English Ivy Plants

English ivy is a common evergreen vine, which sometimes goes by the name “Hedera helix” because of the way it twists and curls as it grows in all different directions. It comes in several shades of green, but most people recognize it the most easily when it is dark green. Exposure to cold temperatures causes it to temporarily turn purple until warmer weather returns, so this can confuse novice gardeners. Unlike many other kinds of ivy, this one does well both indoors and outdoors. There are different benefits to having it in both places. This article will discuss a few of them, as well as the proper methods for caring for the plant.

Growing English Ivy

Although English ivy can be found for sale in most greenhouses in the United States, some other countries don’t allow it because it is considered to be an invasive species. This is mainly in locations that are concerned about it taking over their trees though, such as Australia. Luckily, this plant can be propagated easily with just a cutting. It will form roots when it is kept in a vase of water that covers the end of it. Then, this cutting can be moved to a pot of soil until it becomes more established. At first, the cutting will need to be watered frequently. But once it is developed enough to go into the ground, it needs very little care. Some people give it a diluted fertilizer to help it get a head start in growth when they want it to spread quickly. Each English Ivy should be spaced about 12 inches apart.

The Benefits of Having English Ivy Indoors

This ivy has wooden stems that form aerial roots that cling to any hard surfaces that are nearby. Some people use this to their advantage to turn the plant into topiaries that form around small metal cages as an ornamental feature for the inside of their home. But English ivy can also be kept free-flowing in pots as well. It doesn’t need direct sunlight, so it grows well in any room of the house. Most people prefer to have it in their bedroom if they have breathing problems though. English ivy can remove chemicals and mold from the air almost as well as an electric air-filtering system can, especially if it is combined with other air-filtering plants. If you still feel mold is present even with the plant, it is important to get tested by a company like Air Quality Assessors.

The Benefits of Having English Ivy Outdoors

Many government officials encourage homeowners and business owners to grow English ivy outside their buildings because it acts as an effective insulator to shield out hot and cold temperatures. However, it can also be grown across fences to create privacy. And some people plant it for ground cover in parts of their yard that don’t get enough sunlight for anything else to survive.

A Word of Caution

English ivy is poisonous to people, dogs, and cattle if it is eaten. So anyone with children or pets may not want to include this plant in their garden.

Read more: Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality

Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality

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How Important is Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality?

Air quality is a primary factor in human health. Consider that while humans can endure several days without food or water, breathing toxic air can be fatal within seconds. Back in 1984, for example, in Bhopal, India, the Union Carbide plant located there experienced a major disaster due to a gas leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) that immediately killed 2,259 people. This is considered one of the worst industrial disasters worldwide. This is an extreme example of how important indoor and outdoor air quality is to preserving human life and also human health.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Generally, residences do not have extremes in low air quality indices that industrial and commercial facility may have. Fortunately, indoor air quality can be measured and tested by professionals using air quality tracking devices and air quality monitors and meters. This equipment measures:
. Indoor temperature
. Carbon monoxide
. Carbon dioxide
. Formaldehyde
. Radon
. Humidity

These are part of components found in indoor air. In the state of Florida, indoor air quality should be compared to outdoor air quality due to higher levels of humidity that can produce mold and mildew indoors and out.

In industrial facilities with high levels of production or chemical emissions, indoor air quality testing and/or monitoring is required by state or federal compliance on an annual basis. These facilities submit indoor air quality test results to these agencies for compliance reviews.

There is a difference in testing protocols for indoor air quality for residences and industrial or commercial facilities. In residences, indoor air quality may be compromised due to faulty HVAC equipment, appliances, radon or formaldehyde. Poor indoor air quality in Florida residences may originate from variable sources not found in commercial and industrial facilities.

In industrial and commercial facilities, indoor air is based on the prevalence of regularly used equipment, fluids and additives. For example, in a pharmaceutical testing laboratory, indoor air is tested for several types of gases used in testing protocols for drug components.

In commercial facilities, such as office buildings, indoor air quality may be affected by stockpiling paper for printing devices. In this case, microorganisms in printing paper chemicals may be released into the air and cause skin or lung problems. In production facilities, indoor air can be compromised by emissions from certain regularly produced products.

Outdoor Air Quality

The issue of outdoor air quality has a broader realm of issues due to the fact that outdoor air is a conglomeration of emissions from numerous sources. The method used to test outdoor air quality is to first measure the actual outdoor property to determine where the property lines begin and end. This is done so that when outdoor air quality is tested, originating sources of contaminants are more easily detected.

In some cases, air quality testing professionals may require a modeling sample to gauge the type of emissions being released outdoors. These models tell IAQ professionals the distance the plumes of emissions can travel over a specific period of time. Outdoor air quality testing may be done for a variety of emissions.

Rely on Compliance Enforcement for Clean Air

In urban areas, carbon monoxide might be a major emission released into outdoor air. However, several types of dust, petrochemical, electric and gas from production facilities also reduce outdoor air quality. This is usually remediated through the use of air monitoring devices and detectors that use electronic indicators.  In Florida, the Florida Health Department enforces the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA) to ensure indoor and outdoor air quality remain in compliance and do not jeopardize residents’ health.

Green Roofs

Green roofs have actually been around since human beings started putting roofs on their dwellings. They are simply roofs that have traded in more traditional materials such as asphalt, tile, and metal for living plants. They are becoming more and more popular in the urban areas of the world. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, they are energy efficient and cool down the buildings where they are placed. A metropolitan area with a good number of green roofs can actually cool much of the city during the warmer months and lessen the urban heat island effect, where buildings and hardscaping absorb and hold on to heat. Green roofs clean the air, reduce the runoff of storm water and prolong the life of the roof itself. They create jobs, are somewhat fire retardant and reduce noise levels.

Green roofs support biodiversity, especially in cities. Visiting a green roof lowers stress and can improve the overall health of the visitors. They are excellent social and educational spaces, and some serve as community gardens whose food can be sold or given away.

There are two main types of green roof. The intensive green roof is a type of park, with paths, benches, trees, shrubs and flowers. Extensive green roofs tend to be covered with native plants that are often used as ground cover, such as grasses. Some green roofs are a combination of the two or are large enough to have an intensive area and an extensive area.

How They Work

skyscraper-1697170_640Green roofs takeadvantage of the fact that plants absorb pollutants and dust and filter unhealthy gasses while they breathe out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. They cool off the area because of the natural evaporation cycle and by covering hard surfaces such as black tar or asphalt that become very hot during the summer. This reduces a building’s energy bill. The plants absorb rainwater and prevent wasteful stormwater run off.

The green roof prolongs the life of the roof by protecting its waterproof membrane. An exposed membrane can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and extremes of temperature. The green roof retards fires because its burning heat load is lower than that of traditional roofs. The burning heat load is the heat that’s created when something burns. Plants also absorb sounds.

The plants on the green roof are natural host and food plants for many beneficial species, including butterflies. Birds may nest in the trees of extensive green roofs. Green roofs also provide migrating birds temporary food, shelter, and rest.

What is Grown on Them

A surprising number of plants can be grown on a green roof. An extensive green roof can even support trees, but the floor of the roof needs to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of at least a foot of soil as well as the weight of the trees and other plants.

Other types of plants grown on roof range from moss to ornamental grasses to fruits and vegetables.

States Best for Green Roofs

It appears that green roofs can be grown in every state in the United States. Famous green roofs are found in Chicago’s City Hall, the Zeckendorf Towers in Manhattan and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Even the Pentagon has a green roof

 

Kitchen Garden

Bring Nature Indoors

A kitchen garden is a small space separate from other huge tracts of land meant to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs for household consumption. A kitchen does not have to be right outside the kitchen but the closer it is to the kitchen the

better. Kitchen gardens are known to produce the most nutritious fruits and vegetables than any other garden. A family with a kitchen garden has the choice of choosing what type of vegetable to eat all the time since a kitchen garden can accommodate a variety of them. It’s also an assurance to the person owning a kitchen garden that they will always have tasty meals.

Starting a kitchen garden is not difficult at all. One needs a garden space of at least 10 by 10 meters which will be in a square shape. Despite being near the kitchen, one has to ensure that the garden is receiving the right amount of sunlight which could be at least six hours. Also, there is need to ensure that the soil in the kitchen garden has no huge pediments neither is it a poor drainage soil. The gardener also must, at least, be patient to start with a small space that they will manage but can continue expanding with time. Plants will not do well if the kitchen garden is out of reach by the sun. Some of the vegetables, on the other hand,  can be grown in your kitchen in the garden. Many fruits, however, require a lot of sun and will not survive in an indoor kitchen environment. The other alternative is to have UV lighting, providing the same benefits from sunlight. Check out a kitchen designer to get a quote. They will be able to tell you if the design of your current kitchen will be suitable for natural light, provide suggestions on where to stylishly place an area for UV lightening, or a quote on remodeling the kitchen of your dreams.

After determining the site, it’s time to prepare the garden. Preparation comes with good drainage soil with nutrients, if it’s in a flat place, one can consider making a ground made of raised beds. If the soil is poor one needs to look for the good soil and use sacks or containers for planting. Many vegetables will, and fruits do well in a kitchen garden with the likes of tomatoes, red bell peppers, kales, carrots, peas, beans, broccoli, beets and all other leafy greens. All this will require a bit of a cool environment with a little bit of sun. Beans, however, can be planted in the area near that is cool dark and dry. Indoor kitchen gardens will accommodate many types of leafy greens like spinach, broccoli and herbs like the peeper. Most of the greenies bolt in direct sunlight; peas also thrive well in the closed environment but with some light.

The thriving of a kitchen garden is determined a person’s effort. The design of one’s garden will also affect the quality of crop produced. For example root crops like carrots, onions and Irish potatoes will require raised beds for more space for their roots. A good bed should be around 41cm wide and 1.5m long. Tomatoes will also do well on raised beds especially when they are planted indoors since beds help retain a lot of warmth. The kitchen garden should occupy a small space like 25 inches so that the growth of crops is easily monitored. Avoiding too much shade for the kitchen garden shortens the time the plants take to mature. Kitchen garden works best when there is family involvement, and it helps members of the family learn how to cost cut. It is advisable for people to start one when they can. The maintenance of a kitchen garden is also easy as one is only required to ensure that the plants have enough nutrients, water, light and warmth.