How to grow kale at home

How to grow your own kale

Due to its enormous popularity in recent years, kale is becoming hard to find. The cruciferous vegetable is revered by  green-smoothie lovers and single-handedly reinvented the humble chip, but growers have warned of a worldwide seed shortage.

To protect yourself against a world with no kale, I suggest you grab a pot or a bit of ground plus some vibrant soil and get planting. In Australia, you can buy curly kale seeds here, this variety is best planted in late summer or early autumn and will come to maturity over winter, ready to fight off colds and flu.

Kale is a kind of cabbage and it can grow up to 60cm tall, spreading out around the same width. Grow it in either a big pot or in rich soil in a full sun to partial shade position.  Be sure to keep it well hydrated and remember that pots dry out quickly. Remember the watering system I reviewed recently? It’s great for both pots and in veggie patches and there are various kits available.

You can raise kale seeds in seedling trays or egg cartons, but you will need to remember to water them very regularly. I prefer to put seeds straight into a larger pot or patch of soil, along with some seed-raising mix, then see which ones look like survivors and thin the seedlings out, replanting them here, there and everywhere to see which position works best. You should be harvesting leaves in around eight weeks.

Sign the Monster Climate Petition (with a pen!)

monster petition

Here’s a cool thing you can do to protect the future for our children… A group of distinguished women is coordinating what’s known as a “monster petition”, which is basically a humungous collection of signatures (yes, actual signatures) showing support for a cause. The idea comes from the original monster petition of 1891 that made a big difference you and I take for granted: it helped women gain the vote.

Today’s monster petition focuses on climate change, and the organisers are aiming for hundreds of thousands of pen-to-paper signatures to take to the G20 summit in Brisbane (yep, the one in which our government has taken climate change OFF the agenda) then present it to our national Parliament in late November.

Celebrate National Op Shop Week with a spring clean!

national op shop weel

Hands up if you just love to op shop? Me too! Having just picked up a complete outfit for a natutical-themed party  for less than $15, I’m even more hooked on thrift shopping than ever. And I’m not alone – a recent survey found that nine out of ten Aussie women have bought something from a charity op shop in recent years.

Op shops (for overseas readers – charity, goodwill or thrift shops) make sense for your budget, for the environment and for the countless people who benefit from the programs funded by the stores.

Think of every loved t-shirt, outrageous find and fancy-dress costume you’ve ever bought from a charity shop and feel the satisfaction…

Now, it’s time to give back.

This week is National Op Shop Week and, this year, organisers want us to focus on giving. They’re asking us to dig deep into our wardrobes (and kitchen cupboards, garages and storage units) and come up with some top-quality donations.

Observations on the UK



Hello friends, I’m back from my holiday in the UK. We spent a week in Wales, one in Dorset and another in Essex visiting family and catching up with friends. It’s five years since I’ve been back to England and global warming appears to be working in favour of the British Isles. The poms were sweltering in what us Queenslanders consider mild weather, aside from the day we went to Legoland, of course, when we experienced some of the torrential rain predicted to be the norm for UK summers in our warmer climate. It’s incredible how accepting people are of the change, but I guess warmer summers are worth a bit of flash flooding here and there, right?

We really noticed a difference on the motorways as people seem to be driving more slowly and less aggressively. This could be due to increased awareness about fuel efficiency now petrol prices hover around 1.34 quid. Interestingly, the M25 is now a low-emissions zone, meaning cars over a certain age (and with lower efficiency)  aren’t allowed to use it. Imagine if we applied that to the Brice Highway!

19 ways to green your groceries

19 ways to green your groceries

This is the fifth instalment of my Easy Green series over on Childhood 101.

Every time we spend money on food and other essentials, we make a choice about the world we want to live in. We can choose to reduce waste and to support resourcefulness, we can choose people over corporations and long-term health over short-term gain. Here are some ideas on how to turn boring old grocery shopping into something that supports a healthy planet, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for our children.

1. Shop in independent stores. Visit the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer.

2. Source fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs from local suppliers to reduce food miles and ensure a better deal for farmers. Visit markets, buy from the farm gate or look online for suppliers.

3. Check all boxed or packaged foods and buy those made in your country or, better still, your state!

4. Find a veggie box-delivery scheme or search for “community supported agriculture” in your area.

5. Keep an eye out for locally produced jams, sauces, curry pastes, sweet treats, cleaning products and more.

Keep reading here.


How to recycle cigarette butts

how to recycle cigarette butts

More than a million cigarette butts have been collected for recycling in just a few short months since Terracycle launched its Cigarette Waste Brigade in March. Terracycle, the awesome company dedicated to recycling the un-recyclable, takes Australia’s second-most littered item and turns it into useful things such as plastic shipping pallets and railway sleepers.

Accepted cigarette waste includes the plastic wrapping around fag packets and the foil lining inside, tobacco pouches, cigarette filters, rolling paper, ash and, of course, extinguished cigarette and cigar butts.

Where do the smokers you know hang out? Work, your local pub, their living rooms? Ask them to collect the waste from their bad habit and earn money to be donated to the charity or school of your choice.

The carbon tax is gone…. now what?

Thousands rally for climate action and a carbon price

Ding dong, the carbon tax is dead, meaning Australia – one of the world’s greatest polluters – makes history as the first developed nation to renege on its climate action responsibilities. Whatever the pollies are saying about jobs and how the carbon tax didn’t work, know this: there is currently nothing in place to make polluters think twice about their emissions. There is currently nothing in place to ensure Australia reaches its laughably inadequate 5% emissions reduction target. There is currently nothing in place to show the world we Aussies even believe in climate change.

All we had was the carbon tax, which this Australian National University study found cut up to 17 million tonnes of CO2 and reduced emissions in the electricity sector by 10 percent. Critics will say the reductions are due to people and industry cutting back on their usage due to “price hikes” (on average 10 percent for households), however this has been factored into the conservative estimates in the study. Anyway, the whole point of the carbon tax was to encourage people to use less energy in the first place, so it was doing its job!

Free app for happy fish

We Aussies are a bunch of fish-n-chip loving, prawn-sizzling, ichthyophiles. But how do you give your family a good fishy feed without contributing to the oceans’ woes?

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has just released the new and updated Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide and it is available as a booklet ($9.95), online, or as a free app for both Apple and Android.

More than 90 common fish and seafood species have been categorised into traffic-light colours, meaning you can quickly (and surreptitiously) whip out your phone, tappy-tap the name of the fish your kids want battered and instantly see whether you can give them the green light. When you have more time, scroll down to see why the seafood has earned its rating and learn more about the very complex issue of seafood sustainability.

A year without supermarkets

a year without supers

It’s been a whole year since I stopped shopping at the Big Two supermarkets. Can you believe it? Me neither. In the past 12 months Coles and Woolies have done absolutely nothing to lure me back in. In fact, they have carried on behaving just as badly, confirming the reasons I broke up with them in the first place.

To celebrate my little milestone, let’s have a look at some of the most recent incidents that have made me roll my eyes and mutter “wankers” under my breath.

1. The Jamie Oliver debacle

Woolworths has the world’s favourite chef on board, encouraging us to eat more fresh produce, which is great for Australian growers… But the company has asked farmers to pay a voluntary contribution of 40c per crate to fund the campaign. This doesn’t sound too bad until you learn from the peak industry body that Aussie growers feel pressured into paying the fee (which is on top of their regular marketing contribution) and fear retribution if they don’t. AUSVEG went so far as to write to Jamie Oliver about their concerns. Woolies says the campaign has been a huge success. AUSVEG described it as a “furphy” and suggested that after posting a $1.32 billion net profit in February, the company could have paid for the campaign itself without asking already stretched farmers for their “voluntary” contributions.

Do you live in a green house?

brighton earthship

The organisers of Sustainable House Day 2014 are looking for house-proud greenies to show off their dwellings and I can think of a few of you out there who would fit the bill! Throw open your doors on September 7 and/or September 14 and inspire others to build green, convert their bricks-n-mortar, or make the transition to a home with a smaller footprint.

In 2012, 38,000 people viewed 220 sustainable houses around Australia. More and more Aussies are looking to green their homes, but the advice they need isn’t easy to come by and the materials aren’t always available at Bunnings. Actually talking to someone about their experience is invaluable, and as more people demand green building materials and services, supply will grow.

So what is a sustainable house?

The picture at the top of this post is of the Brighton Earthship, a super-sustainable abode in Brighton, UK. No one lives there (hello, I’m available!) but it’s open for tours and as a learning resource. This experimental house has solar, rainwater harvesting, a windmill and upcycled tyres used in the walls, among other features. But you don’t have to live in a hobbit house to claim green cred. The open homes for Sustainable House Day may use clever building materials and construction techniques, be water or energy self-sufficient, use passive solar design, smart fittings and appliances, have a kick-arse food forest or other incredible outdoor space.

Basically, if you have spent time and money to make your home more sustainable then you are a master and could definitely share your knowledge. According to surveys, 90 per cent of the people who attended an open home were influenced by what they saw. If ten people visit your home, then you’ve done more than green your own abode, you’ve made nine other homes more sustainable. Go you!

For more information on Sustainable House Day, visit the website. To submit your awesome house, click here. I’ll be sure to keep you all informed about event as it draws closer.

photo credit: Dominic’s pics via photopin cc