How can I get rid of garden pests safely?

Bee Friendly Garden Pest Solutions

We have created a beautiful garden or vegetable patch but are inundated with unwanted visitors, pests and weeds.

What do we do to get rid of weeds and pests without harming the bee’s and butterflies?

Most gardeners are well aware of the dangers in using commercial pesticides.  The damage that pesticides cause have proven to be extremely detrimental both to humans and nature in general.  Take the honeybee – the population has been falling, colonies collapsing and the general health of the bee has been severely compromised.  This bee’s demise is not helped with the use of pesticides.  Take the human – studies have shown the extreme adverse effects on our health too from cancers to autism.  The chemicals in these pesticides actually cause suffocation in human cells.  Do you really want to be ingesting these deadly cocktails?  No amount of washing our fruit and veg can take away the fact that they have been unnecessary doused in poisons.

Growing organic in my opinion is the only healthy way to go and yes it is a little more work trying to ward off the pests and not destroy the environment and our health – but it has to be done to benefit us and nature.  There are natural solutions and with a little trial and error you will find your perfect solution.


Is it necessary to eliminate the intruders?

All insects have a place in the eco system so before taking action to get rid of them – stop and think if it is really necessary.  First see what damage they are actually doing and then in a controlled method decide who goes and who stays in your garden!  There are pesticides currently on the market that are sold as being safe to use and organic.  You need to understand that just because something says it is natural does not mean it is harmless.  Try using the natural solutions listed below before reaching for a commercial brand.  Always stay clear of toxic and chemically laden products for your own health and habitat.

Top 14 natural pesticide free gardening solutions

  1. Epsom Salts
  2. Neem Oil
  3. Pepper
  4. Garlic
  5. Onion
  6. Vinegar
  7. Castile Soap
  8. Aluminium foil
  9. Essential Oils
  10. Companion Planting
  11. Boiled Water
  12. Corn Gluten
  13. Kaolin Clay
  14. Hose

How to use natural pesticides in your garden.

Epsom Salt

Not just for easing the muscles –  epsom salt is a very welcome non toxic addition to every organic gardeners arsenal!  Make a half/ half water and salt solution and spray on the leaves to ward off beetles and other pesky visitors.  This is very effective in keeping away snails and slugs,  you can also sprinkle a little salt around the base of your plant.  Epsom salts are magnesium rich and a great fertiliser for magnesium loving plants such as tomato and peppers.  This has a double whammy effect – pest control and a nutrient dense feed.

Neem Oil

A must in every organic gardener’s shed!   Neem Oil has many advantages – whilst being incredibly effective against insects that wreak havoc – the beetle and that little rascal the caterpillar and their eggs. It is also effective at dealing with  the fungal diseases that can attack our plants and crops.    This wonder oil is taken from a native tree in India (Azadirachta indica) and is used widely for medicinal and skincare remedies.  Neem oil is powerful and must be used in the correct dosage to be effective against the pest and cause no harm to our pollinators and birds.  Dilute to 3% oil and put in your spray bottle,  make sure you keep giving your bottle a good shake as oil and water doesn’t exactly mix very well!  Apply to both sides of the leaf.

Pepper, Garlic, and Onion

Boil peppers, onions and garlic in water and then blend it out, cool then add more water and transfer to a large container (gallon).  Make sure you protect your hands and your eyes with this method.  The garlic contains sulfur compounds that can help to repel carrot rust fly, whiteflies, japanese beetles, maggots, slugs and a host of other pests.  If you have roses garlic is your best friend and will help to get rid of aphids.  The garlic will be absorbed into the plants thus working as a systemic pesticide if used as a tea or spray.  Plant beside celery, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries but NOT with peas or beans.


Apple cider vinegar has many uses in a heathy lifestyle but it can also be used on newly sprouted weeds , white wine vinegar is also effective.  Just add to your spray bottle and aim directly to eliminate.  Stronger vinegars can be damaging to the environment so remember to stick with household vinegar only and it is only useful on gentle weeds.  You can mix with epsom salt and castile soap to make a solution to tackle stronger more established weeds.

Castile Soap

How on earth is soap good for acting as a pesticide?  Well,  first it has to be Castile Soap.  Why?  Because Castile Soap has the right fatty acids that are naturally present in the olive oil base.  You can mix this up if you want to try different methods with sunflower or neem oil.  Use 2% Castile in the solution.


It’s simply the shine!  The light reflected from the foil sends pests into a bit of a dither and off they go on their merry way!  This is a great way to recycle your kitchen foil after you have used. Wrap around the bottom of plants or /and mix it into the soil or mulch.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils have many uses and are used in lots of natural skincare and body care recipes.  You will find most natural insect repellents (for personal care) will contain essential oils.  We want to talk about the garden though so here is the best to use – and the reason being their strong smell sends those little pests scurrying.  Sprinkle directly around the area you want treated and also mix well with some water (remember to keep giving the bottle a good shake) – you can then spray directly unto your plants.  The top essential oils to repel are,  eucalyptus, orange, rosemary, peppermint and cinnamon.  Lavender and Rosemary essential oils attracts pollinators and beautiful butterflies into your garden so try using some here and there around your garden.  You can soak some oil onto a little bit of wood bark –  a little like potpourri or on cotton balls and place where you want your flying friends to visit.  Peppermint is great in the house too as spiders find the fragrance just a little too offensive!

Kaolin Clay

Mix the clay with water and apply directly to the plants with a spray bottle.  This forms a barrier against unwanted visitors.  Kaolin clay can be used right up to the day to pick your fruit or harvest your veg.  Just wash throughly before using.


This simple method may be all that is required as aphids will most likely not climb back onto your flowers or plant.  Simply the spray nozzle on your hose and take aim!  Be careful as you do not want to damage the plants with too high of a force.  Do this a few times a week until the little pesky pests have decided the rain forest is not for them!

Corn gluten meal

Otherwise known as (CGM) and better known as a feed for animals and poultry.  Did you know it corn gluten meal is also to stop weeds emerging?  This fact was discovered by accident at Iowa State University whilst doing different research. It was discovered the CGM stopped weeds from sprouting but is not effective against mature growth.  The corn gluten meal will stop the seeds from established weeds and over time the growth will decline.  Apply after your flower or vegetable beds are seeded and are showing a little growth.  If you apply the CGM too early it will inhibit your seeds from sprouting.  Follow the specific manufactures directions for precise application.

Boiled Water

Good old simple boiled water is an effective way of killing of weeds but common sense should prevail here!  Do not put boiling water directly onto your veg (unless you are trying to cook at source!).  Use only on weeds,  perfect for that relentless growth between paving.

Companion planting

Yes that pretty flower can be a mighty force in the garden!  Companion planting is an excellent totally natural way to control the pests in your garden.

Plants will either invite or repel insects and beneficial insects will help eliminate pests.  It is a natural cycle that can be utilised with choosing the right plants to act as companion plants to your crops or flower beds.  Lady birds and praying mantis are a real benefit to your garden and a perfect example of the insects you want to keep.  Remember this when you are going heavy with any natural pesticide too.  Every garden is different depending on where you live and what climate or micro climate you live in.  Soil types differ,  pests are different so experiment to see what works best for your environment.


Companion Planting Ideas
Companion planting for pesticide free garden.

Companion Plants

Oregano and Marjoram are great planted between rows of Brassicas for repelling cabbage moth.  Plant around asparagus and basil also.

Artemisia –  produces a strong antiseptic that repels most insects and small animals. This plant does produce a botanical poison so use only in flower borders and not on your vegetable beds.

Basil – will ensure good strong tomato plants with improved flavour.  Plant basil along side oregano, peppers and asparagus too. The oils in basil repel flies, and mosquitoes.

Borage – This plant is a wonder in the garden and great as an all round companion plant.  It repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms but will attract beneficial insects such as bees.  It adds nutrients to the soil and will come back year after year.  Borage is a great pollinator and a great asset to your garden.

Catnip –Repels just about every insect invader into your garden.

Chives – to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It may help with your apple crop too to prevent scab. Chives a re a great companion for brassicas and will add flavour to carrots and tomatoes.  It is recommended not to use near beans and peas,.

Chrysanthemums – contain a compound called pyrethrum.   It is a natural pesticide and has been harnassed by commercial natural pest brands.  It helps the control of ticks, bedbugs and roaches.  In the garden you can plant to drive away japanese beetle.  You can use chrysanthemums as a tea and sprayed unto leaves when the tea is cooled.   T

Dahlias – not only are they beautiful but dahlias repel nematodes so plant a few of these blooming delights.

Dill –  Another great defence in the cabbage patch.  Plant dill with cucumbers, corn, lettuce and onion but away from carrots and tomatoes.  It will attract the tomato hornworm keeping it away from your tomato plants.

Lavender –Lavender will attract the right insects into your garden whilst repelling fleas and moths.  Apart from that, they are just such a beautiful addition to any garden.

Nasturtiums – Can be used a trap crop for those annoying aphids.  Plant beside broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, kale, tomato, potato, cucumber. 

Petunias –  Plant to  tomato worm, mexican bean beetle, leaf hoppers and some aphids.  Petunias are perfect to grow with grapes, corn, brassicas, beans and basil.  They look very pretty too!

Sunflower – Do you know ants move their entire colonies onto sunflowers?  Plant to draw aphids away from your other plants.  The sunflower is amazing and can withstand attacks and insects moving in!  


Sacrificial Planting and Trap Planting Tips

Sacrificial known also as trap crops is planting flowers or shrubs that you do not intend to harvest.  They are basically a decoy to your other offerings that you do want to harvest!

It does sound rather dramatic and medieval but don’t let the sacrificial term put you off!  It is the most natural, effective and organic way to control all those unwanted invaders from attacking your flowers and crops.


How and where to plant trap plants

A border of trap plants around your planting area will really help to keep the damage to a minimum.  Your unwanted visitors so all have a different palate so make sure you choose crops that are known to attract the pests you want keep off your harvesting plants or flowers.

A border might not be enough in some cases so it is advisable to plant in between your crops.  Organic farmers tend to allow 20% of the planting area for this reason.

Our unwanted visitors all have their own tastes and prefer different crops and flowers.  The list above will help you get started on what to plant in YOUR garden.

At some stage your trap plants might need to be removed if they become over-run.  You can remove them altogether and dispose before they work against you by allowing breeding and having even more of these pesky creatures in the garden.  It is a balance that you need to keep on top of.  Your companion and sacrificial trap plants will also attract beneficial insects that should help keep this problem at bay.  The more pesky pests will result in more beneficial insects so it does usually balance itself out in nature.


More Ideas to keep pests out of your garden.

  • Pick off the bugs.  You can go out every morning and literally pick the bugs off your flowers or crops.  This will not work for every bug type but it is fast and simple!
  • Trap the pests. Make a paper collar to deter worms and soil insects and push down into the soil at least 3 inches, keep 3 inches above the soil too.
  • Floating row covers.  These are a great idea, effective and easy to install.  The fabric allows the water and rain to reach the plants but protects your planting from beetles and other non soil living pests.  Your seedlings will grow faster as the cover keeps the soil warm.  You need to move the covers when the warm weather comes for the plants to flourish and the bees to pollinate.
  • Crop Rotation.  This is a great way to confuse your pests especially those that have a specific palate!  Do this with inter-planting to double your chance of success.

Creating a happy, safe garden.

You have lots of ideas to control the unwanted visitors to your garden but remember just enjoy the planting and if you get some damaged leaves that is ok too.  A few damaged leaves do not destroy a complete plant so get it into perspective for you and your little pests!  You are creating a safe and wonderful environment for you and the world around you  – well done!










Helping the bees in the winter

lavender bucket
Bee loving lavender in a bucket!
honeybee garden seeds
Seed Sprinkles for a Bee Friendly Garden

Where do the bees go in the winter?

Bees hibernate and some species die off leaving the queen to start a new colony.  This is a pretty lonesome endeavour!

This is a question my kids have asked that I thought did need further exploration.

My answer was purely a guess!  In order to help the bee population,  it really is a good idea to learn more and understand what does happen the bees in winter.

Most of us presume they hibernate or die and to an extent this is true but it depends on the particular species of bee.  We see these very industrious little workers all summer buzzing around the gardens and parks.   They are collecting pollen and nectar and pollinating the fruit and veg that is vital to our diet. Do we stop to think – how do the bees survive winter?

Really – if we just stopped to think about the importance of the bee in feeding the world – we would all do something more in our own backyards to make their lives a little easier.  Ten quick ideas that make a huge difference can be found here the bees


How do bees survive the winter?

Most bumblebee and yellow jacket colonies do not survive the cold weather and are generally killed off in the first frosts.  Here we have the queens left to start all over and get their nests ready for spring.

Honey bees though have developed a unique strategy and this is where you come in!  The flowers and plants in your back yard or garden can make the difference in keeping a colony alive and healthy.  The honey that is produced from your bee friendly flowers and plants is packed with carbohydrates and full of calories.  This is vital for the worker bees as it provides the fuel they need for energy – this energy helps the bees to stay warm during the winter.  The worker bees cluster together and will pump their wing muscles without flying to produce heat!   Little bees pumping their muscles – now there is a thought!  We can learn something here – hard work and team effort pays off!

Honey bees that exist in a temperate climate are working against time to gather their resources and stockpile food that they will need to survive.  They have approximately 2 months to do this which is why it is vital we help make them that window of time as productive as possible.


What can we do to help the bees when the weather turns cold?

We can make sure we plant flowers, plants and shrubs that bloom and thrive in the winter.  The honeybee whilst remaining most of the time in the hive will sometime emerge on a mild or sunny day.  Solitary bees stay in the nest until they are ready to start mating but all need fuel if they do venture out.  Have a look at the recommendations below to make sure our buzzy little friends do not starve for lack of nectar.

There are a variety of winter growers that are fantastic for the bees and ranges suitable whether you have a huge garden or a window box.

Have a visit to your local garden centre or check out suppliers online – they do provide a wealth of knowledge.  You can buy your pollinators ready to go or have a go at planting from seed yourself.  There is something very therapuetic watching a seed begin to grow.  Stay clear of hybrid varieties as they do not produce the same amounts of pollen.  I prefer to recommend suppliers that sell organic and heirloom seeds and Seeds Now are a great example of this – they also have a wealth of information on their website on all aspects of gardening.  You can find them here seeds here

Plants to grow to help bees in the winter

  1. Ivy
  2. Clematis Cirrhosa
  3. Crocus
  4. hellebores
  5. snowdrops,winter aconites
  6. winter heathers
  7. winter honeysuckle
  8. mahonia
  9. sarcococca
  10. primrose
  11. Strawberry tree
  12. Willow
  13. Lungwort
  14. Oregon Grape

These are just some ideas to help you get started.  You can also plant evergreens for winter food and let the grass grow a little longer in one area of your garden. There are lots of helpful tips to make your garden a bee haven all year round here the bees


More bee friendly ideas

Add plants that bloom late such as goldenrod and different asters.  Plants that bloom late are a great help for the bee on that home run when every little last bit of nectar helps the colony for the winter ahead.

Plant early bloomers to help replenish those stocks that are beginning to run out – willows, maples, gold heart, fern leaf peony, jacobs ladder, Kim Korean lilac are just a few ideas.  The wonderful thing about early bloomers is seeing that little peek of colour emerging in the garden – after what usually seems a long winter,  we can appreciate that too.

If you have no garden, you can still be a great asset to these vital little helpers, plant at your doorstep or windowsill – have a look at this fab little idea!

Remember to never use commercial pesticides – your pantry has everything you need already to stop weeds but save the bees!

Neem oil, essential oil, vinegar and more.

Honey Bee scatter Seed
Honey Bee Scatter Kit
Bee loving Lavender

Lavender is a beautiful addition in any garden or simply potted and by the porch.

Bee friendly and beautifully fragrant lavender.

How to save the BEES!

Why are the bees declining?
It is not rocket science – it is simply a combination of factors all man made!
One of the main culprits being pesticides.  In one study biologists discovered 150 different chemicals in the residue of bee pollen a deadly “pesticide cocktail” according to Eric Mussen of University of California.  Green Peace reported the bees became weak, disorientated, ill and also fed the contamination into their larvae.  Colonies then collapsing!
Another area of concern is habitat. Year on year grasslands and forests are being eroded to make way for industrial agribusiness that use pesticides without a thought for the environment or the impact of using such poisons.
Add to that drought, air pollution and global warming and you can see what the bee is up against.
Destructive and dysfunctional big agribusiness need to change their methods but unfortunately profit margin seems to be the number one priority with them.

What can be done to help the Bee population?
ECO Farming is the way forward with some countries taking the initiative including Mexico that has banned genetically modified corn to protect it’s native crops.  Bhutan, India and a number of European countries are taking positive action that the rest of the world can learn from.
Eco farming is vital for preserving our wild life and bees, it is also better for the human food production.  This method restores nutrients to the soil with natural composting and avoids pesticides and fertilisers.  Actually think about it –  do you really want to eat food that has been sprayed and contaminated by these poisons?  Look what it does to the bee’s – it cannot be that great for humans either.

What does the bee do for you!
Wild and domestic honey bees are responsible for 80 % of the worldwide pollination.  One bee colony pollinates 3 million flowers a day – no wonder we have the busy as bee saying!  Fruits, nuts and vegetables – thank the bees!  Approximately 90% of the world’s nutrition has been made possible by the bee pollination.

What can YOU do to help the bees?  10 ways you can make a difference to the bee population.

We can all make a difference,  small changes from us have a major impact on the habitat of nature.
Here are a few simple ways for you and your family to make this world a little more bee friendly.

  1.  Look at your lawn and think about where you could put a colourful, beautiful flower bed.  Grow plenty of varieties with nectar and pollen.  It will be lovely for you and fantastic for your little flying visitor.  If you don’t have a lawn (and even if you do) think about hanging baskets, pots and planters.  Find something to suit your space – bees love herbs, shrubs and trees also.  Think from the windowsill, porch and beyond, go and look at your space and you will be surprised at what you can do!
  2. Plant lots of native varieties as they will be well suited to the growing conditions and local bees will be able to identify them as a good source of pollen. You can plant non native also – mix it up!  Remember bees do not suddenly start to exist in the  Spring/Summer,  they are there all year round and therefore need nutrition in the Autumn and Winter too.  We can easily forget this important fact so make sure you plant varieties for all seasons.  Think Winter flowers like the little crocus and heather for colour all year round.  To be of benefit to the bees flowers need to be active and open – certain bedding plants will have no pollen or nectar but check out the list provided below for the best Winter varieties if you are in a colder climate.Grow varieties for all year round to ensure a good steady source of food for the bees.  Start sowing in late Winter for Spring/Summer blossoms and if you are not a keen gardener – just nip down to the local garden centre and buy some ready made planters and get advice on easy to grow, low maintenance ideas!
  3. Maybe you would love the idea of growing your own fruit and veg?  Not only is this a fantastic, healthy hobby for you but the bees can help you – as you help them!  Your little gardener bees will help to pollinate your plants and crops – aubergines, onions, peppers, runner beans, apples, strawberries, the list is endless and quite exciting when you think what you can grow for you and your family helping the bee colony too.
  4. REMEMBER use only natural or organic pesticides or herbicides.  There are numerous ways to protect your garden from weeds without killing all the natural habitat.  That cute little ladybird is a great asset in your garden – along with beetles and hoverflies they hunt aphids and other garden pests so stay clear of the pesticides – you are wiping out your garden and natures best friends.  These chemicals are not exactly great for the environment or your health either so stay clear.  I am sure you have heard the controversy with Monsanto’s Roundup – a very popular product but has been found to suffocate human cells and has also been implicated in an array of other health issues including cancer, depression, heart disease and autism.  Colony Collapse Disorder has also been attributed to the use of pesticides – this is when honeybees die off in record numbers but of course some agencies are trying to say this is a natural phenomenon!  I think if pesticides have been proven to be affecting the human population adversely these agencies need to go and rethink (and maybe put people and nature before profit)!  It does not make sense to use pesticides when there are effective, natural and safe options that are extremely cost effective.  You will have at least one of these in the house already, Vinegar, epsom salts, pepper!
  5. Bees need water so make a bee bath –  fill a shallow container with stones, twigs and fresh water.  Keep your bee bath fresh and the bees will know to return each day for their hydration.
  6. DON’T kill the bees,  don’t swat them or spray them – they will not purposely come to sting you – just move out of their road!  If they come into the house, open the door or window and try to guide them out.  Bees only use their stings in self – defence and are not aggressive.  Just avoid disturbing nests or standing too close to a hive.
  7. Relax a little on the weeding, lawn clover and dandelion are great pollen and nectar providers.  Dandelions have a lot of medicinal value also so don’t look upon them as weeds anymore!  How about leaving one little end of your garden untamed? The longer grass provides shelter and food for pollinators – personally I love a little wildness in the garden!  There is nothing as beautiful as a wildflower meadow and you can have a little section to do just this.   Not only are you helping the bees but watching the butterflies that will be attracted into your garden will be sheer delight.
  8. Help bees that are tired!  Yes bees get tired too and no wonder!  You might find bees at a standstill – this is common in the winter or colder days.  To help them on their way you can make them a little sugar solution.  Mix half and half sugar and warm water , put in a bottle cap and place near the bees head.  It should then use it’s proboscis to get energised – like gatorade for bees!
  9. Get busy and create a bee hotel!  just like any other hotel you will have a variety of visitors.  Bee hotels attract solitary species – they lay their eggs in cavities and they then leave a small food supply for their larvae.  The larvae then hatches and emerges – how wonderful is that.  It is advisable to place the bee hotels in full sun.  Now I am not talking the Hilton,  you can buy readymade at garden centres, Amazon or online – you can also quite simply build a small wood pile (untreated wood) or gather pruned branches and twigs to provide shelter and place somewhere hidden in your garden.
  10. Become a Bee Keeper!  If you want to take this further – there are lots of places and people where you can get advice.  Find a local beekeeper and ask questions about the process and any tips that they can give you.  If you check out beekeeping associations – they should be able to provide you with local contacts to help you on your journey and to keep you informed also of any courses or books they would advise.  Maybe offer your services with a bee keeper for free just to get practical experience and to see if it is for you.  If not – remember if you follow the above nine tips on helping bees, well then, you are already a keeper of the bees – and well done!












Herb Growing for Health Benefits


Herbs are packed with medicinal properties that are beneficial for a host of ailments.   Every kitchen window should have the basics, they are so easy to grow.  if I can do it, believe me anyone can!  There is nothing more satisfying as plucking a few leaves from your own window box to add to your cooking knowing the added health benefits.    For me this is a real satisfaction and I know it will be for you too!

What are herbs good for?

Herbs have been used for years to aid different health issues and for a very good reason.  Here are just a few of the most common herbs and their benefits.

    • ANISE  Digestive health and fights coughs and colds.
    • BASIL  Digestive health and nervous system
    • BORAGE  Helpful for the mind and irritated tissues. ( Not be used if liver problems are present)  Externally useful as a poultice.
    • CARAWAY  Digestive health and appetite improving.
    • SAGE  Digestive and nerve tonic.
    • GERMAN CAMOMILE  Helps with relaxation and sleep
    • CHERVIL  Blood Purifier,  lowers blood pressure and digestive aid.
    • CORIANDER/ CILANTRO  Antioxidant, anxiety relief, insomnia, diabetes.
    • DILL  Colic, Period pain, gripe, cold and coughs, bad breath.
    • FENNEL  Digestive system,  kidney stones, cystitis (Extracted oil NOT to be given to pregnant women).
    • HYSSOP.. Highly regarded as a cure all,  expectorant and tummy tonic.
    • LEMON, MINT  Repels mosquitoes when rubbed directly onto the skin.  Oil infused for skin soothing.
    • OREGANO ITALIAN  Used by Hippocrates as an antiseptic.  Works well on stomach and respiratory conditions.
    • FLAT LEAF PARSLEY  Diuretic ridding body of stones,  treats drop
      Terracotta Composting 50-Plant Garden Tower by Garden Tower Project
      Grow Herbs Anywhere With The Garden Tower

      sy, cystitis, jaundice.  Detoxes via urine benefiting rheumatism.

    • CAYENNE PEPPER  High Blood Pressure,  artery health helping to rid bad LDL, Cholesterol and triglycerides.  Helps muscle cramps, allergies, healing and energy booster.
    • RUE  Eye Health,  reduces capillary fragility strengthening eyes.
    • SUMMER SAVORY  Great for sore throats and tea infusions for a boost.
    • THYME  Historically used before antibiotics,  effective on fungus that infects the toenails.
    • WORMWOOD  Used a tonic on the liver, gallbladder and digestive system. (NOT suitable for small children and pregnant women.)
    • YARROW  Beneficial in treatment of wounds, helping to stop blood flow, colds and menstrual pain.




Don’t you just to love to read about SUPER HERBS or SUPER FOODS or SUPER ANYTHING that has absolutely POWERFUL SUPER ANTI AGING properties – I know I do!  The new kid on the SUPER HERO block is ASHITABA.


Healing Herb Plants to buy, Korean medicinal plant
Click to buy this starter ashitaba plant on Amazon 

Ashitaba is a native Japanese herb that is being hailed for it’s fantastic anti ageing properties.  You may come across it as Kenso, Angelica keiskei koidzumi or Tomorrow’s leaf.   It is part of the carrot family and has been used traditionally in Japan in herbal medicine.  The Ancient Japanese warriors would eat this for it’s life longevity benefits and it looks like the were on to something!  Science has recently been able to prove the potency of Ashitaba and been able to ascertain exactly how it promotes good health.  The university of Graz found a compound in the plant that induces a process in Ashitaba known as autophagy.

What is autophagy and why do I need to get excited?

Basically autophagy is instrumental in cleansing and eliminating at a cellular level,  detoxifying the body.  This has enormous health impacts on the body as when the cells are cleansed – the body can easily maintain it’s health helping to eliminate damage that could result in adverse health implications such as cancer.

It is has potent anti ageing advantages too- internally and eternally.  The compound was shown to slow cell ageing which is fantastic news!

Obviously the long term effects are not known yet but the research suggests that this is one herb that we all need to add to our windowsill pharmacy.

It is claimed other properties within the herb help fight cancer, lower blood sugar and thin blood.

It is packed with B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and beta-carotene.

I will be adding this to my collection on the window sill.  It is available on Amazon- the image link above will take you to the ORGANIC option.

Cooking with Herbs.

You don’t need to be a culinary expert to reap the benefits of herbs.  There are numerous recipes online but you know what,  just follow your nose, experiment, just take little leaves from your kitchen window and add a dash here and there.  The guide below gives you an idea to get you started but you will soon discover your own favourites.  I really recommend growing your own kitchen window collection,  they are always fresh and they look great too.  Check out my favourite place to buy seeds,  this company are fantastic as they are always giving free seeds with purchases to introduce you to other ideas.  They also only supply GMO free which is the best way forward and as nature intended.  Check them out here.
You need Basil if you are going to cook Italian. This is one of the most common herbs that is found in every kitchen window sill. It has a little aniseed flavour and really knows how to add a little bit of wow to any pasta or salad dish. Basil is just gorgeous with tomatoes.  This versatile herb goes great with cheese especially vegan mozzarella, artichokes and garlic, drizzled with balsamic vinegar it tastes perfect. Liven up your strawberry serving with Basil for a colourful pop that taste so fresh. Quick and simple, bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and a little balsamic, getting hungry just thinking about it!
We are going a little bit french here! Used widely in french cooking this is another staple for your windowsill. Chives are part of the onion family and can add a little bit of zing to salads and freshness to savoury dishes. Boil some potatoes, mash with your chosen butter and milk ( lots of vegan alternatives) and mix in the chives – makes a mouth watering yet so simple main or side dish.
This little herbs packs a punch with it’s strong flavour. Use this with slow-veg, soups and pasta dishes – it’s another little star in the Italian  and Greek kitchens.  Oregano is used widely in the UK as a sprinke over pizza dishes.  Try using in a gorgeous vegan moussaka or adding to a bean stew.  Oregano is such a versatile herb and brings a little mediterranean flavour to your every day recipes.
This is a family member with Oregano, the little delicate thinner relation. Used widely in North European recipes, it goes great with beetroot, carrots and lends itself well to salads. Try it some vegan cheese and beefy tomatoes.  Try with pasta, broad beans and fennel for a culinary delight.
 PARSLEY So bitter and fresh flavoured it is a perfect garnish. For a vegan dish this is perfect with potatoes and can be used just like the chives – mashed potato with vegan butter/milk and stirred in. This is a great fresh tasting simple dish. The stalks can be used for stock so keep them!   Sprinkle and use also as a main ingredient in soup.
Totally gorgeous with your fruit platter. Chop up lots of fruit and sprinke with this beautiful herb for a real kick. Spearmint and peppermint are the two main varieties commonly used in the kitchen. It can be added to salads and is really lovely mixed through peas for a little lift. Try it with your vegan yogurts too and to cool down spicy dishes.
This woody herb is best served with roast potatoes or added to focaccia breads to add a whole lot of flavour. Just take off the stalks and spring the leave’s over your potatoes before roasting and on top of your bread before popping in the oven.
Roast Thyme with vegetables and add into stews and stocks. It has a gorgeous perfume and is quite strong so do add sparingly. Try with your vegan cheese dishes too to enhance the flavour.   I have come across some rather interesting recipes to use thyme including one for apple and thyme crumble with thyme custard which can obviously be adapted to vegan friendly, get creative!  Thyme and figs are another great recipe combo that is quite common and would be an interesting one to try.
This is such an aromatic herb and just takes everything around it to a new taste level. It goes really well with onion dishes and vegan cheese. Try a cheese and onion tartlet with added sage for a tasetbud sensation.  Add to butternut squash mash with vegan cream or butter for a tasty side.
The great garnisher! It has a citrus flavour but very gentle. This herb is commonly used in South American cooking being added to the good old guacamole and fresh salsa. Try with chilli and avocado too, just delish! You can add coriander to curries, salads and soups to bring a freshness to the dish. A staple ingredient in making curry paste.
This is a Scandanivian favourite, in fact most of eastern Europe and the Med all love dill. Include in salads and potato dishes. It is a fragrant herb so adds that little edge to your dish.  Dill is used frequently with fish but tastes equally as good with vegan recipes.  Oatcake, dill and potato samosa is one of they recipe I have encountered and sounds intriguing!
It is best to use sorrel in cooked dishes. It has a lemon sourness and goes well with potato dishes.   Try sorrel in the wok with a little olive oil and add in some almond butter and a dash of Himalayan salt.  Accompany sorrel with rice or use a base for a pesto sauce.  Add sorrel to stuffing recipes too  – grill a red peeper and stuff with sorrel and rissotto for a delish treat.
A delicate plant with an aniseed flavour. It goes with tomatoes, potatoes and chopped into salads. Tarragon is used widely in France and can be used to flavour oils and vinegar.  Sprinkle over roast vegetables and in particular carrots.  Beautiful used in sauces as it imparts a gorgeous aroma.  Use sparingly in your recipes as to not over power the main dish.
Similar to Tarragon but the flavour isn’t as strong. It has delicate leaves and goes well in salads and soups. Chervil is a beautiful garnish and a chefs favourite addition when enhancing the look of any dish, so pretty!  Chervil is known as the happy herb,  great for digestion but also for cheerfulness and sharp wit.  If you some help with your one liners at the dinner table,  make sure to include the happy herb!
There are so many herbs out there that can be incorporated into your recipes.   Herbs are often overlooked in our day to day quick family dinners especially mid week dinners.  The benefits of using herbs is huge not just for adding flavour and colour but herbs have such an impact on our bodies for the good.  If you want to keep healthy always include herbs.  It is good to have a few pots of the classics and commonly used, BASIL, PARSLEY andCHERVIL at the very least on the window sill.  Every now and then break a little off and chew raw for major health benefits.  Adding herbs to your recipes quite simply can add years to your life.  They are more than garnishes and something green and pretty.  It is just so wonderful to know that cooking with herbs really tick that box of delicious meeting healthy.  Using herbs reduces the need for salt as they impart enough flavour and studies show cooking the herbs does not strip away the benefits.  Make sure you read our blog on these benefits and get busy planting your medicinal and kitchen essentials.
I recommend you can link to them here.  They have a plethora of wonderful seeds to get you growing your own kitchen supply.  What I love about these seeds is the fact that they are GMO free,  just as nature intended.  Check out their site for great ideas and inspiration.
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.     
Genesis 1:12

How to Build a Garden Shed and Make Garden furniture.

Learn to woodwork properly with thousands of plans and ideas.Learn woodworking from the one of the best in the business.The Ultimate Woodwork Resource.If you want to simply build a garden seat or maybe be really adventurous and build a garden shed, a new bedroom suite, a fantastic wooden family kitchen table – it is all here.  This is the number resource I recommend.
Ted McGrath is a master craftsman, an educator, author and all round expert in woodworking – he literally takes you by the hand step by step from your idea to your final masterpiece.  No guessing on measurement, everything is made plain and simple eliminating any stress!

Ted McGrath Woodworking Resource – It’s the number one guide across the world for a reason!

My husbands big idea!

My husband told me a few days ago: “I want to build my own shed.”  “Really?” I asked, with a slight raise to the eyebrow!

Now, believe me, my husband is quite handy but,  building a shed?

Memories of him trying to put our daughter’s doll house together came flooding back and never mind the flat pack furniture over the years,  you know those plans they send which according to my husband were always wrong and they never included enough screws etc…..

“So you want to build your own shed” I said,  “Are you sure?”

The Questions Asked!

Is it cheaper to build your own shed?

  • How much does it cost to build a garden shed?
  • Do you need planning permission to build a garden shed?
  • Where do you get plans or designs to build your own shed?
  • Is it harder to build your own shed?
  • Where do you start to build a garden shed?
  • How long will it take you to build a garden shed?

I think I will build a man cave was his answer!

So off he went googling to research where to begin.  Now my husband is a bit of a perfectionist so he did read lots of reviews, watched endless youtube videos but kept coming back to the first guy he found Ted McGrath.  Ted seemed to totally measure up (no pun intended!)

The best wood working resource out there!

The reason this company stood out was the sheer detailed instructions on how to build your own shed or whatever wood work project you decided on.

You are taken step by step from the beginning to the end result.  The choice of shed floor plans and woodwork designs are fantastic.

This resource not only has 16000 designs, plans and ideas to choose from but the winning factor with Ted’s plans compared to the numerous other companies is Ted McGrath!

Who is Ted McGrath and how can he help?  Is he going to come around?

Well No,  but this guide to build your own shed and the plans to build your own shed were created and overseen by Ted.

Ted’s credentials include the fact that he a professional wood work crafter and an educator on the subject.  You are learning from one of the best out there and someone that knows what he is talking about. This guy lives and breathes wood work!

No Hired Help Required!

Following Ted’s plan you WILL NOT have to hire anyone to build it for you and you will be shown how to do it in the shortest time possible.

Build a garden play house or a man cave or maybe you want to start with a bench or table?   This is the place for complete plans and direction.  No wasting time googling “how to” videos when you get stuck as that won’t happen with this fantastic resource.

Why is this the best woodworking guide?

The difference is the guide and plans were written by Ted  and not some ghost writer that couldn’t tell the difference between a hammer and chisel and probably never put foot in a garden shed!

I am not being cynical but that is how a lot of companies work these internet days,  they ship out the writing to someone else because it is cheaper or because writing is not their thing.

Ted on the other hand is a certified master woodworker –  an expert in woodworking in all it’s forms, he has penned numerous books on the subject and is an educator.  Ted is the real deal, a man with experience.

To write a manual and craft plans properly only comes with hands on experience and teaching the craft to others.

Building a shed is an expense so you do not want to make any mistakes.  Ted takes you literally by the hand, step by step so that you cannot make a mistake but can create your own masterpiece that you and your family can enjoy for years,  think of that satisfaction!

Detailed Plans For All  Your Woodwork Projects.

How do you find detailed plans to build custom projects?  This is the number one question woodworkers and anyone taking on a project are faced with. Frustrating isn’t it!

Ted’s Woodworking Plans are the perfect way to overcome these obstacles. Building a garden shed,  how to make custom garden furniture – seats, benches, chairs and plans for picnic tables are all covered in detail

A lot of step by step guides found in magazines or online leave out important information under the assumption that you would know that anyway,  they forget the whole reason you are following their instructions in the first place!

Why are Ted’s Plans Easy To Follow?

Ted McGrath”s wood working plans all include pictures,  that is pictures that actually are specific to whatever he is teaching (a lot of manuals don’t do this). Cut sheets are also included so no guessing.

For 25 years Ted studied the problems in the industry and came up with the solutions,  putting together a collection of comprehensive wood working plans.

On Ted’s wood work website solutions for various woodwork problems and finding the right plans for different projects are all available.  The site has over 16,000 projects,  all with  step by step blueprints enabling you to create and build your dream projects.  You can access a variety of plans for different projects to keep you busy creating.

Beginner friendly and plenty of plans for the more experienced to get stuck into!

If you are a complete newbie to wood working or if you have experience you will find a plethora of helpful hints and tips.

What is included in Ted Woodwork Resource

  • Easy to follow step by step instructions,  holds you by the hand instructions that assist you to get the project completed
  • Material and cutting lists
  • Sharp, colourful and detailed schematics.
  • The plans give you all angle views showing every intricate detail for every joint, angle and corner
  • Various plan lists 16000+ .
  • Every month new FREE plans.

For every level of expertise, beginner through to professional (you will be like a professional when you get started).

What Tools Do You Need For Woodwork?

You do not need a workshop full of expensive tools.

The only downside to Ted’s wood working is the sheer amount of plans, thousands of them!   They do take a little time to download if your computer speed is slow,  not a bother if your speed is fast though.

I would recommend the dvd pack, yes you will have to wait for the delivery – no big deal though unless you want to get started tomorrow!

Ted’s plans are used in thousands of wood work and joinery workshops by professionals.  This enables craftsmen to offer custom project services to their customers. The resource make this so much easier and opens up more opportunities in the workshop.

Ready To Get Creating?

Thousands of woodworkers and joiners are using his plans to create some absolutely fantastic pieces,  so whats keeping you?  Don’t procrastinate,  get busy with the hammer,  no better way to chill out and make your own masterpiece too.

Working with wood is beneficial for the mind so make the most of the health benefits.

Take advantage of the special offer over on his site,  here’s the link.  Happy creating!

The Resource

Woodwork with your kids project- light bulb moment!

I was thinking last night after I had penned this article that it would be a fantastic project to do with your kids.   We all know we need to introduce ways to get them off social media!  The experience of creating something really positive that they can feel proud of.  This not only builds a wooden masterpiece but self esteem too.

I know a lot of teenagers would certainly need a lot of cajoling but maybe it could be a gym room, or a girls den or even what my teen daughter wants  – her own space where she could run a little business doing nails in her spare time.

If your child is introduced to a fantastic hobby like this when they are young,  it will be so beneficial.

What Will You Make?

You can build furniture, learn how to make seats, how to make garden benches,  it isn’t all sheds!

Make your own Rocking Chair,  how cool would that be,  a family heirloom!

How about a really nice swing, a garden bench or a toy box?  The possibilities are endless!

Talking of business ideas these sheds can make fantastic beauty salons or creator studios. Get your thinking cap on,  it doesn’t have to be just somewhere for the lawn mower!

There are lots of fantastic spaces to be created using the design templates – for example

  • Build a shed for a beauty salon.
  • How to build a shed for gym
  • Designs to build a girls den
  • Teens outside den ideas
  • How to build a man cave
  • and just when we are at it –  building a mom chill out room!
  • My nephew has just popped into my head – he would love this for his band practice!

Building a garden shed really is adding another functional room to your home.

Get Going and I hope it brings you many years of happiness and great memories!