The Canny Gardener

how to be a smart gardener


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Become a bit untidy

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Its officially summer and time to work on the garden.  The recent storms and previously unseasonal snow in February and March plus two travels, made my garden a bit untidy.  I felt a bit embarrassed by it all, but today as I went out, I saw what I had been missing.  There were bees flying around, spiders making their nests, earthworms in the soil and many other insects going about their business.  Birds such as sparrows, pigeons and gulls floated about in the air.  There was a real eco-system there which I had not recognised. Even tiny patio gardens have a way of making a complete micro eco-systems which are a part of the much bigger eco-system we live in.  Even inside the home, there are spiders, ants etc which are part of an eco-system which help you- spiders eat other harmful insects such as moths and mites; while ants can take away bit of food that you can’t see.  I’ve got all these and feel fine with it.  What about your home?

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watering plants

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Plants need watering the summer. I have been using my bathwater (cooled down) for watering and this is economical and eco-friendly. I use bio-degradable and organic soaps so I am guessing that the water should not harm the plants in any way. In fact, soapy water kills off certain bugs and pests so this is a double benefit.  Here is a wiki article-

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Soapy-Water-Garden-Spray

Street plants need water too although their roots absorb a lot of water from underground.  In the summer, the watering pipes stuck into the soil help the local council to water trees as the soil may be very dry.  However, lately I have been finding people putting rubbish into these pipes- sweet wrappers, paper, cans and here in this photo, a plastic bag full of dog poo.   This is so silly and selfish.  If you see anyone doing this, please explain the reason why the pipe is there- they may not know.  Already plastic is choking our seas and killing animals, now we are choking plants with plastic too.


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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!)