Perfect Topsoil for Your Home Garden

How to Select the Perfect Topsoil for Your Home Garden

Choosing Topsoil for Your Home Garden

Topsoil for Your Home Garden

If you’re thinking about planting a garden this spring, it’s important you select the best top soil. Selecting the perfect topsoil for your home garden is the first step in ensuring that your garden will be all that you want it to be. Topsoil is crucial in having a plentiful garden. The nutrients in topsoil allow your plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables, and even grass to grow. With the right selection you’ll have topsoil that’s going to make your garden shine.

The Darker the Better

Topsoil is typically considered the top 2-8 inches of soil. It’s the part of the soil that is the richest and most-life giving for plants. It’s made up of mostly various silts, decomposed plant matter, clay, and sand, and that’s why it’s so good for your plants. This is the part of the soil that will make your plants grow.

The best top soil is always the darkest. Choose a topsoil that is really rich in a dark brown or black color. Typically the darker the soil, the richer it is in organic matter which means it’ll contain life-giving food for your garden plants. Earthy dark soil is the first step in the process of creating a lovely home garden.

Choose Loose Topsoil

Not only should topsoil be dark in color, but it also needs to be a variety that is loose and easily permeable. The topsoil is where worms, bugs, and other critters like to burrow and dig and this allows plant roots to grow deeper and lets water seep in. Choose a topsoil that feels loose in consistency so your watering efforts will be effective.

Too much lumpiness and you’ll have an uneven garden bed and ineffective soil. The soil should be loose and easily tilled. Tilling your topsoil is important for a productive home garden. If it’s too hard or clumpy, tilling won’t be as easy and you won’t yield your desired results. When you’re gardening, the right nutrients need to be able to easily glide through the topsoil and hit the roots of the plants.

Don’t Settle for Cheap

There’s a lot of topsoil varieties that come at a cheaper cost because they are mixed with other debris that won’t help your garden. Avoid topsoil that have small rock particles, other plant roots, and substances. This will interfere with the healthy growth of your garden.

Invest into a topsoil that costs more but will make your garden grow and flourish. You can easily find topsoil at most home repair and garden stores. Ask a garden associate to help you decide which topsoil is best for your garden. Some topsoil bags will be labeled with different information to help you decide.

Know How Much You Will Need

Topsoil is an important resource for the health of your home garden. Make sure that you know how much topsoil you will need. You can do this by making sure you have taken the proper measurements of the size of your garden. If you’ve just planning on having a small garden or flower bed, you won’t need as much soil. If you’re looking to yield a plentiful harvest and expand your garden, having enough topsoil is extremely important. Know your dimensions and work from there.

Although topsoil is normally considered the top two inches of soil, again it can range all the way to 8 inches deep. Most gardeners will use more topsoil than just the standard two. Your garden can use topsoil that is 7-8 inches deep which means you will need to factor in the amount of topsoil to be purchased. If you’re just looking to grow your grass, then you can use up to 6 inches of topsoil.

Topsoil is sold in bags and in bulk. Usually with bulk orders you’ll have to make special arrangements. If you do buy topsoil in bulk, it is not priced like regular bags, but rather by the cubic yard. Also, varying topsoil is available based on factors like the area you live in, and a particular soil availability in that area. Sometimes the town or village office locations will occasionally leave bulk piles of topsoil for local gardeners for free. Look out for these opportunities in spring and summer.

Take Lawn Edging into Account

When it comes time to plant your garden and use topsoil, be sure to take account of any lawn edging around your garden bed. Lawn edging creates crisp and clean lines around your garden so it’ll be separated from the rest of the lawn area. It’s a great way to ensure that grass won’t reach in and mix with your topsoil. Because grass, weeds, and shrubs grow very quickly, make sure you have enough topsoil to continue proper upkeep of your home garden.

There’s a lot of different lawn-edging landscaping techniques. You could choose to surround your garden or flower bed with sidewalk pavers, steel or aluminum edges, or plastic edges. When using metal edges, make sure to wear shoes when you’re walking around your garden or you could easily get a cut.

You can install edges around your garden by digging a trench all around your garden as the first step. Next, you will want to use stakes and the materials mentioned above to secure the material into the ground so it’s not easily uprooted. Be careful not to create garden edges too closely to where you have planted roots. Skilled lawn care workers can also easily install these edges for you or you can look on the web for tutorials on proper installation.

Your lawn edges will need maintenance as time goes on. When trimming overgrown or unruly grass around your garden, it’s inevitable that some pieces may fall into the topsoil and mix. It’s important to have topsoil on hand to refresh the top inch or two after trimming. Having a lawn edge is definitely a great preventative method but you still need to make sure you’re maintaining the edges of your garden when necessary.

If you hire a company to take care of your lawn and garden, make sure the workers know to replenish topsoil. Have them use topsoil that’s of high quality, dark, rich, and free of debris.

Topsoil Top Points

To summarize, select the perfect topsoil for your home garden by choosing dark and nutrient-rich soil. Make sure it’s loose and easily tillable. Invest in soil that may cost more but will have better long-term effectiveness. Know your garden dimensions and have enough to cover the necessary depth. Lastly, upkeep your garden with lawn edging and replacing topsoil after trims and lawn work.

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Best Selling Garden Products

Best selling garden tools

Best selling gardening tools – we participate in affiliate programs

Best Selling Garden Products

As winter is coming to a slow end, I am getting more and more anxious to be out in the sun working in my garden every day. You may have seen me say this before, but I just don’t do well in the cold, dark, sunless days of winter. I have managed to sneak out and get a few things planted. I have snow peas, radishes, cilantro, lettuce and carrots starting to grow. But that is all for now. So, I spend my time inside still wishing for Spring to hurry up and get here. I have my seed catalogs so worn out  from perusing them and wishing  that I decided to take a look at what some of the best sellers in gardening categories are online. I went to Amazon and went to their best sellers list. I went through the gardening categories one by one. I eliminated pest control and items like that and have come up with a list of best sellers of the most interest to gardeners. I am going to go out and take a good inventory of my tools and see what I need to replace this year.

Composting Category – This is the number 7 best seller – Garden Compost Bin Tumbler

I have never used a tumbling composter. I just use a homemade wooden bin type structure. But, this has a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Amazon. I have read the reviews and most people seem to love it. It appears that the instructions aren’t the best, but most say it tumbles easily and it makes compost faster than a bin does. Also, several people mentioned that this cut down on pests such as flies and gnats. Anyone have any experience with one of these? If so let us know what you think in the comments.

Gloves and Protective Gear – This is the number 1 best seller – Thick Kneeling Pad


Now this is something that I can relate to. My knees always hurt when I garden. This pad has great reviews. It has 4.6 stars out of 5 with 1335 reviews. That says a lot for it right there. Although I do prefer the pads with stands to help you get up and down. Any gardener with hurting knees should have one of these.

Greenhouses and Accessories – This is the number 2 best seller – 4 Tier Mini Greenhouse

We sold the Juliana 4 tier racks for over 10 years at www.advancegreenhouses.com. This is a different brand as the Juliana stands are no longer available. But, I can tell you that everyone who had one loved them. We would have reorders year after year. It wasn’t because the stands didn’t hold up. People just wanted to add more and more stands to their porches every year.

Gardening Tools – This is the number 1 best seller – pH, Moisture and Light meter

It is very important to know the pH, moisture content and sunlight level for your garden. If you have a problem and you aren’t sure what it is it will be harder to fix. With this meter you can pinpoint your issues and work to correct them.


Outdoor Gardening Carts – This is the number 1 best seller – Collapsible Cart

Gardeners always need a cart. And what better than a collapsible cart for easy storage. Pull your garden tools, plants to be put in the ground, even the kids in this great cart. This is top rated at 4.6 out of 5 starts with a whopping 3759 reviews. 

Plant Covers – This is the number 2 best seller – Tunnel Garden Cloche

These are great season extenders. Get a head start on the growing season in the Spring, or extend the growing season in the fall.


Pots and Planters – This is the number 1 best seller – Grow Bags

These grow bags give your roots plenty of room to grow. The pots are breathable so they keep the plants warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. They are easy to move around and will last a good long time.


Potting Benches and Tables – This is the number 1 best seller – Kneeler Seat

These are great. As I mentioned before I love these kneelers that double as a sitting bench. I find that the support from the “legs” help me to get up and down easier. And, your knees will definitely thank you for this extra support and protection. 

Lawn and Garden Watering – This is the number 2 best seller – programmable timer

I am all about timers and automating things like watering. No need to rush home from ball practice or some other special event in order to get your garden watered on time. Plus, your garden and plants will thank you. They are happier with regular timed watering. Inconsistent watering can lead to problems such as blossom end rot. 

Watering Cans – This is the number 9 best seller – Steel Watering Can

I much prefer to have irrigation systems set up, but occasionally you will still need a watering can. You may have one plant setting off by itself where it just would not be practical to run a system. Besides, I like the old fashioned look of this watering can. It kind of reminds me of something my Grandma would have had.

Conclusion

Tools are a necessity for our gardens. Please be sure to take good care of your tools by cleaning them and placing them back in storage after finishing with them for the day. Time to go out and check the potting shed and see if you need to replace any for this years growing season.

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Product Review – Evangeline Greenhouse

Product Review: Evangeline Greenhouse – Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Polycarbonate Greenhouse review

Evangeline Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Today we will be doing a product review of one of the greenhouse kits that we offer for sale – The Evangeline Greenhouse. We have been selling this kit since 2002 and installed quite a few of them before we stopped offering installation. This is a quality built greenhouse that is available in either a freestanding or a lean to style. We are also able to do a gable end attached with this model.

FRAMES

The heavy duty aluminum extrusions are 6063-T5 or T6 and the sheets or plates are 209.  Due to the extra strength of the aluminum you are able to hang a 50 pound hanging basket off each purlin. Our standard models are rated at 32 psf snow load and 85 mph wind loads. We are even able to supply stamped engineering with the stated loads. If you are in an area with a higher load requirement we can meet up to 100 psf snow load and 140 mph wind load. That’s a heavy duty frame! And it is backed up with our excellent warranty. If any part is found defective in manufacturing for the first year it will be replaced free of charge to you, we even pay the shipping. After the first year up to the lifetime of the greenhouse we will send you the part for free, but we will ask you to pay the shipping.

FRAME COLORS

Our standard colors are white, brown and green. Most people find that one of these matches their house nicely. But, some chose to custom match the color of their greenhouse to the color of their home. I have even had some sports fans make their greenhouse their teams color. This can be done by simply providing us with a color number from a major paint manufacturer. We are able to custom match to their color. So, the sky is the limit. Yeah, blue is easy.

GLAZING

The glazing is available as 6mm twinwall polycarbonate or 5 wall 16mm polycarbonate. We are not able to offer the 16mm in the curved style, but the twinwall polycarbonate is available in either curved or straight eave. This quality polycarbonate has a ten year warranty that it will not lose more than 6% in light transmission. That’s just a fancy way of saying it won’t get brittle or yellow. The actual lifetime expectancy for the sheets is between 15 – 20 years. The sheets also have a 10 year warranty against hail damage. There is only one negative in my opinion regarding polycarbonate. Actually, it is not a negative for me, but I hear a lot of people with these concerns. You cannot see clear through the sheets like looking through a piece of glass or a window. There are ribs running between the exterior clear sheets and they will break up your view. You will be able to see colors, but not forms through the panels. If you feel like you need a clear view I would recommend our Acadian greenhouse line. Actually, it is a “sister” greenhouse to the Evangeline. It is made with the same framing materials.

STYLES

This greenhouse is available in a curved eave or straight eave as previously mentioned. It is available as a freestanding greenhouse, or as a lean to greenhouse. We can do a standard lean to with a shed type roof, or we can build a gable end attached greenhouse with a gable style roof.

Evangeline Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Evangeline Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Evangeline Polycarbonate Lean To Greenhouse

Evangeline Polycarbonate Lean To Greenhouse

INCLUDED WITH THE GREENHOUSE

These greenhouses come with the pre cut frame, the pre cut polycarbonate panels, the appropriate number of roof vents and one door. The roof vents are oversized at 20″ x 48″ and they always come with a solar powered opener. These openers require no electricity. They have a wax cylinder that works on contraction and expansion. When the wax gets hot it expands pushing the vent open. When the was cools it contracts and pulls the vent shut.

CUSTOMIZATIONS

There are so many customizations for this greenhouse it is hard to list them all. With lean to greenhouses many people have the issue of their roof being too low for the greenhouse to attach. We are able to accommodate this need in two different ways. We can do a lower roof pitch on the greenhouse, thus giving it a lower attaching height. Or, we can build it so that it attaches to your soffit of your home. This is a common problem for people with ranch style homes or people who want a large projection (the measurement going away from your home).

We can customize the width of the greenhouse, the length of the greenhouse, the sidewall height, the door size and what type of door. We have custom Victorian trim for the ridge. Optional ventilation items include side vents with solar powered openers and motorized exhaust systems. We are also able to add a second door. We can upgrade the standard combination storm door to a commercial storefront door.

We can do custom jogs to get around obstacles that would be in the way during installation. We can even do an inverted roof (this is a really expensive customization, but we can do it!).

Lean to polycarbonate greenhouse with inverted roof

Inverted roof lean to greenhouse

We are able to adjust the door in the greenhouse to accommodate your site built knee wall. This is even a free option. No charge, just let us know how many inches high you are going to build your wall. We will supply you with a foundation sketch once an order has been made. This will enable you to go ahead and get your site work done before the greenhouse arrives.

SHIPPING

This greenhouse will come Common Carrier. Everything is securely shipped in wood containers. We suggest 2 people for unloading. Turnaround time is dependent on the current workload, but is usually 4 – 6 weeks depending on the time of year.

CONCLUSION

This exceptional quality greenhouse is a great investment for anyone, even if you don’t need all of the customizations. It is quality right down to the components used for manufacturing. This is truly a once in a lifetime greenhouse that will last for years and years to come. I personally give this greenhouse 2 thumbs up.

Green Thumbs Up

Green Thumbs Up

 

 

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Growing Mint

Growing Mint Indoors

Growing Mint in Containers

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Growing Mint

Mint, it is tasty, it is easy, it is fun to grow. A few years back we lived in a small town that had a family owned nursery. One of their specialties was different types of herbs. They grew them in 4″ pots and sold them for $2 each. So, it was not only fun to experiment, it was also pretty darn inexpensive. I remember one day we were kicking around seeing what was new. The patriarch of the family came over to talk to us. He was saying that it was pretty boring living in a family of botanists. He said the conversation at the dinner table consisted of new varieties and how plant trials were growing etc. It sounded like lovely dinner conversation to me. But, I guess I was born with dirt on my hands.

What is Mint?

Mint is a perennial herb that is very easy to grow. (A perennial is a plant that lives more than 2 years.) In fact if it is not kept in check it may become invasive. It has a square stem with opposite leaves. The roots of mint are shallow and easy to pull out. The plant has runners under the ground. These will come up as new plants.

What types of Mint are Available?

There are quite a few different flavors of mint available. There are pineapple, chocolate, orange, spearmint, peppermint and lemon balm. I have personally owned all of these plants. It is amazing how much they smell like pineapple, chocolate and orange. They are easily identifiable. Just pick a couple of leaves and rub them between your fingers.



How do you plant Mint?

Mint can be started from seed, but it is about a 90 day time from planting to harvest. Plus some of the mint seeds do not have a high germination rate – meaning not all of the seeds you plant will grow. Most people choose not to do this as the plant is so easy to propagate from cuttings. You can take a cutting off your mint plant, take off the leaves towards the bottom, and place it in a glass of water, or dip it in some rooting hormone and then plant it in soil. You can even cut the runners which have a new plant formed and place that in soil to grow.

How do you grow Mint?

Plant your mint in soil that drains well. They should be placed 18 – 24″ apart. It will grow in full sun, or in morning sun with afternoon shade. Some people chose to plant their mint in a pot inside another pot when growing in a container. That keeps the mint from taking over the entire pot. You should keep your plants in control by pulling or cutting any volunteer plants that are not wanted. You can either discard of these, or you can pot them up as new plants. Be careful where you discard your mint, as it may just end up growing there. You can either selectively harvest only taking leaves when wanted, or you can do a full harvest 2 – 3 times a year. I would do a full harvest when I am planning on dehydrating or storing the leaves in any other manner, or using them for jam, etc. The young leaves will have more flavor than the old ones. You should harvest before the plant flowers, although the flowers are usually edible as well. Be sure to keep the tops pinched off for bushier more compact plants.

Mint is also a great plant to grow on a windowsill. It would be an excellent first plant for a child learning gardening. You can start it in a glass of water so you can watch the roots grow. Just think how fun that would be!

Avoid using too much fertilizer as this will cause the plant to flower sooner. You are looking for the leaves with these plants, although the flowers are pretty.



Mint should be planted outside after the last frost of the season. The roots will survive the winter into zone 5 – 8 . The plants should be trimmed and heavily mulched. The tops of the plants may live in zones 8 – 10. They are slightly frost tolerant. Or, if you want to use your mint year round you can just dig some up, plant it in a pot and take it indoors for the winter.

What can you use Mint for?

Mint has a lot of different uses. Of course mint leaves are great in drinks such as ice tea. You can also use spearmint for a mint julep and any of the flavored varieties for a mojito. Some mints have medicinal properties. They can be used as a digestive aid or a breath freshener. You can use mint in pesto, in baking, to make extracts, jams, sauces, in salads, etc.

Benefits of Planting Mint

Mint can attract beneficial insects to your garden such as predatory wasps. These cut down on the caterpillar and grub population, as they feed them to their young. Mint also may repel mice, ants, flies, spiders and deer.

Conclusion

Once you have started your mint plants you will probably never need to buy the same variety again due to the abundance of leaves plus the ease of propagating this plant. So, go out and get a good selection of “flavored” mints and see just how easy they are to grow.




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Polycarbonate vs Polyfilm Greenhouse Covering

Polycarbonate vs Polyfilm Greenhouse Covering

Best Greenhouse Covering

Polycarbonate Sheets vs Single or Double Polyfilm

So, you have decided to build a greenhouse, but you are confused about which type of greenhouse covering would be best for you. Let’s take a look at some of the pluses and negatives of polycarbonate sheets and polyfilm coverings. We will discuss R value, installation, cost and  lifetime expectancy.




R Value

R value is defined as a materials ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R value, the less energy it will take to heat the same size space under equivalent conditions. This may or may not be a concern to you depending on how you are going to use a greenhouse.

Single Polyfilm

The most common single film used for greenhouses is clear 6 mil, 4 year covering. What this means is that the film is 6 mil thick and that the UV protection is warranted for up to 4 years. There are also some other types of film such as overwinter (this film is meant to last one year), white films (lower light transmission) , and reinforced polyfilm (with a rip stop cord).

The R value of single polyfilm is 0.87.  It is the least efficient of all of the greenhouse coverings we will discuss.

Installation can be done in several different ways. If you have a wood frame you can use batten tape and staple through the cover and the tape into your frame. If you have a wood frame or a metal frame you can use the base and wire system. The base is screwed to your frame and the cover is secured using a W or wiggle wire. This is a pretty simple installation, but you want to make sure that you do not try to do this on a windy day. You will need several people to do this depending on the size of the greenhouse.

The single polyfilm will be the least expensive of all of the coverings we will discuss.

This film should last you the 4 years that the UV covering is guaranteed for. The only issue with this covering is that you may get a tear. There is repair tape available for this. But, if you are not there and not able to fix a tear in a timely manner you may lose the entire cover. This is why some people will choose to go with the reinforced polyfilm over the clear 6 mil, 4 year. It has a rip stop cord that will keep a tear from spreading. That way you will be able to fix the tear no matter how soon you are able to get to it.

Reinforced Greenhouse Polyfilm with Rip Stop

Reinforced Polyfilm with Rip Stop

Double Polyfilm

You can do a double polyfilm greenhouse a couple of different ways. You can just buy 2 pieces of the film and attach them together. Or, the easiest way to do this is to buy a tube of the polyfilm. This is just a double layer that is already fastened together. The base and wire system is set up to hold up to 6 layers, so this is not an issue. You will also need a poly inflation fan kit to inflate the 2 layers. I have had some people mention that they think this makes the cover tighter and less susceptible to tears. I have no proof of this, but it does seem a logical conclusion.

The R value of double polyfilm is 1.7. This will save you 40% on the energy costs over a single layer of polyfilm.

The installation on this is done in the same manner as a single layer of polyfilm.

This film will basically be twice the cost of the single polyfilm, as you are basically just using a double layer of the same material. You will have the additional cost of the blower fan. These are typically around $200 or less, depending on the size of the greenhouse and the size of the motor needed.




This film may last a little bit longer than the single layer. As I stated earlier some claim that they inflation keeps the film from tearing as easily. The UV protection is rated for the same amount of time as the single polyfilm.

Polycarbonate Sheets

Polycarbonate is the greenhouse covering of my choice. It fits my needs the best of all of the materials. However, a lot of people don’t like it because of its appearance. It is a rigid plastic configured in much the same way as a piece of a cardboard box. It has a sheet on the outside, a sheet on the inside and a rib that runs through between the 2 sheets. The rib in polycarbonate will be straight vs the wavy rib in a cardboard box. This will distort your view. You will be able to see color, but you will not see form clearly. I use the example that you can see a green leaf and a red flower, but you will not be able to make out if it is a poinsettia, geranium, impatiens, etc. Of course the clear polyfilm is not exactly clear either. It will have a hazy type of appearance to it. If you want a clear glass like view, tempered glass is your only option.

Polycarbonate sheets are available in several different thicknesses. 8mm clear twinwall will have an R value of 1.8. 16mm clear triplewall will have an R value of 2.4. This will be the most efficient of the coverings we are discussing.

Installation of this material requires polycarbonate H profiles to join the sheets side by side and polycarbonate U channels to close off the ends. You will need more framing for this material vs polyfilm greenhouses. Typically polyfilm greenhouses will have 4′ or 6′ wide spaced bays. You can do the same with the polycarbonate, but you will need to run purlins between the rafters spaced according to your snow load needs. There are charts available to determine this. You can typically install this with 2 people as the sheets are not heavy and you install one 4′ wide or 6′ wide sheet at a time. You still do not want to try to install under windy conditions as the sheets can be caught by the wind and sail away.

This will be the most expensive of the coverings discussed in this article. But, it will be the longest lasting. Depending on the manufacturer polycarbonate sheets have between a 10 year and 20 year warranty on the UV. Most sheets also have a 10 year warranty on hail damage, so no need to worry about tears. The practical life expectancy of this material is 20 – 25 years.

Conclusion

When considering which of these materials to use to cover your greenhouse you should look at the initial cost, the cost to install, the cost to heat the greenhouse, and the life expectancy of the material. Once you have made these decisions you should be able to choose the best covering for your greenhouse with ease.




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