Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice, looking to be self-sufficient or supplement your salad bowl, we all want a bumper vegetable crop – but it can be tricky to achieve. A polytunnel is a great way to up your game and help you grow the veggies you’ve always dreamt of, so here’s a guide to putting up a polytunnel, and growing your own veggies.
Putting It Up
Putting up a polytunnel is a lot easier than you might think! You can choose to have it erected by a professional, or you can do it yourself – either way this definitely isn’t a job for a bad-weather day! In particular, you want to choose a day that isn’t too windy. It’s also important to put it up in warm weather, as the polythene will hand more tightly on the frame and make the job easier. A standard polytunnel has a framework constructed from hoops of aluminimum (or other metal) tubing, covered in a large polythene sheet. Assembly is pretty simple; first you’ll lay out the footprint and put up the frame, then you’ll dig a trench around the outside of the frame and use it to secure the sheet, before fixing the cover to the frame, and adding the doors.
What to Sow, When
One of the most important things to think about when trying to achieve the best possible vegetable crop when using a polytunnel is knowing what to sow and when. In spring you can sow early crops of lettuces, carrots and herbs. In summer all the half-hardy plants – the aubergines, cucumbers, peppers, chilies and tomatoes plus the more tender herbs such as basil and coriander can fill the beds. In autumn, winter salads, overwintering brassicas and oriental greens are ideal, while in winter you can enjoy cut-and-come leaves, spinach and chard and sow your onions. Peaches and nectarines can also be brought inside to avoid peach leaf curl.
For a bumper crop of veggies proper irrigation is vital. Overhead watering systems might sound attractive, but the environment tends to be humid anyway and as you are growing a wide range of crops means some are too wet and some too dry. For something a little lower tech but potentially more effective, irrigation tubing at bed level is a great option. You can also use this method to adjust the height of the water spray so plants that need to stay dry (say to avoid rotting) will, and those that need more water will be equally catered for.
We all love our gardens, but sometimes they can get a little neglected – particularly during the winter months. So get into the DIY craze with a few easy and fun projects to upgrade your garden and really enjoy your outside space, no matter what the time of year.
Beautifully decorated flowerpots can make all the difference to a garden – particularly if you’re limited on space and pots are your main gardening space. But there’s just no need to spend a fortune on something pre-painted. Instead buy a few plain terracotta pots and grab a brush! A great way to upscale plain pots without too much effort is by dressing them in bold stripes. All you need to do is grab two contrasting colours, a brush, and some masking tape. Start by marking out some stripes with the masking tape, and painting between the tape lines with the first colour. Let this dry completely (probably overnight) and then remove the masking tape. Re-apply the tape up against the edge of the now dry first colour, and paint the remaining terracotta stripes in the alternate colour. Allow this to dry overnight and remove the tape – and you’re done! Plant away!
Outdoor Movies at Home
Your very own outdoor movie screen might seem like a huge project, but it’s far more manageable than you think! You’ll need a selection of materials and tools. For the frame of the screen you’ll need wooden boards – they can be of pretty much any length as you’ll cut them to size with a power saw to construct a basic TV screen shape frame. Choose two anchor points in your garden such as trees or fence sections and use a power drill to insert heavy duty screws from which your frame will hang. To prevent it from swinging forward and back, you should attach small bungee cords to connect the bottom of the screen to the tree trunks, fence posts or whatever anchor point you’re using. Center the fabric and staple a few at the top/bottom centers, then the sides. Pull and staple your way to corners, making sure to stretch out any wrinkles for a smooth, tight surface. Then string heavy duty curtain wire (or similar) between the two anchor points and hang the screen from it, attaching the small bungees as you go.
Anglia Tool Centre have all of the tools you’ll need to execute this project, so check them out, order what you need, and treat your family to a fantastic outdoor movie experience!
Roses are such divine food, medicine and perfume, but watch out for those pointy, sharp thorns on the stem. It’s easy to see why it is such a universal symbol of love. 🌹
I collected some wild rose petals from my garden, for a rose petal tincture and essence. Wear gloves and protective clothing to harvest. Wild roses are better than the commercial varieties for medicinal use.
See my blog on how to make your own natural perfume from flowers. http://earthelixir.ca/2012/06/05/making-natural-perfume-from-flower-petals/
Rose petal tincture is used medicinally as a nutritive for debility. Rose has a euphoric, aphrodisiac action that soothes and relaxes the nervous system. It tones digestion, reduces inflammation, and is great to use in skincare products. It is good for all skin types, especially mature skin. It’s easy to add rose water and essential oil to make your own skincare products.
See my blog on using Rose essential oil. http://earthelixir.ca/2012/06/04/rose-essential-oil/
Rose water is what is separated from the essential oil part, and is used in cooking, baking, and for beverages.
Rose hips, collected after the flowers bloom, are delicious, nutritious medicinal food. Rose hip tea beverages and culinary soups have a pink red colour, and pack some good Vitamin C content and phytonutrients.
Here are some beautiful roses for you friends. The roses in these pictures are from my garden, so take some time to smell the roses.🌹
|Common Name||Rose hips/ flowers|
|Latin Name||Rosa spp.|
|Parts Used||Perennial- Collect flower petals during growing season. Roses lay dormant in colder climates. Collect rosehips in the Fall. Essential oil made from flowers.|
|Target Organs||Digestion, Central Nervous System, Nerves, Skin|
|Common Uses||Aphrodisiac, perfume, debility, exhaustion, nutritive, inflammation, skincare, Rosehips, rosewater, are used in cooking and beverages|
|Properties||Aphrodisiac, antidepressant, antiseptic, euphoric, antispasmodic, nutritive, astringent, mild laxative, vulnerary, diuretic, anti-inflammatory,|
|Constituents||Essential oil : Esters: geranyl acetate, citronellyl acetate, neryl acetate,
Sesquiterpene alcohol: farnesol,
Monoterpene alcohols: Citronellol 15-20%, geraniol 10%, linalool, nerol 15%, cedrol, linlool
Other: vitamin C, tannin, pectin, carotene, fruit acids
|Cautions||Do not use during pregnancy. Thorny plant, caution while harvesting.|
|Dosage||Tincture: 1-4ml Tea rose hips, flowers|
Bee-balm or Monarda which is the Latin name, is a beautiful wildflower native to North east North America. It is known for the popular beverage Natives call Oswego tea, and is also cooked in stews, and used to flavour salads. Being aromatic the essential oil makes great perfume and keeps insects and flies away.
Monarda fistulosa has beautiful tubular lavender-purple pinkish flowers. The common name is known as Wild Bergamot, not to be confused with the citrus bergamot orange – Citrus bergamia L. used in EARL GREY tea, but it smells similar and is now sometimes combined. English Settlers that came to North America named it that, because they thought it smelled just like earl grey tea, and introduced it to England in 1744. Having a high geraniol content, it smells like geranium flowers mixed with citrus and mint.
Monarda didyma has showy red flowers that smell like citrus and mint. The leaves make a wonderful tea dried or fresh. The common name is Bee-balm because it attracts bees, along with hummingbirds and butterflies. It is also called Scarlet bee-balm because of the colour of the flowers. The M. didyma species has a higher thymol content that makes it smell more like citrus thyme.
The stems are square like some mints, with paired grey green leaves that is rough on both sides. It prefers moist, light soil. Being a mint family member it likes some shade from the hot afternoon sun. Use all Monarda species the same way. The essential oil has a very pleasant fragrance and is used for coughs and colds. Enjoy in a tea, tincture or in a culinary masterpiece!
|Common Name||Bee balm/ Wild Bergamot|
|Latin Name||Monarda didyma (Bee balm) Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)|
|Family||Lamiaceae (Mint Family)|
|Parts Used||Perennial- pick herb from spring until it flowers in July-August|
|Target Organs||circulatory, digestion, respiratory, nerves, lymphatic, skin, urinary, reproductive|
|Common Uses||Respiratory: infections, colds, flu, nasal congestion, coughs, fever, swollen lymph
Digestion: digestive catarrh, indigestion, constipation, gas, bloating,
Urinary: UTI, incontinence, infection
Female reproductive: spasms, cramps, PMS, balancing
Nervous system: relaxant, stress, depression
External: wounds, inflammation,
|Properties||antimicrobial, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic (digestive, general, respiratory, uterine,) antiviral, anxiolytic, appetite stimulant, astringent, warming carminative, cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, digestive stimulant, stimulating emmenagogue, relaxing, secretolytic, stimulating expectorant, febrifuge, nervine, rubefacient, relaxant, stomachic, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, (neural, peripheral vasodilator), vulnerary|
|Constituents||Essential Oil Yield: 0.4%-0.6%
Monoterpene alcohols: geraniol 90%
Phenol: thymol(found in M. didyma)50%
|Cautions||Mild remedy. Do not use during pregnancy or consult with a professional.|
|Dosage||Tincture: 2-4ml Tea: 2 tsp. infuse|
White pine aka Weymouth Pine and Northern White Pine, is a tree native to Canada, and is favoured for woodwork carvings and furniture construction.
This soft pine is the provincial tree of Ontario, Canada and is one of the most commercially valuable trees for eastern North America.
The tall straight trunks made excellent naval ship masts, and some of the largest trees were reserved for the Navy. This made Eastern Canada the world centre for wood harvesting in the 19th century, that is until the Giant Pines became extinct from over harvesting.
The Native Iroquois considered this tree a symbol of their strength and endurance. The tree tips were boiled to make a nutritious tea.
Scots pine aka Scotch Pine is used in the same way as White Pine and grows world wide, but doesn’t grow very well in North America. It is not used in the lumber industry, but it makes a good Christmas tree. Different Pine species are used medicinally in the same way.
Both Pine needle Essential oil and Pine needle Tincture treat coughs and colds. Pine opens up breathing passages and resolves congestion created by phlegm, mucus and catarrh. It opens the chest, relieves wheezing and is good to use for respiratory infections, inflammation and pain.
Pine is a cardiovascular and adrenal tonic, which makes it good to use to restore strength and alleviate fatigue.
Use the essential oil externally in steam inhalations for sinusitis or upper respiratory conditions like catarrh. Mix with base oils like hemp, coconut oil for chest or body rubs, or mix in the bath with carrier or in an Epsom salt, baking soda scrub.
Use the Pine needle tincture or cough syrup internally at acute dosages for coughs, colds and infections.
Caution is advised when using the essential oil in massage, it can irritate skin in large doses, because it is very drying. Do not use during pregnancy.
Pine should not be confused with Turpentine essential oil, which is made from the resinous pitch of fir and pine, and sometimes other trees like spruce, it is a medium strength remedy.
|Common Name||Pine needles herb|
|Latin Name|| Pinus strobus (White Pine)
Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) spp.
|Family||Pinaceae (Pine Family)|
|Parts Used||Perennial tree pick young twig tips of evergreen tree needles|
|Target Organs||Digestion, lungs, liver, urogenital, respiratory, adrenals, cardiovascular,|
|Common Uses||Respiratory: relieves phlegm, opens sinuses,
coughs, colds, flu, congested sinus with headache, infection, dry and damp lung phlegm, bronchitis, tight chest, upper respiratory catarrh
Adrenal: Tonic to adrenals and uterus
Cardiovascular: Tonic to vascular system
Digestion: gas, spasms infection, catarrh,
Immune: infections, arthritis, gout, inflammation, pain,
Deodorant, foot perspiration, hygiene,
|Properties||Adrenal tonic, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, inflammatory- general local, antioxidant, antispasmodic(digestive, respiratory, general), antiviral, astringent, bronchodilator, carminative, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, drying, relaxing/stimulating expectorant, haemostatic, nervine, relaxant, vascular tonic, vasodilator, uterine tonic|
Monoterpenes up to 80% content, a+b pinene, limonene, borneol, bornyl acetate, cardimene, phellandrenes, pumilone, Pinicrin,
Esters: bornyl acetate
Monoterpene alcohol: borneol 2%
Other: Vitamin C, glucose, galactose, resin, tannin
|Cautions||mild remedy do not take during pregnancy.|
Tea: 1-2 tsp. infuse
Trees of Ontario – Linda Kershaw. Lone Pine publishing, 2001
The Energetics of Western Herbs- Peter Holmes.
When choosing a house, one of the non-negotiable priorities for many buyers is that it must have a garden. There’s something about having that patch of lawn bordered by flower beds, or that useful patio, littered with pretty flowerpots, that we just can’t do without. And even when it’s the size of a postage stamp, we cherish it. So how can you appreciate your garden even more?
Having a solid wall between you and your slice of outdoors will never do. And whereas most people opt for a set of French or patio doors, this won’t invite the garden in like a bi or tri-fold sliding door. The beauty of this type of door is that it’s possible to have wall-to-wall glass, which then slides open and neatly folds out of the way.
With this type of door, you’re truly extending your kitchen or living area into the garden. Even when shut, you can see your garden unimpeded, plus the extra light brought in is a real bonus.
An interesting way of extending into the garden, is to have the same flooring going from room to patio. This ‘infinity’ look can be quite effective. Solid oak flooring is suitable for both inside and out, and together with the sliding, folding doors, will create a large, combined living space. If you’re not into the wood look, then limestone tiles would work equally well or some frost-proof porcelain tiles. If there is a step down, then you may want to consider raising the patio so that it’s on the same level.
By choosing varieties that are equally happy indoors as out, you can have mirrored plants. Get matching containers and pot them up with the same plants. Then place one just outside the door and its twin on the inside. This further confuses where the garden starts and the house ends. If you think flowering plants might require too much maintenance, why not choose some robust succulents, which include cacti and sedum.
To blur those lines even further, particularly if the room in question is a conservatory or living area, you may wish to consider all-weather furniture, both inside and out. There are some very attractive and comfortable sofas and chairs available, such as a mock rattan design.
With a little ingenuity, and by making relatively small changes, it’s very possible to give the illusion of bringing the garden into your home, for maximum enjoyment.
Originally posted on Wild Foodism:
Let’s imagine you’re walking through the forest. I like birch and hemlock forests, so let’s go there.
You’ve got a field guide in your backpack, a foraging basket, and several freshly-harvested oyster mushrooms to occupy the basket. As you’re strolling down the path, you fail to notice a low-lying birch root along the ground. Another step forward and your minimalist shoe catches the root, propelling not only your body into the air, but your prized oysters as well. Never mind the oysters for now… let’s inspect that nice-looking wound on your knee (thanks, rock).
It’s a small wound … nothing serious. You wash it, bandage it, and continue your trek through the forest. At home, calendula ointment and honey take care of the rest.
That seems like a wise strategy … something I would surely do. In fact, there are several remedies that…
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