Tuesday, July 31, 2012

green finger tips - dragonfly

I was lucky enough to have this dragonfly pose on the aerial of my car.

Dragonflies belong to the Odonata order and there are many species. They eat mosquitoes, wasps, flies and ants. These amazing fast moving creatures can fly in all directions.

Read more about these amazing creatures by clicking this link to the dragonfly site

Friday, July 20, 2012

green finger tips - Paper Wasp

Paper wasps in the organic garden

Paper wasps or Polistes fuscatus are useful predators in the organic garden. They eat a variety of insects with caterpillars being their favourite. They feed on meat and plant juices.

Nesting habits of paper wasps

These amazing creature rasp the bark of trees, mix it with saliva and mould their perfect paper-like enclosures to lay eggs in. The wasp in the photo built its nest on my front door. I just removed it while the wasp was away.

Paper wasps inspire inventor

Fredrich Keller, a German inventor got the idea of crushing wood into fibre to make paper after watching paper wasps work.

Paper wasp stings

I got stung on the lip once by a paper wasp. The sting is a little more painful than a bee sting, but it subsided quickly. If you do have allergic reactions to stings it is best to get it seen to immediately.

Friday, July 13, 2012

green finger tips - chickweed

Introducing Common Chickweed

Stellaria media is known as Common Chickweed or Stichweed. Though it is thought of as a "weed", it is edible and has medicinal uses.

Common Chickweed in the organic garden

Common Chickweed has a myriad of benefits for the organic garden. Chickweed is a great living green mulch plant. It can spread like a pest but your soil's fertility will improve especially if you use it as a green manure. Just pull the plants out and lay them on the soil to decompose.

Chickweed for Chickens

Chickens can be fed on Chickweed and they will flourish. Rabbits are happy to nibble chickweed with their daily fresh greens.

Chickweed for moths and butterflies

These are some of the Lepidoptera species known to feed on chickweed:
 Angle Shades ,Heart and Dart ,Riband Wave and Setaceous Hebrew Character

Medicinal and culinary uses for Chickweed

Common Chickweed is used to assist with bronchitis, athritis and period pain. Chickweed is said to cure mange and other skin diseases.

It can be eaten raw in salads and added to stews.

Friday, July 6, 2012

green finger tips - a mountain out of a molehill

Use your molehills

I love molehills for the free rich topsoil which the moles deposit on the top of the soil. I usually just flatten the heaps. The soil from the mounds can be collected and used in potting mixes.

Description and habits of Moles

Moles are members of the mammal order Insectovora and only eat insects, grubs, worms and not plants. They have small eyes and no visible ears. They have broad front feet for digging and a short tail. Moles are greyish-brown or black and are about ten to fifteen centimetres in length.

They like to live in soft soil and spend all day searching for food. Moles eat up to three times their body weight in worms a day. You know you have fertile soil when you have molehills - great fertility indicator. Moles aerate the ground and rainwater collects in the channels that they dig in the rainy season.

All in all, moles are given bad press but these sweet little creatures are actually useful in the organic garden.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Green Finger Tips - Cape Gooseberry

The Cape Gooseberry or Physalis peruviana is a hardy plant which produces amazing orange berries. The plant is propagated by seed. In this picture the plant is about a month old. It came up between the thyme, a carrot and the rocket plants. I transplanted it into the new section of my garden.

The gooseberry flower develops into a papery pod which protects the tart yellow-orange fruit.

Health benefits of Cape Gooseberry

The Cape Gooseberry is a tonic plant. It helps control diabetes and cleanses the blood. These delicious fruit can help with the treatment of the prostate gland. It is a useful digestive. Vitamins found in the Cape Gooseberry include Vitamin A, Calcium and Phosphorus.

Processing and eating Cape Gooseberries

Cape gooseberries are best eaten fresh off the bush, peeled out of their delicate husks. Fresh gooseberries in garden salad is an interesting taste sensation. A bowl served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream is a delicious dessert. Gooseberries can be preserved in jams and jellies.

Thanks to the guys from Cheap Conservatories for the timeline!