Thursday, July 26, 2012

Environmentality 25 July 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Smokey and Jaime had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Ward about sustainable living and the wonderful Urban Bush-Carpenters initiative.

Urban Bush-Carpenters (UBC) comprises a group of individuals who are passionate about carpentry and self reliance, utilising what wooden materials they can find around them.  Once a month UBC holds a free carpentry workshop using found, donated or discarded timber.

The members of Urban Bush-Carpenters themselves are not professional carpenters, rather, volunteers who are learning by doing and sharing this with others.  Their attitude is about 'having a go' and enjoying the process of constructing things.  The types of items made during the workshops include compost bins, planter boxes, worm farms and chook houses.  Basically, useful items for sustainable living and gardening.

The workshops are held on the 3rd Saturday of every month at 10am at Ceres.  If there is a group of people planning on attending, it is probably worth calling UBC to book in.  You can also donate your unwanted wood to Ceres.

There is a UBC website where you can find out more:  Thankyou to Jane for sharing information about Urban Bush-Carpenters.  Environmentality listeners will surely be inspired to get busy with their hammers and saws!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Environmentality July 18 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Environmentality has a new regular horticultural and gardening feature, with Jodi Jackson.  Jodi spoke with Jaime and Smokey about the citrus season, and what people should focus on in their vegetable gardens at this time.

If you recall from several weeks ago, Jodi Jackson also informed Environmentality listeners about the Lemon Tree Project in Melbourne.  The blog site is:  The Lemon Tree Project is about utilising spaces like nature strips, parks and other areas to plant lemon trees. The community take joint ownership of caring for the trees, and also enjoying the produce!  Jodi is an expert in looking after lemon and citrus trees and shared her knowledge with listeners. 

Image by Yolande Larratt

Melbourne is currently enjoying a good citrus season.  However due to heavy rainfall in recent times, Jodi has explained that there have been signs of water logging.  Citrus plants may be showing signs of stress, especially in heavy clay type soils.  Leaves may be dropping off or changing color.  Springtime weather will help these plants, as the extra sun evaporates excess water.  However in the meantime Jodi has offered some tips to help maintain healthy citrus trees:
  •  On your lemon and citrus trees, you may notice strange dots and bumps.  These are most likely the ‘Gall Wasp’.  The wasps leave bumps on the leaves due to their breeding patterns.  People should cut off the affected leaves.  The leaves need to be incinerated with fire, not just put in the compost or bin.  Leaves that are discolored, turning yellow around the central veins for example, indicates a nitrogen deficiency.  People should add manure to the soil eg. chook poo. 
  • Curly leaves are a sign of potassium deficiency. Add lime to the soil.
  • To promote the overall health of your plant which will be noticeable in a few weeks 1) Sprinkle around citrus tree roots a handful of blood and bone and rock dust (crushed volcanic stone in powder form).  2) Mix 1 tsp iron chelates and 1 tsp epsom salts with seaweed fertilizer in a watering can.  Water this tonic over the foliage and any remaining liquid into the soil.

     Jodi also shared some of her ideas to help us with our veggie patches:
  • It is not too late to plant broad beans.  To kick start the process, it is a good idea to soak the broad bean seed overnight before planting.
  • Continue to plant vegetables from the brassica family, for example broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, and silverbeet.
  •  It is a good time to propagate strawberry plants.  If you have runners (stolons) there will be off shoots / roots that you can separate into distinct plants.
  •  If you are plagued by snails and slugs, Jodi has a great idea.  Collect them and feed them to the ducks at your local pond! 

As part of the Hume Environmental Champions Program, the finalists for the Microgrants scheme will be announced on the 30th of July.   The Lemon Tree Project is amongst the contenders. See and the websites for more details.
      Finally, Jodi is holding a 'Preparing your soil for Spring' workshop 10am-12pm on the 26th of July at the Meadow Heights Community Centre 15-29 Buchan St, Meadow Heights.  This workshop is part of the Hume City Council Environmental Workshops.  Feel free to leave any feedback or questions about the show on this blog.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Environmentality 11 July 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

To all the coffee lovers out there, and in Melbourne there are many, have you often wondered whether coffee grounds could serve a useful purpose other than waste?  Smokey and Jaime spoke with Shane Genziuk, founder of the Ground to Ground initiatve, about how we can make better use of coffee grounds, in our gardens.

Shane Genziuk is a self-confessed coffee addict.  Around two years ago, he started to research used coffee grounds, finding that several tonnes are produced in Melbourne's CBD alone every day.   Most of this goes to landfill, contributing to the production of methane gas.  The Ground to Ground initiative was created to make people more aware of the opportunity to recycle or reuse coffee grounds. 

Shane found that coffee grounds can be extremely beneficial in gardening.  Shane has created a wonderful website which helps educate people about using coffee grounds in their gardens.  A few helpful pointers for gardeners:
  • Coffee grounds have 2% nitrogen by weight, thereby acting like a slow release fertiliser.
  • Worms love coffee grounds.  Attracting worms into the soil improves its condition, resulting in healthier plants. 
  • You can put coffee grounds into your garden without composting first.  However it is important to dig coffee grounds into the soil.  Otherwise, a crust is formed on the surface, preventing moisture and oxygen getting in to the soil.  
  • In the compost, coffee grounds help generate heat and retain water. These are ideal conditions for composting.
  • Coffee grounds are sterile, with most of the caffeine having been removed during the coffee brewing process.  There are historical references to coffee grounds being used for animal feed, with people currently reporting success with feeding chickens.  
The important step is to actually obtain the used coffee grounds from cafes that would otherwise go to waste.  This is where you, Environmentality listeners can help.  Simply ask your local cafe owner for their coffee grounds.  Alternatively, the Ground to Ground website features a map detailing the location of Melbourne cafes which are happy to pass on their coffee grounds.

The Ground to Ground initiative is inspiring many people around the world, not just in Melbourne, to take action by reusing this otherwise waste product.  Congratulations to Shane and his team on this initiative.  If you missed the interview, the podcast is now available online to listen to.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Environmentality 4 July 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Today Smokey and Danielle updated listeners about Sustainability Drinks, followed by an interview with David Walker, Executive Officer of Gould League.

Sustainability Drinks Melbourne takes place on the first Wednesday of every month 6-8pm, with the fantastic combination of a guest speaker talking about sustainability, with the added bonus of, you guessed it, drinks!

Unfortunately this week Smokey and Danielle were extremely upset to be plagued by technical difficulties.  They were unable to speak to Dan Atkins who normally briefs listeners on the monthly program.  Smokey instead provided details of the Sustainability Drinks guest speaker for tonight, Peter Ho, Director of PHOOEY Architects.

PHOOEY Architects incorporate sustainability in their design practice, and are award winning in Australia and overseas.  People may know Peter Ho as a judge on ABC’s New Inventors.  To hear him speak, Sustainability Drinks are held at the Slate Restaurant Bar 9 Goldsbrough Lane Melbourne 3000.
To find out more, visit

The Gould League is a non-profit environmental organisation, started in 1909 by people concerned about the impact of habitat lost.  It commenced with a campaign to encourage children to look after wildlife, especially birdlife.  Today, the Gould League provides training and education programs and sustainability initiatives.

The environmental training programs focused in schools encompasses a range of activities like excursions, workshops and demonstrations.  The topics covered are many, including biodiversity, sustainable urban living, recycling and gardening.  There are various programs for a range of age groups, starting from early childhood.

David Walker explained to listeners that the real focus of the Gould League is in encourage people to change their lifestyles.  It is important to recognise that if one person takes action towards sustainability that it does have an impact!  The Gould League are finding that Primary School aged children are enthusiastic about changing their habits, with around 70% of families changing their habits in some way as a result of the training provided!

Gould League Program - Boys looking for worms
Gould League Program - Planting exercise

One initiative that is proving successful is the multicultural gardens program.  Recently arrived immigrants and refugees are given the opportunity to cultivate the vegetables they are familiar with from their original country of origin.  The people are already used to cultivating these foods, and are simply provided with planning, tools and other support.

There are many opportunities for people to be involved as volunteers, members or simply in providing a donation.  You can find out more on  Thankyou for reading our blog!

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