Oct 282014
 


We’re always being told to eat more fruit and vegies and get more exercise with this diet or that exercise program. If the thought of donning the Lycra and heading to the gym has you reaching for the chocolate cake, what about green gym? Get out into your sustainable garden for your daily workout. Sustainable gardening is not only good for the planet; it’s good for your health. There are more and more people using their gardens and growing fruit and vegies to help manage chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Think about all the weeding, digging, mulching, planting, and raking you can do in your garden. Wow, what a workout. Not only that, your sustainable garden is a great mood booster, so it’s good for your mental health as well.

Make November your month to start your green gym in your patch! Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

With the weather warming up nicely, there’s no better place to be than the backyard. October is a huge month in the patch. With so many varieties to plant, you’ll be struggling to get it all done. So, welcome to October, a fine time to be in any sort of garden. Remember to use all your senses in the garden. Watch for pest issues, feel for soil moisture, smell your soil, and… most importantly… taste the fruits (or vegetables) of your labours. Let’s get into it… Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 
Leptospermum laevigatum

Leptospermum laevigatum

We see them on the roadsides: vigorous, long-flowering, hardy and a splash of colour against the grey-green foliage of the native species. They are weeds and it is their hardiness that makes them such a threat to endemic species. Environmental weeds invade native ecosystems and adversely affect indigenous flora and fauna. There are now more foreign plants in Australia than native ones: about 27,500 introduced plant species have made their way into the country, compared with 24,000 native species. Around ten per cent of the ‘invaders’ have become ‘naturalised’.

Environmental weeds were introduced as ornamental species for domestic gardens. They are survivors as they have relatively few natural diseases, insects or pests to control their populations, and can out-compete native species. Disturbed sites are havens for weed species as many thrive in poor soils and then smother existing native species. They can have significant health, economic, environmental and social impacts (Ragweed, Gorse, Rubber Vine and Salvinia, respectively). They also have larger environmental impacts such as degradation of water quality and increased risk of fire, loss of ecotourism opportunities, the costs associated with control, impacts on recreational activities and the landscape, and the reduction of biodiversity. Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

A lot of lawn (1024x768)

Each spring and early summer it is amazing how fast grass, weeds and lawns can grow. The combination of longer, warmer days and the occasional shower makes for ideal growing conditions, and there is always something to do in the garden.

For most of us, there will be the need to mow our lawns (if we have them) fortnightly, if not weekly, and if things have been a bit out of hand, we may even need to use a trimmer to cut back the weeds. You might begin to wonder if there is anything we can do to improve the situation? Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

Tine Grimston 33 (1024x534)

“My garden is chock-a-block with rescued plants, rescued pots & garden furniture, mirrors, birdcages, wheelbarrows, barrel hoops, ladders and all sorts of other bits and pieces. Not only do I collect treasures from the hard rubbish and Op shops. My friends and work colleagues donate things too. Some are used ‘as is’, others are tweaked, tarted up, assembled or arranged to make them more useful or display-worth.” So says Tine Grimston, from Rowville, Victoria.

As well as using recycled treasures, Tine tries to be sustainable in other ways. She is a participant in the local council’s Garden’s for Wildlife program and has fruit and nut trees, a veggie garden, water tanks, solar panels, indigenous and native plants and a pond. Continue reading »

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Sep 022014
 

Our recycling photo competition has produced an inspiring collection of ideas for giving old materials a second life in the garden! For some entrants, foraging local hard rubbish collections has become a very productive obsession. Several entrants have concentrated on creating works of art for both indoors and outdoors. Others have seen the potential of discarded materials to build structures for the garden and others have found another use for household items without needing to reconstruct them.

Making a decision about an absolute prize winner was impossible because of the fabulous creativity of all our entrants. So we have chosen winners in three categories i.e. art, constructions and repurposing. Even then, it was not easy to separate these categories from each other, so there was a tiny bit of overlap in some cases. So congratulations to all entrants and especially to the winners!

Art

Christine Noel What to do with a dead treeThe winning entry for artistic creation goes to Carolyn Noel for some amazing flowers made from old dishes.  At left, some enliven a dead tree. At right, are some “planted” in Christine Noel Upcycled glass flowersthe ground.

What a joy it must be to roam the garden in winter when these glass creations are happily blooming! Carolyn sent us many examples of her work saying “For many years I have been passionate about using what I have around the house and other people’s rubbish to improve my environment. I have recently retired from my work as a creative arts therapist and now spend much of my time in my shed making more adventurous works from roadside rubbish.” She hopes that our “readers are inspired to see rubbish in a whole new light”.

There were many beautiful pieces of work submitted to us by Carolyn and others, so we will feature a range of those in other web posts later in the year.

Wooster 1Repurposing

The most interesting repurposing endeavor was turning the barbie into a potting bench. It is almost as though this style of BBQ was designed for exactly that purpose in the first place. Congratulations to Kelly Wooster!

 

 

 

 

 

ConstructionNirvana compost 1

The prize for construction goes to Deborah Cantrill and Quentin Jones of Nirvana Organic Produce who have turned a freezer and cold room from a supermarket refit into several separate significant items. Along with panels from the walls there were racks and sliding Perspex lids.

The freezer panels were used for the walls of a series of 5 compost bays. Their inbuilt insulation keeps the compost warm and moist. The other materials used for this construction included used polypipe and timber from old pallets cut into thirds for the Cold frame coversfront removable panels.

Mini glass houseCovers for cold frames and a mini-glass house were created from the sliding lids.

Nirvana-racksWire racks were transformed to become plant protectors in the orchard, various barricades in the poultry pens, a sprouting bench for the chook yard, potting benches for the veggie garden, a tunnel house and,  as in the picture at right, gates.

A big “thank you” to all the other avid recyclers for sending us their innovative work!

More photos of recycling in the garden will be featured in other web posts later on and also on our Facebook page.

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Sep 012014
 

September is a fantastic time to be alive for us gardeners! The chill is almost gone from the mornings, and the afternoons are getting longer. Blossoms are bursting and you can smell spring in the air wherever you go. If you have been hibernating through winter now is the time to get out and into it. Read on for some fabulous September gardening advice for your area.

Continue reading »

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Sep 012014
 

IMG_0735 (1024x765)The hairy, dark green, finely toothed leaves are a real sign of winter. Although it is regarded as a weed by many and needs to be prevented from becoming invasive, I love this much maligned plant. It feeds the soil, plants, compost, hens and the humans in this household. It is an important component of my garden, and as Judith Collins says, it is valuable in any organic garden. This is because nettle is so nutritious, and beneficial to plant and human health. Continue reading »

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Aug 012014
 

IMG_0201 (1024x768)Can what we do in our gardens affect our ecological footprint? You bet it does, and we explore here just how.

Do you know what Australia’s ecological footprint is? It’s certainly bigger than that of India, Egypt, Finland or even the United Kingdom, but not greater than that of Canada or the USA. I’m sure you don’t need a reminder, but just in case, the ecological footprint is a measure of the area of land and water it takes to provide a person or population with the resources it uses. It includes productive land and water, that used for roads, cities and other infrastructure and the ecosytems that are required to deal with waste. So it is a measure of human demand on nature’s capacity – a measure of how the natural environment is affected by human impact.

The worldwide footprint is 1.7 of the earth, based on the most recent calculations by the Global Footprint Network, in 2010. That means that the world is consuming 1.7 times the earth’s capacity. Australia’s was 6.8 with the biggest component coming from grazing. So if the whole world was having the treating the environment in the same way as Australia, we’d need 6.8 earths to support us! Continue reading »

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Aug 012014
 

Cool clear nights, frosty mornings and plenty of rain can only mean one thing, it is August. Travelling around my home town I have already seen the first spring blossom and the jonquils are splashing the dull browns and greys with colour. Here are some top gardening tips for your place in the month of August.

Continue reading »

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