household, kitchen

How to grow herbs in the kitchen

Have you ever bought herbs, plonked them in a pot on the window sill, watered them lovingly, only to have them die shortly after they arrive home? I absolutely understand.

If you have experienced this, then like me, you are probably not looking after them correctly. However, I have found a new way to keep your kitchen herbs happy and thriving, and producing delicious leaves.

You will need a plant pot that can be watered from the bottom, essentially a pot that stands in a tray. Herbs seem to be much happier if you put water into the dish at the bottom of the pot and let them draw up the water that they need. It is also a good idea to have them near a window so they can blow in the breeze. A little light wind will help strengthen their stems and make a healthier plant. A small water spray next to the plants for the odd leaf spray will be a good idea too. You can even use one of your empty Gyre and Gymble glass sprays. Just remove the electrostatic label so you will know it is a water spray. I like to mark mine "H20" with a whiteboard marker. 

Since learning this technique, I have had a basil, mint and parsley growing well for a couple of months. They also give me lots of fresh leaves for cooking. 

I know this is not a cleaning tip as such, but I was so delighted to learn about this I wanted to share it with everyone. Good luck and happy healthy herb growing!

How to clean the BBQ

Summer is on the way and it is time to eat outside, but the BBQ might be a bit scary from last year, and it now undoubtedly needs a good clean. This is a sure way to get it ready without using any harsh chemicals.

Recipe

  • A very hot BBQ
  • Salt
  • Water 
  • Paper towel 
  • Metal scraper
  • Aluminum foil 

Before you place food on the BBQ to cook, turn it on until it is very, very hot. Get it up to as hot as it will go, and if your BBQ has a lid place this down until it starts to smoke. If using coals, this may need to be done a little earlier so it will be able to cool a little before you throw on the steak and sausages. 

Once the BBQ is smoking, sprinkle on some salt and then slowly add water to the surface. A spray bottle can be helpful here. Take care that this water does not splash as it will be super hot once it hits the BBQ plate.

As the water bubbles off use a BBQ scraper to clean the BBQ top. If there is a lot of burnt-on mess in between the metal, you can also scrunch up some aluminium foil into a ball. Then, using an oven glove to hold it press it to mould around the metal grill rods, and just rub it over. The foil should knock any burnt-on mess onto the drip tray below. Once done, remove any left overs with the paper towel and hey presto, you will be ready to cook food again.

The drip tray can get awfully messy, so if you want to save time, line this with aluminium foil and place clean sand on top of this each year. You should really only need to do this about once a year, and the sand only needs to be about 1cm think. 

garden

How to clean garden umbrellas and shade cloths

Pulling out a shade umbrella or opening up a shade over the garden after a damp winter can leave you feeling rather disappointed as there is a strong possibility that it could be a bit damp and smelly.

Recipe

  • Vinegar
  • Water

If you can, remove the fabric and soak it overnight in a big bucket with a cup of vinegar, then rinse thoroughly. If you are not able to remove the fabric, you will need to work with a clean cloth and a solution of 80/20 vinegar and water. I recommend distilled white vinegar for this job as it will not leave any unwanted marks. You may also need to use a soft brush (like an old toothbrush) to work into the folds and stitching of the fabric. Once done wash off with the hose and leave open to dry completely. 

How to help with the causes of hay fever

If spring arrives and you start to sneeze and cry with hay fever there are a few things you can do to help with the symptoms. Some of the main culprits that cause hay fever are pollens from grasses, trees and flowering plants. You can't get rid of this completely from the air, but you can help making sure you don't bring them into the home. 

Tricks

  • Once you wash your sheets, always dry them in the drier. Hanging sheets on the line at this time of year can act as a big pollen net that you end up sleeping on at night. 
  • Wash your hair before bed to help stop it acting as a big pollen sync. 
  • Opening windows in a bedroom is always lovely, however if you can leave the curtains shut while the room airs they will catch some of the pollen coming into your room. And don't forget to vacuum the curtains a little more regularly at this time of year. 
  • Eucalyptus drops are also lovely to use when cleaning at this time of year. They are super fresh and help with blocked stuffy noses. 

If you have any other helpful hints on how to help others with a similar problem get in contact and I will add your suggestions to this list.

Getting rid of snails and slugs

Do you have a little vegetable patch or some lovely plants in the garden that are constantly being eaten by an army of snails or slugs? You could reach for the snail poison or ... you could just use beer!

Snails love beer which is a bit odd, but they will choose beer over plants and that is a win for you and your garden. You end up with less poison in the garden, and the slugs and snails die happy (well, possibly). It also means that a passing bird will be able to eat the snail or slug and not be harmed. 

Recipe

  • Beer (any kind) 
  • Small tray with about a 1.5 to 2.0 cm rim (aluminium pie trays work well)
  • Snails and slugs 

Place a couple of trays around the area that is most affected by the snails or slugs and fill with beer. If you have a large area you might need quite a few. Allow for one every 50cm or so. Ensure the tray is above the ground, and not submerged below the soil. 

That's it: job done! 

Don't forget to empty out the trays every few days. Assuming the snails and slugs are completely dead, you can just tip the contents of the trays into the garden.

Removing aphids

If you have a rose garden, your best natural friend will be the ladybird however they are not always around and about when you need them. So if they have taken a holiday or just gone to visit a friend in another garden, and you have an invasion of aphids, there is a neat little trick you can implement that does not involve harsh chemicals. 

Recipe

  • Castile soap
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth

Mix 50:50 water and Castile soap then spray on the affected area of the plant and gently wipe the aphids away from the plant's stem. The soapy water will kill the bugs and removing them will allow the plant to recover. 

Once completed using the spray attachment on your hose rinse the rose clean. You may have to do this a couple of time but you will win the battle in the end.  

household

Removing sweat and deodorant stains from fabric

Cotton shirts seem to be particularly susceptible to getting a yellow discolouring under the arms. This can be avoided if you make a paste out of bicarb soda and water, spread it over the stain and leave for an hour or two. This should remove the stain, unless it has been there for a long time and ironed into place. Another trick is to spray under the arms of cotton shirts with distilled white vinegar each time the shirt goes in to the wash. 

Recipe

  • Bicarb soda
  • Distilled white vinegar 
  • Water 

 

 

8 handy spring cleaning tips

Spring is officially here and flowers are bursting in the gardens, This is nature letting everyone know that it is time to spring clean, so open your doors and get rid of the winter cobwebs. 

Tip 1
Get ready all the equipment you will need

Tip 2
Set aside a weekend to do a great job and have a BBQ with friends at the end to celebrate the warmer weather.

Tip 3
Make a list of jobs

  • Unclutter - put away, throw away, or sell
  • Clean floors
  • Clean walls
  • Clean soft furnishing, eg lounge chairs and curtains
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Clean kitchens
  • Clean Bedrooms
  • Dust books
  • Refold the linen with fresh scent sheets
  • Clean BBQ
  • Clean light switches
  • Clean fridge
  • Clean kitchen draws
  • Clean out the garage/shed
  • Clean the inside and outside bins

Allocate everyone a job - the more help you have, the faster this will be. If you have young children it can also become a game. Teenagers might require an incentive, but it will be worth it. 

Tip 4
Start from the top down always this will save you time and leave the floors until the very end. 

Tip 5
Most important - put everything away before you start. If you don't your job will take 10 times as long.

Tip 7
Have fun, take tea breaks, listen to music or podcasts. 

Tip 8
Reward everyone at the end.