Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash, garlic and rosemary hummus

Monday, 30 May 2016

Quick to prepare but great for outdoor gatherings and picnics, hummus is the perfect food for the Bank Holiday or Memorial Day.  

Butternut Squash, garlic and rosemary hummus
Serves 2-4 

5cm piece butternut squash taken from the 'neck' end, roasted and peeled and diced when cooled (I roasted this with our dinner yesterday and kept it in the fridge until today but to be quicker you could peel and dice the squash and boil until tender)
1 can chickpeas
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 sprig rosemary, stalk removed
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Whiz all the ingredients together in a high speed blender.  Enjoy with crudites, pitta bread or bread sticks.

Have a great Bank Holiday
Janet x

Below are some more Bank Holiday ideas for you to enjoy:-

'It's Bank Holiday - treat yourself to a non-alcoholic cocktail (mocktail)'

'Meatless Monday - Bean Burger'

'Meatless Monday - Beetroot Burgers'-

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 29 May 2016

In ancient times it was believed that all of the universe was composed of a combination of five elements-earth, water, fire, air and ether.
In the forth yoga video of this series we explore the element air
and its connection to the heart chakra.
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister blog-

On my 'sister' blog we think about how to protect the neck in seated twists -

This week's yoga sequence for seniors is again on posture. This week's sequence is for seniors who have greater mobility.
Please see the link to my 'sister' blog-

Harvesting the Radishes- Organic gardening update

This week we’ve been harvesting our first crop of radishes this year. You might remember the article about planting radishes that was featured on the blog a few weeks ago. Harvesting radishes is easy- just pull them up. I’d strongly advise wearing gloves, however, because the leaves of the radish seem to badly irritate my skin, and I hear that allergic reactions to radish leaves are fairly common. If you pop in another radish seed or two in the hole left by the radish you’ve just harvested and then cover with soil, you should have a second crop in a few weeks’ time. 

Radishes are really good sources of key nutrients- they contain a range of vitamins and minerals, and plenty of fibre. 

As well as enjoying radishes on salads you might want to try roasting them. Please see the recipe below

Roasted rosemary radish with butternut squash

Radish have a peppery flavour when used in salads. In the recipe below the pepperiness is softened and complimented by the sweetness of the butternut squash. 

Serves 2 as a side
You will need 

neck end of a medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
about 20 radish, topped and tailed
a few sprigs of rosemary
olive oil spray

Place the diced squash and radish on a baking tray, spray with olive oil spray and top with rosemary sprigs. Roast for about 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees.

Happy gardening and eating!

Janet and Becky xx

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

Feast your eyes

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

With my annual eye test coming up, I have been thinking about how best we can look after our eyes, especially as we get older.  

Your granny might have told you that eating carrots would help you see in the dark.  There is grain of truth in this in that carrots are rich in retinol, the precursor to vitamin A, which is an antioxidant.  Free radicals which are produced by our normal metabolism are destructive to the cells of our bodies but can be neutralised by antioxidants.  In this way antioxidants can help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.  

Other antioxidants that are beneficial in preventing macular degeneration and cataracts include lutein and zeaxanthin which can be found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuce and broccoli.    Also vitamin C,  an antioxidant which can be found in oranges, lemons, grapefruit, kiwi and peppers.  

Anthocyanins in red cabbage, blueberries, aubergines, grapes etc are wonderful for general eye health because they help increase circulation to the eyes which benefits eye health in general and may help prevent macular degeneration, floaters, cataracts and even glaucoma.

Omega 3 is important to eye health too.  Vegan sources include nuts (also a source of vitamin E, another antioxidant).  Please see 'Where do vegans get their omega 3s from?'

For healthy eyes, I would also recommend that you avoid refined carbohydrates especially sugar.  The reason for this is that sugars bind to amino acids producing advanced glycation end products (AGEs)and this can lead to damage to the eyes as well as such degenerative diseases as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's and diabetes. Instead eat slow release carbs such as oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Beans and lentils are not only slow release but are a good source of zinc, another antioxidant that is also important for eye health.  Zinc is part of the macula which is part of the retina and zinc is needed for the production of melanin which protects the eye.

You might also like to watch the yoga video on my YouTube Channel, 'Eye yoga'-

Stay well, look after your eyes

Janet x

Meatless Monday : Bibimbap

Monday, 23 May 2016

Bibimibap is a Korean rice bowl  with sauteed vegetables (namul) and hot fermented sauce (gochujang).  It is a great way to use left over vegetables so do not feel that you have to use the same ones as I have.  Beansprouts are often included and thin slices of beef.  Below is a vegan version.  You can buy the sauce ready made up but this often contains ingredients that are not suitable for vegans such as anchovies. You could make this dish more substantial by adding tofu sauteed with a little tamari.  To serve bibimibap top the rice and vegetables with sauce and stir the sauce through.  

Serves 2-3
You will need
150g organic brown rice 

1 tbsp organic olive oil
70g shiitake mushrooms, sliced + 1/2 tbsp tamari
1/2 large courgette, thinly sliced with mandolin
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced with mandolin
wedge Chinese cabbage, shredded

1 rounded tsp miso paste
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tamari 

Rinse the rice with cold water and place in a saucepan.  Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes then drain.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a separate pan and saute the carrots on a medium heat until tender.  Place to one side. Repeat with the courgette, then with the Chinese cabbage.  Add the tamari to the pan and saute the shiitake mushrooms.  

Mix the ingredients for the sauce.

Divide the rice between two bowls.  Top with the sauteed vegetables then the sauce.  To eat stir the vegetables and sauce through the rice.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 22 May 2016

In ancient times it was believed that all of the universe was composed of a combination of five elements-earth, water, fire, air and ether.
In the third yoga video of this series we explore the element fire 
and its connection to the navel chakra.

Maintaining good posture is so important especially as we get older for our well being. Poor posture can also make us look older than we are. 
This first yoga sequence encourages the shoulder blades to move back and down and stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors as tight shoulder and hip muscles can affect posture. It is especially suitable for seniors with less mobility.

Planting the French Beans- Spring Planting- (Guest post)

Hello everyone! I hope your allotments and gardens are all pootling along nicely : ) Although many vegetable crops are planted in March and April, there’s one sensitive soul who needs to wait until the soil warms up a little- and that’s the French bean.  If you (unlike me) are very organised and are after an early crop, you might have already sown French beans in your greenhouse in April in small pots ready to plant out later in the season.  If, like me, you haven’t got round to starting your beans off in your greenhouse, it’s also fine to wait until mid-late May and sow direct in the final growing position. The bean I’ve chosen to grow is the Montano dwarf bean- it should have good disease resistance and be a reasonably heavy cropper. As it only reaches 40cm high, you can also plant these beans in large pots and grow bags. 

This weekend I’ve been planting these beans in my allotment using a “double row”. Planting in a double row works well for French beans as the plants can support one another as they grow, as well as being supported by canes. I began my double row by digging two trenches 2 inches deep and 12 inches apart. I then filled these trenches with organic compost. 

Digging the double row

The double row filled with compost

Once the trenches were dug and filled, I could begin planting the beans. I planted one trench with the bean seeds, with each seed 12 inches apart. I then planted the other trench using the same spacing, but offsetting the beans with those in the other trench (see picture). Planting your seeds like this will eventually allow your beans to grow between one another. 

Spacing of bean seeds

Bean seeds in the double row

If you wish, you can plant two beans at each growing position just in case one of them does a “no-show”- just thin out to the stronger seedling if both manage to germinate. Once you've planted all your beans, fill the trenches with soil. If you want more than one double row of beans, then it’s a good idea to leave 50cm between them.

French beans don’t need tons of water, but give them a good watering if you get a prolonged dry spell- although judging by the weather this weekend, that won’t be a problem! 

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting One':

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Two':

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Three':

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Four':

'Organic garden update: Dealing with the Pesky Weeds!'

'Organic garden update: Dealing with the Pesky Slugs!'

'Organic garden update: Dealing with the winged pests!'

Love, Becky x 

Meatless Monday: Tofu and noodle soup

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Today's Meatless Monday is another quick lunch idea.  

Tofu and noodle soup
Serves 3-4
You will need 

1 tbsp sesame seed oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 rounded tsp miso paste
70g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
wedge Chinese cabbage, shredded
400g pack organic firm tofu, cut into small squares
2 tbsp tamari
150g rice noodles (3 bundles)

Heat the oil and sweat the onion and carrot for 3 minutes on a medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook a further minutes. Transfer to a saucepan and add 750ml water and the miso paste.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  

Meanwhile heat the tofu in the tamari, stirring until all the tamari is absorbed.  
Add the noodles to the vegetable broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes, adding the Chinese cabbage for the last few minutes.  Stir in the tofu and heat through.

Divide between 3 bowls.

Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

In ancient times it was believed that all of the universe was composed of a combination of five elements-earth, water, fire, air and ether.
In the second yoga video of this series we explore the element water and its connection to the energy of the sacral chakra.
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-

On my 'sister' blog we look at why shoulder strength is important and there is a yoga sequence for shoulder strength and flexibility-

In this introduction to 'Yoga for seniors', we look at some of the benefits of yoga for seniors'.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Organic Garden Update: Dealing with the winged pests! (Guest post)

Last week I talked about that pesky ground dweller the slug, but airborne attacks on plants are also a problem in late spring. In this article I’m going to do a rogue’s gallery of some of the winged culprits.

Cabbage white butterflies are on the wing in late spring. Although these are a beautiful sight fluttering over gardens and fields, they can wreak havoc on brassicas such as cabbage, sprouts and broccoli. If they manage to lay their eggs on these plants, before long you will have a munching army of caterpillars crawling all over the place. The damage they can wreak is astounding- I once had some brassicas eaten down to the stalks by cabbage white caterpillars. The best thing to do to prevent this happening is net your plants early in the growing season with a fine mesh net.

Another pest that is foiled by a fine net over plants is wood pigeons. These are another pest that loves brassicas, but they are happy to eat other plants too. A tell-tale sign of pigeon damage is torn leaves. I’ve also seen gardeners put old CDs on sticks to deter pigeons- the flashes of light from the shiny surface as they move in the wind can frighten the birds away.

The last winged menaces in my rogue’s gallery today are aphids and whitefly. Aphids (also known as greenfly or blackfly) secrete a substance on plants that can encourage the growth of leaf mould, and they can also transmit plant diseases. Whiteflies have a similar modus operandi to aphids- secreting a substance that encourages mould- but this warmth-loving insect is more of a problem in greenhouses than outdoors.

It’s possible to just brush small numbers of aphids, aphid larvae and whitefly off your plants with a gloved hand- if you want to kill them off, you can brush them straight into a bucket of water filled with a solution of insectidal soap. If your plants are fairly robust, you can also blast aphids and whitefly off with a jet of water from a hose.

Another strategy is to encourage biological controls into your garden- that is, ladybirds! Happily, some of the plants that ladybirds like are edible plants including fennel, chives and dill (they eat the pollen from these plants). I really like this solution as it supports the biodiversity of your garden and can give you additional organic crops into the bargain. This is in contrast to conventional chemical insecticides, which kill all insects indiscriminately- beneficial insects and pests.

Another way to use plants to combat insects is to plant garlic around plants vulnerable to aphid attack- the aphids don’t like the smell (a drop of garlic oil smeared around the edge of pots can also do the trick). Neem oil is another method popular with organic gardeners. Mix with water and then use a spray bottle to apply the mixture to your plants. As long as you don’t spray it directly onto them, neem oil should be nontoxic to beneficial garden insects. Use the spray in moderation as needed, and wash all produce treated with neem oil well before eating.
Wishing you all happy (and pest free) gardening!             

Becky x   

The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40-Part 3 Arms and Shoulders

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body in your body.  Unfortunately this also means the most unstable.  The shoulder is a ball and socket joint.  The problem is that the socket into which the ball of the arm bone (humerus) fits is very shallow compared with the hip ball and socket joint and so it is vital that the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint are strong enough to prevent the ball slipping out of the socket resulting in a dislocated shoulder.  However this strength needs to be balanced with flexibility to allow the shoulder joint to have a full range of motion which helps prevent osteoarthritis. 

Shoulder muscles often weaken because of poor posture and conversely it is important to strengthen shoulder muscles to maintain good posture.  

Arm strength too is important for many every day activities such as lifting, pushing and pulling.

The following yoga poses with weights will help increase strength in the muscles of the arms and shoulders.Always start with a small weight and as always check with your doctor before starting a new programme of exercise. 

You might also want to practice the yoga sequence on flexiladiesyoga which has poses for flexibility as well as strength in the arms and shoulders  - 
'Yoga for muscle strength Part 3 Arms and Shoulders'-

Plank with weights (builds core strength and strengthens arm muscles) - start in all 4s with a weight in each hand (start small).  Take your right leg back, drop the right hip a little then bring the left leg to meet it.  To modify release your knees down to the mat.  Inhale, exhale, draw your navel back to your spine and bend your right elbow, lifting the weight up. Inhale to lower.  Repeat 2nd side and continue.  Take a rest in Child's Pose - from Plank inhale drop your knees, release the weights, breathe out take your bottom back to your heels and extend your arms forward.  When you are ready come to standing.

Goddess Squat - with a weight in each hand, step your feet wide and turn your toes out to the corners of the mat. Breathe out, bend both knees, lengthening your tail bone towards the mat, bend your elbows and bring them level with your shoulders.  Breathe in, straighten your legs, take your arms up, breathe out, bend your knees, elbows level with the shoulders and continue for 10 repetitions.

For the next exercise start with your knees bent, elbows tucked into your sides.  Inhale, straighten your legs, take your hands and elbows wide.  Exhale return to the start position and continue for 10 repetitions.

For the final exercise in Goddess Squat have your arms by your side, breathe out and bend your knees.  Breathe in and straighten your legs as your circle your arms up and out to the sides, bringing your weights level with the shoulders, breathe out and return to your start position.  Continue for 10 repetitions.  Come to standing.  

Warrior 3 - stand tall with your weights in your hands.  Breathe in and as you breathe out hinge forward as you lift your right leg and extend your arms towards the floor.  Breathe in, bend your elbows back, bringing your fists to your rib cage level.  Breathe out extend your arms to the mat. Continue for 5 repetitions then repeat with the left leg raised. To make this easier place the foot of the raised leg on a wall or keep both feet on the ground as you hinge forward.  

You may also like:-

'The importance of maintaining muscle over 40-Part 1 Legs'

'The importance of maintaining muscle over 40-Part 2 Core'

Stay strong, stay healthy
Janet x 

Meatless Monday: Mediterranean bean salad wraps

Monday, 9 May 2016

Whenever we get back late for lunch these wraps are the order of the day as they are quick to make but delicious and healthy too.  They can be made gluten-free too if you use gluten-free wraps.

Makes enough for 4 wraps
You will need 

4 tortillas
1 can mixed beans
red onion rings or chopped spring onion
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp sweetcorn kernals
1/2 red or orange pepper chopped
1 avocado, scoop out the flesh and chop
handful fresh basil

2 tsp sesame seed oil
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp stevia

In a bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together.  Add the ingredients for the dressing and mix thoroughly.  Use the mixture to fill your tortillas - cut to size.  

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 8 May 2016

In ancient times it was believed that all of the universe was composed of a combination of five elements-earth, water, fire, air and ether.
In the first yoga video of this NEW SERIES we explore the element Earth and its connection to the energy of the root chakra.
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-

Last week we looked at the importance of leg strength.
This week we are looking at the importance of core strength and some yoga poses to help increase core strength. 
Please see my 'sister' blog-

We tend to think that it is only women who worry about how their bodies look ('does my bum look big in this' etc) but I believe there is just as much pressure on men from the media to look a certain way. 
In this blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog we explore how yoga can help men feel 'happy in their own skin'-

Organic Garden Update: Dealing with the Pesky Slugs! (Guest post)

Urgh, garden pests- the little blighters. Oh well, they’ve got to eat, but I’d really rather that they didn’t eat my salad... In this article I’m going to talk about one in particular- slugs- and show you a few solutions that you can use to combat them when growing plants organically.

One method safe for use in organic gardens is beer traps. These are plastic containers that you fill with beer. The slugs- who seem to love the boozy brew- are attracted to the beer and fall into the trap. You can buy beer traps, or you can make your own using a plastic bottle. The downside with this method is that the slugs do tend to drown in the beer. Change the beer in the trap and remove dead slugs regularly. 

Sharp sand placed around plant pots

The methods that I prefer don’t kill the slugs, but make it less appealing for them to tackle your plants. For instance, copper tape or rings can be put around plants or plant pots. The copper reacts with a substance in the slime of the slug, and gives them a small electric shock. This makes crawling over the tape/ring really unpleasant for the slug. Similarly, you could try placing sharp materials such as crushed egg shell, sandpaper and sharp sand around your plants.  This makes it super-uncomfortable for the slugs to crawl on over to your plants- so they are likely to slope off and look for an easier meal. I’ve also heard of diatomaceous earth being used, but it’s very powdery- so be really careful that you don’t inhale it (I’d strongly advise using a mask to be on the safe side).

It is possible to buy commercially-produced organic slug pellets, but I’ve never used them. I’m a bit of soft touch and hate killing them. The other thing that stops me massacring slugs is that killing large numbers of them can deprive other garden visitors-such as toads and hedgehogs- of a vital food source. As hedgehog numbers in particular are declining rapidly, it’s something to think about.

You might also want to check out my earlier post on spring planting:-

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting One':

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Two':

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Three':

'Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Four':

'Organic garden update: Dealing with the Pesky Weeds!'

Happy (and hopefully slug-free) gardening!

Love Becky x

The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40- Part 2 Core

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

This is the second part of 'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40' Please see-'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40- Part 1 Legs'-

Lack of core strength can lead to poor lower body posture is not only aging for your appearance but can also lead to lower back pain.  Lack of core strength can also lead to sluggish digestion which may lead constipation and less than adequate nutrition.  Below three Kundalini yoga kriyas (sequence of movements with the breath)  that that will help you maintain your core strength:- 

Note-Always check with your doctor before starting a new programme of exercise. 

Life Nerve Stretch (care neck issues!)- lie on your mat with your legs extended and your arms by your sides. Exhale engage your core by drawing your navel back to your spine and lift your legs and arms about 6 inch from the mat.  Hold and breathe.  With each exhale draw the navel back to the spine. Inhale to release back down to the mat and as a counter pose slowly roll your head from side to side. If this kriya feels too intense, try lifting one leg. 
Repeat with the other leg.  If you are familiar with Kapalabhati breathing you could practice this breathing technique as you hold the pose.  Please see 'Thank goodness, it's Friday'- breathing practice to energize for the weekend' on my Yoga You Tube channel.

Frog Kriya - from standing bring your heels together and turn your toes out.  Squat down (care knee issues!). Place your palms together, interlace your finger except your index fingers and cross your thumbs. Exhale, engage your core, straighten your legs bringing your heels to the floor, head down, index fingers on the mat.  Inhale lift your arms up, bottom back to heels and continue working with your breath.  

Stand up, sit down - this kriya is said to be an indicator of longevity.  Start in a cross leg seated position.  Lean forward, breathe out, engage your core and pressing into your feet come to standing.  Take a breath in and as you breathe out lower back to a cross leg seated position.  Repeat twice more. Take care that you do not fall-use your hands at first if you need to.

Look no hands!

On the yoga blog there are some yoga poses to help increase core strength. Please see 'Yoga for muscle strength-Part 2- Core'-

Stay strong, stay happy
Janet x 

Meatless Monday: Spicy beetroot burgers

Monday, 2 May 2016

Here in Yorkshire, the Bank Holiday weekend weather is not shaping up too well.  Hopefully the weather is better where you are, especially if you have something outdoors planned.

Beetroot is so good for you - full of fibre with all the benefits that brings for your digestive health and folic acid which helps improve mood.  Antioxidants in beetroot help neutralise free radicals which cause aging and recently beetroot have been associated with improved stamina, blood flow and lowering of blood pressure.

Makes 10 small or 4 large
You will need

250g beets, roasted and chopped
150g organic brown rice
1 tbsp olive oil + extra for greasing
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
50g shiitake mushrooms
4 cardamon pods, crushed
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 1/2 tbsp tamari
1 can black-eye beans

Rinse the rice, place in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat to simmer until all the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile sweat the onion in the oil for 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue cooking 2 more minutes then add the spices and mushrooms.  Cook a further minute then add the tamari.  

Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and pulse until the ingredients come together but there is still some texture.

Form into burger rounds and place on a baking tray then in a hot oven for around 30 minutes, turning once.  The burgers should be crisp on the outside.  

Serve with burger buns or for 'skinny' burger on large lettuce leaves with other salad ingredients.

Have a great Bank holiday whatever the weather
Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Half Lord of the Fishes requires flexibility in the shoulders, hips and spine. In our beginners' yoga video this week, we work on these before doing the final pose with modifications.
Blog post and yoga video on my 'sister' blog-

As we get older our muscle mass starts to reduce. These yoga poses on my 'sister' blog will help maintain your leg muscle mass. Next week we will look at the importance of maintaining core strength as we get older-

Participating in sports is a great way to increase your fitness but sports may tighten muscles which may in turn lead to injury and posture problems.
In our yoga video for men this week, we stretch the muscles which may be tightened by participating in sports.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Organic Garden Update: Dealing with the pesky weeds! (Guest Post)

I hate to break it to you folks, but by far the best, chemical-free method of weeding around crops is simply pulling them up. Although it’s not the most fun or glamourous of activities, it’s effective at preventing weed regrowth without damaging your plants. I’d recommend getting a kneeler (to take some of the strain out of kneeling down for long periods), and keeping a bucket close to hand for collecting weeds (thus saving lots of trips back and forth to the compost bin)- these little things really do make a world of difference. I also find that listening to music/singing/chatting with a friend also makes the task much more cheerful! :)

To sort out large areas of low-growing weeds, you could try covering them with a tarp or bin bag to block out light. Stop it from blowing away and ending up in your neighbour’s garden with stones or bricks.

You could also try a weed control fabric (also referred to by a range of similar names such as weed control membrane, landscape fabric and weed barrier fabric). Some have to be covered using mulch (see below). One potential issue with this method, however, is that it prevents organic material reaching the soil, diminishing the quality of your soil over time. I’ve also found that some tough weeds can manage to break through the fabric. Because they are surrounded by fabric, any weeds that do grow are very difficult to remove.

Mulching around plants can provide an effective means of slowing weed growth. Common types of mulch include woodchip or bark chips. Organic mulches such as woodchip and bark chips are best, as they will eventually rot down and enrich the soil. Make sure you pull out all existing weeds by hand before putting down mulch, and leave adequate mulch-free space around plants. You also need to think carefully about where in your garden you are putting down mulch - it can cause the soil to retain too much water in damp areas and cause shallow plant roots to “bake” in areas that get a lot of sun. I’ve also heard that it can also encourage slugs by providing them with food and shelter- so this is a method to use with care.

For areas where you don’t want anything to grow (patios, gravelled areas etc.) boiling water is by far the best solution. Be careful that you don’t scald yourself when carrying the hot water outside. This method will kill all plants in the treated area.

You can also try vinegar on patios and gravelled areas. Again, however, you need to exercise caution as you won’t get anything to grow in an area in which you have treated with vinegar, and it can also leach via the soil into other parts of your garden.  The same goes for salt, which is also sometimes used as a natural weed killer.

You might also want to check out my earlier post on spring planting:-

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting One:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Two:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Three:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Four:

Happy (and hopefully weed-free) gardening!

Love Becky x