Thursday, 29 September 2016

Morag on ABC Radio: Remembering Bill Mollison & More Simple Living Discussions

Here's the link to my September Simple Living Segment on ABC Radio. It went to air Tuesday 27th September.

Bill Mollison (1928 - 2016)

612 ABC Radio: Morag Gamble in Conversation with Sarah Howells 

The topics we explore in this 25 minute conversation are:

The Soundcloud blurb reads:

"When the dreaded lurgy heads for your house, and the kids start sniffling, coughing, and sneezing, do you reach straight for the medicine cabinet? Or do you, instead, take a wander down the garden path, picking plants and leaves as you go, to make up a brew?

Morag Gamble from Our Permaculture Life would probably choose the latter option, and she joins us tonight to tell us why!"

Now that I've recovered from the 'lurgy', I've had a wonderful couple of days offering tours of my garden and organising a Young Ethos Scholars program - a masterclass for children in writing and theatre with a sustainability focus. I'm getting ready now for a workshop making salves and other natural healing and beauty products from my garden.  It's going to be so much fun.
Northey Street City Farm's permaculture design course students visited my garden this week. I love having the urban-rural connection between city farm and our place. (Photo: Emma Brindal)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Why I Let My Young Children Leave School To Learn At Home...

People have been asking me a lot recently about why I took my kids out of school, how I educate them and how it's going. At the ages of 8 and 9, it was my children who actually asked to leave school. There wasn't any 'problem' except that they were feeling intensely frustrated at school and wanted more. They are bright, well-adjusted kids who were just not being stimulated or challenged.

Strawbale play inspired story-telling and architectural investigation into strawbale and cob building design.

I began to notice that they had stopped asking those interesting questions and had developed chronic 'Monday-itis'. Their curiosity was waning, their enthusiasm to learn was too, and I could see that they were rapidly becoming knowledge-consumers, rather than critical thinkers and knowledge-creators. Very worryingly, there was a sadness emerging. I had to do something. I had to pay attention. 

As Sir Ken Robinson says in his TED talks, children are natural learners. Spark their curiosity and they will learn without further assistance.  Teaching for learning is important, not the dominant focus on testing which creates a culture of compliance rather than creativity.

I want my children to be creative, robust thinkers and problem solvers, fascinated by the world and inspired to keep learning and sharing each day, wanting to be engaged and making a difference, and forever wondering and asking the interesting questions.  I think these sorts of qualities will hold them in good stead as happy and resilient adults.

We've been educating at home now for almost 18 months now - first my daughter then a few months later my son decided he'd prefer to learn at home too. They are thriving and without the testing, I know they are not just keeping up, but actually learning more rapidly, broadly, deeply and in a more connected way.  They've regained their sparkle and thirst for learning - I love it!

Making a worm farm - part of Hugh's project to breed worms for his chickens, and also to sell at the local market with his worm towers. 

One of the things they love about learning at home - there is no fixed timetable. We design and negotiate the program each day and it always remains flexible to allow them to go with the flow of where their interests may take them.  This gives them the opportunity to go deeply into a topic until they are satisfied. When they are ready, they move on.

My mum was a primary school teacher and the way she taught really inspired me. I remember going into her classrooms and being in awe of the amazing learning wonderland she had created.  As a kid, I was so excited when she came into my class as a relief teacher - she had a way of drawing everyone in, learning was fun, exiting and stimulating.

What I learned from my mum's approach is that by surrounding children with things of interest it presents them with opportunities to naturally engage and connect. Our house has become like this - multitudes of 'activity stations' always ready, books on every topic imaginable, materials to create and design with, instruments and music galore, homemade posters reinforcing language and numeracy, and lots of tools for investigation - magnifying glasses, microscopes, binoculars and monoculars, note-pads and clip-boards, and of course a permaculture playground in this ecovillage setting, surrounded by amazing natural places.

Homeschooling has it's challenges particularly with regards to managing time for work and house keeping, but it is so incredibly rewarding that I find a way to make it all possible. Evan and I decided to both work part time from home and share the role of being the learning support person.

Dressed up for their musical performance with the Hinterland Concert Band's gig with local band, the Unusual Suspects - very exciting!

To help us meet our kids' voracious appetite for learning, we have also found mentors locally and online to help extend them in their areas of interest - particularly music, writing, theatre - and take them to lots of workshops and organise many ourselves.

Hugh checking out how the biochar system works - at a biochar workshop we organised at Crystal Waters.

learning about the world

Being a permaculture WWOOF host we often have international guests come and stay. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history, culture and language of many places. For the past couple of months we've hosted a Columbian WWOOFer so the kids have learnt so much about South America and have been practicing their Spanish.

We have also travelled to teach permaculture overseas with the children a couple of times, immersing them in cultures so different from their own.

learning to be educators

Being a centre for permaculture education we also have many groups coming here -from playgroups to Year 12 geography classes, to permaculture tours and classes. The children always get involved and are so stimulated by engaging with kids from all different areas and of various ages. They are becoming excellent communicators. They've just finished doing toastmasters and have signed up for two plays with local drama group this term.

Year 11 Geography camp - the kids took part fully in the entire 3 day program.

learning to be designers

The children understand why and how we designed our house and our edible landscape, and why we live in an ecovillage. They have heard me explain it to so many visitors. We often discuss the design of settlements, houses and landscapes wherever we go and chat about what we could do to make them more sustainable. I have taken them to design projects with me and they are becoming good designers themselves. The critical thinking and problem solving skills that design requires are great to cultivate, and are useful in so many different situations.

I am planning to write more about our journey of educating our children at home over the next weeks. If you have any particular questions or have experiences to share regarding education/learning at home, please leave a comment.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Permaculture Lifework: Morag Gamble and Robina McCurdy in conversation: part 2 (12 mins)

Two permaculture women in conversation about social permaculture and lifework caring for earth, caring for people and caring for the future (12 mins).... New Zealand permaculture pioneer, Robina McCurdy and I explore community gardens, school gardens, community seedbanks and more. I also ask her about what inspires her and what three lessons she'd like to share drawing from her decades of work in permaculture - where is the edge that we she sees we need to be working in Permaculture.

I do hope you enjoy this conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Robina over the past weeks offering children's permaculture programs - Patterns in Nature and Design with Nature, and organising a community screening of her film, SOS: Save our Seeds which documents community seed saving initiatives throughout New Zealand.

I am also really excited about sharing more permaculture conversations soon. So many wonderful people to explore ideas with.....

Thank You For Permaculture Bill Mollison: RIP 24 Sept 2016

Permaculture founder, Bill Mollison passed away on Saturday.

What an huge contribution this man made to the earth, to communities around the world and to so many people personally. I was born just before permaculture came into being and ever since I remember, I've known about it. As you can tell by the title of this blog, permaculture has had an enormous impact on my life and my family.  There are millions of people around the world who have been touched by and influenced his thinking and activism.  His work will continue to flourish and grow.

Thank you Bill. Rest in Peace.

Here's one of the earliest clips I remember watching of Bill - love it!

More information about Bill Mollison:

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Did You Know That Large Parts of the Great Barrier Reef Died This Year?

Did you know that the iconic Great Barrier Reef had a huge set-back this year with massive coral bleaching - the largest bleaching event on record which affected almost 1000kms of reef? The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble - over 90% was affected this year. Actually reefs around the world have been devastated by human-induced global warming.

Living simply can help make a difference. If global warming, pollution, silting are some of the key things to blame, we need to ..
  • reduce energy use
  • reduce consumption
  • reduce waste - compost, cut back on plastics, recycle
  • eat local sustainably produced food
  • educate as many as possible about the issue and ways to live more simply

Industrial practices must of course also change, but rather than wait till they change, we can start immediately with what we can do, raise our awareness, raise awareness of those around us. This all helps. Speak out for the reef - use your voice for the reef and help bring about a positive change.

Global coral bleaching events are an alarming new phenomenon caused by ocean warming (more than 90% of climate change heat is absorbed by the ocean). Corals cannot withstand prolonged peaks in temperature.

Diver checking the bleached coral at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef  - image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

Over one quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged and overall 93% of the reef has been impacted by coral bleaching this year. This is disastrous for the diversity of life which depends on the reef.

Coral bleaching at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: Image: May 2016 from XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

The Great Barrier Reef is Earth's most extensive coral reef - a World Heritage Site that we have committed to protecting. Healthy coral reefs are the most ecologically diverse habitats on earth and they also protect coasts from storms and waves.  Although reefs are less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean floor, they help support around 25% of all marine species.

Please take a look at what's happening. Dr Tim Flannery says that this is a result of what we are doing to the climate, and that we need to wean ourselves off coal very rapidly.

Read More:

What can we do to help:

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Social Permaculture and Community: Morag Gamble in conversation with Robina McCurdy (9 mins)

I often meet and work with interesting people locally and from around the world. I love the conversations we have. From now, I have decided to regularly film some of these chats to share. This is the first film in this series - talking with social permaculture elder, Robina McCurdy.

Robina McCurdy is from Tui - an intentional community/ecovillage in Golden Bay on the top of the south island of New Zealand and is one of the founding members. Tui has been thriving for 30 years and is home to over 30 people. Robina is a permaculture teacher who has strong focus on social permaculture and has works with children, community gardens and seed networks around NZ.  She is currently in Australia running workshops on her way to the Australasian Permaculture Conference in Perth. I invited Robina to work with me - to screen her film and offer pattern recognition and permaculture design programs for children through the Ethos Foundation.

This is part one of our conversations. The next part will include: thoughts on lifework, Robina's lessons from decades living a permaculture life, and the three areas she believes we need to focus on.

Click on this image to play the 9 minute clip: part 1 of our conversation.

Find all of my films on my Youtube Channel:

Monday, 19 September 2016

My Medicinal Garden: 7 Super Plants For A Delicious Common Cold Remedy - Film #13 (9 mins)

Film #13: My Medicinal Garden: 7 Super Plants For A Delicious Common Cold Remedy

This 9 minute film (click link below to watch) shows how to simply make a super delicious cold remedy from easy-to-grow plants in the garden.  I love that my medicine cabinet is in my kitchen garden surrounding my house and that I can just go outside and pluck fresh herbs and leaves with superb vitality to help sooth a cough and cold when I need it for me and my family.

There are so many great herbs to use in each climatic region.   Here at this time of year, some great ones are:

  1. lemon myrtle
  2. peppermint
  3. menthol mint
  4. oregano
  5. sacred basil
  6. turmeric
  7. ginger

Today, I also added organic cinnamon and some raw honey to the blend - mmmm ....delicious and very soothing. Just what I need right now.

I've written about the brew I made yesterday too: and listed a few additional plants - lemon, orange peel, lemon balm, thyme. Each brew I make is slightly different which keeps it interesting.

What is your favourite cold remedy from your garden?

[DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or natural therapist. The information in this blogpost and associated film is based on personal research, conversations with lots of knowledgeable people and years of experimenting. Please make up your own mind about whether you think it is useful.]

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Home Grown Medicine: 10 Common Medicinal Plants I Use As A Natural Cold Remedy

Last night a cold settled on my chest - that heavy congested feeling really slows me down. The first thing I did this morning was head to my garden to gather some healing medicinal plants and make a tea. I also raided my pot of local raw honey and store of turmeric and ginger roots (luckily I hadn't planted all of them out already).

I brew up a delicious tea from these things and sip it throughout the day.  I find it helps so much.

Today's ingredients: Raw Turmeric, Raw Ginger, Lemon Myrtle, Sacred Basil, Lemon and Raw Honey

I put the leaves and roots all in together for a gentle simmer (not the honey).

After about 15 minutes, I strain this into my jar (a coffee filter fits perfectly!!)

I like to use these jars because I can put a lid on it and come back later.

I stir in a spoonful of raw honey when the temperature has cooled little. Heating raw honey destroys many of it's wonderful properties.



I grab a lemon (sometimes a lime) - the juice can lessen the strength of a cold and reduce phlegm. Lemon water also helps to soothe my sore throat with it's antibacterial property.

Lemon Myrtle 

I pluck of a few new lemon myrtle leaves. Lemon Myrtle is also used to treat allergies, colds and sore throats.

Sacred Basil / Tulsi

I love my Tulsi plants - I have many now throughout the garden. I snap off a few stems with nice young leaves. Along with curing viral, bacterial and fungal infections of the respiratory system, it helps relieve congestion because it contains Camphene, Eugenol and Cineole in its essential oils.  Tulsi is also helpful for asthma.


Ginger helps so much with colds, coughs and relieving respiratory problems. Ginger also creates a good sweat to help the body get rid of the cold.


Turmeric is a superb natural cold and cough remedy with its antibacterial and anti-viral qualities.  The anti-inflammatory action of its active ingredient, curcumin, helps to relieve chest congestion

Raw honey

After the tea has cooled a little, I stir in a spoonful of local raw honey from the forest up the end of this valley - the taste is amazing!! Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and is great for all types of infections. Raw honey is also an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory and can help to treat bronchitis and asthma. It’s antibiotic properties treat colds and sore throats - just what I need!

I often just mix a teaspoon of this honey with finely chopped turmeric (could use good quality turmeric powder) and slowly swallow this - it helps so much to soothe and irritated throat and coughing fits.

Tomorrow I will try another brew and add these things too:

Orange peel 

Orange peel is full of vitamins C and A and is a natural antioxidant that helps to fight off germs and viruses. Drinking orange peel helps heal the infection and has an instant soothing effect.

Lemon Balm / Melissa

Lemon Balm tea has anti-viral properties and is great to drink when you’re feeling under the weather.  A hot lemon balm tea brings on a sweat which is good for relieving colds, flus and fevers. 


Peppermint contains menthol which relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract and helps you to breathe freely. It's also a great decongestant. 


Thyme is another great herb to use in a cough and cold remedy and it also acts to clear the lungs of congestion.


Oregano is wonderful for healing coughs and colds, treating bronchitis, easing asthma attacks and soothing a sore throat.

What is your favourite garden remedy?
There are so so many useful medicinal plants - many common in our gardens. Please share your favourite cold remedies from your garden.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Chemical-free clothes: Easy DIY Natural Dye Using Common Foods

Would you believe that this is the colour you get from purple carrots, brown onion skins and avocado seeds on natural fibre fabrics!  I love this so much - so easy, so cheap, non-toxic, no waste!
A natural-coloured old wool blanket dyed with vegetables. These colours are fast.
Purple carrot = purple (of course). Onion skin = orange.  Avocado seed = light brown.
Brown onion skins boiled for 1 hour in water.
The fabric is then submerged into this pot and boiled for another hour.
The samples above were only in for 15 minutes.
While the colour does not wash out it fades over time - then you can simply refresh the colour with another soak.

Boiling up the purple carrot and avocado colour pots.

Last weekend I took Maia and Hugh to do a family-friendly natural dye workshop with Alieta, Leeza and Olin from the Forest Art Collective in Maleny. It revolutionised my thinking about what we can do about making non-toxic clothing - I'm totally hooked!

The learning circle.

Fabulous creative science. Many young children loved this workshop. 

I really cannot believe how simple and effective the techniques are and how colouring fabrics this way creates only a tiny bit of compostable waste - the onion skins, boiled carrots and avocado seeds.

The waste from the botanical print dying process - compostable leaves, re-usable twine, and reusable metal scraps.

During the workshop we also experimented with botanical prints using leaves on natural fabrics. Here are the sample strips I did. You can see silky oak, eucalyptus, cinerea, bleeding heart - on silk, cotton, wool and paper.  I can't wait to keep experimenting and making my own hand-dyed organic clothing. Thankfully there's a great shop in my local town where I can source un-dyed organic fabrics.

My first go at creating natural botanical prints using natural fabrics and paper, leaves, water, twine and an iron rod. 

I moistened the wool strip. (NB: you can see the original colour of the wool here that was used in the carrot, onion and avocado dyes)

Roll the leaves tightly in with the wool onto a rusty iron rod. The iron helps to fix the plant print to the fabric and give the black colour.

Bind tightly with twine to hold it all in place when it is boiled.

Wool with
Create whatever patterns you like - here I used cinerea and eucalypt

I added 4 different leaf arrangements on my rod. It is also possible to have a large piece of fabric folded over to create leaf patterned prints.

Boil the wrapped iron rods in a pot of water for 1 hour.
I unravelled my stick as soon as it came out of the pot - so curious to see what had happened. If I'd had the patience to leave it rolled and moist for 3 weeks, all the colours would be far more intense. 

We used iron at the workshop, but by wrapping and boiling with different rods you can get different effects. When you boil up in a stainless steel or aluminium pot,  iron = black, copper = blueish tinge, wood = neutral. The metals also fix the colours. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Do you want a weed-free garden? Film #12 Weed-Free Mulching by Morag Gamble (3 mins)

Do you want a weed-free garden? 

It's easy. How you mulch makes such a huge difference for on-going weed maintenance. 

In this 3 minute film, I show my new weed-free section of garden and contrast it with two other areas mulched differently.... The results speak for themselves even after just five weeks. 

  1. No weeds - used compost, newspaper and mulch
  2. Some weeds - used compost and mulch (no newspaper)
  3. Weedy - used compost, but no newspaper or mulch.

Watch my new 3 minute film about weed-free mulching:

With the Spring warmth and rain, the weeds are growing fast and the difference is obvious. 

The key is the newspaper - but not on the ground as usually described in no-dig garden instructions. I put my newspaper layer on top of the compost and cover it with mulch. I do this because the newspaper:

  • stops weeds from the soil and compost layer
  • keeps moisture in the compost layer (dries out more on top of paper)
  • allows the soil organisms to access the compost more readily
  • enables roots of plants to go deeper (you make a hold in the paper and plant into compost below)

Take a look through this No Dig Gardening link from my blog to get more background information and see the step by step pictures on how to make a successful and simple no dig garden.

If you'd like more information about using newspaper, please check out this post too:

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Natural Activities for School Holidays

School holidays start here next weekend. Here are some great outdoor activities to get the kids involved with - or to do even if you don't have young children around!

You can make them as simple or in-depth as you like. Of course, these activities are not just for the holidays - we love to do these things every week. In fact, they form the basis of many of our home education 'lessons'.

Rock hopping at the upper Mary River.
You don't need to know anything about the plants, animals, lizards, insects or weather to step outside and begin exploring. Nature is out your doorstep - all you need is to be open to wandering and wondering.

Silent Spring author, Rachel Carson, wrote another inspirational book, The Sense of Wonder.  In this book, written over three decades ago, she shares an her philosophy about the importance of sharing the wonder of nature with children. She says "wonder ...leads to curiosity ... leads to information ...leads to responsibility ... leads to action".  This simple power of discovery and connection is such an antidote to indifference.   

You don't even need to know what you are looking for, just some curiosity, patience to sit and watch what is going on around you, and an ability to notice things. Draw and jot down your discoveries. Share your findings with each other, and through apps like Bowerbird (Check out other citizen science sites in my previous post:

Bring your questions back inside and do some research - in books, on the internet, or find people who can help can.  People who are passionate about their topic are so keen to share it, particularly with young enthusiasts.

There are great lists out there for nature play activities, for example.

We're going to have a go at these fun, open-ended activities over the next few weeks...

Become a Naturalist (a person loves to study nature) 

Head out on a field expedition or nature quest at different times of the day, to different places with your family and friends. Be a nature detective - step outside, what do you see, what do you hear, what can you feel, what do your wonder...?  

Make a nature adventure backpack - binoculars, magnifying glass, small field guides, pen knife or scissors (for taking a sample from a plant), notebook, pencil case (pencil, eraser, ballpoint, felt-tipped pen, colour pencils), clips (for holding pages), hat, sunscreen, water. 

Draw what you see - a leaf, a seed, a weed, a flower, a tree, a bird or group of birds, an insect, tracks, scats (animal poo), clouds ... Make a note of what insect calls, bird calls, other animal sounds you can hear. 

You could go into your backyard, down the street, to your local park, to a local forest, beach or countryside... For a quick expedition perhaps just take a notebook and a pencil.  Make a point of always recording your notes and drawings

(Kids - always make sure someone knows where you are heading).

Bees in the kitchen garden

Become an Astronomer (a person loves to study the stars)

Go outside at night and for some wonderful star gazing. Can you see the milky way? What constellations can you see? Do you know which ones are planets? Can you see a shooting star - why does it do that? How many satellites have you spotted? Do you know how to tell the direction from the stars? Take a picture of the night sky and leave the shutter open for 30 minutes or more (you'll need a tripod). Learn more about the stars and constellations (get a free app eg: SkyView) 

Night sky at our place by Columbian WWOOFer Alejandro Cappa.

Become a Meteorologist (a person loves to study the sky/weather)

Go cloud watching and look for weather clues.  Learn to read the clouds. What can you tell about the weather by the types of clouds - is wind, rain or a storm coming. Draw the clouds. Research about what the different types are called and what they mean. Get a field guide about weather and clouds - such as Cloudspotter. Use your imagination too - write a cloud poem, tell a story about the pictures you see, can you see an animal, a face...? 

Become a Geologist (a person loves to study rocks)

What kinds of rocks are there in your area? Make a rock collection. Sort them. Find out what they are made of (look in your rock books or online to help with rock ID). What does that tell you about the deep history of your place? Can you find fossils? Can you draw with your rocks? What games can you make up a game with your rock and pebble collection.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Raising Earthcarers #1

September 7 was Threatened Species Day. It commemorated the death of the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger in captivity in 1936 - 80 years ago. This made me stop and think about what more we can do as individuals to help protect the many more endangered species and their habitats, and become more connected to and responsible for sensitive local environments.

Image: National Film and Sound Archive

Because the loss of species concerns them, my children are already supporting organisations that help endangered species, but we have now also decided to get more involved in citizen science - becoming engaged in documenting and recording our wildlife sightings, learning more about our local species, habitats and ecological systems. By uploading the information we find in our local area to citizen science sites we are adding to the body of knowledge about biodiversity and the state of our natural environment.We could possibly even discover a new species! 

Here are a couple of sites you might like to explore too:

The Atlas of Living Australia is a collaborative, national project that collects information about biodiversity from sources around the country and makes it accessible online.

ABC WILDLIFE SPOTTER  Helping to save threatened species and preserve Australia's iconic wildlife by looking for animals in wilderness photos taken by automated cameras around Australia. Anyone can join this and you can do it online.

Bowerbird is an an online place to share Australia's biodiversity - to map what you see in your place, to find out information, get expert advice on species you find, and perhaps even discover a new one.  Citizen Science in action!! Organised by Victoria Museum

The Biodiversity Group aims to bring together an international network of citizens, scientists, and photographers to gather and share data and images of overlooked species.

We've also just planted a lot more local native species in our backyard and helped to do a community tree-planting to extend a riparian habitat area.  It may just be a small bit, but it all helps, and I certainly think involving the children in these types of community research, environment care and positive action is a great foundation for the next generation of earthcarers.

I'll keep coming back to this topic of raising earthcarers. With little children of my own, and because I offer Nature Kids and Earth School programs, it is something that I think about every day.

Do you know of other citizen science sites that help to support endangered species and habitat restoration/protection in your area? Please could you post links here...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Permaculture & Healthy Living: Morag Gamble Speaks with Cyndi O'Meara & Friends on the Wellness Couch Podcast

Today the Wellness Couch podcast was posted with me in conversation with the wonderful Up For A Chat ladies - Cyndi O'Meara, Kim Morrison and Carren Smith. We chatted about my way of life - living a low-stress, joyful and simple way of life - an abundant permaculture life, growing food, homeschooling, living lightly on the earth, and more...

Grab a cuppa and take a listen. Please leave comments on the Up For a Chat site (and also here on my blog) about the sorts of things you'd like me to speak about when I return to the Wellness Couch for a follow-up conversation about how to get your own simple garden set up.

UC196: Permaculture with Morag Gamble (73:03 mins)

Some of the points of conversation include:

  • How I came to live a permaculture life
  • How to live a simpler, less stressful life and step away from the over-consumerism.
  • How the healthier the earth is the healthier we all become
  • How living in nature is like a natural meditation.
  • How superfoods come from supersoils - the importance of keeping your soils healthy
  • How everything has a context for learning - my approach to homeschooling.
  • How seeing the world through children's kids eyes opens up the world tenfold. 
  • How to reduce waste in our home - food waste and single-use plastics 
  • The value of growing as much as we can at home & how there's is more food in most edible gardens than we typically imagine.
  • How to think of your garden as one big ecosystem
  • How we all have a voice - we can all be part of the change.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Film # 11 - How to Save Seeds: Part One (8 mins)

Spring abundance - so many flowers, so many bees, so many seeds. Here's how I collect my own seeds and make origami seed packets.

In my permaculture garden, now I am collecting brassica seeds and letting others fall to self-seed later.  In my new short film I follow the mustard spinach from flowering to seed collection. 

Also, did you know:
  • Brassica vegetable flowers are edible.
  • Brassica flower stalks are edible.
  • Brassica seedpods (immature ones) are edible.
  • Brassica seeds are edible - mustard spinach seeds can be used to make seeded mustard.

Mustard spinach seedpods -  almost ready to harvest. Nice and plump, just need to brown off.

Brassicas are such diverse, multifunctional and bountiful plants in the garden. Watch my new film to see how I collect brassica seeds and see my daughter Maia demonstrate how to make origami seed packets for storing and sharing seeds.

Click here to watch the 8 minute film:

When it comes to seeds, here are my tips:
  • Use non-hybrid seeds so you can save from year to year.
  • Allow vegetables to go to seed for abundance (one lettuce = 10,000 seeds!)
  • Encourage self-seeding vegetables to flourish and adapt to your garden.
  • Let your garden soil be your seed bank too.
  • Collect and exchange seeds.
 Other things going to seed in my garden right now include perennial welsh onion, rocket, lettuce, snow peas

Native and honey bees visiting my flowering perennial welsh onion today. 
Flowering lettuce - from the daisy family. 
Lettuce seeds - once the flowers have finished and dried, you can collect the seeds before they fly away.

Edible coriander/cilantro flowers.

My citrus is back in flower - the bees are all over them.

Origami Seed Packets

To make your own collection of origami seed packets, watch Maia's instructions in this short film and check out a previous post I have written with clear step-by-step photo instructions. You can use anything - newspaper, scrap paper ...

Maia's origami seed packets.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Did you know our clothes are poisoning us? More Reasons to Choose Simple Natural Fashion for Earth Care and People Care

Australians throw away over 80% of their textiles each year - we are second highest wasters in the world! I find figure is disturbing - do you too?  Most of these fabrics are synthetic and as you know, in landfill these take ages to break down.  
image source:

Did you know, even more disturbingly, that when we wash our synthetic clothes they are contaminating the oceans too - poisoning all types of sea creatures and coming back as toxic food?  Microfibres from degrading synthetics, a type of micro-plastic, are a major global problem. Thousands of fibres come off every time we wash - polar fleeces are one of the worst. The chemicals from these microfibres have been found in the flesh of fish (not just the gut). One quarter of all fish contain micro-plastics and micro-fibres.

According to Dr Mark Brown of UNSW, 85% of plastics in the environment are micro-plastics and these are persistent, cumulative and toxic. Dr Brown has studied fish on 6 continents and found that micro-fibres from synthetic clothing are the main micro-plastics in fish. So what does this mean?  For one, micro-fibres contain flame retardants which are endocrine disruptors affecting our hormonal systems and altering our immune responses. Read more in the ABC Catalyst story : . 

There are billions of people wearing and washing plastic clothing every day. This micro-fibre problem is immense - more diabolical than micro-beads. 

Let's stop and ask "What impact do the clothes I am wearing and the sheets I am sleeping on have on my my health, my family's health, on the health of Earth's ecological systems, as well as the well-being of the people that made them?"   
The long and short of this:

  • Synthetic fibres shed and accumulate as toxicity in nature. 
  • Natural fibres biodegrade and are recycled by nature. (Most of my old clothes end up as mulch, worm food and compost)

Those of you who have read my blog posts before know I focus on food and growing, but today I am moved to write from a different angle. Thanks to the many recent conversations I've had with people on this disastrous link between fast fashion, ecological systems disruption and toxicity in our food.

Please join me in thinking about this big issue and next time you are heading out to make a textile purchase. And please me spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and networks.

Think, buy, use, renew and make natural!

Might be time to get those alpacas ....
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