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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bayer Suing EU over pesticide ban

Bayer has sued the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban only months ago -- and we can't sit back and let Big Pesticide overturn it while the bees vanish.
Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world's largest chemical corporations, claim that the ban is "unjustified" and "disproportionate." But clear scientific evidence shows their products are behind the massive bee die-off that puts our entire food chain in peril. 
This past summer, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. And unless we act now, the bees will keep dying. We have to show Bayer now that we won't tolerate it putting its profits ahead of our planet's health. If this giant corporation manages to bully Europe into submission, it would spell disaster for the bees.
The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics -- so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits. 
The EU banned these bee-killers this past May, after a massive public campaign anda clear scientific finding from the European Food Safety Authority that neonics pose huge risks to bee populations. Bayer fought against the ban every step of the way, using tactics taken from Big Tobacco -- pouring millions into lobbying and fake science to stop decision-makers from taking action. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

British forests under new threat from pests


British forests under new threat from pests reports the BBC:
A year after the first case of ash dieback in wild trees in Britain, the disease has now spread across much of England, Wales and Scotland. The public is being asked to be the "eyes and ears" of the countryside amid concern about new global threats that could spell disaster for forests.
It is quite worrying just how many threats the nations forests are currently under. The OPAL Tree Health Survey reveals the key threats.

Oak processionary moth: first detected in Ealing and Richmond in 2006, then outbreaks in south London, west London and Berkshire - it defoliates and weakens trees, making them susceptible to pests and diseases

Asian longhorn beetle: wood-boring insect that can cause damage to a range of trees - a major 2012 outbreak in Kent was traced to wood packaging imported from the Far East

Asian longhorn beetle
Citrus longhorn beetle: a few have arrived on trees imported from China, Japan and South Korea, but have so far been intercepted

Chalara dieback of ash: fungal disease of ash trees, now established in the UK, which causes crown death and wilting and dieback of branches

Pine processionary moth: insect moving north through France and now breeding near Paris - 1995 outbreak in Scotland was contained

Emerald Ash borer: beetle that damages ash trees - a native of Asia, it's arrived in the US in imported wooden packing material

The risk to the forests is huge and this once wooded island could see large patches badly damaged.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Win A Rod and Bens Hamper


Its competition time again and this time we have a fantastic seasonal produce hamper from Rod and Ben's to give away.

Rod and Ben’s, an award-winning organic food producer in Devon, produces vegetable boxes, a range of sumptuous seasonal soups and wholesome new organic food pots, all of which will be included in the hamper along with other local Devon goodies. Rod Hall runs his farm with the knowledge that the best-tasting, most nutritious and honest food is picked and eaten in season without endangering the environment. 

The veggies from the farm either land in boxes or find themselves in Rod & Ben’s soup kitchen within a matter of hours, where they are blended together using simple recipes so the ingredient’s integrity – colour, flavour and texture – is preserved.

To be in with a chance simply tell us what your favourite home cooked meal is and why? Perhaps you have a particular memory attached, was it something a relative used to make or is it something that reminds you of your childhood?


Extra entries can be made by sharing this competition on Twitter (include #DiligentGardener) or by liking our page and sharing the competition on Facebook.

An additional entry can be made by "following" this blog via Google Friend Connect

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 29 October 2013. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter. By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and by taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random from the valid entries and will be announced here on the blog. Please make sure we are able to contact you if you do win.Entries can be made as "anonymous" on the blog but if you don't leave a Twitter name or other way to contact you then those will not be counted.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Giant Mushrooms at Kew Gardens


Giant woven willow sculptures of some of the UK's edible mushroom varieties have sprung up on the lawns at Kew Gardens. Created by artist Tom Hare. Kew's experts look after the largest collection of dried fungi in the world - which also includes more sinister, inedible varieties. Kew's fungarium is opened to the public on 13 October to mark National Fungus Day. See Kew Gardens Website for more info

New Report Paints a Grim Picture of Pain

A grim portrait of pain has been revealed by a new study for Deep Relief,  a topical, clinically proven analgesic gel which uses both analgesic ibuprofen and counter-irritant levomenthol to deliver a dual attack on pain to provide, effective pain relief.
In this survey of 1000 adults, almost half (43%) said they were blighted by pain on a daily basis. A similar proportion (45%) reported living with pain for more than five years.
Commenting on this latest pain data, Dr Sarah Brewer a media GP notes: “Worryingly, this new Deep Relief research revealed that three out of five (60%) who suffer regular aches and pains put their health at risk because they rely on oral pain-relief pills. Long term use of oral painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen has been linked with a corrosive effect on the digestive system and long term use of ibuprofen and diclofenac at high doses have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack.  It is estimated that this family of medicines, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, is responsible for 2,600 deaths a year and 12,000 hospital admissions out of 25 million prescriptions not to mention the number of people that buy NSAIDs Over The Counter. ”

A staggering one in two people (48%)also  simply ‘grin and bear pain’. Standing for long periods (41%), household chores (40%) and sitting at a desk for long periods (33%) all aggravate discomfort and a third (32%) report that cold weather makes their pain worse.
However, there are innovative products that can help us with our pain and manage it. Using an effective topical pain relief product such as Deep Relief gel can help maintain mobility and prevent pain from undermining the ability to enjoy daily life.
Deep Relief, for example, is a topical analgesic gel which uses two weapons to help fight pain - analgesic ibuprofen and counter-irritant levomenthol — to deliver a dual attack on pain which has been clinically proven to provide, effective relief. The ibuprofen reduces pain by damping down inflammation and swelling while the levomenthol provides a counter-irritant effect which delivers cooling pain relief.
The synergistic action of these two key ingredients enhances penetration of the ibuprofen suggesting that Deep Relief may deliver more ibuprofen than products containing ibuprofen alone.

Deep Relief has been subjected to a randomised, double-blind placebo controlled trial — the toughest scientific test there is — and is proven to reduce pain in walking, standing and at rest. 
So if you suffer from muscular mild to moderate pain niggles opt for a topical pain relieving gel like Deep Relief gel. However, if the pain becomes severe or worsens, always seek GP advice immediately.
Deep Relief retails at £5.65 for a 50g pack - Always read the label
Find out more – visit: www.deep-relief.co.uk

Monday, 14 October 2013

Top tips for making the most of a small garden

It can be difficult to know what to do with a small garden. The last thing you want is to make it appear even smaller by filling it with lots of accessories. The good news is there are ways you can make the most of your small garden, but the key is to carefully plan and think about the features you really want.
 

Add a little lighting

Lighting can be a great way to add the illusion of space in a small garden. However, it can also be hard to get right. Outdoor LED lighting comes in many different forms. If you want to add a beautiful ambience to your garden at night, consider using LED solar lights installed into the ground. You can use them along flower beds to highlight flowers or you can highlight a path if you’d prefer. Both options can look great, just be sure to space the lights out so they don’t appear cluttered.

Consider a pond

A pond is something you wouldn’t necessarily think about when trying to enhance a small garden. It’s mistakenly assumed that ponds are only something that can be used in large spaces. Providing you choose a small pond, it can really enhance the space and create quite a romantic ambience.

There are other water features you could invest in if you really don’t like the thought of maintaining a pond. Small water features for example provide tranquillity to a garden. You can sit out and listen to them trickling as you close your eyes. It’s a great way to relax.

Change your patio doors

One way to completely alter the appearance of the garden is to change your outside door. Timber patio doors are a great investment as they create a country-style, cosy design. The warmth of the wood creates a welcoming vibe and captures the eye.

Try to blur the garden’s boundaries

Instead of highlighting the boundaries of your garden, try to blur them instead. This really helps you to give the illusion of additional space. Climber plants will work perfectly against walls and fences.

It’s not overly difficult to make the most of a small garden. You just need to remember not to highlight where the garden starts and where it ends.

DG


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Tips For Autumn Vegetable Gardening

Many believe that the cooling weather means it's time to pause gardening efforts for the year. However, if you're hoping to have healthy plants growing when next year rolls around, you'll want to do a bit of planting in the coming weeks, sowing seeds that can survive and grow through the winter to sprout and bloom in the spring!

Specifically, there are a number of delicious vegetables that you can plant during the autumn and early winter so as to harvest in spring. If this is something that interests you, and you like the idea of plotting a vegetable garden before the real cold weather sets in, here are a few tips for cool weather gardening, as well as a few great vegetables to plant.

Tips For Cold Weather Gardening Comfort

  • Purchase Gloves - Generally, some manner of gardening gloves are recommended for your yard work in any season - but particularly with the weather cooling off, it might be a good idea to stop by Homebase for some fresh gloves. Cold, stiff hands make it very difficult to handle equipment and go about gardening, and it's an easily avoided problem!

  • Wear A Winter Hat - This may seem like a very obvious suggestion, and for some it is. However, it's important to emphasize the hat above other cool weather attire. Bulky jackets and overcoats can make gardening tricky, as they make it harder to be flexible bending to plants, getting on the ground, etc. Keeping your head warm warms your body effectively, however, and a winter cap doesn't get in the way of your activity.

  • Address Seasonal Irritation - Allergies are generally more closely associated with the spring season, but different people react differently to cold weather. One example is in eye irritation that can result from spending time outside in your garden in an unfamiliar season. If this is an issue for you, a quick visit to Acuvue can help you to identify potential reasons for irritation, as well as different solutions - eyedrops, contact lenses, etc. - to keep you more comfortable.

Vegetables To Plant This Season

  • Asparagus - This is a long-term project, as Asparagus beds require 2 years to be ready for picking, but it's nonetheless a vegetable that can be planted in cool weather.

  • Onions & Shallots - There are many varieties of onion that can be planted now for harvest in the spring. Telegraph notes several suitable varieties, and even sells them in their garden shop online.

  • Spinach - A common favourite among home vegetables, sowing spinach now can give you a beautiful salad supply come spring. Merlo Nero is one recommended variety.

  • Cabbage - This is a great option because it will be ready in some capacity by early spring, but will continue to grow thicker and heartier after your initial harvest.

  • Peas - Another delicious option, fairly easy to grow and which will be ready by spring or early summer if planted in the next month.
Whatever you opt for I hope they do well for you.

DG

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Autumn on the allotment


Although we have been having something of an Indian Summer, this Autumn, Winter is just around the corner its way the days are getting shorter, and it wont be long before we get the first frosts ... so it is easy to relax and imagine that there is little to grow at this time of year. Think again! There's actually lots of preparation and plants to get started in October and November. So what vegetables can be sown at this time of the year in the UK? 

Garlic
Of course it is possible to start your garlic in the the Spring and some varieies being perfectly happy being planted in early spring, late Autumn through to November is by far the best time. 

Garlic really does need a good dose of frost as this cold will encourage the bulbs to split into cloves. And whilst planting them you can think back to the sunnier times in June and July when you were harvesting them. 

For a guide to growing garlic, check out our previous post. 

Onions & shallots
By now we are almost as late as we can go for planting onions or shallot sets in before Winter really gets going. It is best not to let this job fall into November. Personally my favourites are the Japanese Sensyhu onions as these are nice and hardy as well as being pretty easy to raise (a perfect combination). 

Broad Beans 
Typically most people will advise you to sow your broad beans late Winter to Spring between February and May, so why would we be advising growing them in November? The reason is to extend the growing and therefore the cropping season. If one just relies on your Spring sowings then you would expect to be harvesting your produce between July and August. However by having an Autumn sowing as well you'll then be able to have an additional crop in June as well.

Peas
Exactly the same advice as with your broad beans, start some early and you will be able to get a crop earlier as well potentially up to 6 weeks earlier.

Other jobs
This time of year is also the perfect time to get beds ready for the spring, adding compost and digging this in so the worms have plenty of time to get this well integrated into the soil. If you dont have you own bins then consider buying compost in bulk bags such as those offered by Compost Direct (Veggie Gold) is a formulated blend of compost, that uses well rotted manure mixed with top soil, so that it produces a rich fertile soil with a high organic matter content making it ideal for creating vegetable patches and raised beds or as a top dressing to your existing beds.

Gardening Blogs UK Top 10

There are so many Gardening Blogs out there, and its hard to pick the best from the rest, however here is the current top 10 from Ebuzzing!
  1. The Patient Gardener's Weblog
  2. thinkinGardens
  3. Alternative Eden
  4. notSupermum
  5. Out of my shed
  6. Veg Plotting
  7. An Artist's Garden
  8. the blackberry garden
  9. Hurtling Towards 60 and Beyond
  10. Jekka's Herb Farm
EBuzzing works out the Blog ranking based on the score calculated by Ebuzzing which considers various numerous parameters including the number of visitors to each blog, the number of backlinks, the number of shares of its articles on Facebook and Twitter.

There are lots to choose from and well worth giving them all a read.

White Brugmansia

Double flowered white Brugmansia
This spectacular White Brugmansia was at the National Botanic Garden in Belgium. Stunning but needs to be overwintered under glass in the UK. See their website for opening times.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

One in Four looking to Sunnier Climes

FOUR in ten adults want to leave Britain for sunnier climes because they claim the country's dismal weather is bad for their health.
Millions of people say damp, cold weather is having a bad affect on their joints, leading to daily aches and pains.
A poll by Regenovex, the joint care brand, of 1,000 people aged 35 to 75 - all with joint health problems - were questioned about their experiences with weather-related joint issues. An overwhelming 72 per cent of respondents said they suffered more from joint problems such as discomfort and stiffness because of the weather.
More than half (55 per cent) said joint problems increased during cold periods, followed by damp weather (45 per cent), wet weather (38 per cent) and cold, frosty weather (19 per cent), according to joint health brand Regenovex.
The most common symptoms triggered by poor weather were discomfort, stiffness, difficulty in getting up when seated, climbing stairs and moving generally.
Other problems included getting out of bed (20 per cent), bending down (17 per cent) and exercising (15 per cent).
The survey found that knees are the parts of the body worst affected by poor weather, followed by the back, fingers, hips, hands and neck.
One in three people said they put up with joint pain and did not take any further action, one in seven would take over the counter pain killers and 12 per cent would take a hot bath. Just five per cent would consult their GP or pharmacist.
While four in ten of those polled has considered moving to a warmer country because of their joint problems, one in nine (11 per cent) are actively contemplating relocation.
Approximately ten million Britons suffer from osteoarthritis and many more have undiagnosed joint stiffness, which increases with age and often affects women more than men. People with joint health problems often complain that cold and damp weather affects their health. Medical data and research by Regenovex has proved that changes in air pressure and temperature are linked to the severity of joint discomfort.
Experts say changes in air pressure can trigger an increase or decrease in pressure on arthritic joints.
Scientists say cold temperatures can lead to sensory receptors in joint tissues triggering discomfort. In addition, cold can lead to a thickening of the fluid around joints.
Many arthritis patients say they can predict bad weather up to two days before it occurs. Researchers say one explanation is that the body establishes an equilibrium in relation to the local climate so that changes in weather trigger an increase in discomfort.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, an independent nutritionist, said: "Joint discomfort and joint health issues are a huge problem in the UK with millions of us struggling in silence when they needn’t especially when sufferers could turn to Regenovex - a new generation joint care product.  What’s special with this product is it’s unique formulation which includes - Bionovex Oil  that has a proven anti-inflammatory effect and hyaluronic acid which lubricates and cushions the joints. Neither one of these special ingredients you can get from your diet."
The good news it is easy to find Regenovex as it is available in Boots stores nationwide so do hunt it out – www.boots.com or for more info visit www.regenovex.co.uk  

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