General chit-chat

Lewisham Library

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We first found out about street libraries after hearing about them on Bookish, comedian Jennifer Wong’s ABC iView series about books and reading. A street library is a painted box outside our house containing a selection of books. You can take a book, or leave a book; it’s up to you.

Lewisham Library
Lewisham Library

Given that many people stop outside our house to discuss the garden anyway, we figured having a street library would give people another reason to stop by. So we decided to create a street library and put it in our front garden.

We built our street library out of plywood, and added a couple of old slates on top of the roof to give it a cottage feel.

We also ordered a sticker from that tells the neighbourhood this is a registered street library. Every sticker is numbered so that each librarian can register their library on a map. There’s already several street libraries across the inner west.

We put a selection of books in the street library this morning, some come by when you’re in the area!

Lewisham street library

Organic gardening has changed since 1972

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"How to grow food organically" by Gary Null & Staff, published USA 1972
“How to grow food organically” by Gary Null & Staff, published USA 1972

We were recently given a pile of 2nd hand books, about organic gardening and healthy eating. They mostly date to the 1970’s, published in the UK or the USA.

One of the books was “How to grow food organically”, shown above. There’s a bunch of good stuff in it, although not presented in an easily digestible way.

But this was the real surprise lurking within:

It's an advertising insert ... for cigarettes!?!
It’s an advertising insert … for cigarettes!?!
... and over the page.
… and over the page.

Yes, that’s an advert for cigarettes, within an organic gardening book. “Stop poisoning yourself and your environment!” says the cover of the book. Except for the cigarettes, of course. Times have changed since 1972.

(I’m giving the Gary Null, the author, the benefit of the doubt here. I’m sure it was mindless publishers at the time, but it’s still pretty damn weird.)




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On our recent visit to Tasmania we stopped in at Railton, famous for its topiary displays. While it is a smallish town, many of the residents and businesses have grown topiary so there’s plenty to see!

One of the many topiary displays in Railton, Tasmania.
One of the many topiary displays in Railton, Tasmania.
Elephants topiary in Railton, Tasmania.
Elephants topiary in Railton, Tasmania.

We’ve been growing our own modest topiary in our front yard, but as you can see below we have a long way to go 🙂

Our squirrel topiary -- we have a long way to go!
Our squirrel topiary — we have a long way to go!

Tea infusers good for the garden

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As seen on the Madame Flavour teas website, describing how their special tea bags (“infuser pods”) can be recycled:

Put several used infuser pods in the bottom of a hanging basket or pot, then put the soil over them. When you water the plant, the water is stored in the pods, a natural form of water-storing granule, reducing the need to water.

The same thing for new garden beds – perfect for water restrictions. And the tea puts minerals back into the soil as it breaks down.

Use infuser pods to plant seeds in. It saves on compost and you can plant straight into the ground.

I usually chuck our used tea bags into the compost, but these ideas sound much more creative!

Food from the sky

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A supermarket in London is growing produce on their roof to show produce can be grown in cities and sold locally. The project, which is the first of its kind, is called Food From The Sky.

The store sells its organic roof-grown produce on Fridays, and waste is composted.

(via Concrete Playground)

Good backyard vegetable gardening blogs?

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Setting up a blog is second nature to us both, so this seemed to be an easy thing to do. But it’s nice to have company, and to learn from others on the same journey. Problem is, it’s quite hard to find other similar blogs, with a Google search returning many commercial sites, mostly selling plants or gardening equipment.

So: any recommendations on blogs we should be following? Just add a comment…

Letting our house speak for itself

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We’re very pleased with our new house in Lewisham, nestled in  inner-city Sydney. A turn-of-the-century Federation house, it sits in a quiet street with a large enough block for gardening and more.

The two of us have a strong interest in the environment and sustainability, and this blog shares our experiences of doing our bit for the world. We’re not fanatics, and won’t be dropping off the grid anytime in the future.

We will, however, do what we can. These things bring us pleasure, and satisfaction at helping the world. We share our activities on this blog to encourage others in the inner city, and to show that concrete steps can be taken even when in a densely populated residential suburb.