A Non-toxic insecticide that works

Mealy bugs under a leaf

Photo credit: ncsu.edu

Many people feel that a natural, non-toxic insecticide simply cannot be as effective as chemical insecticides.

They regard success stories of organic sprays as old wives’ tales and are skeptical about them.

But the result is that they resort to using dangerous toxic sprays without giving the organic solutions a chance.

We all know what damage we do to the environment when we use toxic sprays and poisons.  Not only do we poison the environment as a whole, but we also ruin the ecological balance of our own gardens.

To the organic gardener, poisonous pesticides, toxic fungicides and all manner of toxic sprays are anathema.

Now it’s true that organic methods of eliminating pests are sometimes hit and miss. I cannot vouch for all of them; but there is one method that I have used that has given me a one hundred per cent success rate. Read more

The Top Five Roses in my Garden


Garden Queen Rose

Garden Queen - a true queen among roses


The top five roses in my garden include 3 hybrid teas and two floribundas.

I’m sorry that this article is limited to only 5 roses but you have to stop somewhere and the list could go on and on.

If you asked me to choose another 5 favourite roses I could do so  with ease.

But let’s take a look at my top five roses for today only – because tomorrow I could change my mind as there are so many to choose from.

So here they are: Read more

Bougainvillea and Petrea make a Great Team

Bougainvillea  and Petrea Bloom together

Bougainvillea and petrea planted together make a great team and create a dramatic impact with their colourful display.   They are ideal shrub mates as they come into flower at exactly the same time.

Here is a lovely corner in my garden where bougainvillea and petrea are blooming together.

Both these shrubs like a position in full sun so they are perfect planting mates.  But best of all, they come into flower at exactly the same time in spring.  And they certainly give a glorious display with their mountains of red and purple flowers side by side.

Many gardeners are hesitant about planting these prolific shrubs as they think they are too overbearing for smaller gardens.  But it’s a pity to lose out on Read more

My Rose Pruning. A Success or Fiasco?

A Pruned RoseI have always pruned my own roses. I like to prune lightly and I always prune to an outside eye.

My roses have grown well and I always buy a few new ones each year so my rose bushes have grown considerably both  in number and in size.

Not surprisingly, when pruning time came around this year, the prospect of pruning them myself was a little daunting.

In the past, I have always spread my rose pruning over a few days – a system that made my job a lot easier. But the downside is that it affects the blooming time if you prune at different times. This year I didn’t want to stagger the pruning as I want to have a big flush of roses in October.

In addition to this, my Mr Lincoln has grown to an enormous height – about 17 -20 feet and the canes are not canes but veritable tree trunks. The thought of pruning this monster was more than a little daunting.

So these are all my reasons for deciding to call in: Read more

Proof that Gardening is Therapeutic

We gardeners know that gardening is therapeutic.  It isn’t news to us.  Gardens have always been places where you can reconnect with nature in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. Gardens are stress reducing.

And as gardeners it comes as no surprise to us when the actual process of gardening is recognized for its healing quality.

Just recently BBC news presented a slide show of pictures called Seeds of Recovery.  It’s all about the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey that has started a gardening therapy project for recovering servicemen.

They have a green house, and gardening facilities where injured and recovering soldiers can feel the therapeutic benefits of tending plants and getting their hands into the soil.

Here it is: Seeds of Recovery

Cucumbers by the Dozen from your Own Garden

Growing cucumbersWhat could be nicer than a basket full of young green cucumbers fresh from the garden?  Well that is exactly what I had from my garden this summer.

And only from 6 cucumber seeds!

For some reason, we had been buying those long tunnel-grown cucumbers and it had been ages since I’d planted any of my own.

So early this summer I decided to give it a go. I chose a north-facing spot along the fence of my vegetable garden because I prefer cucumbers to climb.

Cucumbers that lie on the ground are liable to be eaten by insects.  And in any case, they always have a white underbelly where they have been in contact with the ground.

So I prepared the soil with lots of home grown compost. And then I bought a packet of cucumber seed and planted about 18 seeds.

It wasn’t a big patch as I reckoned we only needed one or two cucumbers a day.

In a few days the seedlings sprouted.  And once they were well established I thinned them out to only six plants at about 50 cm apart. Read more

Fresh from the Garden Recipes

Strawberries fresh from the gardenAlthough this blog is about roses, gardening and vegetables I have added a new category – “Fresh from the Garden” which is already proving to be very popular.

It’s all about my own family recipes – tried and trusted recipes that I use personally to create mouth-watering dishes from the fresh, organic vegetables and fruit produced in our garden.

You may have seen one or two already – for example, my family recipes for pumpkin fritters and creamed spinach – directly from the garden to the pot. There can be no better flavour than using such fresh organic vegetables. Read more