Laundry Liquid, Planting Leeks And Training ‘Cordon’ Tomatoes

It’s Friday already and I’m not sure where the week has gone to.

I started the week by making some of my homemade laundry liquid.  I’ve been using homemade laundry liquid to wash my clothes for quite some time now and it washes well and is so much cheaper than shop bought wash powders and liquids.  Infact, a few months ago I worked out that it cost me approximately £1.75 to make and I managed to get 71 washes out of it, which worked out to be a staggering 2.5p per wash. I challenge any of the supermarkets to beat that!


I really don’t know where I got the recipe for homemade laundry liquid from, it was somewhere on the net, so I can’t take any credit for it. As it’s been some time since I last wrote how to make it on my blog, I thought I would write the recipe again for anyone who didn’t see it the first time around.  It only takes about fifteen minutes to make, but I think it’s time well spent:


Laundry Liquid

1 cup of soap flakes

½ cup Soda Crystals (also known as washing soda)

½ Cup Borax (in the UK it is a substitute of borax which works well)

1 ½ litres of water


Put the above ingredients into a saucepan and heat, stirring until the soap flakes have dissolved.


Pour the mixture into a very large bucket and then add a further 8 litres of cold water.


Stir and then pour into containers, leaving space at the top so you can easily shake the container before you use it.


You only need approximately a quarter of a cup of washing liquid for each wash.


I use old plastic milk containers to store my liquid in. The recipe makes just over 10 litres of liquid which I found was enough for 71 washes.

One thing to remember is you won’t see lots of bubbles when it washes, but this doesn’t matter. Wash powders that you buy actually have bubbles added, not because they are needed, but because people think their clothes aren’t washing properly if they don’t see bubbles.




This week I removed most of my staging from my greenhouse, so I could put my tomatoes and cucumbers neatly, as it was getting a bit cramped in there.  I have four tomatoes called ‘Moneymaker’ and four of a heritage variety called ‘Wladecks’.  The heritage variety is a beefsteak tomato.  I also have two cucumber plants.

As the above plants grow, I tie them to the canes that I have put in the pots, to help support them.

Just in case you haven’t grown tomatoes before, it is very easy.  There are two different types of tomato, a ‘bush’ tomato and a ‘cordon’.

I am growing a’ cordon’ and it is trained up a support, by tying it to the support as it grows,   Also, side shoots will grow between the leaf stem and the main stem (called the leaf axil) and all you need to do is ‘pinch out’ the side shoots as they begin to grow (which means removing it by pinching it off using your thumb and finger nails).  There is a photograph of a side shoot below:


The only other thing to do is to feed your tomato plants regularly after you can see your first tiny tomato has formed and started to grow.  Also keep the plants well watered and you will have lovely tomatoes soon.



Planting Leeks

One of the jobs I did at my the allotment this week was to clear the kale that I left to flower for the bees, as it had just about finished flowering.  I put it all in my compost heap, as the thick stems will eventually rot down, though it does take quite some time.

SAM_6606 SAM_6608

I then dug the area over and raked in some blood, fish and bone, ready to plant my leeks.

I sowed the leeks back in January, so I was very careful not to drop them when I transported them to my plot (as I did with my sweetcorn last week).

My dad taught me how to transplant leeks and just in case you are reading this and you have never grown leeks before, I thought I would show you how I do it:

First I use a dibber to make a hole approximately 15cm deep.


Then I cut the end of the roots off each leek.  This was done in the past as it was thought to stimulate the roots into growth, but I have read that it doen’t really make a difference.  I still do this, simply because I find it helps to make it easier to push the leek into the hole that you have made with your dibber.


I push the leek into the hole I made with the dibber (sometimes it’s easier to twist the leek to get the roots to go down into the hole).


Plant the leeks 15cm apart, in rows 30cm apart.

You don’t need to backfill the hole with soil, just water each leek and let the water settle the soil around the roots.

I don’t do anything more to my leeks, except weed around them.  They sit happily over winter too.




Just to finish off with today, I thought I would show you my beautiful oriental poppies that have just begun to flower this year:


I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at approximately 4pm.

26 thoughts on “Laundry Liquid, Planting Leeks And Training ‘Cordon’ Tomatoes

  1. I don’t trim my leek roots – as you say it doesn’t seem to make any difference. I see you don’t trim the tops which also was an old way of doing things wasn’t it?
    Intriguing making soap liquid. What is it like on stains?

    • Yes trimming the tops was another old way which I don’t do lol. The laundry liquid washes well, but I haven’t tried it on stains as I always work the stains out before I wash.

      Have you put your leeks in yet Sue?

      • Not yet – they are still on our to do list but seem happy enough in the large pots at the moment. They’ll be going our shortly but we have some things that need to be planted first like French beans and squash. That was today’s job until the heavens opened and put paid to our plans..

  2. Interesting post ,as always ,lots of useful information. The weather has been a bit of a let down and the hungry slugs and snails seem to be coming out of the woodwork, their sole intent demolishing my starter vegetables. I’ve had a busy day baking- always nice on a damp day.One lemon cake,4 cheese scones,5 fruit scones done & a banana cake in as I write(as in your last weeks post! )My neighbour asked if I could do anything with 3 black bananas !Roll on some sun! Have a good week,
    C x

  3. I haven’t done leeks this year. I went straight to onions, because I seem to not use leeks…. I always mean to, but by the time I get round to grabbing them they are either going yellow or slimey!

  4. I have been wanting to make laundry liquid for a long while, where can you buy the ingredients? I am going to take out the staging in my greenhouse this weekend to get the tomatoes in, still so cold we need the sun! Have never grown leeks will be on my list for the allotment next year.

    • Hi Sue, I buy soda crystals and soap flakes from Wilkinsons (the bigger stores stock them) and I buy the substitute of borax from Ebay (I usually buy a few packs at a time to avoid extra postage).

      Leeks are great to grow as they sit in your soil all winter when there isn’t too much else to harvest. Yes, I wish we would have a little bit more sun too.

  5. Footnote to my comments above.Thanks for the reply .It’s nice that you answer your blog comments so quickly it makes for a friendly,chatty response. Yes ,the banana cake turned out so well,that I wanted to show it off!>I took it straight round to the neighbour (still warm)who gave me the black bananas! She said she was really pleased with it & so was her young grandson! I’d never used vanilla extract before in a banana cake, so I used your recipe instead of my usual one.

    • Hi Hannah. Cucumbers spawl over the ground naturally and can still be grown this way. The only problem with this is you sometimes end up with a lot of slug damage. Tradionally people train their cucumbers up canes, tying them up as they grow.

      Many varieties have both male and female flowers on the same plants. You will need to ‘pinch off’ the male flowers when they appear on these varieties to prevent the fruit from becoming bitter. The flowers are easy to tell apart – the female flower has a little cucumber behind it but the male doesn’t. Alternatively, you can now buy all female flower varieties.

      Hope that helps Hannah

  6. Hello, I am wanting to make the laundry mix, but cant find soap flakes or borax anywhere. Any ideas where I can go? Many thanks

  7. Hi, I’ve just made my first batch of laundry liquid using your recipe! I was so happy to find a UK recipe, thank you. I think it will need an extra boost in the stain department though (I have 4 kids aged under 8, so things get pretty messy). I’ve been researching natural homemade stain removers – do you make that too? Or is there something else that you do? Thanks a lot, I love your blog 🙂

    • Hi Clare, lovely to hear from you and thank you for your comments. Unfortunately it won’t get heavily stained clothes clean (only chemicals will do that). I read that you can add a tablespoon more of bi-carb into your draw when you have stains, but I have tried this and it doesn’t really get rid of the stains very well. I always work the stains out under cold water before I wash the clothes, using a little bit of washing up liquid….it always works for me. I used to do this with shop-bought powders before I made my own. It gets most things out, even grass stains and dried blood. You do have to work at it though, I use my nails to ‘rub’ the stain out. Hope this helps Clare.

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