Monday, 26 September 2016

Thank You For Permaculture Bill Mollison: RIP 24 Sept 2016

Permaculture founder, Bill Mollison passed away on Saturday.

What an huge contribution this man made to the earth, to communities around the world and to so many people personally. I was born just before permaculture came into being and ever since I remember, I've known about it. As you can tell by the title of this blog, permaculture has had an enormous impact on my life and my family.  There are millions of people around the world who have been touched by and influenced his thinking and activism.  His work will continue to flourish and grow.

Thank you Bill. Rest in Peace.

Here's one of the earliest clips I remember watching of Bill - love it!

More information about Bill Mollison:

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Did You Know That Large Parts of the Great Barrier Reef Died This Year?

Did you know that the iconic Great Barrier Reef had a huge set-back this year with massive coral bleaching - the largest bleaching event on record which affected almost 1000kms of reef? The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble - over 90% was affected this year. Actually reefs around the world have been devastated by human-induced global warming.

Living simply can help make a difference. If global warming, pollution, silting are some of the key things to blame, we need to ..
  • reduce energy use
  • reduce consumption
  • reduce waste - compost, cut back on plastics, recycle
  • eat local sustainably produced food
  • educate as many as possible about the issue and ways to live more simply

Industrial practices must of course also change, but rather than wait till they change, we can start immediately with what we can do, raise our awareness, raise awareness of those around us. This all helps. Speak out for the reef - use your voice for the reef and help bring about a positive change.

Global coral bleaching events are an alarming new phenomenon caused by ocean warming (more than 90% of climate change heat is absorbed by the ocean). Corals cannot withstand prolonged peaks in temperature.

Diver checking the bleached coral at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef  - image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

Over one quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged and overall 93% of the reef has been impacted by coral bleaching this year. This is disastrous for the diversity of life which depends on the reef.

Coral bleaching at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: Image: May 2016 from XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

The Great Barrier Reef is Earth's most extensive coral reef - a World Heritage Site that we have committed to protecting. Healthy coral reefs are the most ecologically diverse habitats on earth and they also protect coasts from storms and waves.  Although reefs are less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean floor, they help support around 25% of all marine species.

Please take a look at what's happening. Dr Tim Flannery says that this is a result of what we are doing to the climate, and that we need to wean ourselves off coal very rapidly.

Read More:

What can we do to help:

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Social Permaculture and Community: Morag Gamble in conversation with Robina McCurdy (9 mins)

I often meet and work with interesting people locally and from around the world. I love the conversations we have. From now, I have decided to regularly film some of these chats to share. This is the first film in this series - talking with social permaculture elder, Robina McCurdy.

Robina McCurdy is from Tui - an intentional community/ecovillage in Golden Bay on the top of the south island of New Zealand and is one of the founding members. Tui has been thriving for 30 years and is home to over 30 people. Robina is a permaculture teacher who has strong focus on social permaculture and has works with children, community gardens and seed networks around NZ.  She is currently in Australia running workshops on her way to the Australasian Permaculture Conference in Perth. I invited Robina to work with me - to screen her film and offer pattern recognition and permaculture design programs for children through the Ethos Foundation.

This is part one of our conversations. The next part will include: thoughts on lifework, Robina's lessons from decades living a permaculture life, and the three areas she believes we need to focus on.

Click on this image to play the 9 minute clip: part 1 of our conversation.

Find all of my films on my Youtube Channel:

Monday, 19 September 2016

My Medicinal Garden: 7 Super Plants For A Delicious Common Cold Remedy - Film #13 (9 mins)

Film #13: My Medicinal Garden: 7 Super Plants For A Delicious Common Cold Remedy

This 9 minute film (click link below to watch) shows how to simply make a super delicious cold remedy from easy-to-grow plants in the garden.  I love that my medicine cabinet is in my kitchen garden surrounding my house and that I can just go outside and pluck fresh herbs and leaves with superb vitality to help sooth a cough and cold when I need it for me and my family.

There are so many great herbs to use in each climatic region.   Here at this time of year, some great ones are:

  1. lemon myrtle
  2. peppermint
  3. menthol mint
  4. oregano
  5. sacred basil
  6. turmeric
  7. ginger

Today, I also added organic cinnamon and some raw honey to the blend - mmmm ....delicious and very soothing. Just what I need right now.

I've written about the brew I made yesterday too: and listed a few additional plants - lemon, orange peel, lemon balm, thyme. Each brew I make is slightly different which keeps it interesting.

What is your favourite cold remedy from your garden?

[DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or natural therapist. The information in this blogpost and associated film is based on personal research, conversations with lots of knowledgeable people and years of experimenting. Please make up your own mind about whether you think it is useful.]

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Home Grown Medicine: 10 Common Medicinal Plants I Use As A Natural Cold Remedy

Last night a cold settled on my chest - that heavy congested feeling really slows me down. The first thing I did this morning was head to my garden to gather some healing medicinal plants and make a tea. I also raided my pot of local raw honey and store of turmeric and ginger roots (luckily I hadn't planted all of them out already).

I brew up a delicious tea from these things and sip it throughout the day.  I find it helps so much.

Today's ingredients: Raw Turmeric, Raw Ginger, Lemon Myrtle, Sacred Basil, Lemon and Raw Honey

I put the leaves and roots all in together for a gentle simmer (not the honey).

After about 15 minutes, I strain this into my jar (a coffee filter fits perfectly!!)

I like to use these jars because I can put a lid on it and come back later.

I stir in a spoonful of raw honey when the temperature has cooled little. Heating raw honey destroys many of it's wonderful properties.



I grab a lemon (sometimes a lime) - the juice can lessen the strength of a cold and reduce phlegm. Lemon water also helps to soothe my sore throat with it's antibacterial property.

Lemon Myrtle 

I pluck of a few new lemon myrtle leaves. Lemon Myrtle is also used to treat allergies, colds and sore throats.

Sacred Basil / Tulsi

I love my Tulsi plants - I have many now throughout the garden. I snap off a few stems with nice young leaves. Along with curing viral, bacterial and fungal infections of the respiratory system, it helps relieve congestion because it contains Camphene, Eugenol and Cineole in its essential oils.  Tulsi is also helpful for asthma.


Ginger helps so much with colds, coughs and relieving respiratory problems. Ginger also creates a good sweat to help the body get rid of the cold.


Turmeric is a superb natural cold and cough remedy with its antibacterial and anti-viral qualities.  The anti-inflammatory action of its active ingredient, curcumin, helps to relieve chest congestion

Raw honey

After the tea has cooled a little, I stir in a spoonful of local raw honey from the forest up the end of this valley - the taste is amazing!! Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and is great for all types of infections. Raw honey is also an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory and can help to treat bronchitis and asthma. It’s antibiotic properties treat colds and sore throats - just what I need!

I often just mix a teaspoon of this honey with finely chopped turmeric (could use good quality turmeric powder) and slowly swallow this - it helps so much to soothe and irritated throat and coughing fits.

Tomorrow I will try another brew and add these things too:

Orange peel 

Orange peel is full of vitamins C and A and is a natural antioxidant that helps to fight off germs and viruses. Drinking orange peel helps heal the infection and has an instant soothing effect.

Lemon Balm / Melissa

Lemon Balm tea has anti-viral properties and is great to drink when you’re feeling under the weather.  A hot lemon balm tea brings on a sweat which is good for relieving colds, flus and fevers. 


Peppermint contains menthol which relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract and helps you to breathe freely. It's also a great decongestant. 


Thyme is another great herb to use in a cough and cold remedy and it also acts to clear the lungs of congestion.


Oregano is wonderful for healing coughs and colds, treating bronchitis, easing asthma attacks and soothing a sore throat.

What is your favourite garden remedy?
There are so so many useful medicinal plants - many common in our gardens. Please share your favourite cold remedies from your garden.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Chemical-free clothes: Easy DIY Natural Dye Using Common Foods

Would you believe that this is the colour you get from purple carrots, brown onion skins and avocado seeds on natural fibre fabrics!  I love this so much - so easy, so cheap, non-toxic, no waste!
A natural-coloured old wool blanket dyed with vegetables. These colours are fast.
Purple carrot = purple (of course). Onion skin = orange.  Avocado seed = light brown.
Brown onion skins boiled for 1 hour in water.
The fabric is then submerged into this pot and boiled for another hour.
The samples above were only in for 15 minutes.
While the colour does not wash out it fades over time - then you can simply refresh the colour with another soak.

Boiling up the purple carrot and avocado colour pots.

Last weekend I took Maia and Hugh to do a family-friendly natural dye workshop with Alieta, Leeza and Olin from the Forest Art Collective in Maleny. It revolutionised my thinking about what we can do about making non-toxic clothing - I'm totally hooked!

The learning circle.

Fabulous creative science. Many young children loved this workshop. 

I really cannot believe how simple and effective the techniques are and how colouring fabrics this way creates only a tiny bit of compostable waste - the onion skins, boiled carrots and avocado seeds.

The waste from the botanical print dying process - compostable leaves, re-usable twine, and reusable metal scraps.

During the workshop we also experimented with botanical prints using leaves on natural fabrics. Here are the sample strips I did. You can see silky oak, eucalyptus, cinerea, bleeding heart - on silk, cotton, wool and paper.  I can't wait to keep experimenting and making my own hand-dyed organic clothing. Thankfully there's a great shop in my local town where I can source un-dyed organic fabrics.

My first go at creating natural botanical prints using natural fabrics and paper, leaves, water, twine and an iron rod. 

I moistened the wool strip. (NB: you can see the original colour of the wool here that was used in the carrot, onion and avocado dyes)

Roll the leaves tightly in with the wool onto a rusty iron rod. The iron helps to fix the plant print to the fabric and give the black colour.

Bind tightly with twine to hold it all in place when it is boiled.

Wool with
Create whatever patterns you like - here I used cinerea and eucalypt

I added 4 different leaf arrangements on my rod. It is also possible to have a large piece of fabric folded over to create leaf patterned prints.

Boil the wrapped iron rods in a pot of water for 1 hour.
I unravelled my stick as soon as it came out of the pot - so curious to see what had happened. If I'd had the patience to leave it rolled and moist for 3 weeks, all the colours would be far more intense. 

We used iron at the workshop, but by wrapping and boiling with different rods you can get different effects. When you boil up in a stainless steel or aluminium pot,  iron = black, copper = blueish tinge, wood = neutral. The metals also fix the colours. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Do you want a weed-free garden? Film #12 Weed-Free Mulching by Morag Gamble (3 mins)

Do you want a weed-free garden? 

It's easy. How you mulch makes such a huge difference for on-going weed maintenance. 

In this 3 minute film, I show my new weed-free section of garden and contrast it with two other areas mulched differently.... The results speak for themselves even after just five weeks. 

  1. No weeds - used compost, newspaper and mulch
  2. Some weeds - used compost and mulch (no newspaper)
  3. Weedy - used compost, but no newspaper or mulch.

Watch my new 3 minute film about weed-free mulching:

With the Spring warmth and rain, the weeds are growing fast and the difference is obvious. 

The key is the newspaper - but not on the ground as usually described in no-dig garden instructions. I put my newspaper layer on top of the compost and cover it with mulch. I do this because the newspaper:

  • stops weeds from the soil and compost layer
  • keeps moisture in the compost layer (dries out more on top of paper)
  • allows the soil organisms to access the compost more readily
  • enables roots of plants to go deeper (you make a hold in the paper and plant into compost below)

Take a look through this No Dig Gardening link from my blog to get more background information and see the step by step pictures on how to make a successful and simple no dig garden.

If you'd like more information about using newspaper, please check out this post too:

Happy Gardening!