This Week’s Guest Blogger is Sophia Cooper writing about herbs that cheer you up

Lavender

Lavender is known to be helpful in headaches, skin irritations, and hair loss. It is often used in aromatherapy, owing to its marvelous smell. A refreshing cup of lavender tea is sure to lift your spirits.

 

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is a perennial herb of the mint family and is helpful in headaches, insomnia, and indigestion. It’s refreshing smell and taste make it a popular flavouring ingredient.

 

Basil

Basil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a healthy addition to your diet. It is often used as a garnish. Basil boosts the immune system and the gastrointestinal system. It is considered beneficial for eye, liver, and heart health.

Chamomile

Chamomile is known to boost immunity and cardiovascular health. Chamomile tea is quite popular, but it can be used for seasoning as well. Aside from its medicinal properties, they provide aesthetic value as well!

Herbs can be very beneficial for your well-being, provided they are used thoughtfully. One should not forget that herbs cannot overcome poor diet, toxic relationships, and lack of sleep and exercise. The herbs mentioned above are not only healthy but are easy to grow, as well. Gardening in itself is a fulfilling pursuit, and having a herb garden is bound to cheer you up!

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Simon Gibbins who started StrawBaleVegUK


. My name is Simon Gibbins. I have been strawbale gardening for over ten years now. We live
by the edge of the Viking Way in Lincolnshire. I got into this great method quite by chance. When we
moved into this house, luckily a massive garden came with it. It was completely overgrown and
untouched for years. With a lot of hard work, we got it to a manageable condition. Although my
family were all farmers from the lovely Lincolnshire Fens, my mother and father had decided to up
sticks and move to sunny Brighton, where my identical twin and I were born. I stayed there for some
twenty years and then moved back up country to Lincolnshire. So, although farming and gardening
was in my blood, I knew nothing. So, I read. A lot.
When my wife was young, she was involved in a serious car accident and injured her back. The
specialist at the time informed her that it would get worse as she got older. This was proving right.

And long periods bending in the garden cause serious pain. I started to look on the internet for a
more physically friendly way to garden. I found strawbale gardening from the States. I tried it for the
first year with mixed success and then started to really get into it and adapt it for our UK climate. It
really worked. As regards my wife, due to the height of the strawbales bending is at a minimum. You
can strawbale garden from the sitting position very easily. So, wheelchair users can really get into
this method. Plus, because you can put strawbales on any surface including concrete, its great for all
round wheelchair access. With strawbale gardening you see, you don’t need soil, so it follows that
you can have a fantastic garden almost anywhere.

I was having a well-earned pint in my local hostelry, when a pal suggested that maybe I start a
Facebook page on the subject. And so strawbaleveguk was born. I began to think that maybe there
was something worthwhile in this strawbale gardening method. I kept experimenting because an
essential part of the process is getting the bales to compost inside, fast. You do this by adding
differing quantities of water and a composting medium such as organic lawn feed. I designed a
maturing schedule over about seventeen days that suited our climate.
I secured a Virgin start-up loan and with the help of Lincoln University I produced a DVD on the
subject entitled The Strawbale Gardeners Handbook Vol 1. I believe the only one made specifically
for the UK climate. They also helped me put together a website www.strawbaleveg.co.ukI now visit groups with my workshop which is informative and great fun. I have grown many types of 

vegetables in strawbales including runner beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cabbages,
and many more. It is a very environmentally friendly way to grow vegetables as nothing is ever
wasted. When the strawbale is “tired” this can be up to two years later it makes first class compost.
Plus, a strawbale garden looks great. I now have many followers who advocate strawbale gardening,
I do hope that you will give it a grow. I now have a brand-new e-book that has been featured in
Kitchen Garden magazine. I am always available to help where I can. I can be reached through my
website www.strawbaleveg.co.uk simply go to the get in touch page.
I do hope this has been interesting and informative and encourages you to give it a grow.

This Week’s Guest Blogger is Shake Islam a recipient of a Grant from Gardening for Disabled Trust Charity

Gardening for Disabled Trust Charity provided money for the raised beds in Shake Isalm’s new garden design.
I sat in silence at the doctors office, I’d just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of arthritis, I didn’t understand, I was young and in the peak of my years. Fast forward a few weeks and I was in my room, hadn’t left the house and was severely depressed and felt like life was over. I’d be pushed into resigning from work due to my health issues and I spent so long in my bedroom looking out, wishing things would be different.
I’d always look out at my garden and realised I could take control of my life again and not let this illness beat me. I had spent a lot of time and money on fixing the house up before I got unwell, and the garden was a mess. I wanted to be outside, safe and able to do something. The garden was my sanctuary, but messy and unsafe currently.
I spoke with doctors and support workers at the local authority who guided me towards the GDT. Applying was scary, I hadn’t asked for support but had no other option. The GDT were supportive, applying was simple and I was so grateful for the grant.
I have amazing friends and neighbours who helped enormously, and the design changed halfway as they felt they wanted to future proof the garden for me, should my condition worsen over time. I had to get a loan to complete the garden project but I am incredibly pleased with the end result. Two raised beds, two areas of artificial grass, blocked paved and tidied elsewhere. The lockdown would’ve affected my mental health but having my completed garden has helped more than I could have imagined. My outlook on life has changed, I am happier, grateful to everyone for their help, to GDT and feel lucky to still be alive. Planting up the beds and growing plants has been slow because of lockdown and the shops were shut but I am progressing and hopeful about what the future holds.