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5 Ways to Use Leftover Bananas

If you hate wasting food and throwing away valuable materials, think twice before you throw away those old bananas. There are many ways you can use up the fruit and also the peels from making a simple jam to potassium-rich fertilizers. With a little ingenuity and patience, you can create some very useful products of your own. Here are 5 ways to use leftover bananas.

1.Banana Jam This banana jam was made with leftover bananas and sugar with a squeeze of lime.

Banana Jam is a simple recipe that brings back a sense of modesty to the kitchen and will soon become a family favourite. This easy-to-grab goody can be piled on crackers, paired with pancakes or even tipped onto toast. Whether you use store bought bananas or grow your own, they can often be left in the bowl or accidentally forgotten. The quick ripening and bruising often result in the bananas being thrown away. Bananas are a great source of potassium and preserving them in the form of jam means that they will last weeks longer. So, if you hate seeing food go to waste, banana jam offers a great alternative. Banana jam makes a high energy snack that is great before workouts or for people on the move.

2.Bird Feeder For this bird feeder, I used an old length of rope anchored over a branch to make a simple pulley and tied a knot with a loop to hang the food on. Then an old twig from the garden was used to make a simple perch.

Birds absolutely love bananas and making a simple bird feeder from recycled materials is a great way to attract them. Its a wonderful feeling to be at one with nature and give a little back. Some birds are even responsible for weed control and pollination of certain plants. They also play a small part in pest control and add to the ambience of the garden environment.

3.Banana Compost Tea This old paint bucket makes a great container to make a compost tea. Add all the banana peels and fill with water, then leave to steep for 3-4 days stirring occasionally with a stick.

Banana peel makes an excellent compost tea that is rich in minerals and nutrients that your hungry plants yearn for. The process of creating compost tea also encourages the growth of microorganisms that are beneficial to the soil quality and they even help to deter bugs. Applied directly to the soil it will promote the production of flowers and fruits. Sprayed on the leaves it will help to deter aphids. Here is a short list of plants that love potassium;

4. General Purpose Fertilizer (banana peel) To make an instant fertilizer blend the eggshells or used coffee grounds together with your dried banana peel. This medium can then be applied to your soil or added to your containers as a general purpose fertilizer.

Dried banana peels make a great general purpose fertilizer when paired with ground eggshells or used coffee grounds. Banana peel contains manganese, a nutrient involved in photosynthesis, magnesium which plays a part in the production of chlorophyll and calcium, essential in the absorption of nitrogen. Eggshells contain phosphorus and other micronutrients responsible for plant health.

5. Pot Fillers (dried banana peel) To make this pot filler simple dry the banana peels and chop them down into 1-2 inch pieces. They can also be paired with a layer of brown leaves to add other slow release nutrients.

The basic idea behind pot fillers is to help not only create drainage, but to create air flow around the roots. As the natural material gradually breaks down it will help retain moisture and provide slow release nutrients to the soil. Using a pot filler also helps to reduce the weight of the pot or container and cut down on the amount of soil used.

*Let us know what you do with your bananas by joining our facebook group or by commenting in the section below. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

#LeaveNoWaste


The post 5 Ways to Use Leftover Bananas appeared first on Soily Dreams.

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Marcotting Citrus Trees What is marcotting?

Marcotting is the method of propagating a mature plant in order to create a new plant . The new plant forms roots above ground until it is stable enough to be cut from the mother plant. It is then grown independently. Reasons for marcotting may include size reduction or increase in crop.

Over the years I have been developing my method of marcotting, also known as air layering. I found the conventional methods of propagation quite tricky and it often seemed like I needed an extra pair of hands. Trying to hold the soil and plastic whilst tying the string around the branch was often quite stressful and time consuming. After many attempts I found the soil falling out or the plastic bag slipping open. I tried many different ideas and even thought about buying some of those fancy pop on propagators that you see on the internet. One day I was working on some clippings from my lime tree and I realized that the same method could be used for marcotting with the addition of a few simple cable ties. Simply fill a food bag with coconut coir or peat moss, cable tie the top, make a slice down the bag and cable tie it to the desired branch.

First attempt using my new method. Method

Things you will need.

Firstly, choose a branch that is appropriate to make a cutting. A branch that is too old will look brown whilst a branch that is too young will be too bendy. Choose the branch that is green with lines down it.

Strip the leaves from the area that you want to marcot. Cut around the branch making sure you don’t cut the wood and only the bark. Cut a band away around 1 inch long. Scrape the branch in a downwards motion using the edge of the knife. Make sure you go all the way around the branch. Leave the excess on the tree and don’t touch the branch with your fingers. Fill the food bag with the coconut coir then add water. Close the top of the bag with a small cable tie. Make a slice down the middle of the bag and use your thumbs to make an indent. Wrap the bag around the desired area and secure tightly with two cable ties. The cable ties should be tight enough that the bag does not slide. Some water will seep out at this point but don’t worry there will be enough locked inside. Make sure that the cable ties are tight enough that the bag can’t be twisted too easily. Now wait between 26 and 36 days. A good sign that it is working is the new growth under the propagated area. The first sign of roots forming. At this point it is a good idea to check the moisture of the coconut coir. If it is starting to dry out just make a small hole and inject water into it with a spray bottle. Check the bag every few days adding water when needed. Once the propagated area has a sufficient amount of roots and they have turned slightly yellow, the new plant can be cut from the tree. Try to make a clean cut and resort from using a saw as it may leave damage to the mother plant and the new cutting. Remove the food bag and soak in water for five minutes. Now the cutting is ready to pot. Strip away any excess leaves from the bottom of the stems to help the cutting with the shock of being taken from the mother plant. Planting the New Cutting

After you have followed all these steps it is time to plant your new tree in a pot or directly into the ground.

Potting

It is important that the new cutting gets the right nutrients form the start. A good potting soil or home made compost is perfect to get things started. Place the cutting into a pot no smaller than twelve inches deep until the roots take and new growth is clearly visible. It is important at the stage to keep it out of direct sunlight and choose a more shaded area. Once the roots have taken to the new soil it can be transferred into a bigger pot or directly into the soil in the desired area.

Remember! Citrus trees are heavy feeders and they prefer soil that is slightly higher in nitrogen. It is essential to keep the plant moist but not flooded with water and to fertilize regularly.


The post Marcotting Citrus Trees appeared first on Soily Dreams.

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EM Bacteria What is EM Bacteria?

EM Bacteria stands for effective microorganisms. There are three main types of bacteria that make up this probiotic formula, photosynthetic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and yeast. They are most commonly used to bring back the bacterial balance to depleted soils and to aid the decomposition of organic materials.  These beneficial microorganisms are said to increase the plant’s resistance to disease, enhance growth and increase the bioavailability of food webs in the soil. Healthy soil means protection against soil associated disease caused by parasites and other pathogenic microorganisms.

Photosynthetic Bacteria

Photosynthetic bacteria creates a process that uses various sources of energy like heat and light to produce nutrients that are absorbed directly by the roots almost like nitrogen fixers. They also absorb secretions from the roots and recycle them.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

Lactic Acid bacteria has been cultivated for years in the form of yoghurt and pickling. The strong sterilising properties it holds mean that harmful bacteria and fungi are kept at bay.

Yeast

Yeast is most commonly found in bread and beer but acts as a feed to other beneficial bacteria like lactic acid bacteria. It also has anti-microbial properties.

How Does EM Bacteria Work?

Due to the vast amount of bacteria in EM inoculants, pathogenic microorganisms struggle to survive in an environment of exhausted resources. This basically means that there are more beneficial bacteria banqueting on the organic material and the poor little pathogens have nothing left to eat, thus succumbing to starvation and keeping their production at a low. This feeding frenzy starts a chain of food webs to come to life and as the fungi ferment they increase their production of antimicrobial substances, one of which being alcohol. This process dispels odours and speeds up the breakdown of organic materials. In turn, the suppression of such smells deter insects that target certain plants when they smell the ‘scent’. In other words, the bacteria feeds on the organic matter releasing nutrients and alcohol. The nutrients are fed directly to the plant and the alcohol or esters act as a deodorizer. This also means that the compost pile will work faster and without all those funky smells.

Why Use EM Bacteria?
  • EM Bacteria is 100% natural and doesn’t affect pollinating insects.
  • Although these beneficial bacteria can be found in natural environments all over the world, there is a steep decline in their presence due to bad farming practices, like the use of chemicals and rigorous farming rituals. EM bacteria also speeds up the rate of decomposition when applied to organic matter and helps to release hormones that promote plant growth. This is achieved by releasing a usable form of nutrients directly to the roots.
  • EM bacteria can be used in small amounts to treat water and even fish ponds.
How to Activate EM Bacteria

Most EM Bacteria products arrive dormant and require activating. This means waking up the bacteria so that it can multiply by feeding it with a form of sugars like non-sulphate molasses. As the bacteria feed they multiply tenfold. Once activated it can be diluted to a ratio of several thousand to one making it a cheaper, safer and more efficient method in comparison to using chemical

Over the years I have used this simple recipe;

  • EM Bacteria
  • Molasses
  • Non-chlorinated water
  • Squeeze of citrus (optional)

For this 5-liter wine bottle that I recycled, I use:

  • 250ml EM bacteria
  • 220ml Molasses
  • 4.5 l of water.

Firstly, clean out the bottle. Then prepare the molasses. This comes in a syrup like form and is difficult to mix directly into the bottle. I like to take some of the water and heat it up until its warm, then mix the required amount of molasses. This will help to kickstart the bacteria’s alarm clock and make it a lot easier to combine later. Next, add all of the ingredients into your desired bottle. Some people like to use plastic bottles as the bacteria will produce gas in the early days of activating. I just give the cap a twist every day to relieve any pressure. Keep the bottle in a warm place and monitor the activity. The EM bacteria should be producing small amounts of gas like when you open a fizzy drink. It will also produce bubbles and sometimes even a mould. There will be a light brown residue building up at the bottom as the bacteria are nearly ready. Every couple of days, give the bottle a shake to help the mix and combine the bacteria. After 10-15 days the EM bacteria will be ready. Once activated, dilute 1 part EM bacteria to at least 250 times water and again, this must be non-chlorinated. This means that potentially, 1 litre can cover up to 1/2 acre of land.

Final Notes

*Do not spray EM bacteria on plants that are in flower and are expecting fruit.

I like to use EM bacteria with cow manure for nitrogen loving trees like citrus.

Mixtures are not an exact science but try not to use more than 1/2 a tablespoon per gallon of activated bacteria.

EM Bacteria can be sprayed around the garden or watered directly into the soil. I tend to do both around 3-4 times a year.


The post EM Bacteria appeared first on Soily Dreams.

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Consumers to Producers

It seems that we have inadvertently slipped into the trap of becoming consumers instead of producers.

As consumers, we rely heavily on pretty packaging to bring a lot of products to a strategically placed shelf, specifically designed to milk our finances. Our own laziness and lack of knowledge have led to an abundance of companies capitalising on our consumption. I believe that it is time to move backwards to move forwards. Many modern methods of agriculture are highly expensive, highly regulated and sprayed with noxious substances. All this and my tomatoes still taste better. Time and convenience have heavily outweighed patience and practice. It only takes a few attempts and a little knowledge to grow your own vegetables and even fruit trees successfully. Using methods that predate the use of chemicals will withstand the challenge of time. After all, humans have grown and cultivated their own food for thousands of years. I’m not saying that we should go back to the fields and grow grass like the first hunter-gatherers did. The main point is to promote producers, people who rely on their own garden for a proportion of food instead of bright colours and tasteless vegetables that you have to drive to get, carry home in plastic bags and use more water to clean away the chemicals. All these things promote pollution and leave residual residues that harm the environment. It is understood that we now have busier schedules to make ends meet and time is our biggest asset, but does anyone care anymore? We are too dependent on ready-made food.

So where do we start? There are so many choices and variables working against us.

Click here to learn how to grow sweet potatoes.

Start small, work your way up the ladder. Trying a simple and easy to grow crop that is not labour intensive or time consuming should help you catch the bug. Growing your first successful batch of food will impress your friends and leave you excited to try more. Things like radish are a good crop to start with. They can be grown in small spaces and they are fast to grow. Basil is also an easy crop. You can then move on to other things like tomatoes, carrots and eventually potatoes. There is no specific path and these are merely suggestions, the idea is that more people can be convinced to take some simple steps to a better, self-reliant world. You never know you might even enjoy yourself along the way. There’s nothing more calming than caring for plants and it can quickly become an obsession, believe me I know. I was given an Aloe vera plant when I was a teenager and I eventually filled the relative’s windowsills and my mum’s greenhouse with hundreds of plants I grew from the pups. I then moved on to tomatoes and found them so exciting to grow. Everyone you talk to has their own favourite variety and special ritual for growing, not to mention their own special formula for the soil which dates back generations in each family.

So what should I do? The garden has changed over the years to cement and gravel. I don’t have space, I don’t have the time.

A good way to move forward is to use containers or pots. A simple soil will host things like ginger through the warmer months. Just plant a rhizome in the centre of the pot around two inches under the soil. Water once a week and wait until you have multiple shoots. You can harvest what you need as you need it and leave the rest growing in the pot. Long planters are also very good for growing food scraps that we usually throw away. Spring onions, basil, garlic, carrot tops, onion roots and an array of other waste plant products can be regrown in this way. Just submerge the ends, tops or roots in water and place on the windowsill, patio, shelf in the greenhouse, balcony or kitchen top until you see the new roots or the growth of the plant has started. Transfer your new plants into the planter and take as needed.

So, it seems that there are a number of things we can do to become producers no matter how small we think we are. I hope that this article has provoked new thoughts and maybe even given you the inspiration to try something new. It is my aim to start the process and ignite new ideas. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and innovations.

Please share your views, comments, ideas or tips in the comments section below.

The post Consumers to Producers appeared first on Soily Dreams.

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Moringa Oliefera Moringa Oleifera

Moringa Oleifera has been widely cultivated for thousands of years due to its rapid growth and many health benefits. The high content of essential vitamins like calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, iron and magnesium, make the tiny leaves enormously nutritious. Moringa’s rapid growth means that it is more bioavailable than most synthetic supplements and it grows predominantly in areas where malnutrition is most common. It’s like a natural spring of nutrients in your own back garden. It thrives in subtropical areas and loves sandy soil. Moringa is also drought resistant but will rot if waterlogged for too long.

Names

Moringa gets its different names from its roots, seeds and extracts;

  • Horseradish Tree – Named after the roots which bear resemblance in flavour to horseradish.
  • Ben-oil Tree –  This name derives from the high content of behenic acid which is extracted from the seeds in the form of an oil.
  • Drumstick Tree – Describing the triangular seed-pods that grow long and slender.
Characteristics

Moringa Oleifera is a fast growing deciduous tree that reaches up to 12m tall and the trunk can grow as big as 30cm in diameter. The open crown usually boasts an umbrella shaped canopy unless the tree has been constantly coppiced to stimulate new growth and make collecting the leaves easier. The wood is soft and most commonly used as firewood.  Just about every part of the Moringa tree has a use but the leaves are most sought after as a vegetable or ground down into a powder for their medicinal properties. The appearance of the bark is between a white and grayish colour with a corky texture. After the tree has produced it’s fragrant white flowers, long bumpy seed pods will emerge from the ends of the branches looking almost like a wind chime. These pods can be eaten in a soup and if left to dry out they will produce around 9-10 seeds per pod. Moringa is usually grown in home gardens from India through South East Asia where it is commonly sold in markets as a vegetable. The fast growth of the young trees and heavy production of seeds mean that it is usually grown from seed and leaves are taken from the tree as needed. The tree itself can be cut back almost to the ground and it will quickly grow new branches.

Uses

The main uses of the Moringa Tree come in the form of medicinal powders and oils, vegetables made from the seed pods and leaves, and soaps made from the roots. But it has so much more to offer as a natural material in organic or natural farming. Moringa can be used to amend depleted soil and makes a great additive for composting. The small leaves and soft-wooded stems decompose rapidly and produce an abundance of nutrients that are said to promote general plant health and stimulate new growth. The leaves and stems can also be used in a simple ‘chop and drop’ method to make a Moringa mulch or soaked in water for 1-2 weeks to make a compost tea. Harvested leaves can be used as an alternative organic animal feed and later as a manure for fertilizing an organic garden.

Join the Conversation

What do you know about Moringa? Have you ever tried it? What do you do with Moringa? Leave your comments and suggestions in the comment section below. We would love to hear about your methods and experiences.


The post Moringa Oliefera appeared first on Soily Dreams.

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 How To Make Leaf Mould What is Leaf Mould?

Leaf Mould (mold) is a form of compost derived from the slow decomposition of deciduous tree and shrub leaves caused by fungal breakdown.

What Happens In Nature?

In the natural environment, Autumn and Winter leaves fall and create a blanket across the land of deciduous woodlands. This magical mulch allows the nutrients from far beneath the soil to be slowly released back into earth. In turn, they provide an essential ingredient of organic matter for the top soil, lock in moisture and fashion a perfect bed for young plants to grow. Below the surface, an explosion of activity takes place as earthworms and isopods alike rush to get involved. This is because the conversion of dark brown leaf matter to a fine grained humus act as a perfect bedding for worms and other beneficial creatures. The free movement and availability of food ensure that the soil is replenished and new growth can continue.

How Long Does Leaf Mould Take to Decompose?

Leaf Mould can take anywhere between six months and two years to break down depending on the size and variety of the leaves used. Temperature and moisture content also play a big role in the slow process of decomposition.

How To Make Leaf Mould

A basic leaf mould can be made by collecting leaves that have fallen from trees. Although this may initially seem labor intensive, it is well worth the effort. All that is needed is patience and a place to store the leaves for an extended period of time.

To make your own leaf mould you will need;

  • Black bags or sacks.
  • Water.
  • Cable ties
  • Sweeping brush or rake.
  • A pencil or screwdriver.
  • A place to store your leaf mould while it breaks down.
  • Patience, 6 months – 2 years.

Leaves can be collected from just about anywhere from parks to roadsides, but it is important to remember that leaves collected from places with heavy traffic may contain pollutants, and material around industrial areas that have been exposed to acid rain may effect the overall quality of the soil. The best places to collect the leaves are areas where contamination is not likely. Parks and densely populated woodlands are the best for quantity but they are more difficult to collect from if you don’t have the tools or transport. Collecting leaves from your garden and surrounding gardens is perfect and they take little effort to gather.

Follow these easy steps to make a simple leaf mould.

Step 1 – Finding the leaves These leaves filled the driveway and made easy pickings. Step 2 – Collecting the leaves Sweep or rake the leaves into a manageable pile. Step 3 – Bagging the leaves

Bag as many leaves as you can handle. Chop the leaves down into smaller pieces to speed up the process. If you don’t have a shredder, you can use a lawn mower. 2-3 times should be enough.

Final Tips Join The Conversation

Leave your comments and experiences in the comment section below.


The post How To Make Leaf Mould appeared first on Soily Dreams.

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