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At ManoMano, we admire those who MAKE. And it’s for that very reason that ManoMano supports makers and their projects by telling their stories in the series The Amazing Making Of. Join our celebration of imagination, creativity, hard work and eccentricity!

After the success of MadCow’s giant water slide in episode one, we present to you episode two!

In this episode we meet Gavin who shows us his crazy project on how he uses nature to grow furniture. In his 6 acres of field, Gavin grows chairs, lamps, tables… and maybe even one day, houses!

Find out how he does it:

 

The Amazing Making Of – Giant Water Slide

The Amazing Making Of – THE WINNERS

 

Did you know that indoor house plants have many health benefits, as well as having the ability to brighten up a room? They increase oxygen levels throughout the day, remove pollutants, and apparently can even increase memory retention by 20%, making them perfect for studying or working at your desk! If you’re lost about where to get started, check out our top 10 indoor house plants below for inspiration. Let us know if we missed your favourite one out – we’d love to hear about it!

Top 5 Indoor House Plants

5 – Peace Lily

Indoor House Plants the handy mano mano peace lily

Despite their beauty, these plants are very easy to take care of which is why they are popular office and home plants. All they ask for is medium to low light, and not to be over watered. Check the top of the soil weekly and water when dry. Remember that they are more tolerant of under watering than over watering so don’t make a watering schedule for them.

🌿This plant is the top of NASA’s list for cleaning the air! It removes removes formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene (ie bad things) whilst looking beautiful, too! 🌿

4 – Aloe Vera

Indoor House Plants the handy mano mano aloe vera

Of course, we had to include Aloe vera! This plant carries endless health benefits and doesn’t demand too much form you, either. Make sure that you plant it in a wide container with a potting mixture similar to one which you would use for succulents. The most common cause of death for these plants is a lack of drainage, so water every 3 weeks and avoid keeping the soil soggy constantly. Place it in bright but indirect light, such as behind a curtain in an office.

🌿Squeeze the jelly-like substance out of the leaves and use it to treat sunburn, burns, bruises, acne, psoriasis and many other things, but make sure to never take it internally!🌿

3 – Chinese Evergreen

Indoor House Plants the handy mano mano chinese evergreen

Known to be a very durable houseplant, the Chinese Evergreen plant is both simple to look after and lovely to look at! Make sure you keep it away from any drafts (if anything, it prefers humid conditions) and water it moderately, allowing it to dry out between each time. You’ll notice that the leaves can gather a lot of dust, use a soft damp rag to wipe this away and leave it to air dry.

🌿They are well known for filtering out air pollutants  and getting rid of more and more toxins as time and exposure continues🌿

2 – Spider Plant

Indoor House Plants the handy mano mano spider plant

 

This lovely houseplant is perfect for newbies! You can hang them in baskets, put them on shelves, or leave them on tables to show off their long leaves. Water it once a week, and keep the soil slightly moist during hot months. Fortunately, this plant only needs moderate light to survive, and this doesn’t even need to be natural light, so you can brighten up and dark workspace with them.

🌿These plants are non-toxic so are safe for pets and children to accidentally eat! They also absorb carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and xylene whilst producing oxygen, so it’s a win win!🌿

1 – Rubber Tree

Indoor House Plants the handy mano mano rubber tree

This lovely leafy houseplant needs time to dry out between watering, so make sure to keep it mildly hydrated with a spritz of water on the leaves every now and again. Place it in indirect light to keep it extra happy!

🌿Rubber trees are best known for their large leaves which absorb airborne chemicals and break them down, whilst converting carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen for you! 🌿

Do you think you’ll be investing in one of these indoor house plants? Or do you already have one?

If you need more plant inspiration, try out these other articles:

Top 8 Weird Flowers

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Nobody likes to discover that their plants are infested with aphids, or that fungi has bloomed. That’s why here at The Handy Mano, we’ve put together some tips to help you prevent plant pests and keep your plants strong, beautiful and healthy.

How to Prevent Plant Pests

1. Fertilise your plants!

Did you know that insects have a preference for weaker plants? That’s why our first piece of advice is to fertilise them regularly. A healthy plant is less attractive to plant pests which means that it’ll bloom better for us! You can use a generic fertiliser for flowering or leafy plants. There are specific fertilisers for veggie patches, orchids, cacti and even a specific one for bonsais. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, because excessive fertiliser can also do more harm than good!

Aphids and red spiders (pictured) prefer plants that are rich in nitrogen, meaning that any excess of this nutrient can turn your plants into something extra delicious for them, so make sure to always read the label and follow the instructions!

thehandymano mano plant pests how to prevent them leaf with red spiders

2. Check your plants regularly

Check both sides of the leaves, and keep an eye out for discolouration, small holes or webs. It’s easy to realise that you have a whitefly infestation even if you just brush past your plant, so make sure you keep checking up on them!

In doing this, over time you will be able to identify potential problems quicker and therefore be able to give your plant the correct treatment sooner. Many plant pests are cyclical, and repeat year after year, so don’t let them stress you out too much. Try to stay positive, because experience counts and if the pests come back next year, you’ll know exactly what to do.

3. Not all bugs are bad!

It can be an interesting exercise to identify the different insects swarming around our gardens, because they don’t all munch through our plants. Some prey on the plant pests that do eat them, and in such cases, these bugs are the ones we should be concerned about inviting to visit our gardens or plant beds.

That’s what plant biodiversity is all about. For example, a balcony which has only one type of plant growing there may awsell have a neon light to attract its preferred plant pests! Those of us with urban gardens know this all too well, hence we never forget to pair up certain plants with our food crops.
For example, Basil repels mosquitoes and white flies, and Nasturtium repels snails and ants (and it looks great, too!)

4. Apply preventative treatments

You can choose to treat your plants when they already have a problem, or you can apply specific products to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place. If you have geraniums and know that they struggle every year because of the butterflies that lay their eggs on them… why not try to prevent it from happening by using an insecticide?

thehandymano mano plant pests how to prevent them plant bacteria

5. Strictly follow application guidelines

When the doctor prescribes us antibiotics, he always recommends finishing the course of medication even if we feel better, right? Well, it’s the same with plants. Many insecticides work on the adult insects that swarm around the plants but they don’t kill the eggs which can hatch within 15 days.
Repeat the treatment if the instructions recommend you to do so.

6. Beware of over-watering

Most fungi appear because of excess water. This can be caused by either watering too much, or, because of the British weather!
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to try to prevent fungi growth by using a preventative fungicide. Although we can’t stop the rain, we can at least help our plants a little and get rid of the excess fungi.

7. Dry leaves don’t always mean disease!

If you’re a newbie to gardening, don’t get too worried if you discover some yellow leaves. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your plant isn’t receiving enough nutrients.
During any plant’s growth period, it’s perfectly normal for it to shed some leaves
In such cases, look at the leaf’s position on the plant. Is it one of the biggest and oldest? If yes, relax: it has simply come to the end of its life cycle.
However, it’s okay to worry when the leaf in question is a new leaf or one of the smaller ones, as that means that it was likely to have been born with a deformity or a strange colour. You can find out the likely root of the problem by searching for the plant online and trying to identify the specific symptoms to figure out the next steps to take.
In potted plants, you might notice the leaves lack that ‘luscious green’ look. This is a common issue, and as the leaves are telling us they lack certain nutrients, it’s just up to us to invest in more nutrients and feed them!

Which plant pests worry you the most and how do you keep them at bay? Let us know!

Hungry for more gardening articles? Try out these for more tips:

Types of Shrubs – Seasonal Guide

Lawn Mowing Tips and Tricks

Are you a bit of a lazy gardener and prefer to make your garden look beautiful without the back-aching work? Although this might sound too good to be true, we can give you a hand with our guide to the top ten low maintenance flowers, no ifs or buds. 😉

Our top ten low maintenance flowers

Coreopsis

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers coreopsis

If you’re looking to throw some last-minute colour into garden, then consider throwing some coreopsis seeds into a sunny patch of soil and water until germination. That’s it! Just make sure to water them occasionally (or rely on our good old British weather to do that for you) and remove dead heads by trimming them from time to time.

🌼Our top tip is to dig up your plantings every third year to thin the roots out and to calm the fast spreading of the plant down.🌼

Hosta plants

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers hosta leaves

These plants do sprout fragrant flowers in the late summer, but you can munch on young hosta leaves throughout the other seasons!

🌼Our top tip is to boil, fry in tempura, or eat the leaves raw – they have a very similar flavour to lettuce and asparagus!🌼

The hosta plant is very easy to grow, and it prefers well-drained soils filled with organic matter (such as compost). As there are so many different varieties of the hosta plant, we suggest checking the shade of the leaf to determine how much sunlight it needs – the darker the foliage, the more shade they can handle!

To keep your plant growing healthily, fertilise it every now and then, but other than that you can just leaf it alone and let it get on with it! 🙂

Sedum (hylotelephium telephium)

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers Hylotelephium telephium

Not only is it a mouthful of a name, but the Sedum flower can grow up to 50cm tall and up to 30cm wide! This plant is such low maintenance that you can even just lay the stem on top of the soil and you’ll see that over time it will send roots out itself!

🌼Our top tip is to hand out detached leaves to your family and friends, they can put it in their soil at home and watch how the plant begins to grow! It’s almost too easy…🌼

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers Hylotelephium telephium daylilies

These flowers are so easy to look after, that gardeners say that they thrive from neglect (that’s clearly why it’s a part of our low maintenance flowers selection 😉 )

They need at least 6 hours of sun every day, so make sure you find a sunny spot in your garden.

The plants tolerate drought, so water them when you can but don’t worry too much if you forget a few times. Once they are up and growing, consider removing the seed pods, because if you leave them in it can delay the following year’s bloom. Fortunately, the leaves grow to be so thick that they tend to shade out surrounding weeds – what great self defense!

🌼There are so many varieties of daylilies that we recommend swapping and sharing your cuttings with families and friends to mix up some colours!🌼

Cosmos bipinnatus

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers cosmos bipinnatus Garden Cosmos

These lovely flowers attack the birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and they can grow easily in both beds and containers! To start growing them, place your seed or plant transplant about a quarter of inch deep into the soil. Fortunately, they like soil which isn’t too rich, so you don’t have to worry about using fertiliser. They are a very low maintenance type of flower, but if you get connected and really want to look after them, then we suggest removing all the dead and faded flowers and growing them next to a fence so that they get extra support.

🌼If you’re planting the seeds when it’s cold, be aware that they can take up to 7 weeks to start blooming! To speed up this process, consider growing your cosmos indoors first and moving them outside when they are 5 inches tall.🌼

Butterfly weed

thehandymano mano mano low maintenance flowers asclepias plant butterfly weed

If you’re not the biggest fan of butterflies then perhaps stay away from these low maintenance flowers! Orange butterfly weed can add a bright burst of colour into any garden, especially butterfly gardens (which, if you hadn’t guessed, this plant is perfect for!). Oddly enough, this beautiful flower grows just like a weed! It produces itself readily and it’s usually best not to interrupt it at all (cue cheers from you lazy gardeners out there 😉 ) because it grows by reseeding.

🌼Ideally, plant your flower in their permanent location, but if you do need to move them then make sure that their roots are no longer than 4 inches to avoid disrupting the plant!🌼

Cleome hassleriana

the handy mano mano spider flower cleaome flower low maintenance

The crazy clusters and long petals seem to bloom forever and this spider plant can almost do just that by ripening the lower seeds and forming new buds above! Plant them directly outdoors, don’t worry if it’s a bit cold, and watch it grow until about six inches high then consider thinning it before it positively takes your whole garden and/or neighbourhood. If you leave the plant completely alone for a year, then you may have trouble taking out the plants if you ever want to trim them, therefore, make sure you keep an eye on them to check that they’re not growing out of control (too much 😉 )

🌼Due to the height of the plant, we suggest putting them in the background or as tall borders🌼

Sempervivum

the handy mano mano spider flower cleaome flower low maintenance smpervivum

Okay, not quite a ‘flower’ so we’re pollen your leg a little, but more of a flower shaped lovely plant! Sempervivum care and maintenance is almost none existent, and you can grow them on a rockery, on a vertical wall or even on driftwood (if you really want to). They are relatively easy to plant, and they are likely to look different from their offsets, meaning that you can end up with some quirky and exciting combinations!

🌼If the plants don’t germinate in 4-5 weeks then leave the pots in the fridge for an extra 2-4 weeks before taking them outside again🌼

Pasque Flower

the handy mano mano spider flower cleaome flower low maintenance pasque

Perfect for growing in rock gardens, these flowers look beautiful all year around and are covered in soft, silvery hairs. You just have to water them quite a bit at the start to help them develop a good root system – you can also remove dead flowers to really prolong the watering process. Sow seeds indoors in trays and water often, allowing the soil to dry out in between irrigations as they hate being water-logged (don’t we all)!

🌼These plants also have long roots so make sure to choose your spot wisely before planting otherwise you’ll be wrestling it later!🌼

Have these low maintenance flowers left you with green fingers? Try out our other expert articles!

How to Make Organic Compost

Indoor Herb Gardening for Beginners

Be eco-friendly and save some money by learning how to make organic compost to use as fertiliser in the garden. Whether your a compost queen or you’ve never had green fingers, turn your spoil into soil and cut down on household food waste with our guide!

🌿 Keep calm and keep composting. 🌿

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile

No idea what we’re talking about? Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you have to do step by step and you’ll understand how to make organic compost for yourself.

What is compost?

Compost is the result of composting: the process of decomposition of organic matter in which micro-organisms, fungi, earthworms and oxygen all play a part. Composting prevents bad smells and means the waste you generate doesn’t rot, instead allowing you to create this high quality fertiliser known as compost.

Why make compost?

Need some convincing? Before you learn how to make organic compost, here are some more reasons why it’s a great idea to make your own fertiliser by composting.

  • It offers a 100% natural solution for soil fertilisation, with no chemical substances to reduce soil quality through contamination.
  • It helps plant growth.
  • It aids household recycling, reducing organic waste and contributing to the reduction of environmental problems linked to its transportation and treatment.
  • It can offer a good way to work as part of a community (try installing a composter in your neighbourhood, or the communal yard of your building).

What do you need to make compost?

1. Organic matter (that’s the food waste!)
2. A composter
3. Soil
4. Dry leaves
5. Moisture and oxygen

What can be composted?

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost fruit peel• Fruit and vegetable waste (except for banana peels and citrus fruits, which are recommended in smaller quantities)
• Tea leaves and coffee grounds. Filters can also be composted but if using tea bags, watch out for staples!
• Withered flowers and plants from around the house
• Sawdust, wood shavings and wood ash (untreated and not chipboard)
• Egg shells
• Gardening and vegetable patch waste
• Waste from pruning trees, bushes and hedges (chopped up in advance) and cut grass
• Household waste: kitchen roll, cardboard or corrugated card egg boxes, newspaper (not colour-printed)

How to make organic compost

1. Invest in a composter or a worm factory

You will need to situate the composter near the soil in a damp place or in the shade. If you live in a flat, you can use a worm factory and put it on the terrace.


The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost composter

Example of a simple garden composter

 

 

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile indoor worm farm

Indoor worm factory examples

 

2. Add organic matter

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile composter outside

 

First add a layer of dry materials (leaves, branches). Then, add the organic waste that you want to recycle and water thoroughly.
If you prefer, you can cut or grind up the waste to speed up the composting process.

3. Add soil

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile add soil

Add another layer of dry materials and cover this with some soil.

4. Mix it!

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost tools needed

You will need to stir the mix every so often because, as noted above, the composting process requires oxygen to take place, making it a good idea to air it out often. Use a hoe, fork or a pitchfork like the one in the picture.

How can you tell if it’s ready?

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile dirt compost

It normally takes around 4 to 6 months to produce your organic fertiliser (compost).
As for the amount, this depends on the absorbency of the materials used in the compost mix (the amount itself, whether it’s ground up or not, how often you mix it…).
As a guideline, you will produce around 20kg of compost for every 100kg of organic waste. Voila! Now you know how to make organic compost!

Things to consider throughout the composting process

1. The temperature

Due to the activity of the developing microorganisms, your compost will heat up to around 60°C. This temperature will usually decrease bit by bit. If not, then you need to check what the compost looks like:

• If it’s very dry: grey fungi may occur. To lower the temperature you should water the compost to return its required moisture level.
• If it has a strange smell or a greenish appearance: this means there is too much water in the compost. To counteract this, add more dry materials (branches, leaves, dry grass).

2. The microorganisms

  • Fresh or semi-mature compost

After reaching high temperatures or a peak of heat, wriggler worms will appear on top (they are pink with white rings). At this stage the compost is labelled fresh or semi-mature. It can be used for spreading on poor or sandy soils, or around plants.

  • Mature compost

Mature compost, like semi-mature compost, can be used to plant trees or bushes. Its main feature is its dark hue.

 

Composting techniques

There are three techniques you need to consider when learning how to make organic compost. The technique you choose will depend on the amount of space and time you can dedicate to it.

1. Composting in heaps

This consists of making a heap of soil fertiliser. This can be done if you have plenty of space (a large garden or vegetable patch/ orchard). Although this technique is similar to the layer technique explained above, here the layers overlap horizontally. This process is much faster.

2. Composting in silos

For this composting method, you need a large container, usually round or wooden, which you will cover in transparent plastic sheeting. One side is detachable, making it easy to monitor the composting process.

3. Composting directly in the ground

This makes the decomposition of waste go directly into the ground. You will deposit the waste in the soil where your crops will be planted, until decomposed. This is the easiest technique, requiring no extra work.

The Handy Mano manomano How to Make Organic Compost pile composter complete

Still got green fingers? Keep adding to your garden here: 

Garden Ideas on a Budget

Garden Design Ideas – Furniture Inspiration