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June 2010
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July 2010

Light roofs not only keep you cool, they also fight climate change


We extended our house a few years ago. As part of our passive design plan, we chose a light coloured roof to help keep our home cool. Lighter surfaces reflect heat whereas dark surfaces absorb it. I recently learnt that, by doing so, not only are we saving ourselves the cost of cooling, we’re also contributing to keeping our city cool and even potentially mitigating climate change. Details of these recent research findings and some useful links can be found here.

I love simple smart changes that make a difference without additional effort or cost.

Speaking of smart homes making living green easier, have you heard of Sydney’s new Smart Home Family. They recently moved in to a brand new energy efficient smart home where they will live rent free for a year.

It’s a real-life experiment. The Smart Home contains the latest green technologies and Clare, Michael and their daughter Ava will be putting these technologies to the test and documenting their energy and water use, carbon emissions and lifestyle changes along the way. Check out their blog here. I love that four year old Ava prepared for the move by watching The Jetsons cartoon series. Cute! I’m looking forward to following their journey.

A five minute instant raised vegetable garden

I love quick creations. I enjoy gardening, crafting and cooking, but for me it's mostly the outcome I enjoy, rather than the process. I'm impatient.

I thought my raised strawbale garden was as good as it gets in terms of instant economical raised garden beds, but I've found an even cheaper and quicker option....


Remember those bags of mushroom compost that i've been raving about? They cost me only $2, I harvested kilo's of mushrooms from them, and now i'm growing veges in them. Talk about value for money.


I simply placed the bags directly on the ground, made drainage holes by stabbing with a pitch fork a few times, and then planted out. Done. In 5 minutes.

I know many of you are thinking right now....This doesn't help me, I don't have a mushroom farm nearby. You can also use bags of potting mix*.

Simply place the bag where you want your garden and use a knife to cut an opening in the top. 


Stab the bag all over with a pitch-fork to create lots of drainage holes in the bottom.


Plant your seedlings or seeds.


Water. Done. In less than fine minutes again.


I planted mint, and am planning to add lemongrass and lemon balm. I'm calling it my 'tea bag'.

I'd like to say I came up with this idea. But I didn't. Both the mushroom compost and potting mix ideas came from a great little book No-Dig Gardening: How to create an instant, low maintenance garden by Allen Gilbert.

Enjoy your 5 minute gardening.

*A commercially bagged potting mix is not exactly environmentally friendly. They can contain synthetic fertilisers which require lots of energy to create, can also contain sand mined from natural ecosystems, and may also have travelled long distances. For example, I broke all the rules buying the above bag of potting mix. It contains washed sand, slow-release fertiliser, and travelled interstate hundreds of kilometres. To reduce the ecological impact of bagged potting mix, look for locally made organic compost made from recycled materials. For example, some councils sell bagged compost made from composted green waste. 

P.S. A big thank you to those of you who joined in my choose your own {eco} adventure. I loved learning what interested you the most and i'll definitely be playing again. The winner of the giveaway is....drum-roll.....Number 18 - Chrissy! I promise I didn't rig it to save on postage fees. I'm sure i'll see you soon Chrissy at the upcoming Hunter Alliance for Childhood or Playdates for the Planet events and i'll bring your book along. 

Thanks all for playing along :-)

Nature is everywhere - you just have to take a moment to look.

Monday is usually our urban adventure day. But today was busy - so instead we took a moment to wander around nearby streets looking for signs of urban nature. The concept of 'nature' is a little beyond a three year old, so I told Little Eco we were searching for bugs.

I love that nature is never too far away, no matter where you are.








Yes, I stole some violets out of someones garden. Anyone else willing to fess-up to collecting plants from neighbours gardens?

If you're wondering what Little Eco is wearing or what that blonde hair is in a few photos - she's carrying a doll in her mini mei tai.

We made the little nest ourselves, to house an abandoned egg we found, and of course the egg needed a mum. Little Eco enjoyed playing with the little nest, egg and bird all afternoon.

There's only a few hours left to choose your own {eco} adventure and be in with a chance to win a copy of Sustainable Baby. I'll be drawing the giveaway before I head off to bed tonight. So far it looks like the 'Five minute instant raised vegetable garden' is winning.

For more outdoor inspiration head on over to 5 Orange Potatoes for the Outdoor Challenge and for more play ideas head on over to Childhood 101 for We Play