No green thumb? No worries! Now you can enjoy plants that don’t need water – or dirt? No such thing, right? Well…not exactly- check out these little gems affectionately referred to as Air Plants! Want to know more? Read on… With over 730 species in the Tillandsia genus, these air plants (epiphytes) are in the Bromeliad family. Ok, enough botanical talk- let us move onto more interesting facts. These plants are native to the jungles and forests of Central America, South America, and the southern United States. Typically, they grow without soil while attached to other plants. They get almost all their nutrients through their leaf structures from such things as dust, insect matter, and decaying leaves. New plants can be propagated from their offshoots. Some species produce vibrant colourful blooms and others produce fragrant flowers. A few varieties bloom only once before dying and their leaf colour will change from green to red (blushing) when getting ready to flower.

Growing and Caring For Your Air Plants• With a little imagination and about 15 minutes, you can dress up the dreariest corner, an empty spot on your wall, or add a splash of colour to your kitchen counter, bathroom, or desk! Let your imagination run wild on the possibilities – these precious little plants never demand much attention. They fit perfectly into teacups, conch shells, small glass-bowl terrariums, hanging globes, small ceramic pots, etc. Research the type of air plant you plan to buy and its natural habitat will help you understand its care.Common to all air plants is the fact that they all need constant air circulation. Other factors to consider:

  • Mist your air plant daily - they need some moisture –if located in a humid environment, such as a bathroom,
  • misting is not necessary. Mist only once or twice a week during the winter
  • Fertilize with a weak solution monthly during spring and summer-mix a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer at ¼ strength
  • Protect from full sun-if it grows wild on trees, provide partial shade and keep it in moist•Ground types will do
  • well indoors in bright, filtered light or outdoors in partial shade
  • Air plants will not survive temperatures below 45 degrees

How about you, is an air plant something you would decorate your home with?

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When it comes to aquaponics, some plants are better to grow than others. Some might be great for an enthusiast, but not the best for commercial systems. Use this simple charts as quick guide to get started with your aquaponics.

The best plants for a commercial aquaponics system

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The best plants for a enthusiast/hobbyist aquaponics system

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Do you agree with the lists? Anything you would ad or change? Let us know in the comments below.

Stop Spider Mites

So after getting back to east asia after a trip to Australia. I found I had massive Spider mite infestation. I went online trying to work out the best way to remove them. Some suggested it was too late and you need to remove all the plants. However I didn't want to give up. 

Some suggestions where to use garlic water, a natural pesticide. So I blended up a bunch of garlic that I bought from my local wet market. Then I got spraying. However reading online, you need to spray them regularly and in particular under all the leaves. However I'm a lazy gardener, so I didn't remember to this again. Of course because of this it didn't work. 

My ruined tomato plants.

Having looked into companion planting before. I decided to plant all the garlic around the bases of the plants. However I was too late for most of them. There was one small tomato plant that I had. Thankfully the garlic sproated and low and behold, it protected it! There were still infested tomato plants around, as the garlic hadn't yet grown next to them. So I removed this older plants and this one that was protected is growing very healthy, strong and fast. 

My tomato plant with garlic protection. It lives!

So if you're looking for an easy way to protect your tomato plants, plant some garlic cloves. 

Have you tried companion planting? Let me know your experience in the comments below.

The Language Vegetable Problem

Thanks to globalisation, we can now get a glimpse into the life of a person on a different continent without ever having to leave our homes. This has, of course, brought up a number of challenges, such as the loss of independent culture. But it has also brought us a lot closer to understanding each other.

It also helps that most of us speak a common language- English. Even though we share a common language, however, we have also noticed how that language is different in other parts of the world. Through our screens, we can see how people have phrases that mean something completely different to us.

For example, calling someone a madam in England is polite, but calling someone a madam in America might just get you slapped. This is a strange occurrence, but a common one that most of us get used to. Travellers often have to be careful about certain words and phrases. An American in Britain might search high and low for a zucchini, before eventually finding a Courgette.

And while many Brits in Australia might find what they are looking for in a supermarket, they’re still going to be left scratching their head over some unfamiliar terms. All this just to find some vegetables? As a frequent traveller, I call this the language-vegetable problem. It seems that we are all separated by a common language, and this raises a few questions. First and foremost, why do Brits, Americans and Australians have radically different vegetable names.

Courgette or Zucchini?

These members of the Cucurbita pepo family, were farmed in Central and South America for centuries before European explorers even got their funding. By the 1500’s they had made their way onto European dinner tables, and a dispute arose immediately.

Zucchinis in Italy, and Courgettes in France, with neither willing to compromise on their chosen names. Eventually Courgettes made it into British homes, where they stayed and due to an influx of Italian immigrants to America, the zucchini made its home there. Zucchini isn’t that hard to say, so the Americans allowed it to settle.

Now, both sides looked to Australia who also chose to use the term “zucchini”. Not to be biased or anything, but zucchini is a lot easier to say than courgette.

Beetroot or Beets?

This is a fun one. Sometimes, words change in different continents not because of immigrants or customs, but because of the people. For example, the people of Britain feel the need to say Beetroot, which comes from the Latin name Beta Vulgaris. Americans and Australians on the other hand are simple too busy to be bothered with such fuss and therefore refer to them as beets.

Spring Onion or Scallion?

There is a common misconception that green onions and scallions are the same thing. They are not. Scallions are often mistaken for green onions and can also be found under the names of “Welsh onion” and “Japanese bunching onion”. So, which of these are correct?

A true scallion has a long green stalk and a white tip that doesn’t have a bulb. Scallions can also be called spring onions and terms such as shallots, green shallots and salad onions are used to identify scallions. The actual name comes from the ancient Philistine city Ashkelon (Latin name Ascalonia), where it is rumoured that these onions were first cultivated.

This is an interesting case of names being different due to a common misconception and the variety of names that are available. In other words, someone couldn’t remember the name of a scallion and simply described it, the name took off and stuck. While others stubbornly refuse to give up the original name. Isn’t language a wonder?

Swede or Rutabaga?

The vegetable in question was first noticed by Swedish botanist, Gaspard Bauhin, who noted it growing wild. This led to the name “Swedish turnip” or simply swede. This shortened name was made popular in many Commonwealth nations and still sticks around today, which is why Australians and Brits use the term “swede”.

At some point, Americans adopted the term “Rutabaga” from the old Swedish word Rotabagge, which when roughly translated, means “root ram”. We aren’t sure why this distinction occurred, but we’ll side with the Americans on this one because Rutabaga is a lot more fun to say than swede.

Arugula or Rocket?

In possibly one of the strangest twists ever, the Brits have the more fun name for a vegetable. This leafy green was first used by the Romans who referred to it as Ruchetta. It eventually made its way over the Alps to France, where it became Roquette. As it made its way over the English Channel, the “qu” was dropped for the “ck” which sounded more Anglican, I suppose. And the “ette” was eventually shortened to “et”.

Meanwhile, in America, the Italian term “rucola” was brought across the seas. Somehow the term was changed to Arugula, but only in America, because Italians still use Rucola.

A Citizen of the World:

You’ve finally made it through the foreign shopping trip, and you now have all your favourite vegetables in your shopping basket. You understand that these different names are due to a series of factors.

Sometimes immigrants bring their terms with them and it sticks. Sometimes an innocent mistake on the part of some unknown person is the cause of a phrase sticking to an entire country. Sometimes most people use a certain term and it stays and sometimes a term or name is tailored for the country.

You are feeling world wise and certainly very smart. You think to yourself that maybe this whole travelling thing isn’t all that hard. And as you walk up to the cashier, feeling satisfied and contemplating immigration, you smile at the cashier.

He/she smiles back and you look down at their name badge to start a conversation, but you freeze as your eyes capture the sight. The name badges in this country are different from those back home. Great.

DIY Hexagonal Garden Beds

Finished product first! This is about 4 weeks after planting. Closest middle hexagon holds sage, thyme, basil, cilantro, and lemon verbena. Next to the left holds arugula and brussel sprouts. Behind that holds more brussel sprouts, bok choy, green onions, shallots, and fennel. Right of that holds carrots and sweet onions. Right of that holds potatoes. 

Got a bunch of cheap 2' cedar leftovers from a local lumber yard 

Profile of each board type you need to cut. In total I needed 22 of the bottom board, 18 of second from bottom, 60 of third from bottom, and 54 of top. Top 3 boards each form panels that make up sides of garden box while bottom board forms post that holds each panel together. 

All boards cut down to size. 

6 boards of a given type with a post form an assembled panel. 

All panels assembled. 

I almost messed this part up -- half of the parallelogram-shaped panels should face one way and half should face the other way. 

All assembled! I was really surprised how easily everything fit together given how little measuring I did. 

On planting day.

4 weeks later (potatoes still haven't shown up in the far right hexagon, I'm beginning to get suspicious). Cost was about $130 for the wood, $40 for the screws, $60 for compost and $40 for a truck to haul the compost. Total cost $270.


Use this basic guide for knowing how to water your plants. However it's important to note, this is just a guide. Actually the best thing to do, is to learn how to read your plants. The humidity, amount sun and soil will all effect how much water the plants needs. See this other guide I made on taking care of plants.

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Use this handy guide for working out the required container size for you vegetable garden. Container gardening is great for renters, those with limited space and for controlling what soil that you use.

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Use this guide to build your own potato DIY tower. With this setup you can grow and harvest a mass of potatoes. Have fun building guys and gals!

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Use this guide below for basic plant care. If you are just starting out, simply follow these handy tips. Get yourself on the path of having healthy and bountiful plants. Plants for eating and plants that are beauty to the eye. Learn how to read your plant. It will tell you what's wrong and what it needs. Simply observe and act! Cheers!

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