Green Your Life

Talking about amazing eco-friendly products and access to my online Wikaniko shop.


Leave a comment

Planting for Bees (other other bugs)

Bugs in a pumpkin flower!

Bugs in a pumpkin flower!

Now is a really great time to get planting wildflower seeds for bees, butterflies and all sorts of other bugs.  I love going around collecting wildflower seeds and taking them home to plant.  From doing this and buying some plants, I have quite a collection of wildflowers in my garden – most I haven’t got a clue what they are called, but if bees and bugs like them, they get to stay.

A mixture of wildflowers. The tall ones with big leaves have lovely purple flowers!

A mixture of wildflowers. The tall ones with big leaves have lovely purple flowers!

Throughout the late summer and autumn I go around collecting the seeds and some I plant in trays or pots recently vacated by the carrots that have left the garden for the kitchen and our stomachs.  Some I scatter around my wildflower beds and some I keep for spring.  I also use some of our lovely wildflower seed-balls which do really well, though unfortunately, a bit of chilli powder in the seed-ball-mix does not deter the slugs!

The wildflower patch in early summer.

The wildflower patch in early summer.

The plan is to have quite a lot of wildflower plugs that will be slug resistant come spring!  This spring the slugs definitely won the vegetable and wildflower seedling battle for quite a few weeks!  I may not have been happy.

My large white daisy’s (Ox-eye I think) are coming up well and so are some sweet williams, the marigolds, some lovely blue flowers and others that will only be recognisable when they are quite a bit bigger!

Blue flowers, loved by bees and other invertebrates!

Blue flowers, loved by bees and other invertebrates!

I may even be so successful in my wildflower growing that the kids will be able to sell some alongside more strawberry plants at a spring-time event!  However, they will have to help out with potting on so that the wildflowers have a good chance at survival.  And we may need to figure out what they all are – not sure people are happy buying ‘lovely blue flowers that bees like’!  But you never know!!

The white daisies growing on well

The white daisies growing on well

I admit wildflower areas don’t always look pretty or neat, but by having a few of these areas in your garden gives bees food and a home.  As our world climate changes, the bees, butterflies and many other animals will need our support more and more to survive.

So go on, plant some wildflowers and give a bee a hug!


Leave a comment

Make a Difference

MaD1The Other Half  and I were having a heated discussion the other day about whether corporations will take action on something that they know to be damaging, dangerous or environmentally destructive without public pressure.

My opinion, if they know the thing that they are selling causes human suffering, environmental pollution or damage or health problems (or anything else), then they should stop selling it or change what they are doing so that such damage and destruction doesn’t happen.  Why should they?  Well, because the knowledge is there.  They know that the actions of the business are causing human suffering and/or environmental damage.

His view – they won’t unless someone makes them!  Their only obligation is to their shareholders and customers.

Oh, and if the government puts laws in place then they (mostly?) follow those, unless they can find a loophole! (my view!!)

Sadly (though please don’t tell him), he is probably right.

So who will make the bosses/owners of a major international corporation change their behaviour, change what they sell, change how they make their products, change so that they truly do minimise that corporations impact on the natural, human and social environment?

Is this the future? Will you change it?

Is this the future? Will you change it?

Well, in a nutshell – us.

Yup, you and me.  Well we need a lot of you to help.

Who buys and uses the products these corporations make? – People, like you and me.

Who invests in them and buys their shares? – People, like you and me.  Through our savings, investments and pensions.

So, how can we make them change?

If we know of the problem(s) caused we can write directly to that corporation and ask them to change or tell them we will not buy their product(s).  We can ensure any savings, investments and pensions we have are not supporting that corporation and others like it.  We can lobby our governments to put laws in place to stop corporations doing these things.

It is slow.

But it does work, slowly.

A bee or no to bee?

A bee or no to bee?

To make it work faster, more people need to be active.

Here are some instances that I know of where corporations know/have known of the damage that they are causing and yet use their own scientists to try and disprove the damage.  Please share any that you know of in the comments.

Neonicotinoids – the scientific evidence has been mounting for at least a decade that these pesticides (some of the most widely used around the world) are killing bees (and other insects).  However the producing companies – Bayer and Syngenta have produced their own reports to confuse the independent science and continue to lobby hard to ensure that governments and multi-government bodies such as the EU don’t ban them completely.  Independent research by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US is finally starting to show that these chemicals are a key cause of bee decline in the US.  In the EU, the 2 year ban is due to end… Take action here .  The best direct action you can take is not to use any pesticides in your garden or home and if you do, use ones that are compatible with organic farming only.

Microbeads – very few people will argue that these are not a problem.  They are tiny bits of plastic used in a large variety of cosmetic products from facial scrubs to toothpaste and even sunscreen.  Unfortunately, they wash off our bodies/teeth and down the drains and into our rivers, lakes and oceans.  Here, they are eaten by all members of the food chain that eat plankton or filter water to get their food.  These animals are eaten by larger fish and they do end up in our food too (and probably our water!).  Yet, they are still being made and put into products right now!  I know, hard to believe.  The corporations that use them want to keep using them because they are cheap, do the job and are easy to make and use.

At least in the US Obama has taken action to ban microbeads, but this will be 2 years away.  Here in the UK and Europe… they are working on a voluntary code of practice!!!!  You can take action by signing a Petition to the UK Government and supporting the work of the Marine Conservation Society too.   Of course, you should also ensure that you do not buy products with micro-beads.  If you want help in knowing what to look for, read this.

time-to-rethink-874670__180Climate Change – the big one!  Increasingly we are hearing about how the large oil companies have blocked and confused the scientific information about climate change and funded research to show that human made climate change does not exist.  You can read some of the stories here, here, here and here.   Despite statements that they offer qualified support for the Paris Agreement, most environmentalists are skeptical.

So what can you do – well, it is hard for most of us to not buy fuel as we rely on a fuel based economy.  However, supporting lobby groups such as worldchange7Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth through their online campaigns is a good start.  If you want to go a step further, then look at your pension, savings and investments and ensure that they are not supporting the oil business.  To find out more about ethical investments and ethical consumerism, then The Ethical Consumer is a great source of information.

 

These are just 3 current issues.  There are many more and please do share the ones you support with me.

Please also share this on.

The only people who are going to make a difference are You and Me.  Please make sure that there are lots of Us!

Thank you

Philippa x


Leave a comment

Wonderful Wildflowers

Animals 056Spring is really here!  It was so wonderfully warm today, my two children spent most of the time in the ‘not-a-lot’, we even got the sun cream on them.

Now is a great time to be thinking about wildflowers – or at least it is in my mind!  There is still time to be planting wildflowers to get great summer blooms and give fabulous colour to your garden – no matter how big or small.  I do admit that wildflowers can be a bit hit and miss – sometimes they take more than one year to grow and flower, but once you have created a mini-meadow, then it will bloom year on year with relatively little attention from you (compared to a lawn that is!).

So one good reason to have a wildflower meadow – reduce the mowing!  Fabulous if like me, this is not a great way for you to spend a dry day!

Why else do I plant native wildflowers over ornate blooms or tropical imports?

Well, a major reason is bees, bugs and butterflies and all the things that rely on them for food (including us!). Without bees and other pollinators, our food supplies would dwindle dramatically so, in my mind, it is essential to do a little to give the pollinators, decomposers, seed disperses, predators, and yes, even slugs, a helping hand.  So gradually I am turning my front lawn into a wildflower meadow.

I have removed a 1x 3m rectangle of grass and a large number of flower-seeds have gone into this.  Some are growing, but not all (yet).  There is only about another 4x3m section of grass left to remove and I already have lots of flowers starting to grow indoors – all ready for planting out.

Seed ball tinsMany wildflowers are not so keen on really fertile soil, preferring fairly nutrient poor ground.  They are not good in heavy competition either so it is good to remove the turf and top-soil prior to planting.  Depending on flowering time, once the meadow is doing well you can get away with an early spring mow (for summer flowers) and then a mow after the flowers are over and seeds are set.  But don’t do really short mows as this may damage the plants too much.

Also, when you do mow, do remove the cut grass – perhaps after a day or so, so any seeds can drop off seed-heads and into the soil for next years flowers.

Planting is best in spring or autumn and now we have a great, hassle-free way to plant using seed-balls.  The range is fabulous and we even have sets for your own table!

 

 

urban_meadow_2We have

Salad Mix – an easy way to get a mix of salad greens, just plant one ball every few weeks for salad all summer long.

Herb Mix – with basil, marjoram, chives, dill and parsley, you can get many of your cooking herbs from these seed-balls, and provide wildlife with fabulous pollen!

Cloud Meadow Mix – a range of white blooms that go on throughout the summer

Urban Meadow Mix – hardy plants that will survive even in fairly polluted areas, providing pollen for bees and butterflies.

Poppy Mix – lovely poppies add beautiful colour to your garden and attract a whole host of wildlife.

Butterfly Mix – flowers that butterflies love including red campion, forget-me-not, yarrow, purple loosestrife and musk mallow.

Bee Mix – attract a wide range of bees to your garden with these pretty flowers, including foxglove, vipers bugloss, birds foot trefoil, wild marjoram and red clover.

Sky Meadow – give your garden a wild blue make-over with these seed-balls.  A mix of early and late summer flowers including forget-me-not, meadow cranesbill, cornflower, self heal and wild clary.

Tea Mix – flowers for the bees and butterflies and leaves and flowers to make your tea!  Includes chamomile, mint and anise.

So what are you waiting for?

Time to get planting.