Aged old "superfoods" and their relevant benefits

Whilst the term “super food” has only entered into social circulation during the past few years. The idea of super-nutritious and life giving foods have been around since the beginning of time.

It's very much likely that our ancestors were far more educated about what true superfoods are as we evidently wade through supermarket aisles picking up cans, boxes, prepackaged and processed foods. But in the age of information, you can compile a good list of superfoods for your next shopping trip.

There are foods that have been around for centuries, even millennia. Many of these foods are just as good now as they were then. So which foods should be on your superfoods list? Here are some timeless superfoods that you should include in your diet today:
  • Quinoa - you’ve likely heard of it because it’s experienced a growing resurgence in the past few years. But, quinoa has been around for ages. The Incas of South America refer to this food as chisaya mama, or the mother of all grains. It’s high in protein, calcium, and iron, and is very versatile. Cook with herbs and diced veggies or form with legumes and seasonings into veggie patties. Due to it’s high protein content, it's great in assisting with a high protein vegetarian diet. It can be used as a natural remedy for hair loss and hair thinning.
  • Spirulina - is an algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is said to be one of the oldest life forms on earth and has been eaten as long ago as the 9th century in the Kanem Empire of Chad. It’s good for your eyes, your skin, allergies, and stabilizing blood sugar.
  • Sacha Inchi - This food is a little more obscure... But has been consumed in the Amazon jungle for ages. It’s considered a superfood of the ancient Incas and is reported to contain concentrated Omega-3 fats. It’s also rich in iodine, and vitamins A and E.
  • Maca - Another ancient Incan superfood, Maca can be found in the mountains of Peru. It’s said to be an excellent all-natural energy source and also contains numerous plant sterols, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine.
Let’s not forget other amazing superfoods like turmeric, ginger, honey, garlic etc. All these edibles help fight cancer and protect you against numerous infections and diseases.

How can you prepare these foods? While quinoa is easy to find and super easy to cook. The others may be more of a challenge. Both spirulina and maca supplements can be conveniently purchased at most health food stores. Sacha Inchi can be found in an oil form which can be used on salads as you would use olive oil.

The ancients knew a thing or two about natural living. As we probably would as well in the absence of modern agriculture and readily available food. With trial and error you would soon learn the benefits of each and every individual type of edible. On this bases the majority of the food they consumed would be classed as superfoods. Of which you should try and add to your shopping list!

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The Winter Garden

As the seasons progress and the cold winter months unavoidably approach. The life so abundant in the natural world is slowly brought to a steady halt in the winter garden.

While you may not think so, there are still plenty of things you can do in your vegetable garden even during winter. The most important of all being, preparation for next year.

With the coming and perhaps already present winter. Gives us time to sit back and recollect over the previous growing season. Considering our mistakes, new discoveries made, preferable changes for next year, new ideas that we may want to implement. Also considering things like crop rotation, what you may want to grow next year, what seeds to order etc.

Below you can find a few pointers consisting of things to keep you busy during the winter. Hopefully ensuring a greater success for your vegetable garden come next year as well.

Enriching your soil with compost is important. There is quite a bit of physical labour that can be done and is recommended during or just before the cold months in the winter garden. Many others including myself spread manure or well rotted compost around our plot as this will be broken up by the many insects and elements during your absence leaving you with rich fertile soil come spring. Some people choose to dig fairly deep trenches, filling them with vegetable waste and soft mulch such as leaves, shredded paper etc. This will also be broken down and can work in your favour by enriching the soil gradually however it's probably most best to use compost that's already primed for use.

Get out the seed catalogue. Unless you have stockpiled seeds from your previous crops or you have generous seed donators. Now is a good time to reach for your seed catalogue. If you haven't got a catalogue you can easily request one online from one of the many reputable seed bank companies. Or more simply, just order your seeds online.

I always tend to have bags of seeds left over from last year. However I'm always trying new and different strains in my vegetable garden. There are so many varieties of one vegetable. I enjoy experimenting, growing and tasting them all.

It is wise to choose disease resistant varieties when buying your seeds though. It will definitely prove worth while in comparison to a crop that would be susceptible to such a disease if you had not used a resistant variety.

Thinking about crop rotation. Crop rotation, if you didn't already know, is a method for reducing the probable build of diseases within the soil and to also replenish and rejuvenate your soil by planting different crops in different places every other year.

For instance, if you planted potatoes in one bed last year it would be wise to plant a legume or a brassica in the same spot the following year. Crop rotating generally occurs in 4 year periods, this however can be extended to introduce 6 or event 8 yearly crop cycles. I like to keep it simple with my limited space though. I've included a simple chart to the right.

If you like to grow numerous different vegetables in one single bed like I do. You can still rotate your crops by again, following the chart above. Last year I grew my broad beans fairly close to my potatoes so this year , in that same bed I will grow either brassicas or alliums.

Some say it's still safe to grow one vegetable in the same spot consecutively for a minimum of three years and then attempt rotating crops. I've never tried this personally as I'm always moving things around but it sounds reasonable.

Thinking ahead is important. As with all things, your garden will see great benefit from previous thoughts on preparation put into motion. This could be anything from crop rotation, wanting to plant new and interesting strains, switch out old methods for new ones in light of new ideas etc.

As for me, I will be making greater use of my space next year by trying to grow large rows of peas up my garden fence, both in the back garden and out front. I will also be introducing many more containers for easy vegetable growing, expanding my raise beds, building a more aerated, open and spacious compost bin as well as a new polytunnel.

These are just little changes I want to make as I'm pretty satisfied with my results so far. Although given the space, I'd be doing things a lot more differently. But that all depends on your circumstances. What's important is you find the time now to think about the coming year.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. If you want to prevent the build up of nasty diseases and parasites it's wise to clean the majority of your garden instruments. I'm not implying you take your garden fork in the shower with you but giving your pots and seed trays a good wash definitely helps prevent the build up and probability of such diseases.

As a final note. There crops that can persevere through the cold in the winter garden. This year I will be leaving out my winter cabbage which will be done come next spring. Hopefully. Besides cabbage you can grow leeks, garlic, brussel sprouts, you can even grow some strains of legume. There are many late varieties of many other vegetables on the market that you can grow prior to winter. However, you won't be able to harvest very much until the frost has finally departed and weather tilts to something a little bit warmer.

How do you grow potatoes; Grow potatoes from potatoes

The potatoe, with it's high levels of starch, as well as being rich in many other healthy vitamins and minerals, being fibrous with it's staple carbohydrate content, makes it a great vegetable for filling you up easily and giving you lots of energy. As well as being so easily growable in any space big or small, leaves you little reason not to attempt growing it yourself!

The vegetable part that we consume is grown as a tuber on the perennial plant Solanum tuberosum. As the name implies it is a tuberous plant which means that by it's structure it naturally creates enlarged stores of nutrients called a tuber or tubers within the soil. In this particular instance those enlarged stores are the savory and nutritious parts we consume. The tubers are mainly produced to prolong the plants life through the tough seasons. As it's top foliage will inevitably die back. It's tubers beneath the ground survive and with their stored energy from the previous growing season will re-sprout come the following spring. This is why your gone off, old potatoes start to produce those weird prickly, spiky things. Those are the new shoots attempting to resprout with the energy stored in the potatoe from whence they were grown.

The potatoe is a fairly hardy plant, by this what is meant is that it can survive quite a lot of damage from pests or the elements etc and still produce a decent crop. Although this doesn't mean damage caused won't reduce overall yield. It's because of this characteristic I encourage most folks to try growing potatoes. In my garden they flourish like weeds. Sometimes it's hard not to grow them!

How do you grow potatoes? Well by far, the easiest most practical and productive way of growing potatoes is in large containers or big planters. They grow just as well in the ground or in raised beds however they're far more easier to care for and maintain and also to harvest when grown within containers. For some reason using containers to grow potatoes has always given me a bigger yield as an additional result.


How to grow potatoes from potatoes. To begin, you will want to firstly chit your potatoes. Chitting a potatoe simply involves encouraging an old potatoe to sprout once again. Exactly how they would look if you've left them in your cupboard for one too many days! You can of course just use old potatoes if they're showing new shoots. The chitting process doesn't have to be all that scientific and is not essential. People only generally chit their potatoes to get an early start to the growing season and also an early maturing crop. This will occur around January-February for most people. You can of course still plant sprouting potatoes when it's summer.

To chit your potatoes is quite simple. Just place some potatoes in a position with sunlight and good airflow. It's best to use seed potatoes as these are pretty much designed to be planted in the way we want. Although any potatoes can work well. You can buy seed potatoes at any good gardening store or even online.

Once your potatoes are showing new shoots it's time to get them in the ground! I would definitely advocate preparing your soil beforehand though. Personally, I just spread some well rotted compost and worm castings around my chosen spot or within the container I will be using along with adding a non excessive amount of bonemeal or fish blood and bone and then give it a good turn over and mix with the garden fork. If you do use some fertilizer always refer to the instructions given and never overfeed as this can do your plants more harm than good. I would advocate organic only fertilizers as, well, read my thoughts on the use of modern, chemical based fertilizers here organic-farming-vs-conventional-farming. Of course you don't have to bother with preparation all that much, however as potatoes are a particularly nutrient hungry crop it will certainly pay off by giving you an increased yield if you do manage to do it. Nevertheless you can still achieve a moderate yield for your efforts without much preparation. Especially if you're new.


When to grow potatoes. Potatoes are generally planted anywhere from early spring to early summer. Although it completely depends on your climate. 

If your planting potatoes directly in the ground you will want to firstly dig a hole at least a half a foot down. We do this because as the potatoe is a tuberous plant, the deeper and bigger the root system is the more tubers it will produce thus providing more food for us. Once your hole is dug simply place your sprouting potatoe down into your hole, with the sprouting part facing towards the sky and cover with dirt. Make sure to water every few days. You should start seeing life within 2 weeks. It's obviously more wise to dig a long deep trench and plant a row of potatoes but that all depends on your circumstances. One method people tend to use is to slowly pile dirt around the stem to create a small mound. This increases yield slightly depending on the size of the mound however if you've already planted your potatoes deeply they should produce a good crop regardless. This how others and even you can grow potatoes from potatoes!

If however you wish to grow potatoes in containers as I do then the method utilized is slightly different. The ideal container would be deep enough for a big root system and wide enough for the potatoes big foliage. A container about 2-3 feet high and with a diameter of 2-3 feet would be ideal. If you can't acquire such a container it doesn't matter that much, you can even use something simple like a bucket. What you do use, be sure to drill holes in the bottom to allow water to run off. You won't want dirty swamp water collecting at the bottom of your container!

Begin by filling your container with a thick layer of soil or compost. The layer has to be quite deep, a good few inches depending on your container size but not all the way full, leave the majority of the topside of the container empty. Push your potatoes a few inches into your partly filled container and then cover with another few inches of dirt. Be sure to water every few days. Once the potatoes are clearly producing foliage and have reached a height of at least 5 inches above the soil level you will want to cover the majority of the stem will another layer of compost or soil. Repeat this same process until your container is eventually full to the top with soil. As we're systematically covering the stem of the plant with soil it will continually convert into a root system. As you can imagine, planting potatoes this way will give us very big roots, which will reuslt in bigger tubers and of course, ultimately, an even bigger harvest!

Caring for your potatoes

Potatoes need not much care or maintenance. As they're a fairly hardy crop they can sustain quite a lot of harsh treatment. You shouldn't have to worry to much about weeds with potatoes as their foliage becomes so wide and bushy that it's very hard for weeds to grow beneath. You should never cut back or remove any of the potatoes foliage! It's those big bushy plants that will give you large potatoes. You should however, remove any flower buds that you see. This will force the plant to focus on growing big tubers instead of creating seeds.

You will want to keep your potatoes watered regularly. More importantly so during the first few weeks after planting when the tubers are starting to develop. Watering irregularly will cause the tubers to mature, harden and crack. When you do water, water heavily so the water will soak deep down within the soil reaching your deep rooted tubers.

You may want to give them a feed of some nutrients if you didn't prepare your soil before hand. Liquid fertilizers will do the job although you can find fertilizers in pellet or power form which you just sprinkle across the surface and let the rain break them down.

There's not much else you need do once your potatoes are well established. You may want to keep an eye out for any abnormalities that you may think aren't quite but besides that just let them grow and readily await the...


Harvesting potatoes is really simple. People generally harvest when the potatoes leaves are starting to die back but you can harvest anywhere from 10 to 20 weeks after planting. This is all dependent on how big you want your potatoes, and of course what time of year you planted. For smaller potatoes you can harvest from about 10-14 weeks but if you want larger, more fatter potatoes it's best to wait until around 18-20 weeks.

To harvest simply cut down all of the plants top foliage. Then with a garden fork careful dig down, be sure to keep a few inches away from the base of the plant (To avoid damaging any potatoes) lift, and turnover the soil and start collection 'em spuds! Just repeat this process until you think you've collected all the potatoes you can find. If you do damage any potatoes not all is lost just be sure to eat them that same day. 

For harvesting potatoes in containers is very easy. Just tip the container upside down and rummage around in the soil. This is why I advocate growing in containers. It's so much simpler. 


Before storing I like to leave them out in the sun for around an hour to allow the skins to harden. They're best stored in hessian sacks (The type of material you see sandbags made out of). Just put them out of the way of sunlight, in a dark cool place and they'll be fine. Remember to remove any potatoes that go green! These can be poisonous!

Well, that's it for my potatoes how to grow guide. I hope you give it a go!

Preserving water; Tips for water preservation in your garden

How to preserve water; First and foremost the best method of preserving water in your garden is to store more! If you don't have a water barrel or some sort of rain catchment system I highly recommend investing in one. I made mine quite easily out of a food grade 55 gallon drum. Rain water is far more better for you're plants than tap water as it's free from chlorine anyway.

I live in a very wet country so I don't need to water that often. I may water once or twice if we have a week long drought and it's particularly hot and dry. Or if I have seedlings that need regular water. That's a tip for you, if you live in a wet country (quite a few countries in Europe are!) you've no need to water that much as the rain will take care of things for you sufficiently enough.

If however you live in a particular hot country with a dry atmosphere then it may prove beneficial to make use of some simple tips on saving water.

A good rule of thumb to test if your plants need watering is to place your finger a few inches into the soil to test the levels of moisture. If the soil is moist a one-to-two inches down then you've no need to water as the soil is already nice and wet for the plants roots.

Below I've listed a few tips on ways to preserve water and also some simple ways on how to use water effectively and efficiently in your garden.

  • Weed out competing, unwanted plants or sow more densely to reduce the amount of bare soil which will eventually help to create more shade spots helping to maintain moisture once more.
  • Make good use of mulch in and between plants to help not only maintain moisture and reduce evaporation but to provide a slow steady flow of nutrients as the mulch starts to breakdown. Straw is best although you can use newspaper, shredded cardboard etc.
  • Create mini moats (or small walls of earth in a circular pattern) in and around your plants to stop excess water flowing away from the plant when it rains or when you water.
  • Water in the evening or early morning, directing the water at the roots of the plant not the leaves. “Little and often” is NOT advised as the water is likely to sit at the surface and be lost due to evaporation. Also, by watering heavily and irregularly the plant will develop deep long roots that will help it survive long droughts anyway.
  • Water your veg only when they really need it. Peas and beans need more water as the flowers start to open and as the pods are swelling; leafy vegetables (Cabbages etc) need quite a bit of water but more especially from two weeks before they are to be cut; sweet corn and potatoes benefit most from water when the plant flowers, don't forget to water regularly as well as the vegetables may turn hard and sickly as a result of not watering; tomatoes shouldn't be allowed to dry out, especially as the fruits are forming as this can result in blossom end rot; give onions and leeks a weekly drenching during dry spells to prevent them going to seed early (Remember to remove any flower shoots as you see them to prevent the plant from going to seed!).
  • Grey water is bad. (Waste water from the household) should never be used on edible crops. Ever. You can however recycle water used to boil vegetables in the kitchen. Allow the water to cool down and sprinkle it around your garden.

Simple, practical, recycled plant labels

I'm going to show you a really simple way of recycling old plastic containers by turning them into plant labels for your plants.

For this example I used a milk bottle but you can use pretty much anything.

To begin, just cut the milk bottle into two sections like I have done below.

Discard of the one side. Then, cut the other side into strips

Cut again to fit the length you require. Angle them off at one end into a point and write whatever you need to on them with a marker pen!

Easily done!

How to build a small polytunnel for seedlings and other small plants

I recently made a small polytunnel slash cold frame to assist me and also my and young seedlings by offering me an easier way to germinate seeds and to also give my seedlings a more comfortable start to their life cycle.

Knowing how to care for the seedling is knowledge for success in the diverse and vast gardening world. And so, such knowledge should be held invaluably!

The seedlings benefits amazingly from polytunnels. By planting seeds within these mock greenhouses your seedlings and young plants are protected from the harsh elements and also certain insects as well. Although to a lesser degree, but not forgetting how vulnerable they'd be in the outside.

Some people may wonder, what is a polytunnel? Well, firstly, a polytunnel is often but not always a large structure constructed out of various materials and is then covered in a polyethylene sheet. They're usually made out of easily accessible materials which is why they're favoured so much.

Polytunnels are often hoop shaped and set up as cheap greenhouses. They generally have the same function although  at a fraction of the cost. They can be formed into other shapes other than the usual semi-circular model although this is the most popular as it allows rain to run off smoothly.

The main benefits of polytunnels are to protect plants from harsh winds, heavy rain and hale, frost, cold and to also create a growing environment by trapping in heat and moisture within the polytunnel. Plants that enjoy tropical climates gain the most advantage here. It would be impossible to replicate said environments without structures such as greenhouses or polytunnels.

Now you know what a polytunnel is. Let's move on to how to construct my miniature version for starting of the seedlings and for protecting other young plants.

So how do you make a greenhouse or polytunnel? I hear you scream in extreme anxiousness. Well read how I did it below. I've included illustrative pictures so anybody can have a go!

Tools and necessities required:

1x saw
1x manual drill and 1x power drill
2x 90" length by 2"x2" pieces of timber
2x 90" length by 1"x1" pieces of timber
1x At least 30 feet of 1" width polyethylene piping
1x Screwdriver plus a pack of 4" and 3" screws
1x piece of polyethylene or any opaque piece of polythene, transparent plastic sheeting or tarp (At least 5x5 metres)

I've designed my polytunnel around housing 4 of these little pot holders. They are approximately 12" by 22" so my 90" piece of timber was easily cut in half to fit the length of the polytunnel. You can obviously change the measurements to fit your desired build.

As I new the sides of my pot holders were 12". I just simply doubled that by 2 and added an extra 4 inches to make room for the front and back sides of the polytunnel.

I then cut one length, aligned it up to my remaining piece of timber. Marked it off and cut the final side.

We have children running around in the garden alot so it's best to sand rough edges down to avoid nasty splinters!

As you can see the 4 pot holders will fit nicely with the correct measurements.

The next step is to measure the entire front side so we know where to drill our holes to mount the hoops. I already knew the front side would be 45"+2"+2"=49" but it doesn't hurt to measure again.
As I wanted 3 hoops I simply divided 49" by 3 which is 16.33. 
Measured that amount along the entire front side and marked it off at each occurrence (Note: I later changed the amount of hoops to 4. But I kept the same measurement of 16.33 and it worked out fine.)

To save time and to get an even measure on both the front and back lengths just simply use a straight edge and draw a line. I used a saw which is fine as long as you place end of the handle exactly straight along the side.

Next you will want to mark off at 1" across your front length of 2"x2" piece of wood.

Repeat that with both lengths until you have something that resembles the picture below. 

You will also want to do the same with both sides of your polytunnel. On mine I marked a cross at 1" across both ways.

Now simply drill all of your holes. I chose a depth of 1.5" although 1" is fine. The drill bit I used was 1" as my piping I had for the hoops was exactly 1". You may have to alter the measurements to fit your needs once again.

The pieces of piping used for the hoops simply slide in like so.

Now it's time to get your hoops ready. Mine were all arched and bent so I had to straighten them out somewhat before I could get a correct measurement. You will want to tinker around with it a little bit to get your desired height.

I started with a piece around 8 foot but it was far to tall so I just sawed off a few inches, tried it again, and repeated that same procedure until I found the height I wanted. I finally chose a length of 66".

 Next step is to mark and cut all of your other hoops with your chosen length.

Once that's done. Drill your screw holes through the sides and screw in your 4" screws also through the piping like so. I chose to do this to give the end hoops more support.

Repeat with the other end. Slot in all of your other hoops and as you can see it's starting to take shape! I didn't bother screwing in the other hoops as the 1.5" holes I drilled for them would hold very well.

Now it's time to apply your sheeting.

The best thing to do is to fold one side under and unravel the remainder of the sheeting on the other side. Like so.

Next, use a straight piece of wood and align it parallel to your polytunnel. (Doesn't have to be exactly straight as there will be some excess sheeting anyway).

Cut along the piece of wood as straight as possible.

Now you need to crimp the front side of your polytunnel with clamps whilst you screw in your piece of 1"x1". As the picture describes below.

Cut off the excess sheeting off of that one side. And repeat the above procedure with the back side.

Now it's time to sort out the sides. I just simply folded up the remaining sheeting and screwed it down and I also screwed in a small piece of wood in the centre of the side and did the exact same with the final side.

And that's it! One beautifully crafted polytunnel constructed! You can now sit back and marvel at your wondrous creation!

This polytunnel cost me nothing to build as I already had everything I needed laying around. Although to build one like this it shouldn't cost to much.

The completed structure should last for approximately 5 years. Give or take a year or two. During really hot episodes you may want to raise it slightly to allow some hot air to escape and to give your plants some extra co2.

Buzzing bee's; Attract bee's into your garden

Bee's are an absolute crucial part of any healthy. naturally thriving habitat. Their importance within the natural world is because of their ability to pollinate not only our crops but also many other wild plants that are required for a balanced ecosystem. The humble bee is one of the main pollinators here on earth and although some people may not realize it we'd probably be in an extremely bad situation without these little buzzing creatures.

Bee's, especially in the UK. Have been in rapid decline for these past few years. This is mostly due to excessive use of harmful chemicals like insecticides. Bee's cannot tolerate these potent concoctions and suffer great harm as a result. Sometimes death is inevitable.

You have to remember, without bee's doing there thing, pollinating the flowers of the fruit trees and vegetable plants that produce for us our bodies nourishment. There would be a drastic shortage of food. Bee's are one of the main pollinators which help plants produce fruit when they're in there flowering stage.

The easiest way to attract bee's is to plant lots and lots of flowers! Because of there design, bee's see certain colours more vividly so than others. For instance, the colour blue is highly attractive to a bee. It's easiest to plant loads of perennial flowers as they will re-sprout come next year completely on there own. Here's a short list of plants that will not only attract loads of bee's but will make your garden look beautiful! Remember, some of the same species of plants can be annual, biennial and perennial. Be sure to check with your local garden centre about which type you're buying.

If you don't know what these terms mean then let me explain, otherwise you may as well carry on reading the list below.

Annuals will only live for approximately one year. After that they will die and cease to return.

Biennials will have an extended lifespan, but usually only for two growing seasons. They will generally produce their foliage the first year then flower the next.

Perennials live longer than Biennials. Their lifespan can range from two years to many tens of years. They bloom during the spring and summer. Come winter they will die back before re-sprouting and flowering come spring next year.


Cosmos bipinnatus,
Annual, Perennial,
Not native to Europe,
Fair tall, (5-20"),
Colour varies from Red to Pink and Orange to White,

Flowers: July to September


Tanacetum vulgare,
Native to Europe
Grows tall (20-35")
Bright yellow coloured flowers

Flowers: August to September



Annual, Biennial, Perennial,
Native to Europe,
Height varies amongst species (5-90"),
Bright Blue, Purple, White or Pink flowers

Flowers: June to October


Lavandula angustifolia,
Annual, Perennial,
Native to Europe,
Height varies amongst species (8-25"),
Deep purple colour,

Flowers: July to September


Centaurea cyanus,
Native to Europe, 
Grows fairly tall (18-20") with a branched stem,
Intense deep blue colour,

Flowers: June until August,


Hyacinthoides non-scripta,
Native to Europe,
Small growing (5-10"),
Colours range from Blue to White, Sometimes Green

Flowers: April to June

Bee's also have a superb sense of smell. You can bring more bee's into your garden by planting herbs in addition to flowers. Many herbs can be used for cooking as well.

You should try to plant herbs such as: Thyme, Mint, Oregano, Basil, Sage, Rosemary, Borage, Hyssop.

These are just short lists, there is a massive diversity of plants available for attracting bee's and making your garden look stunning. You may find a more extensive list here:

You can also build a beehive if you're comfortable with that. You can collect and harvest the bee's honey then also! Although there is a potential safety risk. Especially with children around! I don't favour this approach because of the potential danger.

On a final note, please take the time to help bee's by planting just a few flowers in your garden. Bee's are such an important part of nature and as they're in decline it would be extremely nurturing and kind for anyone who helps these little creatures. Without bee's there would be a huge decline in food stores and a massive shift in nature's diversity as bee's are really that necessary.


  • It's wise to use flowers that're native to your country or area. These will encourage alot more bee's and will also be easier to grow as they're already adapt to your climate.  Take a stroll through a wild field or place where flowers are plenty near your area. See what flowers are growing naturally. 
  • Plant close together! If you look into a field full of wild flowers, you will notice how they're all bunched together. We want to mimic nature! So bunch your flowers together! 
  • Plant tall swaying flowers. As with nature again, lots of wild flowers are tall growing. They sway in the wind which will help bee's find the swinging flower tops

A common broad bean disease

A new grower and close friend came seeking my help as he claimed his broad beans were developing and harnessing some kind of disease.

I knew what it was straight away. Those yellowish, brown spots that cover the leaves of the broad bean or other legumes are so easy to diagnose. I was sure that the plants were suffering from the common rust like disease.

Technically known as;  Uromyces fabae.

The disease in question is a fungal disease that looks alot like rust that you would more commonly see on metal. The only difference here being is that it manifests itself on a plant.

The broad bean disease can become airborne and be blown onto your crops by the wind. This is the main way in which it is spread.

If you inspect closely with a magnifying glass you can see the tiny little fungal spores. This is a reassuring step one should take with their diagnosis just to be sure.

The disease isn't that serious. While it can't be treated or there no known remedies at this point. It isn't much of an issue as the disease tends to develop later on the year when the beans are nearing the end of their life cycle and have produced a steady supply of food regardless.

You can try picking off the infected leaves and throwing them away (Don't compost them). However, the infection can spread pretty rapidly and you may have no leaves left when you're done!

The best method to combat the disease is to just wait until later on in the year, when you feel your plants have given you enough food, just cut them down and dispose of them. You will want to be sure you've killed the disease so don't compost your infected plants. Instead burn or put them in your local recycling bin.


  • Crop rotation will definitely help combat it! By rotating crops each year you can significantly reduce the occurrence of this disease

  • The disease can lay dormant over winter and rejuvenate itself come summer. Crop rotation and properly disposing of effected plants will help cure this problem. Although it may not rid you of it entirely
  • This fungal disease thrives in humid climates. If you can, give your plants lots of airflow between, in and around them
  • Don't worry, the infection isn't harmful to humans! Your crops are still perfectly edible! Although you may want to discard of any "odd" looking beans. Common sense prevails!
  • NEVER compost infected plants! The disease can sometimes survive the composting procedure and infect your future crops! 
  • Uromyces fabae literally lives off of the plant, using it as a host and slowly sucking the life out of it. It will therefore, reduce yield. However it only generally occurs later on the year so it's not to much of a fuss!

Organic farming VS Conventional farming

With so much controversy over this somewhat sensitive subject. I have taken the time to share my thoughts on organic gardening versus gardening via conventional methods (The use of common pesticides, insecticides and herbicides etc). Including points ranging from positive to negative. Implications and practicalities, advantages and disadvantages. And some helpful tips and hopeful encouragement along the way. 

This article will be looking at plant life and crop farming only.

Let us first look at what organic gardening entails. The phrase itself is rather fatuous as everything to-date is organic in presence. Whilst certain objects may be grafted together from synthetic compounds. There origin is from naturally occurring compounds nonetheless.

All food is organic by nature. Even those grown by use of conventional ways. This even includes GMO crops which have been modified at the molecular level. They're still classed as living matter. Therefore organic matter.

So how can gardening be organic? Well, while the phrase "Organic gardening" still remains rather fatuous and improper to a certain degree. It's what the use of the phrase implies.

Organic gardening or more accurately put "Earth friendly gardening", is exactly that. Making use of eco-friendly methods which do not harm the biodiversity of our earth. In most circumstances, if not all, these methods can offer a great benefit to the land and wildlife that encompass it.

Organic produce is cultivated without the usage of any modern fertilizers, pesticides, petroleum based substances that are so widely used today and any or all chemically produced concoctions.

Some of the relevant methods used in organic farming may range from: 

  • Crop rotation (To reduce pests in one certain area and to also fix the nitrogen levels in soil)
  • Mulches (Which covers the surrounding area around the plant of group thereof, holds in moisture, provides nutrients and prevents soil erosion)
  • Vermicompost (The use of worm farms or worm bins to create very high quality compost from organic waste)
  • Natural habitat creation (This would include: providing shelter and housing for small insects and creatures that would benefit the land. Such as beehives for bee's and perhaps hedgehog houses for hedgehogs which eat slugs).
  • Pest control (There are many methods for friendly pest control. From encouraging predators to careful plant selection. Crop rotation and using row covers to cover crops. Disease resistant varieties of plants).

To find the advantages and benefits of gardening or farming organically. Let us analyze and dissect the disadvantages and the possible negative side effects of conventional farming methods.

Wide scale agriculture, or industrial agriculture. The sort of massive operations that stock our local supermarkets today use a handful of methods to achieve a regular, high yield and moderately healthy harvest.

Although with certain needs to be met, ratios to be maintained and shelves to be stocked, liability and pressure from contractual obligations and so fourth. It's quite logical to say that most farmers to day don't use the most friendly methods available to meet their requirements.

Organic gardening requires slightly more effort in comparison to the ordinary methods utilized when gardening or farming. Particularly at the beginning of any new renovation with a vegetable plot or just a garden.

As an example: Whereas an average gardener would simply pour a load of herbicide over a weed ridden patch. And with that being potentially harmful to the biodiversity and other life. An eco-friendly gardener who uses organic methods of cultivation would instead, spend time and effort cutting, digging, collecting and composting all of those weeds.

In this instance, whilst the use of weed killing chemicals seems so effortless, and the second option to the contrary. The organic method should be far more preferred. Whereas the conventional gardener would more than likely allow the weeds to regrow after using herbicide. And then just repeating the process over and over again. The organic gardener in this instance would perhaps implement measures to insure weed growth would be restricted if not completely eliminated in the future. Perhaps by using weed matting, boiling water, turning up a few inches of the topsoil regularly or by simply pulling weeds up when they're noticeable. You can even buy organic herbicides these days as well.

Not to say a gardener who uses conventional methods wouldn't take advantage of weed preventative measures in the future. However, more often than not it seems the case that many of them fail to.

From these two simple comparisons alone you can probably recognize the effort that initially goes into organic gardening. However, by creating a diversity of species and insects through organic gardening methods. By reducing usage of harsh chemicals and implementing earth friendly methods in addition. Your garden will not only become much more vibrant and offer a good variety of healthy plants, nutritious fruits and vegetables. But it will also be void of the harmful pollutants created by man and thus be far more healthier for yourself, your plants and for all that nature has to offer.

Below I've constructed a few points ranging from negative to positive.

Organic Gardening


  • Beneficial to nature, encourages diversity with insects and plant species

  • Creates a natural habitat using earth-friendly methods
  • Sustainable
  • Eliminates the use of toxic, hazardous chemicals and fertilizers
  • Makes for great tasting, healthy and nutritious vegetables and fruits!
  • Reduced waste, good use of recycled foods. The use of homemade compost is another factor
  • Great fun and easy to do with gardens and allotments 

  • Saves money that would be spent on expensive fertilizers and other chemicals. Also saves money on organic fruits and vegetables that are usually quite highly priced these days
  • Reduced CO2 emissions
  • The feeling of being in harmony and finding yourself in touch with nature


  • Requires a little more effort at the beginning
  • Quite regularly, you will have to check crops for signs of insects or disease 
  • Crops can be completely ruined by insects if not managed properly
  • Requires a certain degree of knowledge about nature itself. Be it insects and there predators, vulnerabilities and habits. And plants, especially how they work together with one another and attract certain beneficial insects

Conventional Methods


  • Effortless in comparison to organic gardening. With the use of chemicals to control weeds and pesticides to control pest etc
  • Can sometimes increase crop yield due to them being free from insects and diseases which can hinder yield
  • Very helpful with large scale agriculture
  • Offers plentiful amounts of food which are also relatively inexpensive
  • Creates a thriving, pest free, healthy looking plant
  • Without large scale agriculture many millions of people may starve
  • Creates jobs that every economy needs


  • The use of huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy
  • Damages biodiversity with the use of toxic chemicals. Even kills some if not most of the beneficial insects we rely on
  • The use of huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy
  • Toxic insecticides and herbicides accumulate in the soil and eventually run off into small streams and reservoirs damaging fish stocks and also contaminating natural water ways
  • Increases global warming due to excessive use of heavy machinery, aerial crop spraying 
  • Possible negative effects on human health

  • Certain plants eventually (Especially recently) have shown to build up immunity to weed killing chemicals. Along with some species of insects and pests showing mutations and immunity to pesticides and insecticides 

  • Vegetables and fruits may lack in nutritional content as they're grown to "look" healthy rather than actually "be" healthy

If you're a keen gardener. I urge you to switch to completely organic methods. They're so easy implemented on a small scale basis. Your fruits and vegetables will taste far more pleasant and you will almost definitely be more healthy eating foods free from chemicals.

As you may probably gather, conventional methods that're used are almost necessary for wide scale agricultural situations. With so many billions of people alive to date. It would be impossible to feed these many millions of persons without such methods of agriculture. The use of organic methods on such a scale would be far more difficult if not impossible to manage.

Although with the a broad understanding of nature itself, and a correct application of organic methods, farmers who use conventional methods can significantly reduce there usage of chemicals, steadily introduce more sustainable, organic methods of farming. Ultimately producing higher quality, more healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables for us to eat. Not forgetting the beneficial aspects brought toward the earth that would not previously be present if farmers still used today's current methods.

In the long run, herbicides and insecticides do not work. There was a case recently whereby farmers who had used Monsanto's roundup herbicide were reporting mutations in weeds. The weeds had adapted to Monsanto's roundup and became "super weeds". Growing far more vigorously than before and even more stronger. There have even been reports of insects showing mutations and resistance to certain chemicals! 

It is evident, as history has shown and as the mainstream media reports. Nature will always find a way to survive. Even those of strange and bizarre mutations. The best strategy here is not to fight it, but to embrace, learn, adapt sensibly.

I can't imagine a situation were the use of chemicals in wide scale agriculture is not used. The only remedy here would be smaller, more community based farms. Introducing organic only methods, or even just the good will of people, sharing their homegrown vegetables and fruits amongst their neighbours.

I think it is time we examined our impact on the earth. The evidence is there for whoever cares to see. We need to switch from the currently employed unsustainable wide scale agriculture to more sustainable technologies that benefit not only us humans but the earth in which we all share and consider our home.

How to compost tea

Tea compost or compost tea is a method of brewing a sort of tea like substance that's great for your garden plants and soil.

I only came by this wonderful method of enhancing you're garden with this organic compost tea just a few years ago. But I've been using it regularly ever since!

Some of you may be wondering, what is compost tea? Well compost tea consists of mostly organic compost, other ingredients and water. Yep, that's it!

While this may seem a bit silly at first (Why wouldn't you just use the organic compost as it is?!). Well, the benefits of compost tea are so remarkable it's definitely worth the effort.

Benefits of compost tea


  • Assists plants with disease prevention and protection 
  • Increases the amount of beneficial organisms within soil
  • Completely natural, safe and organic
  • Very simple and easy to get going
  • Helps to create strong, healthy plants

You might be thinking... "This sounds great! How do I get started?!" Well you'll need some simple things beforehand. Here's a little list!

  • Bucket. 5 gallon should be plenty. Although it depends on how big your plot or garden is!
  • Air pump. You will want a fairly powerful one (At least two outlets! Three is best.)
  • Air stones. To go with your pump! and the necessary tubes for connecting 'em up!
  • Stick. For mixing and stirring!
  • Rain water. You can use household water although you will have to let it set for a while to remove the chlorine. (At least 72 hours).
  • Some organic compost (Make sure it's well composted!), or worm tea.

You will want to begin by filling your bucket almost all the way with water. Then, place your air stones into  your bucket, arrange them so they're evening distributing air. Connect them up to the air pump and turn it on!

It's best to keep it on a high setting, the more bubbles the better!

Let that sit for a about an hour, just to allow the water to become aerated properly. If using tap water remember to leave for a good while to remove all the chlorine! If chlorine is still present within your water when you try to make tea it will actually kill the beneficial organisms as well as the bad ones!

While that's bubbling away you should get your compost ready. Any organic homemade stuff is great! Try to avoid the stuff you buy at garden centers. That won't make very good plant tea.

After the water in your bucket has been aerating for a while. It's time to get brewing!

Simply pour some of your organic compost into the bucket (Not to much though, only about enough to cover the floor of the bucket). Give that a stir for a few minutes, turn up your air pump to it's highest setting and return every few hours if possible to give it a stir. Besides that just let it brew!

The tea should be ready within about 24 hours. Any longer than that and it may start going off. You will want to use the plant tea when it's at it's maximum and is absolutely teeming with beneficial organisms.

Be sure to use the tea, as you would when watering regularly, within 3-7 hours of it being finished. Any longer and it will be pretty much dead pond water.

Extra tips 

  • Your plant tea should not smell foul! If it smells foul discard it!
  • It will be more beneficial if you can give your brewing plant tea a stir every few hours! 
  • Try to keep your compost tea at a fairly high temperature. This will help the microorganisms multiply!
  • You can also use the compost tea as a spray on your plants foliage
  • Another thing you can do is buy a worm composting system which allows for worm tea run off and use that to brew plant tea!
  • Compost tea is no substitute for using good compost on your garden! It is not a fertilizer! It just aids in boosting microorganisms activity!