Growing things

Last time we talked about sniffing and growing Rosemary. At the moment, a certain supermarket is onto a really cool thing – giving out little pots of flowers or veggies with every purchase over R150. I know many kids are hounding their parents to go shopping there to increase their collection, but fear not if you don’t get it right.

You can easily grow your own veggies without any fancy little pots.

All you need are egg boxes, seeds and soil (seedling soil really works the best – but it’s not completely necessary).

Get a group of kids together and share resources. One bag of seedling soil goes a really long way. If you don’t have any money for seeds, ask friends who have gardens if they have any to spare. Marigolds grow very quickly from the seeds that you can harvest from a dead flower. So do lots of other things – like tomatoes.

Simply fill the egg boxes with soil – poke a little hole in the middle – about 1cm deep and plant a seed (or two). Cover the hole up with a bit of soil. Water gently and put them on a windowsill or somewhere light. They don’t like direct sunlight too much because then they dry out.

Make sure that you keep them moist – if the soil gets dry your teensy babies will never sprout.

The time it takes to sprout depends on what seeds you have planted. Some spout much quicker than others – for instance, Sweet Alyssum starts sprouting in about 3 days but onions take around 10 – 15 days to poke their little green shoots out into the world.

Once they do start sprouting, plant the whole egg box in the ground. Or you can carefully cut the little sections apart and scatter them around your garden or into pots. The egg box material is biodegradable. Just (obviously) make sure you do not use plastic egg boxes!

You can even have fun making your own artistic signs out of ice-cream sticks or bits of cardboard box so that you know which seeds are which.

Consider having a race with your friends and see whose seeds sprout first.

By the way – if you want to know how to make a veggie bed the size of a door – my book – Sibo and the Veggie Bed (check out the cover above) is available this month as a free read on the website.

Explore your green-fingered side guys!

Have fun.

Sibo

Xx

Sniffing Stuff

Sometimes, in very old kid’s stories they would write stuff about tying a knot in a handkerchief to help a person remember something.

Hah! That’s a joke. For starters, very few people use hankies these days – definitely not kids. Tissues are the in thing now and trying to tie a knot in skinny bit of paper would be just silly! Not to mention trying to remember what the knot was for in the first place!

Apparently what does help boost your memory is sniffing the herb, rosemary.

According to the clever dudes, when you sniff rosemary (either essential oils or the plant itself), volatile particles get the olfactory nerve receptors in your nose all excited and are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Thereafter, the memory-enhancing mechanisms of the essential oil zoot up to your brain (via your bloodstream) where they act on your memory systems.  Sounds a tad complicated to me but seemingly it works.

It might be worth sniffing some rosemary when exam time comes around again.

Evidently, in the ancient times, students actually used to wear garlands of rosemary around their necks, or put sprigs in their hair, to help them remember stuff.

Even better, if you’ve got a headache or aching muscles, having a soothing bath with a few sprigs of rosemary in it is supposed to help. Don’t forget to dunk your head under the water too – if you have an itchy scalp problem that is.

Rosemary is a treat to cook with too – both tasty and healthy. It’s a great way to spice up spuds. Boil some potatoes until they are almost soft.  Put them onto a dish and smoosh them slightly with a fork or spatula. Then drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and some chopped up rosemary all over the potatoes. Pop them in a hot oven and roast until they get crispy. The most delicious roasties ever!

So tootle off to your local nursery and invest in a rosemary plant. Not only are they hardy and easy to grow, but they are one of the plants that can actually survive a Springs winter too.

You can also put sprigs of rosemary in flower arrangements – just imagine – it not only makes the whole room smell fresh and lovely, but nobody will forget anything either.

Have a great week people.

Sibo

Xx

Growing succulents

A friend of mine recently moved into a house and they have a section of water wise plants in their front garden. To begin with I thought they were sort of ugly. But then I looked at them a bit longer and thought that maybe they were not so bad. In fact – some of them were quite pretty.

The thing about succulents is that they really do not need much water. Of course, if they get more water than they bargained for, then it’s not like they wither up and die either.

Did you know if you want to grow your own succulents it is really easy?

You simply lay a leaf or three down on a bed of soil in a little pot, with the pointy bit facing outwards, and give it a few drops of water every now and then.  They are not even too fussy about the water believe it or not.

Aloe

After a while teensy tiny little leaves start growing (in the middle of the pot). And it does not take too long either. Perfect little teensy weensy succulents. In fact, it is incredibly rewarding

The crazy thing about succulents is that some of them are good for various things – like Bulbinlella – a common garden plant.

Bulbinella is the ideal plant to have in the garden if you have children because it is a first aid remedy for most knocks and scrapes.

This hardy plant grows easily in many places. It has a nice bright yellow flower. The Bulbinella leaf can be crushed softly between fingers and the clear sap can be squeezed out from the leaf and used to smear on the following problems: wounds, rashes, burns, itches, ringworm, cracked lips, cuts, boils, eczema, insect bites, cold sores or acne.

The same goes for Pork Bush or as it is more commonly known by its Afrikaans name, Spekboom (Portulacaria afra), it is also pretty fabulous stuff. Not only is it Proudly South African but it is also a water-wise plant that can manage on less than a litre of water a year.

Poultices made out of the leaves can be applied to acne, blisters, corns, insect bites, sore feet and sunburn. It has also been said that chewing Spekboom leaves several times a day can successfully treat high blood sugar levels.

Great idea for Christmas presents – but you’d need to start growing them in little pots now!

Have fun.

Sibo

Go Nuts!

Go nuts!

The other day I went to visit a friend and we were walking in the garden when I felt something big crunch under my sneaker. I looked at my friend… what on earth was that.

The answer was pecan nuts.

I’m a fan of nuts. All sorts of them. I grabbed one and smacked it with a small stone – a bit hard because it shattered into many pieces. I decided to donate those bits to the ants and was more careful when I cracked the next one.

The tree was tall, taller than the house and laden with nuts. I could not believe that anybody could be so lucky as to live in a house with a ready supply of pecan nuts. Of course my friend is used to them and thought I was acting nuts (hahaha).

It was hysterical to see their little worsie dog merrily chomping down nuts too. She cracked them with her teeth and delicately ate the nutty bits.

So I started wondering (a) are pecan nuts good for people and (b) are pecan nuts good for dogs?

I googled pecan nuts when I got home and according to dear old Wiki they are pretty wholesome little snacks. They contain, amongst other things, Vitamins A, B-6, C, E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium and Zinc. The nuts are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and provide an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants.

Goodness! It’s almost like eating the table of elements.

Originally they came from Mexico but they do grow quite well in South Africa – specifically in the Northern Cape, although the tree I saw was in a garden in Pretoria.

I also found out that as with all tree nuts, pecans are not really nuts – they are hard-shelled fruits. Did you ever?

As far as dogs and pecan nuts go… not so healthy. In fact, according to all the stuff I read this little worsie dog should be long since dead. If not from the Aflatoxin, then from tummy upsets from not digesting the nuts or even having shells stuck in her gut.  But instead the doglet is running around healthy as can be – she’s not even fat.

I took some nuts home – Mum thought she might make some cookies with them but Dad and I ate them all straight out of the shells. Yum!

Go nuts people!

Sibo

Talent Show

 

Chuffed Sibo

We had a talent contest at our school.

It was such fun.

Everybody was allowed to enter, but they did not have to. So those people that were shy could just enjoy all the activity and watch. There were all sorts of categories – hula hooping, singing, dancing, acting and impersonating famous people. Then there were also things like drawing, painting, embroidery, sewing, growing stuff and even cooking.

To advertise the show, Miss Ball (my favourite teacher) had an event in hall.

She showed everybody that she is learning to hula hoop. She’s okay at it – but not great. Then she got her sister in to show the kids what it is like to have a real talent hula hooping. Miss Ball’s sister, Iggy, is small and skinny and has tattoos!

She whirled that hoop like you would not believe – it went so fast that you could hardly see it on occasions. She did all sorts of fancy tricks too.

It was marvellous. Never mind appreciating her talent – half of us wanted to rush out and learn how to do those impressive hula hoop moves too.

It was a useful example, because some of us thought we could sing. When Lizzie’s brother recorded us singing on his cell phone and we heard ourselves – we realised we all sucked!

Although some of the other kids sing really well.

I decided to rather go in for the growing stuff. We had a few weeks to practise and sort ourselves out – so I decided to grow some beans in a smallish container. I made a nice trellis for the beans out of some wooden dowels that I bought at the hardware store. Plus I decorated my pot nicely.

Miss Ball invited sort-of-famous people (like local radio presenters, the mayor and the editor of the newspaper) to come and judge. She also went and asked all the local shops if they would be prepared to donate stuff for prizes.

Everybody was so nice. They all pitched in and gleefully participated.

We had a fabulous time.

I was really chuffed because my pot plant won – although I did think it was cheating a bit because it was the only entry in that category!

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Seriously cool word(s) for the week: Argle-bargle

Meaning: plentiful but meaningless talk (or writing)

Example: The guy who opened the talent show gave a talk that was so full of argle-bargle we all nearly fell asleep.

Full of beans

Hi everybody

You know how adults always talk about sustainable farming, growing your own food and stuff like that? We don’t think that it applies to us – but it does, you know. There is nothing to stop us growing our own stuff to eat.

Like beans.

Beans are really easy to grow. And it’s fun to watch them grow too. Better still, those little beans (when they are about 7 cm long) are really good to eat raw. They taste a million times better than the big ones your mom cooks for dinner.

You get two types of beans – pole beans and bush beans.  You can buy bean seeds at places like Checkers or Pick ‘n Pay. Maybe it’s a plan to club together with your friends, buy a packet of seeds and share them.

Back to the beans – pole beans grow tall and need something to lean against, like a stick or a wall or a trellis or something. Otherwise they get all tangled up and are not such happy chappies.

Bush beans grow in a little bush and don’t need to have a stake like pole beans do.

If you don’t have a nice piece of ground, you can grow your bean(s) in a container. You can even use a 2 liter cool drink bottle. Just cut the top off (get a parental agent to help).  Cut it quite high up so you can have more soil and there is more space for the roots. Make some little holes (using a nail) in the bottom for the water to drain out.

Stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. Put your bean into the hole and cover it up gently with soil. Give it a little bit of water.  Beans don’t like too much water so be careful not to drown it. If you leave it on the windowsill or outside in the sun you will need to check that the soil is always a bit damp – don’t let it get too dry or it won’t grow.

After about five days you will notice that your bean has begun to sprout. Once they start growing, they grow really quickly.

It’s great fun to watch plants grow.

……………………..

Cool word for the week:

Word:  dodgy

Meaning:  unreliable or dishonest

Example: The weather forecast is often dodgy – you never know if it is actually going to rain or not.

 

PS – you can visit http://www.sibo.co.za/page13.html for more info about Sibo and the Veggie Bed!