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relaxing in hammock in garden

Hammocks With Tea Are Perfect For Enjoying Your Garden

When you imagine pure bliss and relaxation, what do you see?

For me, I see myself swinging from between two trees in a hammock on a warm summer’s evening with a hot cup of tea in my hand.

relaxing in hammock in garden
This is a Mayan hammock in a garden

I know I’ve previously mentioned adding a gazebo to my orchid garden so I could watch the orchids from a nice relaxing spot. I also wanted to keep an eye on my new tea garden. But I quickly realized that, while the gazebo is wonderful, it is a little hard, even with cushions. It just isn’t as relaxing as it could be.

But a hammock is relaxing. In fact, I would argue that nothing is more relaxing than a hammock. Some people might say a bed, but I actually feel a hammock is more comfortable than a bed. In a bed you still feel pressure from below on your body. That is why people get bed sores if they lie in bed too long in the same position. You cannot get those kind of sores in a hammock. A hammock exerts the same amount of pressure on every part of your body that touches it, so there is no spot where more pressure is being exerted. Thus, you don’t get sores.

Swinging in a hammock is as close as you can get to floating in the air. It is as close as you can get to weightlessness. Knowing all this, I’m surprised that I didn’t think of getting a hammock before. I think it would even work well in an indoor garden under LED grow lights or similar horticultural lighting. But obviously, feeling the real sun on your face is preferable.

Now that I did decide to get a hammock, I needed to choose which one. I’ve been reading up and there so many different types of hammocks. I found a great buying guide that helps you choose the right hammock and it helped me out a lot. I learned about things like tree tents and cacoon pods, but in the end I decided to go with the regular hammock.

enjoying cup of tea in parachute hammock
This is a parachute hammock

I still had to choose among Mayan hammocks or Brazilian hammocks or Nicaraguan hammocks or just plain old parachute hammocks. The one hammock I didn’t want is the one I actually pictured in the beginning. That is the rope hammock. It turns out it is the most uncomfortable of all the hammocks and I actually knew that to be true. Whenever I was in a rope hammock, I would soon start to feel uncomfortable after 20 minutes or so. In a real hammock, you do not start to feel that feeling of discomfort.

After my research, I ended up going with a Mayan hammock. I chose a brand called Warimba. They are very expensive, probably the most expensive Mayan hammocks on the market. But they are absolutely gorgeous and make a perfect fit for my garden. I wanted something that is not only comfortable but also beautiful and these handcrafted Mayan hammocks fit the bill perfectly.

If you have a garden, you owe it to yourself to get yourself a hammock to truly enjoy that garden. Think of yourself with a nice cup of tea, be it green tea, black tea, white tea or any other kind of tea, and gazing out at your orchids or your other flowers in your beautiful garden. This is the hammock lifestyle.

singaporean girl smelling orchid in garden

Visiting The National Orchid Garden In Singapore

singaporean girl smelling orchid in gardenTwo months ago I finally got the opportunity to visit Asia and of course I made a stop in Singapore. It has been my dream to visit the city for a long time. And one of the big reasons is the famous orchid garden.

The National Orchid Garden is actually located within the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It’s a world-famous garden, but surprisingly, it has only been open for a little over 20 years.

It is located on top of the highest hill within the Botanic Gardens and in total, it has over 60,000 orchid plants. You will find 1000 different species and over 2000 different hybrids.

The garden was designed around the theme of color, with plants separated into four different color zones. You have the spring zone, which has a lot of bright shades like gold and yellow, the summer zone with a lot of strong reds and pinks, the autumn zone which has more muted colors and the winter zone which features whites and blues. Other trees, bushes and plants are chosen specifically to match the orchids and to fit in with this color scheme.

As a part of the orchid garden, there is a celebrity orchid garden. This little subdivision features orchids that are named after celebrities. Most of them are Asian celebrities, naturally, like movie stars and singers from China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and of course Singapore. But they also have orchids named after celebrities we in the West would recognize. For example, I saw a Margaret Thatcher orchid.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this little celebrity orchid garden was. I guess I’ve never really been into celebrities myself, so maybe that’s why don’t get it, but I just didn’t see the connection. None of the orchids looked like the celebrities they were named after, so how do they choose? How do they choose which orchid would get which celebrity’s name? And why name them that way at all?

I guess it probably has to do with marketing. It probably brings in people. And I suppose, if it helps them be more profitable than I’m all for it. The world needs more beautiful places like this orchid garden and if they are profitable, then more will exist. It’s so much nicer than another sports stadium.

beautiful orchid in gardenMy favorite part of the orchid garden was the tea. That’s right, I was able to have a cup of tea. There’s a little tea garden located within the botanical garden, where you can sit indoors and have your choice of different varieties of tea. I ordered a nice green tea and it was excellent.

It was also nice to get out of the heat for a while. Even though the tea was hot, just sitting down indoors was refreshing. Singapore is located near the equator and is extremely hot all year round, even in November when I was there. It definitely gets to you after a while, the heat and humidity. It feels like you will melt into the ground. So stopping for a nice cup of tea was definitely a highlight. Even better, they had a couple of super comfortable hammocks set up with great views over the serene surroundings. You better believe I spent some time in one of those hammocks!

I also got to visit the nursery, where young seedlings were raised. This was an indoor area and I was thrilled to see that the seedlings were being lit by LED grow lights. It was really cool to see them use the same lighting principles that I’ve seen and indoor gardens everywhere, including the one I have set up for myself. I really enjoyed seeing some of the LED grow lights being used to grow such a difficult flower like the orchid.

If you’re ever in Singapore, you definitely don’t want to miss the National Orchid Garden. Not only is it extremely beautiful, but it also makes a nice change of pace from the hectic city. It’s hot, but is not as hot as walking around the rest of the city, because at least you’re surrounded by nature. And they have hammocks. Swinging in a hammock always makes it feel at least 10 degrees cooler!

a tea plantation

Growing Tea Plants Among Your Orchids

Traditionally, farmers have always rotated crops. This way they can grow things in every season and the different crops also add different nutrients to the soil and they extract different nutrients to grow. The different crops the farmers alternate growing form a sort of symbiotic relationship: they help each other out.

If you are growing orchids, there are a number of plants you can grow alongside them. You don’t necessarily want to rotate in this case. Instead, you want to grow them concurrently.

a tea plantation

One of the best plants to grow alongside your orchids is tea. Yes, that’s right. That stuff you drink in the morning or the afternoon comes from an actual plant. And that plant is very easy to grow, in fact.

There are a few different types of tea plants, but they’re all basically the same. They can grown in a lot of different climates, but they prefer humidity and a lot of rain. Tea does grow in tropical warm climates, but it must does much better in cooler ones.

It is telling that the best US tea growing region is Hawaii. The tea does not grow at sea level, however, but at altitude. This means cooler temperatures, lots of rain and humidity and a ton of cloud cover. This is the kind of weather tea loves.

All of the great tea growing regions in the world have this type of weather. There are the foothills of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka Japan, the high mountains of Fujian province in China, the Darjeeling area of India and many more areas in those countries and in other countries like Sri Lanka and Kenya as well.

You may not have this type of climate at home, but you can grow tea indoors just as well. You just have to provide the water and the light using artificial grow lights. If you give the tea plant that, it will do well. You don’t even need the same type of grow lights you would need with other types of plants. Tea does not flower so you only need daylight light. Metal halide bulbs or LED bulbs with a preponderance of blue light work great here.

Now I know that orchids are generally thought to prefer a tropical climate and many species do. But there are also other species of orchids that actually grow in the same areas as the tea growing regions. These work especially well with tea, but even the tropical ones work well.

As I said, tea does grow in tropical weather it just doesn’t grow as well. Of course, the best teas do not come from tropical climates. But you’re not really growing it to sell, you are growing it to help out your orchids, so none of that matters.

harvested tea being processedAnd it still would make a good tea anyway. If you want to harvest it and process it into the various types of tea, like green tea, yellow tea, white tea, black tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea, then you can. There are plenty of resources online to help you with that. A great site for information about tea is Let’s Drink Tea. It will help you out a lot in your research.

So if you’re looking for something to grow along with your orchids, give tea plants a chance. Not only are they easy to grow, they also provide you with tea leaves. Once you learn how to process them, which is very easy for most types of tea, you can enjoy fresh organic tea grown in your own garden. It might not be the same quality as the best teas from Japan or China, but the difference will not be that great.

It’s not like making your own wine, which will taste much worse than famous wines. Your own tea will not taste that much worse. It will actually be quite good. And if you’re used to drinking tea from teabags, it will be much better. Any tea made from the actual leaves, the whole leaves and not the chopped up crap that gets stuffed into teabags, is going to be better than any tea bag, no matter how expensive. So get out there and grow your tea and enjoy!

orchid flower garden indoors

The Best Artificial Grow Light For Your Flower Garden

There are a lot of things you need to pay attention to when you grow flowers, especially delicate flowers like orchids. No matter which type of flower you want to grow, you need to make sure you are feeding the stem correctly, you need to make sure your providing the proper amount of water and nutrients, you need to make sure you’re using the correct soil and you need to provide sufficient light. Moreover, the light needs to be the correct type of light.

Obviously, sunlight is exactly that. However, if you are growing indoors or if you are growing in an area that does not get enough natural sunlight year-round, you will need to provide additional lighting for your plants. Artificial grow lights make it possible to grow plants year-round, no matter the climate.

For most flower gardens, I recommend one of two types of grow lights. All the others, like the high-pressure sodium or metal halide lights, are too much trouble for our use. Leave those to the pot growers.

T5 fluorescent grow lightThe first type of lighting I recommend are T5 fluorescent grow lights like the Agrobrite series from Hydrofarm (review here). These lights provide a spectrum very similar to sunlight, although there are different color temperature bulbs available.

The T5 bulbs called daylight, which have a color temperature of around 5500 to 6500 kelvins, are the most like natural sunlight. If you get a warmer bulb with a temperature around 2700 kelvins, you provide your flowers more reddish light. This is useful for flowering. If you have a small garden you can go ahead and flower with florescent lights, but generally I would not recommend it for any reasonably sized garden. T5 grow lights are amazing to get plants to grow during the vegging stage, but they just aren’t that efficient when flowering.

That’s what my second recommendation comes in. If you have a larger garden, I would definitely recommend LED grow lights. Actually, I would recommend them for smaller gardens too, if you have the money and if you are growing plants that flower. Since we are talking about flower gardens, I’m going to assume you are growing something that flowers. For this reason, LED horticultural lighting makes a lot of sense.

As for the brands, well that is another matter entirely. Of course you could go with one of the really expensive brands, but for many applications a less-expensive light will work just fine. I generally like to go somewhere in the middle. The absolute cheapest lights usually are not good enough for flowering and are are prone to breaking down as well. The most expensive lights are, again, for pot growers.

A great middle ground are the Advanced Platinum lights by Platinum LED (review here). These lights definitely cost a bit more than the cheapest ones, but they produce similar results to most of the much more expensive lights. They’re not quite as good as the absolute top-of-the-line brands, but they are close and they cost much less. If you are looking for an affordable way to get into LED grow lights and you don’t want to sacrifice too much quality, Advanced Platinum lights are definitely the way to go.

orchid flower garden indoors

For anyone growing a flower garden, the Agrobrite series of T5 fluorescent grow lights in the Advanced Platinum series of LED plant lights are far and away the best two options. Get yourself one of these two lights and your orchid flower garden will love you for it. It will reward you amazing colors and the type of beauty you usually only see in European castle grounds.

a purple orchid growing indoors

How To Grow Orchids At Home

a purple orchid growing indoorsOrchids are notorious for being difficult to grow, which is why most people only ever see them in famous gardens around the world. Luckily, that is not always the case. Some species of orchids are almost impossible to grow successfully, but others aren’t that difficult at all. Most people will want to try their hand at the easier species, at least in the beginning. Here are step-by-step instructions to getting your orchid garden off the ground.

Choose a good species

The first thing you need to do once you’ve decided to grow orchids is to decide on a species. Cattleya, Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum orchids are the three easiest species to grow. I would recommend one of these three to all beginners. Even if you prefer to grow other orchids, start with one of these just to get a feel for the process and to figure everything out.

For those of you with a bit more experience, you are probably already aware just how many different species of orchids exist. No matter your situation, there is a good flower for you. Because there are so many, it’s difficult to get into specifics, but basically you want to match the orchid’s requirements with the climate in your area.

If you are growing indoors using artificial lights and atmospheric conditions, then you can obviously have a much larger selection to choose from. You can pick the type of orchid you find the most beautiful or you can pick one that you think will be a challenge. Perhaps you could even go for the most difficult orchids to grow of all. Good luck with that.

Choose the correct soil

a yellow and white orchidMost flowering plants can grow with regular potting soil. This is not the case with orchids. Choosing potting soil for your orchids is one of the most common mistakes, but orchids actually need a much more porous soil. Their roots need a lot of air. Bark chips, sphagnum moss, coconut husks, charcoal, perlite, and even styrofoam pellets all make good potting soils for orchids.

Your best that is to make a potting mix. Some orchid species will require a fine potting mix, while others will require a medium mix. The fine mix will use a fine grain fir bark or corn husk, while the medium mix will use medium grain. Apart from that, you also want to use perlite and either a fine mix or a medium mix charcoal.

Choose the correct pot

All but the largest orchids grow best in a snug pot. These plants like to be root-bound. One of the biggest orchid killers is overwatering, so you want to make sure your pot has plenty of drainage holes. Standard clay pots work great, but you can also use mesh pots, wooden pots or clear plastic pots. The see-through pots are actually great, because they allow sunlight to reach the roots directly and they let you examine the root system more easily.

Planting your seeds

If you are propagating your orchids from seeds, the main thing you want to be careful of is to keep a sterile environment. Do not handle the seeds with unsterile hands. You want to place them just beneath the soil in the middle of your pot. Adding fertilizer can help, but make sure it is environmentally friendly fertilizer

Potting an orchid

If you are not growing from seeds and are instead transferring the orchid from a different pot, you want to first make sure you cut off any dead or rotting roots. It might also be helpful to separate the roots into a few different sections. This way you can put the most mature section of roots directly against the side of the pot. Finally, lightly add some potting mix. Want to add just enough to barely cover the root system.

Provide the correct growing environment

a white orchidAll orchid species are different, so you want to follow the instructions for your specific species. Basically, you need to make sure the humidity is up, since most orchids require humidity. You also want to make sure they’re always getting enough water and sunlight, but not too much.

Always pay attention to the leaves, to see if they are becoming discolored or wilting or if you see any other problems. If so, you need to cut back on the water or water more, depending on the problem. In general, most orchids want to be watered every 5 to 12 days. Overwatering is the biggest killer, so definitely make sure not to do that.

When it comes to sunlight, the leaves tell you a lot here, too. If the leaves are dark, your plant is not getting enough light. If they are too light, it is getting too much. Adjust accordingly. Orchids also prefer not to have direct sunlight. For this reason, it is good to put them behind a curtain or a similar light material. That way the light still reaches them, but it doesn’t hit them directly. All of the above goes for artificial lighting solutions as well.

Orchids generally need to be fertilized about once a month. Never do it more often than that. If you over fertilize them, it will harm them. If they don’t get enough fertilizer it will impair their flowering process. Again, check the instructions for your specific species on how to do this correctly.

Caring for orchids doesn’t have to be difficult. If you get a species that is easy to care for, you won’t have too many problems. I definitely suggest doing this for your first orchid garden. Stick to the easy species and have some success, before you move on to a more difficult one. The most important thing is to watch your plant carefully, so you can diagnose any problems early and fix them before your plants suffers serious damage.

And once you’ve got a beautiful garden full of thriving orchids, you need a perfect, idyllic spot for enjoying them. Nothing is better for this than a hammock. First, good luck and happy growing! Then, happy hanging in your new hammock among your gorgeous flowers!