Sunday, 24 August 2014

How to get rid of Horsetail.

I have the worst weed on my plot that looks like a small christmas tree; this plant is called horsetail or mares tail or even rats tail. these are a few of the more common names.

Botanically it is a species of equisetum, several of which invade gardens.

This plant is very bad news for any body who has the misfortune to have it in there ground. It will grow anywhere it can. I first came across it when I use to look after tennis courts and found it growing up through the hard surface of the court. I did get rid of it in the end, read on to find out how.

Horsetail is a very primitive ,ancient plant that has been around  for at least 40,000 million years. The plant can grow up to 2 feet tall and the the root system can go down five feet into the soil.

The deep roots are really an underground system of stems that are very wide ranging. Breaking off shoots above the ground only stimulates dormant buds on the roots under ground. This is why people find that the more you dig it up the more plants will grow and the worse the problem gets. 

Horsetail is a spore bearing plant much like a fern, not a flowing plant. However it spreads by extending the underground stems, not by distributing spores.

Control can be difficult.
  • With small patches, removal of the shoots while they are tiny will prevent the weed from spreading. But you must be at it every day during the growing season.
  • Spray with round up on a weekly bases. This will kill it, however it may take three to five years.
  • Mix the round up with paraffin. This gives a quicker kill ( two years ) But your ground will not grow much until the paraffin has all gone. This is a good method only on paths and roadways.The paraffin helps to break down the waxy coating on the leaves of the plant.
  • Use a chemical called Kurtail. This can be bought on the internet. I have found that two sprays of this product will kill  horsetail dead in a month.

If you do not want to use chemical weedkillers; soak the roots of the plant with fresh vinegar. This kills the horsetail in three days. This is really only of use if you have a small number of plants. What I do is pour vinegar atIf you only have one book get this one the base of the growing plant; about half a cup per plant. It really does work. 

What every you do: DO NOT DIG IT OUT  unless you are prepared to dig through five foot and ground, fine sieving as you go.  

Saturday, 2 August 2014

What goes on in the garden?

The garden, traditional, is dug over every winter. Every Spring, seeds are sown and planted out in neat rows. During the rest of the year, time is spent trying to keep the soil free from weeds, watering plants and fending off the many things that try to attack your crops.

If you are lucky and put in the work and the time, you may get some rewards.

Nobody said it would be easy!

Anybody can have their garden full of crops this time of year; however it is the good gardener that has food to eat in the winter and early spring. Now is the time to get going with sowing and planting out for that.

I sow every Friday and therefor my garden is full of crops all the year. Nothing fancy, just roots and greens.


Garlic (Allium Sativum) is not only one of the oldest herbs but one of the most valued plants. It has been used extensively not only in cooking but it has been prized for at least 5000 years for it's medicinal, healing properties. In fact in ancient civilisation the strong potent qualities of garlic were thought to have supernatural powers.

Garlic has long been known to reduce blood cholesterol levels and that possibly the plant can reduce the risk of further heart attacks in cardiac patients. It is also a stimulant for the immune system and used as an a powerful antibiotic.

One of the main characteristics of Garlic is it's strong odour. Allicin gives the characteristic smell. This is largely due to sulphur containing compounds which also accounts for many of it's medicinal properties. These compounds are excreted through the skin and lungs, eating fresh parsley is often recommended to eliminate this odour from the breath after consuming Garlic. If new to using Garlic it is best to use it sparingly to start with.

Medicinal Uses of Garlic

Before modern medicines and antibiotics Garlic was commonly used to treat wounds and is still widely used to treat antibiotic- resistant infections. Today Garlic is commonly used in the treatment of infections, such as: chest problems, digestive disorders as well as fungal infections like athlete's foot. As already mentioned it is widely believed to be a good long-term remedy for cardiovascular problems, helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of thromboses. Garlic can also help to dilate peripheral blood vessels resulting in the lowering of blood pressure. It can also help to regulate blood sugar levels, therefore being helpful with those suffering with late onset diabetes. If used topically, the cloves can be used to treat acne and other skin infections. Extracts from Garlic are also often used in remedies to prevent colds, flu, catarrh and bronchitis and to reduce nasal congestion. For medicinal purposes, Garlic is always best used fresh.

How To Use

For treatment of acne, warts or verrucas, rub fresh garlic cloves directly onto the affected area. It can also be mashed to make it easier to apply.

To reduce high cholesterol, lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and improve the cardiovascular system, the cloves should be added to the diet on a regular basis.

For intestinal parasites, steep 3-4 cloves in water or milk overnight and drink the next day.

If the idea of using fresh Garlic does not appeal to you because of the odour, commercially bought Garlic pearls can be taken. However, the less odour they contain, the less effective they are.

A word of warning, Garlic is very heating and can irritate the stomach. While safe to use in cooking, do not take Garlic for therapeutic reasons during pregnancy or while breast feeding as it can cause digestive problems such as heart burn.

How To Grow Your Own Garlic

Garlic is extremely easy to grow and produces numerous bulbs that can transform your cooking as well as be used for medicinal purposes. To successfully grow your own Garlic a warm sunny location is needed to ripen the bulbs. The bulbs need to be grown in rich water-retentive soil, but with good drainage. It can be planted any time from mid-Autumn to late winter, but to get the best yields, planting before Christmas is recommended.

Buy a head of Garlic from your local store and split it up into individual cloves. Just before planting, thoroughly rake the top of the soil and add a general fertiliser. Plant them directly into the soil 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart using a trowel or dibber to plant each one with the pointed end upper-most. The tips of the cloves should be hidden just below the surface. Firm the cloves in gently.

As Garlic is shallow rooting it cannot compete with other plants such as weeds, so the ground around them should be regularly weeded. An occasional watering during dry spells will improve the yield of your Garlic crop. However, do not water once the bulbs are large and well formed as this could cause them to rot.

The earliest varieties are ready from late spring to early summer. You can tell they are ready to harvest when the stems begin to yellow and bend over. Loosen the bulbs from the soil with a fork and spread them out in the sun to dry. They should be stored in a net bag in a cool dry shed.

Apart from Garlic's  culinary enhancing flavour, it has many medicinal uses and has recently been the study for it's anti-cancer properties. A diet rich in Garlic appears to lower the incidence of stomach, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Perhaps the 'old wives tales' about the supernatural powers of Garlic were not so far fetched as people once thought after all.