The Truth Behind Hedge Apples and Their Place in Horticulture

Hedge apples are an anomaly that people in Iowa have grown accustomed to, but few others know much about this strange looking fruit. Yellow-green in color, this grapefruit sized fruit can be found in abundance at supermarkets and farmer’s markets, but are they really good for anything?

The Hedge Apple Tree and the Fruit

The tree which bears the hedge apple typically grows to be about 30 to 40 feet tall, but have been known to reach 60 feet in some areas. The trunk is short however, with an irregular crown and shiny dark green foliage. The twigs are adorned with long spines while the stems will seep a milky sap if you cut them.

For centuries, the tree has been used as a natural fence as the short trunk and spiny leaves act as a perfect deterrent for animals and people. This practice gradually faded with the introduction of barbed wire, but home owners who want a more natural look for their property will still turn to the hedge apple tree for protection.

Modern Uses for the Hedge Apple Tree

The wood from the hedge apple tree is bright orange when first cut, but will turn a deep brown after exposure to the air. It is extremely hard, and durable making it perfect for a number of applications. Since it hardly shrinks or swells it is ideal for fence posts, insulator pins, treenails, furniture and even recurve bows used in archery. In fact, there are archers who believe that the wood from a hedge apple tree is responsible for the production of some of the world’s finest recurve bows. It’s durability prevents splitting, while providing the perfect amount of flexibility, making the guys at pretty happy.


The fruit is considered to unpalatable, even for most wildlife species, but can be used as a natural pest deterrent in homes. Having a hedge of this type of horticulture around the base of your home is known to provide relief from roaches, crickets, spiders and other household pests. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports this, but decades of families relying on this method for a pest free home should provide all of the proof that you need.

Horticulture involves the study and understanding of all plant life, and knowing how it is used in our modern society. The hedge apple tree may not be the most sought after tree for landscaping but it certainly has valuable properties that make it worth having around.

Meet Costa Georgiadis – Australia’s Best Kept Bearded Secret in the World of Horiculture

Each week, Australian television viewers are blessed with gardening wisdom from a wild haired, and even wilder beard, horticulture expert. Costa Georgiadis has taken the airwaves by storm, and the gardens of Australia have never looked better.

Make sure you don’t let the long crazy locks and the beard that knows no balm fool you, Costa is an energetic and expert gardener who has a lot to offer gardeners around the globe. If the beard bothers you too much, just try sending him his own highly touted beard trimmer, beard balm and some beard grooming tips, and maybe he’ll learn how to trim his face the same way he is able to trim his garden.

Where the Passion for Gardening Begins

Gardening runs in the Georgiadis family, as Costa’s grandfather owned and ran a market garden in Sydney where he spent hours learning how to excel in horticulture. As he grew and went to school, he focused his studies on landscape architecture, but realized soon enough that his real concern and passion was with our environment. This led to Costa spending time abroad, learning and creating eco-friendly gardens that positively impacted the planet. As he explains, once you start on these projects, it is hard to ignore just how important composting and horticulture is to our sensitive environment.

A passion for the planet and his skills in landscaping soon began to bubble as an idea for a television show. The initial idea was for a series of documentaries, but with his unique look and bubbling spirit, networks soon realized the marketing potential he had for a regular gardening show. The original concept successfully had him to travelling to various Australian gardens to offer tips and ideas on how to further its potential. Soon he began thinking of that idea on a larger scale, involving entire communities in composting and horticulture so that they become a part of preserving our planet.


On the Verge

For his current TV project, Costa is taking on the conversion of his Verge and transforming it into an eco-friendly garden environment for the entire community. Being local appeals to the gardening expert, who enjoys getting the people living around him involved in his horticulture project. From choosing the right mix of compost to what types of plants should inhabit it, his neighbors have been an integral part of the process.

Costa just goes to show how it’s not only the gardening gloved ladies who appreciate the benefits of horticulture. Every bearded man has a love for the outdoors, and with Costa, he is proud to show it off despite his burly looks.

Does Using a Deep Fryer for Your Fresh Vegetables Destroy Their Nutritional Value?

When growing a natural garden using compost, there is going to come a point when the harvest you reap is more than you can handle. After eating salads and steamed vegetables for days, your family may start to grow bored with your garden bounty. Searching for new and exciting ways to prepare vegetables, you start thinking about that deep fryer tucked back in the pantry (that you read a million reviews about before you bought it), but wonder if that will ruin the health value of your fresh vegetables.

How you cook and serve your vegetables certainly impacts the flavor and nutritional value, but that does not mean the deep fryer is out. There are a number of ways in which you can add crisp to cauliflower and flavor to tomatoes and still keep them healthy.

Batter Matters

What you coat the vegetables with is your first step in keeping vegetables healthy if you are going to deep fry them. Avoid thick wet batters full of white flour. These will hold the oil, making the vegetable heavy in saturated fats. Instead, make a tasty bread crumb batter using whole wheat breads and fresh herbs from your garden. Coating the vegetable in egg first will help in keeping the coating on when dropping it inside. Have the fryer set on high and the vegetables should only need a couple of minutes before they are cooked through with a crispy coating on the outside.


This is perfect for broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and even mushrooms. You can then serve them like that, or with a zesty ranch dressing or hot tomato sauce on the side.

Air Fryers

An alternative that lets you practically skip the cooking oil all together is an air oil less deep fryer. These are like mini convection ovens, relying on extremely hot air to crisp the vegetables rather than hot oil. Prepare them the same way, except brush the vegetables with a light coating of olive oil when ready to be cooked. Now you put them inside of the air oil less deep fryer and it will do the rest. The intense heat should harden your bread crumb coating while cooking the vegetable inside. The added coating of oil helps to preserve the deep fried taste, but at a fraction of the fat grams.

After you have canned, pureed and steamed all of the veggies you can stomach, it’s time to look for other ideas. Your deep fryer can help add flavor and some crunch to your naturally grown vegetables, so long as you are using it right.

Starting Your Own Herb Garden With Compost

One of the most vital aspects of horticulture comes from learning how to cultivate herbs at home for your personal use. Not only do herbs provide unmistakable flavor to your favorite foods, many are filled with hidden health benefits that you can use.

The best start to a herb garden at home is a rich supply of naturally made compost. Even if you are planting herbs in the ground around the house, compost will give the soil a rich blend of nutrients that will allow your little plants to thrive. In addition to rich soil that is able to drain well, herb gardens need a healthy dose of daily sunlight, so make sure that you choose a sunny spot in your garden for your new venture. This should be a spot where the sun hits for at least six hours a day.

Soil Preparation for a Herb Garden

Once you have found the right spot for your herb garden, turn the soil and mix in your home-grown compost. For this purpose you should never work with composted manures of any kind. These are very high in nitrogen, and while nitrogen does make plants grow quicker, it also causes them to lose some of their natural flavor.

Choosing Your Herbs for Your Herb Garden

The easiest herbs to start with are sage, chives, basil, oregano, rosemary, mint and dill. Some of these will only last a season, but others are perennial and will come back year after year.

Seeds or Plants?

Of course it is easier to start any type of garden with a plant that has already begun to grow, but there is something special about planting seeds and seeing them sprout from the beginning. No matter which method you choose, make sure that you harvest your herbs frequently to encourage new growth. You may end up with a surplus, but there are plenty of ways you can use herbs to make sure that they don’t go to waste.

herb-gardenUses For Your Fresh Grown Herbs

Herbs can enhance the flavor of any recipe, and give it added color and vitamin content. You can also learn plant oil extraction techniques and use your herbs to make your own essential oils. Essential oils from a plant like rosemary for example can be used inside of essential oil diffuser jewelery like a necklace to make a lovely smelling and natural perfume. Oregano has been known to help with stomach ailments, and can be used to make a tea for pain relief. The uses are endless and go far beyond an addition to your spaghetti sauce.

With a little hard work, and a bin full of natural compost, you can create your own fresh spice rack right in your backyard. Choose your herbs to suits your tastes, and don’t be afraid to put them to work at other aspects of your life.

When Will Compost Come in Handy

Let’s face it, most people are not composting because they really don’t see any use for it. Only die-hard gardeners with acres of tomato plants and azalea bushes need to do all that right? Wrong. Everybody can find a way to use the compost made from their natural household waste products, even if it’s just to donate it to your neighbor to help feed her strawberry plants.

So besides donating it to your garden loving neighbor, where will compost benefit you:

On Your Lawn – That’s right, compost is a great cover in the fall to help protect your lawn during the cold winter months. Some people will even put down a winter fertilizer first and then cover the entire lawn with a layer of compost. Snow and rain will push it into the earth slowly, leaving you with a lush green lawn to look forward to in the spring.

In Your Gardens – Even if you are only growing trees, and not a rose garden fit for a queen, compost will still be appreciated in your gardens. It adds fresh nutrients to the soil that any plants, trees or bushes will suck right up, leading to healthier looking foliage and longer life.

As a Filler – Haven’t you ever noticed that whenever you dig a hole in your yard, there never seems to be enough dirt to fill it back in. If you have a dog and are installing one of those pet containment systems around your house to keep him in the yard, then the compost can be used to fill in the trenches. Even though you don’t have to dig deep to install the K9 pet containment system (and not at all if it’s wireless), you are still going to be happy to have the compost to help get your yard back in shape.

To Create a Playground Mound – If you are building a playground for your kids in the backyard, compost is perfect to use as a base. You always want a soft surface underneath swings and slides, and with compost you know that there are no rocks to worry about. Cover it with a layer of natural wood chips, and your swing set will look like a professionally installed playground.

swingsFor Potted Plants – Every time you water a potted plant, a small amount of the soil is washed away through the holes in the planter. Instead of wasting money buying topsoil to keep them topped off, you can just reach into your compost bin for free dirt.

Not only is composting better for our environment, it is better for your wallet. Think about all the ways you could use a little extra dirt in your life, and then get started on building your own compost bin.

Should You Bring a Composting Toilet Camping?

RV campers have an advantage over the rest of us tent dwellers in that they pull up to the site with their own facilities on board. Being inside of a tent does not afford you that luxury, and if you are camping off site, well the facilities are going to be the nearest tree. Not wanting to leave behind a mess, some campers have begun bringing along a portable compost toilet to keep things easy, and clean.

How to Make a Portable Compost Toilet

You can actually bring your potty to a campsite with greater ease then you think. All you need is a bucket, toilet seat and cover that fits on the top and some organic cover material. You don’t even have to buy that if there are pine needles and leaves a plenty at your camp site. To make it even easier for clean up, use bio-degradable plastic bags as a liner, and bio-degradable paper. Then once it is full you only need to pull out the bag and throw the whole thing into a compost bin.

Use organic material as the first layer and cover with another inch after each use. In addition to leaves or pine needles (which we like for the fresh smell) you can buy ground up cobs of corn or even coconut shells. Some people use wood shavings, grass clippings or even peat moss as well.

The-TreepeeIf you don’t have the skills to make your own compost toilet, you can buy one that is already set up with the seat and cover. Just don’t forget those bio-degradable liners to help keep it clean for transport.

Other Eco-friendly Considerations When Camping

In order to be as friendly to your surrounding environment as possible when camping you should focus on not disturbing the landscape. When pitching your family tent,  pick a flat area that is not prone to erosion. Use soft heeled shoes to protect the earth, and make sure to fill in any holes left from the stakes after you take your family tent down.

Everything you bring to the site should leave with you, including any garbage. To avoid having too much, bring plastic plates that can be washed and re-used, along with cups. Skip the soda and use one container to make powdered drinks from. Wash your dishes with an organic, environment-safe dish soap after you’ve turned off your grill. This will go a long way in keeping your waste down while camping.

Don’t forget these practices while hiking away from your site as well. If you take along snacks and drinks, keep a small bag inside of your backpackers backpack to put wrappers in. The wildlife living in those forests don’t want to have to live with your left behind garbage.

Camping is likely one of the coolest ways to fully enjoy all that our planet has to offer us. Keep it that way by practicing clean camping methods, and your kids, grandkids and beyond will have the same chance.

What Is Horticulture?

"Carrots with stems". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Carrots with stems“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Not sure what horticulture is? You’re not alone. There are many people out there who have not heard of the word, and are not entirely sure what it means. Don’t worry, we are here to clear things up.

Horticulture is defined as “the science and art of producing, improving, marketing, and using fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants.” This may sound a little bit like botany, but it is different in that it deals with both science and the aesthetics. You may not realize it, but horticulture impacts your life on an almost daily basis.

Horticulture can be divided into two main groups – one that deals with edible plants and another that deals with aesthetic plants. Both groups are concerend with how best to grow these plants, and how to get the most out of them. The branch of horticulture which deals with the production, storage, processing, and marketing of vegetables is called olericulture.The science and practice of fruit production is called pomology. Floriculture is the cultivation and management of cut flowers, flowering plants, and foliage plants

So why is horticulture so important? Well, think about it. When was the last time you ate a piece of fruit? Or a vegetable? Or walked into a building that had some flowers either inside or outside of it? Each of these things was possible in some way because of horticulture practices. Without them, fruits wouldn’t grow and flowers would die. Even if you don’t realize you are doing it, simply arranging some flowers is a form of horticulture.

Many people would like to be able to garden, but without proper horticulture techniques, some of these gardens are going to be doomed to fail. For example, one way to make a garden is successful is to use compost in it. If you don’t know anything about this however, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle. This is where learning about horticulture, and composting, can come in handy.

If you want to push your learning past the hobby levels, there are career paths within horticulture that you can pursue. There are a ton of opportunities within this field, as many as you can imagine. If there is something that you are interested in doing that has to do with growing foods or plants, all you need to do is look it up and horticulture probably covers it. Some universities even have entire departments dedicated to horticulture because the field is so vast. Check out some of your local schools and see what they have to offer.

We hope that this brief guide was able to shed some light on what horticulture is and how it can benefit people. Horticulture is so vast is truly impacts everyone in some way shape or form, and so it is important that we know as much about it as we can.

Composting Guide

"Real Compost". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Real Compost“. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Are you looking for a great way to help out the environment, while also creating nutrient rich soil? Well then you will want to start composting. Home composting has become very popular, with more people becoming more concerned about their impact on the environment. Try try and help you get started with composting, we have developed a short guide. We hope that through this guide you will find all of the information that you need to get started.

Benefits Of Composting – First, we should go over the benefits that come from composting. First, the result of composting is a nutrient rich soil. This helps if you want to grow things in your yard by helping to keep moisture in the soil. Secondly, composting allows you a way to dispose of your kitchen trash. In an effective composting system you can divert up to 30% of your home’s garbage into compost. Third, composting is good for the environment. By composting you are introducing less chemically altered soil into the world, which is a good thing. Lastly, since you are contributing less garbage, you are helping to reduce landfill waste. Our landfills are overflowing as it is, so any contribution you can make is a benefit.

What You Can Compost – So what exactly can you throw into your compost area? There are many things, and the following list should give you a rough idea as to what can go in it: table scraps, fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, grass clippings, flowers, newspaper, corn cobs, and sawdust pellets. There are three kinds of things that you can throw in, and they are Nitrogen, Carbon and Neutral. When you are composting, it is best to have a mixture of the three things. For example, sawdust is Carbon, while table scraps are Nitrogen. Too much of one thing will slow the process down, so try to mix it up.

How To Compost – There are several ways to begin composting. The way we recommend is to get yourself either a compost bin, or to make one out of a sturdy garbage can. If you want to make one yourself in order to save money, there are many instructional guides that you can find online that will walk you through the process. You want something that is large enough to hold a decent amount of compost, but you need to be able to move it so that you can mix up the contents. If you don’t want to make one, you can easily find one to buy online. Once you have your tool, it is just a matter of collecting things like we mentioned above and throwing them in. Make sure you layer the contents to help speed up the process.

Composting doesn’t have to be a difficult process. It is so simple that most homes could start doing it with just a little bit of effort. If everyone did, we would be on a good track towards improving our world. Hopefully this guide was able to give you enough information that you will be able to go out and get started yourself. Good luck!