Monday, April 25, 2011

Sprouting Seeds for Live Food

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Sprouting seeds for live food is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals: they have been described as the most living pure food imaginable”.

They are cheap and easy to grow even if you don’t own so much as a window box, and if you buy them ready sprouted then you can be sure that they are organic, produced without trace of fertilizer or pesticide.

When you sprout beans or seeds, what you produce is an enormously enhanced package of nutrients already present in the original seed. This can include the full range of vitamins and minerals, plus a powerhouse of plant enzymes, which are at their most abundant in the early sprouting stage, truthfully, what, could be easier than sprouting seeds for live food

Plant enzymes are thought to activate the body’s own enzyme systems and boost the ability to metabolize fats and oils.

Source: sprouts and chickpea salad

One researcher found when sprouting seeds for live food vitamin levels of B2 in Oats rose by 1,300% almost as soon as they began sprouting, and by the time green leaves formed, the increase was 2000%.
Also, B6 was up 500% and Folic acid 600%. In one study, only small amounts of vitamin C was found in unsprouted wheat grains, and this increased by 600% while sprouting over the next few days.

Their wealth of 100% super nutrition, free of chemical pollutions, sprouts make an obvious choice for the unwell and cancer patients. Sprouting seeds for live food are used extensively at many clinics practicing the natural approach to cancer, and are valuable for anyone anxious to boost their immune defences and for all conditions needing first class nutrition.

Sprouts are cheap, easily accessible and an unpolluted source of vitamin C, a little protein, trace elements and B group vitamins. They are also a true organic food, since they are grown on your very own windowsill, without chemicals.

Freshly home grown sprouts haven’t been processed stored or packaged, you can grow them any day of the year- whatever the weather, and can harvest them fresh to eat just days later.
They don’t need cooking, cleaning or preparing, just the daily rinse cycle.
Live sprouts are perfect for the sandwich bag, toss them in a salad or eat them as a vegetable. Mung Beans are the classic Chinese bean sprout; children love growing Mustard and cress; you can experiment with all the others.

Caution: When sprouting seeds for live food buy your seed and grains for sprouting from a reliable source which can guarantee them free from Fungicides.

"Which seeds should I sprout when sprouting seeds for live food"?

Sprouting seeds for live food can be produced and grown in a variety of ways. Seeds and beans which can be successfully sprouted are.

Aduki beanMung beansSoya beansAlfalfaSesameFenugreekBarleyWheat grainsChick PeasLentils

Purchase these from a health food shop preferably organic.  You can purchase special kits for sprouting or large jam jars with some type of cloth that allows the water to drain and the sprouts to drain freely.  Secure the cloth with a rubber band to hold in place.

Pick over seeds to remove damaged ones when sprouting seeds for live food then put to soak in tepid water for up to twelve hours.  Then drain and wash the seed 2 to 3 times a day, and stand in a warm place away from direct sunlight.

Most sprouts will be ready in two to six days; they should still be green, young and tender when you harvest them.

Source: Salad Sandwich and Alfalfa Sprouts

More and more supermarkets are now selling sprouted seeds with Mung Beans and Alfalfa being the most popular. If your local supermarket does not supply fresh sprouted seeds write a letter to the manager asking if they could extend their range.

The Sprouting Mung Beans is easy, tasty and Mung Bean sprouts are packed full of vitamins, minerals and protein.

The Mung Bean is used throughout most of Asia, Including India, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh to name a few.
Actually Mung Bean is so popular now that it is eaten all around the world and this is due to its great taste and healthy characteristics.

Sprouting the Mung bean at home or purchasing Mung beans already pre-sprouted is a fantastic way to receive the vitamin intake below. One of the main reasons the Mung Bean sprout is becoming so popular is because it is possibly the closest way to consume live fresh food when sprouting seeds for live food.

Living food provides optimum nutrition because the vitamin content hasn’t been lost from sitting on the kitchen shelf.

Go and download this ebook today. Use the link on your left! Source: Sprouted Seeds E-book (Free)

Visit these great websites!

Sprouting Mung Beans

Eco Urban Sustainability Video Newsletter addition Growing Sprouts. Visit today and download the free E-book and view a wide range of videos all about growing sprouts at tome!

The Mung Bean Sprout could possible be the most popular sprouts when sprouting seeds for live food!

The Mung bean is added to wide range recipes and even made into a flower, but sprouting the bean is probably the most common way to consume this nutritious food in the western world.

Many like to add sprouts to salads, sandwiches or even on top of certain meals, and the Mung Bean Sprout is no exception, and truthfully the whole Sprouting Mung Beans process is very simple, and take approximately 3-5 days!

There is a variety of ways to sprout the Mung Bean and this always involves a strainer and water. Did you know that all you need to sprout any seed is water and warmth?
Here is a general guide about growing and harvesting the Mung Bean Sprout
You will need

Sprouting kit or a jar with straining lid, any type of mesh held down with a rubber band will work.2. Mung Bean seeds

Nice warm position away from direct light.Preferably filtered water, but this is not always needed (up to you)Some patience as it takes 3-5 days for the sprouts to start producing.Fill the container or jar with one third of water and place in two large spoonfuls of Mung Bean seedsYou will need to wash and strain the beans well to remove all the dust.Soak the beans overnight, twelve hours and then rinse them really well by removing all the water.

Do this at least 3 times. Once the rinsing is complete turn the container upside down and let the beans sit in the jar. They would have already absorbed enough water overnight to start sprouting. You may also want to place a paper towel underneath to catch any drips.It is also best to turn the jar on an angle so the air can reach through the jar and sprouts; this will stop the beans from becoming sour.

Try to avoid the sprouts bunching up or compacting, this way more air can reach each individual Mung bean You will need to repeat this process twice a day, morning and evening until you feel that the Mung Bean sprouts are ready to eat. You will find by day 5 the sprouts have filled the whole jar and look super yummy!After sprouting Mung Beans store your Mung Bean Sprouts in the fridge for up to a week and start prepare for your next crop.

Who knows you may even want to try Alfalfa sprouts next?

Happy Sprouting


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Miniature Citrus Trees

Citrus Species

Origin: East Asia

Botany: All the Citrus species including the cultivator are evergreen and woody, with leathery leaves, yellow scented flowers and orange or yellow fruits.

There are many cultivars available and new ones coming into creation every year. Below I have provided a list of some of the more popular species available today.

Meyer lemon (C. Limon)

Mandarin (C.reticulata)

Tahitian Lime (C. Aurantifolia)

These are all grown on the dwarf root stock. The most popular of the rootstocks being (trifoliata)

Varieties of Miniature Citrus Trees

Most of the lemon varieties are too large except for the hardy “Meyer”. The Meyer is also one of the coldest tolerant of the species.

The “Lemonade Citrus Tree” style tree bears a very sweet lemon, thus giving it the name Lemonade tree! Other species available are!

Mandarin – imperial. Emperor, Ellendale and Kara. Please keep in mind all the new species coming into market. Enquire at the local nursery which miniature citrus trees would suit your garden.

West Indian and Mexican varieties are generally unsuitable for container plantings.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Potted Vegetable Garden

Welcome to the Potted Vegetable Garden!

Container vegetable gardening is really starting to come into its own, as more people in with small space gardens coming on board wanting to grow their very own fruits, vegetable and herbs.

"If you are one of those people? Then good on you for making the first step towards creating a successful container garden that produces an abundance of healthy nutritious food."

You have come to the right place!

Creating a productive container food garden need not be back breaking work. When done correctly is simple, productive and darn right fun.

My four year old daughter loves it. (View photo below)

Yes, it can be for all the family who want to get involved and what better way to start than a Potted Vegetable Garden

The fantastic news is that most fruits, veggies and herbs can be grown in pots and containers; some can even be grown indoors or on a windowsill.

You can even grow varieties of fruit trees such as (miniature citrus trees)

In fact for vigorous growers such as Mints it’s practically a necessity to grow them in pots or containers.

Popular Veggies to Grow In Containers

Popular Herbs

Of course there are many more, but the list would go on forever.

You could also consider other plants in your potted vegetable garden such as Cucumber and Pumpkins but you would need to support them on a trellis or something similar.

As a rule of thumb, use plants that tolerate transplanting, especially those that you will be buying from nurseries or your local market. If the plants you want to grow do not transplant well, then direct seeding is your preferred method.

The type of soil for a potting mix is not soil at all.  Soil is too dense for containers and does not provide the correct drainage or aeration.

Growing mediums are generally organic mediums that can hold roots, retain moisture nutrients and drain well.  In general the mix contains no nutritional value in itself, but is added.

Top rated growing mediums contain a mixture of sawdust, wood chips, peat-moss and vermiculite. 

I would stay away from peat-moss as this is a non renewable recourse

Worms farms are great way to produce your own fertilizers for your Potted Vegetable Garden

You can make your very own organic potting mix using the materials as above, or if finding this material hard to come by, you can use a mixture of Vermiculite and well rotted compost.

Top it up with one third sand for drainage and one third composted bark and mix in well.

If you are making your own potting mix for your Potted Vegetable Garden then you may want to add water crystals for water storage.  Avoid the crystals with added nutrients as these are generally not organic.


Food 4 wealth is a fantastic popular E-book that provides absolutely everything you need to know about growing fresh organic food without the problems.

This E-book has been created to help you step by step with great content and associated video

Check it out for yourself today, by clicking the link below!


The Potted Vegetable Garden when it first started!

Anything that doesn’t rot and can have a few holes poked in the bottom will do fine for a container.  One great thing about a Potted Vegetable Garden is that you can get very creative with your choice of containers.

One of my favorites many years ago was old boot with Strawberries spilling out of it.  Eventually it just rotted away, but it served its purpose for many years and looked great.

I also use milk containers, ice cream containers, plastic bottles, plastic and metal buckets and even old wash tubs.  The variety definitely has added a lot of character over the times.

Terracotta Tubs or Plastic for a Potted Garden

Terracotta is best used for plants that require excellent drainage and prefer dry conditions.  Plastic, metal and other non perishable are great for plants that need to keep moist and hate drying out.

Always keep the bottoms of your pots raised so they can receive good airflow to the roots.  Remove water that becomes stagnant as this will not only attract mozzies, but also create disease and suffocate the roots.  Most self watering containers are okay; just remove old water if it sits too long.

Our winter Tomato Crop Source:

I hope you enjoyed this article the Potted Vegetable Garden then please share this amongst friends via Twitter or Facebook so your friends can benefit too!

If you want to learn more about productive food container growing please visit the authors website/blog at the Potted Vegetable Garden

You can also find us at

Happy Gardening


Potted Vegetable Garden

Friday, April 22, 2011

Eco Urban Sustainability Video Newsletter Currumbin Valley Harvest Biodynamic Farm Visit!

As you may or may not know I started a newsletter recently called the Eco Urban Sustainability Video Newsletter.
This news letter is designed to be issued once a month to subscribers in their email in-box.
You not only get content from myself, but also get bonus content from guest writers.

Karin and I also travel around looking for unique characters and businesses that we can video and create stories about.
It really is great fun and there always a lot to learn.
You can view the videos here or also see them on my Facebook Fanpage Eco Urban Sustainability
I hope you enjoy this video of Marty and Karin's visit  to the Currumbin Valley Harvest in south east Queensland Australia hinterland (Gold Coast)
Happy Gardening

View the original article here

Nutrients we miss when we don\'t eat fresh!

By Australian Guest writer &  Naturopath Tony Boutros

"Some of our major nutrients such as B/complex,B12,vitamin C,antioxidants,EFA’s,amino acids,zinc,copper selenium,magnesium and many other nutrients are missing from our major food suppliers"

"These nutrients are vital,not only for survival,but for DNA repair and restoration,the body was created to repair itself if we give it the right nutrients,the right environment, we can do this with fresh home grown food in mineral rich soil".

Note: -- this is not a diagnosis or prescription, just general information.

Cancer rates in the western world are increasing out of control despite all this so called new  research they are doing,and we are spending millions donating to all these research companies,and really we have the very best in prevention of most or all disease—fresh,living food from your garden,its too simple,they think.

Main nutrients needed for cancer—high doses vit.C, B12/complex, magnesium, Ormus, minerals and all the other nutrients, all these are missing when we don’t eat fresh.

Diabetes is out of control also, main missing nutrients—B12/Complex, magnesium, all minerals, amino acids, EFA’s, Vit.C, antioxidants, celtic salt (minerals)

Arthritis—magnesium, silica, sunshine (vit.D), vit.C ormus, sea minerals, celtic salt

Mental disease—B12/Complex, mag, minerals

Basically any disease we mention is a breakdown of DNA, the only thing that will repair DNA is all the nutrients

Wholegrains such as millet, quinoa, brown rice, and oats contain b/vitamins as well as vit.E, amino acids and some fatty acids.

Fruits/leafy greens contain—vit.C, antioxidants and other nutrients, home grown aloe vera contains the polysaccharides essential for the double strands of DNA.

Legumes/wholegrains—contain sulphur amino acids, these are needed for liver detox, and other sulphur containing foods are— cruciferous veg, onions, garlic, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts etc.

Researchers have found that 90% of cancer recovery is related to diet,cancer patients who do everything to kill cancer,even natural herbs,without changing diet,don’t do that well.

The good news is, that we can all change the way we eat and save a whole lot of money in the process and be so much healthier, sounds good?? It is.just do it. See you in health heaven

Next session, our last one of this series/what else can we do to boost our health?? Until then

If you would like to learn more about Tony and get back into top health please visit his website here today!

If you would like to see more articles like this from Tony and all our guest writers? Plus the video Newsletter please subscribe to the Eco Urban Sustainability Newsletter for only $7 a month and see what everyone is talking about!

Nutrients we miss when we don't eat fresh

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Common Ailment Prevention and Treatment for Kids!

"Welcome to Common Ailment Prevention and Treatment for Kids"

In todays world, kids are sick...very often too! But, parents see that as normal.

But think about it....if your dog or cat got sick every two weeks to where you had to take them to the vet and prescribe medications for them, you WOULD NOT think that is normal.

Why should it be any different for kids?

Now, I did one article about how to keep kids healthier and stronger on a long term basis with a healthy diet, but every now and then, kiddos just get the sniffles. So in order to avoid the expensive doctor visits and drugs to get them through, here are some nutritional home remedies to help get kids better faster and safer.

***In some cases you may need to use food supplementation for higher doses in case your child needs the extra boost.***

For common colds, sore throats, and congestion, Vitamin C in high doses is the trick. When giving your child orange juice, be sure to juice oranges yourself so that they are getting as much Vitamin C as possible since juice from the store loses much of it in production.

If their cold involves a fever, two of the best natural sources for fighting fever are oregano oil and garlic. Oregano oil is like a natural antibiotic and garlic is a good anti-viral, anti-fungal food. Garlic's nutrient content is the most powerful when it's the most stinky, unfortunately, and many kids can not stand the taste of it (I laugh as I write this because I remember my dad having the hardest time getting me to swallow garlic capsules when I was six years old). If your kids like garlic then you can put it on some toast or if they prefer take it in capsule form. In younger kids you could put it something they like, such as applesauce or cereal, just as long as you get it in them.

Pre and probiotics (good bacteria for the colon) are essential for keeping your child healthy and help control any type of allergies. Alfalfa as well, is an anti-bacterial, detox super food that not only helps control allergies but asthma as well!

Two non food remedies that boost recovery are sleeping and making sure they are having regular bowels. If the body is not eliminating toxins it takes much longer to recover. This is true no matter what your age is. If you child is experiencing some constipation, the easiest remedy is to give them a powder laxative with alfalfa and barley in some juice or in capsule form.

"Growing Pains" and other aches are becoming more common in small children and teenagers. These pains haven't exactly been proven to be caused by the child's growth spurts, but one thing for certain is that calcium is not only good for bones but it is also a natural muscle and nerve relaxer which will take away the pain. A good calcium supplement can be hard to find. Make sure that the supplement you use is from natural food sources AND that it dissolves! Many calcium supplements do not! Give them loads of green leafy vegetables and any goats milk or cheese if you can.

Continuing on to more severe health issues for children, there is a growing rate of the amount of children with neurological dysfunctions such as ADD, ADHA, ODD, Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder, and Aspergers.

They are all treated differently, some are considered emotionally disturbed or mentally challenged, but the fact is that all of these conditions stem from a toxic overload in the colon and the lack of key nutrients getting to the brain that are causing these neurological problems.

The first approach to helping the problem is a healthy detox with foods we just mentioned like Alfalfa, Garlic and Cilantro. B-complex are essential for neurotransmitters in the brain. They don't only help with over active kids, they also help elevate depression.
Probably the greatest nutrients for neurological problems such as these are Omega 3 Oils, especially from fish. Omega 3's promote long term brain health and are unique in that they help pass other nutrients to the brain through the blood brain barrier.

There are many healthier ways you can help your children recover from illness. They are our future and they deserve the very best we can give them. If you'd like to speak to me further about natural healing please contact me! "

Common ailments and treatment for kids

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Children’s Health, Veggie Gardens, Sustainability and our Future Ahead!

"Children are so impressionable; we often forget how our actions and influence can affect them for the rest of their lives. And this is no different in the case of living and eating healthy. What you eat and prepare for the family will most likely be what your children eat as adults. So if you are eating poorly and carelessly then it’s time to make some positive changes!

We really take food for granted possibly because of the way we were raised. But if you are truly dedicated to living a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle then you must start thinking and behaving differently if you want your children to outlive our generation.

When I was a child my mother always had a garden. We grew up in a rural area, so our gardens where bigger and required more work than a small space urban garden, but I never considered it work because my mom loved it so much. She had so much fun in her garden and felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment and peace in it that it had a positive impact on me and my siblings.

If gardening is something you truly want to do, then don't think of it as work or even a chore (that is always the surest way to make your kids hide from helping out!) Rather think of it as an opportunity to learn a valuable life skill because that is exactly what it is. You'd be surprised how many children don't know where food comes from, how it's grown, how much it's processed till it gets to your mouth, etc. Children who grow up not knowing the value of fresh and healthy foods and what it does for your body, grow up into adults who will continue to give little thought or care to it. I know it, I've seen it.

The best way to teach your kids the importance of growing your own healthy food is simply to do that! Grow your own garden. Depending on the size of your garden and the age of your kids, you can decide how you'll involve them, but make sure it's as fun as possible! I believe you should start them off as early as possible, around age 5 (the time of their life when they actually want to help!) :-)

An Eco Small Space Garden!

An Eco Small-Space Garden is the perfect way to start your kids off. You may want to do the initial tilling of the soil and that planting, but kids can do the maintaining of the garden such as watering, weeding, pruning, picking, etc. Teach them why they are doing these activities, teach them on growing the most nutrient rich food as possible, and when your fruits and veggies are ready, have the kids help in the kitchen to prepare them and eat them together! It will be their reward for all their help.

Besides learning about healthy growing of food, and healthy eating, you are passing on something to your kids that they will never forget. I know my mother's garden and her love for it had that impact on me. Your children will feel that you are sharing something really special with them. If you are wanting your own garden but are feeling hesitant because you never had one before, you don't have enough time, etc., try to think of it as a much needed change to your (and your children's) life. The hardest part about a garden is starting it. Once you've done that, give it some love and it will grow itself.

Working on a garden together, can be a calming and quality time for your family to spend together away from the TV. It gets the kids outside, it gets them in tune with nature, they learn something valuable, and you get to spend time with them.

The earlier you teach your kids that food doesn't come from a can on a shelf in the store, and that eating healthy organic food is as important as studying for their tests, and sports practices, the better. You are not only helping your kids to be healthier, but you are creating a new and conscious generation who will continue the tradition."

If you would like to get to know Emily better? Or see more great material from this wonderful lady? Then visit here website to @

View the original article here

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Small Scale Propagation for the Home Gardener

 Welocme to Small Scale Propagation for the Home Gardener by Paul Mundweil

Nasturtiums are one edible salad that strike from a cutting very easily, using only warmth moisture and soil.

                "Many people in trying to become self sufficient in the garden take to doing their own propagation which is a fun and cost effective way to increasing the plant stock you have. When it comes down to it, propagation is really not that hard. The most important things to know are to attempt it at appropriate times of year, and look after your tender plants effectively".


                This article for the most part will talk about cloning or cutting propagation, and once that has been covered a short note about seeds.

                A cutting is usually an active growing tip of a plant cut, and placed in a specific soil medium so that it can become a new plant. Actively growing young plants are preferred to older plants, because of their more effective reproductive vigour.

                Plant material desired is green wood on the tips of plants (soft tip cutting), because it grows roots quicker than other plant material. The next option down would be semi-hardwood which is plant material which is just past the green wood, and still able to snap between two fingers. 

The soft wood chosen is then tested by seeing it bends a lot when pressed the thumb and the middle finger. If it passes this test (doesn’t bend too much) cut a tip off the plant between 6 and 10cm long. Remove the leaves carefully from the bottom ? of the plant. Remove any flowers and reduce the size of any large leaves. The reason is because we are trying to reduce the leaf surface. The more leaves the more water the cutting will need. The need for too much water could ultimately lead to an avoidable death of the cutting.

                Next step is too choose the medium or soil which the cutting is to be placed in. The area of the stem of the plant in the soil needs good ventilation/drainage but not too much to leave it dry at any time. Tender plants grow tender roots. Tender roots can’t afford to dry out. For the reason just explained, the best readily available medium is a 50/50 mixture of coarse sand and cocopeat. Cocopeat is a peat moss made from composting the fibrous husks of the coconut. It is a great and easily renewable resource and proven to be great for the plants. A plant propagation mixture is bags can be found in hardware stores and I have found this as a useful alternative to making your own. My favourite propagation mix is 50/50 cocopeat and perlite (a clay particle expanded in a 1,000 degree oven), which has sufficed for many of my cuttings.

                After soils we need to set the atmosphere. In general any propagation atmosphere needs to be fairly constantly humid. Too humid and you can kill them, too dry and you do the same. Also some air flow/ventilation if it is not below 15° Celsius helps them to avoid being too humid.

I have found that some larger propagation setups get too carried away with the humidity, which can either delay root growth or kill root growth through rotting in the soil. It is surprising, what you can sometimes get away with if the humidity is good.

From experience treating them too much like babies will be the worst for them. On some occasions in summer in wet/humid climates I have struck cuttings within 2 -3 weeks in shade houses with 360° ventilation, and sometimes on warm days with a mist spray in the morning and evening.    

Temperature another important factor is important for root growth of your cutting. In cooler climates [i] cuttings should be attempted only in summer. In warm temperate to subtropical[ii] a six month period overlapping summer, and tropical all year round. Less than 15° Celsius is too cold for a majority of cuttings.

Easy propagation tips. I once told a friend in Spain to cut a section of his Ficus benjamina about 1foot long (30cm) and place it in a bottle of water and it will grow roots. Years on he is happy and shows me the plant.

Also, in Germany I told a relative to cut a section of an indoor succulent and just put it in the soil. She has many new baby succulents. Soft mint type plants like spearmint, applemint, pennyroyal and oregano, can be propagated easily in summer, especially if they have rooting powder coated on their in soil parts. There are many soft plants like this that will have roots between 1 week and a month, depending on temperature and treatment of them

2 easy setups for the home gardener or gardeners in confined spaces.

1. Coca cola bottles. Wet the medium completely, let it drain in a normal pot for ten minutes. Leave the cap on the bottle. Cut the bottle level from ¼ of the distance from the bottom. Place the medium in the bottom of the bottle. Place your cuttings in the medium. Give the leaves a mist, for example once a day, and then slide the upper half of the bottle over the bottom half. It should then be air tight. Place the bottle on a sunny window sill.

2. A propagation tray filled with propagation medium, cuttings and water proof domed lid is also a good incubator for the cutting in warmer months. The soil can drain freely and the leaves and medium should be misted and water daily.

Lastly seeds. Propagation mix sand and cocopeat is probably the best medium. Soil, must be wet. Hard seeds try to soften their coating by putting them in water 24hours before planting them. The rule of thumb. Plant the seed to the depth of the seed itself, e.g. 5mm seed; put 5mm of seed over the top of them.

Dust like seeds, sprinkle soil over the top and firm it down. Always protect seedling trays from heavy drips of water. It can lead to loss of the seed. Seeds that are thin and can fly in the wind; grow roots well, if gravel is placed over the top instead of soil. It also protects them from loss because of heavy drips.

Hope you find this article useful. In future articles we will also deal with important specifics of propagation and provide some videos to show what we have been talking about.

If you would like to find out more about Paul or even hire him.  You can find Paul Mundweil at his website

[i] 38° south and north of equator Melbourne, Hobart, Auckland, Porto, southern France

[ii] 23-35° south and north of equator Sydney, Perth, Durban, Brisbane, Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Buenos Aires

Small scale propagation for the Home Gardener

Monday, April 18, 2011

All about Potting Mixes for Your Container Plants

"Welcome to all about Potting Mixes for your Container Plants"!

Gidday readers and subscribers!
This article was created by a good friend of mine Paul Mundweil.  Paul will be feature in the blog from time to time and also in the Eco Urban Sustainable Video Newsletter!
Please enjoy Potting Mixes by Paul Mundweil.
"Hi I’m Paul Mundweil a qualified horticulturist with over 20 years of industry experience. In the near future I’ll be adding a little information to Marty’s blog about plants and their needs, to help the reader understand more and identify the problems with their plants".


Today I’ll be talking about potting mixes. What they are and why? What they provide for the plant and a few different types of potting mixes.

A potting is a type of soil that has been blended or created for the special needs of growing plants in pots or other containers. They have been created because soil in pots behaves differently to soil in the ground. In a container there is less soil medium so any imbalances to their medium can cause shocks to plants which lead to an unhealthy plant. To understand what soil or potting mixes are to a plant we would say that soil is to a plant what food is to an animal or human; it provides energy nourishment and the basis for it to grow. It draws most of the nutrients it needs from the soil.

The Potting Mix and it's Blend

A potting mix is a soil blend designed to suit a container plant for the longest possible time. It has to be light so the plant can get an easier start, and not to heavy so they the plants growth is slow and often stunted. They are created for the free flow of water. To provide an example your basic Australian potting mixes have 3 parts sawdust, 2 parts pine bark and one part sand. Pure soil is much heavier, and can cause waterlogging and subsequent death to a plant. If you placed the same plant together in the same pot, one with pure soil and the other with potting mix your will notice a vast difference as they start to grow.

Also your average potting mix is meant to be basically sterile so that it suits the needs of the majority of plants, rather than just a few. Potting mixes can vary from place to place, but usually the less money you pay, the less that they perform for your plant. The best tip is to check out all the prices a go for the mid range price, they usually tend to perform quite well.

Because potting mixes are basically sterile it is up to you to optimise them with fertilisers, and additives like compost.

Potting Mix Tips & Save a Dollar

The performance of these sterile potting mixes for plants to eat or for herbs, mean that they usually provide a taste like that of hydroponic grown fruit and vegetables. It is like biting into a tomato that has the juice content of an apple. My personal solution to this is to buy a mid priced potting mix and a bag of horse or cow manure or mushroom compost and mix them  50/50. Then also liquid feed them in summer once a week with an organic fertiliser. This will produce the best possible flavour for container plant.

Variations on potting mixes are like those for bromeliads that are better draining and tend to mimic the needs of plant that grows on the bark of a tree, or similar for orchids. An example is the medium  I saw in Singapore on an orchid farm which was 50/50 broken terracotta with charcoal.

A Handy Hint For Plants in Pots

A handy hint for plants in pots. If you let them dry out the next time you water them, the water will drain out without making much of an effect on the plant. Subsequently they tend to look withered. You need to remedy this by watering them with 4 times the amount of water than usual. Or better smaller pots can be placed in a bucket of water until all the rising air bubbles have disappeared. For larger plants, fill the dish below with water and also water from above. Keep the dish full until they appear happy again.

Paul works as a landscape gardener on the Gold Coast Australia.
To hire his services or have a look at his website please visit his website the Greenmillenium

I hope you enjoyed Paul Mundweil's article Potting Mixes?
As mentioned above there is more on the way from our Aussie guest writer. (Throw another shrimp on the barby!)
Happy Gardening


In-Organic Children

This article was written by guest writer Emily Giuffre for the Eco Urban Sustainability Newsletter!
You can also visit Emily's Blog Here!

Visit Emily Guiffre's Blog

"Organic" is such a buzz word. What does it mean?

Parents who are slightly conscious of their children's eating habits might give them "healthy" snacks because the bag says "Organic" on it. Therefore, it is healthy and they are being good parents making sure their kids are eating right.

Now I'm not trying to bash parents here. Most parents want and strive to do everything they can to keeping their kids well, but most don't realize that they are hurting their kids more than helping them.

Let's take a typical school age child in the United States-supposedly the richest nation in the world but so starved in many ways.

The child grows up spending most of his time in a classroom, because kids in a public school setting need to be controlled/monitored in case their ADD gets too much to handle, or in case they happen to pull out a weapon, or in case they wonder off and get pregnant or get someone else pregnant in the gym.

They spend little time in sunlight, they can only eat during the lunch hours, (unless they can sneak a soda and cookie from a vending machine in between classes) they eat the schools "healthy choices" that are packaged and/or freeze dried.

They are surrounded by toxic chemicals in the bathrooms, gyms, classrooms and cafeteria and are occasionally vaccinated with immunizations that haven't been tested with the latest questionable ingredients to avoid the latest animal flu panic.

Sounds alot like prison but there you go-the non-natural life of most kids. (By non-natural I mean not ac-curing in nature).

Now top a non-natural life style of no healthy activity and video games with a non-natural diet such as sodas and foods that were grown in exhausted, chemically treated ground, chemically treated water and sprays, picked before its ripe to get it to market, and packaged foods that have had what little nutrition in them cooked, microwaved or freezed out of them. Oh and the seeds used were from genetically modified sources so you're starting from non-natural food source to begin with.

Children grow up eating well disguised swill that is dead. It doesn't offer any life forces to their hungry cells, brain, organs, or muscles.

And people wonder "Why are kids so sick?" Why do so many kids have allergies, asthma, autism, skin problems, focus problems, behavior problems, diabetes, childhood forms of cancer, and why are they always catching colds?

Why can't everyone see why?

Our children are sick because of what we, the schools, and the doctors are giving them. Its pure practical scientific sense. Those who refuse to see it don't want their belief system in their country, their careers, their health system, etc. to be challenged.

Organic is not a name you slap on a bag. Its a culture and a way of living that isn't just about "does not contain preservatives." Its about living in harmony with nature and feeding the body with life-giving nutrients from real food and getting energy from the sun and fresh air. You might say the only way to do this is to have a garden and live a much more sustainable life style.

It truly is a way of life that not many people are willing to live anymore because of their careers, location, etc.

But if you are wanting to change that, you can! More and more people are preparing their own small space gardens to enjoy healthier foods and to get the kids outside. If this is too much to start at the moment you might want to take the whole family and visit an organic farm (either for produce, dairy or meat).

Not only do you have the ability to buy fresh foods and meats from them, but you can also take workshops there on how to start your own garden and connect with other knowledgeable farmers in the area. This is truly the best way of reversing the negative diet culture thats been put upon our children.

If you live in the states my favorite website it search is where you type in your zip code and can find all the organic farms near you. If you life outside of the states, do a google search and you'll be amazed at all of the farms near by that you didn't know existed.

Next time we'll talk about preparing healthy foods for school, etc. Please feel free to contact me on how to help children's health problems with nutrition! " Local Harvest / Farmers Markets / Family Farms / CSA / Organic Foodwww.localharvest.orgFind locally grown produce anywhere in the country! Use our map to locate farmers markets, family farms, CSAs, farm stands, and u-pick produce in your neighborhood.Share

View the original article here

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Container Plant Types /which pot type is for you?

Container plant types /which pot type is for you?

By Paul Mundweil

    An important part of gardening on terraces, patios or apartments are the pots we use.
The main types of pots that can be found are porous and non porous pots. Another choice that can be found is peat pots.
Porous pots are usually terracotta pots or glazed pots, made from materials such as clay and concrete. The advantage of these types of pots is because they are partially porous it allows airflow from the side, as well as the draining from the bottom.

While this can be an advantage in cool climates and indoors in hot dry climates it is not such an advantage.


Non porous pots such as those made from plastic are good for outdoors in warm climates and for indoors plastic pots can be a good choice when they come with easy refill watering wells inside the pot.

Also, depending on the style plastic pots are usually cheaper than porous pots.
Peat pots are made from compressed peat bog, are usually small and are good for seedling sized plants. Once the plant has outgrown this pot it can be simply potted with the peat pot into a bigger pot.

    Once you have decided on the pot that bests suits you the next criteria on pot type is to choose a shape based on the type of plant you intend to grow.
Herbs especially low growing ones don’t have large root zones, so a shallow pot is best for them. If you get a longer rectangular pot this can be good to plant a few herbs together, and you can create a companion planting of herbs. Also herbs can be placed at the base of larger plants.

Fruit trees and ornamental shrubs-trees are best placed in larger pots, with the width more or less the depth of the pot. This helps their larger root ball expand to its full potential, and the choice of pot size depending on how large or small you actually want it to grow.

For flowers and smaller sized plants usually a smaller pot with the same width as its depth will be enough.

Now that we have shed some light on the why of pot choices, it’s time to get out there and start potting.

Happy gardening from Paul

You can visit Paul at his website the Green Millenium

Container Plant Types

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eco, Healthy Meal Planning (For the Busy Family)

"These days parents and kids are on the go constantly. Parents have jobs; kids have school, extracurricular activities, sports, etc. There seems to be little time to spend together, and even less time preparing healthy snacks and meals for everyone.

Whether you work a full time job or you are a stay at home parent, there are ways to fit in healthy meals and snacks for the kids. By following a pattern of 5 steps, this will help take some of the burden off you, will be healthier and more interesting for the kids, and more sustainable for the earth.

***This is mostly planning for kid’s lunches during the week but you can also incorporate breakfast and dinner planning into it if you like. ****

Step 1. At the beginning of the week, write out a menu for the week or next two weeks, whichever you prefer. If you have already experimented with certain healthy lunches that your kids liked then add them to the menu. If you feel that you don't have enough ideas then find some more lunch recipes. Planning out what the kids will eat over the next two weeks keeps their meals interesting and spread out so they don't get tired of it like they would if they were eating peanut butter and jelly each day.

Step 2. Tin lunch boxes should never go out of style! I don't know why you don't see them much these days but not only are they durable and reusable, you can put ice packs in them to keep their lunch cool. Also "Klean Kanteens" are an eco friendly brand that makes stainless steel water bottles that are safe for the kids and the earth. Get your kids use to drinking water at an early age so that they don't expect soda or other drinks with every meal.

Step 3. The night before chop up veggies and fruit (maybe from your garden) for snacks and use little Tupperware which you can reuse. You can also fill them with nuts such as cashews or almonds and homemade granola.

Step 4. The main course of a child's lunch doesn't always have to be a sandwich. In fact, if you are also incorporating healthy dinner planning, leftovers make a great lunch-save you a lot of time too! Healthy lasagnas, salads, potato dishes, the sky is literally the limit. All you have to do is put it in a Tupperware and into the lunch box.

Step 5. When the kids come home, the first place they normally go to is the kitchen looking for snacks. To give them something nutritious and satisfying until dinner you can make some real quick smoothies (something you can just throw in like berries and bananas) using fruits, vegetables, protein powder, (and supplements if you are trying to get more nutrients into yours kids).

I'm not saying that a new regime like this starts out easy. But if you do follow a healthy eating plan and cut out what is harmful, the whole family will feel better, calmer, do better in school, work, and it will eventually be easier on all of you."

My next one will be about common bug’s kids get and how to treat them with certain foods and nutrients :-)


If you would love to read more of Emily's wonderful content please visit her Blog Today!

View the original article here

Apartment Gardening Gold Coast Australia

Apartment Gardening Gold Coast Australia is one of my projects to help people in small spaces and apartment gardens grow lovely plants and productive food gardens.
This garden produced today was planted with a variety of herbs into sandy loam, compost, potting mix then topped up with a Pine Chip mulch.
If you would like to create any type of apartment garden on the Gold Coast or Tweed Shire you can contact me on my mobile
Phone Marty 0406 101 546
 'Call me if you want one! Marty'

View the original article here

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sep 15, Marigold plants to deter bugs

by Cheryl Carreira
(Waipio, Hawaii)

Marigold leaves with bugsI just started my garden. I was told Marigolds deter bugs. So I started planting with them. But what are the colorless trails infecting the Marigold leaves? They are in potting soil.
Also the trails seem to be inside the leaves and I see black substances in these winding trails.
How do I get rid of it? I have tried spraying with Neem oil solution. But that didn't help.
I live in a place where there are a lot of bugs. White flies, leaf hoppers, ground termites, spider mites, you name it. I'm trying to go natural, but it doesn't look promising. Can anyone help?

View the original article here

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Feb 7, What to plant with 4-5 hours of sun?

by Ellen
(Colbert, Georgia)

Yesterday we cleared out some dead bushes and alot of wet leaves from the back of our house. This spot gets the afternoon sun maybe for four or five hours.
Would it be possible for raspberry or blackberry bushes to thrive in this area?
We live in south east Georgia, we have hot summers and it's very wet right now. Any suggestions would be helpful.

View the original article here

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nov 18, Is municipal compost safe for starting a no-dig garden?

by Susan

Hi, I am planning to start a no dig garden in my allotment, which has been in use 10-20 years already and has been cleared for me to move in.

I can get cardboard for free, but the lucerne is really expensive and the nearby municipal dump is giving away compost. Is municipal compost safe? Can I use that instead?

It is now late autumn and my plan would be to cover all the ground with cardboard, then the beds with 2 inches of the pre-rotted compost. Would that work?

View the original article here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dec 14, ornamental plants or gnomes

by Suzanne
(Auckland, New Zealand)

What on earth should I do with this? Suzy

What on earth should I do with this? Suzy

I have a small triangular section of ground near an entrance. It is too nondescript at the present - it has a few little cacti and some kind of little bush (I dont know the name of it- my sister is the only 'greenie in our family!) growing, amazingly, it seems to me because there isn't much sun due to the large oak tree reaching over from the neighbour's fence. I dont know whether to add a few more cacti/suckulents (is that how you spell it?)/ornamental cabbage, or forget about planting and find a friendly looking garden gnome.....any suggestions please because gnomes cant compare with a pretty little plant...


View the original article here

Mar 21, No Dig Garden Layers

by Sarah Greedy
(Newcastle, NSW, Australia)

Hi there,

I have started my no dig garden just based on conversations I have had with some friends. But I am now concerned that I may not have layered my raised garden bed properly and hence don't want to start planting if it's not quite right.

My current layers:

About 10 sheets of newspaper over grass (within a garden boarder)
Some leftover soil from another location -about 3 cm
Sugar-Cain/ Straw / Mulch - Think layer about 5cm
Horse Manure - Medium layer
Some more Sugar-Cain Mulch - thin layer less than 5mm
Compost - Medium layer about 2.5 cm

Can you tell me if this is going to work or what I should do next??

It would really mean a lot!!



View the original article here

Monday, April 11, 2011

Feb 5, Preparing the ground for no dig method

by Ellen Peavey
(Colbert, Georgia)

I put down a layer of mixed chicken poop mixed with shredded newspaper and straw, then a layer of leaves. I didn't cover it this time and we are going to get light rain for the next two days. Will this be too much rain? It should have time to dry out before I add more straw or soil. Any ideas? I have this section fenced off to keep the dog and other critters out.

View the original article here

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Feb 2, Growing a Giant Pumpkin - How to Grow Huge Vegetables - Giant vegetables

Many will be inedible, being tough as old boots or dry and fibrous, and taste usually goes out the window... but the photo will look good!

There are public competitions for monsters, especially for growing giant pumpkins. These are serious... things get very competitive.

But keep it fun; there's no need to hire guards or camp out at night to protect this 'monster,' and if your child has a competitive nature, have a family 'grow a monster veggie' competition.

You may like to initiate a local competition? Perhaps send away for a large packet of monster seeds, then print out growing instructions and distribute them to your child's class... or offer to sell them each for a small sum at the school fete. The seed supplier may like to donate a prize.

Here's a checklist for a winning monster pumpkin or other vegetable:

Best seeds

Buy the seeds of the giant varieties. Some hybrid vegetables are large, but you won't be able to save the seeds for the next year as they won't breed true.

Most prize winning large vegetables have well-known favourites that have been around a while and are open-pollinated so seeds can be saved.

Here are some suggestions:

Cabbage: Northern Giant Cabbage (100 lbs.)Carrot: Japanese Imperial Long Carrot (12+ inches long)Cucumber: Mammoth Zeppelin Cucumber (16 pounds)Gourd: Giant Long Gourd (120 Inches)Pumpkin: Atlantic Giant Pumpkin (400 to over 1000 pounds)Tomato: Old Colossus Heirloom Tomato (2+ pounds)Watermelon: Carolina Cross (Giant) Watermelon (200 pounds)

Ideal Start

In early spring nearly fill 15cm (6") plant pots with potting mix, and poke in one seed per pot. Children find large seeds such as pumpkins easy to handle. Tell them to poke the seed in with the pointy side down, but if in doubt, on its side or flat is okay. The shoots will always know which way to go up and the roots will always go down.

Water and keep damp. Put pots in a warm, bright spot once the seeds sprout usually within a week. Let them grow in their nursery pots until the first true big leaves are showing. Don't let them wilt from too much hot sun if on a windowsill... move them away from the glass.

Transplant into a permanent spot in garden around 3 weeks or so after first sowing the seeds. Move them oh so carefully and keep as much soil on the roots and have the hole prepared to pop them into. They may need to be protected from late frosts or winds with a temporary clear cover to begin with.


Have 5 star accommodation and plenty of room for these amazing plants to show off what they are capable of. That means the sunniest and most sheltered spot in your garden.

It should be handy for tending to, because you don't want to slip up and not water them or de-bug them when they need it.

Plant your prize winning seedlings or seeds into the most perfect soil/compost you can. If possible prepare the soil months before, around fall, with lots of manure and compost.

Give weekly boosts of liquid organic fertiliser or compost tea, but remember some plants like a slightly acid soil, like tomatoes, so if unsure, have your soil pH tested.

Don't sporadically water, keep the watering steady and make sure it goes deep down, and then before it dries out completely give another deep watering, and so on... but don't let your plants sit in soggy conditions all the time.

In short, mollycoddle them.

Help nature along with pollination

Sometimes the bees, birds or wind are not always around when they should be reporting for work — so step in and lend a hand. It's easy to do with pumpkins and other squash type veggies.

Pumpkin flowers start appearing a month or two after transplanting. Early in the morning pick some male flowers and gently tear off their petals to expose the middle stamens with the powdery pollen on.

Only female flowers have a little bulbous bit at their base, like a tiny pumpkin, if it's a pumpkin plant, or a tiny zucchini if it's a zucchini etc. Push a male stamen into a female flower so that it rubs on the female stigma inside and leave it there.

Alternatively, use a child's fine paintbrush to transfer the male pollen to the female flower

This is called setting the fruit or getting the fruit set, and the earlier you do it, the more time you give your monsters to GROW.

Survival of the fittest

The biggest and healthiest vegetable fruits are the ones to keep. For pumpkins, carefully cut or pinch out all others except for 3-7 of the best, which should be at least 3 m (9.5 ft) from where the main stem is planted in the ground. These few pumpkins you have can now go bananas without competition for water and nutrients.

Early on, if you haven't already chosen pumpkins with stems at right angles and if possible upright from the vines, then carefully edge each vegetable into a better angle for a more upright stance. Do it a bit each day for a week or two. This is not absolutely necessary, but adds a little edge to the growing process and stops the large pumpkins from being such a drag on the vine.

In other words, instead of the stem growing acutely out from the main vine, edge the stem of the pumpkin over so that it's perpendicular, or pointing out and up.

At some time mid season on, you may decide it's worth concentrating on the biggest, fastest growing and best rounded shape of the bunch, so remove the other fruits and let the king monster have it all.

Don't let the vines grow out of control. Chop off their growing tips about 4 m (12 ft) distance from each set pumpkin. Side vines should be arranged at right angles to the main stem to allow for easy access. Side vines can be chopped off at 2-3 m (6-9 ft). Leave most of the foliage on though as that provides the energy from the sun to enable the plant to grow.

From the main root to where the first pumpkin is growing there will be lots of leaf axils (where a leaf joins the vine stem). Now pile on some surrounding good quality soil on these axils, keep these mounds watered, and they will develop more roots to help your monsters get more monstrous.

Keep an eye out for monsters munchers

Every day without fail these future champion vegetables should be checked out. Pests and diseases can attack when your back is turned. Have your remedies ready and pick off, squash, hose off or organically spray off any trespassers. Netting or stakes also protect against larger destroyers.

A bit of patience, a spot of luck, good weather, 6 or more months on, and you'll have an experience and hopefully a memorable photo to remember for a while... until you grow even bigger giants next year!

View the original article here

Dec 22, Yarrow Fertiliser

by George Harding
(Wellington, N.Z.)

With the verges of the highways and byways around my patch in Wellington showing plenty of Yarrow in flower and the WWW listing hundreds of comments on using it as a compost accelerator but little about using it as a liquid manure as I use Comfrey, are there any "No Digger's" or organic horticulture practitioners out there who have used this and if so, what is the most effective part of the plant, flowers, stems, roots or the whole plant?
I assume the usual fertiliser "tea" principals of, a weak tea solution as I did recently using stinging nettles. Oh boy, if you think Comfrey liquid manure pongs, try stinging nettle manure, it is real "organic" experience.
Merry Xmas to all

View the original article here

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jan 30, What to fill up deep 75cm garden beds for Community Garden

by Garden Djinni
(Hurst, TX, USA)

We are building a community garden. Ground "covering" breaking is on Feb 5th.
I am encouraging the group to use The No Dig method. I need you expertise in one little point. Our beds are extra tall so elderly or the wheel chair confined can access the garden. We are building our beds about 30" tall or between .6-.8 meters deep using cinder blocks as our walls.

Which layers do we we need to increase to fill the beds? And by how much?

I read that someone used straw after the newspaper layer as a filler. But, if we can get good fill dirt, should we use fill dirt instead of straw? Then at the appropriate height begin our layers as instructed on the website? Which is best? Straw as filler sounds good - because it's light. But I'm sure we can get fill dirt donated if you think that is best. My worry with straw as filler is the whole bed will settle down.

View the original article here

Friday, April 8, 2011

Feb 21, Lettuce Disease

by Carol
(Zone 8)

We have a 12 x 16' backyard greenhouse, unheated, where we attempt to grow lettuce through the winter months. Each year we are having increasing problems with a disease. The plants turn to mush right at the base where the leaves meet the roots. In 24 hours they go from a healthy plant to a very sick one. Is there anything to help? I usually start the lettuce in flats and then transplant them so that the plants are spaced far enough apart. Help!

View the original article here

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feb 5, Something is digging up my garden

by Michael
(Doylestown, Pa.)

I live in southeastern Pennsylvania and I have something digging up my planting beds. I have raised beds with lots of earthworms (I think that's what they are after). The garden is surrounded by 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch wire fence that is buried 1 foot down and goes 4 feet up. Something digs up my garden. There are no obvious breaches in the fence or the gate, so I assume the creature is climbing over the fence. It doesn't eat the plants but destroys them going after whatever it is looking for. It makes holes that are about 3-4 inches in diameter and about 6 inches deep. Can you please help me identify this critter and how to get rid of it?


View the original article here

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feb 7, Tomato growing problems

by toni
(Melbourne Australia)

I am trying to grow tomatoes in a large tub . The plants are growing but the stem of the flowers turn yellow and the fruit are not setting. What should I be doing?

View the original article here

Feb 3, Kid's Garden Crafts Gardening Crafts for kids

It's time to get lost in the joy of gardening crafts for kids.
On with the old clothes, grab your hats; out and into the garden... the world is bountiful.
Wonder what we'll make today, let's see...

Could it be brilliant decorations, unmovable monuments, mantelpiece-ready ornaments, rainbow-hued replicas of natures lookalikes, guffawing games or handy gadgets?
It's always the season for kid's garden crafts here, so whatever the weather, you'll find something to make inside or out — you bet.
These children nature gifts make unique, unforgettable presents too. Nature is cheaper and more bountiful than store shelves!
Grow a Hairy Harry and other rainy day growing activities.
Here's a game to make that can be played with again and again. It's as much fun as making it as it is to play the game.
See how 4 year old Max did... and teens and adults get a kick out of this game too. Kids' Nature Crafts Memory Game
That's right, let's get out the paints. I like, you like, we all like... painting!
Kids will find painting an outdoor object like steps or fences so hilarious and free-spirited. You might like to offer to help design the outline of what they'd like to paint, or suggest some ideas (swirls, stripes, footprints), or they may just like to randomly splash, splosh.
Paint is not cheap, but you can often pick up sale pots of house paint of odd discontinued lines. Or try and type in your area. Someone's bound to have a few pots of paint in their shed... the brighter, the groovier.
Here are some suggested victims for young painters (under guidance of course):
Paint the compost bin with brightly painted colors. Paint worms, snails, flowers, sun, funny faces on it. You can always hide it behind a tree if the effect is toooooo artistic!Plant pots, stepping stones, pavers or bricks look great with patterns on. A child can paint their name on a large stone.Gnomes, driftwood, rocks, garden stakes, notice boards can all get the kids' imaginative treatment. Colored stones can line a path; wooden notice boards on stakes can be painted with "Herbs", or "Jessie's Garden".If you have a back door step or 3, let the kids turn them into a work of art. Cover surrounding area for protection, unless it's garden or grass and won't mind paint splashed on.
View the original article here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jan 31, Small veggies but LOTS of foliage

by Heather
(NS, Canada)

I planted a not dig garden and used corn meal and ash, then 3 inches of compost. I had LOTS of foliage on everything but my tomatoes, onions, corn ears, melons, etc were VERY small. I only ended up with tiny peppers at the very end of the growing season and only a few potatoes per plant but huge plants.
The only thing that seemed to do well were swiss chard, lettuce, zuchinni.
It seems like there was something off in my soil. What would be the problem?

View the original article here

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oct 11, seaweed infested with bugs

I just started to fill my new raised beds in preparation for next spring. I started with 1/2 composted horse manure then went to the beach & found dried seaweed & added that. While giving it a little mix I noticed the seaweed was infested with bugs. I don't want to have to truck it away & start again! How can I get rid of the bugs without using chemicals of course. If I composted the pile & got a good heat going would that kill the bugs? What should I do? Thanks

View the original article here

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jan 17, Mulching and layering a new veggie patch

by Jane
(Temple Cloud, Somerset)

I have owned a lovely 4 acre piece of land for three years, am living on it with my husband and two year old in a caravan, while converting a barn and have had a pond liner over the sunniest patch of nettles for two years. This is where I plan to start growing veggies.

I am limited by shading trees and unfavourable aspect as to where I can grow so have chosen the sunniest spot after watching the land for the last two years.

I have peeled back the liner and to my joy the nettle roots have finally died, apart from the edges which I have dug ONCE to stop the nettles recolonising.

I also have a large supply of Bracken on the land.

I am lucky to have a unlimited supply of horse poo from a local being delivered soon.

Here are my questions to you!

: DO I need to put down a newspaper/cardboard layer before the horse poo? I am reluctant as both materials carry a lot of printer ink and glue (cardboard) in them.

: If I don't use the cardboard/newspaper layer, how thick should the horse poo layer be and should I cover it over again with the liner until I'm ready to plant, or will a thick mulch on top do?

: I do not have a supply of straw and I have heard that bracken makes a good mulch although I am concerned with the carcinogenic spores. Can I use it for my veggie patch and if so, should I compost it for a year first and start off by getting in straw for this year?

For all those of you with acres of nettles, suppressing them for a lengthy amount of time DOES kill them off, leaving you with just the pesky edges to deal with. I have a lot of other patches of nettles which I will leave to flourish and be a crop for food, tea, butterflies, and nettle beer which my husband intends to try making.

I have a large quantity of local rabbits in my hedgerows so will have to rabbit proof my patches to the MAX, but that's another forum question for later!

Thanks for any help

View the original article here

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nov 6, Building a Vegetable Garden Natural Gardening Preparing a Vegetable Garden

Preparing a vegetable garden of this sort is extremely attractive for those sites that have poor soil or invasive weeds.

It's also a great way to build a garden for those that can't, or don't want to, dig a good size vegetable garden!

Follow the natural gardening no dig diagram below, but first thing of course, is to choose the site for building a garden. Make sure the site is level and ideally most of the area gets at least 5 hours of sun a day.

If it's not reasonably level, roughly smooth out the humps and bumps, then fill the gaps and any lower edges with soil, sand or whatever organic material is at hand, such as bark, leaves, twigs, washed seaweed, paper, jute, wool carpet or similar. As this rots down, you will need to add more compost to these low areas and gradually build them up.

If the ground is on too much of a slope, build some terraces for an easy vegetable garden to maintain. You can make a grand affair with formal retaining walls, or just shore levels up with branches, bricks, rocks, planks, corrugated iron or other obtainable materials.

When preparing soil for a vegetable garden and it is over lawn or weeds, you can mow the area to ground level and build the garden on top, or you can leave the vegetation to decay underneath in time ? as long as you cut out light to kill off the grass and weeds underneath.

If you are building a vegetable garden on a hard surface, such as dry clay, an old stony yard or driveway, put down some cushioning organic material first (as above, bark, leaves etc).

Here's a guide following natural gardening basics. It is only a guide remember, and your circumstances may be such that making a vegetable garden exactly the same would be difficult. You want an easy to build vegetable garden, in fact any garden, so don't go blowing a gasket trying to find this and that, or putting this on top of that.

It's worth reading about Lasagna Gardening to show you how to throw out the manual for building a vegetable garden.

But back to the main guidelines: Begin with a newspaper layer of at least 5 pages ? or 20 or so pages if you like (or packing, wrapping paper, cardboard, sacking, natural carpet etc) to at least 5mm (? inch) thick.

If you have those really tenacious, weedy dudes such as onion weed, couch or buffalo grass, docks, convolvulus, ivy and other nasties, definitely put down a strong first layer such as well overlapping cardboard or at least 20 plus layers of newspaper.

It helps to surround the garden with some sort of border material. This can be bricks, logs, planks or rocks and can be 20-25cm high (8-10 inches) or more. See these suggestions here: Ways to contain raised garden beds.

A raised border contains the organic material within, discourages invasion of surrounding lawn or weeds, deters various people and critters, and means less back-bending.

Lay down a layer of pads of lucerne hay (alfalfa) leaving no gaps, to a height of 10cm (4 inches). Layer some good organic fertilizer on top to a height of roughly 20mm (1 inch). This can be just about any sort of good quality material like well rotted chicken, horse, cow or sheep manure. If you don't have this sort of material available, sprinkle a layer of good natural commercial fertilizer. No need to go the full 1" depth with commercial material.

Add a thick layer of loose straw to the garden 20cm (8 inches) and another layer of fertilizer and then top it off with 10cm (4 inches) of compost.

Water the garden until it's wet but not soaking. You can now start planting your seedlings immediately for an instant garden!

Here's a diagram of the process when starting a vegetable garden the no dig way.

It will NOT look neat like this! You also do NOT have to have these exact layers, materials and quantities. Nature does not use a tape measure ? use whatever you have at hand or can easily buy.

Building a vegetable garden like this (seriously messier than these pictures) can be achieved in a couple of hours if you have the materials on hand. Build several garden beds in different shapes to add interest and variety to your gardening.

No dig gardens are just the same as other gardens... just easier to build and maintain. Here are some step-by-step photos of building a no dig garden using a slightly different approach.

No dig gardens are more successful if you plant seedlings rather than seeds. The seeds can get lost in the mix and you are less certain about where everything will come up. With seedlings, you have a better idea of where things are. Also, with the rich organic materials in this sort of garden you can plant more intensively than you would with a normal garden.

What will do well? Beans, peas, capsicum, eggplant, tomato, lettuce, sweet corn, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and vine crops like melons and pumpkins. Root crops should not be tried until the bed is more mature.

Once your seedlings are in place, cover exposed areas with another layer of mulch. This can be straw, grass clippings or leaves. Try to keep the stems of your young plants clear of the mulch to discourage stem rot.

Of course you can start off with seeds, particularly biggies like beans and similar, but especially with preparing soil for a vegetable garden in the first year, the layers are bulky and not merged, so best to wait a good few months.

To sow seeds after building your vegetable garden, push away the mulch, make a shallow trench and add a layer of good soil, sprinkle seeds, then cover with fine soil. Keep the mulch away from seeds and only bring it closer once the seedlings are strong little plants.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Oct 3, Lasagna Gardening - sheet composting - build a lasagna garden

You know those barren, sloped, stony, weedy, sandy or clay compacted places where you look at aghast and wonder how you could ever get a garden going there? That's where lasagna gardening proves its worth.

Just toss down layer upon layer. That's what a lasagna garden is — layers.

The layers are not so planned as a no-dig raised bed garden, where the compost is pre-made and added.

With lasagna gardening it is done by sheet composting whereby the scraps and weeds and old boots if you like are all dumped in one spot... well, layered on top of each other.

It's all recycled in one spot.

It really looks like a pig's breakfast, but boy oh boy does it work!

Start with whatever materials you have; maybe old leaves, then 5-10 layers of newspaper, or some thick cardboard, next a bucket of kitchen scraps, seaweed, some grass clippings, then straw. Soak it well with water.OR... start with cardboard, then old grass, straw, old horse or chicken manure, some soil or compost, then coffee grounds, more grass, prunings, fruit peelings, veggie scraps, wood chips, seaweed... just keep piling it on.

Honestly you can do any topsy-turvy way you like with whatever organic material is at hand. It will eventually all rot and provide a great home for your plants.

Obviously there are tried and true materials and the order they are layered, that speed up the process. It does help of course to alternate layers of carbon (brown, drier material) with nitrogen (green, living material) which provides a balanced state of aeration and moisture.

What it really rots down to is that lasagna gardening is just like other no-dig methods, whether done by gardeners, or in the wild...

With lasagna gardening — as with all no-dig methods, using newspaper or cardboard, or your old school reports if you want to, suppresses any greenery underneath and decomposes well. Equally important, earthworms love paper and stampede towards it, nicely aerating the soil.

Build up your layers of sheet composting to roughly 60cm (2ft) then watch as earthworms and microbes get to work... and within a few months your lasagna garden will look like a normal garden.

It may take a year for all material to break down completely and you can top up with a layer of scraps or suchlike and mulch any time.

Plantings can be done immediately, but remember it will settle quickly to a lower level, and for small plants there will not be much nutrients released from the material until decomposition occurs.

To plant seedlings and seeds in your layer garden, use some compost or potting mix.

For shrubs, or any plants that need some soil around their roots, you will need to dig a hole and put some compost in first.

Making a lasagna garden can be done at the end of summer and left over winter ready for planting in spring. If made in spring, add compost or good soil so that the plants have something to get their teeth into for growing to begin with.

Here's what has worked for me, and I can tell you it's more than one way! I have successfully tried:

So you can see the lasagna gardening method is ideal if you are renovating or have recently moved and need to 'tidy' up the place.

The various other raised bed gardening methods are all described here:

No Till Gardening
Straw Bale Gardening
Sq ft Gardening
Raised Vegetable Garden

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Jan 1, Grow a Hairy Harry - Growing Cress in Eggshells - Windowsill Gardening for Kids

It's called windowsill gardening, but of course these little plants can grow anywhere, inside or out... under the bed, behind the shed, in a tent, or on the coffee table!

Most of these can be eaten too...crunch, crunch, crunchy lunch.

Like Julio below, have fun with old Hairy Harry and other green weirdos.

Socks or stockings and decorating materialsLawn or cress seedContainer with waterSoil

Very young children will need help and older kids can do it all, but this gardening for kids favourite... Hairy Harry, is a hoot.

Take one of those pairless socks or stockings every household has and sew or glue on eyes and other facial features.

Put some lawn or cress seed in the sock end and fill with garden soil, potting mix or compost. Fill the sock until the face is filled out and tie a knot in the sock, making sure the mix inside is packed tightly.

Water the Hairy Harry sock regularly, or prop it on top of a jar or container with water. The loose end of the sock will act as a wick to draw up the moisture. Place in a sunny or warm position.

In a couple or so days, Harry will have a full head of green hair — straight if grass and curly if cress! In about a week, snip the cress and eat, and in a couple of weeks, the grass will be ready for a hair cut or styling makeover!

Egg shells (or walnut halves)CressPen markerCotton wool or tissues

A variation on Hairy Harry is Eggbert. Even two year olds love to carefully arrange the materials with this idea.

Use the largest eggshells you have and clean out the insides (after breakfast or baking of course).

A funny or smiley face can be drawn on the shells with a permanent maker.

Stand the Eggberts upright in eggcups; an egg carton or even in a mock-up pebble garden bowl, with open tops upwards and poke cotton wool or tissue paper loosely into them. Sand or soil can also be used, but it tends to be messy in such a small area.

Cress seeds can now be sprinkled on top and watered gently. Keep moist by trickling or spraying water in several times a day.

Eggbert's curls will appear in 3 days and soon after you and your child can be munching cress in a sandwich or garnishing a meal. Thanks Eggbert, let's breed more of you!

2 yrs and up

Large wide mouth jarMung bean seedsMesh material: muslin, fine hanky, pantyhose.

This is the quickest way to grow edible things. In just a few days, the kids will be able to pop fresh bean shoots in a salad or sandwich or just eat them as they come. This will also work with alfalfa, cress and snow pea seeds.

Put the seeds into a clean, wide mouth jar and place a mesh material over the mouth. It must be a material that water and air can pass through, but not the seeds, or fruit flies if in a warm climate. A bit of discarded pantyhose secured with a rubber band will do.

Soak the seeds overnight in water. Next morning, drain the excess water (use on pot plants) and place the jar on its side in a bright room, near a window. A couple of times a day, re-wet the seeds, drain and return to the bright space. The seeds will sprout and grow very quickly and within a few days will be ready to eat.

Growing sprouts is rewarding and there are many seeds and legumes that can be sprouted and eaten. Have a squizz at more in-depth information elsewhere if you and your children would like to experiment further. Beware many sprouts are super fussy and need exact requirements or they go bad on you.

Propagate garden seedlings — cute little containers for cute littlies to grow their own. Go to: Gardening Activities for Kids and read all about these mini gardens under: Propagate Garden Seedlings.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mar 9, No Dig gardens - how to do no dig gardening by gardening the no dig way!

No dig gardens are the quickest, easiest way to get home grown vegetables on your dinner table.

No dig gardening or a raised garden bed, consists of layering organic materials on top of the soil to create a nutrient rich environment for your plants, in this case, vegetables.

No matter what your location, gardening the no dig way is an option for you. The garden literally composts the materials while feeding the plants.

A raised garden bed means that it doesn't matter what sort of soil you currently have. Simply layer materials over the top of your surface and start growing!

Benefits of a no dig garden or raised garden bed:

Gardening is sublime. It's where you can enjoy the wonder of nature close up and personally... no matter where you are. Don't let the current quality of your soil hold you back.

You will need a sunny space and a reasonably level surface or terraces. Beyond that, just add a few ingredients and you're on your way.

You might like to Plan your garden first, or go straight to finding out exactly How to build a no dig garden.

Let's get growing!

List of Vegetables
This list of vegetables to grow shows you how to plant vegetables and all the tips needed for growing vegetable plants and seed varieties. Crop Rotation
A quick guide on the benefits of crop rotation in the vegetable garden and a sample outline plan. Growing Herbs
Use no dig gardening methods for growing herbs. Get an instant herb garden with great results Other Gardens
How to use no dig gardening methods for other gardens such as flowers and fruit. Companion Planting
Companion planting is all about which plants help each other in the garden. Find out which combinations work to control pests and increase yields. Organic Garden Pest Control
Organic garden pest control is safe and easy when you use these natural, biological and non-toxic solutions. Beneficial Garden Insects
Here's how beneficial garden insects can really help your garden. Encouraging good garden bugs brings great rewards Vertical Gardens
If you have a space problem in your garden, vertical gardens could be the answer. Garden Tools
Some tips on purchasing and maintaining the best garden tools to suit you. Preserves
You can make preserves from your home grown vegetables by canning, freezing or dehydrating them allowing you to use them in a whole range of ways. Vegetable Recipes
Quick and easy vegetable recipes for your fresh garden produce in a range of styles. Reflections on Nature
There are things that happen in the garden and our world that are not always able to be explained. Reflections on Nature looks at some of them and offers... some reflections. Best Gardening Books
The best gardening books I've found for growing vegetables, herbs and everything to do with organics. Diggers Rest
Opt-in ezine subscription page for no dig vegetable gardening. Contact Us
Share your gardening tips and tricks with others. Or just provide a little feedback on what you'd like to see.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feb 3, Gardening for Kids Kids Gardening Gardening for Children

Guess what was hidden under a patch of toadstools down the bottom of the garden?

No, not some sleepy elves and dreaming fairies; it was a great big gi-normous treasure chest of golden games and activities of children's gardening ideas!

Lucky you, ring-a-ring a posy, let's have a nosy at what's in it. Let's see...

... There are zounds of projects and oodles of inspiring detailed notes on how to make, find, play, learn, slither and poke around with soil, sand, water, mud, plants, bugs, boxes and... oh just heaps of kids' gardening ideas.

These gardening projects for kids will allow even the youngest children to get involved.

We have plenty of quick and easy projects here. Children's garden projects will teach them about nutrition, nature, recycling and organic gardening. That's a good outcome!

So ginger up the troops and let's go: Gardening Activities for Kids

Kids don't mind taking all the time in the world when you're in a hurry... sigh, but with gardening, let them go with flow. Lie under a tree if necessary and observe the world, feel the warmth or wind, laugh at the snow and listen to the noises. Of course if you're all in danger of turning blue or pink, hurry back!
Just as it's nice to simply lie under a tree or stir mud in a pond, remember children usually hate dancing in the same spot for too long, if you get what I mean, so it's a good idea to spend up to 15 minutes only on one activity before changing tack.

Depending on age most kids love to water and plant things. When it comes to maintenance and preparation tasks like weeding, mulching and thinning out, that's when you can say something like, "10 minutes weeding, then we'll water the cabbages, or have a treasure hunt, or pick some peas."

We would love the children of the world to grow up self-reliant and with good business values. But at the same time with a few different environmental and sustainability ethics, rather than what a few rapacious ratbags are doing now.

If you nurture in kids kindness and respect for other people and nature, including plants and wildlife, they themselves will be nurturing, imaginative and community minded sunny buttercups indeed.

So tell them that plants need a nice cool drink when they're thirsty, just like you!

Explain that plants like to be fed wholesome food. Funny how they don't have mouths, but they have roots with little hairs on that take up the nutrients.

Plants need sun, not because it's nice to flop down in the sun after a swim, but because of photosynthesis (ooh long word — make up a game later with this word) whereby plants make carbohydrates by trapping the sun's energy with their green colour, a pigment called chlorophyll (ooh again).

We can't produce our own energy, in fact it's impossible for us and all animals to convert solar energy into carbohydrates, but PLANTS can.

So we have to get carbohydrates from plants and other tiny growing organisms, which our bodies then convert into sugars that give us energy to grow and live.

Ask your child if they like to win a race — race them if you like. Now tell them that insects, birds and animals are competitive too and they aim to grow more, get the tastiest morsels, hang out in the best spots where their mates go — although they do it as a survival instinct rather than for fun.

Explain that's why pests are pests, they really aren't making holes in the cabbage leaves 'cos they like the lacy look; no, they want to grow up big and happy and turn into butterflies, just like kids want to grow up and turn into film stars... or environmetalists, horticulturalists, toxicologists... okay, at least gardeners.

Thus the caterpillar has a life, but nature keeps the balance. So it's okay to squash the caterpillars that eat our food, but not to kill ALL of the caterpillars in the world because then some birds would die without their favourite meal.

Those birds would not be around to then eat other insects which could then multiply too much. Also other wildlife would miss their bird meals, such as snakes or even spiders (yes there are bird eating spiders) and they would perish and nature's balance would be upset.

Kids gardening - flower border
If helping with a full-on garden seems too ambitious at the start when gardening with kids, try something simpler. There are lots of kids' gardening activities that don't involve an actual garden.

Wonderful sensory experiences can be gained by growing plants, making something out of natural materials, or generally pottering around with bugs, animals, dirt, stones, water and other life inspiring stuff.

Time to make some world champion gardeners. Have a look at these good old, reliable, and some off-the-planet new ideas for fun and informative gardening with children — and of course you.

Gardening Activities for kids Whoo hoo, wheelbarrows full of fun garden games, absorbing projects, and interesting activities for family gardening.

Kids Garden Crafts Take some of nature's materials and turn them into delightful bits and pieces to display, give away, play with or re-use another time. Here you'll find clear instuctions, for all ages and abilities, to make things outside or inside on a rainy day.

If you're having trouble getting the kids to eat vegetables, click over to this page: Vegetable Tips for Kids.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oct 21, No Till Gardening - How to Practice No Till Farming and Home Gardening

No till gardening really should be called no till farming, because it is referring to the elimination of conventional farming ways of plowing, compacting, degrading and eroding farmland, market gardens and sometimes community gardens by the use of machines.

Some readers may have quite large plots of land or grow vegetables in a small commercial way, in which case the following information will prove invaluable.

And just a mention for first timers into no till gardening. If your land has not yet built up a good layer of compost with all the necessary soil activity, then it may be necessary to aerate the soil yourself.

Plants need sun, air and water to thrive, and if the earthworms aren't there yet, the soil will need to be broken up deep down for you to get a decent crop in the beginning.

For a large plot of land, run a machine over it with prodder type spikes, and for a smaller plot, get yourself a long prodding garden fork and off you go. You don't want your plants to come to a full stop when their roots reach a hardpan layer.

Don't turn the soil, just poke holes in it. It's no till gardening, not no poke holes, so don't feel guilty because it's not as though you're turning the soil layers over or compacting the soil, (which is what conventional farming does.)

When no till farming first became popular, many farmers used chemicals or burning to get rid of their crop remains and weeds instead of plowing them under. Oops, that created more problems with chemical run-off into lakes and streams, and poison residues. Was plowing still a better option?

No... plowing or rotary hoeing is terrible for the land in the long term. There are many complex reasons, and you may like to read further information on this by soil experts. But for now here are a few simple points.

Firstly tilling creates soil erosion, because it breaks up the structure of the soil and fine particles are then easily blown or washed away, or washed down into the porous gaps in the soil and over time this actually clogs up the soil.

This can cause any one of the following depending on the clay and sand composition of the soil: Loss of soil; water-logging; too much aeration; compaction — made worse by heavy equipment; and formation of a hard topsoil pan which hinders seed germination and stops water infiltrating.

Secondly, although tilling initially makes crops produce abundantly because of sudden aeration, this is often excessive and abnormal for the plant.

In the meantime organic matter, bacteria, fungi, beetles and earthworms are all destroyed by tillage and not able to maintain the fine balance of harmony by providing nutrients to plants in a timely cycle. Eventually more and more fertilisers have to be used to maintain production.

No till gardening is natural and the soil ecology is NOT sent topsy turvy. Tilling damages and exposes earthworms and fatally buries other beneficial organisms including some that would normally help control invaders ? such as plant-eating nematodes.

Tilling releases CO? into the air, whereas if there was a rich organic soil layer, this carbon would be in the plant remains and thus retained in the soil. You can read more about how no till gardening sequests CO?.

Not only that, but the reduced use of heavy farm machinery with the no till gardening method, decreases emissions of CO?.

What farmers, market gardeners and small plot owners are doing now is either total no till farming or "conservation tillage." This means leaving the ground and any cover undisturbed, but using, if necessary, less damaging machinery to open up enough of a furrow or hole and in many cases do the sowing or planting with the same run.

Some of the popular implements used are harrows, cultivators and chisel plows. These land friendly machines only lift and moderately break the soil and prepare the surface for seed sowing or planting.

In poorer countries of course, hand or oxen tillage is done by armies of farm workers. But for small scale gardeners anywhere, a fork and rake with occasional spade use for planting are adequate.

The longer no till farming is practised and the sooner compost is added or plant remains left to decompose in the field, the better the soil structure becomes. Over time, the yeilds have proven to be higher with this method.

The golden rule with no till gardening is to avoid inverting the soil, and to tread lightly or not at all on your planting area.

Other organic, raised bed, and no dig gardening methods are:

Raised Vegetable Garden
Straw Bale Gardening
Sq ft Gardening
Lasagna Gardening

View the original article here