Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Grasshoppers on my mint!

I planted a moderately grown mint plant, from a punnet sold from my local nursery, in one of my back gardens the other week. I bought it because the mint plant that I have in a different garden bed at the front of the house, has been in for about six months now and is at least growing, but is becoming a little straggly and seems to have a lot more stem and diminished leaf growth. So I thought a second plant would just help to keep our supply up!

But alas, the back garden plant, the new one, has succumbed significantly to a blight of tiny green grasshoppers. They are everywhere. The plant leaves looks skeletal! I mean all it has left is literally the veins in the leaf and the main stems. I hardly recognised it as the mint plant I put in only a few weeks back! Terrible news.

People talk of controlling grasshoppers by just going around squishing the things and I have generally done this. But goodness, I wouldn't know where to begin and the grasshoppers that are on this plant in the hundreds (probably) are tiny. They are nymphs (babies) and each one would be less than half a centimetre in length.

I think sadly due to the extent of damage this plant has received, it is a lost cause. But certainly interesting to observe where plants do and don't do so well in your garden and apparently this garden bed isn't great for mint. I suspect the soil nutrients in the garden bed I planted the mint in weren't up to the task, due to my lack of preparation to the soil and my "I'll just chuck it in and see how it goes" mentality at the moment.

Anyway, good learning curve and see how the rest of the plants in that bed deal with the next door neighbour's "pest" problem and whether any of them succumb or whether the mint will take one for the team and the grasshoppers will move somewhere else once they finish on my mint plant. Pin It

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's raining, It's pouring!

Well, we have had a week of wet weather again here in south-east Queensland. Not unusual most would say. But certainly it seems that this La Nina event is again bringing us plenty of water, with 100mm of rain falling over Noosa in 1 hour on Friday night. That is certainly a massive amount of water and has resulted in some damage to the road network in that area, with sections being washed away and bridges damaged. Commuters also got caught in the deluge with the train tracks flooded and the roads so awash with water that people abandoned their cars only to come back and find them either gone or damaged with the rising waters over the next 12 hour period. Crazy stuff!

But my main excitement (not to downplay the dramatics of the events) during this wet weather, apart from having a house which is no longer leaking (thanks Mr insurance) but the joy of hearing the rain hit my roof, head towards the nearest gutter and downpipe (thanks to partner for installing extra just before this last lot of rain) and watching it rushing into my rainwater tanks. This is sooooooo exciting for me. The constant replenishment of our rainwater tanks is a joy to me. Watching the water fill the tanks has always been such a satisfying feeling for me, even when we were in our last house and we were on town water. I just love watching this natural process: capturing a wonderful natural resource with the idea that I could use it at my leisure and pleasure for whatever purpose I choose. Yes, some would say I am a freak, but if you ever get the chance to watch the rain pour into your own or someone else's rainwater tank you tell me that it isn't satisfying or at least mesmerizing.

Another exciting thing that occurred during this last large rainfall event, is that my new 2000L tank that I recently purchased and attached to my carport is also full! Woo hoo. I was a little worried that I would miss all this summer's rains and as we head to another El Nino event (I believe) that it would take an eternity to fill up and the cost of installation ($1000 for the tank....slimline corrugated iron) wouldn't justify itself for many years. But already I am satisfied that I have done the right thing.

Love to hear your rain appreciation stories. Pin It

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Win a worm farm

G Magazine is offering a lucky winner a worm farm from Tumbleweed.

(Source: Tumbleweed)

All you have to do is tell them in 25 words or less why you want or need to start a worm farm. The competition is only open to Australian residents and closes on the 13 March 2012.

Go on give it a go! Visit G Magazine's website for entry details.

There is also a blog entry on their website showing the successes a 12 year old has had in her worm farming adventures. Inspirational stuff and very practical.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Take 3 campaign

The Take 3 campaign was started in 2009 by Tim Silverwood. The idea behind the campaign is the reduction of plastic and general pollution in our waterways and ocean. The premise is that when you visit your nearest waterway or beach, you take three pieces of rubbish away with you and put them in the bin.


As you're aware from one of my previous posts there is a giant garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Apparently the scientific community believes that it is impossible to actually eradicate this plastic pollution from the ocean. But, further plastics can be prevented from entering the waterway and becoming part of this floating garbage soup!

So, maybe you could adopt this as a something you do the next time you visit your nearest creek, waterway, beach or coastal region and get a warm glow on the inside for making a difference to your local and global environment. Pin It

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Air Quality in your local neighbourhood

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has a number of air quality monitoring sites throughout Queensland, with a number of these spread across south-east Queensland. These air quality sites monitor a variety of air quality factors including:

  • carbon monoxide;
  • nitrogen dioxide;
  • ozone;
  • sulphur dioxide;
  • particles TSP;
  • particles PM10;
  • particles PM2.5;
  • visibility.
If you're interested to know what your local air quality is like and whether you should venture outside, have a look at DERM's website.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Clean Up Australia Day

4 March 2012 is another environmental awareness day, with the Clean Up Australia Day initiative once again being run. You can either participate in an already arranged Clean Up Australia Day site (which you can find on their website) or set up your own site.

What is involved?

Take a pair of gloves and clean up a nominated site of its rubbish for as long as the allocated site is "open" or as long as you have to offer.

Some of the more unusual sites have been dive locations, beaches and rivers. This year sites really could be anywhere! Just as far as your imagination can stretch and as far as willing volunteers will go.

If you want to set up a site, it is important to register your site asap, as the Clean Up Australia Day organising committee requires about 2 weeks prior to the day to send out bags and supporting information to you.

Go on, give it a go. Originally I was going to create a clean up site on my street, but unfortunately I don't think I would get many volunteers and my street really isn't a rubbish hot spot. So, as an alternative, I'm thinking of going along to my local site, which I found on the official website.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Planning an Earth Hour Event?

31 March 2012 sees another Earth Hour celebration! Sixth one! Earth Hour is a public awareness campaign and aims to have people switch off their power for one hour and draw attention to the idea of a sustainable future for all.

(Source: WWF)

If you're planning an event, WWF has created a Earth Hour toolkit, which you can download and use to help you organise your event, as well as providing useful tips to make your event even more sustainable! You can also register your event at the new Earth Hour Unplugged website or alternatively you might just find an event to go to.

Enjoy your preparations and look forward to hearing how you spend your Earth Hour! Pin It

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another great resource book....weeds

A great weed book that I can recommend for the central and southern sections of the east coast of Australia is Weeds of the South-east: An Identification Guide for Australia. It is written by F.J.Richardson, R.G. Richardson and R.C.H. Shepherd.

The second and fully updated edition of this book was released recently (2011) and I think it is brilliant. Great photos, easy descriptions (if you want them) and worth its cost if you are regularly needing to identify weeds in your area and not a true and passionate botanist. It is also easily available from online stores.

I live in south-east Queensland and it is certainly relevant for my area. And because of the geographic distribution of the book's subject matter you can also look at or learn about some of the weedy species that occur in the cooler parts of the continent.

Thumbs up for this publication!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seasonal produce guide

Via the 1Million Women campaign blog I have discovered a "seasonal produce guide" that lets you know which fruit and vegetables are in season and therefore the ones you should buy. Food that is in season will have shorter food miles, be fresher, be better for you and will generally be more enjoyable to eat.

I have been wanting a pocket size seasonal produce guides for ages and have started dabbling in creating my own, going so far in some instances at looking at when you should plant various crops and calculate their availability based on time till harvest. But, yippppeee, there is no need to reinvent the wheel and I have now printed out the Sustainable Table's version.

The one downside to this guide is that it has been produced (by the look of things) by people based in southern Australia. There is therefore some seasonal variation between the northern parts of Australia and the fruits and vegetables available in the fields in southern Australia, but at least it does provide a guide. It will provide you with some reference to what you should be able to buy and perhaps over time you can amend it to better suit your region. 

Give it a go and let me know what you think. Pin It

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture

Nutri-Tech on the Sunshine Coast runs a regular course in organic farming. The next Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture is in March 2012 and is being held at Nutri-Tech's facility at Yandina. A course outline and costs are provided on their website, with a similar course being run in Victoria by the same company.

It looks interesting and comprehensive (four days + field day) and I would be interested in attending if it weren't for a little bit of a financial squeeze likely for the next 12 months in our household. Nevertheless, it might be something you are interesting in attending. Let me know what you think if you do manage to attend.

If you are interested, there are discounts offered on the course costs if you're an eligible primary producer, which can be claimed from the government (FarmReady program). Pin It

Friday, February 10, 2012

Transition Film Festival

11-19th February 2012 in Melbourne will see the Transition Film Festival hit our shores. As their website advertises:

"What is the future of clean energy? How can we redesign our economic system? What is the design science of sustainable architecture? How do we consciously evolve to solve our planets multiple crisis? See the change you want to be in the world @ Transition Film Festival."

This event is also part of the larger Sustainable Living Festival (also being held in Melbourne, Australia). For those in Melbourne probably worth going along to to see what you can do and what other people around the world are achieving!  

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

How much energy does your household use?

Would you like to know exactly how much energy you use in your home?

CSIRO is conducting a study examining 500 homes across Australia (Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne) to look at how much energy households are using for cooling and heating. The researchers are presently looking for households that would like to one of the 500 households.

One of the conditions of entry is that your house has to be less than ten years old, which removes my household from participating, as well as many of the people I know, but if you meet the criteria you can sign up and reap some of the benefits.

Have a look at their website: http://www.csiro.au/house to see if you are eligible to take part.

Benefits that CSIRO states households will receive from participating include:

  • learning how to reduce your energy bills;
  • a report on your home's heating and cooling energy performance;
  • a set of infrared photographs that show if you are losing heating and cooling and where it is going 
  • $100 cash for looking after and returning a pair of thermometers; and
  • some homes may be eligible for installation of an energy monitor, valued at $1500, to provide online access showing where your electricity is being used.

I think this would be so cool, particularly the photos of your house showing the heat/cool leaks!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I want your old toothbrushes!

For a while now I have known about cleaning bathrooms with baking soda and water, which you just combined into a thick paste and used on walls, grout, etc. I haven't actually ever used it, but thought I would give it a try on my bathroom the other day, which was looking a little grey for all the mould in the grout.

I have some "special" cleaning paste (suppose to be natural) and microfibre cloths which I normally use, but thought it looked a little too much like hard work. So, I had an old toothbrush and I thought I would give the baking soda paste a try.

Wow, how fabulous is it to clean grout and bathrooms generally with a toothbrush. The baking soda paste didn't completely eliminate the grim, but certainly improved the darkness and I am so impressed with the ease of toothbrush cleaning I didn't mind giving it another go this weekend just past. And managed to experience another "enjoyable" cleaning moment.

My only problem is old toothbrush don't last with the amount of pressure applied and I really need a large amount of them to continue to get into my grout gaps effectively. So, if you've got some spare and you don't cotton on to this less laborious cleaning practice, send me your old toothbrushes! Pin It

Friday, February 3, 2012

Queensland Herbarium seminars 2012

The Queensland Herbarium holds monthly seminars at their Mt Coot-tha facility and they are open to the public. Their website currently outlines the seminars for 2012 through to June. These are held on the second week of each month between 12 and 1pm.

Seminars that have been announced so far include:

"The flora of the Desert Uplands Bioregion."

"Historical vegetation changes to the grassy islands in the Whitsunday."

"The Springbrook wireless sensor network."

"Priority threat management to protect Kimberley wildlife."

"The fauna of forest red gum ecosystems following the raising of Awoonga Dam near Gladstone."

Maybe you might find some of these topics of interest, so make some time to learn from some of Queensland's researchers. Pin It

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guide to Eucalypts and Wattles in Brisbane region

The Queensland Herbarium (part of the Department of Environment and Resource Management) has a couple of fabulous and easy to understand and follow guides to eucalypts and wattles of the Brisbane region. These guides have been available for a number of years now and I have found them a fantastic resource. If you print them double-sided onto an A3 piece of paper they fold into a nice brochure size pamphlet. They are easy to take with you and have great illustrations that allow you to easily identify these species in the Brisbane region whilst you're in the field.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Eucalypt guide is available at: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/plants/queensland_herbarium/publications/pdf/eucalypt_key3.pdf

and the wattle guide is available at: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/plants/queensland_herbarium/publications/pdf/wattle_key3.pdf

Hope you find them as useful as I have found them over the years! Pin It

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Photo of a hakea on the farm I use to live on. A flower farm is a lovely place to live!
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