Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What will the coastline look like in the future?

Many highly populated areas are now directly adjacent to the coastline or in very close proximity to the coast. This is lovely for those that get to live with lovely views of the ocean or live there because of proximity to trade routes or similar.

However, with climate change and sea level rise there are likely to be significant consequences for all those people that live near the coast. Not only are people going to be directly affected with houses being inundated, but much of our society's infrastructure is located in close proximity to these areas and will likely have significant challenges because of these environmental issues.

(Source: The Guardian

In light of these significant impacts that will be faced by millions of people, I cannot see anything but gloom for coastal environments and coastal processes that remain intact nearby these large human populations. 

Do you think governments will stand by the ecological value of the community of mangroves or salt marshes when the people that live behind them face imminent inundation and furthermore the government could take the easy option for these people through the construction of a seawall or similar? 

I feel so pessimistic about this. My professional world is immersed in this reality based economic development sector and I can't see the broader community supporting the retreat of communities (and protecting the coastal environments) over the "easier" solution of building walls and providing coastal engineering solutions (due to the externalities associated with these strategies).

I would love to hear your opinion about this and perhaps lift my mood about this. Perhaps you have some of the picture that I have forgotten to consider in the first place. 

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Salesman's worse nightmare

I am in the market for a new fridge/freezer and a chest freezer. We have had the main house fridge/freezer for about 10 years and it is still kicking along quite nicely with the exception of the seal but with the improvements in technology I see a lot of merit in upgrading our refrigeration situation.

Benefits primarily relate to the improved electrical efficiencies that the new model refrigerators have experienced in recent years, which will in turn help out my hip pocket (cheaper electricity bills)!

So after some research on the government's efficient efficiency appliance website, calculation on size requirements, preparation of my list of possibilities, cut out a size guide for some of the larger items I plan on storing in the fridge/freezer, I have started to visit some of the shops that sell these appliances.

Since I started this process a couple of weeks ago, all I can say is that I am highly disappointed with the attitude of sale persons and the stocked range of fridge/freezers (brands) that the I have experienced so far.

It must be said that I haven't visited some of the bigger chains yet, as where I live these two stores are currently in sales/moving mode and I can't bear to think of going to these places with a whole bunch of sale driven customers added into the mix.

But nevertheless, the stores that I have been to so far either:

  • showed me products that weren't in my list because they aren't energy efficient, but was told by the salesperson that I would love them because of the technological features they supported (I mentioned that one of my criteria was that it had to be energy efficient) - ice dispensers in the door and a tricky little door that opened so that I could get the milk out of the door without opening the entire door; or
  • considered me a bit of a disappointment as a potential customer (well that was the impression I got) and was just told the star ratings had change several times over the years and the kWh give you an idea of how much the fridge would cost me to run per year. After thinking about this for a little bit, I just think I was a disappointment because he wouldn't be able to upsell some random product or feature to me.
As you my expect from this post, I haven't bought any of my required appliances yet, but at least have ruled out two stores in my purchase process.

The thing that surprises me most about this process is the number of brands and models that are being sold by appliance stores that aren't energy efficient and sales peoples' attitude/lack of information to be able to respond to queries about energy efficient appliances and the amount of personal effort I have to go to to know the energy efficient models and time to go to the variety of appliance stores to even find the models. Hope this all changes in the future and these energy efficient appliances are easy to come by and sales people become well armed with the "right" information!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012


Some time last year a friend of mine from my permaculture group gave me a couple of tubers of turmeric. She had grown this in her garden and had a bountiful year and plenty to share. Prior to this, I had no experience with this plant and as such said I would give it a go but in a confined space so that it couldn't get out of control and establish in my garden without my explicit permission.

My next question to my friend was, what do I do with it? Then, how does it grow and what special things do I need to do to keep it alive? The answers were, it's simple, put it in the ground and watch it grow, you harvest it once the plant dies back next winter.

Well, that doesn't sound very hard!

So my trial is now complete, I placed my two tubers in the ground. I had a 'orange' and 'normal' turmeric tuber and placed each in a separate styro-foam box with potting mix, then covered the soil with hay. A few weeks on and I was cooking with gas, well actually I finally had a sprout poking its little snout out of the soil. Then a few weeks later some leaves and eventually a leafy green plant that didn't have to be watered more than fell out of the sky! How simple.

Here are a couple of in progress photos.

About a month ago the plants started to die back. Remembering the conversation about harvesting once this started to happen, I wondered how difficult this harvest and processing would be. Turns out, the harvesting process is just as simple as growing these things. I snapped off the plant or remnants of and dug around in the soil with my hands for the tubers and voila a whole bucket load of turmeric for my greatest cooking delight (I think). 

I think I got about 1.5kgs of tubers from the two small nodes that I planted last year.

I reckon the hardest part to this whole plant is knowing what to do with once you harvest it. From my internet reading I understand that you can use it just as you would do ginger in Asian cooking. 

Considering the amount of turmeric I have, I have already planted a nodule of each of the two types of turmeric back into a styro-foam box for next year's harvest. I also have plans to share some of my produce with the permaculture group next month.

If you have any recipes that use turmeric that you'd care to share I'll happily try them out, so that I can use up some of this turmeric. 

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Climate Science and Environment should be in the Queensland education system

According to the change.org website, the LNP has passed a motion in the Queensland Parliament to remove 'environmental education' and 'climate science' from the Queensland education system. Oh my goodness, is all that I can say!

This is ridiculous and as one science education commentator said this week this means that climate change denial is rife in the LNP and they are treating this scientific information as a 'belief system'.

Please feel free to join science educators and supporters, in their action to ignore this governmental policy and bring scientific understanding and investigation back to the classroom, by signing the petition at change.org
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken update

We have had the chickens two weeks now and they have changed so much in this short period of time. They have almost overwhelmed their small inside cage and have been happily testing out their chicken tractor during the day out on the front deck. They enjoy short bouts of weed pecking and scratching around this bigger space. The space also means that they aren't inundating their water with sawdust within seconds of it being replaced.  

I am starting to wonder whether Cheeky might be a rooster. She/he has always had a larger comb than the other two and is certainly larger than the other two. We will just have to wait and see. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Socks is the smallest of the group, but seems to be coping well.

Hope the chickens are enjoying their time with us as much as we are enjoying their company. 
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to let your neighbours know you're a greenie?

Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of talk about no-dig gardens. What trips me up is the need to source all the materials to make a no-dig garden. No-dig gardens just seem to have so many ingredients, when you can just call up a compost or landscaping place and they will dump a whole bunch of 'soil' at your front door. Convenience strikes again!

I haven't given up completely on the idea of creating my 'perfect' veggie patch through a no dig process and due to a number of recent random events in my life I am starting to think it might even be possible. However, the no-dig garden still needs all of those ingredients and perhaps the biggest sticking point is the current lack of compost in my life! Now compost doesn't just appear over night, you have to work at it, love it, feed it......and maybe, just maybe you might be rewarded with some 'black gold'.

When we moved in to our new place, I did rush out and buy the biggest and nastiest black compost bin I could find at our local green & red hardware store. I put it in a place I thought would be accessible and convenient, with the idea that I would be making buckets loads of compost by the time I was thinking about building the veggie patches. Well, 12 months on and I have decided that the bin is in the completely wrong spot and its location doesn't allow me to turn the ingredients to aerate them. Also, I think perhaps the type of bin I bought (a flat pack square one) is probably not strong enough to take a good turning.

Anyway, I will continue with my bin choice, but I have moved it and its current ingredients to a new location. The move brought ingredient aeration and some realisation that I don't have enough green materials (nitrogen) going into my compost bin (because the worm farm is hogging them). So this is where my neighbours find out that they have a hippie in their midst!

With the amount of green waste being utilised in my worm farm and the lack of established veggie patch to "feed" the compost bin, where am I to get this green material from? Work colleagues seem to be a little "special" when it comes to separating suitable lunch scraps and don't actually seem to have that many (or least not placed appropriately into the designated bucket in the lunch room).

So, where am I to get this stuff from? My greenie and recycling streak re-surfaced and I came up with a grand plan. Through a little initiative of mine, I am hoping my neighbours will be the source of all my required 'green materials'. How is this going to happen? Well, I have put together a flyer, that I have so far dropped into 50% of my street's letterboxes, requesting my neighbours be so kind as to drop their kitchen green scraps into a "bin" that I have conveniently placed at my front gate.

I wonder if this plan will be successful? Once the rain eases I will do the rest of my neighbourhood letterbox drop and see whether this strategy reaps any rewards! Pin It

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Queensland University of Technology food seasonality/growing survey

I just received the Northey Street community garden email newsletter and within it there was a request to participate in a short survey for a QUT organised research program. If you have less than 10 mins to spare and you have an interest in growing your own food or knowing about what fresh food is in season, take the time to participate in this survey. The survey is at:  http://tinyurl.com/SeasonalitySurvey.

If you'd like more information about the research and/or the researchers here is some basic information from the Northey Street newsletter and contact details of the principal researcher. 

"SURVEY: Your Experience with growing and harvesting food
As part of ongoing research at QUT, Peter Lyle (a Northey Street volunteer) and his supervisors Dr Jaz Choi and Assoc Prof Marcus Foth are investigating ways of designing technology to provide useful and engaging information on the seasonality of food. We would really appreciate it if you could take the time to fill in this 15 minute survey about your experience with growing and harvesting food, and any information you have access to through IT that may have helped proven helpful. For more information on the project please go to http://www.urbaninformatics.net/projects/food/ or contact Peter Lyle at p.lyle@qut.edu.au".
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