Tag Archives: chemicals

I’m trying to go poo-less

I did something rad this morning – I washed my hair without shampoo.  That’s right, I was ‘poo-less’.  I read that a solution of bicarbonate of soda (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water) would work well and be kinder to the hair and even though it sounds dodgy, I reasoned that we do know that sodium bicarbonate has a reputation for dissolving grease and grime and neutralising odours.  So, purely in the interests of science, I gave it a go. 

I wet my hair then gently rubbed the solution into my scalp (because that’s the bit that gets the most dirty – well, obviously)!  There is, of course no lather so I was a bit skeptical.  (Here’s an interesting, but relevant aside: Did you know that manufacturers actually put a bubble-making agent into washing-up liquid?  It’s pretty much unnecessary but market research has shown that we consumers didn’t trust the liquid to work without those bubbles.  Humans …such simple creatures). 

Anyhoo, I left the bicarb solution in my hair for a few minutes whilst I got on with washing my bod and then I rinsed my hair.  I was genuinely surprised at how much styling gunk came out – impressive.  I finished by conditioning the ends with a solution of 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to 1 cup of water.  Leave for a minute, then rinse. 

All very New Age.  All very Hippy Dippy Mother Earth and importantly, good for the body and good for the environment.  No sodium lauryl sulphate [SLS] – which makes those highly desired bubbles.   (Whether or not you believe the links between SLS and cancer, this substance does seem to commonly cause scalp irritation so may actually be causing or contributing to your dandruff, if you have it).

So what’s the verdict on today’s experiment?

Surprisingly, my hair doesn’t look half bad.  It appears pretty clean and is less fly-away than usual.  I’m not converted yet however because the poo gives a nice smell and there is, of course, no perfume in this simple bicarb mix.  BUT, maybe I can remedy that with a herbal rinse – rosemary water is good for red/brunette hair.

As my hair is less fly-away, this suggests that some oil still remains.  In all fairness that makes for a healthier scalp, but will it mean that my hair needs washing more often than the every 2-3 days it gets now?  If that’s the case, I’d be using the curling tongs more often – bad news for luscious locks and more time-consuming in the styling department. (Make no mistake, styling my hair is a given if I want to avoid looking like I’ve just been connected up to the electrical supply).

So there we are – an interesting experiment.  We’ll see how it pans out over the next few days.

Anyone had any experience with this poo-less life?  How did you get on?

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This article also appears at my other WordPress site.

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Natural fertilisers

Bugs1If you want to go organic and steer clear of chemical fertilisers in the garden then there are a few natural alternatives.  Common nettles make a good, if smelly alternative to commercially prepared chemical versions  (another good reason to leave a patch of your garden to run wild). 

Rubber GlovesFor obvious reasons, wear some rubber or gardening gloves to harvest, tear and scrunch up enough nettle stems and leaves to loosely fill a watertight container such as a bucket.   Then weight them down, say with an old plate.  Fill the container with enough water to cover the crushed greenery and then leave to rot down.  (This is a bit smelly so you may want to place this somewhere away from the house)! 

The brew should be ready to use in 3 to 4 weeks and needs to be diluted for use – usually in a ratio of roughly 1 part Watering cannettle liquid to 10 parts water (the resulting diluted liquid should look the colour of tea).  You can keep topping up your supply bucket with nettles and water as the season progresses.  Once your flowers have finished flowering and you no longer have use for the homemade fertiliser, just tip what remains onto the compost heap.

Another alternative is coffee grinds.  Sprinkle them around plants before you water or before rain and the grinds will slowly release nitrogen into the soil.

Flower and beesCrushed eggshells are a well-known old-fashioned fertiliser and work particularly well scattered around roses because of their calcium carbonate content. (An added bonus is that their sharp edges also help to deter slugs).

If you’re lucky enough to live by the seashore then some of the best fertiliser is freely available in the form of seaweed.  You can either treat it in the same way as the nettles above and make a ‘tea’ out of it (which again needs to be diluted for use) or, if it is winter time, dig the seaweed directly into plant borders to feed and condition the soil.

Lastly, but by no means least, consider making either a compost heap or set up a worm Butterflycomposting bin.  In my experience worm bins don’t smell (I kept mine in the garage) and given time they produce wonderful, fine compost and the ‘run-off’ is a good liquid fertiliser for the garden (use diluted as above).

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Natural pest control, 2

LacewingI’ve already covered planting to deter aphids and encouraging toads into the garden to munch away slugs, snails and other garden pests.  Everything in nature is in fine balance and in just the same way that certain bugs are determined to eat their way through our efforts in the garden, so Mother Nature has given us other insects that are the natural enemies of the garden marauders and are therefore our friends.  There are many garden friendly insects but the two most recognisable are the pretty green Ladybirdlacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris …seen above), and everybody’s favourite – the ladybird, the adult and/or larval forms of which will eat aphids practically by the lorry load. 

To encourage garden friendly insects to your patch of green, first and foremost you must stop using chemical sprays (but then I’m sure you probably guessed that already). 

Secondly, if you can leave a sunny patch of your garden to grow wild, then please do.  In fact the ladybird’s favourite plant for nesting in is the humble nettle so where you see nettles Ladybird larvaestarting to grow, please leave them – you will be helping to increase the ladybird population.  Bear in mind that it is sometimes the larvae of garden friendly insects that are the biggest help to us and this is certainly the case with the ladybird, although you may, up until now have assumed that this little chap is just another pest.  He isn’t.  He’s a veritable aphid hoover!

Third, you can give garden friendly bugs a home in which to live.  There are attractive commercially made bug condominiums available to buy but making your own is also incredibly simple.  I made mine (pictured at the end of this post) by cutting pieces of hollow bamboo to a uniform length using secateurs – I’d say, cut the lengths to about 10 inches long.  (Bamboo is often used as plant supports and so can be easily purchased from garden Bugs1nurseries).  Cut both ends off  a large/2 litre plastic drinks bottle and tightly stuff the cut lengths of bamboo into the resulting plastic tube.  Tie string or twist wire around both ends of the newly made ‘bottle condominium’ so that you are able to hang it in a horizontal position.  Place it somewhere warm, preferably near the main problem area in the garden.  Pretty soon insects will find it and start to settle in your bug condo.  By the way, many insects hibernate over the winter months so it may be helpful to put your bug shelter somewhere like a garden shed over the coldest months to help protect it from frost.

Finally, make a compost heap, the simple presence of which will help to encourage insect life into your garden … not to mention providing you with fabulous compost.

If your garden is under serious attack right now, (or you are of a very impatient temperament!) friendly bug ‘attractants’ can be bought on-line.

0088, Bug shelter

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Natural pest control

ToadIf your garden is being swallowed up by slimy slugs this Summer help is at hand from the common toad (bufo bufo).  Contrary to popular belief, the common toad is a major friend in the garden, munching his way through not only slugs but several other garden pests such as beetles, earwigs and larvae. 

To encourage Mr Toad to move in, a water feature in the garden is ideal but failing that, if there are already toads nearby just making a simple shallow watering hole will probably do the trick.  You could partly bury an old shallow dish somewhere shady or use one of the trays that you would normally put under pot plants, place a few rocks in there for him to clamber on and fill the tray with water.  Make sure you keep this watering hole topped up during hot weather.  He’ll also need somewhere to live.  Toads like damp, dark places that they can dig down in so old, broken terracotta pots placed on the soil would do the trick .  They actually need remarkably little space to keep them happy,  as I’ve recently found out.  We’ve just removed a wonky old patio and found several toads hiding under the broken paving slabs – I’m happy to report that all toads have now been removed to a place of safety.  It should also go without saying that to encourage any wildlife to your garden you should stop using chemical sprays.

Here are a few toadie facts that you may not know:

  • The common toad can live up to 40 years. 
  • They are mainly nocturnal creatures. 
  • They live for most of the year in damp areas such as deciduous woodland and it is only during the breeding season that they seek out lakes, ponds, ditches and slow-moving water. 
  • Common toads are solitary creatures. 
  • They hibernate in late October. 
  • Only male toads croak.

Get over any squeamishness you may have about frogs and toads in general, welcome their presence in your garden and pretty soon you’ll be happy to be sharing your space with them because of the great job they do in protecting your plants from hungry pests.

More tips specifically on controlling aphids/greenfly can be found on my page here.  For general gardening tips and advice please go to my House/General index.

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Maintaining a healthy atmosphere

OrchidsOur modern environments and all the convenience they provide come at a price.  We are in fact surrounded by toxic chemicals, in paint, plastics, detergents, dyes…right down to the insulation in our homes and the carpet beneath our feet. 

Plants not only look nice and bring life into a home, research has shown that they are also helpful in maintaining a healthy environment.  In fact, NASA concluded that common indoor plants can dramatically improve the environment by filtering out some of these toxic chemicals and recommend 15-18 plants in an 1800 square foot area.  

If you think that you don’t have ‘green fingers’ don’t worry because some of the best plants at improving the atmopsphere in our homes are also some of the easiest to keep.  Look for English Ivy (hedera helix) and Spider Plants (chlorophytum).  Other recommended plants are azalea, bamboo palm (chamaedorea microspadix), bromeliads, the dragon tree (dracaena marginata), peace lily (spathiphyllum), poinsettia,  and orchids.

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Filed under Gardening, General Health, General house tips