Friday, 18 November 2016



We are never more then six feet from a rat.....we are told. Well that is certainly  true as to when I am down on my allotment.

They trouble me no end and today I found out that they had been at my apples that I had stored in my shed.

I cleared the shed out and found that they had chewed a whole through the wall of the shed. I blocked this up and stored my apples in a barrel that I am sure the rats cannot get in.

I am pleased to say that since the 1st of January 2016 I have killed 52 rats.

I do this by setting traps every time I go down there. I use peanut butter as a bait. I know that I will never get them all but at least I have got 52!  

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


You may like to try worm composting – it’s quite a business however the worms will turn kitchen scraps into top-quality fertility. Do bear in mind that neither worms or any other method to composting will not entirely destroy weed seeds.

Leaf mould: Now is a great time to collect autumn leaves and the job is really worth well doing for autumn leaves can be mixed in with ordinary composting or put in bags, left for a year to use as mulch or two years for a seed compost – though even leaf mould will contain weed seeds. I get loads of leaves and heap them up for two years and then spread the compost on my beds. 

“Hot” composting: I just put all my garden trash into a bin  made out of iron sheets.At the end of the year I cover the compost with an old carpet and leave it for two years , by which time it has turned into compost. I have three bins.

Composting is an on going practice on my plot that I have been doing for years.

What I do not put on the compost heap is woody stems and food scraps.

I do grow comfrey for composting.
 My plot last year in the floods

My plot this year with compost

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Herbal First Aid Kit

Herbal First Aid Kit 

I am sitting here on a Sunday afternoon with cold rain outside and am considering putting together a first aid kit for the coming winter. I think that it is true to say that most of us will assemble the usual over-the-counter products such as insect repellent, pain relief, stomach upset treatments etc.

 However we must not forget that herbs have been used for centuries to treat an enormous variety of ailments and their importance for healing should not be forgotten. 

Many herbal remedies have made a comeback in recent years as people are look again at natural remedies, particularly for minor ailments. The main herbs are Lavender, Chamomile and Peppermint they are often used medicinally to treat conditions such as insomnia, indigestion and stress. What make it easier is that many herbs and herbal remedies are easy to grow and  can be very effective. So what better place to keep these all natural medicines than in an herbal first aid kit. 

One of the best ways of using herbs is as essential oil form. One such oil is Lavender. This oil provides relief from headaches as well as relief from minor burns, scalds and sunburn.

Lavender has a long established tradition for healing and comfort, generally regarded as the most useful herb in healing. Add 2-3 drops to a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil and massage into the temples or nape of the neck for a headache or directly onto the skin that has been affected. Lavender can also be used as an insect repellent as well as on insect bites and stings. The herb is  very effective anti microbial properties and can be used on cuts and grazes as well.

Another herb to put in your first kit is Witch Hazel. Distilled witch hazel can be used on minor burns and sunburn.The herb is used to staunch the flow of blood from wounds using a soaked swab of cotton wool. For sprains and bruises, keep an ice-cube tray of witch hazel in the freezer, do make sure it is clearly labelled. 

Tea Tree is another extremely useful herbal oil to keep in a first aid kit. The properties and uses of tea tree have a long history of use by the Aboriginal people of Australia. Tea Tree oil is unusual in that it is active against all three varieties of infectious organisms: bacteria, fungi and viruses. The oil can be used to treat cuts and grazes, as well as warts and cold sores. Tea Tree is also very effective treatment for head lice, acne, dandruff and insect bites. If diluted it can also be used as a mouth wash to combat bad breath.

Another good practice is keeping ready prepared oils and lotions for your herbal first aid kit, raw ingredients from the kitchen store cupboard such as garlic, ginger, and herbal teas provide some of the most beneficial first aid remedies. 

A stock of dried herbs or herbal teas is a useful addition to a first aid kit. 

           Chamomile is well known for it's calming properties and taken just before bed can aid a good night's sleep as well as used for shock and nervous upsets. 
           Peppermint will help to ease indigestion, travel as well as morning sickness and stomach upsets.
            Ginger is a very natural way to ease nausea as well or prevent travel sickness. This can be kept for some time if you buy crystallized ginger. 
           Garlic is highly antiseptic and if you can stand the odor, rubbed onto acne and other infected spots can be very beneficial. 
           Onion slices  placed on insect stings can bring rapid relief. It can also be used to relieve nettle rash or hives (urticaria) caused by food allergens.
           Common sage is an herb of ancient repute, valued not only for it's culinary flavors but for it's medicinal properties too. It has been used for a variety of disorders including respiratory infections and digestive complaints. It is also believed to strengthen the senses and the memory.  The leaves have a special affinity with the mouth and throat. A weak gargle/mouth wash can be made for sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers or gum disease. 

When making up your herbal first aid kit always ensure you know what the herbs are for and how to use them. While most herbs are harmless, there are some that should not be used by pregnant women or children. Herbs are an extremely useful natural aid to day to day ailments, many of the ingredients you will probably already have in your cupboard or even your garden. Some times this can be faster and more available than over-the counter medicines.

Thursday, 27 October 2016


I have had a very good Blackberry season this year. I use them to mix with apple and eat them for breakfast.

Blackberries are are very useful fruit and are not to much trouble to grow. I prune and manure mine in the Autumn and make sure that they do not get too wilded during the year, by cutting bits off that growth in to my paths.

Not much seems to trouble them apart from:  if you have noticed that your Blackberry plant has turned orange, destroy it. This is a serious fungal disease that cannot be cured.

Blackberries like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, are rich in bioflavonoids and Vitamin C, 

Eating blackberries can help to promote the healthy tightening of tissue which is a great non-surgical procedure to make skin look younger. 

If you eat Blackberries  long term it will helps keep your brain alert, thereby maintaining clarity of thought and good memory.

Making a tea of the leaves of blackberries have been used to treat  mild inflammation of the gums, this tea is also very soothing for sore throats.This tea does not taste very nice so it is a good idea to add honey to the drink.

Blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Banana, one of the UKs most popular  fruits, has 40 units of antioxidants, while Blackberries has a whopping 650 units and that is a lot of bang for your berry. 

Antioxidants, well-known for lowering the risk of  a number of cancers are a huge bonus, but be aware the berries are best consumed in their natural state to get the full benefits.

You can also use the leaves and barks of the plant  because the astringent tannins are effective in oral hygiene when used as a gargle or mouthwash.

The high tannin content of blackberries provides a number of benefits: to reduce intestinal inflammation, 
alleviate hemorrhoids 
soothe the effects of diarrhea. 

It is important to incorporate berries in your diet in a variety of ways. Have them as a snack or in your cereal or even as a smoothie.

the healthy dose of Vitamin K aids in muscle relaxing and many women use the berries to alleviate labour pains. 

Friday, 21 October 2016


I am a bit upset, right now because I have had a glut of Cauliflowers and not been able to eat them before they went over.

Pity really, because they are not easy to grow in the first place. I am told that you can keep them for a week or so if you hang them upside down in the shed; however that did not work for me because, I think, that it has been too warm in the shed during the day time.

As my beds become empty, I give them them two big wheelborrows of compost; which I dig in. It is very import to get the compost under the ground so that the worms can do their 'thing'.

If you want to see signs of spring when it comes; now is the time to get your spring bulbs in.
  Bare soil should be hoed every week or so in the winter just to keep the weeds at bay and the soil loose

Friday, 11 March 2016

All about Lavender


Lavender derives it's name from the Latin lavare, meaning to wash. It has been a favorite herb for centuries and has been in documented use for over two and a half thousand years. The Egyptian's used Lavender for mummification as well as perfume. The Greeks and Romans used Lavender scented water to bathe in, which is where it first took it's name from. The use of Lavender spread across Europe from Greece and is now commonly found and used around the world both in cooking and for medicinal purposes.

One of the most widely used types of Lavender is English Lavender. This was developed in the 1600 about the same time the first Lavender plants were making there way to the Americas. It was to gain royal status when Queen Elizabeth I of England commanded that the royal table should never be without Lavender conserve. She also valued Lavender for it's perfume and drank Lavender tea to help ease the pain of her migraines.

Another royal to favor Lavender was Queen Victoria of England. She was known for having it in every room and to be used in a variety of ways such as cleaning the floors and furniture as well as an air freshener. This in turn gave rise to it's popularity across the country.

To demonstrate how important an herb it was considered for it's medicinal qualities, it was used during the First World War by nurses to bathe soldiers' wounds. It has a long established tradition for being valued not only for it's scent, but as a remedy for many complaints and ailments. It is generally regarded as one of the most versatile essences therapeutically.

Lavender has a powerful calming scent that is now used in a vast range of perfumes, cosmetics and soaps or in it's natural state in Lavender bags or as dried flower decorations. The essential oil in the flowers has a sedative, calming effect. This is why it is widely used to relax muscles, calm the nerves, ease anxiety and help to promote a good nights sleep.

Lavender For Medicinal Use

As an essential oil, Lavender can be used to treat a huge variety of ailments and should be an essential component of any first aid box. It is one of the most useful skin care oils. Not only does it have excellent antiseptic properties but it is also very mild to the skin. Due to it's healing as well as analgesic properties, it can be used to bring instant relief to sunburn, preventing blistering. it also relieves heat rash or red and sore skin. By using a lotion of 12 drops of lavender essential oil in 1 tablespoon of distilled water dabbed gently onto the area it is very soothing. It can also be applied neat to insects bites and stings.

Taking Lavender as a tea or tincture  has soothing effects on the central nervous system. It is thought to help to slow nerve reactions, ease pain and irritability and calm nervous tension. It is most effective for sleeping disorders. Drinking a cup of Lavender tea an hour before bed acts as a mild sedative. It can also aid digestion, relieving intestinal spasms.

Lavender is very useful for use with children as it has such a pleasant smell. It is particularly useful in the treatment of head lice in children as commercial products can be very harmful and unpleasant to use. To treat head lice, dilute 5-10 drops of oil in water or use neat on a fine tooth comb.

For painful muscles dilute 1ml Lavender in 25ml carrier oil such as sweet almond oil, and massage into painful muscles. For relief of a tension headache or the first sign of a migraine, dilute 10 drops in 25ml of carrier oil and massage into the temples and nape of the neck.

These are only a few of the many ailments that Lavender is used for. The list is vast and includes many skin problems such as eczema, athlete's foot, wounds etc. It is also used for muscular problems, respiratory conditions, digestive and nervous system complaints. It is no wonder that Lavender has remained so popular throughout the ages.

Lavender In Cooking

Although thought of mainly for it's medicinal properties, it is also an incredibly versatile herb for cooking. Fresh edible flowers are making a comeback in many fashionable restaurants as well as being used as an ingredient. It can both enhance the flavor as well as the appearance of the food. Adding Lavender to a dish or drink as a garnish can give it that 'wow' factor.

Both flowers and leaves can be used in food preparation. They can be used fresh or dried. There are many different varieties of Lavender but English Lavender has the best and sweetest fragrance of all the different types. It has a sweet, floral flavor with lemon and citrus notes. If using in cooking note that dried Lavender increases in potency, so less should be used. If new to cooking with Lavender start with a small amount and experiment, as adding too much will be like eating perfume and make your food taste bitter.

The flowers can add a beautiful color to salads and other dishes. It can be used as a substitute to rosemary in recipes such as bread. To use in cakes or custards, grind the Lavender in a coffee or similar grinder and place in a sealed jar with sugar. This adds a wonderful flavor to your baking.

Apart from Lavender being one of the most versatile and useful of herbs in both cooking and for medicinal purposes, it is also a wonderful herb to grow in your garden for it's scent and beauty alone.  It can provide an attraction for bees to your garden as well as create an all year round supply of home remedies. This is certainly an herb that no home should be without.