Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The death of the supermarket and all that

the point is that supermarkets are over. We cannot have such long supply lines between us and our food. Not any more. The very model of the supermarket is unsustainable, what with the packaging, transport distances and destruction of national farming sectors. Small, independent suppliers, processors and retailers or community-owned shops selling locally produced food provide a social glue and reduce carbon emissions.
Our consumerist culture is unsustainable and the world must find alternative ways, says Robert Newman in an opinion piece in The Age.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Does Australia's fledgling biofuels industry have a future

With oil prices at historic highs and "peak oil" being the current buzzword alternative fuels are getting plenty of press even in the land of open cut coal (that's Australia to you). Today the Sydney Morning Herald ponders the future of biofuels in Australia.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Permaculture Top 3 Links

Grassy's been doing a bit of research about permaculture over the last few days. Sure, its a seventies thing but so what? He's a seventies kinda guy. Anyway he thought he'd share his list with you - just three links, but when they're this good that's all you'll need!

The Permaculture Research Institute
The grandaddy of them all.

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Introduction to Permaculture
Extensive, comprehensive, thorough...all those kinds of things.

Permaculture Magazine: Articles
What it says - a list of free articles.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Plant Amnesty

Grassy sees a lot of gardener's engaged in acts of senseless slaughter - of trees that is! So he wants to recommend the Plant Amnesty web site. First, if you're not convinced that this is a problem then one look at their picture gallery will convince even the hardest pruner that its a worthwhile mission. Some people really have no idea. ZIP! So apart from pointing out the perils and ovbious no-no's (don't top your trees) the web site has lots of links to useful pruning information including free regional pruning guides. If you need some guidance with pruning this site will really help.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Real Garden Tools For Kids

Grassy is always keen to plug anything that gets kids more involved in gardening. There's something about dirt under the finger nails that Grassy knows can change kids. And over the years Grassy's come up with three basic rules about kids and gardening Number one - catch them young. Number two catch them often. Number three never give a kid a plastic tool. They figure it out in about two seconds - it's not like the real one - not as useful and not as cool - its plastic not metal! So this kid's gardening kit fits the bill perfectly. Real tools - a mini hoe, mini trowel, mini rake, sprayer, 2 pots and saucers, a pair of gardening gloves, seeds and a gardening bag. All the essentials kids need to get started. Just add soil!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Protect it! Plug it!

Grassy was reading about the problem of eye and ear protection in the garden over at SF Gate. The bit on hearing loss caught his eye - especially as he's going deaf. Grassy's noticed that in his neck of the woods more and more people are using those noisy petrol or electric blowers. Apparently more and more places are banning their use! So noise can be a real problem in the garden. The SF Gate article says that that hearing loss is cumulative. It also points out that a lawn mower gives off about 85 or 90 decibels; the top limit for noise exposure for an eight-hour period is 90 decibels, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration. So a noisy lawnmower won't send you deaf today, but over years it might! So Grassy's gonna start being a bit more sensible around the garden. Foam earplugs are perfect for occasional use around the garden. At the Ear Plug Super Store you can choose from a huge range of earplugs for all sorts of purposes. They'll sell you one pair or a hundred! Protect it! Plug it!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Composting Warrior

Grassy says composting should be a core business of any gardener. So Grassy was really impressed when he visited This is a simple no nonsense guide to composting, giving the basic information that anyone who wants to get started with composting needs to know. What's more there isn't an ad in sight which Grassy thinks is kinda refreshing in this age when its hard to escape those ubiquious Google ad boxes. The product of one Mario Lopez, Grassy was very impressed with his composting-as-way-of-warrior rationale. Go on, take a peek.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Drosera: Gardening with Natives

Grassy stumbled on this web site somehow. He can't remember - bad sign normally but not in this case. Drosera is dedicated to celebrating New York City’s natural heritage and restoring New Yorkers sense of serenity and direct connection with the earth - basically helping people reconnect with nature. They encourage re-visoning – training our eyes to see the beauty in our local native flora which we often see as weeds. After all they are our natural heritage, the result of thousands of years of evolution. The brain behind this great project is Mariellé Anzelone – a lover of cities and all things green. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Sciences and an M.S. in Ecology and Evolution, both from Rutgers University. She has inventoried flora abroad and closer to home. As New York City’s Botanist, her work focuses on conserving the floristic diversity of the five boroughs through management and restoration.
The web site has bucket loads of goodies and even though Grassy don't live in NY he still downloaded a fabulous pdf called Gardening with New York City Natives. It's got great plant lists for all types of gardening situations from shaded pot gardens to sunny window boxes. Grassy thinks there should be something like this for every major city. Let him know if you see more like this.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Leopoldo’s City Vegetable Garden

Grassy's always singing that old Neil tune that starts out "home-grown's all right with me". He's always interested in better ways for city gardeners to garden. Round his way most folks live in the city. And we all know that cities have bloody gigantic ecological footprints. Bringing food to the city uses a bucket load of energy, and is one contributor to that footprint, so the more we grow our own the better. Hence Grassy is more than happy to plug Leopoldo’s City Vegetable Garden. This light but strong folding structure in aluminium, can be used both outdoors and indoors. Vegetables, herbs, fruits - all could be grown in this garden. Grassy says its obviously suited to filling up an otherwise unused small space like on terraces or balconies.
The product is distributed in a textile packaging that also contains: the assembly tool, the instructions and the "Let's cultivate" manual. Leopoldo's web site. Got this one via Treehugger.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Campania Expands Fountain Range

Grassy's reckons its hard to beat the sound of running water in garden. As he doesn't have a river running through his, he's been on the lookout for a fountain of some type and he thinks he's found just the thing - this Oak Bluff Fountain (FT-65) from Campania International a company started in 1984 initially selling terra cotta planters which has since diversified into cast stone garden planters and ornaments for which they've established a well-deserved reputation. Grassy says the Oak Bluff Fountain is one of 12 new fountain designs they've added to their range giving you over fifty designs to choose from. Grassy is going to check them out on the garden show circuit cause he saw their schedule posted on their website.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Topsy Turvy Space Saver

Some gardeners are lucky like Grassy. He's got a whole yard to fill with plants so he's not likely to buy one of these but if space is a factor limiting your growing exploits then grab yourself a Topsy Turvy Planter. You plant your seeds in the top of the Topsy Turvy and your plants grow down! As plants grow, all you do is water conveniently from the top with the included funnel. Grassy reckons the topsy turvy will be ideal for things like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and flowers. With the Topsy Turvey Planter there's no more digging, weeding, bending, stakes or cages needed. It instantly turns any space with ample sunlight into a garden — even patios and balconies.
I saw this one at Gaiam

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Gardener's Bell from Harmony Hollow

Grassy has a range of chimes hanging 'round his garden. His favourite ones are a set of bamboo ones from Bali but he's just found a these brass ones specially designed for gardeners. Produced by Harmony Hollow each bell comes with comes with a tag with the following message:
It is universally believed that bells have forever driven away bad spirits and called upon good ones, and this Gardener's Bell is no exception By attracting the spirits of air (a soft breeze), of fire (warm sunlight), of water (rain plus a little help from the watering can), and of earth (rich soil), its pleasant vibrations are conducive to growing healthy plants. Moreover; this bell's melodic ringing puts anyone aspiring to be a green thumb directly in touch with the natural rhythms of Mother Nature. May you dance in her beautiful garden, rejoice in a bountiful harvest, and in so doing, may you cultivate your soul.

Grassy says you can select from a range of bell shapes. The picture Grassy snapped shows the Gardener's Bell with a 731 bell.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Latest US Perennials

Grassy's the sort of gardener who's always on the lookout for unusual perennials. Round his neck of the woods there's plenty to choose from. So Grassy thought that this tip was worth passing on - over at Green Beam the online home of Branch-Wilson Publishing (publisher of a range of garden trade publications) they've got a nifty set of pdf's you can download and print on the latest perennials available to nurserymen. So get in ahead of the pack and see what you'll soon be seeing in nurseries near you. Grassy says you can see the latest varieties of Amaryllis, Aquilegia, Aster, Astrantia, Calluna, Campanula, Caryopteris, Centaurea, Chiastophyllum, Christia, Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Corydalis, Coreopsis, Delosperma. Delphinium, Dianthus, Echinacea, Erodium, Euphorbia, Gaillardia, Gaura, Gentiana, Geranium, Helenium, Helleborus, Helleborus, Heuchera, Heucherella, Hibiscus, Hosta, Lamium, Lavender, Leucanthemum, Lobelia. Lupinus, Lychnis, Mandevilla, Miscanthus, Nepeta, Papaver, Penstemon, Phlox, Platycodon, Podophyllum, Pulmonaria, Rose, Salvia, Scabiosa, Scabiosa, Sedum, Tiarella, Verbascum, Veronica and Viola.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tomato Fest Rolls Round

The Carmel TomatoFest will be held on September 11, 2005. If You Love Tomatoes...
don't miss America's most spectacular tomato event. Featuring a tasting of more than 300 tomato varieties from around the world, an extravagant outdoor BBQ, delicious tomato recipes created by 55 of America's best chefs, a tasting of 100 great wines from Monterey County, a "Salsa Showcase" tasting of 90 tomato salsas, "The International Olive Oil Tasting" featuring extra virgin olive oils from 8 countries and the best of California, live music and dancing. Bring the whole family! Net proceeds are donated to local youth charities. (Since 1999 the Carmel TomatoFest has donated more than $160,000.00 to local charities which has funded projects such organic gardens in schools and children's organic gardens.)
Tickets are limited to assure the best possible experience for our guests who travel here from around the nation. The event has sold out every year (as much as 2 months prior to the event).

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Vacation Drip Watering Kit

As I'm heading over to Europe for a few weeks latter in the year I've been thinking about how the garden'll survive. I do have an 18-year old son but I don't think it would be very wise to rely on him to water my plants. So I might have to pick up one of these. The Vacation Drip Watering Kit lets you automatically water your indoor house plants or outdoor plants while you're away on vacation. The kit comes with an adapter to attach to the shower arm in your bathroom. Disconnect the shower head, attach the adapter to the 1/2" shower arm. Screw on the timer, hook up water to all your house plants in the shower/bath while your on vacation! Outdoors, simply attach the timer to your faucet and hook up the the tubing to the plants. The system runs off a battery-operated timer and can water up to 22 planters, baskets & window boxes automatically (although it can be expanded to water up to 35 baskets & planters with additional standard drip fittings). No tools or glue required.

I saw this one at Mr Drip

Friday, August 05, 2005

Copper Orbs

These perfectly-round, handcrafted copper spheres would complement any garden setting. The copper will gain patina with age. They would really great if they were in the garden contrasting with something taller like tall ornamental grasses or in my garden I'd put them beside clumps of ginger. I saw these ones at High Country Gardens where they are sold in a set of three with one 8", 10" and 14" diameter spheres included.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Swing With Your Sweetheart

What's a garden without a tree? And what's a tree without a swing? And then, what's a swing if you're just swinging by yourself? Not much fun. So get one of these and you'll never have to swing alone. This wood seat & jute rope swing set is made for two. Called, aptly, the Americana Sweetheart Swing, its hand made and includes over 20 ft. of heavy-duty jute rope for hanging. So grab your sweetheart and head for the swing.

I saw this one over at

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Food: Original and Best

The original and the best. Its often said and, I find, often true - think Elvis, the Beatles, Coca-Cola, Maxicrop Plant Food. Yep, when it comes to liquid seaweed plant food Maxicrop claims to be the original - and the best. A pure seaweed extract containing 8% (W/W) soluble seaweed solids including a wide range of plant growth stimulants and trace elements Maxicrop Original is approved for organic growing by the Soil Association and Guild of Conservation Grade Producers Unlike a fertiliser, Maxicrop Original doesn’t provide a sudden flush, it works within the plant and soil to maintain and encourage plant growth and development. The 'Original' bio-stimulant was the first on the market and has stood the test of time- over 50 years. Check out their web site for links to the full range of Maxicrop products for gardeners as well as retail information.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Permaculture Pioneer's Principles and Pathways

David Holmgren is one of the originators of permaculture. His classic Sustainable Living at "Melliodora" Hepburn Permaculture Gardens: A Case Study in Cool Climate Permaculture 1985-1995 is one of the few works that details the development of a significant permaculture experiment. These days as well as writing David maintains a very active teaching schedule, travelling the world spreading the seed as it were. He also maintains a nifty web site where you can buy his books (including the one pictured - Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability) as well as DVDs of two presentations David gave at the 2003 Woodford Folk Festival in S.E. Queensland - “Permaculture: Reclaiming Our Place in Nature” and “Permaculture Design Principles.”

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sprout Out

Take your gardening to the next level - Sure, gardeners in the northern hemisphere are rolling through another summer but winter will be here before they know it so they'd best be prepared. When gardening outdoord starts getting a bit too tough turn your focus to indoor gardening - And don't just think decoration - think food, brain food. Yep, we're talking sprouts of course. Sprouts are baby plants at their prime. According to experts, at this stage of development they have a greater concentration of proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, bio-flavinoids, T-cells, etc. than at any other stage in the life of the plant. Interested? The FreshLife Sprouter makes sprouting indoors a no-brainer with an automatic sprinkling system. To produce fresh, nutritious and tender sprouts just put in the seeds and turn it on! Its also expandable allowing you to double output! Just purchase a second sprout barrel to double your sprouting area.

Available from Tribest Life