Coco & Coir: Everything you need to know*

It’s been four and a half months since I first started my allotment adventure, and I’ve probably learnt more in those few months than I have in the last few years. So, its not surprising that I had no idea what coco peat was, or how it worked at all. However, when Coco & Coir offered to send me a 5kg block to test out I was intrigued. As my allotment is structured around raised beds I’ve been slowly but surely filling them one by one, so finding a sort of compost alternative was quite exciting. After a manic few weeks, I finally managed to open the packet one weekend and give it a go so that I could let you all know my thoughts!

Coco & Coir's coco peat back, gloves and drug

What is coco peat?

For starters, if you (like me) have no idea what this is, coco peat is made from the waste of coconut husks. It’s a sustainable alternative to peat moss.

A coco peat brick expanding after water addition

How do you use coco peat?

It’s a really simple product to use, and I found it fascinating to watch. Basically, you add the brick to a large tub and top off with water. For a 5kg block, 25l is the recommended amount of water to be added. I have a collapsable 5l water container for the allotment so this helped me to get the measurements right. I popped all of this into a 39l garden tub, and fairly quickly realised that it may have been a tiny bit too small, but everyday is a school day, right? It was such a lovely sunny day while I was doing all this, so I literally sat and watched the brick expand for a solid 20 minutes. Then I got my hands in to start fluffing it up, when what I already thought was a large quantity turned into an even larger amount. It feels lovely and soft, and much looser than the compost I’ve been buying. Unfortunately there isn’t any source of water at my allotment, and my 1000l water butt hasn’t been collecting all that much just yet, therefore I did this all at home in my garden – and popped my tub into the car for a little trip.

Reusable sainsburys bags and a tub as carrot planters

What are the benefits of coco peat?

The best thing about coco peat is its ability to retain moisture (even when it doesn’t feel wet) and nutrients. It stays light and airy too, which will help the root systems to grow freely and create a good support system below the surface. I love the fact it comes in such a compact brick, but creates a large yield. When buying bags of compost, there are only so many bags that fit in my little Clio, meaning pretty much every weekend sends me on a compost shopping trip – thankfully I’m not only two beds away from it being complete.

A seed tray filled with coco peat

How I’ll be using coco peat: seed trays

I first decided to test it out this compost alternative for my seed trays. Having recently expanded my seed collection to include flowers after a lovely lady on Instagram donated some beautiful varieties I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I did have to push the peat down quite a lot and top them up again to properly fill the trays just because it is so fluffy. Then I popped my seeds in and added a light dusting of coco over the top and popped a propagator lid on the tray for its new home on my windowsill. Within just two days three out of the eight varieties had sprouted, and after a week I had to repot a few of them because they’d reached the propagator lid. I’ve since potted these on to a coir and compost mix, and planted in some corn which is growing fantastically well – which reminds me, that needs potting on too… You can reuse coco peat time and time again, simply by removing the roots and applying a buffering solution; I’ve opted to just add the remaining coco peat into my beds for now, but next year I’ll definitely be making the most of this tactic for sowing my seeds.

A raised bed filled with coco coir and compost

How I’ll be using coco peat: coir & compost mix

Considering the quantity that the 5kg brick made, I initially wasn’t sure what to do with the rest, but I decided it could be a fantastic option for planting carrots as it’s very fine and light and having read Coco & Coir’s blog on how to grow vegetables in coco peat I thought it was worth a try. I opted for a 50/50 mix of coco peat to compost, as coco doesn’t have the nutrients in that the plants will need to thrive. I’ve also added in some plant feed to the soil, and will top the plants up with some liquid seaweed feed once they’re all settled in. Now I have a bed ready for tomatoes with the 50/50 mix, and the carrots have been sown into a box with plenty of drainage holes and old Sainsbury’s bags for life. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know that I definitely went a little OTT on the tomato front, with over 40 plants in total these are going to be split between two beds, one entirely filled with compost and the other will be my new hybrid mix. I’m interested to see how much of a difference it makes to the growing conditions, especially if we have the heat wave we had last year!

It’ll be a few months before I can see the results on this, but overall I so far love the coco peat and will definitely be ordering a few more bricks to mix in with the compost for moisture retention. I’ll keep you all updated on the progress (head to @diaryofaladygardener to see my day-to-day updates!) If you’re interested to try this out for yourself, you can order it online from Coco & Coir.

*This post has been sponsored by Coco & Coir, however, all the opinions are my own and I would only ever share a positive product review on things I have personally tried, tested and loved.

9 Things I Wish I’d Known About Paddleboarding

Just chilling on an inflatable paddle board

So, earlier this year I found a new love for sport in the form of paddleboarding after taking a lesson with my mum (you can read more about that here). A number of sessions later, here we are with boards of our very own, heading out on exciting adventures on as many weekends as possible and having the time of our lives (well, most of the time anyway). When I say most of the time, what I mean is that I have discovered the not-so-glamorous side of paddleboarding in recent weeks, and some things that no one seems to tell you before you get committed… Who can relate?

Continue reading “9 Things I Wish I’d Known About Paddleboarding”

Podcast LOVIN’

You are what you listen to

Having heard so much hype around podcasts from my best friend and a few others, I’ve tried a few times to get on the trend and failed as I couldn’t find anything that really held my attention and was of real interest. I love an audiobook, currently listening to Becoming Michelle Obama and am HOOKED, I love them because it’s easy listening and can help you to switch off and just relax. So, after heading out on a search for a podcast that would keep me listening I began with Fearne Cotton: Happy Place, and the rest is history. I’m obsessed. Although now I mainly listen to health-related topics, I’m slowly broadening my horizons and expanding my knowledge on all things.

I thought I’d share a few of my favourites…

When Life Gives You Melons with Maya Jama

When life gives you melons with Freya podcast

The game changer for me was finding ‘When life gives you melons’. I was drawn in by the fact that, as every other Millennial gal, I LOVE watermelons and so the podcast cover instantly inspired me to give it a listen. After binge-listening to the first series I was pretty sad when it got to the end. I loved the light-hearted chats, wide range of topics and general relatability of the topics. This is a podcast is ‘brought to you by’ Freya Lingerie (hence the name) and is hosted by Maya Jama and it’s just a fab female listen. My favourite episode so far was ‘Grown up mean girls’ and I can’t wait to hear the rest.

Blogosphere: Serious Influence

Blogosphere: serious influence podcast

I’ve followed Blogosphere on Twitter since I first started blogging more than a year ago and love to keep up with the latest (which reminds me, I still need to sign up to their magazine subscription!) I love reading their Twitter chats and am always excited to see the release of who is on the monthly cover, so I was thrilled to hear that they’d launched a podcast. This one I found particularly interesting as it blends the blogging world with the marketing/business side. Having been on both sides of the industry, I found their first episode, the pilot, fascinating to listen to other people’s opinion on where the past, present and future of influencers, it’s always a good morning when a fresh episode goes live.

Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad by ADWEEK

AdWeek, Yeah, that's probably an ad

This is the latest addition to my subscription list and is maybe slightly more niche than the rest as it’s all about advertising and marketing. However, as I have now worked in marketing for two and a half years, I find it to be a very interesting listen, of great inspiration for future campaigns and sometimes it even gives me a giggle. One of my favourite episodes (I’ve only listened to around 7/100) was talking about a number of KFC ads and included calming sounds of chicken frying and I honestly just found it hilarious.

Happy Place with Fearne Cotton

Happy Place by Ferne Cotton

Happy Place is a lovely listen and she’s had a great range of celeb guests on the show, my favourite has been Gok Wan as I love listening to him talk about his struggles and body positivity as a whole. This podcast is often lighthearted, but also touches upon topics such as mental health, dealing with death and the pressures of everyday life.

Wellness with Liz Earle

Wellness with Liz Earle podcast

As a massive fan of Liz Earle products, the hot cloth cleanser is the most life changing product I’ve ever purchased, I was very interested to listen to her podcast. I love that the topics range from not just skincare, but to all around wellbeing, from gut problems and celulite to mental health and the beauty industry. With a different expert every week, I’ve learnt so much more about the body and all its magical parts and find each episode fascinating. Also, Liz is so down to earth and relatable and I think it’s so lovely to be able to get to know the people behind the brand a little more – it’s part of the reason I’m still completely in love with Spectrum brushes!

Bake Off, Undressed

Bake Off Undressed Podcast

This one is very light hearted and a little silly, basically talking all things Bake Off the morning after. It’s by a man called ‘The Toples Baker’ who I’d genuinly never heard of until now, but he is very funny and clearly has a baking passion and a fab sense of humour. Bake Off, Undressed is such an easy listen and has me laughing with every episode. I’ve also found some of the guests to be very interesting, particularly those of previous Bake Off contestants as I LOVE hearing about what goes on behind the scenes.

To be continued…

I plan to add to this piece on a regular basis whenever I find a new interesting listen. The podcasts on my ‘To Listen’ list at the moment include:

Ethical Hour, again something I’ve followed on Twitter and Facebook for a long time and am always interested to learn more about ethical and sustainable living.

My Dad Wrote a Porno, this has been recommended to me by SO many people. I’ve heard it’s a laugh out loud listen that will keep you entertained for hours.

If you have any recommendations and suggestion, please feel free to pop them in the comments or let me know on social media!

 

Makeup Brush Cleaning Guide

A dirty set of spectrum collections brushes

Cleaning makeup brushes is probably one of my least favourite activities and I do it far less often than I really should. For years I’ve been talking about how someone should set up a makeup laundrette as it would be a game-changer for most gals. I’d love to set it up myself (despite my hate for actually doing it) but I’ve not yet figured out the logistics of quick turnaround times, insurance and all the rest of it, but maybe one day! Anyway, the point of this blog wasn’t to sell my business idea (Dragon’s Den I’m coming for ya), but to talk about how I clean my brushes in the most effective way I have found so far, without any technical tools or fancy products. Here goes… Continue reading “Makeup Brush Cleaning Guide”

Cloud 9 Hairdryer Review: The Airshot

The Airshot from Cloud 9

For Christmas last year I was very lucky to have been gifted a Cloud 9 The Airshot hairdryer from my mum. Although I wasn’t in desperate need of a hairdryer (or at least I didn’t think I was), I was very happy to be swapping my 5+-year-old hairdryer for something newer. My sister has a set of Cloud 9 hair straighteners, and I love them, they’re the same kind of quality that I’d expect from GHD’s and look lovely, so I was excited to try out this new hairdryer! I’ve had this review half-written for a number of months now, but after two of my friends asked for my honest thoughts on this product, I thought that it was about time that I finished it up!

Continue reading “Cloud 9 Hairdryer Review: The Airshot”

A Brick-tastic Trip: LEGOLAND Windsor Review

giant LEGOLAND brick

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to a mid-week break to LEGOLAND with my boyfriend and his little boy. Having never been before, I was genuinely buzzing to go, especially as we were staying in one of the LEGOLAND hotels and the weather was B E A U T I F U L that week. Here’s what we got up to on our little trip and what I thought of the theme park.

Continue reading “A Brick-tastic Trip: LEGOLAND Windsor Review”

Stand Up Paddleboarding with Croyde Surf Academy

Two SUP boards by a lake in Knowle

For Mother’s Day earlier in the year, my brother, sister and I had clubbed together to buy a stand up paddle boarding (SUP) lesson, and I’ve been on the search for a new hobby (alongside Geocaching)  so decided that I would accompany her! With this weekend bringing the glorious sunshine to Devon, heading out to explore some of the beautiful countryside was an absolute must. So, we booked in for our 2-½ hour lesson with Croyde Surf Academy! Want to know how we got on? Read on…    Continue reading “Stand Up Paddleboarding with Croyde Surf Academy”

Dior Forever Undercover Foundation Review

Dior Foundation Cover Image

Having been on the hunt for the perfect foundation for almost 10-years now, I decided to splurge on something a little more high-end. If you’ve read my Holy-Grail Beauty Products blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the Rimmel foundations, and they’re my number one go-to brand for foundations. I have tried a few slightly pricier products over the years such as the Liz Earle Signature Foundation, and Benefit Oxygen WOW, but have never felt that they warranted the £20+ price tag. Yes, they are good, but they are at the same level as my £8.99 Rimmel foundations too.

Continue reading “Dior Forever Undercover Foundation Review”

7 Days in Dubrovnik: A Week in Series

7-Days in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Croatian city of Dubrovnik has long drawn visitors from all over the globe to explore the area’s extensive history and enticing beauty, and is, in fact, amongst the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea! Regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, the baroque buildings, limestone streets and clear blue waters leave little more to be desired. Whether you’ve never visited before or are visiting for the hundredth time, there will always be something new to discover. Here’s my itinerary for a 7-day trip to this stunning location to make the most of your time staying in Dubrovnik. Continue reading “7 Days in Dubrovnik: A Week in Series”