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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      08.09.2013 21:57
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      Gardeners do it in wellies

      As soon as we saw the large garden, we wanted the house and have now lived in our home nearly 3 years. My husband is keen gardener but in our old house his beloved garden had been grassed over to make room for swings and a trampoline, plus he felt he no longer had the time, but as the children are no longer quite so time demanding he was keen to start again.

      We split our garden into 3 bits, the bottom third into an allotment, the middle bit for the kids outside toys (trampoline, slide, swings etc) and the top just a nice space to sit out and weather permitting eat.

      The allotment area was grassed, so over time we are making it into veggie gardens. First thing we planted was several fruit trees (apple x2, pear, plum, cherry), apparently anything more than 2 fruit trees is an orchard so we now have an orchard. We then planted a large strawberry patch. Over the last 2 years, we have planted radishes, spring onions, carrots, broad beans, courgettes, peas, raspberries, cabbage with varying success. Having tomato plants too in his potting shed.

      My husband quite literally spends hours "pottering", some times the girls will help plant but are easier to involve with harvesting (especially peas...) I join in but its definitely his passion. We had a reasonable crop harvest and have filled the freezer with frozen vegetables. The trees are not yet producing much if anything (had around 4 cherries and currently have 3 tiny apples on). I freeze excess strawberries but haven't produced enough other fruit to do anything but eat.

      We seem to do very well on people giving us seedlings and its nice to be able to share produce with friends and family. Its also really nice to have dinners which contains all home grown veggies.

      We have 3 large water butts as on a water meter and so this is definitely essential.

      We also have a compost bin which again saves money.

      I don't honestly believe for a second that work put in versus food created makes gardening a viable pastime however in terms of children seeing where food comes from and growing their own veggies, plus the time out it offers when you have a stressful job makes it more than worthwhile.

      So I'm scoring Gardening a 5 stars as it keeps Mr HelenDK very happy.

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        02.05.2013 16:50
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        An ancient practice which still resonates....

        I recently reviewed the mooncup which is a silicone cup designed to collect menstrual blood. Leading on from this (and for anyone who uses washable/reusable menstrual products such as sea sponges or pads), I have decided to be brave and write about using the blood to fertilise your plants and veggies.

        Ancient Greeks used to mix menstrual blood with their seeds before planting, in some societies women still bleed together in "Moon lodges". This is not a new practice by any means and yet there is little mentioned about this in mainstream culture unless you research it or mix with very ecologically minded people. This is an ancient practice we have "forgotten".

        A lot of people baulk at this but I am not sure why. On many gardening forums you will find discussion about using urine (male is best) as a natural fertiliser and compost accelerator. This is more socially acceptable than using blood but start digging around (see what I did there?) and you will find lots of people who use their own blood to fertilise plants. I am not sure why it is seen as so "out there"...Where do you think blood and bone meal comes from? It is a slaughterhouse by-product produced from animals that are scared, full of stress hormones, chemicals, antibiotics etc. Why is using our own blood better than using animal blood or animal poo? Human blood is rich in nutrients which can be harvested far more ethically that slaughterhouse blood. The blood is broken down by bacteria before being utilised by the plant. Using reusable products makes this very easy.

        More importantly of course it does work. I grow a lot of flowers and veg and have used recycled blood for a long time. I have heavy crops of everything that I grow (apart from slug frenzies and climatic issues) and plenty to freeze. I am vegetarian, not on any contraception and the plants seem to like my uterus lining!

        PRACTICALITIES:

        So how do you "harvest" menstrual blood for gardening without upsetting the neighbours?
        The blood is very high in nitrogen and it replenishes soil and plants. Blood meal is essentially the same but is dried and powdered. Most harvesting techniques involve the blood being in diluted liquid form.

        How I use it:

        I have been using diluted menstrual blood for nearly 2 decades. I use fresh blood diluted in lots of water to pour direct on my plants at soil level or I compost it in a black plastic "tardis" type bin. There is a danger of over fertilising plants of course so I use diluted blood when the veggies are fruiting and the flowers are coming into bloom. I will do this once a week only.The rest I compost for later use. The blood can be used to prep a growing area as well, if the soil looks tired or pale.

        Using "pink water":

        "Pink water" is water that is collected from soaking reusable pads. Most people using these shove them in a lidded pot or bucket with some water in it or soak the pads pre-washing. This gets emptied at the end of the day and the sanitary wear is washed as normal. The water is usually flushed but it can be poured directly onto plants if there is plenty of water to dilute or it can go onto the compost heap.

        Using the mooncup: Simply empty it into water and tip into the compost bin, or you can use it very well diluted direct at soil level on your plants.

        Drying menstrual blood:

        If you are really hardcore (or live alone!) you can transfer the neat blood from a mooncup into an oven dish and dry it out on a very low heat as you would do a placenta for encapsulation. This could take a fair while so be prepared to check if regularly. Obviously this is not very practical for one cup of blood so what a friend of mine does is collect it up and freeze it, topping it up throughout her period and popping the container back in the freezer. Once her period is over she defrosts it and oven dries the lot. Once "dry" you will have a dark substance that will need to be scraped from the dish into another one. This can then be rehydrated if you need it or added to the compost heap etc. This is all a faff though so I do not bother.

        DOES IT HONK?

        If you soak reusable pads or empty the mooncup or similar in water and use the liquid quickly (ie within a day) or freeze it then there are no issues with smell at all. If it does start to honk then flush it away, I would not put decomposing blood on my plants or compost. Bear in mind that using a lidded pot and hot weather will both increase the rate of decomposition. You could always store it in your fridge.....

        HEALTH ISSUES:

        There could be some potential issues with just pouring it straight on the garden, blood borne pathogens could be transferred and blood can attract ants. If you want to minimise this then the blood can be recycled through a hot compost heap. If you have a transferable illness you may wish to investigate this further before proceeding. However apparently even hepatitis, which is one of the longest surviving blood-borne pathogens outside the body, only manages around 30 hours before becoming safe and this is faster if a hot compost heap is used. HIV lives for a very short time outside the body and the levels are not high in menstrual blood. Hepatitis is more of a concern than HIV but as mentioned, sunlight and heat will break it down. The reality is that any blood product can be a medium for bacteria once it leaves the body. By spreading it around, diluting it or composting it decomposes quickly. The negative reactions around the use of menstrual blood seem more to do with the whole industry built up around it being "unclean" than based in reality.

        Another very important health issue is that women on birth control pills secrete the hormones from the pills into their menstrual blood. If i was using the pill then I would not use menstrual blood for gardening as we have enough problems in nature due to the pill. Think male fish developing female attributes... not good.

        SPIRITUAL ASPECTS:

        In "Red tents" and "Bleeding lodges" used in various tribes to this day, the straw to collect the blood is recycled in a similar fashion and sometimes even built with. Adobe bricks for example are created from mud, water and menstrual blood, and these bricks build sacred lodges for women only where "Moon-time" or the humble period is seen as a time of power, contemplation and bonding with your fellow woman. Of course living in close proximity to other women often has the fascinating effect of regulating menstrual cycles so that you all bleed around the same time.

        If you believe in Karma, or are against the exploitation of animals, then the use of your own blood has no connotations of murder, taking a life, the suffering of another conscious being, no trips to big supermarkets or chemical companies to purchase blood or chemicals for the garden. Now I realise that this sounds very "woo" but menstrual blood is symbolic of something that makes it possible to create in the most amazing way the most amazing thing that there is - human life. The "energetic" power of that is far higher than using the blood from a terrified animal. As a Pagan, I personally feel that women's creative energy is contained within her cycle of ovulation and menstruation and I like the thought of it going back to the earth.

        Summary:

        Using menstrual blood to fertilise and feed plants and flowers is an easy and free way to maximise cropping or flowering. Yes many people would find it a bit "out there" but would happily throw blood meal around their garden which to me is far more "out there". Maybe some of you will be brave enough to give it a go? Apologies for AGAIN putting people off their toast.....

        I hope that I have given an overview of something that most people do not even think about :)


        More info:

        The books below both have a lot of great information on ancient "women's mysteries" and cover the use of blood for sacred purposes and gardening.

        Healing Wise- Susun Weed
        The wise wound - Penelope Shuttle

        The ritual and pagan aspects are well covered here:

        http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/January06/empower.htm

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          30.08.2012 13:48
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          A relaxing and rewarding use of your garden

          My title was the weekly assertion of Fred Loads of Lancaster on Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time back in the late 50's. It remains as good counsel now as it did then. Enhance your soil and the flavoursome joy of picking your own veg can be enjoyed whatever the size of your garden. It does not have to be back-breaking work, nor does your pretty flower filled plot have to look like a mini allotment.

          I have a very small garden, my shed is not the potting variety and I don't have space for a greenhouse. The outlook from my house consists of flower filled beds around a lawn and a large pond. Yet I harvest courgettes, leeks, carrots, runner beans and strawberries in narrow raised beds out of sight behind a trellis while fennel waves its feathery fronds behind the lavender. At over £2 per bulb from your local greengrocer this last has to be a good deal.

          The jungle- like giant leaves of a couple of rhubarb plants fill otherwise dull corners and tomatoes are in pots against the sunny wall beneath my kitchen window. This has to be a better place than those planted by a young friend on the wide inner sill of her flat above a shop. As the tomato plants grew they not only darkened the room, but from the outside looked suspiciously like plants of another home grown variety.

          Firstly, should you wish to tentatively embark on this fascinating and economically rewarding pastime, there is no need to be too ambitious. For me, two of the most rewarding vegetables to grow for a variety of reasons are also among the easiest. Runner beans need only a small area against a fence with long stakes round which their tendrils can wind. Courgettes appear quite bushy and do take a little space, it helps if they are on the edge of a raised bed so that their offspring can reach downwards. The joy of both of these plants is the hide and seek game they play with their producer. Both conceal their fruit behind or beneath leaves so that you will have to search for them. The courgette produces beautiful, very large edible yellow trumpet- shaped flowers, behind which grow their babies. As you pick them you see some small fruits which in days have become ready in their turn to pick. Last year I had 3 bushes and had to give away most of the crop so fast and for such a long season did they grow. Even then I discovered some of marrow size which had managed to escape my watchful eyes.

          Both runners and courgettes may be easily grown from seed. I start mine off on my kitchen window sill in early spring and keep them well watered until the seedlings push through. I then reduce the watering to a more even dampness until ready to plant out. If I hadn't wanted to sow seeds, the plants were available from a local nursery for £1.75 for 3 or £3.50 for 9.

          Tomatoes are a doddle and so rewarding. Grown in pots in good compost they just need staking before the weight of the fruit bends the stems then carefully remove non flowering little stems as they appear in the v of established branches. None of this attention needs haste about it, but is a gentle way of passing time when you think about it or pass the plant.

          The three I have mentioned are all flowering plants and so will always benefit from an occasional watering in of Tomorite; an inexpensive and convenient way to top up the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous in your soil. Not suitable for stuff you don't want to flower, though, like rhubarb.

          Leeks will grow in ordinary soil and don't like manury stuff if you want them tender. They will stay in the soil until you need them, so there is no hurry to harvest and worry about storage. I have a couple of dozen (half of which will mature earlier than the other variety).

          You haven't tasted rhubarb as it should be unless you have grown your own. Here it is that Fred Loads of Lancaster's insistence that "The answer lies in the soil" is proved. Last year I asked the nurseryman from whom I bought the crowns why my fruit was so sweet. After all it was just an old fashioned and standard Victoria variety. He told me that it was the soil it was planted in. This happened to be the used stuff from pots emptied at the end of summer, thrown in a heap in a corner and forgotten for a couple of years. There was so much I used it to start my rhubarb bed and added some old manure. A lucky chance.

          The single strawberry plant I put in last year has now set so many runners that I shall have to find a tub with holes in to transplant the little ones for next year. These also have the advantage of actually liking frost.

          Most of my veggies were bought in single pots and cost a fraction of what I would have to pay with the weekly shop Everything is behind this year, but I am about to harvest my first large juicy tomatoes (money maker).

          "Huh!" you ask, "What about all that digging and bending and gum boot stuff?". Don't worry. I am not talking rows of potatoes, although I do need help to bring in my bags of compost. This is a few plants transferred to their space at a time. The same with harvesting. It feels so relaxed and leisured to wander around my garden with a handful of runner beans, a courgette for tonight's stir fry and stop for a moment to twist off a few stems of rhubarb. This last will have re-grown in just over a week.

          A most important task is watering. Most vegetables need plenty of water and reasonably good light to prosper. Should you feel the tug of addiction, you will hopefully become bold enough to look for varieties of choice and take a peep on the internet for added tips.

          My review is not an expert's guide to gardening, rather in hope that the reader with a patch of ground can know that veg growing can be an unhurried, absorbing pastime with real benefits. When you reach the moment when you proudly hand a friend a few leeks and a handful of tomatoes with the words, "Picked 'em half an hour ago." there is no going back.

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            23.07.2010 10:17
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            Cheap for those who can afford it

            As waiting lists for allotments grow faster than a courgette on a warm day after rain, I am curious as to why we are all exhorted to grow our own veg.

            Do the forces that promote grow-your-own regard it as a healthy leisure activity whose by-product is home-grown food, or do they want it to be a food-production activity that improves our nutrition and increases national food resources? Both objectives are valid, but they are not compatible.

            As long as allotments are regarded as extensions of private space we remain free to pursue inefficient, wasteful horticulture for leisure and pleasure. Unnecessary raised beds built on good soil but filled with compost collected by car from a garden centre go uncensored, for such aberrations are no more harmful than many other pastimes.

            As a food-production activity grow-your-own is harder to justify. The compost that flat-dwellers need to grow edible plants in pots has to be individually bought and transported. Even on allotments it is hard to achieve the efficiency and reliability of commercial growers, and I would be worried sick if I had to subsist off my plot. Moreover, despite the pittance we pay for our plots, home-grown veg must be the world's most expensive food. The exception is high-value produce, but my annual feasts of subsidised raspberries and asparagus contribute little to national food security.

            I mendaciously accept all the free seeds and fact sheets on offer, but it is British farmers and market gardeners whom I trust to put first-class food on my plate. In our own interests we should offer them some of the encouragement now available to hobby gardeners.

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            28.09.2009 11:46
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            Create Your Own Little Haven

            I quite admire other peoples gardens and am amazed at the wonderful things that some people can do with their outside spaces. I unfortunately up until recently only had the odd plant in my house which I have to say I only ever noticed when someone pointed out to me that they had died and probably had in fact been dead for several weeks. This may have been something to do with the fact that I had neglected to give them any food or water since their day of purchase. I have to confess I never actually purposefully went out to buy plants all of the ones that I had where given to me by other people well meaning friends and family members who presumed that I was a responsible enough adult who would in fact be able to look after a plant. Don't get me wrong I love plants however I at that time was not in the correct mind-set to involve their maintenance as part of my daily routine hence their tragic ending.

            I moved recently from the city to a beautiful part of the world in Oxford. My new house although beautiful has a rather large garden which has been somewhat neglected for a good few months and was rather over-grown when we moved in. My neighbours gardens on the other hand would have been a welcome addition at the Chelsea Flower show. So not wishing to be the "talk of the steamie" so to speak I decided that I would have to teach myself gardening in a pretty timely fashion. Well I wasn't sure where to begin in all honesty however I had a secret weapon who was coming to stay with me for a week in the form of my dear old dad so I decided that it would be a good time to take a master class in gardening from him.

            I thought that topiary and water features could wait until next year I had to learn to crawl before I could walk after all. I was more concerned with tidying up my beds and borders hark at me getting technical already!!! Actually dad told me this. My first stop was a visit to my local DIY store. Well there wasn't much call for a lawnmower in my previous flat now was there. I was actually quite amazed at how much they managed to fleece out of me. Rakes, shovels, lawnmover, gloves, watering can, garden hose.......the list was endless and that was before I had even decide on what particular plants that my garden was going to be graced with.

            I thought that nursing was a demanding job. Once I had been trained on what not to pull out of my borders I began the rather tedious task of pulling out weeds and boy there was a plenty. However I must be crazy as after an hour or so had gone by and I could start to see the fruits of my labour. I found myself slowly starting to actually enjoy myself! Was it possible that I had actually found my second calling in life and was about to become a novice gardener!!! I had decided to go for the low maintenance option well I do work long hours and with hubby constantly away protecting us all in foreign climes I realised that I wouldn't be able to spend too much time on overall maintenance.

            Dad did all the fancy stuff cutting back hedges, mowing the ten foot grass and putting down weed killer on the patio area. In addition he stained the fence and planted things????? I could almost visualise myself sitting outside reading my book with a chilled glass of wine however we had a long way to go before getting to this point. I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the transformation was actually taking place. It is amazing what you can achieve with some hard-work and determination.

            I literally went to the tip for an entire afternoon getting rid of the vast rubble sacks of waste that had accumulated. Containing everything from broken bits of slab to excess soil and grass no longer required. My main fear of course was due to not the powerful machinery like strimmers and the lawn-mower which actually could do me some real harm it was In fact the little pests which joined me from time to time. Ok I was digging up their habitat after all. Worms, bugs and other crawling things. I have to say though I surprised myself and after a while after eyeing up various creatures I actually chilled out a little and started to face my rather irrational fears picking them up rather shakily at first and moving them to oneside. Much to the amusement of dad I have to say. Afterall as he so rightly pointed out what was a worm going to do "strangle me" or would a slug "sucker me to death". I find it quite funny now just thinking about it and oh the years of my life which have been wasted on these trivial little creatures!!!

            Fast-forward now to around three weeks later with dad returning home for a break!!! I have a very low maintenance but pretty garden. I of course returned to B&Q and purchased some wooden garden furniture to enable me to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine on the evenings. It only took me three weeks to assemble as well!! I am certainly by no means an expert in the garden now however I have discovered a new found appreciation for the hobby which I shied away from for so long. I know they say that your tastes change over the years I never would have thought of myself as a gardener. It is great now to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labour. I already have plans in place for putting in a rockery and a small herb garden. Perhaps I will reserve that place at Chelsea afterall!!!!!

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              14.09.2009 19:47
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              Save Money growing Your own food.

              For a few years now lv been re-designing my small back garden to grow only veg and cutting flowers for money saving.
              Its possible to grow food for very little cost apart from perhaps a few special seeds and gardening tools.
              l thought l'd share hints & tips lv tried and tested.
              Although my tips are mostly to help me from a disabled view point, l'm sure many reading this will find them useful for any one who wished to garden on a small space and to try and save money.
              l decided to write in monthly order as the hints and tips are easier to follow.
              **new hints and tips are add at top of each month.

              JAN-APRIL

              *try and make a bird table.l made mine from a tall thick tree log,that has a few side branches cut down. l hang hm colour glass tea lights from them for warm summer evenings when we are eating out -side.The top is just a piece of recycled sq ft flat wood.We get loads of birds feeding from this and the birds will eat the greenfly in the garden. Also l made a small narrow pond from 2 green poundland troughs,sunk into the ground. This is next to my lawn on one side and acts as edging to my fruiting hedge by back garden fence.the hedge has blackberrys, blackcurrents,redcurrents,raspberrys,gooseberries,and under these strawberries. l get frogs in these tiny ponds and these will each slugs in the garden.
              *if you havent already done so consider taking out a garden mag subscription as many give free veg/flower seeds each issue . These save me the cost of buying seeds during the year.You also get info to read and also many subs give fantastic free gifts to take on the subscription. Last year l got a large garden clouche,worth £32 which was good as the sub was only £26 a year,with feed seeds each issue. The year before l got very expensive pruning sheers for free.
              *save as many clear A4 size plastic bags, from these mag subs etc. These are to use to put on yr pots of seeds,sealed with elastic bands to act as mini greenhouses.
              *save lidded biscuit tins from xmas,these make great storage containers for your seed packets.~The square tins(and pots/containers) are the best,as it saves space on the greenhouse shelves. Every bit of space will be used in your greenhouse for seedlings.My tiny plastic walk-in greenhouse is full to the brim by the end of April,with growbags around the bottom for cucumbers and melons. First shelf has seedlings growing on,second shelves has peppers,chilli and flower plants.My hm cardboard potting tray and containers for lablels etc. is also on there.Then on top shelves, strawberries and hanging toms plus my radio and poundland clock. Near the entrance l have 2 hanging pop bottles made into upsidedown hangers for herbs to help repel bugs. At end of this tiny walk-in plastic greenhouse l have placed a old green recylced bin that stores all my free seed trays(see below).On top of that l have but a piece of wood that makes a nice seat for when l need to rest. Each side of this seat,on the floor, there is space to put 2 recycled large milk bottles to use as water carriers, l also bent a old wire coat hanger to hook on to the top shelf to hold a plastic bag to throw rubbish into and to hold my garden jumper for when it gets too warm in there.
              *start saving the small old junk mail envelopes we all get.These are great to pop in the opened seed packes during the yr to catch left over seeds that you will be sowing, few and often during the months.The plain white backs to the envelopes are great to write any notes on them and the envelopes are then easy to file in month order if you date them in the top corner.l store my seeds in bottom of fridge,as they last then for several years.
              *start saving well washed yogurt pots,for seed sowing.
              *l Lt plastic pop bottles,cut down and used as mini greenhouses .Also can be made into upside down plant holders, just look on You Tube,loads on there about how this is done. l used green pop bottles cut to diff sizes and threaded with green twine l bought at poundland.l hang them up at far end of my green house from the top bar,and also 2 hanging at front entrance with herbs in.It works really well and the extra weight keeps my plastic walk-in greenhouse anchored.
              *save plastic mushroom containers,to use as seed trays and well washed clear plastic meat containers. They can also be used as drip trays under pots of plants
              *cut up old tights to make ties. l cut up old black tights.
              *Any very tall straight branches,for runner beans to grow up.Short branches for peas to grow up.
              *old netting, to keeps birds off fruit.
              *old empty pen holder,to use as a seed dipper.Old plastic take away fork to use for transplanting seedling.
              *old tins from large food products to hold ties, labels,dipper.
              *l also use my childrens old toy plastic seaside buckets l found in the loft lol.These turned out to be useful holders, as they have slanted sides and with handles and are great for all the small bits and bobs l collect and need in the greenhouse, ie.scissors,seed packets,paper clips & pegs to close the seed packs after each use ,plant labels,small balls of old tights/string, short straight pieces of wood stems to hold up growing runnerbeans and toms etc in pots before planting out..so on and so on...
              *old 6 pt plastic milk bottles, to use as watering cans(holes in lids)
              *cut down plastic milk bottles to use as soil scoop for soil.
              *l recycle mushroom containers to be used as drip trays to hold potted herbs,and these are placed in the spaces on grow bags outside or on greenhouse floor)that has 3 veg plants in them.The trays are placed on top of the growbags so that the herbs repel bugs off the veg plants. My basil plant did well,standing in water in one of these trays, in a spare place found the floor of the greenhouse.
              *Buy the best grow bags you can, cheaper ones wont give good results.
              *Also l will make a bag load of paper pots from newspaper( instructions can be found on You Tube again .No need to buy the paper pot maker,just roll the ripped paper maround a tin can..
              *This month l will save old washing liquid bottles or long life milk bottles to cut up & make plant markers.
              *if you have got one already, save a very well washed out household cleaning spray bottle, these are great to gently spray your seedlings as they come on.But do make sure it really well wash, or the chemicals will kill your seedlings
              *Look out for veg seeds now as these months they are given away free with most garden magazines.The magazines are not cheap but if they have special veg seeds l'd like to grow,they usually cover the cost that l would have spent in the garden centres to purchase them. Plus the mags will give me some good hints and tips to collect.these mags l buy at tesco so l can collect points on the purchase.These seeds and the ones l get from my subs are plenty for my growing year for flowers and veg.
              *Look out for cheap climbing roses. l grow climbing ones so saving space & these will give you cutting flowers most of the summer. Also grow sweet peas,in a pot for scented flowers. l pick flowers from my garden, every Friday for my house,for most of the year,saving me £££s on buying flowers from the supermarket.
              *try and look out for small leaf ivy plants on sales(many garden centres have great plant sales right after Christmas where l will buy up loads of garden bulbs and house plants,for very cheap prices). These bulbs l will find a space somewhere to grow in the garden.These will be great for cutting and using in your flower arrangements during the year and thereby saving you £££s. Also when the ivy needs pruning in sept, l pot up the cuttings and they make great presents as house plants for family and friends.
              * use the large containers from last year that you grew veggies/salads in to now grow a few spring bulbs in(bulbs from the sales)When they have finished flowering approx May,emtpy out and repot with good fresh soil,with added fertaliser in to start the summer salads , this way you get the best use of your garden containers all the year round.
              *Read up which cutting flowers will grow in yr soil.
              *if you have garden friends,beg cutting off them of raspberry canes, rhubarb, flowering shrubs(for flowers for house later)in fact anything they are willing to give away lol.this yr l had great results from a rhubarb planted in large container with lots of veg peelings etc frm kitchen.l water it daily with veg compost tea and its growing like crazy.
              If lm given any suppermaket flowers as a gift l will always push the stems,after they have flowered, into the garden in spare soil. l have roses and greenery thats rooted this way,all for free. l have a wonderful large poundland container,full of different coloured spray carnations(they must be the spray carnations not the single carnations, as these wont root) The soil is well mixed with crushed egg shells as spray carnations love this.

              APRIL.

              start making compost from kitchen veg waste.Last yrs compost empty now onto yr plots.
              new tips..if you can only grow veg in containers then l recommend the following that lv had great success with this yr 2010.l buy my l ft approx size sq ft pots from poundland and plant the following per pot... tom/cabbage/kale/sprout/outdoor cuc/strawberry x l per pot ...or romaine lettuce/green beans/swiss chard/x4 per pot...or carrots/parsley/spinach/raddish/salad onions x 16 plants per pot. Make sure you use the best compost you can get if you have to buy this and when planting give a handful of plant food (again bought from poundland). Then water every week from May onwards with liquid plant food added to the watering- can.
              *grow honey bee flowering plants.Try and get free cuttings from neighbours or friends etc.The honey bee is dying out fast and we all need to help them survive. Plus we need the bees to help fruit and veg growing in your garden.
              l grow cutting flowers for the house that attract the bees to my garden ie,honeysuckle,Lavenders, roses, Larkspur,,Hollyhocks,foxgloves,asters,sunflowers,tulips,marigolds,geraniums.
              *l purchased a 5ft x 5ft x 6ft walk-in plastic green-house last year (2009) and its been the best investment lv made so far.
              My greenhouse has 16 removeable shelves that l can remove as the toms and cucumbers etc grow in the 4 green recycled containers that l place all around the inside edge.These will help to hold the greenhouse down.
              It even has a space at far end for a small stool l made for another green recylced bin with a piece of wood to sit on while lm potting up in there. l can go in there on a rainy April day, put on my small radio and spend a few hrs planting up seeds in the paper pots etc that lv made Jan-April.
              l also placed 6 bag for life blue bags from tesco(with ladybirds on) out -side, next to the plastic wall of the greenhouse..3 each side to help anchor the greenhouse down.lm growing potatoes in those this yr and they seem to be doing very well..ll post later how many pots l got from each bag.(update l got as many potatoes from a few ones from my kitchen as l did with bought tubers..so save money yourself this way.At the zipped entrance each side of the plastic greenhouse l placed 2 green recycled bins and planted l per bin a out door cucumber,this l will train to grow over the outside of the greenhouse, plus each bin has a space for a few quick growing lettuces.
              Last year l grew courgettes,runner -beans,toms,herbs in the 4 outside grow bags.
              In this small greenhouse,l grew 2 cucumber plants, 6 strawberry plants in pots on top shelves, 6 tom plants, 3 in pots, and 3 in the grow bags,2 chilli plants and 2 pepper plants plus many other salads.The rest of the space was used for seed sowing on the shelves.
              *If you havent made one, make a compost heap.We got ours free from the council,so check them first, if not, its easy to make one from recycled wood.
              *If you have the space make a sq foot plot for growing vegables in.
              My tiny plot is 3 ft x 5 ft,marked out into l ft squares,edged with recycled house bricks and l grew runner beans, lettuces,toms, radish,spring onions,spinch and cabbages, for the 2 of us all summer.l just empty the compost soil lv made each yr on to the plot in April, plus all the used grow- bags soil.Add a handful of fertiliser,then its all ready for seed sowing.
              *Plant up herb pots. l have 3, bought from poundland. One contains mints and the other 2 containers have margoram,chives,parsley and thyme around the edges and a small rosemary/lemon balm in the centre. Any spare space will have letuce sown there.The mint and one mixed container are placed each side of my back door and the other pot of mixed herbs are at my front door.These will give me salads and cooking herbs all summer, and need so little care. l also grow parsley in hanging baskets. l grow lemon Balm next to my compost bin,as it grows tall and l grow herbs and scented cutting flowers in a small spot next to where l placed my small outdoor table and chairs .We also have another small wild life pond and a bird table near these, made from recycled wood, so we can sit in the summer watching visiting wild life.
              * My parsley plants in the hanging baskets near back door will last all over winter, even when covered in snow, so worth growing.
              *buy and plant a few raspberry canes, l grow 6 canes against my top back fence and l get enough fruit for fresh or to freeze for the 2 of us all summer.They like leaf compost which l collect from behind of the back of my garden fence.This year lm buying and growing a Loganberry,as lv read it makes lovely tasting jam and puds, plus freezes well. Also it will climb,so another space saver in my small garden,cheapest lv found is buying it off ebay.
              *l grow one wild blackberry,that grows amongst my roses along one side of the garden. The roses,l planted l ft apart so making a hedge, are a mix of different colours and all scented,so giving me cutting flowers for the house. This is also made into a fruiting hedge. lv planted wild strawberrys under all these, as they like shade.
              * The other side of the garden are more roses plus l blackcurrent bush and l redcurrent,again easy as when it fruits you just cut the old stems off with the berries on to strip off into pots and it prunes the plant at same time.A honeysuckle grows through these.Under-neath more strawberries.
              l bought a few yrs ago l gooseberry plant(prunings from the gooseberry roots so easily,so lv now got 6 for this year.)
              Again these fruit plants are so easy to grow, just feed with your home made compost Spring and Autumn, and give a handful of fertalizer,which l buy from poundland.
              If your soil is suitable and you have the space see if you can get a rubarb plant. Fresh rubarb is so expensive in supermarkets and food markets,so worth trying to grow.
              Tip...l recommend you DO NOT buy any plants or fruit bushes from poundland, as lv found that any l have ever bought have NEVER survied. lv read others have had these fail as well. l buy my plants from Wilkinsons( plus their bulbs in sale Jan) or ebay or locla market stall and boot sales My cheap bare root climbing roses are from my local market stall.

              MAY.
              *Sow now runner beans seedsin your lean-to or greenhouse or in-doors. Use the cut down plastic pop bottles. Cut about a 1/4 off the top,put some holes in the base for drainage and fill with soil and plant 2 runner bean plants in. Grow on the strongest of the 2 seeds as they appear.You can then see the roots thought the plastic pop bottle and it will help to tell you when to plant out when the container is full of roots.
              * l grew just 4 runner beans plants up a cheap metal arch last year, the arch cost me just £4, that l put in my sq foot plot.The 4 plants,grown in greenhouse or kitchen window sill when they were l ft tall, were put in the corners of the plot, 2ft apart and the centre soil of this part of the plot, was dug out which l filled with kitchen veg waste over the nk summer months.This feeds the plants as it rots down and also holds water for the runne-rbeans.

              JUNE to SEPT.

              * look out for lovely flat smooth stones if you go to the seaside for hols this year.They make fab plant labels if you write on the name in permanent marker.You could even decorate with drawings of tiny butterflies,ladybirds etc.
              *sow a few seeds of lettuce & radish and spinch every few weeks in the sq foot plot and in your lean -to or greenhouse, to have salads all summer.In fact sow salads in every possible garden space.
              *Look out for end of season herb plants that garden centres will sell off.
              *Again look out for free seeds with magazines.

              LATE SEPT

              *Save pods from some of your runner beans for next year.You can also try saving tom seeds.
              *Make a file and collect budget food recipes from magazines/intenet etc for all the food you will now be using from the garden.

              OCT

              *Now is the time to clear up,throw away all the used recycled containers,so you dont have the trouble of storing them or washing for next yr and tidy the garden plots.aAso clean and (store plastic) greenhouse, ready for nk yr.l take my plastic greenhouse off the frame and fold and store in black bin bag,as heavy snow will rip and damaged it.the frame stay up out side.
              My daughter didnt do this to hers and the weight of the snow ripped her 2 plastic greenhouses to bits.

              DEC

              *keep a look out for offers on garden mag subscriptions.They some times have fantastic free gifts offers.lv had some really good free gifts ie expensive pruning shears, garden books garden cloches, garden tool sets etc etc***see January.

              So....If you havent grown your own food before,start planning to veg grow next year and start saving money plus you will get more fit at the same time.

              Happy gardening :)

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                11.08.2009 13:12
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                Our experience of growing our own veggies.

                This year we have decide to grow our own veg. It seems likely that Britain will be completely broke by mid 2010 and hyperinflation will have set in and all that Sainsburys will be able to offer will be brussel sprouts and broadbeans (lol). So we decided to save money and grown our own. Now this was a mistake from the start to think that we would save money. Firstly I have ducks that eat anything grown at ground level and secondly I have dogs that dig things up, so this means growing in raised pots. I have spent more this year on pots than I would ever have spent on vegetables from the supermarket! However as I told my husband soothingly I will still have the pots next year so over the next 50 years it should finally pay for itself!

                We decided to grow carrots first and I sowed on large deep tub full of carrots. I had to place it on top of an old upended recycle tray to keep it out of beak range. When the little shoots started to come through I really started to get excited. These have been really successfull. I am currently harvesting a several portions of carrots per week from my first tub which was planted in April, which is nearly empty and am just starting to harvest from a second tub that I planted in June. I am going to start another box of carrots in the next week or two so that we can have carrots into autumn. The only problem I have found is that they all fill the tubs so that when I pull a ready carrot is sometimes pulls out babies that are not ready. I may have to be more careful in my planting of seeds next time. The variety I am using is Early nanted and I just use the cheapest multi purpose compost that is on offer from the garden centres. Nothing fancy. I also feed most of my veg with Tomorite once a week.

                My next plant was tomatoes which sat in my mini green house till I could think where to plant them. My husband cleared away an old honeysuckle plant that had gone completely mad and we had a wall that faced south and west so got the sun for most of the day and was sheltered on 2 sides. I assembled a tomato green house from Wilkinsons and put a growback in and planted by two tomato plants - Money Maker and Beef tomato. Things went well till we had the first big wind and then my tomato green house gradually disintigrated. Luckily the tomatoes were fine and in the end I dumped the greenhouse bit and just tied the toms to the wall. They are going great guns at the moment and although still green I am sure that the shade of green is getting paler and paler.

                Next to the tomato I planted a butternut squash which I noticed last week has a small green butternut squash shaped fruit. I am now checking it everyday. I have a few of them around the garden in tubs, but only the one has produced so far.

                I have also planted cougettes in tubs with cucumbers and these are also producing quite well. I have at least 4 big juciy looking cucumbers that will be ready in the next few weeks.

                My other successes have been with Peas and radishes. The Peas were easy, I just had to pot up the seedlings and place in semi shade up high with a frame for them to climb on and by mid July we had several portions of delicious peas. Next year I am going to double the number of pea plants that I grow. The radishes were even easier. I just sprinkled the seeds in a long tough and up they came and are wonderful to munch on or with a salad.

                I am also growing cabbages and celeriac and have so brussel sprout seedlings. The cabbages are getting eaten so have had to spray with a comercial spray to help them. They are in pots and look to be hearting up, but I know that cabbages planted in multi compost don't always succeed, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. I won't know about the celeriac till much later in the autumn although the plants look very healthy and are getting bigger every week.

                I have really enjoyed seeing my vegetables grow, far more than I ever would have enjoyed flowers and intend to start much earlier next year and grow all my own seedlings. I still have race out into the garden from time to time to stop the ducks from attacking an overhanging plant, however the ducks do keep my garden slug and snail free. We have no garden seating left as it is all covered in pots as is the garden table and the smaller coffee table in my sun lounge, but the joy when something grows and we actually get to eat our own produce is worth all the hassle. It also gets me out in my garden more often as I have to water several times a day.

                Have a go and grow your own it is simple and very theraputic. My one piece of advice is to choose a few items to grow at first and not try to do too many. Carrots are very good to start with as are the radishes and peas. If you find you are succesful then I would suggest that you choose veg that you really like and know you will eat and can figure out ways to use when you get a glut. Enjoy.

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                  12.05.2009 10:45
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                  Dirt , sweat and tears!

                  It's a surprise to many people that know me that I am getting into gardening; mostly because they are surprised at the fact my flat has a garden. We live in an upstairs flat however due to the design of the house; the (large) back garden belongs solely to us as the downstairs flat has the front garden. The garden was a major factor in purchasing the house as firstly, both my boyfriend and I love BBQ's; as soon as April comes we clean off the garden furniture get the charcoal out and sit in the back garden with our burgers on the BBQ shivering until we can take no more cold! Secondly the garden is a decent size; actually double the size of many gardens in other houses we considered buying. There is a downside to that however

                  The garden has steps from the backdoor which lead onto a small paved area. There is the lawn which is 30ft by 30ft and stretches to the back of the garden. Running down the right hand side of the garden is a large concrete area in which we have a shed and a "patio area" where we have a table and chairs behind the shed. This area gets the sun in the afternoon and because it's next to the shed it's sheltered from the wind so despite it looking a bit tatty its my favourite area of the garden.

                  It's in the last year that I have really got into gardening as previously my dad always offered to come around and mow the lawn and tidy up the plants in the borders. In fact he used to say it was a great way to get away for a few hours from my mothers nagging. I would give him some money and tell him to "get what was needed from B & Q". Before you think I am completely spoilt I think both my parents feel some remorse for the years of torment they put me through as a child, dragging me around endless garden centres on a weekend or a school holiday. Since the age of 3 years old I have had an aversion to garden centres; even as an adult I would get a pain in the pit of my stomach filled with dread when we even drove next to a garden centre dread.

                  In the last few months my fear and dislike of garden centres has started to dwindle and maybe this shows I am actually maturing into adulthood as in the last 4 months. I have visited about 10 different garden centres and made purchases for the garden. Mr Lools hasn't even had to drag me in kicking and screaming like my parents used to. I'm not sure what triggered this momentous turn of events but it could have something to do with the increasing number of garden parties we are hosting and most of our friends started to get "coupled up" hence the need for more civilised surroundings.

                  So after my first time of mowing the lawn (and managing not to run over the lawnmower wire and electrocute myself) I looked around and decided to spruce up my garden. I visited B & Q bought myself a spade, a trowel, peat, plant food and some pretty pots. I pruned back some of the more overgrown bushes, broke up the soil and assessed where I could put some new plants.

                  I made another trip to B & Q that day and bought some plants. £50.00 worth in fact!! My most memorable purchases were two "Cabbage Palms", two Stargazer Lilies, as well as some shrubs and perennials. After planting the shrubs in the borders and all of the other new plants in my pretty black pots I tried to think about how to spruce up the concrete patio area in the corner. I moved my new pots to the area and lost inspiration so gave up on my patio.
                  Since my gardening frenzy I have taken a lot of pride in my garden. Watering my new plants daily with Miracle Grow, mowing the lawn on a fortnightly basis. I have added some Foxtail Grasses in pots and also some bamboo which is in pots.

                  Then I got my inspiration for the patio area... Mr Lools and I rushed to B & Q and bought vast quantities of wood. I'm very excited at the moment about this area of my garden "Project Decking" is well underway. The title gives it away that we are putting decking down. It's quite a big project due to the size of area being decked but the idea has snowballed. Not only does this involve building up the decking structure we need to put an outdoor electricity supply in to put a fixed patio heater and then also to put lights within the decking. Luckily one of our best friends is an electrician so all of the electrical parts have already been done (free). Now it's a case of putting screwing the deckboard to wooden frame we have built and then looking for some more plants to put in pots.

                  The next step in the gardening plan is to build up a raised flowerbed surrounded by a bamboo style fence at the other side of the garden.... So as you can imagine a lot of digging, planting and more plants to care for and water.

                  Roll on the garden parties... once we get the decking finished that is.!! Who thought it that I would get bitten by the gardening bug!!

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                    10.05.2009 19:59
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                    I love him really, even though he is barking mad!

                    I am not a gardener. I am useless in the garden. Plants look at me and commit vegetal Hari-Kari. They cease to be, they shuffle off to the great vegetable plot in the sky! I've even tried talking to them but they sulk and refuse to talk back.

                    My Mother, Son, Daughter in Law and Husband are all brilliant gardeners, I gaze in awe at them producing huge baskets full of healthy fruit and veg from diddly little seeds and puny seedlings. It all seems miraculous to me.

                    Now; I hear you asking yourself, "What is a card carrying non gardener doing, writing a review on gardening?" I'll tell you. This review is a plea for compassion for the non gardening partners of gardening fanatics! I want, crave and deserve some sympathy!

                    This is why. My husband, Russ, was born during the war. Food shortages must have had a devestating effect on his embryonic little psyche. He is totally incapable of wasting food. "Not a bad thing!" you might say, but listen.

                    Yesterday he asked if I wanted some of his fresh mint for the potatoes I was boiling. When I said yes he proudly brought some mint in. You or I would have picked a few leaves. Not Russ! He came in bearing a sprig of mint that was big enough to thatch the roof with. I took a few leaves off it and he went all sad.
                    "Is that all you are going to use?"
                    "Yes Russ, they're big leaves and you don't need much."
                    "But I like mint and it's the first of the season."
                    "I like mint too Russ but if you put too much in all you will taste is mint!"
                    "Put some more in! That's not enough!"
                    "Russ! It's a herb, not a blooming vegetable!"
                    "Well what shall I do with what's left?"
                    "I'd tell you Russ but you would have to remove your trousers and boxers to manage it!"

                    Last year he took it into his head to plant Jerusalem Artichokes. He fed them, watered them, used his usual vast gardening skills on them, and they grew! and grew! and grew! I would not have been suprised to come out one morning to find Jack shimmying up one, in pursuit of his golden egg laying hen! They grew to about eight foot tall and had a pretty, yellow, daisy type flower on the top. Great! Then he harvested them. Tons of them! Not so great after all.

                    I'd enquired innocently, whilst he was planting them, if he actually liked Jerusalem Artichokes. His reply was that he was sure they'd be lovely. Let me tell you.......Jerusalem Artichokes are absolutely disgusting! I renamed them Buber Tubers. They look like potatoes in advanced stages of warty arthritis with the taste and texture of boiled slugs. Baked, boiled, steamed, souped. Totally inedible! Couple that with the fact that they should have been named fartichokes because of the gut wrenchingly nauseating smells that attempts to digest them produced.
                    Any normal gardener would have cut his losses and composted them. Not Russ! He had grown them and come Hell or High Water he was going to make sure that they were eaten. I tried, dear reader, I tried gallantly to eat the vile vegetable and eventually went on strike. We all refused them. Russ, quite hurt by our ingratitude, declared untiringly that they were lovely and tried to eat his way through about twenty Kilos of the damned things. I banned him from the bedroom because of his involuntary efforts to blow the duvet off the bed with his farts. Eventually he found a single local Vicar who enjoyed them. No wonder she was single!

                    On Thursday I came into the kitchen, in a rush to make dinner before work. The sink and draining board was completely full of carrot tops. Russ had been thinning the carrot plants out and couldn't bear to waste the dozens of matchstick size seedling carrots.
                    "Look at these, they are lovely!"
                    "Russ, they are lovely but you would need a microscope to find them."
                    "Don't you want to put them in a salad?"
                    "It would take me until tomorrow to clean them! Could you get them out of the sink please?"
                    "But they are so nice, we can't waste them!"
                    "We? We? I can bloody waste them! They are only an inch long and very skinny! Could you get them out of the sink please? I need to prepare veg for tea."
                    "But carrots are veg!"
                    Arghhhhh!!!

                    Runner bean season. He tries to make us have runner beans with every meal. And I mean every meal.
                    "No thank you! I do not want last nights warmed up runner beans with my bacon!"
                    "But you eat baked beans with bacon!"
                    Through gritted teeth....."Baked beans are not runner beans are they?"
                    "But they are still beans and we don't want to waste them."
                    "I'll tell you what Russ, you have them on your cornflakes."
                    "You're just being silly now!"

                    Rhubarb season.
                    "Will you make rhubarb crumble for tea?"
                    "No Russ we had it yesterday and the day before that."
                    "But there's tons of it and we don't want to waste it do we?"
                    "Give it to the neighbours!"
                    "They don't seem to want any more!"
                    Ironically...."Really! I wonder why not?"

                    I have fantasies about how far up his nose a stick of rhubarb will fit.

                    He is very good at growing sprouts! Too good!
                    I came in one day to find he had added some sprouts to the stew because....you've guessed it....he didn't want to waste them! Sprouts do not belong in stew! They really, really don't! They look beautiful on their stalks, growing in artful spirals up to the top. They do not look good in my stew that I had lovingly prepared and was looking forward to eating! I ask you? What gardener in his right mind would put sprouts in stew?

                    This has gone on for years. He grows them so well, they look lovely and he gets huge satisfaction from succesful crops. It helps to keep him fit and he and my son teach each other a lot fromtheir own experiences. They even share an allotment. Everything in the garden is rosy. The trouble only starts when the crops are transferred to our miniscule kitchen along with a fathom and a half of muck off his boots. I'm not even going to go into why this gardener can't understand that in the garden it is fertile and beautiful soil but when it is traipsed over the floors and carpets it is bloody muck! (and a hanging offence!)

                    Does anyone have any suggestions about making him a less successfull gardener or a more successfull disposer/waster of surplus produce? A useful answer might save his life.

                    Or am I going to have to beat him to death with a marrow (which I think are wastes of space anyway!) the next time he says plaintively "We don't want to waste it do we?"

                    And that is why I deserve your sympathy.

                    Thank you for reading, I might not be around for a few minutes I am just nipping out to buy a flame thrower for the vegetable beds.

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                      06.05.2009 16:02
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                      rewarding in some really unusual ways

                      Well it's that time of the year again to dust off the B B Q and cut the lawn.
                      Weed the weeds from the paths and generally have a damn good tidy up. There is just one problem it hasn't stopped raining for weeks now and I am getting a little wet.

                      I love gardening and it is in some ways intensly satisfying to watch your efforts come to fruition when everything starts to pop up on q.

                      My problem is that I get a little impatient and cannot wait long enough for the plants to do their thing. So every day I am outside talking to the plants and willing them to grow. Giving them food and drink and all that stuff only to find the slugs and bugs have been at it again. No tops on the brocolli plants again this year and my runners which were doing so well have suddenly died off with the sudden snap of cold we had. So I am back to replanting and trying again. So frustrating.

                      I thought I would have trouble with the rabbits again this year but they have left our garden alone this year which is a pleasant change. Mind you the farmer in the field across from us is out with his anti pest control more this year so maybe that has something to do with it.

                      Success is relative in our garden and the daffs and tulips came into their own this year after fresh bulb planting. We had a lovely show and they were in the garden for many weeks along with the snowdrops. The garden beds were doing well. I have geraniums popping up and fushias have survived the harsh winter we had here. (Scottish Highlands being known for the coldest ones). Also in the beds I have my Hydrangeas which are doing particularly well so far especially after their move (which I wrote about in another dooyoo site). Laveteria also doing well.

                      But in the vegetable tubs the peas are only about a foot high so far and looking kind of pathetic so far. Runners as I said need to go back to square one again as they just did not want to survive the cold spell we suddenly had in may. But carrots and beetroot are looking promising so far.

                      I am not one to use pesticides and refuse to cover the ground in string with bits of tinfoil on them. I just cannot face drowning slugs in beer or any other of those kind of remedies either so nature takes its course. I just wait to see if it works.

                      Ok so it is a bit of a hit and miss affair but it is keeping me occupied when I have nothing to do. So if it works which is generally the case then what have I got to loose but time itself.

                      I have also planted loads of garlic bulbs which I must say are doing extremely well and look forward to loads of bulbs of garlic later on along with the onions.

                      I recently decided to try my luck with the apple pips and planted a few to see what will happen. I was pleasantly surprised to find two lovely young tree shoots popping up so all is not lost after all. It will be nice although I have been told that the apple will not run true to the ones I have recently eaten, something to do with the strain reverting back to original type. I think this has to do with the fact that I did not graft a bit of the original tree to another. I am sure they will eventually grow into a nice sized tree though no matter what the strain of apple comes out like. It will be an eating apple of sorts though. The original was a braeburn variety. So I will have to wait some time before they are mature enough to produce fruit if indeed they ever do?

                      Anyway I thought I would ramble on about my gardening experiences and let you all know of my success and failures in this very new project of mine as I certainly do not have the green fingers that most of you have. But I will keep trying.

                      Good luck you gardening fans out there and may your gardens grow grow grow.

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                        04.02.2009 16:19
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                        Since, I have started my first vegetable plot, I have never looked back.

                        The weather in the South is looking good today, my thoughts wander into what I could do in the garden this year.

                        After my attempt on vegetable gardening last year with some success,This year I am going to be growing more vegetables. There are lots of advantages growing my own vegetables.

                        Firstly, I can choose to grow my favourite vegetables like tomato, green beans or salad leaves.

                        Secondly, I can make sure that the vegetable has no chemicals and pesticides.

                        Thirdly, it will help to reduce my grocery expenses. It is not expensive growing your own vegetables. The harvest outweighs the money spent on seeds and young plants.

                        It is not difficult to embark into vegetable gardening and let me share my experience on vegetable gardening. Gardening has never played any part in most of my adult life. Since, I have started my first vegetable plot, I have never looked back.

                        1.Find an area in your garden which you would like to grow your favourite vegetables. The plot size will also depend on the types of vegetables you want to grow. For example, you would need a bigger area to grow cabbage and broccoli.

                        However, if space is a constraint, you can grow vegetables in containers, wooden box or even strong bags.

                        2.What kind of vegetable should you start growing? I love herbs so my first vegetable was coriander. I bought a packet of coriander starter kit which contain coriander seeds and a seed tray of soil. So grow your favourite vegetable first.

                        3. Seeds need to be propagated in a warm environment. Hence, propagate seeds indoor away from cold wind if you live in temperate climate. Propagating seeds indoor also prevent birds from eating the seeds.

                        4. You can also buy young vegetable plants and plant them directly into your vegetable plot. It will be a good idea to protect the young plant from slugs and snails. You can do so by creating a barrier around the young plant. A barrier that is commonly used is a plastic ring cut from a used one litre soft drink bottle.

                        5. Vegetable needs fertilised soil. Sometimes, it is a good idea to grow your vegetables like tomato, cucumber or courgette in a grow bag. A grow bag contains compost soil that provide nutrients to the plant.

                        6. It is important to read the instructions on the label of the young plants or on the seed packet. The instructions mainly advise you on what should be done at different growing stage.

                        7. Start with vegetables that grow easily and are easy to maintain. Such vegetables are thyme, rosemary, oregano, tomato, potato, spinach, courgette (zucchini), beans and salad leaves.

                        8. One of the reason vegetable farms use chemical and pesticide is to prevent pest and insect from destroying their crops. You could stop this pest by growing certain plants nearby. The scent of plants like marigolds, garlic and celery can prevent pests from destroying your plant.

                        Gardening is therapeutic. Observing the growth of the plant from a young shoot to full bloom is exhilarating. Growing your own vegetable promote good health. Not only would you get fresh, nutritious vegetables every day, it is also a good form of exercise.

                        I am looking forward to sow the seeds in spring.

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                          08.07.2008 17:30
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                          Anyone who can should, it is very rewarding.

                          When my parents first moved into their new house I suggested having a large vegetable patch in their moderately sized garden, but no they just stuck an apple tree in their flower bed with poppies (are they mad?!! probably) The poppies took over the entire garden and the tree leached all the nutrients out of the bed.

                          Two years ago they gave away the tree to a good home in the country got rid of the poppies (though they still pop up every so often and are ultimately impossible to get rid of).

                          They then bought back compost from the city council and begun to plant vegetables (why they didn't do this in the begging is beyond my recognition, I still hold back on saying I told you so)

                          So the vegetables we have at the moment onions, potatoes, parsnips,lettuce, runner beans, peas, mint, rosemary, basil, chilli peppers (the indoor variety), courgettes and spinach.

                          what we can pick at the moment, potatoes, lettuce and the herbs, each potato plant we grew had enough for fruit for one nights dinner (family of 3). The lettuce has just taken off I would definitely recommend growing them if you are a beginner all they require is moderate soil and lots of water to grow.The peas and beans are doing well too but they wont be ready to eat until the autumn, they are also really easy to grow.

                          The vegetables that didn't do well some onions, spinach and tumbling tomatoes. The onions which didn't do well were the ones we decided to plant in pots, the ones we grew in the bed are enormous now and are doing well with big long green leaves protruding from the earth. The potted ones are tiny and the leaves have started to wilt.

                          The spinach didn't work (I always have trouble with spinach) because it was watered on too much followed by a blast of heat and sun, this caused them to grow too fast directly upwards, they did grow to be large but there where few large leaves.

                          We decided to invest in a hanging basket variety of tomato but they don't seem to be getting enough water and light so are still very small, though on the plus side they did flower. The bush totem tomatoes are now of decent size in comparison and are flourishing, their fruits colour is verging on yellow.

                          If you think, oh these people must have a green house to grow all these things, we don't and we live on the east side of Northern Ireland. So if we can grow these without great difficulty I am sure you can give it a try too especially at the price of food now a days when every penny counts.

                          Also if you don't have a garden as such but a yard IKEA now have these great garden bags in which friends of ours where able to produce a good amount of potatoes and lettuce from also and they live very far into the city center.

                          Also if you can get a hold of an old bath which is about to be put on the tip and fill it with soil and compost this makes a great place to grow onions and potatoes also you could try other root vegetables too, but again these are the ones which apparently have worked best for people I know.

                          My mum wants my dad to start digging up the other beds now because she is having so much fun growing home produce, it is a great way of getting outside and getting some exercise, it is a very worthwhile hobby as well I think even if it may take a bit of hard work and patience. It is her little hobby and they are her babies.

                          It isn't hard to stay organic either, if you put rough gravel and smashed sea shells around you plants it deters nibbling beasties. Also if you plant certain flowers beside your vegetables the smell keeps away weevils, it is also good to keep nets over seedlings as sparrows love to pull them out and make a mess in general for some reason. I was so thrilled when I saw a ladybird on my lettuce, it means the system is working and I am attracting the right sort of bugs to the garden.

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                            08.07.2008 16:47
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                            my garden is good for me

                            I am, by no means a 'proper' gardener - I don't really know a weed from a non-weed (by the way what is the definition of a 'weed'?) but have gained a great deal of pleasure the last few weeks in our medium-sized garden.

                            I am trying to seriously cut down on smoking and know that I need fresh air as I spend far too much time on the PC, so have started to make a determined effort to get out in the garden - weather permitting.

                            We had visitors for three weeks and they loved gardening and didn't speak a lot of English so it was an ideal opportunity to spend time together without those embarrassing silences...
                            They liked to plant so I had fun pulling out the brambles and clearing up the 'crap' - 2 binbags later and I could well see a difference - we had the beginnings of a great garden.

                            I'd bought some lily bulbs earlier in the year and they'd grown well - in fact I've just filled a couple of vases to bring in the house - I love lilies - they look great and smell wonderful. Loads more left....

                            Most of the plants we've inherited with the house and are your typical British garden ones so we've added more in the way of exotic plants and bamboo to add more interest.
                            This year we've just bought regular bedding & hanging basket plants to add some colour.

                            Hubby's finally bought a lawnmower which I can actually use plus an edge-cutter so the lawn is fairly neat and I just ignore the moss and mow over it.

                            We have a large patio with large table etc & a great chimenea & home-designed (handmade!) BBQ and I can't tell you how great it is to unwind, eat al fresco and just look around ... problem is we live near Manchester airport and this time of year it can be so noisy and the other problem is one bird whose birdsong sounds just like the fax machine.

                            so - I'm getting there - I see the garden as a canvas so need to colour it in !
                            Have to go - need to watch some gardening programmes and look up my old gardening magazines to get some great ideas.

                            Don't have much cash so may well chat up the neighbours to see if I can scrounge some cuttings or seeds.

                            Maybe we could grow some veg for next season...........

                            I think I'll just 'chill' in the garden for a while just thinking about future plans.............

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                              28.01.2008 10:04
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                              A feast for the eyes... and the tummy!

                              I have a confession to make: I love gardening. OK, it's not the trendiest of all pursuits, but there's something really stressbusting about being outdoors, in the light and the air, surrounded by the scent of plants.

                              This time of year, it's my garden that keeps me going. As I see the tender green shoots of bulbs emerging from the earth, I feel a sense of hope that, even though it might be dismal and rainy outside, spring is just around the corner. It's my personal therapy for SAD and depression. Not to mention that it's actually really good exercise too- digging into my heavy clay soil is far more effort than going to the gym to work out. Even the muddiness is somehow cathartic - a throwback to being a child, when it was OK to get your clothes dirty!

                              Personally, I'm a visual gardener. I love the beauty and the scent of flowers, the shape of shrubs and the movement of grasses. The words 'vegetable garden' to me conjure up practical, ugly, regimented rows of potatoes and onions, allotments full of chicken wire, old tyres and straw. However, it struck me this winter that it doesn't have to be this way. Looking through my seed catalogues, I noticed how pretty and structural many vegetable varieties are. So I am branching out this year, though, and trying a few of the more attractive species amongst my blooms.

                              Runner beans are actually a pretty plant, for instance, with lovely lime green leaves and beautiful white or red flowers before those edible pods appear. My neighbour grows some French beans, which have dark purple flowers, and ramble all over her fence before they grow beans, so I'm definitely going to try those. Rainbow chard, too, has glorious multicoloured stems, and fluffy leaves that will look great in a border. Even some of the mundane vegetables come in really attractive varieties that I am hoping will add texture and variety to my borders. I am planning to try January King Cabbage, for instance, which has a bright red vein running through the centre, and some Lolo rosso lettuces, with their red, crinkly leaves!

                              Then there are edible flowers. Nasturtiums are easy to grow (kids can plant them!), go mad in the garden, and flourish in poor soil, and you can actually eat the flowers. They give salads a lovely, fresh colour and taste slightly peppery. Marigolds, too, give salads a fairly strong-tasting spicy summeriness. Damask rose petals make a lovely addition to couscous, and look very glamorous suspended in jelly. Violets can be made into a confit (if you have a bank of them, anyway!) or added to martinis. Then, of course, there's lavender, which can be added to a whole host of dishes to great effect. Recently, I bought a hot chocolate with powdered lavender as a gorgeous and luxurious bedtime drink, and I'm hoping I can replicate that taste with my own home-made ingredients in the summer!

                              Of course, please be careful what you eat from the garden, and exercise care as to what your children eat! Even some common plants are poisonous.

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                                02.05.2007 12:57
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                                No such thing as a safe tan

                                With alarming numbers of skin cancers being diagnosed around the world, it is increasingly evident that people of all colours need protection from ultraviolet radiation.
                                Sun protection clothing is a relatively new concept in the UK. Most people don’t realize that regular summer clothing lets through a surprising amount of UV. Of course, summer styles also typically expose a lot of skin to the sun.
                                Good quality sun protection clothing typically covers a maximum amount of skin yet is designed to be cool and comfortable to wear. Sun protective clothing is also very reliable - providing consistent and constant UV protection. It does not fade or wear off during the day. It is less expensive, as the clothing is bought only once and will last many seasons or until outgrown. This form of protection is not messy, and it reduces the amount of sunscreen needed on exposed areas. This is particularly appealing to mothers of young children and two men. And protection is provided for both UVA and UVB.

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