level of the pond, usually at about a 2' depth. Simply use the gravel in the pond to weight them down. They’ll soon root in on their own. They give the fish a place to hide and they soak up excess nutrients in the water like a sponge.

There are several reasons to rock an organic pond. First off, the rocks and gravel offer suitable surface area for millions of beneficial bacteria to colonize in the pond itself, in addition to those in the biological filter. These bacteria help break down the fish’s waste and convert it to usable plant fertilizer. In effect, when you construct your water garden with rocks and gravel, you turn your entire pond into a giant biological filter, constantly working to keep your pond clean and your water clear.

In an organic pond, plants are a very important part of the natural filtration of the pond. Rather than keeping their root systems in pots and having to add plant fertilizer to the system, we let most plants out of their pots, where they are forced to take nutrients directly from the pond’s water. They literally starve the algae out of the system! In order to let the plants out of their pots, you have to have something for them to root out into. That’s another important reason to have gravel lining your pond.

Elodea crispa, African Elodea, Oxygen Weed, Curly Water Thyme, Curly Waterweed

Elodea crispa

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), also known as Coontail,

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), also known as Coontail


Here are 12 companion plants I grow with my tomatoes

Calendula. ...
Carrots. ...
Leaf lettuce

Plant Tomatoes Deep, Deep, Deep... a full 2/3 of the plant underground

Indeterminate tomato varieties will have a longer growth period and can produce fruit until frost arrives.

15 Clever Gardening Tricks Plastic forks to deter pets and animals,

Planting Time References

White Flower Farm See plant descr. then click on Growing guide

West Coast Seeds see plant descr. then go to Growing Guides

Johnny's Select Seeds


Plant Hardiness:

By Zip 1st freeze 11/12... last freeze 3/20

USDA 8b 1st freeze 12/1... last freeze 3/1

Rainbow Gardening by the Month


RECIPE FOR A GREAT YARD - Garden Style San Antonio Follow this basic recipe and add some of your own ingredients such as pervious pathways, patios, trestles and decks and you're on your way to a gourmet landscape.

San Antonio Garden

To either a new or an existing landscape add:

~ A good amount of native and well adaptive plants – to taste.
~ Plant for every season. There are great watersaver plants for each season of the year.
~ 2 to 4 inches of mulch in beds (mulch should not come in contact with tree trunks)
~ 4 to 6 inches soil
~ A handful of maintenance
~ A little turf if needed
~ A little water, mainly in the summer and right after planting new plants. Generally, the less turf the less water needed.
~ A good shade tree or two – if you're lucky this came with your landscape as an existing tree.

The Balanced Design Idea

Put your landscape on a turf diet with the "One Third" approach to landscape design. Plan to have 1/3 turf, 1/3 planting beds, and 1/3 hardscape. When possible, choose pervious hardscapes over impervious ones such as concrete patios or mortared brick. Pervious hardscapes are constructed to let water penetrate the ground. Good examples are flagstone set in sand, wooden decks, or decomposed granite pathways. When deciding on where to place turf think about what you are going to use it for and install it only where it meets a need. Be sure to choose the right variety for the conditions like sun and foot traffic.

Go Ahead, Go Wild!

Imagine butterflies filling your backyard with moving color, or witness the arrival of birds settling in for the winter. You can add ingredients to your gourmet landscape and turn it into a feast for wildlife too.

The basic ingredients to a great wildscape:

~ Food – Select plants that provide a variety of seeds, buds, fruit, nectar and pollen. Winter food is especially important so include plants with berries.

~ Water – Water! Yes, water. You'll be saving so much water from reduced irrigation needs that you can afford to have a bird bath, shallow-wide brimmed dish or pond. Place water away from thick brush so birds can't be ambushed by the neighbor's cat.

~ Cover – Wildlife needs shelter. Densely branched shrubs, understory, hollow logs, small brush piles and trees of various sizes provide feeding, cover and nesting opportunities for many species.

~ A Place to Raise Young – To complete your habitat, provide special areas for courtship and a place to raise young. Bird houses and nesting shelves are good in the absence of dense cover. Also, be sure to keep cats inside, especially during the spring when baby birds are fledging.

~ Predation vs. Pesticides – A carefully planned wildscape will have no need for pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Select and maintain pest resistant plants. Native plants generally have fewer pest problems. Use organic gardening techniques. Learn to recognize and care for your natural pest controllers: ladybugs, wasps, birds and bats. If you must intervene, hand remove pests, or spray with water. If you must use pesticides, start with the least toxic and use with care. They not only kill “bad” bugs but good ones too and also contribute to pollution in our rivers, creeks and ground water when misused. Control weeds with liberal mulching, dense planting and proper soil care.


MAKE THE MOST OF HAND WATERING - Garden Style San Antonio There's an art to watering well with a handheld hose. When done correctly, hand watering yields amazing results. It's also an enjoyable, relaxing way to spend time in your landscape.

Hand watering is the easiest, most efficient means of irrigating your landscape. Although it seems time consuming, the effort you put into it often yields the best results with minimal water waste.

And, watering by hand is the only method allowed any day and time during drought restrictions.

Some tips to keep in mind:

~ Apply only the amount of water needed and at a slow, steady rate. When water is applied too quickly, it flows away from the plant rather than down to the roots.

~ Use a circular motion when applying water to allow it to soak in more completely. Watering wands with a cut-off feature are helpful.

~ Direct most of the water to the base of the plant and lightly dampen leaves.

~ Be careful not to overwater large shrubs or trees. Unless they are newly planted, their root systems are well developed and don't need as much water as lawns, even during dry spells.

~ Avoid watering at the hottest time of day; pooled water on the ground will simply evaporate and never reach its intended target. Instead, water in the evening or early at daybreak.

HOW TO USE SAWS WATERING ADVICE - Garden Style San Antonio You can get the current watering advice delivered directly to your email box by signing up for the weekly GardenStyleSA eNewsletter and check the advice anytime at You will find up-to-date watering advice for the San Antonio region. We have watering recommendations for beds and lawns in the sun or shade.


The combined lawns recommendation is for warm season grasses. We don’t recommend cool season grass here in Texas.

All warm season grasses are combined because research has demonstrated that St. Augustine, zoysia and Bermuda grass pretty much require the same amount of water, assuming adequate soil is present. The big difference is the water requirement for lawns in sun vs. shaded areas. If you happen to have buffalo grass, just water it like you would your beds, that is to say, conservatively.


Beds, which we assume here are planted with perennials, are treated much the same way. But beds need significantly less water than lawns, sometimes two to three times less.

How to Use the Watering Advice

The watering advice is expressed in inches applied to the landscape. Depending how you water — by hand, with a hose-end sprinkler or in-ground irrigation system — will determine how long you water. Don’t stress about applying exactly 1 inch or 1/2 inch. Instead, use the advice as a guideline.

The most efficient way to water is with a hand-held hose. This is particularly true for beds where you can apply water directly to the roots. In-ground irrigation systems generally use the most water. Our analysis shows that homes with irrigation systems use on average 53 percent more water than homes without one. If you have an irrigation system you’ll want to carefully monitor your irrigation schedule both for your plants and pocketbook. If you are a SAWS customer, you can schedule a free consultation to get the most benefit (and least water waste) from your system.

As always, we use local weather data and proven scientific formulas to calculate watering recommendations, but our goal is to help you manage your landscape better. So before you water, check for up-to-date watering advice. Your landscape and pocketbook will thank you.

Send comments to,
Professor Colby Glass, MAc, MLIS, PhDc, Prof. Emeritus