Simple Tips To Help Keep Your Garden Healthy

Taking care of your garden can be a lot of work, especially if you want the best for your plants. If you have many different flower beds and trees to look after, then it can take up a lot of your day just to keep things under control. It’s important to make a habit of keeping your garden healthy if you want it to look stunning whenever you head outside, so we’ve put together a couple of simple tips to help you achieve this.

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/LLBHaRrsA2Y (CC0)

Don’t go too crazy with lots of different flowers

It’s important to treat your garden design a bit like you would for home design. Try not to get too outrageous with your ideas and stick to simple and acceptable design options. In most cases, this means not going too crazy with lots of different flowers. Pick some flowers that you love, learn how to take care of them, and stick to them for a while. Different flowers have different maintenance needs and you might end up far too many responsibilities if you mix and match different kinds. Try and keep things as simple as possible.

Don’t overcrowd plants

It’s a good idea to space your plants out a little so that they’re not competing for space. Crowded plants can lead to issues such as powdery mildew to develop because of the increased moisture content. If you accidentally plant something that is diseased or has lots of bugs lurking in it, then this can quickly spread among crowded plants and cause a massive problem for the entire garden. Always try to give your plants as much space as possible while sticking to your design ideas.

Get some equipment to help make things easier

You shouldn’t be doing everything in the garden with your bare hands. Get some gloves, get a shovel, and even consider looking at power tools to help with certain tasks. For instance, you could take a look at a Greenworks corded string trimmer review to see if a trimmer is a good option to help you save time. Some people believe that they don’t really need powerful equipment, but when you realize that it can save you hours of work each week, it’s a no-brainer and well worth the investment!

Examine plants before buying them so you know they’re healthy

Depending on where you buy your plants, the quality of the roots and the plant itself can change drastically. If you buy from a reputable store, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to get extremely healthy roots because the seller has been taking care of the plants before selling them. Stores that don’t take care of their plants will have their flowers infested with bugs, their roots will be damaged, and these problems can quickly spread to the plants you already have in your garden.

In short, always try to look for a reputable vendor that knows what they’re doing instead of trying to go for cheap options because they’re not going to last as long.

Fifteen Reasons To Choose Camping This Summer

The summer is finally with us and now is the time to start planning your vacation. Of course, you have to check the local government guidelines for health and COVID, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a plan to get out there and enjoy the world for a little while. You’ve been locked down and locked up for a whole year; a vacation is well deserved. However, if you’re worried about COVID, you should consider camping instead of a long-haul vacation. This way, you’re far less at risk for things being canceled at the last second!

If you haven’t considered camping before, now is the time. So many people out there love to camp, and it’s not just something that they enjoy as individuals, but something that they enjoy as a family. It can be cold, it can be wet, but if you’re traveling through the summer months you’re far less likely to be at risk of cold and wet nights under the stars. The summer nights are likely to  be drier, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter nosy camping neighbors or a grass snake or two! You could talk yourself right out of buying in that heavy duty canopy, but for all the negatives of camping, there are a gazillion positives to consider. Below, we’ve put together some of those positives so you can feel good about choosing camping for your break away this summer. Let’s take a look!

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  1. You will feel so healthy when you do it. Seriously, you can’t begin to imagine how many health benefits there are with camping! Not only are you hauling yourself and your equipment through mud and bush to get to the good ground, you’re going to be working harder than usual to regulate your body temperature. You’re going to be breathing in the fresh air, filled with dewy nature and greenery. It’s something amazing to enjoy because you’re going to get so much from the natural world physically. 
  2. Your mental health will improve. Along with the physical benefits and movement of hiking and camping, the mental health benefits of being in nature are 100% worth the trip. You’re going to take your brain away from the overstimulation of screens and working hours, and that in itself is priceless.
  3. You get to watch people. A wonderful way to pass the time when you’re not immersing yourself in technology is watching people. You can see people interact and play games, watch them build fires and make tents appear from canopy and sticks. It’s like the ultimate survival show right in front of you and you’re going to love it. Sure, be discreet, but you may find that people watching leads to a little socializing – and you need that.
  4. You can go on an adventure. Camping is a huge adventure and everyone in the family can get involved with it. It’s an adventure to sleep in a tent, to hike up the hills and off the beaten track. You’re going to embark on an adventure you never had before, and you’re going to love every second of it.
  5. Relax a little and have fun. Camping is going to give you a chance to relax and have fun, and you might not have done that for a while. You can fish in the local lakes, you can climb some trees, you can even sit around a fire and melt marshmallows into ‘smores. You get to regress a little and be childlike in your activities. You may not get to do that very often, and if that’s the case, you can let loose and have fun for a change.
  6. Working as a team. Whether you are camping with family, with friends or with work colleagues on a bizarre team-building program, you get to work together as a team. Pitching a tent, for example, is considered a team sport when you’re camping. You can have fun, you can build a fire and you can enjoy working together as a team to make this camping trip as fun as possible!
  7. Spending time together. Family time is so difficult to come by. Parents work around the clock and kids are in school, studying and working part time on the weekends. You may not get much of a chance to just chill out and enjoy each other’s company when you are backed up with work and school, but a few days in the wild together is time you can build memories from. You can play silly games and splash in the water, and you can sing campfire songs and just talk together. It’s going to change your lives – all of you.

Image source: Pexels

  1. A little more space. When you are living in a town or a city, you don’t get to see much in the way of wide open spaces anymore. There is a huge sense of freedom that comes with going camping as you get into nature and you allow yourself to be in the trees and bushes. You can switch your scenery for a change, and the wilder you go, the less of a risk you will find of COVID or anything else!
  2. Appreciating those little things. Camping gives you a chance to appreciate the little things in life that you may take for granted. The things like the taste of simple food that you cook over a campfire, or wearing wellies over your pajamas as you dance in the twilight sky. Silly things like that – even the smells of the fire crackling in the warm air – it all gives you a chance to appreciate the little things in life that you don’t usually get a chance to pause and enjoy.
  3. Eating delicious food. Oh, goodness, the food you can eat while you camp! Spearing fat sausages on clean sticks and listening to them spit and crackle in the fire, and rotating your own chicken over a fire. You can make some of these delicious campfire recipes, too, and they will be etched in your memories for many years. You could go fully wild and kill, cook and eat an animal, but not many people are into spearing fish or snaring rabbits these days!
  4. A chance to learn something new. Did you ever go to cub scouts as a child? Or join in with the Girl Scouts? The skills you learn, from fishing to tying knots in rope are all skills you can use while you camp. You might even get the chance to gut a fish or whittle sticks. You can learn something new if you join up with a larger camping group, or you can put some long-learned skills to the test.
  5. Seeing the sunrise. If you choose a camping spot that has an ocean view, you will be able to wake up during the nautical twilight hours and watch the sunrise over the ocean. You can just unzip the tent and watch as the sun comes up and that’s a memory you won’t forget. You can even rest yourself on the other side and see the sun setting. All you have to do is make sure that you have a good view!
  6. You get to disconnect. The one common thing that most people have is we are glued to technology these days. Our smartphones and tablets, computers at work and games consoles beckon us. Most people have forgotten how to have fun without the addition of a screen in front of their faces, and the chance to disconnect while camping offers a huge pull to most people who want to camp.
  7. The chance to look at the stars. When was the last time you lay down and looked at the stars? Most people never get the chance to just lie in the grass and see the constellations, or spot a shooting star while you’re laying there looking at the sky. When you camp, you can take your sleeping bag outside and just lay there and see the sky open above you, looking endless and infinite.
  8. It’s all about making memories. No matter what trip you take this year, you are going to make memories that you can never get back. The memories that you make with your whole family are going to be the stuff of family legend and you can remember it every time you go camping or you plan another vacation.

Camping is very much a love it or hate it activity and it’s something you can discuss with the whole family before you go. If you enjoy camping and you’ve been before, it’s likely you’re going to have all of the skills you need, which means that you only have to enjoy yourself for a change! Taking the time to prepare and plan for this trip is half the fun, so why don’t you put everything together and start looking for locations for your next camping trip now? You can travel the summer if you have the time to take – go and chase those sunsets for a change!

4 Reasons Ecuador Should Be Next On Your Bucket List

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I think the hardest thing about traveling is figuring out where to go. We’re blessed with so many incredible travel destinations, yet some places often slip under the radar. For me, Ecuador is one of the most under-appreciated countries in South America – and the whole world. It’s such an exciting and beautiful place to visit, and everyone should add it to their bucket list. 

Not convinced? You will be after seeing these reasons to visit Ecuador:

The Galapagos Islands

Ecuador is home to one of the most incredible places on earth; the Galapagos Islands. Here, you will see some unique wildlife enjoying an untouched natural habitat. There are giant turtles, iguanas, seals, and even sharks. If you travel alone, it’s a joyous place to trek around as you take in all the beauty of your surroundings. For groups, there are Galapagos vacations for families that allow you to see all the amazing animals while being led around by a tour guide. You can’t really compare the Galapagos Islands to anything else because it’s utterly unique. It offers an experience like no other; it’s something you should see at least once before you die. 


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Banos

Banos is a little town that’s full of wondrous things for tourists to do. It’s not your typical travel destination; you get a real authentic taste of Ecuadorian culture here as it’s not overly commercialized. The beauty of this place is that it provides natural thrills for you to enjoy. There are mountains to climb, flowing waterfalls to jump from, white water rafting, long rope bridges, and even a swing that sends you out over the edge of a mountain. So, if you’re a bit of an adventure traveler that’s looking to get an adrenaline spike on your next holiday, then Banos is the perfect place for you. 

Excellent Food

The food in Ecuador is similar to most other areas of South America. As a result, it’s pretty damn delicious! You’ve got a host of sweet and savory treats to try, and plenty of small street food stalls or restaurants that serve the most authentic stuff. If you like fish, then try the ceviche in Ecuador as it’s really incredible. It’s also well worth trying cornbread as this is kind of a specialty in South America due to the diversity – you can have it with fillings for lunch, breakfast, or dinner. 

Incredible Weather

Finally, the weather in Ecuador is a good enough reason to pack your bags and head out there. The country is unique in that it sits on the equator. As such, you tend to get a pretty consistent climate all year round. It’s permanently hot and sunny, and you can take advantage of this by heading to some of the stunning beaches dotted around the coast. Speaking of which, you have hundreds of miles of coast to enjoy, and plenty of beautiful places to go swimming, sunbathe or have a little snorkel underwater. 

You see, Ecuador throw up lots of intriguing delights that make it a must-visit country. As a bonus, if you live in North America, then you’ll benefit from Ecuador using US dollars as its currency. So, there’s no need to worry about conversion rates when you set off!

Wholesome Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money

You are becoming more and more well informed on the current state of the planet Earth and some of the statistics are quite shocking. You are always looking for new ways to reduce

your impact on the environment and improve your day to day sustainability. Instead of using copious amounts of plastic and heading to the grocery store for every little food item you need, you want to start making a change. You are lucky enough to have plenty of outdoor space to try out new ideas and grow your own produce, so here are a couple of ideas to get you started on the journey to reducing your carbon footprint.

Get Creative With Crops

Having plenty of space outdoors to work with might be the first place for you to start when you’re looking to save money. Growing your own crops can not only be healthier, but it will also have huge benefits to the environment. If you want to know how to grow your own crops and get the most out of your home grown produce click here for more information on how to take it one step further. Becoming a local supplier for grain might soon be a possibility if you follow the correct avenues.

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Cut Food Waste

 

Another way you can help cut your carbon footprint is by reducing the amount of food waste you produce on a daily basis. If you live on your own, then you will realise that cooking for one is a tricky task. There are always leftovers and you don’t always know what to do with so much food. Try cooking in batches and freezing dishes for a later date; if you invest in plenty of reusable Tupperware you will always have containers to store your leftovers, so they don’t get thrown straight into the bin.

Go Plastic Free

It is devastating to see the effects that we are having on our beautiful oceans at the moment. Sea creatures are dying due to the overuse of plastic and it is our job to put a stop to it. Stop buying plastic bottled water and invest in a fridge filter jug and a reusable bottle. You can take it out with you everywhere you go and you won’t have to worry about that plastic bottle being thrown into the ocean.

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Be Smart With Energy

Making your home more energy efficient should be right at the top of your priority list. From solar panels to energy efficient light bulbs try and do everything in your power to reduce your carbon footprint and save a lot of money on your monthly bills.

Right now you are willing to try almost anything to help out our beautiful planet. You want to educate people on more sustainable ways to live; whether you are growing your own grain to sell or teaching people how to go plastic free, you can make a difference. Every little helps when it comes to making the world a better place and these ideas are guaranteed to guide you along the right path.

 

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St. George Island

St. George Island State Park

After camping in the beautiful mountains and national forests along the Blue Ridge Park (Blue Ridge Parkway , Great Smoky Mountains National Park) we were in search of some heat and sun. We Looked at the map, in search of our new destination that wouldn’t take us too far off the direction towards New Orleans. We found St. George Island, located off Florida’s gulf coast, perfect! We headed to St. George Island State Park to set up camp, the busiest camping site we had encountered so far on our trip. While it was a little warmer, the sun remained behind the clouds for our trip,but we could still enjoy the beauty of this island, after all, it ranks as one of the top beaches in the US!

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Blue Ridge Parkway

Heading South

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period we decided to drive to New Orleans for New Years Eve. We left New York City, five days before Christmas heading south. The only ‘plans’ and accommodation we had wasn’t until the 30th, so we could enjoy the drive and see where we would end up! Looking at the map of the USA, I also decided that I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way down. So we headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Scenic drive

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an absolute dream, the scenery is breathtaking.  It is America’s longest linear park, stretching 469 miles, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. Located in the States of North Carolina and Virginia. Parts of the Appalachian mountains are also included in the parkway.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is a nature lovers dream, rich in biodiversity. There is so much variance in the fauna, flora, climate and geological features.

 

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Peaks of Otter

Before we left NYC, we had decided that we would rather camp in various National forest or State forest camping grounds, so the trip could remain relatively unplanned and be more cost effective. So the first area that we stayed at, was Peaks of Otter,  now being that this was in the middle of December and we did not do any research, the visitor center and camping area is actually closed at this time of year! It was raining and getting late, and as our car is set up for sleeping in ect we still stayed near the visitors center. The next morning we woke up to a blanket of fog, I felt that the thick fog enhanced the beauty. Peaks of Otter surrounds the Jefferson National Forest, and provides breathtaking views. You can take multiple hiking trails near the visitor center. Due to the fog being so thick, we decided to hike the shortest route, the elk run loop. This hike offers a self guided ecology walk, with displays along the walk describing the forest community, very cool.

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Overlooks

Next stop along the parkway, the Head Foremost Mountain overlook and the Arnold Valley Overlook.

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The fog had still not cleared up by lunch time! I can only imagine how spectacular these views are on a clear spring or summers day.

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Curtis Creek

For our second night, we camped at Curtis creek, a camping ground nestled in the mountains at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains. This campsite was open (Closes December 31st) and works on a first come, first serve system.  Near the camp ground, there are multiple hiking trails on offer, plus the pretty creek.

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Nantahala National Forest

After hiking during the morning at curtis creek, we drove to Asheville, N.C to spend the day there ( a separate blog post). After Asheville, we continued the journey towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This time, camping in the Gorgeous Nantahala National Forest. Nantahala is Cherokee for “land of the noonday sun” a very fitting name for this beautiful forest. The forest is half a million acres of pristine woodlands. A true beauty to explore. Our campsite for the night was located at Lake Santeetlah, a mountain lake surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. A really pretty and relaxing place to camp.

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Next stop – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains

One of my major loves of the USA is the National Parks system. As a nature lover, and with a background in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, I am in awe of all of the National Parks that I have had the chance to visit, and the system that protects them. On our drive to the south, I had to make sure that we did not miss the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited US National Park. I do hold the National Parks pass, however the Smoky Mountains don’t require an entrance fee, one of the few parks that don’t! The Smoky Mountains is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a division of the larger Appalachian chain. These Mountains border between North Carolina and Tennessee and is one of the largest protected areas in eastern US. They are also acknowledged as an UNESCO world heritage site, very impressive. With its beauty and diverse range of plant and animal life, it is no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains is a popular place to visit and explore.

As we visited during winter, parts of the park was closed, I would love to go back during the spring and/or summer to explore more of this gorgeous place.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon

The natural beauty of Bryce Canyon National park is incredible. The views from above and from within are truly breathtaking. The major attraction is the spectacular crimson colored hoodoos, pillars of rock created by erosion. Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, attracting nearly two million visitors annually. Bryce Canyon is located in southern Utah, in Utah’s canyon country. A four-hour drive from the famous Las Vegas, Nevada and two hours from the beautiful Zion National Park 

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Hoodoos

The main attraction is of course, the gorgeous collection of hoodoos. The best place to view the hoodoos are from the Bryce amphitheater, which has the largest collection of viewpoints.  With four main viewpoints (Bryce point, inspiration point, sunset point and sunrise point) and access to numerous hiking trails, this is the perfect area to start a journey exploring Bryce Canyon.  

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Hiking opportunities

Bryce Canyon has a range of hiking trails from easy to strenuous. As an introduction to Bryce canyon, I would recommend beginning with the Rim trail hike, here you will be hiking the rim of Bryce amphitheater, viewing the gorgeous hoodoos from above, walking between sunrise and sunset point. Rim trail is classified as easy. Please note that the rim trail is not a loop, so the hike can range from 1 to 8 hours, depending on when you turn back around!

A step up from the Rim trail hike, would be the Queens/Navajo combination loop, this is classified as moderate and is also regarded as the most popular hiking trail. Highlights will include viewing Thor’s hammer and the two bridges. If you are looking for more strenuous hikes, I would recommend the Peekaboo loop, here you will hike through the heart of the park, with stunning views of the hoodoos and also viewing the wall of windows. Fairytale loop is another great strenuous hike, providing you with a chance to see the Chinese wall, tower bridge and tall hoodoos. Away from the Bryce amphitheater at the northern end of the park is Mossy cave, an easy hike away from the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon hiking

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Highway 63

A breathtaking scenic drive through the park. Provides a great opportunity to view some of the major overlooks, with 13 viewpoints along this 38 mile round trip. Highlights include the natural bridge,  Rainbow and Yovimpa points. If you only had one day to explore Bryce canyon, I would recommend completing this loop and stopping off at the major viewpoints.

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Mossy Cave

If you have more than a day I would recommend a visit to Mossy cave. A hidden gem at the northern end of the park. provides an opportunity to get up close with the hoodoos without descending.  It is an easy hike along a stream side to view this pretty cave. Depending on the time of year you may also see a waterfall or icicles in the cave! A peaceful hike without the crowds.

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Bryce Canyon is a truly remarkable place. The scenery is stunning and the opportunities for hiking and photography are endless. A true nature lovers playground! Photos don’t do justice, you really need to explore Bryce Canyon in person to surround yourself in this natural beauty. A unique, and breathtaking landscape. One of my favorite national parks that I have visited so far.

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