Sprouting Pencils!

At a time when consumerism well, um, consumes us, it’s lovely to know that some innovative thinkers out there are focusing on the planet, sustainability and cuteness all at the same time.

Such an innovative company is Sprout.  They have found a way to incorporate a seed inside the end of your pencil so that once you have finished sharpening it down to a stub, you can put it in a pot and water it and the seed will Sprout and grow a vegetable seedling, a herb or any number of other plants of your choosing.  What a wonderful idea!  You can buy a pack that is a dedicated herb garden, the coloured pencil set has a combination of flowers, veggies and herbs.  Such clever thinking!

I’m suggesting this would make such a lovely Christmas gift for a budding artist in your family whilst teaching sustainability and fostering a love of gardening all at the same time.

11863288_10153170556529611_5476026055136756071_n

Here is their promotional video.  Check them out at www.sproutworld.com.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFgFAW9qj9c

Planting Guide September

It’s time to get down and dirty in the garden with September heralding the start of Spring here in Australia there are just so many veggies and herbs that are primed to be planted this month.  Be prepared to loose your manicure!

For those of you who liked my last post about growing your own sponges, it’s interesting to note that September is the time to plant Loofa as well.  My favourite herb Tarragon is also on the list so I will be off to get some seeds for this flavoursome beauty this weekend.

While I love all the seasons, it won’t hurt me at all to say goodbye to Winter.  Here in Queensland our Winter is very mild (particularly in comparison to other parts of the globe) but those early mornings are so much easier to get out of bed for now that the sun is rising early too.

Happy planting people!

Planting Guide September

planting guide september pg 1planting guide spetember pg2

Grow Your Own Luffa Sponge at Home

Recently I commented that you could grow your own natural sponges for doing the washing up or using in the shower or basin.  I found this great post about it on www.gardenamerica.com and although I couldn’t work out how to reblog from their web site I encourage you to go and visit their page for more excellent gardening tips.

8 Easy Steps to Grow Your Own Luffa Sponge

By John Bagnasco

Save on the high boutique prices for all-natural, luxurious bath sponges! It’s easy to grow your own Luffa Gourds and discover even more uses for this fascinating, porous fruit!

Loofah Vine TrellisWhen luffa gourds are harvested young at 4″-6″ long, they are a sweet, tasty vegetable that can be stir-fried, sauteed, or cooked with meats or tofu just as you would zucchini squash or okra. They can also be sliced or diced in a salad like a cucumber and mature gourd seeds can be roasted. Also, the young flowers and foliage can be cooked for greens (great with butter and a pinch of curry).

Train the vine onto a trellis or fence to save space and to produce more rounded fruit. These gourds can reach anywhere from 6 inches to 2 1/2 feet long, and about 4 to 7 inches in diameter. They ripen to dark green in late summer, and for sponge harvest should be left on the vine until the skin begins to shrivel. When this occurs, harvest them and scrub the skin away, revealing the porous, dense network of tan-colored matter within. They will be full of seeds; just cut the gourd to desired size and shake out the seeds. They’re ready to use!

Step 1
Pick a spot to grow your luffa gourd. A sturdy trellis about 5 to 6 feet high along the back of the planting area, which receives full sun is perfect. A fence or arbor also provides good support for the sponge vine.

Step 2
Once danger of frost has passed, plant the luffa gourd in a hole that has 50% of an all-organic compost like Denali Gold mixed into it. Sprinkle 1 cup of Miloranite around the plant and water in thoroughly.  Avoid overwatering established luffa plants, as excessive moisture, especially in clay soils, can cause root diseases and poor growth.

Step 3
Remove all the first flowers that appear and the first four lateral branches of each plant to increase the yield and quality of fruit. Snip off branches using pruning shears and remove flowers by pinching them off with your fingers as close to the stem as possible. Remove any damaged or spotted fruit from the vine immediately, as it cannot be saved.

Step 4
Harvest luffa sponges when they have matured on the vine, usually around the end of fall. Look for lightweight fruit with dry, dark yellow or brown skin. Leave the fruit on the vine as long as possible, but remove all luffa gourds immediately after the first frost or they will begin to rot.

Step 5
Loofah FlowersIf the gourd is dry, striking the luffa pod against a hard surface will loosen the skin and seeds. Slightly crushing the sponges can also loosen the skin. This is especially helpful for peeling less mature luffa with hard green skin. The skin will normally fall off easily if the luffa is fully mature

Step 6
The bottom tip of the gourd can be cut off and many of the seeds can be shaken out before peeling. Use your thumbs to find a loose spot along a seam. Push in to create a tear and pull apart the skin. Tear up the seam. Try to get all the skin off as little pieces left behind tend to turn brown.

Step 7
Harvest LoofahApply water pressure from a hose sprayer to remove most of the sap color. It washes out many seeds also. Washing with soapy water in a bucket and then spraying is another option. Squeeze and shake out excess water. If your luffa fiber is very dark, or has many dark spots, soaking in a bucket of water with one cup of bleach for 3 to 5 gallons of water will remove most stains. Don’t bleach longer than necessary. Rinse well.

Step 8
Finally, allow the luffa sponge to dry completely in the sun. Rotate as needed. Sunlight will also lighten and change the color. Leaving in the sunlight for longer periods will change the texture… it gets rougher feeling. Make certain sponges are completely dry before storing or mold may grow on any remaining sap. Dried luffas can be stored for years as long as they stay dry and dust free.

Loofah 1 Loofah 2 Loofah 3

Day Twenty one –

Eco Challenge Day 21

Well good job everyone for completing the 21 Day Eco Challenge.  Hopefully you have now developed some life long habits that will help you and your family walk a little lighter on the planet.

Now if you are interested in keeping the conversation going I invite you to join the Eco Everyday Facebook Group.  It’s my closed group so you have to ask me nicely if you can join but I haven’t knocked anyone back yet!  Here a group of likeminded people discuss tips and tricks they use at home to be eco friendly.  At the moment we are discussing Eco Friendly Christmas Gifts that we can give to encourage our friends and family to take some baby steps towards leaving a lighter footprint.

Here is a printable of your certificate of achievement which I hope you will print out and display proudly.  You really are a champion for participating and I am so very proud of each one of you.

Day 21 award

Of course Farewell My Manicure Web TV will be starting in September (date TBA) and if you want to stay informed about what is coming up I encourage you to click the big GREEN button and subscribe.

Until the next time!

Julia

X

Day Twenty –

Eco Challenge day 20

One of the joys of gardening is growing from seed.  You stare at the soil day after day, waiting for the first signs of green shoots to poke their heads through the earth.  The about two weeks later they are strong healthy seedlings and then some months later you can reap the rewards of the harvest.

 

So todays challenge is to plant the seeds you harvested days ago, or if you didn’t manage to seed save any, then go ahead and buy some heirloom seeds from The Diggers Club or your hardware store.  Plant them in a sunny spot that is convenient for your to pass daily so that you can tend to them easily and monitor their progression.

 

If you have trouble with little creatures digging them up or birds coming in for a feast of your seeds then here is the perfect opportunity to recycle some of those horrendous water bottles that you may have accumulated BEFORE giving up buying bottled water for good.  Carefully cut the tops off them and use them as mini green houses to protect your seeds from rodents and keep them hydrated.

 

Here’s a little video I made explaining the process.

 

 

Well tomorrow is Day 21, BUT if you would like to follow along with Farewell My Manicure and have the TV Guide to the new Web TV show delivered straight to your inbox then please subscribe by hitting the big GREEN button.

 

Until tomorrow

 

 

Julia

 

x

 

Day Nineteen –

Eco Challenge Day 19

Sometimes the old fashioned methods are the best, most cost effective and the safest for the environment.  Simple cleaning solutions of vinegar infused with orange peel, scented oils and bicarb of soda do an amazing job and are totally toxin free.

So that’s your challenge for today.  Try cleaning your kitchen sink with a sprinkling of bicarb (just lightly, not a snow drift) and spraying with some plain white vinegar.  Use a rag to wipe down the sink and a clean wet rag to go over it to remove the excess.  Your sink will sparkle!

If you would like to join us for the next few days of the challenge please go ahead and click the big GREE button to subscribe.

Until tomorrow,

Julia

x

Join the 21 Day Eco Challenge August

Day Eighteen –

Eco Challenge Day 18

What’s wrong with a little bit of plastic wrap?  When I take it off my sandwich and scrunch it up it doesn’t amount to much.

But think of all the rolls of wrap that you buy in one year and multiply that by the number of families in your street, your suburb, your country and THEN it becomes a big problem!

One person’s efforts do make a difference because if we all stopped using plastic wrap and plastics in general our landfill and water ways wouldn’t be so clogged with this toxic mess that doesn’t break down for hundreds of years.

I want to introduce you to some alternatives, like glass jars, steel containers, and alternate wraps like this fabulous local product called Honeybee Wrap, an organic cotton fabric infused with bees wax and tree resin utilising the antibacterial properties of the wax and the malleability of the resin to form an attractive and eco friendly alternative to plastic wrap.

IMG_6414

So that’s your challenge for today, to say goodbye to plastic wrap forever.  Are you up to the challenge?

If you would like to join us for the last little bit of the 21 Day Eco Challenge just hit the big GREEN button to subscribe.

Until tomorrow,

Julia

x

Join the 21 Day Eco Challenge August

Cafe Style Muffin Wraps

msl-cafe-coffee-muffin

Hey you know those muffins you buy in cafes, how they have that little paper skirt on that is easy to lift away from the muffin? Well a few months ago I discovered that you could buy a box of those little paper wraps from the grocery store.  Weeks later and  I realised this was getting quite expensive (about $4.95 for a box of 24) as I love to make muffins for my son’s lunch box  most weeks.

This is where my frugal and creative self clicked in and I have a short video to teach you how to save yourself some money (better in my Heritage Bank account that theirs), washing up and waste by making your own!

I have written this post for the Heritage Bank Savvy Savers Competition.  The winner is determined by number of votes so I hope you will help me out by voting for my blog post.  If you do the lovely people at the Heritage Bank will put you in the running to win a $100 Heritage Card!!!  Win win!

Have a look and tell me what you think.

Day Seventeen –

Eco Challenge Day 17

I just love the concept of free food and this is one of the easiest ways to accumulate seeds to grow your own produce at home.

This is your challenge for today.  So tonight while you are preparing the dinner, if you are cutting up a vegetable that contains seeds, scoop some out, place them in a dish on the windowsill and let them dry out.  In a couple of days time go ahead and plant them in some seed trays, an egg carton on the windowsill on straight into your garden bed.  In a couple of weeks they will poke their tiny green heads out and you will have the pleasure of watching you free food grow.

Just think, no food miles, no gas emissions, no toxic chemicals!

If you would like to join us on the final week of the 21 Day Eco Challenge just hit the big GREEN button and subscribe.

Until tomorrow

Julia

x

Join the 21 Day Eco Challenge August

Day Sixteen –

Eco Challenge Day 16

If you ask my husband what thing I invented in my mind before it’s time, it was this, the remote controlled power outlet.  Oh if only I had the know how of how to make and market one of these little gadgets we would have been millionaires by now.  But alas, someone with more electrical skills that me beat me to it.

Standby power not only eats into your electricity usage and adds to your consumption but the ecological impact is much greater.  Because some of our appliances are hard to get at to turn them off at the wall you would benefit from owning at least one of these remote controlled power outlets that let you press a button to turn off the hard to reach DVD player or microwave oven, directly at the power point.

That’s your challenge for today.  Buy one remote controlled power outlet and place it on a hard to reach appliance that has a standby mode.  You will save at least $50 per appliance over the course of the year, and all those green house gas emissions also.

Join us for the remaining days of the 21 Day Eco Challenge by hitting the big GREEN button and subscribing.  The planet will thank you.

Until tomorrow.

Julia

x

Join the 21 Day Eco Challenge August