Good tasting herbal teas

Ginger Tea

Taste:Ginger is spicy, pungent, and slightly sweet.


There are many ways to consume ginger, and it is often used in Indian and Asian cuisines. People use ginger root as a marinade, to make tea, and for juice, and also consume it raw or pickled.Ginger tea is a spicy and flavorful drink that packs a punch of healthy, disease-fighting antioxidants (17).

It also helps fight inflammation and stimulates the immune system, but it’s most well known for being an effective remedy for nausea (18).

Lemon Balm Tea

Taste:Lemon balm is minty and refreshing.

A member of the mint family, lemon balm is native to Europe. It has been used for hundreds of years to reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and aid in digestion. Lemon balm is often used to make toothpastes, scented oils, and perfumes.Preliminary studies have found that lemon balm tea may improve antioxidant levels, heart and skin health and even aid in relieving anxiety.

 

Chrysanthemum tea

It has helped to lower blood pressure, cool the body, and reduce inflammation, all of which can help to induce calmness. The powerful antioxidants and minerals present in the tea can help your body better regulate itself and eliminate unnecessary stress hormones in the blood.It is also anti inflammatory, boosts immune system and improves the bone mineral density.

Taste:mildly sweet with an herbal honey note

Rose Hip Tea

Taste: bit of a tart, sweet and sour taste

Rose hip tea is made from the fruit of the rose plant.It is high in vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds. These plant compounds, in addition to certain fats found in rose hips, result in anti-inflammatory properties (55).Rose hip tea is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Its anti-inflammatory properties may reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. Studies have also found rose hips effective at fighting aging of the skin and reducing stomach fat.

 

Passionflower Tea

Taste:pleasantly grassy with notes of hay.
The leaves, stems and flowers of the passionflower plant are used to make passionflower tea.Passionflower tea seems to be a good choice when it comes to relieving anxiety and promoting calmness.

 

Cinnamon tea

 


Taste:Cinnamon has a robust taste with a sweet finish.

Cinnamon is a spice acquired from the soft, inner bark of a variety of tree species from the genus Cinnamomum that grow in Sri Lanka and South India.Research has shown that cinnamon is great for both the body and the mind. Especially in people of advanced age, cinnamon is known to clear the brain, improve cognitive speed, increase focus, and encourage the growth of neural pathways.

It is also very effective for calming an upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea, and improving digestive health.

Tip:can be used in cooking as a spice(curry anyone?)

Lemongrass tea

 


Taste:Lemongrass has a mildly sweet, citrus taste.

It helps the body rid itself of cholesterol, toxins, fats, and uric acid, which help lower blood pressure.

This herbal tea is also filled with antioxidants. It helps detoxify your body, which can help slow down the aging process and prevent cancer. Because it is a rich source of vitamins A and C, lemongrass is also great for the health of your skin and hair.

Hawthorn tea

Taste:Hawthorn is sweet and sour.

The antioxidants in hawthorn give it the ability to regulate blood pressure and heal skin ailments. Hawthorn contains fiber, making it beneficial for proper digestion.

Many people enjoy drinking hawthorn herbal tea because it provides an energy boost by expanding coronary blood vessels and stimulating blood circulation.

Hibiscus tea

Taste:Hibiscus has a tart and sweet taste, similar to cranberry.

Hibiscus contains anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that have several health benefits. It helps reduce blood pressure, fight cancer, decrease anxiety, and calm the nervous system. Hibiscus also promotes weight loss by reducing the body’s ability to absorb sugar.

Jasmine tea


Taste:Jasmine is aromatic and refreshing.The antioxidants in jasmine tea make it an effective weight loss aid. Because jasmine can increase your metabolism, it will lead to more effective exercise, and help your body absorb the nutrients it needs more efficiently. It also helps the body metabolize glucose, which is important in the prevention of diabetes.

The catechins that are in jasmine tea are heart-healthy and can help lower cholesterol. They can also decrease inflammation in your veins and arteries that could potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Green tea

 


Taste:Green tea has been described as having a sweet, floral taste with bitter and slightly earthy undertone.

Benefits

Green tea has many benefits that keep it popular today. It keeps free radicals under control, reduces the risk of cancer, and helps prevent heart disease. Flavanoids, the antioxidants in green tea, can also prevent brain damage due to oxidative stress.

 

Sweet violet tea

Taste:Violet tastes sweet and floral.

Violet is one of the herbal tea remedies for severe headaches. When it is used in combination with other herbs, it can also be made into poultices for cancer, ulcers, and bedsores, or ointments for an itch.

 

Fennel tea


Taste:somewhat like licorice, with a relaxing scent and slightly bitter aftertaste.

Drinking fennel tea after meals can help balance the pH level in your stomach, which helps reduce acid reflux. It also acts as a diuretic, increasing urine flow, and has mild estrogen-like qualities that help increase menstrual flow.

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How to make a small greenhouse

Plants grow very slowly when its cold.
A minute project to create a very small greenhouse with an 8 liter water fountain.

Step 1: The Top

Picture of The Top
Picture of The Top
Picture of The Top

What you need : a water fountain and a good knife.
Cut the cap, then the top

Step 2: Bottom and Finish

Picture of Bottom and Finish
Picture of Bottom and Finish
Picture of Bottom and Finish

cut the bottom, put some soil , water and seeds.
Due to the shape, when the weather is cold the water condenses on the top part and get down to the the ground so it uses very little water : 2 cl a week.

From: instructables

How to make soap the ancient way

First step is making LYE WATER!
Soap making uses a caustic solution known as “Lye Water” which has high ph.

Lye Water is made out of wood ashes and water.

You will need to burn wood to recover the ashes to make the lye and most woods will do but hardwood is preferred. These preferred items are palm branches, dried banana peels, cocoa pod oak wood.

Your wood should be burned in a very hot fire to make very white ashes.After the fire is out and cold, gather only the finest of ash. Avoid any wood chips left. Place in a non metal container.

Step two is getting Soft Water
Water from a spring or from showers of rain is called “soft water” , because it does not have metallic or acidic chemicals in it.

Regular well or river water is not desired because because it might contain chemicals that will interfere with the soap making chemistry. This also means most water from the tap as they contain carbonates which will neutralize your lye.

STEP 3 MAKING “LYE WATER”
Fill your bucket or barrel with white ashes to within about four inches of the top.

Bring a half bucket of soft water to a boil and pour over the ashes. Now slowly add more soft water. Do not add so much water that the ashes swim/float around.

Let this sit over night or even longer. The liquid should be brown now. You will need to separate the ash from the lye water. via straining or sifting or however you can figure to separate the ash from the brown lye water.

Caution: LYE WATER IS DANGEROUS!
Test your lye water if you want to know if you have it at the proper strength usually the color of bourbon is right. If an egg or a potato will float just below half way or if a feather starts to dissolve then your lye water is good. If however the egg sinks then  boil some more water and pour that over some ash and add the lye water to the mix and again let it set over night.

Boiling down the lye water is another way of strengthening it but you obviously will not be able to make as much soap.

Be sure the egg doesn’t rise to high (less than half submerged) as this is an indication that the lye is to strong. Add soft water until the egg doesn’t float that high.

Next step is getting some Animal Fat.

The fat of most animals can be used in the making of soap but bird fat should only be used sparingly. Place the pure fat that is trimmed off  in a cast iron frying pan or a big pot.

Melt the fat until it turns into a liquid over low heat.

Pour the melted grease through straining cloths, preferably cheese-cloth

Now add equal amounts of water and grease and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat source and add 1/4 as much water. Set aside and let the grease and water solution cool. When the fat has hardened remove the dirty stuff leaving only the clean. Repeat until the dirty looking fat is gone.

On the last “washing” add some salt. One spoon full should suffice.

Fats gathered from cooking can be used but you will need to do the washing process with the addition of vinegar or lemon juice. For each cup (.25 liters) of fat at a couple of spoonfuls of lemon juice and 1/2 cup (.12 liters) of water and boil.

If the smell can not be removed this way then discard and forget about making soap with this.

This hardened fat can be stored for later use for a couple of weeks.

The next step is where experience will make you better over time. You must get the right proportions of grease to lye. 12 parts of lye to 1 part of grease is about right.

Mix the lye and ten quarts (9.4 liters) of water, and bring to a boil. Add 3 pounds (1.36kg) grease and bring to a boil. Then add 4 quarts (3.78 liters) of water and continue cooking it down. When the mixture is the consistency of heavy syrup, pour it into a mold. Cut into bars when cold.

Obviously adjust amounts to fit what you have available.

Leave some extra lye and grease unused so that you can adjust the concentration of the soap to get it right if the first time the concentration is a bit off.

Leave the new soap undisturbed for two days before removing from mold/bucket. Now cut into bars and place in a well-ventilated area to cure and dry out. Cure like this for at least three weeks in a dark, dry place with ventilation. You now have soap to wash with.

Tips:
When combining the lye and grease, keep heating the mixture. The liquid will become stringy and muddy-looking. Continue to add lye water until the mixture looks quite clear, and not so muddy.

If a thick scum of grease forms on top, more lye is needed. If the soap mixture does not thicken, and no scum appears, more grease is needed.

Shea butter and coconut oil can be added for moisturizing.Brewing herbs in water will make a herb tea which you can infuse your soap with!Olive oil is also commonly added.

Note:if you add extra stuff you will need to recalculate the water and lye needed as the ratio will be changed.

Soap calculator

A good tool for calculating lye needed for soap making.

Make your own honey

Firstly, decide if its for you

Check out the law

Most cities in the United States have strict rules around beekeeping—if they allow it at all. So your first step is determining what laws will govern your apiary(that’s the technical term for a bee condo). For example, your lot may need to be a certain size, there could be a cap on how many hives are permissible, and certain species, such as Africanized bees or other non-native bees, may be illegal.

Check if anyone in your family has an allergy to bee stings-you might be stung

Tell your neighbors and explain to them how bees are actually beneficial and don’t sting unless provoked.Try to take steps to ensure they wont get stung too and tell them.Promise and provide a jar of honey to neighbors when you collect your honey, they will appreciate it. On the other hand if you already aren’t getting on well with your neighbor, its probably not a good idea to get bees.

Tips

Always provide a water source-or they might swarm your neighbor’s swimming pool.Oops!

Get a gentle queen bee as it will produce gentle offspring.

Don’t Buy used supplies from someone else. They can contain diseases that might be passed on to your bees. Always buy new

Do  Get your bees from an approved dealer. This ensures your bees will arrive healthy and strong, and that they were raised under humane and responsible circumstances.

Don’t Neglect your bees. During the spring and summer, when the temperature is consistently above 70°F, it’s important to inspect your hives each week. Parasites, such as wax moths, can decimate the hive in days when left unchecked.

Do Start with at least two colonies. While it might seem overwhelming to care for and keep two hives, multiple colonies will allow you to compare their progress and make adjustments as needed. There’s also the simple fact that beekeeping has a steep learning curve, and increasing your odds is never a bad thing.

Beehives require management and good stewardship, which take both time and knowledge.

General maintenance requires periodic inspections during the warm months to make sure your queen is laying eggs, your workers are building up honey stores, and your colony has enough space to expand. In the cold months, the colony clusters and eats through their honey stores, only emerging when the temperature is above freezing to eliminate waste. Inspections are discouraged during this time to keep from releasing precious heat from the hive. Management time and style will depend on your climate, your hive style, and your particular bees. All colonies are unique, and each beekeeper will have a different experience.

Connect With Your Local Beekeeping Organizations

In beekeeping, some details can be specific to your local area. And the nature of beekeeping means that you’ll be most successful if you have strong local resources to draw on.

DO your research and read up on books or material online.

Pick the right spot

Once you understand the ordinances related to urban beekeeping and are able to satisfy them, it’s time to choose a spot for your hives. The ideal location is one that’s easily accessible so you can inspect them regularly, not too windy, with constant temperatures and far out of reach of predators. Pointing the hives toward the southeast will get the bees buzzing earlier in the day, and a spot with dappled sunlight rather than full sun will help keep the hive cool during hot summer days.

Equipment

A beekeeping jacket ($40)

While some experienced beekeepers eschew protection, beginners will want to make this investment.

Leather gloves ($15)

Inspecting the hives requires lifting frames from the boxes, which angers the bees. Keep the vulnerable skin of your hands safe with long gloves, usually made from supple goat skin.

A smoker ($40)

Short and squat, a bee smoker emits cool, white smoke, which masks the bees’ pheromones and keeps them calm as you work the hive.

Note: If you are very daring and your hive is small, you can try getting a gentle bee queen and go without protection.But approach the hives and take the frames out slowly.A gentle bee queen is the most important so get one from a reputable source!

Bee hive

Langstroth hive

Langstroth hives are basically stacked boxes. As the hive grows, the beekeeper simply adds another box to the tower. Each box contains ten frames, which hang in the box like files in a cabinet.

Building vs. buying beehives

If you’re brand new to beekeeping, it’s best to buy your hives rather than go the DIY route. While buying will be more expensive (a Langstroth hive averages about $100)

Building requires a level of understanding that only comes with time and experience, so if built improperly, a beehive can hinder a bee’s growth and honey production.But if you want to, there are many tutorials to check out on the internet.

Harvesting

A smoker is essential for this process so you can work in peace.
You can either buy smoker fuel commercially or use things like pine needles or some types of untreated wood.
It is important to remember that you should not harvest the dark honey found in the brood area. You should also leave enough honey for your bees to use to feed the hive, especially during the winter months.

How to make successful compost

Since its autumn now and there’s dead leaves over all the garden, you may be wondering what to do with that heap of leaves you just raked from your garden.No,  please dont throw them away!They can be used for composting!

“No-Turn” Composting

The biggest chore with composting is turning the pile from time to time. However, with ‘no-turn composting’, your compost can be aerated without turning.

The secret is to thoroughly mix in enough coarse material, like straw, when building the pile. The compost will develop as fast as if it were turned regularly, and studies show that the nitrogen level may be even higher than with turned compost.

With ‘no-turn’ composting, add new materials to the top of the pile, and harvest fresh compost from the bottom of the bin. This can be easily done in an Aerobin Composter, or a Eco King compost bin.

Enclosed Compost Bins

For small-scale outdoor composting, enclosed bins are the most practical. Enclosed bins include:

DIY Compost Bin

The least expensive method is to build one yourself from a heavy-duty garbage can. Simply drill 0.5-cm aeration holes in rows at roughly 5-cm intervals around the can. If the lid is secure, the bin can be laid on its side and rolled to provide aeration.

Standard Compost Bins/Digesters

Compost bins are enclosed on the sides and top, and open on the bottom so they sit directly on the ground. These bins are inexpensive, but it is difficult to turn the compost, so it can take several months to produce compost. These bins are thin-walled plastic, and may chip along the edges, especially during a freeze, so they are not recommended.

Tumblers

The most efficient enclosed bin method is the compost tumbler. It’s possible to maintain relatively high temperatures, both because the container acts as insulation and because the turning keeps the microbes aerated and active. Some designs provide an interior “paddle” or “aeration spikes” which help bring air into the compost and prevent clumping of the composting materials. Other designs have holes on the ends for aeration. This greatly speeds up the composting process.

Tips:

Always cover fruits and vegetables with 1-2 inches of grass clippings or ‘brown’ material like straw to prevent smells and flies.

Always remember-layer the compost with one part green(fresh material)  and one part brown(dead material)

No meat and bones please(flies love them too)

If the compost smells like ammonia-which is basically the smell of rotten eggs/urine, add carbon-rich elements such as straw, peat moss, or dried leaves.Smells are an indicator that the compost isn’t composting as it should.

Large-bodied plants like tomatoes and broccoli can be chopped a bit smaller to make it easier to compost by increasing surface area for microbes

Check on your compost twice a week!

 

Add leaves in small batches to avoid matting

The composting process speeds up when the materials are well mixed. Add just a few handfuls of leaves at a time to the compost bin; if you add too many leaves they will mat together into a soggy mass and slow down the process.

Is Your Compost Pile Soggy?

This is a common problem, especially in winter, when carbon-based materials are in short supply. To solve this problem, you’ll need to restore your compost to a healthy nitrogen-carbon balance.

Matted Leaves, Grass Clippings Clumping Together?

This is a common problem with materials thrown into the composter. The wet materials stick together and slow the aeration process. There are two simple solutions: either set these materials to the side of the composter and add them gradually with other ingredients, or break them apart with a pitchfork. Grass clippings and leaves should be mixed with rest of the composting materials for best results.

What About Weed Seeds?

Slow or incomplete composting don’t generate enough heat to kill all weed seeds. With home compost bins or piles, the way to eliminate weed seeds is twofold:

  1. Make sure your compost is hot enough.
    Reach your hand into the center of the pile – it should be almost too hot for comfort. Specifically, the temperature should be 130 – 150 degrees F. It takes about 30 days at 140 degrees to kill all weed seeds.
  2. Mix your pile.
    While your compost may be hot in the center of the mass, the outside of the pile is cooler, giving seeds a chance to survive. Mixing brings cooler material to the warmer area and also increases aeration, which helps attain the higher heat levels. Compost tumblers are very useful for this.

 

For autumn

Tips:

Deciduous leaves are best; do not use evergreen leaves such as holly, laurel and conifers. Wait until the leaves start turning brown before raking them up.

Fresh grass clippings are nitrogen rich and serve as compost activators. Add grass clippings to your compost in thin layers to prevent matting. Then add twice the volume in brown materials to balance the carbon-nitrogen ratio.

Composting Leaves

If you have too many leaves to incorporate into the compost bin, you can simply compost the pile of leaves by itself. Locate the pile where drainage is adequate; a shaded area will help keep the pile from drying out.

The leaf pile should be at least 4′ in diameter and 3′ in height. Include a layer of dirt between each foot of leaves. The pile should be damp enough that when a sample taken from the interior is squeezed by hand, a few drops of moisture will appear. The pile should not be packed too tightly.

The pile will compost in 4 – 6 months, with the material being dark and crumbly. Leaf compost is best used as an organic soil amendment and conditioner; it is not normally used as a fertilizer because it is low in nutrients.

TIP: Leaf-Mould Tea

Use leaves to make a nutritious “tea” for your plants. Simply wrap a small pile of leaves in burlap and immerse in a garbage can or large bucket of water. Leave for three days, then remove the “tea bag” and dump contents into the compost. Scoop out the enriched water with a smaller bucket and use to water your plants and shrubs.

Composting in apartments

 

Small, portable, and fast(two to three times faster), these worm composters quickly process household waste, producing nutrient-rich ‘worm tea’ suitable for houseplants and planter boxes. Best of all, worm composters don’t require turning since the worms do the turning for you, your main job is to feed them regularly and give them the conditions they need to thrive.

DIY worm composter:

A good model uses two stacked totes —the upper tote perforated on the bottom for drainage and for worm travel. This version has two important benefits. First, you always have a place to add kitchen scraps, even when one of the totes in full. Second, the worms will make their way between totes—crawling through the holes from one to the other—to access the tote with fresh, ready-to-compost scraps. This means that with a two-story model, you can harvest the finished compost from one tote without having to separate the worms from the soil.

Ready-made worm composter:

The Worm Factory 360 is a great option for anyone looking to convert kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich fertilizer with little bother. Made from recycled plastic that comes in three colors, the Worm Factory 360 has four stacking trays, a worm ladder, a vented lid, and a spigot for siphoning off ‘worm tea.’ The design ensures odorless decomposition and offers plenty of room for your daily scraps.

What about the worms?

You’ll need to purchase worms for your worm composter. Red wigglers are the most efficient compost worms and are widely available from most suppliers. Night crawlers are larger and can also be used as bait.If you are living in the tropics, malaysian blue worms are for you.Allow one square foot of space per pound of worms.

Is a worm composter right for you?

  • Worm composters work well indoors or on a small balcony, providing temperatures stay between 40 and 80 F. Worms won’t survive a deep freeze and should be brought indoors when temperatures plummet. Worms also need to be protected from overheating and drowning—so watch out for direct sun and rain.
  • You can add kitchen scraps continually to your worm compost, though having multiple totes or tiers means you never have to separate worms from finished compost.
  • Worm composting is best for small-scale, small-batch composting.In fact you can scale it up for large batch composting too as worms can double about once per month and eat lots of food under optimal conditions.

Golden rule:one part browns to one part greens-the temperature shouldnt be too high then.Mist occasionally if you find the compost too dry.

Higher temperatures will cause worms to be more active, but not too high.Measure the temperature daily using a temperature probe or thermometer.

Tip:stick the thermometer(if you can) in your compost and check once daily.

 

 

Great hanging plants

Spanish moss


It is native in North, Central and South America and grows hanging from trees.Spanish moss is actually an air plant and not a moss.Spanish moss shoots, depending on the form can have different thicknesses, are several meters long. Its small flowers are yellowish-green.

Care

Position
Overall Spanish moss prefers bright but not direct light and good air circulation. Choose a location that is exposed to light morning and evening sun on a tree or tall shrub.

During summer or if you’re growing it in tropics, must remember that you never place it in proximity to a hot window or wall otherwise the heat will transfer and might be detrimental for Spanish moss.

Watering
Keep the Spanish moss moist all the time. Otherwise, it will become dormant. Spray it with water regularly but only when it seems dry. Frequent watering when it is already moist can be detrimental.

Humidity
Humidity is an important factor, especially when you’re growing Spanish moss indoors. To avoid it from drying out of the middle or rear drives, spray it from all sides.

Overwintering
In cooler zones, Spanish moss dies in winter as it can’t tolerate temperature below 50 F (10 C) for a long time. However, Spanish moss can tolerate temperature down to 22 F (-5 C). To overwinter it, keep the Spanish moss indoors, hanging near the sunny window in a temperature around 50 – 70 F (10 and 21 C).

Summer
In summer provide it a light shade and increase watering.

USDA Zones— 7 – 11

Propagation

Most often it is propagated naturally when the tiny pieces of its stems and plantlets spread during rainy or windy weather. In your garden, you can propagate it from division by separating side shoots and plantlets.

Tip:Spray it with liquid fertilizer once a week to accelerate growth.

Pansy

These peculiarly shaped plants will add some character to your living space or garden. These are easy to maintain, just remember to water them regularly and apply general fertiliser. Pansies only require moderate amounts of sunlight.

Care

Requires six-to-eight hours of direct sunlight. Move the pot to an area that receives four-to-six hours of morning sun but light afternoon shade when daytime temperatures are above 70 degrees to prolong flowering.

Water the pansies when the top inch of soil begins to feel dry. Empty any excess water from the drip tray beneath the pot if you are using one. Pansies may require twice daily watering during warmer weather.

Water pansies every two weeks with a soluble 5-10-5 or similar blend of fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer in water at the package-recommended rate.

Pinch off the dead flowers as they wilt to prevent them from forming seeds and to encourage further budding.

Note:Water pansies early in the day so the foliage dries before evening. Dry foliage is less prone to fungal problems.

Recommended varieties

‘Jolly Joker’, which blooms in spring and summer and has orange flowers with deep purple upper petals and a purple outline.

Princess Series, which offer a variety of colors such as blue, purple, and yellow.

Fama Series, which flowers in winter and spring and offers a wide variety of single- and mixed-colored flowers.

Lantana

Lantanas are lovely to have as they blossom for a very long time. Extremely easy to maintain, lantanas thrive in almost all conditions. The best conditions are full sun and well-drained slightly acidic soil.

Care

Mulching with pine needles is an easy way to increase acidity levels in the soil.
A good soaking about once a week should keep them relatively happy.
They can be given a light dose of fertilizer each spring, but too much may inhibit their overall flowering.
To encourage reblooming, cut the tips (deadhead) periodically.

Common Problems

While lantanas are not affected by too many problems, you may encounter them on occasion. Powdery mildew can become a problem if the plant is not given enough light. In addition, the plant may develop root rot if it is kept too wet. Sooty mold is a condition that causes black discoloration on the leaves and is most often attributed to insect pests, such as whiteflies. Other common pests that affect lantana plants include lace bugs which cause the foliage to turn gray or brown and then drop off.

Petunia

These colourful blossoms bring joy wherever they are. These sun-loving plants are perfect to bring a pop of bold colour to any area.
the two types of petunias:
Grandiflora petunias have very large flowers and are best grown in containers or hanging baskets (because they are more susceptible to rain damage).
Multiflora petunias have smaller, but more abundant flowers and are ideal for summer bedding or in a mixed border (because they are more tolerant to wet weather).

Care

Petunias are tolerant of heat so you don’t have to water them regularly. A thorough watering once a week should be sufficient (unless there are prolonged periods of drought in your area). The spreading types and those in containers require more frequent watering though.
Fertilize your plants monthly to ensure good growth. Double-flowered cultivars like a biweekly dose of fertilizer.
Remove faded/dead flowers to prolong blooming.

Recommended varieties

Carpet Series, which is ideal for a ground cover and offers a wide variety of colors

‘Sugar Daddy’ (Petunia Daddy Series), which sports purple flowers with dark veins.

‘Rose Star’ (Petunia Ultra Series), whose flowers look striped because of its rose-pink flowers with a white center.

My personal favourite hehe

Geranium

These low-maintenance plants are perfect for any hanging basket. Found in an array of different colours, they can fit any kind of space with grace. All they need is moderate amounts of sunlight, deep watering and well-drained soil.

Ivy-Leaf Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are very popular for hanging baskets, window-boxes, and containers

Care

Potting mixture should be equal amounts of peat moss, perlite (and/or vermiculite), and sand.
For maximum bloom, place the plants in an area where they will get 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
Allow to dry between waterings, then water thoroughly.
During the winter, water much less, but do not let the roots dry out.
To encourage blooming, deadhead spent flowers.
To promote bushiness and avoid legginess, pinch the stems.
During active growing months, fertilize every 2 weeks. Use a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength. Don’t fertilize in winter.
Geraniums can be re-potted as needed during the spring to be refreshed.

PESTS/DISEASES

Common problems can be low light or too much or too little water. The leaves will turn yellow as an indication you are watering too little or too much. In this case, try to even the watering out and move the geraniums to a brighter place.

Propagation

Most geraniums root easily from stem cuttings in soil, coarse sand, water, perlite, or other rooting material—but nothing with fertilizer.

Using a sharp, clean knife, make a slanted cut 4 inches below a stem tip, above a node where leaves emerge. Trim cutting to just below a node. Remove any buds, all but two or three leaves, and the leaflike stipules at the base of leaf stalks.
Roll the stem cutting in newspaper or put it in the shade for 24 hours, so that the end will seal and not rot.
Push the stem into a pot of moistened rooting medium and store it in a warm, shady place for 2 days. After that, give the cutting indirect sun. Moisten the medium only as needed.

Succulents

 

Jade plant

The Jade plant is an exceptionally robust hanging basket plant and is easy to grow and maintain. They are considered good luck symbols, making them a great addition to your home office. It is not only an excellent hanging plant, but also is one of the best low light houseplants. With proper watering and maintenance, jade plants can last for at least 20 years.

Care

A cactus mix with some organic matter will do. You can also make a mix of one part sterilized organic soil, one part sphagnum peat moss, and three parts coarse sand by volume
Jade plants are known to have very thick stems and may eventually become top-heavy, so plan ahead by planting in a wide and sturdy pot.
Jade plants do need 4 or more hours of sunlight each day
Jade plants grow best at room temperature (65 to 75°F), but prefer slightly cooler temperatures at night and in the winter (55°F).
Keep soil moist but not wet during active growth in the spring and summer. Allow soil to dry between waterings in the winter. Avoid splashing water on the leaves while watering.
If shedding or brown spots occur on the leaves, it is an indication that the plant needs more water.
Jade plants may be fertilized three to four times a year with a standard liquid houseplant fertilizer.
During the winter months, move the plants away from cold windowpanes and out of drafts.
Repotting is optional as they dont mind being root bound

Common problems

Mealybugs may hide under stems and leaves. To remove the bugs, use a spray bottle of water or wipe the insects off gently with a bit of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or cotton swab.
Powdery mildew is a common problem.
Root rot is due to excessive moisture in the soil.
Leaf drop is a sign of a thirsty plant in need of more frequent watering.

Blooming

Grow the jade plant in a small pot and hold back the water. This may persuade it to flower. Cooler temperatures in the winter promote blooming, too.

Common varieties

Hummel’s Sunset

‘ET’s Fingers’ has tubular leaves with red tips. An oddity!

String of Pearls (Curio rowleyanus)

This easy-care, succulent plant resembles a beaded necklace with its fleshy green, pea-like foliage and looks great in hanging baskets.

Care

Prune regularly to encourage an attractive multi- stemmed look. You can use these ‘cuttings’ to grow new plants!
Re-pot annually in spring to give it more space to grow.
Position – Indoors in a well lit spot, out of direct sunlight
Water – During the growing season, water the plant and allow the potting mix to dry between waterings. Water sparingly during winter and the cooler months, just enough to moisten the potting mix.
Soil – Well drained potting mix – one part sterilized organic soil, one part sphagnum peat moss, and three parts coarse sand or formulated for succulents
Place in a spot that is out of reach of drafts and air conditioning. The cold air can cause the leaves to drop

Propagation

After several years, when the plant shows signs of dying down, propagate another plant via stem cuttings. This can be done by laying a length of stem on the soil.
Note:Due to its mildly toxic nature, position this plant away from curious children and pets.

 

Burro’s Tail (Sedum burrito)

It seems similar to S. morganianum, which is native to Mexico and forms long cascading stems of glaucous, blue-green leaves, there has been conjecture that perhaps ‘burrito’ is a natural S. morganianum hybrid. Gorgeous succulent which forms tails and trails down the pot as it grows. Excellent for hanging basket culture, or in brightly lit atriums or patios with filtered light.

Care

Bright sunlight preferred
Well drained potting mix-preferably soil less(one part sterilized organic soil, one part sphagnum peat moss, and three parts coarse sand)
Provide moisture and fertilize with cactus food during the growing season. Divide the plant when it gets too large for a container and transplant it every couple of years to provide it with fresh nutrient-rich soil.

Propagation

Burro’s tail features long stems laden with small, rounded leaves. The leaves fall off at the slightest touch and will litter the ground after transplanting or repotting. Gather the leaves and insert them partway into a moist soilless medium. Burro’s tail plants can tolerate periods of drought, but the new potential plants need to be kept lightly moist until they root and establish.

Common types of cactus and care requirements

Desert cacti

Moon cactus(hibotan cactus variety)

These colourful cacti lack chlorophyll, hence they must be grafted onto a rootstock cactus as seen in the picture above. They come in colours like orange, red, pink, and yellow.These are small plants, generally only ½ inch across, although there are cultivars that get up to 8 inches in diameter.

Care

They prefer temperatures on the warm side but need a minimum of 48 F. (9 C.) to survive.

These small plants thrive on window sills that get partial light.

Use unglazed shallow pots with numerous drainage holes to prevent standing water at the root zone. Water deeply and then allow the soil to completely dry to the base of the pot before reapplying moisture. Suspend watering in the winter months and repot in spring to reintroduce nutrient dense soil.

Propagation

Moon cactus propagation is achieved by removing the offsets, which are smaller versions of the parent plant growing from the base of the rootstock. These divide away easily and root readily in a cactus potting soil.

Disadvantage

Has a limited lifespan of a few years or less unless grafted onto a new rootstock(mine died in about 9 months)

Bunny ears cactus

Originally from Mexico, the bunny ears cactus is named after its appearance. It has two pads that are bunny ear shaped. They are covered with glochids or brown prickles and should be handled with care(duh!) or you will find the glochids hooked unto you(pun intended).The bunny ears cactus grows to two or three feet, making it the perfect house plant. It produces white flowers and purple fruits in the summer if exposed to enough light.

Care

They can also grow outdoors but are only hardy in United States Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 11.
Water the plant when the top one inch of soil is dry. Allow the water to drain out of the pot and remove any excess from the saucer. During fall and winter, water lightly only every 3 to 4 weeks.

Occasionally, the plant will be beleaguered by pests such as mealybugs and scale insects. Combat these with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and rubbing it on the pests(you can find alcohol at most pharmacies)Is the type for disinfection not drinking!

Bunny ears cactus should be repotted every 1 to 2 years when they grow larger.Remember to use a well draining soil.
Note: An unglazed clay pot allows for evaporation of excess moisture, which is a prime killer of these plants.

Propagation

You can start new bunny ears plants with a pad taken from the cactus. Use extreme caution when removing a leaf because the glochids dislodge easily and are very difficult to remove from the skin. Use thick gloves or newspaper to pick up the pad. Allow the end to callus for a few days and then insert into cactus soil. Use a good cactus mix for growing bunny ears cactus, or make your own with 40 percent potting soil, 40 percent sand and 20 percent peat moss. The pad usually roots within a few weeks.

My opinion:Very easy to grow

Chin cactus


Gymnocalycium cardenasianum(nice spines!)Extremely slow growing and can tolerate very bright light.

Popularly known as the chin cactus, the gymnocalycium is a South American species of cactus. It’s name means “naked kalyx” in Greek which refers to the lack of hair or spines on the flower buds. Depending on the variety, some chin cacti seek shade while others thrive in sunlight.Generally plants with shorter smaller spines would prefer less light and longer spines more.

Care

Light: Some Gymnocalyciums are shade-seeking in the wild, among shrubs or grasses, while others grow completely exposed. Some will therefore need a light shading from the sun in the hottest months, but to overdo this will result in loss of flowers.
Soil: The balance of the potting medium should be sufficient to allow good drainage, so that the plants do not sit in soggy soil for more than a day or two after watering.
Water: Watering in the summer months, while the plants are growing well can be frequent (weekly for small plants in small pots), but always allowing the compost nearly to dry out before rewatering. Watering in the winter months at all is unwise, and certainly not necessary. The difficult times are spring and autumn.

 Propagation

Those species which produce offsets can be readily propagated by cuttings. Gymnocalycium seed germinates well when fresh, and will keep for a few years if stored in cold conditions.

Old lady cactus

The old lady cactus is a type of pincushion cactus in the mammillaria family, which has 250 species. It is a sun-loving cactus that forms large groups. It grows up to 10 inches (25 cm) tall and up to 20 inches (50 cm) broad. The solitary spherical stems, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter, are covered in white down and white spines. Reddish purple flowers, up to 0.6 inches (15 mm) in diameter, are borne in spring and summer, sometimes forming a complete ring around the apex of the plant.

Care

Light: Mammillaria species appreciate strong light, but many species dislike more than four hours of direct summer sunlight. Provide bright, even light for the best results.
Water: Allow the soil mix to become nearly dry between waterings, but then water thoroughly. Immaculate drainage is essential, so never let the pots sit in water. Suspend watering in the winter, but mist occasionally.
Soil: A rich, fast-draining cactus mix is ideal.
Fertilizer: During the growing season, fertilize with a cacti fertilizer mix. Suspend feeding during the dormant winter period.

Propagation

Mammillaria cacti can be propagated easily from offsets, which readily form in clusters around the base of the mother plant. To propagate, carefully remove the offset and allow the cut to dry on a paper towel for a few days. Depending on the size of the cut area, a callous will form over the cut surface.

Once the callous has formed, place the new plant in a pot with a potting soil mixture and keep in a warm place until new roots emerge.

Tip:To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and suspend watering.

Repotting

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a cacti, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.

Fairy castle cactus

Acanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairy Castles’ is a dwarf, columnar, branching, slow growing cactus with spiny, five-sided, mid-green stems producing numerous smaller offsets. It will reach about 6 feet (1.8 m) tall with great age. Nocturnal, white or yellow flowers are rarely produced.

Care

Make sure they receive enough water without becoming waterlogged, especially during the summer
If the roots have become black or overly soft, the cactus could be experiencing root rot – cut away the affected parts and replant.
Give them lots of direct sunlight, especially during the summer.
Well-drained soil is best, and perform well in a soil that contains some organic material.
It may become necessary to repot if it outgrows its container. If so, make sure the soil is dry and then remove the pot. Knock away old soil and prune away any rotted or dead roots, then replace it in a new pot and backfill with new soil

Propagation

Cereus cacti propagate quite easily from cuttings; simply sever a branch and replant in moist, well-drained soil. It helps to allow the cut end dry out and harden before you replant it; this makes it easier for the new cactus to form roots.

Hedgehog cactus

It is a cactus with dark reddish-green stems underneath white or brownish spidery-spines, flowers are mostly white . These plants generally form clusters from basal branching. The stems are globose to cylindrical, often slender up to 4,5 cm long or more and 4-6 cm in diameter, dark reddish-green or blackish.It is a good beginner cactus and easy to grow and flower.

Care

Minimum avg. temperature: 50°F (10°C)
Heat tolerance: Light shade
Sun exposure: Outside full sun or afternoon shade, inside needs bright light, and some direct sun.
Watering needs: Little water, needs good drainage
Propagation: Seeds or offsets that appear at the base; leave them attached to form a cluster, or wait until they are 1/3 the size of the parent and then detach and plant.

Forest Cacti

Christmas cactus

Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera bridgesii) or (Zygocactus bridgesii) are traditionally purchased in December whilst in full bloom but are available all year round. They are easy to care for.Originally from the mountains of Brazil, Christmas cacti are epiphytes. These are plants which grow on other plants, trees or rocks.

Care

Position the cactus in a cool but bright position away from radiators and direct sunlight.

While your cactus is flowering, water it regularly so that the soil does not dry out between waterings.

Top tip
Don’t feed your cactus while it is in flower

Propagation

For propagation, take cuttings 2 to 3 segments long and place them in a cool place to dry out for a couple of days so that they start to heal and scab over. Place your cuttings into small pots filled with a 50/50 mix of moist peat and sand. Push the healed end of the cutting only about 1cm into the soil mix to prevent rot.(fungicide preferred to prevent fungal rot)

Young cuttings should be kept in kept in a bright, cool place out of direct sunlight. It can take up to 12 weeks for their roots to fully develop – during this time only water very sparingly. Once they have developed a good root system, they can be transplanted into individual pots.

Encouraging your Christmas cactus to rebloom

To encourage your Christmas cactus to rebloom, it needs two rest periods, one in late winter and another in autumn. Once it has finished flowering in winter, move it to a cool place, with a temperature of between 12-15 °C and water it less frequently, just enough so that the soil does not completely dry out.

From April to September, when your Christmas cactus is growing, move it to a warmer spot (the ideal temperature is between 18-20°C), increase the watering and feed regularly with a liquid houseplant feed.

From mid-September, when the flower buds are starting to develop, move your plant back into a cool place for its second rest period, and reduce the watering as before. Once the flower buds have formed, you can move it back into the warmth and water regularly again.

If your Christmas cactus is kept happy, flowering will last for about 2 months. The individual flowers don’t last for a long time but you should see lots of new buds appearing right through the festive period.

Easter cactus


Native to Brazil, the easter cactus blooms in late winter and early spring. Its flowers vary from whites to oranges to lavenders. The plant’s spines are stacked on top of each other, giving it a unique shape.

Care

These plants perform best in bright light, but not direct sunlight.
Unlike dessert cacti, these plants need cooler temperatures, even during the day, and will bloom for months in nighttime temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees F. (13-16 C.).
Keep the soil lightly moist.
Good Easter cactus care means repotting the plant every two years in spring. (but they are ok with lack of repotting)
Fertilize monthly after the bloom period with a 10-10-10 or food with a low nitrogen count.
Keep the environment humid by misting the plant once or twice a day.

Blooming

These delightful plants actually need cool temperatures and long nights to set buds. First stop feeding them. Then move the plant where it has 12 to 14 hours of darkness. Best bud set occurs when temperatures are 50 F, (10 C.). Water sparingly from October to November. By December, you can move the plant somewhere warmer with a 60 to 65 degree range (16-18 C.). The plant will flower in February to March.

Outdoor cacti

Barrel cactus


Golden barrel cactus.Truly a behemoth

The favourite classic!Its large size says it all.Just be sure not to sit on it.

The barrel cactus is named after its barrel or circular shape. Ribs line the sides of the plant and spiky spines grow from them. Some popular varieties include the golden barrel, california barrel, fishhook cactus, blue barrel and colviller’s barrel. Flowers bloom in May and June, showing off red or yellow colors.

Care

Well draining soil.A standard cactus mix will do, or combine potting soil and sand and/or perlite 50/50.
Strong sunlight preferred but direct southern sunlight may burn it.
Once your young golden barrel cactus is about six inches in diameter, it’s mature enough to handle outdoor conditions. You can plant your cactus in a relatively shallow hole after loosening the roots. Water well during the first month following planting, then settle into a more conservative irrigation routine. If you live in an area with regular rainfall, your plant may require little to no irrigation on your part.

Prickly pear cactus

The prickly pear cactus is a genus that is very popular in drought-prone areas. Some common variations are the beavertail prickly pear and the Indian fig prickly pear. The prickly pear does well in backyards, but sheds its spines, so may not be for everyone. This cactus produces yellow, red or purple flowers.

Care is about the same as bunny ears cactus.

Cholla cactus

Cholla is a jointed cactus in the Opuntia family, which includes prickly pears. The plant has wicked spines with a nasty habit of getting stuck in skin. The painful barbs are covered in a paper-like sheath which may be very colorful and attractive. In spite of the barbs, the plant makes an excellent addition to a southwest style garden.

They are composed of cylindrical stems arranged in segments and topped with inch long spines. There are more than 20 species of the plant. An interesting bit of Cholla cactus information is its diversity of shape. The plant may be a creeper, shrub or tree. Sizes vary from just a few feet tall to 15 feet in height. Flowers are green or orange, depending upon species, and bloom April through June.

Care

Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches at planting time and add extra sand or grit to increase the porosity. Make the planting hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the roots of the plant and pack well around the roots. Cholla cactus will need supplemental water until established but will need very little irrigation once mature, except in cases of extreme drough

Cholla survive temperatures down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit/-15 degrees Celcius for short periods but prefer an average minimum temperature of 50 degrees (10 C) and bloom and thrive best in temperatures of 70 degrees F. (21 C) or more.

Propagation

Vegetative stem or pad planting.

Problems

The main problems for this plant are excess moisture and mealybugs. Mealybugs are dealt with by using insecticidal soap or simply blasting the majority of the bugs off with a garden hose. Plants that sit in standing water can get stem and root rot. To combat this, it is best to lift the plant and allow the roots to dry and callus. Prune off any damaged plant material with sterilized pruners. Replant the cactus in a mixture of top soil or loam heavily amended by at least 30% grit, such as play sand.

Totem pole cactus


Tall monstrosity.
This plant grows in an upright habit with long branches up to 12 foot tall.The whole plant is covered in lumps and bumps. The folds and curves of the skin help the plant preserve moisture in its native region of Baja to Mexico. One of the more interesting bits of totem pole cactus information is that is does not have spines.

Care

Use a good cactus mix for planting totem pole cactus. It should have a high presence of grit, such as sand or small crushed rock.
Place the plant in a brightly lit window but avoid one where searing noon sun can shine in and burn the plant.
Water deeply, but infrequently, and allow the soil to completely dry out before adding moisture.
Fertilize monthly with a good cacti food.
The plant can be brought outdoors in summer but must come back in before any cold temperatures threaten.
If you live in USDA zones 9-11,then congrats as you can grow it outdoors without any problems!

Propagation

The monstrous form of Pachycereus doesn’t flower or seed, so it must propagate vegetatively. This is a bonus for growers, since cuttings root and grow quickly, while cactus seed is slow to produce specimens of any note. Take softwood or new cuttings with a good clean, sharp blade at an angle. Make sure you include at least one good areole, or the apical meristem, where new growth begins. Allow the cut end to callus or dry out for at least a week. Plant the cut end into good cactus soil and do not water for several weeks when planting totem pole cactus cuttings.

How to grow cactus(general)

The three most important variables:
Soil
Water
Light
We’ll examine these three conditions in greater detail shortly, but first let’s note that there are at least two different groups of cacti. There are the desert cacti which is certainly the first type to come to mind whenever someone hears the word “cactus”. However, there are also jungle cacti which grow in rain forests and other environments that most would consider the least likely habitat for a cactus plant.

Jungle Cacti
Jungle cacti include those species in genera such as Acanthocereus, Disocactus, Epiphyllum, Hatiora, Hylocereus, Lepismium, Rhipsalis, Schlumbergera, Selenicereus, and perhaps a few others. Almost everyone has seen at least one representative from this group even if they were unaware that the plant was actually a cactus. The most common of these are the holiday cacti, Easter Cactus- Hatiora gaertneri, Thanksgiving Cactus- Schlumbergera truncata and Christmas Cactus- Schlumbergera x buckleyi. These plants are all true cacti despite their lack of big spines and inability to withstand the harsh conditions of the desert.

Soil
Most Jungle cacti are either epiphytic or lithophytic meaning they grow in trees or grow on rocks respectively. This type of plant gets its nutrients from the air or from dead leaves and other debris that may have collected in crotches, cracks, or crevasses. Those that grow in trees do so for support, but do not sap nutrients from their host. For best results we’ll want our soil to mimic these natural conditions.

Coarse orchid bark (about 25%), mix in some potting soil (25%), peat (25%), and the rest mostly pearlite with maybe 5% coarse gravel. The most important aspect of the mixture is good drainage. The pearlite helps create this by keeping the soil loose and “airy” and so does the orchid bark. Additionally the orchid bark tends to hold more moisture than pearlite or gravel. Pumice can be substituted for the pearlite. Keep in mind that the orchid bark will eventually break down into soil. This will create a very rich soil that may not be as effective in keeping the roots healthy. It isn’t a bad idea to re-pot these plants every 2 or three years with a fresh mix. The best time to do this is shortly after your plant has finished blooming. This is when it will be ready to start growing again.Fertilizer can also be added.

Water
This is because a well drained soil is critical for keeping the water from rotting the roots off the plant. With the proper soil, however, watering is really quite simple. I water my Jungle Cacti about once a week. This is a good rule of thumb, but there are exceptions. During extended hot, dry periods I may water twice in one week. Conversely, when it is cool and rainy I might switch to every other week.Indoor plants should have less variation in watering needs.

The easiest way to gauge whether or not it’s time to water is to stick your finger in the top 1/2 inch of soil. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water. If it’s not, wait! Don’t let your Jungle Cactus go too long without water. If the stem segments are shriveled and the soil is dry, it is probably in need of water. Be careful! If the plant is over watered, the stems will also look shriveled, but the soil will be damp. If this is the case, do not give it more water. An over-watered plant will start to turn yellowish, then get more and more mushy and dark reddish-brown like a rotten apple. This usually happens from the ends first. This will continue even after you stop watering too much, but often you will have enough plant left to start over.

Light
The ideal condition for Jungle Cacti is full morning sun and then shade for the afternoon. All the plants I have in this ideal condition exhibit robust and healthy growth.

There are three other lighting situations that are not as ideal, but often times necessary due to space constraints. These are morning shade/full afternoon sun, full shade, and full sun. It may seem that shade in the morning and full-sun in the afternoon should produce the same results as full morning sun/afternoon shade, but it doesn’t. This is because the temperature is cooler in the morning than the afternoon and for many plants the afternoon sun is a little too intense and plants will often take on a sickly-yellow appearance and may develop spots. In full-sun these symptoms will be even more apparent. As with most things in nature there are exceptions and some plants actually prefer full-sun and thrive in it. In full shade the plants will don a dark-green healthy appearance, but the stems will be stretched out long and thin in an attempt to reach more light.

Not only is light essential for healthy stems, it also triggers blooming in many species. In ideal conditions a particular plant may exhibit fantastic growth with many show-quality stems, but they won’t bloom. In this situation exposing the plant to longer and more intense sunlight will trigger it to bloom. Don’t forget that plants can get sunburn just like people do. If you have a plant that has been mostly shaded, don’t just stick it out in direct sunlight or you will certainly end up with a badly scarred cactus.

Desert Cacti
Desert cacti hail from throughout the arid regions of the America’s and surrounding islands. There are no desert cacti native to the old world and only one jungle species that occurs in Madagascar. Despite this, many people envision cacti growing in pure Sahara Desert sands with practically no water. This common mis-perception should not be in your mind when you are preparing an environment for your desert cacti.

Soil
Most cacti prefer a nutrient rich, rocky soil with good drainage. After trial and error and advice from other growers, this mix consists of 60% pumice, 20% coir, 20% Supersoil (topsoil). The pumice can be replaced with pearlite or vermiculite and the coir replaced with peat. I would recommend using only 10% peat, not 20% if you don’t use coir and make up the difference with more supersoil, pumice, or even sand. This is because peat tends to be rather hard to re-wet and can make your mix impenetrable to water. For larger pots or mixes directly in the ground I like to add 1 to 2 inch lava rocks from anywhere between 5 and 10 percent.It can make digging or transplanting more difficult because you’ll hit rocks with your trowel or shovel. Some people use earthworm castings for extra nutrients.

Remember, there is no one mix that is the perfect mix. Ultimately, you’ll want to experiment with different ingredients until you find one that works for you. Just remember that cacti roots need a well-draining, airy soil that will re-wets easily. Use whatever materials are most readily available to you locally. A simple observation to determine if your mix is cacti-suitable can be made each time you water by seeing how fast the water soaks through the soil. Always make sure that your pots have good drainage holes and that no water is able to sit in the bottom of the pot.

Water
However the notion that cacti do not need water or that they actually must avoid water in order to survive is unquestionably false. The reality is water is essential for all cacti to live. Their reputation comes from their ability to survive in areas where water is available in small amounts or is delivered infrequently. Most desert cacti can sustain long periods of drought. This is because the last time water was available to them, they stored as much as possible in their tissues. Additionally cacti contain many features that enable them to keep that moisture and not dry up in the heat of their environment.

Whether potted or in the ground, a good time to water desert cacti is whenever the soil is dry. In hot, dry areas such as Souther California in summer, watering once a week is acceptable. In more humid or cooler areas, it may be three to four weeks before the soil dries enough to warrant more water. The key then isn’t to avoid watering, but rather just don’t over-water. With that said, it is still better to under-water than to over-water. Avoid watering if the soil is still moist. There are exceptions to every rule and just like choosing the right soil, you’ll need to experiment to find the best watering regime for your plants.

Light
Unlike the jungle cacti, desert cacti typically prefer a lot more light. My desert cacti, which are planted right in the ground, get full sun all day long and love it. My potted plants, seedlings, and newly rooted cuttings only get sun for half a day. Full sun should be avoided as this is because the sun will heat the roots in pots to temperatures much higher than they can tolerate. One way to prevent this is by using white pots instead of black.

If you are growing your potted plants indoors, it will be highly unlikely that you’ll find a spot where your cactus gets too much light. In the case of limited natural light, full-spectrum fluorescent lights can be used to supplement or replace sunlight. You can get approximately 24 square feet of growing space under four 74-watt tubes for a cost that is under fifty dollars. It will be easy to tell if your cacti need more light. Cacti that are not getting enough light will exhibit thin, stretched-out growth. If you are unsure what normal growth is supposed to look like, look for pictures of your plant on google.

How to make your own herbal soap

DIY Herbal Soap Recipe

 

Equipment

  • Digital scale: ingredients are measured by weight, not volume
  • Thermometer: to monitor temperatures
  • Immersion blender: for easier mixing
  • Container for lye solution: stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic (recycle #5)
  • Container for mixing soap: stainless steel, heavy-duty plastic, or heatproof glass
  • Gloves & goggles: to protect hands and eyes
  • Safety mask or respirator: to protect respiratory system
  • Spatulas & spoons: silicone or heatproof plastic
  • Soap mold: 2.5 lbs. soap mold, empty milk carton, or silicone molds

Important: Don’t use aluminum or non-stick equipment since those substances react negatively with lye.

Ingredients

This recipe yields around 2.5 lbs. of soap, or about 7 to 8 bars when using a loaf mold. 

  • 9.5 oz. distilled water (or cooled herbal infusion)
  • 3.85 oz. sodium hydroxide (lye)
  • 12 oz. organic olive oil
  • 7 oz. organic coconut oil
  • 4 oz. organic shea, cocoa, or kokum butter
  • 3.5 oz. organic sunflower or sweet almond oil
  • 1.5 oz. organic castor oil
  • organic herbs, flowers, or organic essential oils (optional)

Directions

If you’re a new to soap making, be sure to review the tips and tricks below before you get started.

  1. Put on your goggles, gloves, and mask.
  2. Weigh water (or herbal infusion) into stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic container.
  3. Weigh lye into a small cup.
  4. Slowly sprinkle lye into the water.
  5. Stir well until lye completely dissolves.
  6. Place lye solution in safe area and cool for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it’s about 100 to 115 degrees F.
  7. Melt coconut oil and butter over low heat, then combine with other oils.
  8. Cool combined oils until they’re around 95 to 115 degrees F.
  9. Pour cooled lye solution into warm oils.
  10. Use combination of hand stirring and short bursts of the immersion blender to mix oils and lye solution.
  11. Mix until soap reaches trace.
  12. Pour soap into mold.
  13. If you’d like, use spoon to texture the top of soap then decorate with flower petals such as cornflower, calendula, or rose.
  14. Cover soap lightly with piece of wax paper or parchment paper.
  15. Cover with towel or blanket to insulate.
  16. Allow to set for one to two days before removing from mold.
  17. Turn out soap on a piece of wax paper.
  18. Cut soap into bars.
  19. Space bars out on wax paper or coated cooling rack ensuring plenty of airflow between them.
  20. Rotate every few days allowing for an even cure.
  21. Cure in open air for 4 to 6 weeks before use.

Tips & Tricks

  • When mixing, your lye solution will get hot quickly, so be sure to handle with care.
  • Work outside, in front of an open window, or under an exhaust fan and avoid breathing in the momentarily strong fumes.
  • When combining your warmed oils and lye solution, don’t overuse the immersion blender or you’ll create excess air bubbles, and the soap will thicken too quickly.
  • When you’ve reached trace, the soap batter will have a consistency similar to thin pudding or warm custard. You can test for “trace” by drizzling a spoonful of the soap batter across its surface in the mixing bowl. It should leave a brief but noticeable mark, or tracing, before sinking back in. Trace usually takes anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes to reach, depending on ingredient temperatures and how often you use the immersion blender.
  • If you’re making soap when your house is cold, cover it with a few extra layers.
  • It’s okay to briefly peek at your soap every now and then. If you see a crack developing, that means it’s getting too hot and should be uncovered and moved to a cooler area.
  • After an hour or two after mixing, you’ll notice that the soap is getting darker in the middle and might look jelly-like in spots. This stage is called gel phase and is perfectly normal.
  • If your soap is still a bit soft when you turn it out of your mold wait a few days before cutting it into bars.

Customizing Your Recipe

There are several ways to incorporate herbs, flowers, and other nourishing ingredients into soap recipes. While some herbal constituents won’t survive the soap making process, others are surprisingly resistant to the alkaline conditions and heat.

Instead of plain distilled water, try using a chilled herbal tea in its place. It can be as simple as chamomile tea or hydrosol, or a complex blend of your favorite herbs. Take note that a strong dark tea will often yield soap with a brown hue, while some herbs, such as organic chlorella and wheatgrass, act as natural colorants.

Another way to enrich your soaps is to infuse all or part of the oils with skin soothing herbs, including organic calendula, organic chamomile, or organic plantain. Some herbs and flowers will add a subtle hint of color to your soap as well.

A third way to incorporate ingredients such as oatmeal, honey, essential oils, clay, or organic herbal powders is to blend them into the soap batter when you reach trace.

3 Ways to Customize

The following examples show how easy it is to create unique variations using the same simple soap recipe above, with the addition of just a few additives.

CHAMOMILE & HONEY SOAP

Make the soap as directed, adding 1 1/2 tsp. organic chamomile flower powder and 1 1/2 tsp. honey at trace.

Tips

Dilute the honey with an equal amount of warm water first to help it mix into the soap batter more readily.

FRENCH GREEN CLAY & PEPPERMINT

Make the soap as directed, adding 1 Tbsp. french green clay and 24 grams organic peppermint essential oil at trace.

Dilute clay with 2 to 3 times the amount of water first to make sure it blends into the soap evenly.

CHICKWEED & OATMEAL

Make the soap as directed, adding 1 1/2 tsp. organic chickweed powder and 1 Tbsp. ground oatmeal at trace.

Process rolled oats from the grocery store in a coffee grinder to form a fine oatmeal powder that’s perfect for soap making. Avoid using larger pieces as they can mold.

Essential oils like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, etc give your soaps a scent. Choose the one you prefer!

If you cant purchase the powder but can get the flowers or herbs instead, use a pestle and mortar to grind it.Make sure the pestle and mortar is dry though.

Use toothpick to poke any bubbles that form in the soap before its hard.

How to make Korean temple food

Im finally back after a week long trip in Korea(South Korea of course) and after visiting Seokguram Grotto, which is a part of the Bulguksa temple complex.Construction began in 742 and it is a Buddhist temple. Buddhism was brought to Korea from China during Former Qin in 372 and slowly evolved into Korean buddhism which remains popular until today.Seokguram is an artificial grotto made from granite and is unique in design.

This image was taken from wikipedia as videos and photos are banned. theres actually a glass installed there now and only monks and nuns can actually get close to the carving.Since Buddhists are also vegetarian, this means unique vegetarian food to try!
Korean temple food has a 1700 year old tradition,that excludes all animal products. Milk is allowed, so temple food as a whole is not vegan while most of individual dishes are. Temple cooking is primarily based on seasonal plant-based ingredients, which are either organically grown in temple grounds or harvested from nearby fields and mountains.
Things to note
There are 5 forbidden vegetables, called oshinchae (오신채). They are garlic, scallion, onion, buchu (부추) – garlic chives, and dalrae (달래) – wild rocambole/small wild onion. These vegetables are considered stimulants which hinder spiritual meditation.
Temple dishes are lightly seasoned only with natural seasonings, so they generally have a mild, clean taste. Temple cooking uses a wide variety of natural flavor enhancers such as mushroom powder, lotus root powder, perilla seeds, etc. as well as temple made Korean traditional fermented condiments such as soy sauce (aka jib ganjang/soup soy sauce), doenjang (soybean paste) and gochujang (red chili pepper paste).
Because they have to work with limited ingredients, temple cooks are experts on identifying edible wild plants, creating many different dishes with limited ingredients, and preserving/pickling vegetables when they are in season for later use.
In Buddhist temples, cooking and eating is considered spiritual meditation. The food is made with care to nourish the body, mind, and soul of those who eat it. Food is considered medicine.

Lotus Seed Rice

Venerable Jeok Mun developed this recipe with monks in solo meditation in mind.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
1 cup sweet brown rice
1 cup sweet rice (a.k.a. glutinous white rice)
18 cups water
½ teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
20 lotus seeds with skin on (피연자 pih yeon ja)
80 grams ginseng
10 ginkgo, peeled
1 tablespoon goji berries
1 tablespoon roughly chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon pine nuts

Steps
Wash sweet brown rice and sweet rice in cold water, then soak in 5 cups of water for 3 hours with a pinch of salt at room temperature. Drain and discard water.
Soak lotus seeds for 4 hours in 5 cups of water. Boil lotus seeds in water and ½ teaspoon of salt over high heat for 7~10 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain. Remove the green embryo of lotus seeds and discard.
Soak black beans in 5 cups of water for at least 4 hours then drain.
Cut ginseng to 0.5×0.5×0.5-centimeter cubes.
Mix lotus seeds, black beans, ginseng, ginkgo, goji berries, walnuts, pine nuts with brown rice and sweet rice. Add 3 cups of new water.
Cook the rice mix from Step 5 in a rice cooker and let it rest before serving.

Korean temple ravioli

For the vegetable broth
250g fermented vegetable broth (see separate instructions below)
75g tomato consomme
75g water kimchi
10g ganjang (soy sauce)
5g salt

Method

Mix all ingredients together.

For the fermented vegetable broth
300g onion
100g leek
100g carrot
300g radish
50g dried pyogo (Korean Mushroom with intense aroma)
300g tomato
150g apple
150g Asian pear
5g dashima (gonbu)

Method

Step 1: Roughly chop all ingredients to 2 by 3cm pieces.
Step 2: Add all ingredients to an OCOO automatic fermentation machine and leave to ferment for 48 hours.
Step 3: After 48 hours, you will get dark and aromatic fermented vegetable essence.
Step 4: Drain the vegetable essence.
Step 5: Save all the leftover vegetables and leave them to dry (one of the principles of temple cuisine is never to throw away any part of your ingredients)
Step 6: Roast the leftover veg until very dark in colour, to make into a powder for seasoning.

For the ravioli dough
100g all-purpose glour
60ml water
Pinch of salt

Method

Step 1: Mix all ingredients together to make the dough.
Step 2: Leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least six hours.

For the ravioli filling
30g mushroom duxelles (see instructions below)
30g Gobi namul (see instructions below)
30g smoked eggplant (see instructions below)

Method

Chop all ingredients and mix together.

For the mushroom duxelles
25g shallots
8ml oil
100g button mushroom
Salt & pepper
10ml red wine
10ml Korean black rice vinegar

Method

Step 1: Sweat the shallots with oil in the pan.
Step 2: Chop the mushrooms, add to the pan and continue to sweat.
Step 3: Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Deglaze with wine and vinegar.

For the Gobi namul
50g dried Gobi namul (Korean typical herb from Ulleung island, type of bracken)
5ml oil
5ml Ganjang (soy sauce)

Method

Step 1: Rehydrate the Gobi namul in water for 2-4 hours.
Step 2: Slowly saute Gobi namul with oil and season with Ganjang.
Step 3: Chop it.

For the smoked eggplant
1 eggplant

Method

Step 1: Burn the eggplant directly on a charcoal grill until the skin is black.
Step 2: Wash the eggplant in water and peel away the burnt skin while washing.
Step 3: Smoke in a smoking machine for 30 minutes. (Smoking enhances the aroma of the eggplant but you can skip this process if you don’t have a smoking machine.)

To make the ravioli
Step 1: When the dough is ready, roll into thin, round ravioli sheets.
Step 2: Stuff the filling and fold in half to make ravioli.
Step 3: Cut carrot and potatoes into thin circles. Place one on top of the ravioli.
Step 4: Steam for 10 minutes.

For the garnish
Boiled bamboo shoots
Sancho Jang a jji (pickled vegetables with salt)
Aralia Jang a jji (pickled blanched shoots of the Aralia plant)

Assembly
Step 1: Put all garnish in a bowl.
Step 2: Place ravioli on top of garnish.
Step 3: Heat vegetables broth and pour into the bowl.
Step 4: Place ‘Sancho Jang a jji’ on top of ravioli.
Step 5: Sprinkle fermented vegetable powder.

video to make temple ravioli