Eco Flower Pots

Made these cool re-cycled flower pots today so I thought I'd share with you all. They are very very easy to make and a great way to re-cycle newspaper.
Take a double sheet of newspaper, fold along the natural crease. Bring one long half up to the middle, and then from the opposite side bring the other long half up to the middle. Fold down the crease. Wrap around a jar – this is just to give it a curvy shape which makes the next part easier. Thread one end into the other, so as it’s going back in on itself. Keep feeding it through until it’s as tight as you can get it. Take one half
of a sheet of newspaper, rip that in half and stuff it into the pot, neatness isn’t the issue with these newspaper pots so don’t worry too much about this, so long as you’ve formed a base that is the main thing. Fill up with potting compost and use like you would any other pot. These are good for seedlings as well as seeds – especially cactus – when it comes to repotting you don’t have to handle the plant at all – you just pop the whole thing into a new pot, the newspaper will naturally rot down over time. These won’t take a drenching but will hold themselves to being watered like any other seeds and seedlings would. I make a batch and squish them all into an old square ice cream tub.

For dinner I made Tofu "Chicken" Breasts from here served with Steamed Baby Corn, Broccoli and Green Beans!

It's now one of my favourite tofu recipes.

Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails……………

Any avid gardener will flinch back in horror at the dreaded “S” word.
But not me.
I like snails and though it’s true I don’t like them eating my veg I have come to an agreement with the snail population round where I live.
Now you’re probably wondering what in god’s name am I talking about well let me elucidate.
Surprising as it seems in my Spanish climate, slugs and snails can be just as much of a pest here as they are back home in the UK, especially now the weather is cooler and we’ve seen a lot of rain in the last few weeks. Snails and slugs in your garden can be a very frustrating problem for any gardener and you may all wonder how to go about eliminating them once and for all.


You will NEVER eliminate snails and slugs from your garden.
If you try you will end up pulling your hair out in absolute frustration. Either that or rocking backwards and forwards in a corner somewhere dribbling from the mouth.
Trying to fight snails and slugs is fruitless – no pun intended.
There are a number of environment and budget friendly methods you can implement using items that you may already have in the house but you will be fighting a losing battle. Snails don’t comprehend property rights and boundaries – why should they. The whole world is their garden and they come and go as they damn well please. Like it or lump it.
So I have decided it is better to live in harmony with these gastropods rather than trying to fight them and not just for the sake of my sanity either. I actually find snails extremely pleasant and easy to get on with in normal circumstances. They’re never in a rush; all they care about is travelling the world with their homes on their backs and eating. What life could be better?
They are amiable and sociable and a fair few people I know would do well to take on some of the characteristics of the lowly snail.
Surely when there are so many similarities between myself and these mollusks we can both live in perfect harmony side by side?
It is true that snails are partial to most green and leafy plants you will ever want to grow in your garden – another similarity I hasten to add. They will happily chomp their way through most things you don’t want them too. Trust me though – it’s not because they’re out to get you….they really can’t help it.
If you just grow ornamental plants in your garden then keep all ground level plants to the likes of rhododendron, juniper, and bamboo varieties as snails don’t like these as food stuff – though they do admire their beauty. Snail delicacies should be kept above ground level in window boxes and hanging baskets as they’re not too keen on heights.
If you’re like me and are quite happy to let snails eat their way through everything in your garden EXCEPT the vegetable patch then you’re gonna have to tempt them away from that area by making them an equally pleasing offer.
Sound fair enough?
Snails have a penchant for other non vegetable patch foods like ivy, nasturtiums and tulips. Moisture is a favourite of our mollusked friends - so the general rule of green thumb is any plants with succulent stems and leaves will appeal.

To be on the safe side because we all get tempted from time to time and snails are no different in this respect, you may want to scatter a “fence” of crushed egg shells round your vegetables. Snails don’t like this at all as the sharp edges will cut their soft fleshy bodies – but they won’t be angry at you they’ll just give up, plus egg shells add good nutrients to the soil as well so you’re getting a two for one with this method!
While I quite like the idea of falling into a vat of beer I wouldn’t relish the thought of having to drink my way out – and I like beer! So please avoid the beer traps that you can make or buy commercially. As much as the thought of drowning in beer might appeal to some people it really isn’t a pleasant way to go trust me.
Snails are a very important part of the food chain and snails are only too aware of the fact that they have many natural enemies (crikey the similarities get more and more). Birds, hedgehogs, toads, ground beetles, snakes, chickens, ducks and geese are all enemies of the snail and will quite happily make a snack out of them. It is an option you might like to pursue if you are unable to live with them being in your space.

And I can’t talk about snails without mentioning the fact that we can eat snails too.

But just because we can doesn’t mean we should.


All things Herbal

The healing power of Plants and Herbs has fascinated me ever since I can remember and
I can trace my love of all things floral back to when I was a little girl visiting my Nan. I can remember the magical feeling of my Nan’s garden, bursting with loads of colourful, fragrant blooms and magnificent foliage and of course, not forgetting the swing. There was always something going on my Nan’s garden; and nearly every plant had a specific purpose, whether it was for the kitchen, treating ailments, or keeping up appearances.
As a child my Nan would rub Dock Leaves onto my skin when I had been stung by Nettle or she would be warning me not to pick Dandelion because they would make me wet the bed! I can remember childishly questioning how and why certain Plants could have certain effects on my body, and that childish curiosity never left me. Fortunately for me my Nan never tired of encouraging me and she continuously amazed and enthralled me with her tales her knowledge and her wisdom in simple country remedies and folk lore. Remedies and cures which have been tried and tested and passed down from generation to generation.

Herbs and Plants and Trees share a relationship with humanity that much is evident.
Herbalism is the study and exploration of that relationship. We would do well to devote more time to the listening of Nature and what she can teach us in her gentle breezes and torrential storms.
The simple language of Buttercup, the enticement of wild Strawberry and the deadly appeal of Bella donna are moments that when first experienced have stayed with me forever.

For me Herbs, Plants and Trees are magical creations working as one with Mother Earth. Their Roots are embedded into Her, their Leaves and Flowers are bathed in sunlight, moonlight and starlight, blown by the winds and washed by the rains. They feed and nurture Her and in return are fed and nurtured by Her. How much more magical can you get than that.

Of course it’s not all about my fluffy approach and outlook - there is a science to herbal medicine. Botany, taxonomy, phytology, herbology - to name just a few.
The question of magick being a science is not something I am going to discuss and deliberate here, not yet anyway. I’m just going to concentrate on the science and reasoning of Herbs and Plants in the medical and physiological sense for now.

Nicholas Culpepper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Culpeper) explained the interaction between the Plant kingdom and humanity in a way my young mind understood the best, and which I also related to the most, above all other written authority on the subject.
This excerpt is from the Introduction to the 1835 edition of The Complete Herbal and is a philosophy I have adhered to since first reading it.

"This not being pleasing, and less profitable to me, I consulted with my two brothers, DR. REASON and DR. EXPERIENCE, and took a voyage to visit my mother NATURE, by whose advice, together with the help of Dr. DILIGENCE, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by MR. HONESTY, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it."

I will explain in my own words and endeavour to do the great man justice.

The body consists of five elements each represented by Earth, Air, Fire, Water and a fifth one being Spirit. These well known elements were then named as humours and designated a corresponding bodily fluid all except Spirit which is beyond bodily functions:
Earth = Black Bile
Air=Yellow Bile
Water= Phlegm

These 4 humours need to be well balanced for the creation of the fifth. Your body is a temple and within your body you can reach spiritual enlightenment.

For good health these 4 humours need to be well balanced. An excess or deficit of one or more will result in illness and bad health – whether it be physically or psychologically.

As well as being assigned a bodily fluid – these humours are also given a season, a body organ and a temperament:

Earth = Black Bile, Autumn, Spleen, Melancholy (sadness, dejection, despondency, seriousness, gloomy, blue, dispirited, sorrowful, dismal, doleful, glum, downcast)

Air = Yellow Bile, Summer, Liver, Choleric (wrathful, testy, impatient, touchy)

Fire = Blood, Spring, Heart, Sanguine (enthusiastic, buoyant, animated, lively, spirited)

Water = Phlegm, Winter, Brain, Phlegmatic (stoical, cool, cold, uninterested, dull, torpid, collected, unruffled, placid, quiet)

Culpeper, though his approach was contemporary in his day his ideas were in not.
The concept of the humours originated in ancient Greece with Hippocrates and Aristotle and is a theory that, though not applied in conventional medicine these days is still apparent in Ayuvedic, Chinese and Herbal medicine.
Each plant contains qualities, either one or more but certainly one prevalent, of the humours and it is through the study of the human body, the humours themselves and the qualities and compounds of plants that we learn how and why plant remedies effect and alters our bodies and wellbeing.

Galen is another name affiliated with the humours, a famous physician to the Roman Emperor Aurelius, he developed the ideas from Hippocrates and Aristotle who, it is thought, derived their ideas from ancient Egypt and/or India.
It is apparent to see the similarities with Indian medicine but so little is known about ancient Egyptian medicine that I cannot clarify one way or the other.

Culpeper struck a chord with me most, I suppose, because his well known publication The English Physician (ISBN 81-7030-615-9. (click here for the electronic version http://www.med.yale.edu/library/historical/culpeper/culpeper.htm )
Complete Herbal
(Published by W. Foulsham & Co, New York. ISBN: 0-572-00203-3. Click here for a revised electronic version http://www.bibliomania.com/2/1/66/113/frameset.html )
are books that were constantly thumbed through by myself as a young girl. Though his olde worlde text was enough in itself to enthrall, he wrote with passion and from personal experience. He also added a ruling planet and star sign to each plant which appealed greatly to my young self just discovering the joys and complexities of astrology.

I will be including a small index on some of the more common Herbs, their healing properties and preparations. I will of course add to this over time. I hope this will give some of you an insight into the wonderful world of nature and all She has to provide us. Next time you have a headache or cold or indigestion, try reaching for a cup of Herbal tea instead of the paracetamols and anti-biotics, you might just be amazed.

The information contained here is from experience, studying and documentation I have gathered over the past 20 years. To give credit to each and every snippet of my knowledge would be a pointless and fruitless task. I have included links and references where applicable.
Of course the greatest source has been my Nan – someone who shaped and directed my life far more than she ever realised and unfortunately far more than I ever got the chance to tell her so.
This blog is dedicated to my Nan – the person who taught me the love and light of the Forget-me-not.

God bless you Nanny.