Taking a bag to the supermarket is not a ‘challenge’

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Harden up Australia!

Stop complaining and stop claiming that taking your own reusable bags to the supermarket is a ‘challenge’.

This constant whinging on behalf of a significant number of everyday Aussies has just forced one of Australia’s big two supermarkets, Coles, to backflip on its decision to stop issuing plastic bags. Coles will now give customers these highly-destructive plastic bags to customers who demand them – completely free of charge, just weeks after the same company declared that it would stop giving out bags.

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These bags will end up in landfill and/or the ocean and average Aussie citizens will continue to destroy the planet, all because it is too much of a ‘challenge’ to remember to bring their own bags.

This complaining, and the backflip, is symptomatic of a country which is dominated by ignorant loudmouths and has now become accustomed to its baseless complaints being acknowledged and acted upon.

This word ‘challenge’ was constantly used, by Coles and by Aussies, when the ban was publicised and when it first came into effect.

Climbing Mount Everest is a ‘challenge’. Being a single mother is a ‘challenge’. Living with a disability is a ‘challenge’. Surviving a war zone and fleeing your homeland is a ‘challenge’. Remembering your reusable bags is not a ‘challenge’.

The Coles PR team obviously leapt upon this term with great enthusiasm in a concerted effort to placate existing and future customers. The conveniently inoffensive and euphemistic word reassured lazy, disorganised, ignorant, Aussie whingers who were  lured back to the Coles checkout during the transition.

In that way, Coles continued to make a profit. Profit is why Coles exists. Coles is a business, and it exists to make money. Coles reversed the bag ban because a sufficiently large number of ‘sources of income’ complained about the ban. Many people will attack Coles, but ultimately, Coles is not obliged to remove plastic bags. Common sense and responsible corporate citizenship should force Coles to ‘ban the bag’ – but clearly common sense and responsible corporate citizenship do not make a profit.

Of course, this would not have happened, and this article would not have been written, if the Federal government, under Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, had implemented a nationwide ban on plastic bags. It hasn’t.

Ironically, an article in the Financial Review in May of this year ran with the headline,

“Coles new CEO Steven Cain isn’t afraid of change.”

Banning the bag was a change, and it clearly scared someone at Coles.

The responsibility lies with the average Aussie. To stop whinging about having to take a few bags to the shops, and, in turn, to put pressure on Coles, and other companies, to stop enabling destructive, everyday habits which have given Australia one of the largest per capita carbon footprints of any country on earth.

Harden up ‘Staya!

Images: http://www.worldatlas.com, http://www.coles.com.au

Journey of a Garden: Ben’s Been a Busy Boy.

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Ben’s been busy lately. He rolled up his sleeves, got his hands dirty and dismantled the entire garden. Yes, all of the garden beds are gone, even his fortress.

Ben was dissatisfied with his lodgings, so he gave the order to pack up and leave. When Ben speaks, we obey. Ben was satisfied with the garden and the space afforded him to grow food and plants, but not with the house itself. He became increasingly frustrated with the noise from the main road, and the nearby construction, which permeated the paper thin walls of the fibro house, day after day after day.

He also kept asking, when is an engineer going to design silent gardening tools? Surely, he would argue, if Scientists can create computers which fit in our pockets, they can find a way to create silent gardening tools. I’m afraid I was at a loss to explain to him why this hasn’t occurred yet.

As a result of Ben’s decision, the back garden has been returned to a flat patch of grass.

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The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

Ben swiftly dismantled the garden beds and was able to place some of the remaining plants, such as the eggplant, into the compost bin, but eventually even this had to be emptied. Much of the remaining plant and organic waste found its way into the garden waste bin, while the nutrient rich soil was spread over the rest of the garden, to help the grass grow.

In his brilliance, Ben ordered the dismantling of the garden well in advance of his departure date so that the grass may have a chance to grow back. He is conscious of not upsetting the Ogres, also known in this part of the world as Real Estate Agents.

The compost bin is set to be housed by some friends, who have a very impressive composting system, while the worm farm will hopefully be donated to a fledgling community garden, in this suburb. Ben was most pleased with our efforts to procure a home for the busy and productive worm farm.

 

Ben has left a small legacy. The frangipani trees remain, and even though they look quite sickly now in winter, they should be in full bloom in spring. The same applies to the papaya tree. Unfortunately, Ben won’t get to enjoy any papaya fruit, but hopefully the next tenant will continue to care for the plant and appreciate the free fruit.

Where does Ben go next?

Who knows.

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Journey of A Garden: Why I Grow My Own Food.

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Why do I grow my own food? To eat of course.

Apart from creating a more sustainable way of living for people and the planet and saving money on my grocery bills or enjoying the process of problem solving while I get my hands dirty, I grow my own food so that I can eat it – or share it.

The most abundant plant in my garden at the moment is my eggplant; it is thriving.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

I’m regularly harvesting dark, smooth coated eggplants from the no-dig garden bed and constantly searching for new ways to cook them.

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This dish consists of the eggplant, with some Moroccan soup/sauce plus chickpeas, tomatoes, carrot, parsley and Greek yoghurt. There’s definitely a north-African, Mediterranean theme or fusion to the dish and I think the plant lends itself very well to Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine. Mind you, my dish is nothing like the eggplant dishes I’ve savoured in the past, which were prepared by real chefs. Mine was just simple and tasty.

Alas, the only ingredient in this meal which came from my garden was the eggplant. I’m sad to say that even the cherry tomatoes came from the shop. My tomatoes aren’t doing too well at the moment, but I gave them some much-needed attention this afternoon after a remonstration from Ben the Berserker, the guardian of my garden.

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By the way, don’t ask me for the recipe – I’m sure you could all do a better job yourselves.

A Dead Fox is A Good Fox.

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Foxes are a pest in Australia. They are an invasive species which is destroying Australia’s native biodiversity. For Australians, the only good fox is a dead fox.

Foxes are very effective hunters and have a fantastic ability to survive and reproduce, which is why they have spread to most parts of the continent since they were brought to Australia for hunting in the mid-1800s.

But they’re so cute!

In their native habitat, yes. Australia is not their native habitat.

Foxes continue to adversely affect Australia’s native fauna. They kill many ground nesting birds, mammals and reptiles and they compete with native Australian animals for food and habitat. They also harbour and spread disease.

Smaller marsupials such as wallabies, possums and rat kangaroos have suffered population decline due to predation from foxes.

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Programs are currently underway across the country to control or eradicate foxes from the continent, but the animal continues to thrive. Foxes didn’t chose to come to Australia. People brought foxes into Australia, people need to solve this problem.

More needs to be done to protect Australia’s native wildlife from foxes.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t kill the fox in the photo. I saw it on the road while out for a morning ride.

Journey of A Garden: Eggplant.

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My eggplant is growing.

I hadn’t even realised. I only saw the progress of the fruit this morning when I was watering the plants.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

I noticed one decent sized plant and a few more in various stages of growth.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the eggplant, because the sporadic rain we’ve had lately meant that I haven’t needed to be in the garden very often – thank goodness, I get sick of having to water these plants every day. I have no hose, so I have to water all of them with a watering can, which is rather tedious.

This morning, however, the tedium was rewarded with the sighting of some substantial growth on the eggplant and signs that I may be able to eat some of my own eggplant soon

I’d actually assumed that the eggplants were not going to produce any fruit because I thought it might have been too late in the season. That said, our seasons have been unpredictable lately. It is now autumn in this part of the world, but one week ago we sweltered through 40 degree (Celsius) heat. That is not normal.

I don’t know whether the heat impacted upon the growth of the eggplant, or if they were destined to grow in a garden bed full of very nutrient-rich soil.

The eggplant may also have benefited from the recent removal of corn plants from the same garden bed. I think the corn plants were stealing some of the nutrients from the soil.

The eggplant lies in a no-dig garden bed consisting of layers of grass clippings, horse manure and potting mix. I also added some seaweed recently. I know it’s healthy because last time I tended to the bed, I became acquainted with some massive worms.

Healthy worms equals healthy soil.

Journey of A Garden: Can A Plant Grow Without Soil?

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Can a plant grow without soil?

Can a plant grow when it’s out of the ground?

Apparently yes.

A Frangipani plant can.

I made this surprising discovery this morning, when I walked past a bunch of sticks and saw growth from the top of the frangipani plant which was lying on the ground.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

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A number of small leaves were growing out of a protuberence at the top of the plant – the same plant that I had taken out of the ground about one month ago…because it wasn’t growing.

The small bulb is very green and the small leaves look quite healthy, despite the fact that the plant has been lying on the concrete under a bunch of sticks for at least a month.

I don’t understand how this happened.

The plant displayed absolutely no signs of growth when I planted it many months ago, after taking a cutting from a healthy tree at a friend’s place. I had subsequently decided that the plant was never going to grow because it had been in healthy soil for about two months.

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The only explanation that I can find is that the warm summer weather and dry conditions of the last few months have promoted growth in a plant that obviously still has some life left in it.

 

I stuck the plant into my most productive garden bed and I’m hoping that with some healthy soil it will continue to grow. It’s unlikely to produce flowers any time soon as we are now heading into autumn and the colder months, but I may be able to admire it’s beauty and fragrance next spring.

Now that I’ve witnessed a minor miracle in my backyard, what should I wish for next?

 

 

Journey of a Garden: Truss Tomatoes.

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You can tie a plant to a trellis but you can’t make it grow.

I learned this the hard way when I discovered that my truss tomatoes are not growing very well and not likely to reach maturity.

Most of the fruit reached a certain size and were looking quite green and healthy, then started to develop some kind of blotching on the skin and start to wither. The stems and the leaves of the plant also started to wither.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

Maybe the tomatoes didn’t like sleeping in a cot – the name I gave to the garden, or baby bed. I created a small and narrow garden bed for the truss tomatoes and I think it may simply have been too small for the fruit.

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I created a smaller bed because I had limited space in the area of the garden which was likely to attract a sufficient amount of sunlight. Maybe the small garden bed didn’t provide enough nutrients for what is quite a large tomato. Ironically, I planted the smaller cherry tomatoes in the larger garden bed (these are growing well and are very tasty).

It is frustrating to see my labour bear no fruit, even more so after constructing quite a large trellis on which to tie the fruit. The trellis took me quite a long time to construct and is the biggest constructed feature in the garden – but will not supply me with anything for my dinner plate.

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I think it is also too late to plant anything else in the garden bed, because we have now officially entered autumn in this part of the world – although I may throw in a few corn seeds and see what happens because this plant seems to grow almost anywhere with sufficient water and sunlight. I am quite certain that the soil is still reasonably healthy because it is a mini no-dig garden bed with a healthy supply of grass clippings, manure and potting mix, topped with mulch.

However, I will have no more need for the trellis and might have to call in the heavy machinery to tear down my mega-structure.

I could make a reality TV episode out of it.

Journey of A Garden: Rockmelon (Warning, Graphic Images)

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A vicious and merciless attack was launched on my rockmelons. They have fallen victim to bugs, pests, incompetence or neglect, or a combination of all of the above.

The once thriving small fruits were revealed to be rotting and dying beneath the surface upon closer inspection, as revealed in the shocking and horrific images above.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

Bugs or pests may have taken advantage of the weak defence system employed in my garden. Channeling the neutrality of Switzerland and the ‘Pura Vida’ of Costa Rica, I deliberately chose not raise an army or use any form of harmful pesticide, and this may have attracted greedy, rapacious bugs.

My military incompetence my also have signalled the death of the rockmelons. I followed the lead of Generals of wars past and dug trenches, before filling them with foot-soldiers in the form of rockmelon seeds saved from fruit I bough from the supermarket. I covered these with potting mix and issued the soldiers with a steady supply of aquatic ammunition, but alas, some of the rockmelons succumbed to the enemy.

A more intelligent strategy would have been to create mounds of soil, with sufficient space in between, and plant a sensible number of seeds in each.

Fortunately, I will not be forced to fall on my sword because some of the remaining rockmelon are still growing and look reasonably healthy. Hopefully, I can eat some of these fruit or at least save the seeds.

 

Journey of A Garden: Hecho de Maiz.

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I’m not quite ‘hecho de maiz’. I’m not made of corn.

Soon, though, I may be largely sustained by corn if my plants continue grow at their current rate.

I could be roasting it, boiling it and smearing butter over it. I could scrape off the kernels and put them in a salad or I could grind down the corn and make it into Sadza, Ugali, Nshima or Mielie Meal – and before you know it, I’ll be breaking world records from the 800 metres to the Marathon.

Or, I could launch myself into the perfect siesta with a corn tortilla full of greasy goodness.

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The six lots of corn that I planted a while ago are growing well in the backyard, even with two different methods of planting.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

Three of them were planted straight into the ground.

I dug a small hole, put some seeds into the hole, then covered it with potting mix. Then I just made sure to water the plants regularly.

The others were planted into a no dig garden bed comprised of layers of grass clippings, manure and soil.

All of the corn is growing very well, although I wonder if the corn in the no dig garden bed is growing a little too well and stealing nutrients from its bedfellow, the eggplant, which is starting to look a little withered.

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The state of the eggplant prompted me to add some seaweed to the no dig garden bed, so hopefully this will help the corn and the eggplant to grow.

I decided to grow corn because it is a relatively easy crop to grow, as long as it has enough water and sunlight, and because I wanted to grow food which can provide the substance to a meal. That is, I want a food that will fill me up, because if I can only grow fruits like tomatoes, silverbeet and eggplant then I will still be hungry at the end of a meal. If I wanted to do that, I would go to an insanely expensive restaurant serving an eight course menu of minuscule degustations which can only be enjoyed after consuming copious glasses of the ridiculously over-priced wine list.

I’d rather eat a hearty meal straight from my garden.

 

 

Journey of A Garden: Two Shades of Green.

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My silverbeet is two shades of green. Three of the six bunches of sliverbeet are a lighter shade of green than the others, even though they lie in the same no dig garden bed.

This only happened recently.

I don’t know why.

The garden is at the back of a rental property on the south coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours south of Sydney, Australia. The soil is generally fertile in a region famous for dairy farming and viticulture, although the garden had been stripped of much of its nutrients when I moved in, courtesy of the previous tenant’s neglect and a dry winter. The garden attracts quite a lot of sun, during very warm summer months and even during colder winter months in what is typically a temperate climate. The area is also famous for beaches and surfing, which is great after a day of hard yakka in the garden.

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All of the plants are on their second cycle of growth. I’ve been picking the silverbeet and eating it almost every day and it is a very abundant crop, growing very well.

When it first started growing, all of the leaves were a dark shade of green and all were growing at about the same rate and all tasted the same – either raw or cooked.

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The light green plants were cut back probably more than the other three recently, so maybe the growth is newer? Also, the leaves on the light green plants appear smoother.

I guess the true test is in the eating.

I’ll leave the lighter leaves to grow for a while and see what happens.