Monday, March 25, 2013

The Loofah/Luffah: Nature's Biodegradable, Sustainable Sponge

Luffa (or loofah) is a vine fruit in the same family as the cucumber and they can be used as sponges for cleaning the house, the dishes, and perfect body scrubbers - perhaps you could grow it on your new tunnel trellis!). Best of all, they're a 100% biodegradable and sustainable tool - no plastics are used nor are they fished out of the ocean. You can grow them in your garden!

Simply wait for the fruit to fully ripen, then wait a little longer, until it over-ripens, and when the skin is brown and begins to come away from the inner skeleton or fibres pick the fruit and wait a day or so (perhaps even just one afternoon if its really hot and dry - after all, they come from Summer-fruiting plants), leaving it in the sun so it dries out fully, then break the skin open along a seam that stretches from end to end. Peel away the skin (and compost it) and shake the seeds out. One vine's harvest in the Summer can provide a whole years worth of defoliant bathroom sponges, dish cleaning sponges and general house cleaning scrubbers.

Some have mentioned that after use they can harbour bacteria. Make sure after each use you give it a good clean by rubbing it under running water. They also survive a cycle in the dishwasher. Be that as it may, don't panic... if your loofah sponge is spoiled, compost it and grow some more!

Space-Smart: Trellis Arch Between Raised Beds

Got raised beds with a path in between? Use curved steel mesh with each side in the closest sides of two beds to act as a trellis for vine plants, like beans and make a tunel over the path. Beans are ideal to grow in the garden as they are leguminous, which means they fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, which directly benefit neighbouring, nitrogen-hungry plants like cabbages and other leafy plants. If you decide to go with beans, plant the bean into the soil, give it a generous watering, then don't water it again until it peeps its shoot out of the soil. You can prevent the rain from watering it, or manually water nearby plants until the shoot appears by covering it with a bottle cut in half.

With thanks to Michael Lancaster

13 year old Inventor Cracks Secret of Trees to Collect Solar Power

What do trees know that we don't? 13-year-old inventor Aidan Dwyer realized that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Then he wondered why we don't collect solar energy in the same way. Big oil companies need to watch out as this 13-year-old kid and his army of trees won't go down without a fight!

This kid is perhaps an inadvertent Permaculturalist. He's made an observation on a naturally occurring system and adapted it to suit the needs for a system that is a direct human benefit. As Masanobu Fukuoka (Bill Mollison's inspiration) says, "It's all about making a thoughtful observation to avoid thoughtless labour."

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ~Greek Proverb

Sourced from

Thursday, March 21, 2013

HowTo: Mason Jar Herb Garden



  • old wooden board
  • mason jars
  • pipe clamps
  • triangle ring hangers
  • stainless hanging wire
  • picture hanger
  • chalkboard paint & chalk
  • brush
  • hammer, nails and screwdriver
  • herbs

How To:

  1. Space mason jars evenly on wooden board, and mark placement with a pencil in order to design and measure around.
  2. Tape off rectangles on board, and paint with chalkboard paint as pictured above. This way, you can switch out herbs and change their labels accordingly.
  3. Paint pipe clamps gold, and secure to wooden board by hammering a nail through the small holes in the pipe clamp.
  4. On back of board, nail in ring hangers and tie on hanging wire.
  5. Plant herbs in mason jars.
  6. Place mason jars into pipe clamps and tighten with a screwdriver.
  7. Nail picture hanger into the wall, and hang your herb display!
With thanks to the source:

The Man Who Eats Roadkill

WARNING: This video contains content matter which some may find disturbing. View discretion is required. It contains images of animals being skinned.

Meet 73-year-old Arthur Boyt, notorious resident of remote Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, and connoisseur of cooking and eating roadkill - nothing is too far fetched or fanciful to end up on his plate. In this film we take a trip into Arthur's universe and learn how to cook a cracking badger casserole, as well as find out how best to prepare polecat meat before cooking...

"I ate a badger once that someone else had picked up because they wanted its skull. It was blown up like a horse on the western front and it smelt rather horrible. When I cut into it the flesh was green but nevertheless I persevered and stewed it. It made the house smell like the old fashioned mental hospitals used too, but boy it tasted delicious!"

Sourced from Vice

Interview - A Verge Permaculture Design Course Grad

A beautifully shot short film about Josh Baker's approach to make Permaculture a part of his everyday life, and how the PDC has inspired him.

"[The Permaculture Design course I've been doing] was the thing that helped me make all those connections. It's not about gardening. It's not about farming. It's not about all those things that they thought it was about - it's about them. And how to make them a more effective person at what they're left to do. When all the walls come down you see connections everywhere. You see patterns everywhere. Or even pointing out patterns in nature and realising that you've walk by that your whole life and never noticed it. And how much sense that it makes."

Sourced from The Verge

Free Geoff Lawton Permaculture Videos

The team at Flashtoons are rolling out a series of free videos from Geoff Lawton. The first video is about how Geoff Lawton got started in Permaculture and how he used it to transform his burnt out farm to abundance and what a little permaculture knowledge can do for you. This first video has been a terrific hit and has had thousands of views and over 1,800 comments.

The response has been truly phenomenal. See what you've been missing.

The second video in the series looks at broader farmland and how to identify good quality land using Permaculture techniques to redesign the landscape back into abundance, to get it to work for you naturally. Geoff visits a number of poorly designed farms that are not functioning properly and explains ways you can harvest rainfall and store that runoff in a series of small ponds to rehydrate and nourish the land back to fertility. This information is not commonly taught in college or university. People pay thousands of dollars to learn this technique, but its your free. So make sure you watch this video. Its very good.

The third video looks at the small urban space and at an amazing suburban backyard and how many vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs can generated if the design is done right. 

Please note you need to register your email as not all videos were up at time of posting of this trailer. We'll email you when the next series of videos are up. Don't worry, you won't get spammed and you can unsubscribe safely any time you like.

Each video is over 30 to 45 minutes long. When you signup, please leave a comment. Any questions you have should be directed to Geoff Lawton on his website, not here on YouTube.

So get along to Geoff's website: and sign up for this remarkably exciting opportunity!

Sourced from Flashtoons

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reuse: The Humble Bread Tag

That's two things you don't need to throw away!

Quickly identify which cords are what, and a simple way to keep two or more cords together.

Use the bulldog clips for easy access to device plugs, use the bread tags to prevent them falling through.

Stick the bread tag on the end of sticky-tape before putting it back in the drawer. You'll thank yourself the next time you use it.

A bread tag used for cord storage makes more sense than those annoying twisty-tie things.

The bread tag: A simple key identifying solution.

And these ideas don't go astray either:
1. For those times when you can't find a guitar pick to save your life, a bread tab does the trick.

2. Collect different colored tabs and use them as poker chips.

3. Readers' comments on several blogs suggest using the tabs as scrapers when washing pots and pans and even for scraping gunk off stovetops and counters.

4. Hook a tab on items at your next garage sale instead of using costly self-adhesive labels that leave a sticky residue, to mark prices.
(with thanks to

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ron Finley: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

Here's some life-changing quotes from this amazing talk:
- 26.5 million Americans live in a food desert.

- People are dying from curable diseases.

- Wheel chairs are being bought and sold like used cars. Dialysis centres are popping up like Starbucks.

- Food is the problem and food is the solution.

- Los Angeles leads the United States in vacant lots. The city owns 26 square miles of vacant lots. That's 20 Central Parks! That's 724,838,400 tomato plants.

- You'd be surprised what the soil can do if you let it be your canvas. You just can't imagine at how amazing a sunflower is and how it affects people.

- If kids grow kale, kids eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes. But when none of this is presented to them, if they're not shown how food affects the mind and the body they'll blindly eat whatever you put in front of them.

- Free is not Sustainable. The funny thing about sustainable is: you have to sustain it.

Sourced from

Monday, March 4, 2013

Trellis Ideas

I believe it was Bill Mollison in one of his recorded lectures said that all vines with edible fruit originate from water edges and the easiest way to harvest is in a canoe  :)

Mulching - A Basic Permaculture Need

Krishna describes the 5 benefits of mulching and shows examples from around Solitude Farm.

Mulching is an important permaculture idea - the most ancient and healthiest soils around the world have been benefitting from the natural process of mulching for millenia. Enjoy Krishna's informative and entertaining way to remind us how important mulching is. A great video for the beginner and an entertaining revisit for the long-time Permaculture enthusiast.

Sourced from EcoFilms

Geoff Lawton's Urban Permaculture [Excerpt]

Excerpt from Geoff Lawton's Urban Permaculture DVD showing a fantastic Permaculture system in a small urban space.

Sourced from EcoFilms

Recycle: Growing Vegetables in Fridges

Frank Fekonia enthusiastically shows us how to turn a dead fridge into a productive vegetable garden for people living in dry arid areas.

Frank sourced these fridges for free. And what a great idea for a raised bed. So many benefits.

Sourced from Flashtoon (EcoFilms)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

DIY Mini Indoor Home Aquaponic System

sympaticoamori's indoor, miniature aquaponic experiment. 

Water is filtered, and oxygenated by a large submersible pond pump under a filter fabric, with charcoal all held down and together with rocks and pebbles. The plants starting this off are just a variety edibles and ornamentals, and will be feeding nutrients from the fish waste. This kind of system could easily produce salad greens, herbs and perhaps some strawberries.

Friday, March 1, 2013

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

1SIMPLEJONES takes us through his favourite method of how he gets sweet potatoes to strike a root and prepare them for planting. Each sweet potato has the potential to feed you, your family and your friends.

The Seven Seeds Permaculture Farm Keyline Irrigation Tour

An absolutely fascinating tour of the Seven Seeds Farm's keyline irrigation system. A very well thought out video showing how their design maximises the beneficial use of water resources of a piece of land. Keyline irrigation refers to a specific topographic feature linked to water flow; a design system that integrates keen observation of the land's shape and how the water runs with it.

Permaculture seed wizard Don Tipping takes us on a 10 minute animated tour of the epic Seven Seeds Farm in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon, USA. The farm was designed using Permaculture Principles and Keyline patterning. We follow the water system from top to bottom, and then the amazing downstream effects are revealed. This video was produced by Andrew Millison as part of the course content for his online Permaculture Design Course and Advanced Design Practicum, taught through the Horticulture department at Oregon State University.

Please visit to register for courses, or for more information.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seasonal Planting Info-Posters

Beautifully designed seasonal fruit, vegetable and herb posters.

Sourced from

Recycle: Make a Bag from a T-Shirt

It appears to be pretty easy to make a bag. Rather than providing free advertising for supermarkets, how about a recycled tie-dyed bag?

How Easy it is to Grow a Pineapple!

Pineapple plants are ridiculously easy to grow. In fact, many gardeners say that it's difficult to fail! The plant can grow indoors, and is quite pleasing to the eye without fruiting. However, if it's the fruit you want to gain from the plant it will need plenty of sunlight.

Cut the top off any pineapple you buy from a fruit store and trim off the fleshy part on the bottom. Stand it in a jar of water covering the bottom to allow the root to strike. Once you see roots starting to form, plant it in a pot or in the garden. I've even had success in leaving out the jar & water step. It takes about 12 - 18 months to harvest a fully formed fruit.

When the fruiterer asks you if you need the top of the pineapple cut off, now you know why... it's a free pineapple plant for them!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Olla Watering - Ancient Drip Irrigation

The Olla (pronounced  (Oy-ya) irrigation system is an ancient practice, and very simple in concept. Ollas are made of unglazed terracotta and filled with water, which seeps through the walls.The olla is buried in the ground next to the roots of the plant to be irrigated, with the neck of the olla extending above the soil. The Ollas efficiency is owed to practically no water loss due to evaporation or run-off.

This system can be applied to almost any type of garden, although plants with woody root systems may damage the pot. If you're quite adept at the clay wheel, they seem to be a pretty basic project, or perhaps there's a terracotta pot store near you where you can either order one or fashion one out of something they sell.

Here's a short video about the olla:

Images sourced from Pasadena Housewife

Recycle: Mini-Greenhouse from CD Covers

This mini greenhouse is perfect for winter conditions, or protection from pests for the seedling to truly establish itself. Beans would also benefit from such a structure as it's advised not to water the seed until their sprouts show themselves above the soil, and if you have other plants in the same bed that require watering, this handy construction saves you the timely hassle of precision watering.

sourced from: Recycled Crafts

Square Food Gardening - How To Get Started for $50

With thanks to Jason (Frugal Dad). This infographic was sourced from his website here.

Promises of Urban Agriculture - An Excerpt

An excerpt from the upcoming feature-length documentary: Promises of Urban Agriculture, directed by Joseph Redwood-Martinez...

Jay Rosenberg speaks about Hayes Valley Farm demonstrating urban agriculture as a strategy for interim land use in San Francisco. He says "this isn't a place of food production. It's a community centre".

"If it's not fun - it's not sustainable."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Foods that will Re-Grow from your Kitchen Scraps

The ability to grow most of these vegetables from their leftovers is as simple as sticking the bottom end of them into a well-prepared patch of good soil and making sure their bed is kept moist. Surprisingly easy! If you haven't been gardening for very long, you'll soon develop a Permaculture Eye and start observing how it all works! Just stay aware.

For more information on how each one is done, visit Wake-Up World.

The image includes Fennel, Scallions, Leeks, Garlic, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Celery, Romaine Lettuce, Sweet Potato, Pineapple, Ginger, Lemongrass.

A Collection of Beautiful and Thoughtfully-Made Herb Spirals

The herb spiral, an invention of Bill Mollison's, dubbed the "Father of Permaculture", provides 20 or so feet of gardening space in two square metres and creates micro-climates that provide for a multitude of medicinal and culinary herbs. Here's some beautiful and well-thought out herb spirals sure to inspire.

© copyright jgibbens (flickr)

 I've tried to credit images where I can, but if one of these images are yours, please send some proof it is so I can credit your work and provide a link.

A Garden Slug and Snail Repellent that Literally Costs Pennies

Pennies contain enough of copper for the Cu+2 ions to carry a charge that the gastropods do not like. It gives them a shock that repels them. You can line the walls of a raised bed garden like this:

A ball made like the one above can make the garden bed pretty, but remember, a repellent can drive away a food source for something else, like a frog. If your slugs are a problem, perhaps this can be utilised to reduce numbers and create a balance.
I remember hearing Geoff Lawton, of the Permaculture Institute of Australia, once saying, "You don't have a grasshopper problem, you have a turkey deficiency" !!!

10 "Weeds" (aka Herbs) That Heal

If one could define the word 'herb' it would be "Any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine, or perfume". The plants listed above are considered herbs by those who use them, and weeds by those who are unaware of their powers and consider their presence to be no more than competitive and obnoxious.

This was sourced from Susan S. Weed's article at

Reuse: Cardboard Rolls Storage Unit

This is a genuine problem solver, if there ever was one.

Making a Willow Wigwam for Beans

How to make a simple willow wigwam for peas, beans or sweet peas for your garden.

The page Ruth refers to when mentioning a photo step-by-step tutorial can be found here:

Thanks to Bealtane Cottage.

The Seer Pot: Explained

Aurelia, Nawaya Permaculture Designer, explains the Seer Pot Fridge that was a part of the first international PDC in Egypt during February 2013.

Potted pot. Two unglazed pots, with sand filling the gap between them. The sand is saturated with water and a wooden lid covers the top, leaving a dramatic drop in temperature inside the Seer Pot Fridge.

Reduce: Paper CD/DVD Cases

Absolutely no reason to go out and buy empty blank cases at all now, really. You could even print out the cover (at the very least, this one takes ball point pen!).

Fernglade Farm - Organic Permaculture, Late Summer 2013

Fernglade Farm, situated in northern New South Wales, Australia, sets a great example for organic Permaculture farming. No sooner does the host describe some problems to overcome, but has them turned into resources as other solutions. Despite the harsh drought and heat wave where Fernglade Farm is, life is teeming. Thanks for the tour!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Multiple Uses - The Dustpan

Permaculture is more than just organic gardening. Fukuoka Masanobu, who inspired Bill Mollison, described permaculture as "making a thoughtful observation to prevent thoughtless labour". Be conscious and awake - solutions to everyday problems are all around us. The solutions are embarrassingly simple.

Hugel Hoops Defined

Dennis shows several Hugel Hoops in various stages of construction, and identifies the permaculture principles that work together in this garden/orchard structure.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recycled Picture Frames: Herb Dryer

Recycled your old picture frames by connecting them together with chains. Line the frames with flyscreen which is available at hardware stores in rolls, and you have a terrific herb drying rack. You can hang this in your laundry or anywhere that's light, ventilated and warm.

Taino Permaculture Farm - Los Brazos, Dominican Republic

Watch the construction of raised beds at the Taino Permaculture Farm in Los Brazos, Dominican Republic.

Farming in the tropics can eat up the organic matter in the soil very quickly. Watch how the permaculture team at Taino overcome this with the various ingredients in their raised beds.

Three wheelbarrows full of horse manure, with composted down wood chips. To each of their raised garden beds. Because their soil is quite high in clay content, they added sand. It also helps for water retention. Coconut husk for water retention and organic matter. Half a bucket of bat guana to each garden bed along with a whole bucket of sheep manure. This allows for 6 months straight gardening.

Areas that don't experience such hot weather would benefit from these ingredients in the their beds, but wouldn't require such regularity with renewal.

Bat guana is very high in nitrogen, and outside the tropics would be difficult to obtain, so chicken manure could be used in place. Chicken manure is so concentrated that soaking in water for 3 weeks would be advised to break it down - stirring every couple of days.
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