Hass Avocao

Some Fun Fact about Avocados

Call them ahuacatl, avocaat, abogado, avocatier, agovago pears or alligator pear, from guacamole to sushi, the world over has enjoyed avocados in a variety of ways. Once considered to have an aphrodisiac effect in many cultures, avocado growers put a lot of effort into dispelling this reputation to increase its popularity. From guacamole to sushi, avocados have been enjoyed for centuries by all cultures. The fruit of the avocado has been reported to have healthy cardiovascular effects. Avocado oil is now used for many dermatological applications. It has also been reported to have beneficial effects against osteoarthritis

Most of all – they taste good!

Nutritional Benefits of Avocados

Nutritionally, each 3.5 oz. avocado averages 160 calories, 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of healthy fats and only 2 “net” carbs (9grams of carbs with 7 from fibre), making them a friendly low-carb food.

5 Easy Steps to start your avocado tree

Things you will need:

The Set-Up

  1. Cut the avocado lengthwise, being careful not to cut through the seed. Twist the two halves, exposing the seed – remove the pit
  2. Wash the pit carefully-do not use soap, only warm water. Be careful not to remove seed cover. Wash until pit is no longer slippery
  3. Hold the pit with the narrow end up and insert 4 toothpicks about midway – these will support the pit when placed in the glass of water
  4. Make sure your tumbler is wide enough for your pit – set your pit, rounded end down, in the glass and fill it to rim with water
  5. Set in a well-lit, temperate area where it will be undisturbed


Time to Pot your Tree

If your climate zone does not get below 50ºF (10ºC)at any time during the year, you can consider growing your avocado tree outdoors.

Things you will need:

  • Potting soil
  • Some river rock
  • A terra cotta or clay pot – 20-25cm (8-10”) diameter-makes sure pot is deep enough to accommodate the roots without injury
Avocado Fruit Buds

Place some river rock in the bottom of your clay pot for drainage. Hold your avocado seedling centred inside the pot, being careful not to break the roots and fill the pot with potting soil, gently packing the soil, leaving the top ½ portion of the seed exposed-this will prevent the roots from rotting.


Mature Avocado Tree

Tend to your tree regularly; within a few years (3-4), you will have a beautiful, low-maintenance tree.  However, avocado trees are slow to bear fruit (5-13 years) so you need to be patient.

Plants That Clean the Air

Did you know that plants can help you lead a healthier life? Man has lived with plants since the dawn of time – in jungles and forests, by watering holes, on the savannah and even deep in the ocean.  Plants can help us lead healthier on many levels – environmentally and psychologically. Here’s how!

Every man-made item in your home emits some type of toxic compound in small quantities. However, if you have enough of them at the same time, they can become overwhelming, leading to headaches, nausea, and more. If you have ever gone to a carpet store, lumber yard or new bedding store and started to feel light-headed, more than likely it was the formaldehyde and other toxins you were experiencing.

Rather than spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars purchasing air-cleansing devices, you can purify you’re the air in your home naturally, while bringing color, fragrance and beauty through plants.  Plants help absorb the particulates in the air and turn carbon dioxide into pure oxygen; this helps cleanse the air in your home to help you breathe better.

Fortunately, nature has a way of keeping itself clean. There are many powerful air-purifying plants that naturally remove pollutants from the air. Instead of scattering single plants, create groups and displays in each room for a great look and maximum air quality. For example, a 2000sf homerequires approximately 15-20 plants.

Pop Quiz: Do you know what these six plants have in common?

Boston FernBoston ferns need a cool place with high humidity and indirect light -make sure that the fern’s soil remains damp

Peace LilyThe peace lily thrives in both low and bright light. Keep the soil slightly moist and feed monthly during spring and summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Low-light conditions inhibit flower production.

Garden MumPlace the chrysanthemum in bright, indirect light. Check the soil’s moisture every other day, and keep it damp. Don’t bother with fertilizer, as it won’t re-bloom.

AnthuriumAnthurium plants can tolerate all levels of indirect light; in low light will produce fewer flowers and grow slower. Anthuriums cannot tolerate direct light; this can burn the leaves. They grow best in bright, indirect light.Also, they require the soil be free draining but hold some water

DracaenaKeep the soil damp but not soggy. A pot sitting in a water-filled saucer is the kiss of death for this plant. Feed monthly during spring and summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer

SansevieriaIf you have a tendency to forget to water you plants, this is the perfect plant for you! Sansevieria can be neglected for weeks at a timeand still look fresh. Additionally, they can survive low light levels, drought and have few insect problems

Answer: They all remove formaldehyde from the air!

Additionally, they remove toluene, benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene and ammonia.  Plants naturally “scrub” our environment of these chemicals that are introduced into our atmosphere primarily by cars and the manufacturing industry. Other natural irritants come from pollens, bacterial and moulds.

Going green and living healthier is more than recycling water bottles – using something as simple as plants to keep the air in your home fresh and allergen-free is smart living.

Share your “Getting Green” tips and trivia with us!


When it comes to taking care of indoor plants, sometimes, even your best intentions can go awry!  Too much water and they drown. Too little water and they wither and die. Too strong a fertilizer, to weak a fertilizer, too little sun, too much light – the lists of do’s and don’ts goes on endlessly.

How is one to know what to do?

One of the best things you can do as a plant-lover is to arm yourself with information.  Where once you had to buy volumes of books and read through all the boring stuff to get to what you needed to know, now the internet has become your best friend.  Having a beautiful coffee-table version of the best plant book on earth is wonderful. You can browse it at your leisure.  But when you want answers, the quickest, most efficient way is to search the internet.

One of the most recommended products for organic pest control is Neem oil.

Uses for Neem Oil

Neem oil is a naturally occurring oil that helps control:

Neem oil is a popular choice in organic gardens, indoors and outdoors because it is:

Tips for your plants

Remember, each plant is special and has specific needs. Once you get comfortable with a care routine, you can sit back and enjoy all your beautiful, healthy plants.

Do you have some favourite houseplant, perhaps a spider plant, Bird of Paradise or African violet? Tell us about it and how you care for it:


Nothing beats cooking with fresh herbs. The flavour cannot be compared to dry herbs, unless of course you dried them yourself! With a little effort and a few simple supplies, no matter where you live, whether it is an apartment or house, you can have an indoor herb garden year round! Place them in a sunny window of you kitchen and enjoy fresh herbs every day!

Here is a list of the 10 most popular herbs, their characteristics and some uses; follow the easy potting directions for a hassle-free indoor herb garden.

Things you need:

Herb Characteristics and Uses How to start Best locatio
Basil Sunny flavour, sweet. Use ongreen beans, potatoes, peas, tomato sauces,chicken dishes, salads. Add on prepared dishor at end of cooking time Basil is best started from seed. Sow seeds generously in pots-don’t plant too deep- 1/4-1/2” Basil needs lots of humidity and sun – cut the bottom off a litre bottle of pop and put over basil to create a “terrarium” effect- keep moist but not wet
Bay Leaf Mint like, pungent Used in gumbos,sauces, stews Bay Laurel is a tree and will grow best if purchased as a seedling. Plant in a pot that will allow for a tap root-transfer when roots come out the bottom Water deeply; allow soil to dry out slightly in between.Bring indoors before the hard frost and put outside after the frost period. Mine does best in my cold kitchen next to a window.
Chives Mild onion flavour. Use as final flavour or at end of cooking or garnish. Chop, snip Great with potatoes dishes, eggs, poultry,salads, sauces Dig up clumps at end of season – let all leaves die back Bring indoors in early winter-place in coolest part of house for a few days, then move to sunny spot
Dill Dominating- tangy & pungent Seeds have strong flavour. Salmon, cucumber yogurt sauces,peas, salads, picklingeggplant, cabbage Start from seed or clumps -best time to plant dill inside is between October and early spring. Fern leaf dill is ideal or indoors Fertilize every 6 weeks with a ½ strength liquid fertilizer or fish fertilizer. Dill is drought resistant; it will grow better if watered regularly. Water until soil is moist-do not water again until soil is dry.
Mint Sweet and strong Peppermint and spearmint Teas, lamb, fish, desserts, salads. Start from seed or buy a small plant from organic grocer Needs full sun plenty of water – watch them grow!
Oregano Adds an earthy flavour Lamb, tomato sauces, seafood,chicken, pork, eggplant Start from seed or buy a small plant from organic grocer Oregano likes bright light 6-8 hrs, medium watering
(Italian Parsley)
Bright, clean flavour Chicken, seafood, beef, sauces,potatoes, soups, salads Startfrom seed; plant 1/4 to ½ deep; water deeply Full sun-Keep soil moist as the seeds germinate Establish a watering schedule, allowing to dry some between watering
Rosemary Pungent, piney can overpower other flavours Chop finely Add to poultry, lamb,, fruit saladspotatoes, white beans, breads Propagate from a healthy mother plant: Snip several 2 1/2” (6 1/3cm) stems.Remove bottom set of leaves from your cuttings.Dip the bottom of each cutting in water, thendip the bottom of each cutting into a rooting compound.Fix each cutting into its own container.Mist your plant. In 2-4 weeks, once rooted, you can transfer to a larger pot. Pinch the top bud to increase the likelihood of your rosemary branching. Use neem oil to treat any pests. If powdery mildew develops, clean leaves with mild soapy water and place in front of a fan to circulate the air
Sage Slightly bitter- mint-like Overpowers easily Add whole stems to stews and soups-discard when done. Pork, sausages, veal, stuffing,poultry, sauces.
Dried sage has a different flavour
Start from seed or buy a small plant from organic grocer Sage needs six to eight hours of full sun daily. If your sunny window does not provide this much daily sun, use fluorescent lighting when growing sage indoors.
Tarragon Liquorice flavour; strong. Use alone or combine with parsley -tomato dishes, vinaigrettesveal, chicken, potatoes, mushrooms Best started from root stock that has been separated Tarragon seems to perform best in a lower or diffused light situation-does not perform well when exposed to winter chill.

With these herbs in your cooking collection you are off to a GREAT start and some wonderful seasoning.

Do you have some tips you would like to share with us on these or other herbs?  Let us know your thoughts!


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

Remember if you use this infographic on your website, you must have a link back to this page and our home

The best plants for a enthusiast/hobbyist aquaponics system

Remember if you use this infographic on your website, you must have a link back to this page and our home page

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.

Remember if you use this infographic on your website, you must have a link back to this page and our home page