A Spy Camera System For My Orchid Garden

Security is vital to an orchid garden. Actually, security is vital for anything these days. If you have anything of even a slightly significant value, you can be sure that someone is going to try to take that away from you. That is just how the world is.

And I shouldn’t say these days. That is how the world has always been. Thieves have always existed and security companies have always tried to stop them from stealing from us.

The reason for this topic is a break and I had recently. That break-in spurred me to buy a security camera system. I bought it online from a place called Spy Cameras Reviewed. Actually, I didn’t buy it from them, but I chose it after reading all of the info about various security cameras and drones and so on on their website. They have a ton of informative reviews that really helped out.

security camera in a garden

I have to admit, the name threw me at first. I thought they would only have spy cameras, which are cool, don’t get me wrong, but just not what I needed. But it turns out they actually have more security cameras than anything else. Perhaps “spy camera” is another way to refer to a security camera. I have no idea. The point it, don’t let the name fool you. They have security cameras as well as spy cameras, plus a bunch of other home security stuff and even drones.

Anyway, I digress. The break-in happened in the garden I wrote about recently. The one where I mentioned growing orchids indoors with LED grow lights. And that is what they stole. One of my very expensive LED grow lights, along with a record player I kept in their so I could listen to music while I enjoyed my garden with some tea. I guess I should be thankful they did not harm my orchids, but that light did cost a lot. Luckily it was insured, but I don’t want to have to deal with this again.

That is why I bought a security system. It includes several cameras, sensors on the doors and windows and a monitoring system for the whole thing. It was not cheap, but it was reasonable and I feel much safer now. After the break-in, I no longer found it as relaxing as before to have a cup of tea in my orchid garden. Even though I knew no one would break in there during the daytime, I still felt uneasy.

And that is perhaps the most important function of a security system. It is not to catch intruders at all. More than that it is to keep them out, by scaring them off. But even more than that, it is to provide us peace of mind. Just having those cameras counts for a lot and makes me feel much safer in my orchid and tea garden.

One thing I noticed when I was on the spy  cameras reviewed website is that they also have a lot of fake cameras. These are obviously much cheaper, because they’re basically just the camera housing. There’s nothing inside. This is used as a deterrent and is probably quite effective. I opted for the actual real system, but I did consider this.

spy camera

Then there also a ton of little spy cameras, as the website name implies. These are really cool. You can easily conceal them just about anywhere. Most of them look like common household objects, so you might never know they are there. They can look like smoke detectors, they can be hidden in a teddy bear, a.k.a. the infamous nanny cam, or in many other normal everyday items. Then they have drones and door and window sensors and all kinds of other home security stuff.

Of course, when I say “have”, I mean they review it. They don’t actually sell anything themselves, which I like. That means they are impartial. Unless they are being paid by a brand, but I did not get that sense at all. The seemed trustworthy reviewers.

Anyway, I will head back to my newly secure and camera-surrounded orchid and tea garden to relax and enjoy it as I always have. Thanks to my new spy (aka security) cameras!


Categorized as Garden

Tea And Hammocks 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.

Little did I know that I would eventually miss that light and no longer ever feel as relaxed again. I came back to add this paragraph after I was robbed and had to outfit my whole garden with spy cameras for security against future theft. I spent a lot on that security camera system, but it is worth it for the peace of mind. Anyway, back to the point at hand.

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.

Categorized as 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.

And clearly other s love it. It was crowded and surrounded by hundreds of spy cameras watching our every move. I guess famous orchids need a security camera and security system as much as the actual celebrities!

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!

Categorized as Garden

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. Plus, growing them together means your tea plant will also be protected by whatever security system with spy cameras you have installed to protect your orchids. Not that I think someone would steal tea plants, like they might orchids, but having spy cameras never hurts.

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!

Categorized as Garden

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.

Using Grow Lights To Grow Flowers For Profit Year Round

Flowers growing indoors

Growing flowers is very rewarding. They make the world more beautiful and it is just fun to watch something you care for grow up in front of your eyes. But apart from the aesthetic beauty and the rewarding aspects of growing a flower garden, they can also be very profitable. You can sell those flowers and make a lot of money.

an indoor flower garden
Flowers growing indoors

Many of our readers do just that. But many of them are also located in areas with very cold winters, where they can only grow flowers once a year. This seriously cuts into their profits. For these growers, it makes a lot of sense to move their flower garden indoors, whether that be a greenhouse, a warehouse or just a room in their basement. The size of the operation doesn’t matter; the principle is always the same.

Well, there is one difference between a greenhouse and a room in the basement. In the greenhouse the plants still get natural light, since the walls and ceiling are generally made of glass or a transparent plastic. You might add some grow lights into the greenhouse to supplement that natural sunlight, but you don’t have to provide every bit of light your plans get.

If you’re growing in a dark room like a warehouse or basement, which might not have any natural light at all, you need to provide all of the light. This can be costly and can be a pain to set up.

On the flip side, it has the advantage that you control the light cycle completely. You tell your plants when it is spring, when it is summer, when it’s winter and when it’s autumn. This means that you can have several harvests per year.

Of course, you can do this in a greenhouse too, by using supplemental lighting. Plant grow lights fill-in extra light on winter days when the sun is only in the sky for a few hours. This means you can keep growing even in the winter. And you have even more control in a completely dark room, than in a greenhouse.

Now the big question, of course, is what do you use to light your garden. You might think you can just get some light bulbs from Home Depot. You actually wouldn’t be wrong. That does work, but there are much more efficient and cost-effective lighting solutions. Regular lights simply don’t provide that much power, so you would need a ton of light bulbs, which would cost a lot of money, use a lot of power and produce a lot of heat.

A much more efficient solution are what are called high intensity discharge lights. This is written HID for short. There are two types of these: MH lights and HPS lights. MH stands for metal halide and HPS stands for high-pressure sodium.

red spectrum sunlightMH lights give you spectrum similar to the sun during daylight hours. It contains a lot of bluish light. HPS bulbs give you more reddish light, which you would get towards the into the day or during the fall season. Because of this reddish spectrum, HPS lights encourage blooming and flowering in plants, just like the reddish light during the fall season does in the natural world.

Many growers combine these two bulbs. This makes for an ideal grow environment. The problem with HID lighting, though, is that it consumes a lot of power and produces a lot of heat. Getting rid of that heat will require even more power, for air-conditioning units and fans. Those also cost money to buy.

If you have a small garden you can make do with florescent lights. T5 fluorescent fixtures are especially well-suited to this. They cost less than HID lights and they also produce less heat and consume less power, although, if you compare them on a watt for watt basis, this is no longer true. HID lights are actually more efficient.

Finally we have LED grow lights. These are the newest entrants into the field and they are slowly taking over. This new technology is wonderful. It cost a lot more than the other lighting types, but it produces less heat and uses less power, meaning that LED plant lights end up paying for themselves fairly quickly. That said, this is only true for high quality LED lights. Much of what is on the market is not high-quality so the biggest frustration here is finding the correct light.

For most home growers that are moving their operation indoors, I would recommend just using florescent lights or perhaps HID lighting. But if you are a commercial grower with a larger operation, LED lights make by far the most sense. You will pay much more upfront, but what you will save will pay for itself within a year or two.

If you are looking to buy LED grow lights, the best sizes are 600 watts and 1000 watt lights. You’ll find a good post detailing the best 600 watt LED grow lights here. There’s another one for the best 1000 watt horticultural LED lights here. Check them out if you’re interested in LEDs. Those should help you reach a buying decision.

Most Important Things to Consider When Buying Flowers

Before you buy a bouquet at a florist, you need to consider certain things to get the best flowers possible. Unfortunately, there are still people who sell flowers that are already withering or grown with the wrong usage of gardening products. To make sure you are getting the best flowers at the market, there are 6 main things to think about.

6 Things to Pay Attention to Before Buying Flowers

    1. Ask about the products used while the flowers were growing. Every professional florist will buy flowers from gardeners that use the proper products to improve the growth of flowers. It’s important that the right products are used, as the flowers will stay at your house or the house of your loved one for some time.
    2. Look at the petals of the flowers to see whether they are fresh enough. If there are any dry black or brown spots, the flower can’t be fresh and it was cut wrong. This can tell you only one thing – the florist isn’t professional, and it’s better to move on. Such flowers will die very soon after you purchase them, and you need to look for something worth your money.
    3. Inspect the bulbs and stems – don’t hesitate to look at the flowers from all sides. At the moment of purchase the stems have to be wet, which will indicate that the flowers were hydrated well. As for the bulbs, look for some that didn’t bloom completely yet – it means they will bloom fully at home and live there for a longer time. The exception is if you need flowers for a party that will take place the same evening – then it’s better to buy flowers that are open.
    4. Choose seasonal flowers if possible – this will make you sure no potentially toxic products were used to keep them alive. Seasonal flowers also need gardening products, but only the ones beneficial to the environment. The flowers that bloom in season are cheaper and longer lasting, which adds great advantages for you as for a buyer. Of course, these days many flowers are grown underneath artificial grow lights, like T5 fluorescent tubes or LED lights. These are generally fine to buy in any season.
  1. Don’t be guided by the color of the flowers, as they are often unpredictable. Flowers can change their color with time, so when you are going to a florist, don’t think of the color, think of the flower. Orchids are especially susceptible to this.
  2. There are days when white roses look the best, but there are also days when they look grey or have dark spots on them. Don’t force yourself to buy those roses just because you’ve decided you wanted them.
  3. Think of the place the flowers will be placed at – both the room and the vase. Will they fit inside the vase? Will they correlate with the design of the room? Where will they be placed? Think of all those things if you know them beforehand, and if you don’t – buy something of your liking.


Make these 6 things your guide every time you go to a florist to buy flowers. These rules will never disappoint you, and you will be able to find the best florist using them. Choose seasonal, ask questions, inspect the flowers – and you will always be the winner.

A Guide to Feeding the Stems of the Flowers You Buy

The most important thing that can be done to flowers so they last longer is providing them with proper care. Starting with the time they grow, gardeners add different products to the ground to feed the plants so they produce beautiful healthy flowers. This is especially true for finicky flowers like orchids. Then they cut them properly before sending to florists who take further care of them. Continuing, the florists place the flowers into water and add more “feeding” there so the flowers wait patiently for you to buy them and for them to bloom at your house.

Of course, flowers need to feed on light and might need artificial sources, but what else is done to feed the flowers well?

Handling and Feeding the Stems

Many people wonder what is the best thing to do to the stems to help them remain healthy – burning, putting into water, searing, or anything else? The most recommended procedure by the professional florists is to put the stems of the flowers that begin to flop into boiling water. The time depends on the flower (from 10 to 60 seconds) – the woodier the stem is, the more time it needs. Make sure you don’t boil them, and don’t pour more than 2.5-5 cm of water into a mug or a vase.

You should sear about 10% of the stem, about as much as you’ve cut prior to it. If the stems are very short, make sure you avoid the steam damaging the heads of the flowers. Put them into paper or any other material that will keep them away from the hot environment. Searing usually helps even when the flowers are severely flopped, and they stay for much longer.

As for the feeding, you need to add some to the water you have in the vase. You can buy some flower food or make your own if you wish – anything will suffice if the brand is reliable. The feeding should contain some acids, like bleaches, vinegar, or lemon juice. This will prevent the bacteria from developing in the water and damaging the flowers. Usual tap water is usually alkaline, and it’s a perfect environment for bacteria that make the water stink and damage stem ends.

For an average 30-cm vase, a teaspoon of bleach or about 5 tablespoons of vinegar will suffice. Some people also add aspirin that contains salicylic acid, or lemonade that contains citric acid and sugar.

Sugar, by the way, is another popular contaminant of many flower foods, but you also need to remember that it may feed the bugs too. It means you need to use some acid in any case, and put the food as written in the instructions.

To Sum Up

Feeding flowers is crucial for their wellbeing, just as for ours, so it’s important to provide the food to them during all their lifespan. Gardeners add special products to the ground so the flowers become stronger and more beautiful. Florists also use special techniques, and some of them can be continued by you at home. Simply adding some acid and sugar to the water will prevent bacteria from developing and feed the flowers so they stay fresh for a longer time.