An Introduction To Eco Friendly Gardening

Being environmentally aware is something that can take a lot of time and energy. This is in part because you need to adopt such practices in every part of your life if they are to make a difference. It’s no use being eco-friendly in the workplace, and not in the home. One area where it is particularly easy - and rewarding - to focus on being green is in the garden. There are great joys to keeping a garden, whether you are doing so just for the fun of it, or to grow a supply of fruit and veg for personal use. It can be even more enjoyable if you are approaching your garden in a green manner, which is what we are going to look at here. This blog post will provide you with an introduction to eco-friendly gardening: something which you should find is both straightforward and enormously pleasurable.



Your Plant Choice

One of the first things you will need to think about is what plants you are going to grow. That will depend on a lot of factors. You will, for instance, be keen to grow plants which are either useful in some way, or which you happen to find pretty. Then there are the plants which you just have a good feeling about, and you don’t know why. If you want to be eco-friendly in the garden, your choices of plant will be significantly restricted. That being said, you should still be able to grow plenty, but you will have to be careful about what plants you do go for. So what does it mean to choose eco-friendly plants?

Arguably, the most important thing is that you don’t buy seeds or plants which have travelled too far to get to you. It might be enjoyable to have an exotic plant in your garden, but it is hardly the greenest approach to developing a garden. Instead, focus on attaining plants which are native to your local area. As well as being better for the planet (as it has not had to travel a long way), this will also mean that you have a garden of plants which are bound to do enormously well where you are. They will have the perfect climate, suitable soil, and will undergo less stress. As a result, you’ll have healthier, happier plants - and a healthier planet. You have other benefits to enjoy here. When you fill out your garden with native plants, you will be encouraging the local wildlife much more profusely. Before you know it, you will have a space full of buzzing insects. Not only is this an excellent support for the local ecosystem, it’s also hugely rewarding, and can make your garden feel that little bit more special to spend time in.

The Bees & The Birds

While we’re on the subject of creepy-crawlies, this is another excellent approach you can take towards creating a garden in a green way. You should aim to introduce and encourage as much life as you can in your garden. All good gardeners know that it is desirable to have plenty of insects visiting your garden, and hopefully setting up their home there. For one, you will find your garden has more pollinators, which enables the future fertilization of the plants, and leads to the production of seeds. Producing your own seeds is enormously satisfying, and it’s another hugely influential way to help protect the planet, as it is much less wasteful than having to buy seeds regularly.

As we have seen already, having plenty of native plants will ensure that your garden receives an influx of pollinators. These come in many shapes and sizes, but the most important for eco purposes are the bees. These fuzzy little creatures are central to a healthy ecosystem, and they need encouraging in this time of natural upheaval. The more bees you can bring into your garden, the more you are doing for the planet.

For the gardener who is keen to be kind to nature, there is another critical reason to encourage insects in the garden. You want to protect your plants from the kinds of insect that will eat them - especially any vegetable crops you might have - and it goes without saying that you should aim to avoid using any killing agent to get rid of them. Introducing a wide variety of insects into the garden ensures that those nuisance ones get eaten - in the natural way - and so leave your plants alone. Certain insects are particularly useful: ladybirds, for instance, eat aphids - which would otherwise destroy most of your plants over a summer period. So introducing insects is also a great, natural way to keep your garden pest-free - and remember, all you are doing here is encouraging a natural food chain process.

Birds are a useful friend to have, too. They will eat slugs, snails, caterpillars, and many other pests besides. Having bird feeders and water tables, along with the introduction of native plants, will ensure that your garden soon has some birds coming to visit.

The Most Precious Resource

Whatever the size of your garden, there is one substance you will find yourself using plenty as you tend to it: water. All of your plants will need water, albeit to varying degrees, and if you are hoping to be truly eco-friendly, you will probably be keen to find a way to conserve as much water as you can. So how can you expect to marry this noble green goal with the desire to keep healthy plants? A lot of this will depend on where you live in the world, and specifically what your local climate is like. Even the type of soil you have will determine how much water specific plants are going to need. Obviously, if you live somewhere where it rains a lot, then you are not going to have to worry too much - and chances are, those native plants you have introduced into your garden tend to do well in lots of rain. But if you are in a dry or just a moderate area, you will have to think very early on about water: how to store it, how to use it sparingly, and how to make sure your plants have enough of it.

Regardless of where you are, the most important thing you can do is to find some way to catch rainwater. Not only will this be especially eco-friendly, but it will also be particularly good water for your plants, especially the native ones. There are thousands of ways to catch rainwater, but the simplest is to go out and buy a water butt or some small water tanks and set them up in your garden. It makes sense if you place them under guttering, or create a system whereby the rainwater will travel from the roof to the butt. You can also make a surprising difference by ensuring you always leave your watering can out overnight. Over time, it will collect rain, and even though it will only be a small amount, it is bound to make a difference. Even just saving a small amount of water is worth your while.

Pay attention to what the individual needs of your plants are: some will require more water than others, so you can make sure that you are not over-watering something which is relatively drought-resistant. Finally, bear in mind that, for most plants, a thorough watering twice a week is better than a light sprinkling every day. The root complexes of most plants will develop more strongly this way. But more to the point, if you water your garden to this kind of schedule, you can keep an eye on exactly how much water you are using.

Water is genuinely precious for this planet, so conserve is however you can. As you can see, it is entirely possible to do so and still have a healthy, thriving garden.

The Miracle Of Compost

Some people are faintly disgusted by the idea of compost - or, in some cases, not so faintly. But any good gardener knows its value, and once you get a compost going, it is actually something of a joy. The benefits of having compost in the garden are clear. You don’t have to buy it, you are keeping it local (and therefore more eco-friendly), and you are making use of waste in a natural, efficient way.


What gets in the way of most attempts at compost working is a lack of understanding about what should and should not go in the compost bin. Place in there any food scraps you create while preparing a meal, such as fruit and veg and so on, but avoid cooked foods or any meats. Also aim to include plenty of ‘browns’ - cardboard, egg boxes - and any trimmings from the garden too, especially leaf mulch. Over a period of about nine months, micro-organisms in the bin will break it all down to sweet-smelling compost. This is one of the best green things you can do in your garden, and it’s a joy to behold.

Gardening with a green attitude can really make a difference: to yourself, to your garden, but mostly to the planet. It’s easy, straightforward, and you can start at any time - so what’s your excuse?








Cacao Maca Latte Recipe

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After a few unseasonably bright and sunny spring like days, today has been a little bit misty and rainy. On days like this, I love nothing more than to fix myself a hot beverage and even better if it’s got a couple of adaptogens in it. I chose to put some maca I had to good use and thought that cacao too would be a good addition.  The benefits of maca I have blogged about before here and is a great hormonal balancing adaptogen. Below is a simple recipe for a cacao maca latte, that isn’t only hormone balancing but warm and delicious too thanks to the addition of maca that has a caramel taste  and cacao which is such a treat and has some good healing properties too.

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp maca root powder

1 tsp cacao powder (or 1 cup of cacao flavoured plant milk)

1/2 tsp coconut sugar (optional to taste)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup plant based milk

METHOD

Place all the dry ingredients into a saucepan

Add 1 cup of plant based milk (or cacao flavoured milk if not using cacao powder)

Warm the mixture on a gentle heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the resulting mixture to a mug

Enjoy!

~E xx

 

 

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

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I’ve recently been battling a cold and as I love nothing more than a natural remedy when I am under the weather, I decided to make an old but tried and true one. Enter Elderberry syrup, it has been used for years as a natural go to remedy for colds and flu and there are several reasons why. It contains high levels of vitamins A and C , is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, lowers blood sugar and encourages healthy skin. Traditionally elderberry syrup is made with honey for its antibacterial properties but if you are avoiding honey for any reason, it can be made with other plant based sweeteners like coconut nectar.

For the syrup that I made, I used dried elderberries which was perfect although you can of course use the fresh variety too. The recipe makes a lovely tasting and healthy medicine and is also good and safe for kids too. Although it’s good to remember that if you do decide to make this and use honey, that honey shouldn’t be given to children under one years of age.

INGREDIENTS 

3 1/2 cups of filtered water

2/3 cup of dried elderberries  

2 inches of fresh ginger root

1 tsp ground cinnamon powder  

1 cup raw honey ( 2 to 3 tablespoons of alternative sweetener if preferred ) 

 

METHOD

In a medium pan add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and water and bring to a boil. 

Cover the pan with a lid but leave a rack open to allow the steam to escape

Allow to reduce for about 45 minutes (reduce the heat to a simmer) 

When the liquid has reduced by half, remove from the heat and allow to cool. 

Strain the liquid into a glass bowl and add the honey (or sweetener) 

Mix thoroughly and pour into a glass bottle or jar. 

Store in the fridge (It will last for a few months) 

 

DOSE

1 tsp to 1 Tbsp every 3 hours when suffering from a cold or the flu, otherwise just a regular once daily dose will do. 

For children the dose is 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp (about 5ml to 10ml) 

Elderberry syrup can also be enjoyed in some dairy free yoghurt or breakfast cereal or pancakes.  

Happy cold / flu fighting!  

 

Three Uncommon Suggestions For Improving Your Wellbeing

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You hear a lot of tips and suggestions on how best to boost your overall sense of wellbeing these days, and that isn’t too surprising. Although our modern lives are chock-full of luxuries which would have been difficult to even imagine for people living in the recent past, surveys keep reporting that many of us are chronically stressed and dissatisfied in life more, in fact, than we’ve been in decades.

There’s just something about the pace of life these days or certain aspects of the cultures we inhabit or the technologies we use that seems to contribute significantly to stress. Often tips on how to boost your wellbeing will focus on things like being compassionate to yourself. That’s certainly important, but it may not be the whole picture.

Here are a few other less-commonly-heard factors in boosting your wellbeing;


Imbalance is possible in any domain of life

It’s important to take pride in your appearance and to do what you can to enjoy a baseline level of comfort and relaxation in your everyday routine. This doesn’t even have to be too complicated. Buy moisturizer and apply it each evening, have some comfortable pyjamas to settle into in the evening, and you’re on the right track. Keep in mind that imbalance is possible in any area of life, and will always negatively impact your wellbeing. It’s certainly bad to keep your nose to the grindstone too much and never catch a break, but it’s also deadening to the soul to just lounge around and watch TV during all of your free hours. Strive for balance in every area of your life. When you find it, it should feel just right.

If you feel helpless and down, working on developing your discipline, structure and purpose could be key

Feelings of helplessness and fatalism may well be caused, or at least, reinforced, by the fact that you take too much of an undisciplined, unstructured, or unaccountable approach towards your life. In order to actually achieve your dreams — whatever they may be — or even just feel capable and on top of things in your day-to-day life, it’s important to have a certain degree of self-discipline developed. Part of this goes back to the point on balance. You can be too rigid, definitely. But you can also be too unstructured.

Facing up to your own dark side can be important in helping you to move towards a more light-filled life

In recent times, a fair number of people have been rediscovering an old idea in psychology — which is that we all have truly dark and horrible capabilities and tendencies inside us that we try to hide from our conscious awareness. Books like “Dark Side of the Light Chasers” hint at the idea that people who try excessively hard to only ever acknowledge the light within themselves, can be setting themselves up for serious problems, temper problems, and even violent and destructive outbursts, down the line.

Facing up to your own dark side and acknowledging it’s there but not letting it rule you can be very important in coming to terms with yourself, and in taking a healthy path through life. Keeping that side in the shadows on the other hand, can really eat away at your wellbeing.


Home Improvement Hacks To Incorporate Right Now

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Modern homeowners are spoilt for choice these days when it comes to improving their properties and making their homes better. There are a lot of issues you need to keep in mind when you assess how to approach your home. You have a lot of things you need to keep in mind, and there are plenty of hacks that you can use to make the home better.

There are a lot of reasons people might have for home improvement work, and often this can be for the purpose of adding value to the home and making it more of an investment. There are loads of different ideas you have to keep in mind that are going to help you to improve your home and change the way it comes across to people. These hacks will allow you to make the most of the property, as well as adding value in the process.

Modernise

The biggest Twat of making a difference when renovating your home is to make sure you modernise it. There are a lot of things that can make a difference to the property, but updating it will no doubt have the biggest impact. This means you need to make sure you change the decor, as well as looking at places like Tap Warehouse to get all the latest fixtures and fittings. There are a lot of ways of doing this, and choosing a hardwood interior is going to be one of the best.

Make the Garden Shine

There are not many parts of your property that can have a greater impact on the future than your garden. This is really important to get right because it can have such a massive effect on the way the home is perceived, and the visual aesthetic as well. Come up with ideas that are going to allow you to improve and enhance the garden as best you can. Make it as neat, tidy, and presentable as possible, and do what you can to boost your outside space.

Budget Properly

Budgeting for your home improvements is so important because the costs can mount up if you are not careful. The best approach to take is to sit down and work out the costs of making changes as best you can. There are so many different things that you will need to pay for, but, if you can budget effectively for the future, you will be well-placed when trying to fund changes and improvements in your home.

Go Green

There are a lot of things that you need to know about when it comes to improving your property. Going green is one of the best approaches to take if you want to improve the home and make it better. This is an excellent way of making the home more efficient, as well as helping the environment and making your property more appealing at the same time.

There are a lot of things you need to make sure you sort out as much as you can. If you are sensible about it, you can really make the most of these changes. This is going to help you improve the home and increase the value of the property as a result. You need to make sure you are sensible about the changes you make, as well as looking at what can have the best long-term effects.


What Is Your Home In Need Of This Year?

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At this time of the year, it’s always good to think about the next twelve months and about what the year might bring. It’s easy to think about this superficially and then just hope for the best but really, if you want to get anything with the year you have in front of you, then you have to be strategic about where you’re going. Most of the time, people will think that this applies to their health or their career. Because these are two of the biggest areas of life that others tend to want to focus on. However, intentions and goals can be applied to any area of your life - even your home. So if you’re someone that has always wanted to work on their home, now could be the perfect time to do it.

To make this happen, you need to have an idea of what it is that you want to achieve. And you have to be specific. Simply saying that you’d like to have a nice home or you want to decorate isn’t always enough. most of the time, you need to be able to identify exactly what it is that you want to work on for it to actually happen, and this is why you need to be intentional and strategic. So, to get your list underway, let us take a look at some of the things that your home could be in need of this year.



A Kitchen Refresh

To start with, it might be that you need to do a bit of a kitchen refresh. If you haven’t updated your home in a while, and your kitchen is quite old, this is always a good area to work on. It’s one of the most in-demand and popular parts of a home for people, especially when buyers are looking at your home. So, get to work by picking out and putting in place a new kitchen design that you love.


A New Bathroom Suite

As a step on from that, it could be the case that you also want to think about putting a new bathroom suite in. Just like the kitchen, a new bathroom can really help you to update the look of your home. If you haven’t added in a new suite for some time now, then this is what you’re going to want to work on next.

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A Refreshed Exterior

If you’re thinking on a much bigger scale, maybe you’d like to give the whole house a refresh by focusing on the outside. Because your home’s exterior tends to set the tone for the entire place. If you know that the outside of your property has seen better days, a simple tidy up could make a huge difference. Not only that, you might find that painting the outside or refreshing the render can make it look like a brand new house.


New Windows & Doors

To go alongside that, it might be that you would like to get some new windows and doors in place too. Do you think that you need a window replacement for your home to be better insulated? Or maybe you just want to go with a new look with the windows and doors? Then this could be the time that you plan that out, get cost estimates, and let the work get underway.


Landscaping

From here, you then also might want to consider the kind of landscaping that you have in place and whether or not you want to make any changes. Do you have your yard landscaped at all? Are there set areas? Might you like an outdoor dining space? Really think about what might make your outside area look and feel even better, and then go from there.


Layout Changes

Heading back inside again, there may be a few issues around the house that you want to work on. It could be that you have always wanted rooms to be in different positions. Or that you would love to make room for a little en suite. When this is the case, it could be the year that you choose to alter the floor plan. For this, you’re going to want to find skilled contractors that can help you.


Storage

This one can often seem quite boring, but it’s something that can be really important for you if you want your home to be at its best. If you always seem to have things lying around, then it’s definitely essential for you to work in smart storage ideas to be able to tackle that. This can be something that you hire professionals for, or that you look to do yourself.


An Extension

Something on a much bigger scale that you could be considering, is an extension. And this is something that can often feel like a really big job to take on. Because it is. But if it’s something that you’ve been considering for a while, then it may be something that you should start working on this year. If you know that you need more space, or that you want to add on more facilities, this can often save you from having to move house.


A Conversion

At the same time, you might even want to convert an unused space. Maybe the biggest transformation for you this year is going to be turning your garage into a living space or making your basement into somewhere that can be used for another purpose.



Updated Decor

However, it really could be quite simple in the sense that you just need to go through the entire home and refresh the decor that you have. If you know that you haven’t updated your home in years, then this could be something that’s bothering you. It is going to affect not only how the home looks, but how you feel in it too. So really start to plan out the decorative changes you want to make throughout the house. Updating the decor can make a big difference to the value of your home too.


~E xx