The Canny Gardener

how to be a smart gardener


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summer gold that keeps the nasties away

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Marigolds are annual summer flowers- easy to grow and flowering all summer.  The flowers are cheerful and brighten up any garden, particularly small ones.  The plants need sunshine but will grow in any good, well drained soil.  Here I am growing them in a container.

If planting in the soil in the garden, then remember these points-

  • Sow them directly into the garden once the soil is warm, or start seeds indoors about a month to 6 weeks before the last spring-frost date.
  • The seeds germinate easily, but watch out for damping off if you start them inside.
  • Separate seedlings when they are about 2 inches tall. 

Tips-

  • Deadheading makes the plants continue blooming profusely through summer.
  • When watering marigolds, allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering, then water well, then repeat the process.
  • Do not water marigolds from overhead. Water at the base of the plant. 
  • It has been long known that marigolds make important companion plants. The scent of the marigold (Tagetes spp.) repels animals and insects.  The underground workings of the marigold will repel nematodes (microscopic worms) and other pests for up to 3 years.

 

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The gift of poppies

This week has been of immense sadness- from the pain of the deaths of so many strangers that have touched our lives. From the nearly 500 people killed in the Gaza and Israel conflict to the nearly 300 Malaysian airlines passengers shot above rebel held Ukraine. The anger, pain and fear of families have been palpable, even in cyberspace. IMG_1546

I have been struggling to make any sense of what is happening. I thought world wars were over a long time ago and that my children (and grandchildren) would only face climate change as a major threat to their existence, not wars. But now I see that I was so wrong. I see sadly that we cannot live with each other and we cannot live on our planet, fighting over small bits of land. These poppies come up in my garden every year. They give me hope. As a Buddhist, I can only hope like these poppies, the lives of the 700 and more people whose natural lives have been cut short, will arise again as messengers of peace and love. That finally sense will return. That our future is without weapons. That future will be love for each other. If you have been affected by the events of this week, do comment to let me know how you feel!


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Gift from Kenya

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This rose came up in my garden. It is no ordinary rose.  It flew in from Kenya, amongst thousands, and then was wrapped up in cellophane and labelled, stored, transported and finally put out on a supermarket shelf.  It waited for a long time, and then it was on its ‘use by date’.  It was in a bunch with a reduced price tag.  I bought it because I love yellow roses.  After a few days, when all the other stems were dried and wilted, one stem stayed green and even grew tiny roots.

Thinking that this could do no harm, I stuck it in a pot.  It stayed there for a year, offering only a tiny green leaf.  This year, I was amazed to have this offering- a pink and yellow rose.  Surely a gift of love, all the way from Kenya.  

Easy beauty

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The Canny Gardener

I recently went to an exhibition and saw a new invention- a kind of an eco-friendly dishwasher made with charcoal and rice water.  Apparently rice water is used as a detergent in Asian countries but I had never heard of this before.  So I investigated a bit more and found out that not only is rice water good for your dishes (and hands) but also for your face.  Here is  the best method of making rice water which I compiled after reading about it.

Take as much rice as you will want to use for your cooking.  Rinse the rice in water and throw that water away- you may want to water your plants with it.  Then sit the rice in fresh water for 15 minutes until it turns milky (use no more than a cupful of water for two cups of rice).  Strain the water out and store it…

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Easy beauty

I recently went to an exhibition and saw a new invention- a kind of an eco-friendly dishwasher made with charcoal and rice water.  Apparently rice water is used as a detergent in Asian countries but I had never heard of this before.  So I investigated a bit more and found out that not only is rice water good for your dishes (and hands) but also for your face.  Here is  the best method of making rice water which I compiled after reading about it.

Take as much rice as you will want to use for your cooking.  Rinse the rice in water and throw that water away- you may want to water your plants with it.  Then sit the rice in fresh water for 15 minutes until it turns milky (use no more than a cupful of water for two cups of rice).  Strain the water out and store it in bottle- it will look milky.  Use the rice water for light cleansing of the face or a toner or pick me up- I use it before parties before I put the moisturiser. Works well as a light cleanser for plates and delicate china.  Best of all, organic rice can be used to make this easy cleanser/toner.

PS- Cook the rice adding more water as directed-it cooks beautifully, fluffy and white, having been soaked.  Enjoy!

A NOTE  OF WARNING: Wet rice (cooked or uncooked) left long enough, creates the environment for the dangerous bacteria bacillus cereus to flourish. So keep the rice water refrigerated and do not use beyond three days (as I learnt by suffering!)