Wiltshire fruit farmers grow new sub-tropical fruit with help from Haxnicks Bell cloches

Wiltshire, UK, April 1, 2014: Fruit farmers David and Lali Proof have managed to cultivate the new ‘Pineorange’ ground fruit at their farm in Mere, Wiltshire.

Pineoranges under Haxnicks bell cloches at Connerby Farm, Mere, Wilsthire

Pineoranges under Haxnicks bell cloches at Connerby Farm, Mere, Wilsthire.

‘It all started in the Philippines’ says Lali, ‘We went there on holiday in 2009 and were immediately impressed with the new hybrid fruit that was being grown on a small privately owned farm near Piffal, where we were staying’.

The Pineorange, as the name suggests is a cross between a pineapple and an orange and grows relatively easily in the rich and fertile soils of the Philippines.

‘They are amazingly juicy and taste like a tropical fruit cocktail. We ate them for breakfast every morning for two weeks and before we left we decided to take some seeds back to the UK to germinate at home.

The seeds spent nearly 6 months in customs before being released, as a new classification of fruit had to be registered for them.

Back at the farm in Mere, it has taken the Proofs five years to finally get the results they wanted. ‘It’s horse manure’ says David, ‘that really makes the difference. Our soil isn’t naturally as fertile as it is back in the Philippines but our trusty shire horse Theobald Dasher helped us solve the problem. We were also helped out by Haxnicks who gave us some of the bell cloches they make in their factory just down the road from us. These have made a huge difference as they create a micro-climate which the pineoranges just seem to love.

When the sun shines you can almost watch them expanding. Our first crop will be ready this Easter and we hope to start selling them in earnest by next April.’

© 2014

NLWA has been at the Edible Garden Show 2014

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

north-london-food-lovers'-cookbookNorth London Waste Authority has be attending the Edible Garden Show on the weekend of 28 to 30 March 2014 and this is where I met them on Friday, March 28.

The Edible Garden Show, the award-winning ‘grow your own’ event has been taking place this year at Haringey’s iconic Alexandra Palace, and I had forgotten what a great venue this is, and it brought together a host of gardening and cookery experts, demonstrations and exhibits to show how easy it is to achieve a sustainable lifestyle by growing and cooking your own produce.

This was the first year that the Edible Garden Show was, actually in the London area, having previously been at the Stoneleigh showground in Warwickshire, not a location that has been easily to reach for anyone not using or wanting to use a car.

NLWA has been joining chefs Phil Vickery and Rachel Green, gardening expert Pippa Greenwood, and exhibitors from the National Vegetable Society, among many others, at the show, where they have been sharing a stand with their wholly owned company, LondonWaste Ltd.

NLWA has been showing visitors to the how easy it is to Wise Up To Waste and deal with their food waste better – from preventing food waste, to recycling and composting it. Information about where to get hold of LondonWaste Ltd compost was available and NLWA’s waste prevention advisers were on hand to give advice about reducing one's food waste.

Far too much food is being wasted in our homes, and not our homes alone, and many people, and hence the waste, nowadays, do not know all too often how to actually cook a mean from scratch and especially not from leftovers, unlike our grandparents and their parents did. A remedy for this is at hand though by way of the “North London Food Lovers' Cookbook” which is available to download at their website and by entering the NLWA's food waste challenge as a reward for participating.

Being a zero waste (and this means zero waste not just zero waste to landfill as our governments so often talk about when they use the term “zero waste”) advocate and a reuse consultant I must say that this book is a real good resource and has given even me some extra recipes for using up possible leftovers.

Check out their website at http://wiseuptowaste.org.uk/

LondonWaste Ltd can be found on http://www.londonwaste.co.uk/

© 2014

Edible Garden Show 2014 – Visit Impressions

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Alexandra_Palace_outside_shot1The Edible Garden Show has now been running for a number of years but has always, to me at least and others in the South of England, due to its location at the showground in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, been rather inaccessible, especially if one does not use a car.

In 2014 it finally came to the London area and this made it possible for those of us who cannot or do not wish to travel by car to actually attend it and the venue chosen, though still a little off the track, so to speak, in the form of Alexandra Palace in the London Borough of Haringay, is probably the best location possible.

The building and halls simply are beautiful – I had forgotten how nice Alexandra Palace actually is having not been there for over 25 years – and its setting overlooking London and in the middle of a large park make it a fantastic venue.

Despite the day that I attended being the first day and a Friday by lunchtime it had become very busy indeed and those exhibitors that were conspicuous by their absence will be regretting the fact that they did not chose to be at the show.

The show was well laid out and very easy indeed to navigate, something that is important so that visitors are able to see all the exhibits without missing anything. This is, alas, often overlooked by organizers of shows when the layout is being complicated making navigating a nightmare. Despite this, however, I have managed to miss a couple of points that would have been most interesting due to the fact that I forgot to consult my notes that I had made prior to the show, such as the Poultry Handbook. But, hopefully, I will learn from this.

I would also like to use this opportunity here to express my thanks to the organizers and the press team for the way they looked after us members of the press corps during our visit with a great press office where one could relax very well indeed and setting of this particular room, the Roman Room, was stunning also.

© 2014

From Russia with hoe

Ploskorez Swage – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

PLOSKOREZ SWAGE S, 1.30 m, Stainless Cultivator+Weeder Hoe

PloskorezSwage1Long Handle 1.3m. Strong, 3-edge-sharp, swaged & pointed stainless steel head, oiled wooden (Aspen or Birch) rounded-rectangular handle for upright position strain-free work (hold it with both thumbs facing the sky). Light weight.

Adjustable head allowing precision work around flowers or vegetables. Indispensable for all soil work (from subsurface down to 150 mm), loosening, planting, mounding, shaping and weeding tasks in larger areas and along long rows. Weed the patio hard surfaces. Slash overgrown weeds. Chop/Mix compost.

Blend fertilizers and compost into the soil. Mix up concrete. Contributes to improving soil structure. Aerates and mellows the soil. Breaks down clots. Hoe without moving a lot of soil. Hook. Rake. Chop. Slash unwanted plant growth.


I have encountered the Ploskorez tools for the first time ever in the real world – having seen it before online – at the Edible Garden Show 2014 at the Alexandra Place on Friday, March 28, 2014 where Vladimir Kondratyuk kindly allowed me to take one for review I can but say that so far I am very impressed (and I do not impress easily) as to the capabilities of this tool.

Having used this tool in a test-drive, so to speak, on an old heap of soil that was totally overgrown with weeds and grass and consisted mainly of a clay mix I am very impressed indeed with this hoe (well, it is more than a hoe really) in the way it has turned that material into lovely soil that I would be able to plant in straight away had that been my aim.

One problem I encountered though and that is due to the fact that I did not read the instructions and used the standard hand hold for a drag hoe rather than the one with both thumbs towards the sky and nearly go myself some blisters.

So, the one thing to remember when using this tool is that the grip must be overhand with your thumbs forward – pointing to the sky, so to speak – and not the standard grip that all too often is used with the round handled hoes and such where the thumb points backwards. The latter will get you blisters... as the man says... use with both thumbs facing the sky...

The PLOSKOREZ Swage hoe (which is more than a hoe really) will be equally at home in the commercial smallholding and market garden as well as the allotment and the home garden with raised beds and can handle more or less anything that is thrown at it, I should think.

Oh, did I mention that I love the Ploskorez Swage Hoe. Well, I do and that very much and I believe that it will be THE tool that from now on will go into the garden with me each and every time.

For more information visit http://www.ploskorez.co.uk/

© 2014

Disclosure: I received a Ploskorez Swage hoe for review purposes, but all opinions here are mine.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Globus introduces world's first biodegradable nitrile disposable glove

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Renowned for introducing revolutionary hand protection products, Globus has launched GREEN-DEXTM from Showa Best – the first nitrile disposable glove that fully biodegrades in landfills.

green-dex-biodegradable-nitrile-gloves-webI would like to stress here that it says “fully biodegrades in landfills”; it does not say nor mean that it is compostable and especially not compostable in the compost heap at home.

Nitrile disposable gloves continue to gain popularity with consumers for their snug fit and tough resistance to tears, unlike latex ones; making them ideal to wear for a wide range of chores around the home as well as delicate gardening tasks. It can even be worn under other gardening gloves to provide water resistance.

GREEN-DEX provides users with a comfortable 'second-skin' feel and barrier protection against a variety of greases, oils and chemicals and because it doesn't contain any natural rubber latex, it can be worn by anyone with a latex sensitivity.

The unique biodegradation process is achieved thanks to innovative Eco Best Technology = (EBT) from Showa Best. EBT accelerates the biodegradation of nitrile in biologically active landfills and anaerobic digesters as validated by independent certified laboratories using internationally recognized test methods. Unlike GREEN-OEX, regular

nitrile gloves cannot attract enough microbial activity to begin breaking down the polymer's molecular structure.

GREEN-OEX is available in boxes of 20 Single gloves in sizes small, medium, large and extra-large and packaging is made from 100% recycled material.

For more information visit www.qreen-dex.co.uk

I am currently running those gloves on test and so far can but say that I like them and they perform very well indeed, better than the blue nitrile gloves as used by police and medics and about equal to the stronger black ones. As to the biodegradability I cannot comment as I, personally, cannot conduct a test on that.

© 2014

Disclosure: I received a sample pack of those gloves for review purposes at the Garden Press Event 2014, but all opinions here are mine.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Don't waste your dandelions

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

dandelionMany gardeners are horrified when dandelions pop up in their flower beds or vegetable plots and immediately set about eradicating them. Not an easy task to begin with as just a bit of root left behind, and there will more often then not be a bit left behind, guarantees a new dandelion plant. But why would anyone want to do that.

The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) makes extremely good eating in itself and the entire plant can, in fact, be put to good use.

Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North and South America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety. The common name dandelion, from French dent-de-lion, meaning "lion's tooth") is given to members of the genus, The name is derived from the serration of the leaves of the plant which resemble teeth of a big cat. Like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

All parts can be used. The leaves, when young, are a great salad vegetable and can replace rocket, aka rucola or, in America, arugula. When the leaves get older they get somewhat more bitter and then can be used in the same way as spring greens, best, however, sauteed with garlic.

The flowers can also be eaten, added to salads, and they can be made into wine, which is the better way to use them, probably. In addition to that they can make a dandelion flower marmalade and the roots can be roasted and made into coffee or steeped as an infusion, aka tea.

So, why would anyone want to remove and eradicate this plant, which is very difficult to do in the first place.

Aside from all the benefits that this plant has and uses it also makes for a great show of butter-yellow flowers in Spring (and often several times over during the year). So you get two things, color and food, from the same plant.

© 2014

Burlap sacks are to fabric as what pallets are to wood

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Burlap sacks, also called Hessian sacks, are to fabric as what pallets are to wood. Projects abound to the creative mind. Homesteaders are filled with creative ways to recycle things and our ancestors, whether on the homestead or even town know how to make use of all of those kind of resources, including tin cans, wire, glass jars, etc.

Hessian rucksack_web

Small rucksack made from burlap sack and some waste rope

The Internet abounds with ideas of how to reuse, recycle and upcycle pallet wood and there are also instructions to be found on the use and reuse and the recycling and upcycling of burlap (Hessian) sacks. In addition to that books with the old skills of the homesteaders and the Australian Bushmen also have ideas and instructions for reworking such material in them.

The first mountaineer rucksacks of the Alps were nothing but sacks, more often than not potato sacks, that were “fitted” with some rope for straps. Both ends are tied to the bottom corner of the sack and the too pf the sack is closed by forming a “cow hitch” with the rope, which is them put over the top of the sack gathered together and pulled tight and – voila – one old-timer rucksack. Even during World War Two many Soviet soldiers used rucksacks like this, simply made from a sack and rope. (see picture)

Floor covering and throw rugs were made from burlap sacks on the homestead, as were even bed coverings and burlap and other sacking in those old days was even used to make clothes.

Flour came in nice material which, in fact was canvas rather than burlap, and many a child had bib overalls or dresses that Mom made from flour sacks.

Of course now flour comes in a paper sack, and that even from the mill to the baker, and farm feed comes in plastic lined paper sacks, if it does not come in plastic sacks altogether. That's progress for you.

Where, in those days of old, which are not all that long past since, most packaging, bar glass containers, was made from natural materials, and much came in sacks, from flour, over potatoes, to nuts, pulses and rice, and much else besides, today this is all being packaged, in the main, in man-made materials, predominately plastic bags, the latter which may not actually be all that good for us either.

As said, I do not think that we have progressed much at all. In fact it would appear that we have gone mad.

© 2014

Survival Manuals

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Survival H-B_1The problem with many so-called survival manuals, or survival handbooks, and even the book entitled “When Technology Fails”, is that they all too often looks at escaping into the wilderness in the event of this or that but that is really not a feasible option in most cases.

When it comes to a time after the failure of technology or collapse of the modern way the most important thing to have are good old-style hand tools and also the likes of pens and ink and typewriter plus the skills of the mid-to-late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century and not stone age ones.

While being able to make fire with flint and a good steel striker is most useful learning the making stone tools via flint-knapping is. However, a total and utter waste of time. The wheel has already been invented. No need to do it again.

An important thing to know, realize and understand is the fact, regardless what some authors and even instructors may try to tell you, that you cannot master all the necessary skills and thus you cannot go it alone.

Unless the manuals are survival after an accident or military scenario, as in escape and evasion, then, in the modern setting, most of them are all but useless.

When modern society collapses, as it one of these days will, through technology failing, you are not stranded out in the woods, the desert or the jungle but in your home town or -village and it is important that you know how to deal with such an event and its aftermath there in that setting.

And for that you do not need to know how to catch fish with your bare hands, make fire by rubbing two boy scouts, or was that sticks, together, or building a shelter from twigs and leaves, traveling by the stars or such. But other, a little more modern things and skills are required and especially how to make things for your daily life (from scratch and scrap) and how to grow food.

Many manuals recommend the acquisition of gold and silver coins, especially so-called trade rounds, in lieu of fiat currencies for after when the proverbial hits the fan, but, while such may have been accepted by people as barter currency in the German inflation period after World War One, the Russian famine of the civil war after the Bolshevik Revolution and to some extent even after World War Two in the war ravaged Germany today to believe that it will still work is an illusion. That that peddle the myths are but those who will also trade in those metals and coins.

The currency that you will need after the event is skills, and goods that people want, which you, hopefully, have the skills and tools to make, from materials available.

Also forget every notion that you can live self-sufficient in all things, far away in the wilderness. That too is an illusion and a myth peddled. Total self-sufficiency is not achievable. Even the Native Americans and other such peoples did not manage to do that and had to trade with others. It is especially unattainable for an individual.

However, around every corner there seems to be someone who talks about, writes about, and so on, about the goal of total self-sufficiency. What they do is to confuse self-reliance with self-sufficiency. Self-reliance is possible, self-sufficiency simply is not. Thus we must understand the difference.

You do not need stone age skills nor do we have to reinvent the wheel. The skills required for life after the event are those of the pre-industrial age. Flint-knapping, except for the making of flints for flintlock firearms, should this be necessary, is not a skill needed.

Don't waste your time learning skills that are of little to no use, especially not as barter. In the time after the event people want steel knives and not flint blades.

Skills will be your barter currency when the chips – literally – are down and the modern system, due to our over-reliance on vulnerable technology, has collapsed, that is to say being able to make things that you and others want and need.

But still many so-called survival manuals – and by the gods do I hate the term – and their authors advise all those stone age skills to learn as if we would have to reinvent the wheel and everything else after some collapse of society due to this or that event.

Stone age skills will not cut it as skills for barter currency and neither will they cut it as regards to you and yours being able to live a life that will sustainable by way of food and all that. The stone age is gone and we have even left the bronze age far behind by now and, as said, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, as we already know how to make it, and the same goes for many other things.

Should it really come to a deep crunch then, as far as firearms are concerned, for instance, we may have to resort, once again to muskets rather than rifles even, of the flintlock variety, as such can be relatively easily made, as car the blackpowder required to shoot them. And, as far as bullets are concerned, those can either be cast from lead but, in case of a musket, even pebbles can be used and will work for hunting.

The fact is, however, that the majority of us will live in the cities and suburbs, in towns, large and small, and villages, rather than in the boonies and the skills required are not those that are mostly advocated and “taught” in such manuals but the skills of the nineteenth and early twentieth century in way of growing food and everything else.

The great majority of those “manuals”, with bar one or two exceptions, seem to be almost copies of each other and have been ever since they first appeared. One of the only ones that are different is “The Survival Handbook” by Michael Allaby, that was co-authored by John Seymour and others, and published in 1975. And that is the only one, though it would be nice to have it updated a little, that you will ever need. Maybe, though, in addition to that also the “Complete Book of Self-sufficiency” by John Seymour. And then acquaint yourself with those skills thoroughly and don't just try to learn them when the chips are down.

© 2014

Kale 'the next big thing' predicts Mr Fothergill's

23255Vegetables, it seems, are equally subject to the vagaries of fashion as are ornamental plants - and a brassica traditionally noted more for its outstanding hardiness rather than its superb flavour looks set to be the 'next big thing' according to a prediction from Mr Fothergill's.

"We monitor many areas of the press and have noticed in recent months an increasing number of food and cookery writers are singing the praises of the once-humble kale", reports the Suffolk seedsman's product manager David Turner. "This is particularly true in the glossy lifestyle and women's interest publications".

David decided to check whether Mr Fothergill's retail seed sales reflected this growing trend and says sales of its variety Dwarf Green Curled have risen by 20 per cent against the same period last year. "This has been about for many years, but we feel the real interest will come for recently bred new kales, which are much more versatile than older strains", continues David.

"For example, our new and exclusive Bolshoi F1 is ultra-hardy, has great flexibility of harvest and is capable of providing tasty crops all year round. The mild sweet leaves are highly nutritious and may even appeal to children!

Bolshoi F1 is great for stir fries, light steaming and can even be eaten raw in salads and coleslaw. It can also be picked as 'baby leaves' just four weeks from sowing". A packet of 250 seeds of Mr Fothergill's Kale Bolshoi F1 costs £2.05.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Snipers with high-powered rifles in Ukraine “uprising”

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Several western news agencies circulated reports and pictures from the “uprising”, better termed illegal coup, in Kiev, Ukraine, claiming that there were people with high-powered rifles in action.

The photos – and here but two – in all cases showed men with air rifles and not high-powered (or even not so high-powered) rifles, hunting or sniper.

Break-action air rifle_sml-markedThis is a break-action air rifle, probably cal .22

Under-lever action air rifleThis is an under-lever action air rifle of Russian manufacture, probably cal .177

Neither of those, nor others that were shown elsewhere, are sniper rifles and neither are capable of killing – unless at close range – a person.

However, most people who do not know better will believe this sham because, after all, as they would say, it was being reported in the media and came from sources such as Reuters.

Education goes a long way in discerning what is truth and what is falsehood and it is, in this day and age, very proper to simply question everything and to do one's research. Not that it has been different before, I guess. The German fascists knew only too well that the media, in those days newspapers and radio, were weapons to be used for their aims.

With the co-called freedom of the press in the West, however, people have come to believe that they are being told the truth. This, however, is but an illusion and smoke and mirrors and much of our press and media, being but owned by a number of powerful families and organizations are but weapons of mass distraction designed to keep the masses in the dark.

And while there is “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” (well both sort of) in the West that does not mean that everything we hear on the radio, see on the television, read in the papers or see on the Internet is going to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Far from it.

Someone playing with air rifles in a war-like situation is not going to do anything but put himself at risk of being shot by a counter-sniper as a sniper and thus one can also, almost, assume that those pictures that were being circulated have been staged.

© 2014

Twist & Spout – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Here is a brilliant concept by Italian brand Vice Versa. Swiss designer Nicolas Le Moigne designed this ergonomic water pourer and won the 2005 Macef Design Award. It’s called Verso Diverso or Twist & Spout and it also won a special Merit Award at the Housewares Fair in Milan for its unique design and utility.

Twist & SpoutTransform almost any bottle into a watering can, so to speak and, yes, it works.

How do you do it? It’s quite simple, you place it on a bottle and voila - you have an ergonomic pourer or watering can (without a “rose” though). It fits virtually any soda or water bottle with a screw-on cap. In fact, for testing the sample received I did not have a plastic soda or water bottle handy and used an empty glass bottle from Sainsbury's Basics Malt Vinegar instead and it works a treat.

  • A clever eco water pourer turns any old bottle into a watering can

  • Multi coloured

  • Fits most UK bottle types

Aside from fitting well onto the bottle and thus being able to upcycle any of those much hated plastic bottles (or even the right glass one) into a water can, especially useful for indoor plants, the pourer also works very well. Better, in fact, than the rather expensive indoor watering can that I have from a well-known British watering can maker. The latter tends to spill more water onto the window sill than it gets into the plant pot, the Twist & Spout gets it where it is wanted and needed.

Shop online at http://designmuseumshop.com/

To learn more about ViceVersa’s comprehensive line up of products and designs, visit UK distributer www.2tech.co.uk


© 2014

Disclosure: I received a sample of the Twist & Spout water pourer for review purposes, but all opinions here are mine.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Going green doesn’t start with doing green acts

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

go_green2Going green does not start with doing green, environmentally friendly, acts – it starts with a shift in consciousness.

This shift allows you to recognize that with every choice you make, you are voting either for or against the kind of world you wish to see. When you assume this as a way of being, your choices become easier. Using a reusable water bottle, recycling and making conscious daily consumer choices are just a few…”

All too often, however, people think that they have to do this or that to go green and worse still they believe that they have to buy this or that product, preferably all green products, in order to live a environmentally friendly lifestyle. They do not see that the change has to first and foremost come from within themselves and then from things they do, such as reusing the things they already have.

Buying green products as a replacement for what one already has is also but consumption, though of green products, and hence the term greensumption is being used for this. In addition to that many products that are being claimed to be green and environmentally friendly often are none of the sort with bamboo products and especially bamboo fiber being the prime example here, but it is but one.

And too many, believing that they have to get all those green products, think that, because they do not have the money, that they cannot go green. But going green should not just protect the Planet, it should also protect your finances and save you money.

The real start to going green is to think what you can do not what you can buy. Where can you make changes that benefit both the Planet and you is the question and for starters it is by reusing – yes, I keep harping on about this – and buying less of what you really do not need in the end.

Make things yourself... and reuse and repurposing “waste” materials is a start... this is where the shift in consciousness also starts. Namely in realizing that not everything they you may need (or want) has to be bought from a store.

However, even people in the green movement have been brainwashed to such an extent that many can but think consumption and buying, though so-called “green” products, rather than making things for themselves.

And it is not just from “waste” materials that we can make the various things that we may need and want. Also from other materials found around us, including and especially wood from coppicing operations that the woodsman does not consider being of use may be just the ticket. The same also goes for tree prunings that are often discarded, creating thus more waste in the waste stream even though wood is a biodegradable product.

Going green starts with reevaluating how we do things and that means a total shift in consciousness as to waste and to the way we consume.

We seem to have forgotten how to live without immediately running for everything that we need or want to the stores. Our ancestors though before they did that as they did not have the money to go and buy everything they wanted there and then and made do with what they could reuse, repurpose, upcycle (though they would not have known the word, and make themselves from other things, including wood from the forests.

We must bring sanity into our lives to become green and the change has to begin withing ourselves and no matter how many green items we buy unless we change our mindset it makes no difference for in buying, even green products, we are still part of the problem and not part of the solution.

© 2014

Brother P-touch GL-H105 – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

GLH105__Front1The versatile Brother P-touch GL-H105 is ideal for use both in the garden and around the home. Its ergonomic shape has been designed to fit comfortably in the hand and it’s so straight forward and easy to use, labels can be created at a moment's notice without any fuss.

There are easy symbols such as italics and quote marks which gardeners may want to adopt to follow plant naming conventions and up to 9 labels can be stored in the memory, particularly useful for remembering difficult spellings of plants.

The convenient rechargeable battery option means it can be charged after use and there’s no hassle having to locate or replace standard batteries whilst using it. N.B. While standard batteries are supplied, rechargeable ones are not and neither is a power supply or a charger. Those are optional extras.

Brother’s durable labels can withstand temperatures from -80°C to +150°C and are resilient to sunlight, humidity and rain, making them ideal for labeling plants, produce and garden accessories

Key Benefits

  • Up to 20mm/sec print speed - giving you high speed labels on demand

  • Choose from a range of 3.5mm, 6mm, 9mm and 12mm wide labels - tested to the extreme

  • Convenient built-in cutter

  • Easy to use ABC keyboard

  • Easy-to-read LCD screen

  • Includes 12mm black on white tape (4m)

  • 3-year warranty for additional peace of mind

  • Keyboard ABC (54 keys)

  • LCD Screen 12 characters x 1 line / 58mm x 22mm

  • Power supply AAA x 6pcs or Optional AC adapter (AD-24ES)

Dimension, without carton: 110mm x 207mm x 59mm

Weight: 420g

The Brother P-touch GL-H105 is a more funkier version of the GL200 in that is is a little more – much more, in fact – colorful than the GL200 and also the desktop, so to speak, is easier to use with its “hot keys”. It is the ideal choice for the gardener who wants to have a label printer that is a bit more colorful than others and maybe is also a little easier to find when put down.

The P-touch GL-H105 label printer also has some fun designs to go with it that can put a little more lightheartedness into the labels rather than just plain labels or the wooden, round or such designs found in the GL200. Though I do have to say that I like the “wooden” label feature of the GL200 rather a lot.

© 2014

Disclosure: I received a Brother P-touch GL-H105 for review purposes, but all opinions here are mine.

The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no financial compensation for any component of this article.

The Big Dig Day – the call is out to get the nation digging

BigDig1Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming has announced that 16 towns and cities have signed up to be part in the nation’s biggest community gardening volunteering day on Saturday 22nd March 2014, with over 100 gardens already signed up.

The Big Dig Day will tap into and channel the enthusiasm that exists both for gardening and volunteering and promote the benefits that growing food can have on the health and wellbeing of individuals and their communities. To date the Big Dig project has recruited 7,500 new volunteers and created over 29,000 opportunities for volunteers to take part in community gardening. The project builds on the success of Capital Growth which has helped over 100,000 people to get involved in new community food growing spaces in London.

The 16 towns and cities taking part this year cover the length and breadth of the British Isles from Falkirk in the north, to Totnes in the south, Belfast to the west and Newcastle to the east.

One of the gardens taking part is Wor Lotty in Newcastle. The garden is run by Food Nation, a social enterprise which works to deliver innovative food and nutrition services to schools, businesses and communities across North East England. Their Big Dig Day last year was a great success, attracting a team of new volunteers, most of them volunteering for the first time.

Anna Corbett garden leader at the project said: “The volunteers were fantastic and we achieved a huge amount. What a great bunch of people! Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and they all said they would like to come back and do some more”.

Wor Lotty now run an extra regular monthly Saturday work session to capture the enthusiasm and interest prompted by last year’s Big Dig day.

Cities and towns wanting to participate should contact Sustain before the end of February and volunteers looking to take part in a local activity can visit the website www.bigdig.org for more information on local gardens that they can get involved with.

  • The Big Dig is co-ordinated nationally by Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. www.sustainweb.org

  • The Big Dig is is a nationwide project which aims to engage people in community food-growing projects across England. Details of the organisations leading the Big Dig in each of the places taking part can be found here. The 16 towns and cities taking part are Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Cardiff, Congleton, Durham, Falkirk, Kirklees (Hudderfield & Dewsbury) Liverpool, London, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Nottingham, Swansea, Totnes.

Big Dig Day 2014 events will mostly take place on 22nd March but there will also be events occurring throughout the weekend of 21-23rd March 2014

  • Capital Growth is London’s largest food growing network and was launched in 2008 to provide practical and financial help to Londoners to set up 2,012 new food growing spaces. Capital Growth is funded by the Mayor of London and City Bridge Trust and continues to support over 2000 growing spaces in the capital with growing and selling food. www.capitalgrowth.org

  • The Big Dig London is being run by Capital Growth and funded by the Urban Food Routes - a programme funded by the GLA and Seeds of Change and coordinated by the Plunkett Foundation. The project will provide gain expert advice and funding to a variety of London’s small food enterprises will to support them to thrive and benefit their local communities.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Poultry Talk will launch brand new concept, ‘The Poultry Handbook’ at 2014 Edible Garden Show

Poultry Talk HandbookPoultry Talk officially launches its brand new concept ‘The Poultry Handbook’ at the 2014 Edible Garden Show, Alexandra Palace (London), running from March the 28th till the 30th. Poultry Talk provides free to use & access facilities & features promoting the UK Poultry hobby, through its online channels & at national events. It’s unique in what it does as well as being completely independent and impartial.

Poultry Talk developed The Poultry Handbook out of a passion for poultry and a clear demand within the market. The Poultry Handbook is a revolutionary, A5, full colour publication which will be published annually as a complete and comprehensive directory for the UK Poultry Hobby, over 110 pages. Not just a directory, it will feature breed profiles of every UK standard pure breed of Chicken, Domestic Waterfowl and Turkeys, Glossary, editorial from a plethora of top poultry writers and more! Writers include Terry Beebe, Andy Cawthray, David Scrivener, JC Jeremy Hobson as well as leading poultry vets Richard Jackson and Victoria Roberts.

It’s essential for anyone interested or even those considering keeping poultry, showcasing the hobby, in an easy to use, compact publication. Looking at the options and presenting them clearly. It’s necessary for beginners and essential for the more experienced breeder and exhibitor, acting as a key reference point. Organised into sections & regionally, with maps for ‘at a glance’ simplicity, allowing users to find breeders both breed specifically and regionally.

The 2014 Edible Garden Show is the first London Show for the Poultry Talk team who are very excited about attending and launching The Poultry Handbook. On display will be The ‘Chicken Wall’, which features 60 pure breeds found in the UK along with an interactive display of newly hatched ‘day old chicks’. The team will be on hand ready to answer visitor questions & with a range of free fact sheets.

The Poultry Handbook will officially launch at the 2014 Edible Garden Show, with the first copies available to buy at the Poultry Talk Stand. Stand 242.

The handbook will be sold in independent retailers and poultry shops across the UK, from April 2014. An online version will be available to buy in the summer of 2014.

It will be available for UK mail order, online at www.poultryhandbook.com from April 2014.

The handbook will retail at a universal, fixed RRP of £5 in store, online and at events.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Peatbogs are better carbon sinks

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

no_peat_1Peatbogs are better carbon sinks than forests but are decimated at a rate of knots and that, predominately, for compost that contains peat used in horticulture.

For years it has been advocated that we stop using peat-based compost in gardening but very, very little seems to have happened in this department, as most commercially available compost still contains a great amount of peat, often without saying so.

For decades the horticulture industry has promised to stop using peat-based composed and soil improvers but to this day peat bogs are being stripped for this industry for the production of peat-based composts, potting soils and such like, despite all promised, especially by the makers of those products.

It would appear that often even the potting soil and compost sold as being peat-free in fact is not in the same way that products claimed to be environmentally friendly often are not. Greenwash seem to be, alas, going on everywhere.

Some horticulturalists claim that there is no real substitute for peat-based potting soil and compost and that non-peat equivalents are not equivalent and produce poor results. This is a fallacy but one that is being perpetuated.

As a professional gardener and forester I have found no difference in germination and growing of plants in peat-based and non-peat composts. In fact, I have found that there have been peat-based composts that did not make for good germination at all.

Once upon a time peat was cut for heating homes and other burning issues, pardon the pun, and also for use in horticulture while today, predominately the latter use is the only one and this use, with more and more people gardening, which in general is a good thing, demand for peat for use in compost is having a devastating effect on peat bogs everywhere. Time to end this practice once and for all.

© 2014

Sainsbury’s is market leader in Greenpeace tuna league

Slipjack-TunaSainsbury's has taken the top spot of Greenpeace's tuna league table which looks at the sustainability standard of tinned tuna sold in supermarkets.

Positioned as one of the 'market leaders' for offering customers pole and line caught skipjack tuna across all our own brand tuna products from canned through to sandwiches and ready meals.

Sainsbury's was given the special award of ‘Top tuna supermarket’ for our 100% pole and line own brand tinned tuna and for having remained at the forefront of tuna sustainability for many years. They were also recognized for extending this level of standard to own brand products such as sandwiches and salads.

Ally Dingwall, Aquaculture & Fisheries Manager, at Sainsbury's says: "It’s great to be awarded the top spot again and recognized for the work we do to source our food with integrity. We’re the UK's largest retailer of MSC and Freedom Food fish and we proudly offer our customers pole and line caught skipjack tuna across all our own brand tuna products from canned through to sandwiches and ready meals.

“Last year 100% of the canned skipjack tuna sourced from the Maldives and canned under Sainsbury’s own label became Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified and labeled. This is a significant step forward in protecting the world’s tuna stocks and is the result of four years’ work by the Sainsbury’s fish sourcing team.”

It groups the top five brands as ‘market leaders’ which encompasses Sainsburys, the Co-operative, Waitrose, Morissons, Marks & Spencer. Sainsbury’s ranked number one in 2008 and joint first in 2011 in the tinned tuna league table.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Under new FDA rules, draft animals used to plow and work farms may become illegal

Working horseUnder new FDA rules, draft animals used to plow and work farms may become illegal.
“Now, farmers are discovering that the FDA’s proposed rules would curtail many techniques that are common among organic growers, including spreading house-made fertilizers, tilling cropland with grazing animals, and irrigating from open creeks.” Source.

FDA “Visits” Celebrated Organic Produce Farmer

By Alliance for Natural Health

This is not good news.

Jim Crawford started New Morning Farm in Maryland many decades ago. He was young and idealistic. He had little or no money and had to start small. He believed in sustainable agriculture and wanted to produce fresh and healthy produce to sell in farmers’ markets to the urban public. He succeeded and became increasingly well known both for his ideals and his produce.

Read the rest here

This is definitely not good news and it would appear that there is more to this than meets the eye. Many farms are returning to the use of the horse and that impacts on the profits of the oil industry. I guess, like they are trying elsewhere, the next will be non-chemical pest control. Ed.

Ecologist Guide to Food – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Ecologist Guide to Food - a major new book lifting the lid on the food industry's secrets

Ecologist Guide to Food
by Andrew Wasley, with a foreword from Zac Goldsmith
Published February 10th 2014 by Leaping Hare Press
Price £9.99
ISBN 978-1-78240-102-5
Available from all good bookshops

Ecologist Guide to FoodAnimal suffering, human rights abuses, the destruction of ecosystems, pollution, waste … these are issues we tend not to associate with our food. However, as investigative food journalist Andrew Wasley reveals, much of our food comes with a hidden price tag, even some of the foods that the reader may consider ethical such as “Fairtrade”.

Drawing on The Ecologist’s unique archive as well as containing much new material, the Ecologist Guide to Food delves behind the labels to investigate the often-unpalatable truths about the foodstuffs we consume each day.

As well as uncovering the sometimes shocking practices in existence, the book takes a look at possible alternatives for the food industry, giving a voice to some of those going against the grain to produce food that is good for you, good for others and good for the planet.

The Ecologist Guide to Food:

  • lifts the lid on the environmental, political, health and humanitarian issues surrounding our food;

  • uncovers the truth the food industry doesn’t want you to know;

  • and provides a guide to ethical alternatives, highlighting those companies making changes.

The Ecologist is the world’s leading environmental affairs title and has been setting the environmental agenda for over 40 years – bringing the critical issues of our time into the mainstream through cutting-edge reporting, as well as pioneering original thinking and inspiring action.

The Ecologist Guide To Food will make you look at food, where it comes from, and how it is being produced, in a totally new and different way.

In six chapters, from fruit over vegetables, meat and fish to dairy, groceries and drink this Ecologist Guide covers all aspects of food and how dirty, and that in more than one sense of the word, the business actually is. Remains the question as to that to do and the answer is to be much more discerning consumers armed with the information necessary to make the right and ethical choices.

The reader will learn from the pages of this Ecologist Guide that cheap meat, fish and game just do not compute with healthy and environmental health and the reader beware when reading the appropriate chapters. And also that “Fairtrade” is not as fair as it is always made out to be and I must say that it is therefore no wonder that some coffee companies, etc. have decided to set up their own versions and systems.

This is a very important book and a must read for everyone, and I do mean everyone, to understand how our food is produced and at what cost to the environment, animals and human beings and that in all sectors and on all levels including so-called “fairtrade”. It will or should make the reader take stock and reevaluate their ways.

If you want to read but one book only on the state of our food then this is the one. Be warned, however, as some of what you will read will make you fume and others will make your stomach turn and churn. But, I urge you to read it and read it carefully.

© 2014

Remake the 'village' within the city

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

village_within_the_city_AntwerpThe city is the city and the village is the village, I can hear some readers now think, and never the twain shall meet, bar with the city expanding and swallowing up the surrounding countryside and its villages.

But the true village is a community and it is that that every city block, every town ward and every housing estate needs to become if we are to bring sanity and sustainability into our urban and suburban areas.

As we cannot all live in the countryside on smallholdings and homesteads we must make the city into a place where we can live a sustainable life as self-reliant, in community, as possible. And to that extent we must remake the village in our urban and suburban environments.

Most of today's cities, especially in Europe, as the New World is a little different, came together – often not always voluntarily – out of villages, more or less, originally. The City of London, for instance, was just what today is still referred to as the “square mile”. Other parts were once outside the city (walls) and were villages, basically.

The Tower Hamlets, as the Borough that bears that name, alludes to this in the very word “hamlet” (small village) and they were the places where artisans and craftspeople lived and worked who were not and could not be in the Guilds, for instance, such as Gypsies, Jews, Huguenots, etc., and there were also farms and market gardens.

Today that kind of village in the city may not – entirely – be feasible but, nevertheless, structures of a village with even market gardens, urban farms of the modern organic and permaculture kind, and community gardens on every estate and in every ward, together with places and shops for all kinds of artisans and craftspeople, micro-breweries, pubs, etc., must be made possible.

In the same way as the Transition Movement has now realized and come to understand that change – transition – must be created at a much more local level, that of the street, it can also bring the village into our urban environment. In the same way as transition cannot be achieved overnight, so to speak, for an entire town let alone a city, remaking the village can only be done in steps, street by street, block by block, ward by ward.

With remaking the village in the city we can make our urban and suburban areas sustainable and also move towards Zero Waste, as discussed in Paul Connett's book “The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet one Community at a Time” published October 2013 by Chelsea Green.

Remaking the village in the city will turn urban areas into livable communities that can be self-supporting on all levels, as far as possible. Like total self-sufficiency for the individual or homestead is not possible neither is it possible for any village, in the city or without, to be entirely self-sufficient and self-contained. But self-reliance for a community and self-supporting for such a “place” can be achievable.

© 2014

Hamburg aims to become a car-free city in 20 years

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Hamburg_101The City Council of the German port and Hanse City of Hamburg has disclosed ambitious plans to divert most cars away from its main thoroughfares in twenty years. In order to do so, local authorities are to connect pedestrian and cycle lanes in what is expected to become a large green network. In all, the GrĂ¼nes Netz (Green Web) plan envisages “eliminating the need for cars” within two decades.

By connecting the entire urban center with its outskirts Hamburg is expecting to smooth inner traffic flow. In all, the northernmost city is to lay out new green areas and connect them with the existing parks, community gardens and cemeteries.

Upon completion of the plan Hamburg will pride itself on having over 17,000 acres of green spaces, making up 40% of the city’s area and, according to an official, the ambitious plan will “reduce the need to take the car for weekend outings outside the city”.

Although vehicles are not going to be banned from the main thoroughfares, it has been said, the council expects residents and tourists alike to be able “to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.”

At the same time, the green ring will play a crucial role to help the metropolis fight against rising temperatures and urban flooding.
The average temperature in Germany’s second-largest city has risen by 9 degrees Celsius in scarcely half a century, experts warn.

As regards to leisure, the interspersed patches of green areas will let residents “hike, swim, do water sports, enjoy picnics and restaurants, experience calm and watch nature and wildlife right in the city”.

If we could now add to that community gardens and urban farms where they can also grow and buy their food grown locally it would almost be perfect.

© 2014