Tag Archives: growing food

one-way-another-way-sign-300x266Just like sex, climate change and sustainability is a hot and steamy topic. One of the most common questions people ask when considering going green is: Where do I start? There seems to be 50 shades of green to choose from.

As with many areas of life that need urgent attention, going green also can seem confusing for many people. There’s probably not a person anywhere on the Earth that isn’t aware of climate change in some way and the need to care for our planet more, but where to start? The Earth is a big place, and while it’s very beautiful, it also has some increasing environmental challenges. Like many, you may be overwhelmed by what needs the most attention, and indeed, how you can make a difference. Well, that’s perfectly normal, and there is an answer.

Like any journey in life, start at the beginning. Take a single step, and take that step in your own home, backyard or business. Decide where you would like to be greener in your own life first. What needs greening? What can you do easily, with little or no effort or cost? Perhaps you’d like to be healthier, or chemical-free, or start a small vege and herb garden. It really is easier than you think and baby steps all added up really do make a difference. For example, by going chemical-free at home or work, you are stopping hundreds of litres of chemicals going down your drain and into your local and global waterways and oceans each year. You are just one person, but what a powerful step. What if everyone did the same thing?

Start in your own space first. Do what small things you can. Experience the positive results firsthand and feel good about your contribution to your environment. In time, you will even become an example to others, which we really need more of.

Visit our blog regularly or attend some of our events for more ideas on becoming greener. Earth care is no longer the domain of hippies and tree-huggers. It is everyone’s responsibility and you can make a difference.

Every change you make to be greener, however small, makes a difference to your planet and your health.

catsear_hypochaeris-radicata2In recent years, many gardeners and urban farmers have become more acutely aware of the usefulness of weeds. Many herbaceous plants, climbers and shrubs that we have long held as annoying, invasive and downright pesky are now being seen in a whole new light – dare we say useful weeds.

What permaculturists and many traditional and organic gardeners have known for centuries, many gardeners and farmers are just now discovering – that weeds are simply a plant growing in the wrong place. Weeds have been discriminated against for too long, but the weed usefulness revolution is on and it’s a great time to explore more about the ‘weeds’ that many people poison, pull out, mow over and generally dislike.

What is a weed? A weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place. A weed in a lawn may be unwanted and intrusive, but that same plant in another place may serve a purpose, and indeed may have come to Australia, for example, as a legitimate herb or vegetable from another culture. It may be a staple food for someone else. In fact, a great many of our common weeds in Australia, perhaps over 90%, did actually arrive here as food sources from other countries. Some of them became mainstream food for us today, such as many Asian greens and European herbs. Some of them remained as food sources, while spreading, unrecognized and unwanted, into Australian bushland, parks, verges, lawns and gardens – eventually to be despised by the uninitiated. And still many weeds are making a comeback as food and medicinal plants, such as dandelion, chickweed and purslane, to name only a few.

As we start to shift our awareness of weeds from foe to friend, our mind opens up to whole new possibilities and potential. Weeds suddenly take on new meaning and real purpose – they can be eaten, they can be dug into soil as green manure, they can be fed to animals and pets, they can be removed and converted into nutrients for our gardens, as compost or liquid ‘weed tea’, they can be used medicinally, they can be used as materials for a variety of projects, they can help to form habitat and increase biodiversity, and they can even be great indicators of soil by how and where weeds grow.

But runco caveat emptor! (let the weeder beware), for not all weeds should be welcome in our gardens or landscapes. Some weeds are just too intrusive and run the risk of running rampant. Some weeds, while they may offer some of the uses mentioned above, if allowed into our gardens, can become extremely challenging to remove and manage, especially organically. Nutgrass, paspalum, Singapore daisy, lantana and some runner grasses, for example, are very invasive and persistent weeds that plague the best of gardeners and farmers. For such examples and many others, prevention (don’t allow them onsite at all costs) is better than cure.

9781864471212So, now that we have a new appreciation of the weeds that previously mocked and taunted us, what to do with them when they appear in our gardens? Well, depending on the weed, there’s a few choices. We can eat them, feed them to our animals, compost them, mulch them, use them in creative ways in our gardens and much more. I’ll be exploring the use of many weeds in upcoming posts. In the meantime, get hold of some good books on weeds in Australia and start rethinking their usefulness. Identification is the first step. I recommend The Weed Foragers Handbook, by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland.

We are hosting an Edible Weeds Workshop this coming Sat 15 Oct, 9 - 11am. $25 per person.

Please contact us if you'd like to attend at dean@greendean.com.au