I’ve been on a mission for the last few days finding uses for Castile soap in my journey to swap from commercial, chemical loaded household and personal care products to the more natural and homemade. I’ve long used bicarbonate of soda to clean around the house, including the bathroom. I find that it’s great for scrubbing the bath and sink and does wonders on the tiles and grouting, yet is gentle enough not to scratch anything. Whilst browsing Pintrest (some of you may smell a theme developing here!), I spotted this tutorial for a soft scrub using bicarb, liquid castile soap and essential oil. I didn’t have any lemon essential oil and as I have lots of lavender scented castile soap, I used that with some lavender essential oil. I used it for cleaning the bathroom and have no complaints! I adore the scent (which I could change with each batch I make if I want to) and it’s easy to use. I think I will add a bit more of the castile soap to my next batch to make it a bit more creamy, but I don’t think it will change how it works. I’m not sure if the castile soap actually helps with the cleaning process, in fact I would imagine that it could leave a soapy scum over time if it isn’t rinsed off properly, but I like the scent and the anti bacterial properties of the oil.
Last night I headed down to our allotment to check on things and give the greenhouse a water. I thought I’d show you what we have going on so far. We started making the beds in February of this year and planting commenced in April. We have just 5 beds so far (the raised beds in the top left of the photo are someone else’s) but have fenced off a patch the same size again which will be filled with beds quite soon. As you can see, the central bed here is full of first early potatoes and doing well. I expect we can harvest some soon, as a few plants are showing flowers. Peas, beans and Swiss chard have gone in the bed to the left of that. The chard is looking great, but the beans are looking a little washed out.
I’m not sure why, possibly as it’s quite exposed at our allotment so are feeling the elements or maybe the soil conditions aren’t completely suitable.
On the right hand side of the allotment are onions, beetroot, parsnips and a few more potatoes that over spilled the first bed! We are incredibly lucky that the wonderful friends that allow us to use this field also keep horses (as you can see), so we have a ready supply of rotted horse manure to hand which has formed the main structure of the vegetable beds. Unfortunately, some of it is rather too well rotted and has collected a lot of seeds where it was sitting, which have now burst into life! On the plus side, we believe the weeds to be edible but they have out competed a lot of my beetroot seeds. The parsnip seem to have managed quite well though, and now everything’s a little bigger, it’s much easier to distinguish between the weeds and intended crop. I hope that with some constant weeding this year we will see much less of them next year! I’ve never grown parsnip before, so any words of wisdom are greatly appreciated!
The bed at the bottom of the first picture has a bit of a mixture in at the moment. I started with 2 raspberry bushes, one summer and one autumn fruiting variety. On the opposite side of that bed is a new rhubarb plant. We seem to be suffering quite badly in this bed with dock so have mulched part of it with cardboard. There is a courgette plant and a couple of small lavender plants. I don’t intend for the lavender to stay in the veg bed, but it needed a home! I want lavender dotted around the allotment because a) I love it, and b) we love bees! There doesn’t seem to be a particular shortage of bees around us but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try to encourage them. Ashley would like to get a bee hive set up at some point… I like the idea in theory but w certainly need to do some research before jumping into that one. Do you have any experience in bee keeping? Does a bee hive need daily attention?
There is another smaller bed just out of view in the first photo, that has blackcurrant and redcurrant in. It is also acting as a nursery bed for a few more lavender plants. We have a fairly established bed of blackcurrant bushes at home, we will move them down to the allotment this autumn I think. They are getting on well and it would be daft to move them now and lose what will hopefully be our best crop to date!
In the greenhouse at the moment I have several tomato varieties, some broccoli and Brussels sprouts that are waiting for a home on the plot, and some chilli and sweet pepper plants. One of Ashley’s next jobs is to build me some benches to go in there! For now, an old vertical grower (the mini greenhouse type) that has lost its cover and an old pallet or two are serving as shelving.
Well, that’s our little allotment! I hope you have enjoyed the little tour!