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It’s winter, so you’re planning out your spring garden. And this time you want to go organic. You know you’ll have to learn to live with the odd nibbled leaf, but there are certain times when the ‘taxes’ taken by the wildlife that shares your garden are just too high. Just know that you don’t have to resort to expensive, polluting and unhealthy pesticides and pellets in order to get your pest problems under control. With a little effort and imagination, you can garden organically and still get a great yield. Here are a few of the tricks of the trade:

Netting and Shielding:

One of the easiest measures you can take against larger pests is simply to net or shield your crops. You may wish to net brassicas against butterflies and birds and fruit against birds and small mammals like rabbits, hares, mice or shrews. You can also, for example, use finer mesh nets to protect carrots from carrot flies if they are a problem where you live. Fine mesh can be sued to protect plants wherever one particular crop might be particularly badly affected by pests.

Companion Planting:

When planning an organic garden, it is best to avoid large areas of one plant, which are more susceptible to disease and pests. Instead, you should plant your flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs in groups of compatible plants that might even help one another. Companion planting is an inexact science but many gardeners do see the benefits of planting some plants alongside others. Some aid with nutrient collection, others repel pests or distract them away from more valuable specimens while still others help in other, less well documented and less studied ways.

Crop Rotation:

When planning a vegetable garden you should consider crop rotation in your plans because if you decide to grow some crops in the same locations year after year, they can be far more likely to succumb to pests and diseases. Crop rotation can not only reduce pest problems, it can also help you to maintain the fertility and usefulness of your soil.

Tricks and Traps:

Organic gardeners have a number of tricks and traps up their sleeves to deal with slugs, snails and other garden pests. Beer traps and other enticements can allow you to get rid of an over-abundance of slugs and snails but really, it is better to try to maintain a healthy ecosystem in your back yard so no one element gets out of proportion in the first place.

Nematode and Predator Controls:

Slugs and snails are a common problem for many gardeners around the world. If you have a serious problem then introducing nematodes into your garden could be a good if expensive option. But rather than resorting to such measures, the first step should simply be to encourage a number of natural predators into your yard. There are some birds that will eat slugs and snails (if you keep chickens or ducks these will pick off quite a few for you) and aquatic life like frogs will also give you a helping hand with pests. Got a problem with aphids? All you have to do is attract a range of predatory insects like ladybugs and other things that will make a meal of the little flies. Good planting schemes will go a long way towards helping you with that.

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5 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness has taken over the world of well-being and mental health in the past year. It essentially involves being fully aware of your physical and emotional feelings in the moment, and while it’s often associated with meditation, there are many ways to practice mindfulness which have positive effects on your physical and mental well-being. Studies of mindfulness have shown that it relieves stress, increases productivity, improves mental and physical health, and even aids weight loss. Mindfulness is a way of reconnecting yourself to the world, heightening your awareness, and understanding your moods, but you don’t need a trained practitioner to see the benefits. You can try these five simple mindfulness techniques whenever you have a spare fifteen minutes – before bed, on your lunch break, or even during a quick trip to the bathroom!

Scan Your Body

Body scanning is a common mindfulness practice, involving focusing your attention on different parts of your body and noticing how they feel. Close your eyes and progressively pay attention to your body, from the bottom to the top – a minute on your feet, then your lower legs, then your hips, and so on. Notice any feelings of pain, heaviness, or tension to improve your bodily awareness and relieve physical stress.

Listen More

Extend mindfulness from yourself towards others by learning to listen mindfully in your interactions with friends, family, and colleagues. Instead of focusing on what you’re going to say next when someone else is speaking, pay attention to their words, facial expressions, and tone of voice. This will help you understand the other person’s aims more and form more meaningful responses in future.

Dance, Dance

Put on your favorite song and start moving your body to the music. Pay attention to your movements as you dance – what are the feelings in your arms as you sway them? Which parts of your body feel heavy, or light? How do you feel as you move? – and try to put other thoughts out of your mind. Dancing is an excellent way of centering yourself in the moment which is the central aim of mindfulness.

Breathe

Paying attention to your breathing is a great way of becoming aware of where you’re storing stress in your body and how to alleviate it. Spend fifteen minutes with your eyes closed, paying attention to the movement of your breath – follow it as it travels through your nose towards your belly and back again, imagining sending air to the knots of stress in your body to loosen them.

Search YouTube For Mindfulness Meditations

Guided meditation, where someone instructs you to gradually become aware of your body, is the most common way to practice mindfulness. These days, there are plenty of free guided meditation tutorials online so search YouTube for one of a length that suits you – ten minutes, half an hour, or more – and let yourself relax as a calming voice guides you through the process.

Research into mindfulness has shown that it increases grey matter density in the hippocampus, increasing your ability to learn and remember things, heightens the ability to handle stress constructively, and brings positive feelings and self-acceptance. Trying these easy mindfulness techniques a couple of times a week could improve your life significantly so give them a go next time you’ve got some spare time.

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Photos by: RR Abrot | Bảo-Quân Nguyễn | Yaoqi LAI


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