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GARDENING TIPS FOR JULY

Gardening

July is not really a planting month for vegetables, but you can still plant :

– Beetroot seeds
– Cape Gooseberry seeds in seed trays
– Cauliflower seeds
-Celery seeds
– Mint seeds
– Mustard greens/Cress seeds
– Pea seeds
– Potatoes
– Radish seeds
– Shallot seedlings
– Swedes/Rutabagas seeds
– Tomato seedlings
– Turnip seeds

GARDENING TIPS

Now is a good time to start planning your summer garden early in the month so you have enough time to source and purchase open pollinated seeds for early sowing.

Carry out soil tests, particularly on land where growth for one or more seasons has been poor. Here is a link to understand soil tests.

After winter crops have been removed, dig the ground well over and incorporate dressings of organic matter.

Broad beans can be side dressed, earthed up and given support with string or wire if required

Apple trees and grapevines can be pruned to ensure healthy growth.

In mild conditions, tomatoes can be sowed in seed boxes.

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ZERO WASTE TIP OF THE MONTH

UPCYCLING WINE CORKS AND PICTURE FRAMES

Corks are biodegradable but surely they can have a greater purpose rather than just going into the compost bin or sawdust eco toilet. I was absolutely right. They can be made into many things, one of them being a cork board to stick up notices, shopping lists,goals, bills and reminders.

You can use an old picture frame where the glass has been broken or you can make your own.

What you will need:

A glue gun with glue or glue applied using a brush or squeeze bottle
A collection of used old wine corks saved after parties, braais, get togethers and restuarant outings 🙂
An old picture frame where the glass broke or a frame made from pieces of wood bought from the hardware store or salvaged from an old building site or your community
Clear finishing coat.
Paint (optional)
Serated knife to cut corks

Some Tips

The wine smell on the cork will fade with time but if it bothers you, you can soak them in 10:1 water and vinegar solution and leave out to dry or you can leave them in the sun for a day.
If some of the corks have loose ends from corkscrews, you can break them off or cut them with a serated knife so they have a clean finish.

HOW TO MAKE THE CORKBOARD

If you don’t have an old picture frame, you can buy plywood or pine or any sustainable wood from the hardware store. If you know your neighbours or community, you can find old scraps of wood to use instead of buying wood. You will need to make the backing to a square or retangle size of your choice. Cut the wood to fit around the backing as a frame and join together with wood glue. Use clamps or weights to help the pieces stick together and for the glue to set overnight.

You can paint or varnish the frame for it to suit your current decor but this is optional.

Pick a pattern for your cork board. You can use our pictures to inspire you 🙂

Glue the corks onto the backing in the pattern you desire. You can cut the corks to fit along the edging of the frame.

Spray the frame with a clear varnish/epoxy/paint to create a finished look (optional)
You are now ready to hang your corkboard.

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UNICORN CAFE HAS A SEED LIBRARY!

Once upon a time,

there was an unhappy women driving home from work. Her name was Hilda. It was late and dark in the evening. Her feet were freezing and the heater in her rusty car didn’t work. She worked long hours and her boss was a mean, demanding man who always told her that he wanted ‘his pound of flesh’ when he wanted her to work late with no overtime pay.

She felt hopeless because she didn’t know how to change her circumstances. She was mentally and physically exhausted and there was not much room in her heart left for extra care.

She didn’t earn very much and could’t afford to fill a basket let alone a trolley when she did her weekly grocery shopping.

One day, she was weeping on the couch and drinking cheap red box wine. Her elderly tortoise-shell cat ,she rescued 8 years ago, sat on her lap and tried to comfort her in his own way by purring and pressing his paws against her in a kneading fashion. He was soft and calm in times like these. Hilda felt grateful for his company and concern.

She heard a knock at the door.

She was too tired for anything and ignored the knocking. The visitor knocked again. This time, the knocking was louder and sounded more determined. She got up and opened the door, and there was a familiar face. It was the neighbour she bumped into occasionally in the road, and also at the local grocery store. Her name from Saffron.

Saffron was holding a big box under her arm and asked if she could come in. Hilda, embarrassed that she was in her pajamas with slippers that were falling apart and a messy house, opened the door for Hilda to come in.

Saffron noticed that Hilda had been crying and drinking alone but decided not to ask about it. Instead, she proudly announced to Hilda that she had opened a seed library. Hilda looked confused.

 

Saffron enthusiastically explained that a seed library works just like a book library.

You can choose what seeds to borrow, just like you would choose a book that sparks your interest at the library. You borrow the seeds and the library makes a record of what seeds they are. Once the seeds are withdrawn, the lender goes home or to a community garden, to grow the seeds. Once the vegetables or flowers have grown, some are harvested for personal use and some vegetables are left to grow longer. These vegetables that grow longer eventually make flowers and then seeds. The seeds are then collected and dried. The dried seeds are split into two. A small portion goes back to the seed library and the rest can be kept to grow food during the next growing season.

This was all very new to Hilda and without realising it, she started shaking her head. She didn’t have a big garden which was full of overgrown weeds and uncut grass anyway. She explained to Saffron that she didn’t know about gardening and that she didn’t have any space.

 

Saffron placed the box on the coffee table and opened it.

Inside were lots of small brown envelopes with hand written labels and inside those envelopes were various seeds. Saffron put on her pink glasses that were hanging around her neck and flipped through the little brown envelopes. She picked three out after squinting her eyes at some of the labels.

“I tell you what, Hilda!” she said. “Here are some spinach seeds, they grow in almost anything. I see you have a few pots lying around your stoep with dead plants in them. Try growing some tomatoes and peppers in them. They do well in pots.”
Hilda responded with “Um…” but Saffron interrupted her and said, “Just try it Hilda, it will be good for you. Imagine! If you can grow these easy vegetables, you will never have to buy them again. Gardening is good for the soul!” She wanted to say that it looked like Hilda could do with some therapy and get off the couch but she decided not to. That would be unkind and would do no help in this situation.

 

Hilda shrugged and accepted the seeds.

Saffron made a few notes in her scrappy book filled with dog ears and coffee stains and suddenly declared that she was late and had to hurry home.
She shut her box abruptly with a loud slam and put it back under her arm. Saffron gave Hilda a firm one armed hug. Hilda almost fell over but managed to regain her balance.
Saffron was out of the door in less than two seconds and Hilda went to the threshold to call “Bye” to Saffron. “Thank you”, she yelled just before Saffron slammed her car door, started the ignition and sped off.

Hilda imagined Saffron on a broom stick with a pointy black hat and then chuckled to herself. Maybe she had too much wine. She caught her reflection in the picture frame on the wall and noticed her teeth were red. How embarrassing, she thought and then went to pour another glass of wine.

A month went by and Hilda left the seeds on the coffee table.

She saw them everyday. About 2 months later, while Hilda was cleaning the house on a sunny Saturday morning, she looked at the seeds which were still lying on the coffee table. She felt a little irritated that they were still there and decided to plant the seeds.

Two weeks later, after locking the front door and rushing to the car, she noticed small seedlings in the ground. She took a few steps back to examine them.
A flicker of excitement lit up in her heart and she felt maternal over the tiny two leaved plants that had poked up through the ground. Some still had seed shells attached to them. It was like a new birth.

She stared at the seedlings in wonder for about a minute and then realised once again that she was late for work. She thought about her new plants during the day and couldn’t wait to get home to see if they grew some more while she was working at the office.

Hilda looked after her new plants and sent Saffron pictures to show her progress.

Saffron replied with messages of encouragement which were cluttered with emoticons.
With Saffron’s guidance, Hilda left some plants to seed and harvested them. She returned a portion back to Saffron’s seed library and kept the rest for herself.

Hilda found therapy in her gardening. The care and love she put into it was meditative and it gave her a sense of peace. She realised how much more delicious her vegetables were than those that were sold at the grocery store.

Two years later, Hilda had a thriving vegetable patch. She started vertical gardening and sold strawberries at the local farmers market. Her strawberries were so popular that she started hosting workshops on growing strawberries in urban spaces. She no longer had to work in a boring and uncomfortable office for a stressful boss.

Hilda was happier

and felt like she was doing her part for the environment by recycling her kitchen scraps into compost and growing her own food.

If you would like to borrow some seeds, contact us. We would love to share them with you. We also welcome heirloom seed contributions too.
For more information about why we wrote this story, click here to read our previous blog about seed biodiversity and here about home food gardening. I recommend watching the movie SEED The Untold Story by Collective Eye Films.

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Vegan Lasagna Recipe

Vegan comfort food

Why Vegan Lasagna?

Read on for a delicious vegan lasagna recipe. It is cold, in fact, there are times that I feel as though my bones are about to freeze and snap. With the rain slapping against the window panes and the garden turning into a dam and drowning the trees, one needs a double helping of comfort food. When I think of comfort food, I think of stew, bean curry or lasagna.
Lasagna for July it is! Credit goes to Melissa from Cilantro and Citronella where there are many other lovely vegan recipes. This recipe has been slightly adapted.

Ingredients

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
600 grams button mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
400 grams spinach
2 teaspoons salt, divided
Pepper, to taste
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened plant milk (I used soy)
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable stock
½ cup (75 grams) flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 cups (700 ml / about a jar and a half) marinara sauce
Lasagna (egg free) sheets

 

Method

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the onion and garlic and fry until soft.
Add the mushrooms and fry until browned (work in batches if they don’t all fit in your pan at once).
Add the carrot and zucchini and fry a couple more minutes until soft.
Finally add the spinach and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 200° C.
Combine the plant milk and stock in a bowl.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil to a pan over medium heat and sift in the flour.
Stir well.
Cook for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the flour begins to brown and gives off a nutty smell.
Add one ladle of the plant milk-stock mixture and whisk really well until evaporated.
Continue adding the liquid one ladle at a time and always stirring until you get a creamy sauce.
If you’re unlucky and get some lumps, pass the sauce through a fine mesh strainer.
Finally, stir in the nutritional yeast and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
In a 28 x 18 x 5 cm (11 x 7 x 2 inch) baking pan, place a layer of marinara sauce, followed by a layer of the béchamel, followed by a layer of lasagna noodles (I put the pasta sheets in uncooked) . Then another layer of marinara, half of your veggie filling, the béchamel and more noodles.
Continue with more layers.
Finish the top with a layer of marinara and a layer of béchamel.
Mix them together a bit so that the colour looks more like cheese.
Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Then uncover and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the top begins to brown in places and looks like cheese.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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BREAK FREE FROM PLASTIC

Save the world from plastic

HISTORY OF PLASTIC

Plastic has been around since the late eighteen hundreds and these invented substances have been called plastics because of their plasticity. Plasticity means that these materials can be molded and stretched into something. It is an ambitious task to research and study plastics. Instead of baffling you with poly this and poly that and academic level science talk, I decided to give you some background to plastics in the form of compelling videos.

These videos will give you a brief history, and tell you how they are made and also what happens to plastic in various situations.  I attached the videos because they are far more appealing to what I could write, which may send you into a glassy-eyed slumber of boredom.

MORE HISTORY AND HOW PLASTIC IS MADE

 

 

HOW TO AVOID PLASTIC

Now you know what plastic is and that we should avoid it. I can’t help but feel proud to say that we retired our kitchen rubbish bin. Yes, there is no rubbish bin in our home. There are other things though, like ecobricks and recycling containers, and I am happy to share some tips, tricks and solutions to help you on your journey to deplastify your life!

Avoiding plastic
Deplastify your life

This lovely picture is great head start. I suggest printing it and sticking it on the fridge or where you will see it often. It’s also a good idea to take a snapshot and save it as your phone’s background for a while until you get the hang of it.

 

JOINING THE MOVEMENT AND DOING YOUR PART

More information can be found from Plastic Free July.
Another link to  more information can be found here from Two Oceans Aquarium who have launched the #ReThinkTheBag Campaign.
Let’s do It are going global on cleaning up the planet on World Clean Up Day on the 15th of September. Download their World Clean Up Day App to map polluted hot spots and add to their world wide data. This data will aid communities to pick places to clean on World Clean Up Day.

SUCCESSFUL PLACES THAT HAVE BANNED PLASTIC BAGS

Did you know that Greyton in South Africa has gone plastic bag free? They are officially the first and most noteworthy town in South Africa to ban the plastic bag. Whoop whoop Greyton!

Who else have done this?
Bangladesh (March 2002)
Taiwan (January 2003)
Bhutan (June 2005)
Tanzania (2006)
San Francisco (March 2007)
China (January 2008)
Delhi (January 2009)
Mumbai (January 2010)
Maldives-Baa Atoll (2009)
Philippines (January 2011)
Italy (January 2011)
United Arab Emirates (January 2012/13)

There is a petition to ban the plastic bag in South Africa fir the reason that many South Africans don’t discard plastic properly. Add your name to this petition by clicking here.

A #BreakFreeFromPlastic Campaign has been launched by Greenpeace because plastic has such a negative impact on the environment. Their Cape Town volunteer group are looking for more volunteers to help them raise consumer awareness and clean the Black River. To step up as a volunteer, you can email info@unicorncafe.co.za. Communal service is a great way to gain experience and knowledge because you learn so much from working with different people and implementing projects. If you are looking for a job or want to build your CV, adding community work is attractive to the employer because it shows that you are a team player and care about social or environmental issues. Doing community work certainly also shows that you have initiative and a ‘can do’ attitude which puts you above other applicants. To find out more about why volunteering and community service helps you, click here.

Finally, ecobricking is a great way to contain plastic that you cannot avoid. Click here for more information.

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July 2018 Introduction

Hello Unicorns!

History on July

Julius Caesar

On the 15th of March 44 BCE, the senators of Rom assassinated Julius Caesar because Ceasar’s elevated dictatorship sparked anger in elites. These elites conspired against him.  After Julius’ death, the Roman senate renamed the month Quintilus, meaning 5th monht, to Lulius. July replaces Lulius.

Why was Quintilis known as the fifth month when we all know it is the 7th month of the year? Well, that is because the winter months were not counted in the Roman calendar. They were like a big gap in the year and March was the first month. This was in the Northern hemisphere. Under Julius Caesar’s rule, the Roman calendar then became the Julian calendar to align the calendar with the seasons.

POPE GREGORY VIII

Finally, in October 1582, Pope Gregory XIII adjusted the calendar and this is the calendar we still use today. This new Gregorian calendar accounted for leap years and the term ‘Anno Domini’ (AD) meaning year of our lord was introduced at that time.

In today’s times, before the common/current era (BCE) and common/current era (CE) is the preferred use by academics, non-Christians and those who respect biodiversity.

July Currently

Mandela Day

July in 2018 is proving to be quite an influential month of the year. Firstly, because we celebrate Mandela day on the 18th of July. People like you, dedicate 67 minutes of time to community service on Mandela Day. Mandela Day is a call to action emphasizing that the individual has the power to make an impact to transform the world to a better place. Positive change is made by wonderful events out there and we can also experience the gratification that volunteer work provides. Find an activity that calls to you by scrolling down to our events calendar.

 

PLASTIC FREE JULY

 

Secondly, ‘Plastic Free July‘  is a global movement to dramatically reducing use of plastic and improving recycling.  Citizens all over the world are called to address one of the biggest environmental issues we are facing now. Plastic is a massive issue we are facing in the Holocene Extinction period and this is why we are now refusing plastic in July and trying to go plastic free.

I will expand a bit about the global movement, #BreakFreeFromPlastic in this newsletter.

Business Update

Unicorn Cafe is using the services of a business coach to help us achieve our dreams of opening a zero waste store. Our business plan is being refined and all our numbers and books are being brought up to date because we hope to find an investor.

 

Yours in creating a regenerative community
The Unicorn Cafe Team

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Zero Waste Tip for June 2018

zero waste
MAKING BIODEGRADABLE WET WIPES

A very special lady, Avril Powrie, shared this marveloous recipe for making your own wet wipes.

What you will need:
A rol of kitchen paper towels cut in half
200ml boiled water that has cooled down
1 teaspoon biodegradable shower gel
2 teaspoons aloe vera juice
1 teaspoon almond/grapeseed/olive oil
5 drops tea tree oil
5 drops of essential oil of your choice
1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar

Use a container that will fit the roll comfortabley – a 1 litre yoghurt container works.
Mix all the ingredients in the container, then insert the cut in half paper towel roll.
Invert for a few minutes until everything is soaked through
Open and extract the cardboard core and voila! you have home made wetwipes without the plastic in the fibres.
Cut an X in the lid and pull the roll from the inside out through the x cutting
Feel free to play around with your own ingredients to find out what suits you.

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ECOSIA – MAKING EARTH BETTER EFFORTLESSY

In a world where it costs money merely to exist, it is easy to see how greed often drowns out ethics. To live in a way that is completely harmonious with the environment is extremely daunting to a person who was raised in the coventional western world. Ecosia has a solution.

Often, when we think about the consequences of our actions, we become remarkably overwhelmed that many people give up before they have even begun to change anything. I get it. It’s taken me 38 long years to get where I am and I’m not even nearly as environmentally friendly as I want to be. It’s a long journey but everything starts with a single step.

I want to stress here that it is better to make small manageable changes than do nothing at all. Start slowly and start easy and over time, you can add small changes into your daily routine.

Maybe you don’t recycle yet for whatever reason, or you just aren’t ready to change your diet or perhaps you cannot avoid plastic bags right now – we understand that making changes can be like swimming against the tide.

If we may suggest one small change, it will be using Ecosia as your search engine.

Using Ecosia as your search engine is like picking low hanging fruit from the environmentally conscious tree. If you were going to Google something, try using Ecosia instead to search. You are going to search anyway so all you are doing is using different software which costs you nothing.

So why is this worth mentioning?

Ecosia uses 80% of it’s profits to donate to organisations that plant trees. With the world in threat of desertification, this is an important undertaking that our planet needs.

When you search with Ecosia, you can see how many trees they have planted and you can also see how many trees Ecosia have planted based on your actions alone. Check the top right hand corner of your Ecosia browser. You can download the app to your mobile phone or you can add the extension to your chrome browser. At the time of writing this, Ecosia have planted a colossal twenty-nine million, one hundred and forty-six thousand,five hundred and thirteen trees. (29,146,513)

Go to www.ecosia.org to search for whatever you want. It’s that easy.
The video below will give information on how Ecosia works in one minute and 46 seconds.

Enjoy! It feels good to be part of something exceptional.

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Enchantrix Beauty Without Cruelty Approved Products

Enchantrix is a range of organic personal and home care products made with care and respect for the planet and its inhabitants.
These products are strictly formulated according to eco-cert France’s standards, but not officially certified.
Enchantrix products are not tested on animals, and with the exception of beeswax used in the Baby’s Bum Balm, do not contain any animal ingredients. These toiletries are endorsed by Beauty without Cruelty and classified as Vegan, except for the Baby’s Bum Balm which Unicorn Cafe does not supply.  Products are made locally, using locally produced, organic ingredients as far as possible and contain no harmful chemicals such as sodium lauryl / laureth sulphate, parabens or petrochemicals
These wonderful products are 100% biodegradable which is perfect when a grey water system is in place to water food plants.

Enchantrix
Enchantrix

Enchantrix products are pH balanced.

To order, click here.