Monday, October 31, 2011

Christening invitations from

We have a new addition to the family; my niece has just given birth to a baby boy and everyone is over the moon. Time to plan for the christening but there are so many people we have to invite from all across the country. A great way of doing it is using the christening invitations from, that would save us time to do other stuff like party and gifts.

Hanging gardens

Hanging baskets are wonderful for utilising spaces that would otherwise be wasted. They are literally hanging gardens of foliage or flowers and can be inside or outside.

Finding the right basket for the purpose and plants is the first step. There are a multitude of different baskets. The two basic types are wire ones made from galvanised steel or iron and plastic ones with attached drip trays that are excellent for indoors. You can water baskets with drip trays quite a lot without worrying about over-watering, as long as the drip tray isn’t full. They are also useful because they can be watered directly into the drip tray.

The wire ones are relatively cheap and cost costs around $10. These baskets need to be lined in order to hold soil. You can buy liners or make your own out of shade cloth cut to size and pushed into the basket. To remove the folds, make slits in the cloth at intervals. The cloth will then overlap neatly in the basket. Use about 3-4 layers of cloth. Half fill the basket with potting soil and trim any edges of cloth that hang over. Hanging baskets can get very heavy, so it is advisable to hang them up while planting.

Add some cocoapeat or coir to the soil because this acts as a moisture reservoir which is important for plants in pots. Ferns make excellent foliage hanging baskets. Peter chooses a variety of ferns that can all be planted in the same pot and whose foliage complements one another. When planting ensure that the top of the root ball is just below the level of the rim. Place the first plant in the centre of the basket, then gently fill in all the spaces around it with other plants. Peter selects about seven different fern species including a forest brake fern, variegated brake fern, two species of maidenhair, a button fern and two species of pilea, P. mollis and P. nummularifolia (Creeping Charlie) which is excellent for the edges as it weeps over the side. This ability to grow numerous species in the one pot is the great advantage of basket gardening.

Backfill, all the spaces between the plants by hand with moist but not too wet potting soil. It should still be able to flow into the crevices. Push the soil in lightly and finish by watering thoroughly to allow the potting soil to settle down.

Rustic furniture

The best thing about moving into a new house is furnishing it. Every house is different so it is important that the furniture matches the style of the house to make the new home welcoming and cosy. That’s why I’m shopping for some rustic furniture for the new cabin I just acquire down by the lake. This will be my weekend retreat for years to come.


The secret to vigorous plant growth is using the finest of all organic fertilisers, compost. Almost anything can go in to compost from tea leaves to newspaper. It is virtually impossible to fill a compost heap, you can keep topping it up with organic garden and kitchen wastes and watering it down without it getting full.

There are different kinds of compost heaps. The smaller lidded bins are problematic in that they do not reach high temperatures, thus the waste takes a long time to degrade and weed seeds and pests are not killed. However, they are useful for small gardens, produce good compost and are full of worms. When the matter in them has degraded, they can be lifted up and moved, leaving a heap of compost for use in the garden.

If you are in a hurry to obtain compost, use a rotating bin. Organic matter is placed in the bin, the lid is closed and the bin rotated about two or three times a day. The bin has bars inside that mix up the compost and speed decomposition. Once finished, the bin is tipped up and the compost collected in a barrow.

The best way of making compost is to create a couple of wooden frames, one will contain fresh compost and the other old compost that can be used. The compost heap needs to get hot in order to kill weed seeds and pests. The base of the frame should be open to the soil. It should not be concrete because the worms must be able to escape the heat generated by the activity of bacteria that are breaking down the waste.

Begin by making a layer of organic matter, about a third of the depth of the frame. Next add a layer of manure such as sheep droppings, to weigh down the organic matter. This will encourage the bacteria to grow. A second layer of chicken manure is also good. It is essential to saturate the heap with water.

Start layering again with more organic matter containing straw and kitchen and garden wastes, you can even add cotton clothes. Build up successive layers of organic matter topped with manure and watered down each time until you have reached the top. Deep saturation is important, so water until it runs out the bottom. Water the heap regularly thereafter. The heap will become extremely hot. This means that it is working.

You can tell when the compost is ready to use as there will be no recognisable lumps of organic matter and it will have a rich soil texture. Use the compost in the plant hole of seedlings and for conditioning the soil prior to planting. Avoid using it as a mulch, rather mulch over the top of it with straw or dig it into the soil.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gaming computers

I used to enjoy going to computer swap meets on the weekends years ago. It was like a weekly ritual for me. You can find just about any kinds of computers and accessories you want and they are usually cheaper than in the stores. Well I haven’t been going for a while but I will need to pay them a visit this weekend. I’m looking at getting some gaming computers for the new lounge I’ve just open. That would bring in more younger customers I reckon.

Acid-loving Plants

There is a group of plants called the acid-lovers. The most beautiful of these are the azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias. These plants like soil that is acidic and do not like any kind of lime or alkaline soil.

Acid-loving plants do not tolerate clay soils as they easily become waterlogged. The result is leaf scorch, indicated by brown patches on the leaves and a wilted appearance.

Rhododendron ‘Pink pearl’ will grow both in full sun and in dappled shade. When planting out you do not need to tease the roots, which should be tight and compact. Ensure that the top of the root ball is just below the soil surface. These plants do not require a lot of fertiliser and excess can retard growth, so don’t put fertilisers into the planting hole.

How do you keep the soil acidic? Mulch around the plant with compost, old cow manure and blood and bone. You can also use half-decayed leaves or pine needles because they are highly acidic. Always keep the mulch free from the stem or it will go mouldy.

These plants are poor at obtaining iron and alkaline soil can induce iron deficiency which can be identified by a yellowing of the leaves. The reason why these plants love acid soils is because they can obtain more iron under these conditions. Iron can be supplemented in the form of cheated iron, bought as a yellow powder. Place a large spoonful into a watering can and water over the leaves and into the soil. This type of iron can bypass the alkalinity and be absorbed readily by the plant, however it is only a temporary solution and long-term remediation of the soil may be necessary.

ProFlowers Twitter feed

For most of you who knows me also know that I’m a keen gardener. I like growing all kinds of plants be them for food or just for their pretty flowers. However just because I have a garden doesn’t mean I can live without shopping for my daily greens or bouquets. I still buy my vegetables and flowers when I need them but ProFlowers Twitter feed helps me keep up with all the flowers I need.

Snail Control

Snails can be a real pest in the garden, especially if you have soft leaved plants or tender seedlings, which they love to eat.

There are lots of different ways of controlling snails. The most environmentally sound method is to put on some boots of a damp evening and go stomping as snails generally feed at night. Alternatively you can collect snails and slugs by hand and kill them by dropping them into soapy water. Many of us don’t have time for this so the next best thing to do is buy an environmentally friendly snail bait that won’t harm pets such as cats and dogs or the native wildlife.

Snails like to live on vertical surfaces in the heart of strappy leaved plants and in crevices. This makes targeting them easier. Simply put a few pellets into the heart of the plant out of the sight of other animals.

Another more organically sound method of snail control is to use organic sprays made from plants that will deter these pests. Quassia amara can be made into a spray that is applied to the soil to kill snails and slugs and can also be sprayed onto the leaves of trees affected by pear and cherry slugs. Sprays can also be made from wormwood, garlic and white cedar to make the leaves unpalatable to pests, but are not recommended on vegetables that are going to be eaten soon after.

A bowl of beer placed strategically in the garden can be effective against slugs and snails, which are attracted to it, crawl in and drown.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 electric mattress pad

Now that winter is just around the corner it is time to prepare our house for the chilly days and nights. I hate cold wintry nights so this year I’m going to get myself an electric-blanket, I found one that I like at electric mattress pad. I think this will keep me all warm and snugly so I won’t be needing my hubby anymore! LOL just kidding, he’s a keeper.

Organic Principles

Organic fruit and vegetable gardens contain no disruptive chemicals or artificial fertilisers. The purely organic soil supports a host of important micro and macro-organisms such as worms that are all doing their bit to aerate, condition and fertilise. Good soil is balanced and seething with life, but how do you fertilise organic plants? The answer is don’t feed the plants, feed the soil so the plants can take up nutrients as they require them. Home-made compost is the gentlest and best of all the fertilisers. Other types such as mushroom compost are also excellent for enriching and conditioning the soil. You can also use any type of well-rotted animal manure. Manure is composed primarily of organic matter but also has some vital nutrients. Blood and bone is fantastic because it is slow release and full of valuable minerals. First add manure to the soil surface, spread it out and cover it with compost. The more variety you add the better, so sprinkle some blood and bone on top, lightly mix it in to the other materials and cover it all with straw to speed up decomposition. This treatment acts like a mini-compost heap releasing nutrients slowly into the soil and keeping in moisture at the same time. Nothing goes to waste in an organic garden because all the debris is recycled back into the soil via compost.

Organic gardens control pests and diseases in a number of ways. A good method is to employ crop rotation, which means cycling plants to a new bed every year, such that they are never in the same bed for 2 years running. Companion planting is another good method because these plants grow well together and protect one another. A good example is planting carrots, black salsify and members of the onion family alongside one another. Their different smells, colours and shapes confuse and deter insects. The same is true for sweetcorn, pumpkins, cucumbers and squash. Organic gardens are not free of pests, in fact they are full of them, but because no chemicals have been used, they are also full of predators which control pest numbers. Organic gardeners avoid using sprays by removing pest-infected fruit or shoots. For example, by removing young apples that were infected with coddling moth, the number of moths was lower the next year and fruit yield much greater.

There are many different types of organic gardens, not just fruit and vegetable but ornamentals as well. The plants in organic ornamental gardens have been nourished with rich organic matter and are therefore vigorous and healthy because they are strong enough to cope with and deter pests. Remember that organic gardening is not always easy or pretty, pests often nibble things but you will be better off for it in the long run. For example, Pete shows us a cabbage whose outer leaves have been chewed, but inside is a perfect cabbage that is very healthy because it has never been sprayed.