DIY Deodorant

The issue of home beauty is one that I shied away from for a long time.

While I’ve always loved to call myself a hippie I’d never allowed myself the concept of being able to make my own home beauty devices.

This was mostly because I have a fairly strong stance against pseudo-sciences particularly those that discredit scientific processes that have empowered humanity to conquer the war on disease.

So it was a great disappointment when I found out how many lies were being fed to the public through trusted journal articles in the scientific community based around deodorants.

The main issue I have here is the use of aluminum in most deodorants to stem sweating.

Ok so first of, sweating is very important. It’s our way of expelling toxins that cause us health detriment. Stopping this process is already questionable.

Who’s going to decide to smell instead though?

So I decided to do research like I would for my university assignments and discovered that most if not all scientific journal articles that had dismissed the correlations between aluminum and carcinogenic properties were often confounded by having been funded by those aluminum industries.

I’ve attached these sources for you to see where I found this information.

As I was confused and could not put my faith into companies that still used single-use plastics as well as other harmful chemicals and unethical water practices, I decided to make my own.

But first, I needed to know why we use deodorant.

A brief history

 

Sweat comes from two kinds of glands; the eccrine and the apocrine glands. The amount you smell depends on the gene ABCC11. The least common occurrence of this gene is in East Asia.

The eccrine gland produces water and sweat. The apocrine gland mixes with bacteria like micrococcus which then leads to smelly pits n groins.

Ancient times consisted of making a paste or having perfumed baths as part of a normal society.

The first normal deodorant was MUM. This is still around today but first became available in the late 1800s.

The first antiperspirant (so just the stopping of sweating, not just the smell) was introduced in 1902 by Odorono.

To stop sweating they used aluminum chloride, which in order to be effective need to be suspended in acid.

The next step was the age of aggressive advertising. This was aimed directly at women. Like this old faithful that I acquired from the Smithsonian online catalogue. And a link to a great article that sums it up for us: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-advertisers-convinced-americans-they-smelled-bad-12552404/

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So while women were out busy getting dates with this new found self-knowledge (sarcasm) deodorant became a very big part of our lives.

Now I’m not suggesting you try pure natural no deodorant living all together. More just how we got to where we are today.

In 2018 the deodorant industry was estimated to be worth $72.7 billion USD. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/254668/size-of-the-global-antiperspirant-and-deodorant-market/)

So to wrap it up nicely, deodorant is a very lucrative market, with aggressive advertising that depends on your insecurities, the unethical testing procedures on animals, the pollution the aerosols cause to the layer of oxygen that allows us to live, threat to our water sources through runoff AND the chemicals that mimic growth hormones and cease proper biological functioning.

It was time I made my own way to smell nice.

How I made mine

 

I don’t want to do a lot of work and I’m sure you won’t either. It’s very easy to pay someone to do something.

So I made sure that my deodorant making was going to be very easy.

Here’s what I got:

  • Some coconut oil- maybe a tablespoon
  • Some baking soda- a tiny amount, maybe half a teaspoon- this has the antibacterial properties you need.
  • Some corn flour- maybe a cup depending on how pasty you want it, this is for volume
  • Some essential oils- this depends on the amount you want to smell.

I picked lemongrass because it appeals to my nostrils.

I used rough estimates because each person is going to do things differently.

The ingredients can have other stuff but I’d recommend against it. This is because of the number of chemicals you want to reduce and the economic savings.

The benefits

It’s cheap af!

It’s chemical free

It’s plastic free

It’s a great amount of choice

It lasts for a whole day (for me anyway, everyone sweats differently)

I feel empowered

Still, sweat a little so I know I’m still riding my body of toxins just getting rid of the bacteria without properly upsetting the system I need to function.

The downfalls

So just being too lazy, I didn’t find a way to apply it without putting it on my fingers and just circularly rubbing it into my pits.

This works for me so I don’t care

It doesn’t stop you sweating so sweat patches, but honestly, I still sweat anyway and the above-mentioned benefits of sweating.

That’s all.

 

Conclusion

This was awesome! I can’t go back now; I use it every day sometimes every two days.

I’m aware of why I made this choice which is rational and socially acceptable and I’m saving so much money while also not contributing to the destruction of my home planet.

And I smell great!

I want to hear other DIY stories and designs, maybe on application. Hit me up in the comments.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

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Here are a few of my sources and some further reading:

https://ojs.library.carleton.ca/index.php/pcharm/article/view/1586/1430

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429161247/chapters/10.1201/b15205-2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14639125

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503514/

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/myths/antiperspirants-fact-sheet

http://asiapharmaceutics.info/index.php/ajp/article/view/260

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/86b4/9985ba6ebdf250e1d2c79af41c657b94580e.pdf

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-radiotherapy-in-practice/article/an-investigation-into-the-use-of-a-nonmetallic-deodorant-during-radiotherapy-treatment-a-randomised-controlled-trial/54ED4C1375CBC1E748C8DAE40EE1996C

https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr2424

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0162013405001613

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5651828/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S174418700600117X

DIY Shampoo & Conditioner

The history of shampoo is actually quite an interesting one.

Before all modern shampoos, people used soap based cleaners and this would happen seasonally as soap would strip the hair.

Like literally, strip it of all moisture, etc.

The old school shampoo was a mixture of lye-based soaps and herbs for fragrance. Those who had hairdressers or wealth could afford better quality extras and therefore set the class standard for nice and manageable hair.

The term shampoo comes from the Hindi word chāmpo, which means to knead and massage. This process was done using natural oils and herbs that would stimulate circulation, cleanse the hair and scalp as well as being a form of meditative relaxation.

The first modernized liquid shampoo came by the way of German inventor Schwarzkopf in 1927.

The subsequent use of shampoo throughout history has negated the need for conditioner.

Once you strip it down, you have to moisturise.

Add in all the surfactants (detergents) that are used to make every hair treatment unique, and you have a society buying plastic packaged products that they’ve never needed, and in fact, damage your hair more than they realise.

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Really couldn’t find an ad image for actual textured hair to include.

Why I changed

My original reason was because of the cost.

I’m very privileged to have straight, flat hair, which I’ve never dyed and rarely cut. This is mainly because it doesn’t grow much at all and I’ve always felt my hair and its colour are a direct link to my ancestry and I hold this in great importance.

Totally want to shave my head someday though.

So seeing as I was bouncing between products that I’d hoped would make my hair longer, less brittle, not so oily, more shiny, less shiny, more manageable, more able to be styled, more easily to detangle… Bla bla bla.

This cost me on average $7 a bottle every three weeks to a month. So annually I would spend almost $730. So I’ve been buying my own since I was 15, I’m 30 ow, so all up in my lifetime I’ve regularly spent almost $11,000 on regular shampoo and conditioner alone.

This doesn’t include all the extra hair care stuff I’ve bought for styling, fixing, masking and god knows what else.

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This was taken an hour after I got it styled. It was supposed to be curly.

And this is for someone who has VERY manageable hair.

For someone with 4C textured hair, the costs alone could make you a property investor. Hell, you could be a politician with all that spent money!

On top of the costs it seemed no matter what I tried, all the products I used and all the haircuts in the world weren’t making my hair feel healthy or fresh.

I’ve never dyed my hair!

For this reason, as well as the desire to steer away from plastics, I decided to make my own.

What I use

 

This process needed to be as convenient as possible.

Not too expensive, time-consuming or difficult to remember or comprehend.

This is why what I use now is a DIY mixture.

I put it together in a small cup and whisk until liquid enough and then I knead it through my hair and rinse.

So what is actually in my little mixture?

Firstly I needed to know what my hair actually needs.

Moisture.

So coconut oil.

Secondly, it needs to be cleaned.

Soap.

The soap I use is castile soap that I find very cheap, I can get it at my wholesale bulk food shop and I fill a jar with it.

Soap works by being both attracted to water and afraid of it at the same time. Soap molecules like to grab onto non-water soluble molecules like dirt, oil as well as little nasties and by rinsing it out of your hair, (or anything really) it drags the dirt and oil with it.

Lastly, it needs to smell nice.

I chose lemongrass essential oils.

I figured if my pits smell nice so will my hair.

That’s all there is to it.

Sometimes if I’m fancy ill put honey in it. Unfortunately real honey is hard to come by due to industrial farming so I only use it when I go visit the Honey World just outside of town. So not everyone will have access.

Also, some people make use of tee tree oil for its antibacterial properties.

I mainly avoid this because I have a cat and was advised it’s severely toxic for her.

I also trust in my skin and normal bodily processes to protect me from harms that could come through my skin on my head. That’s what skin is there for.

I don’t have a set time that I wash my hair. I live close to the beach so sometimes I go down and dunk my head. When I don’t do that, I wash my hair only when it needs it.

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If it gets too oily and is unmanageable I’ll wash with less oil. I’ll do the opposite if it’s dry.

On average I wash my hair maybe once a week but sometimes I’ll stretch it out to see how long I can gather the natural oils.

 

Disclaimer

 

I know I mentioned this briefly however it needs to be plainly put and very obviously explained that hair is something that is unique to every person. Your type of hair, its colour and habits all derive from your genetic makeup.

This is never going to change.

So know that your hair is unique, learn the origins of this hair type and the types of others. Celebrate all the different types and respect them.

Understand that all types of hair have history, some more than others, and this history has been a base for discrimination and oppression.

All hair is incredible and all should be celebrated.

I will be doing some collaborative work in the future regarding different hair types and solutions for more environmentally as well as economically friendly solutions for different types of hair.

Conclusion

 

Wrapping up, Hair care is expensive and wasteful.

The amount of crap we pour on our hair and down our drains is killing the oceans, our planet, our hair and our wallets.

Seriously how in the f**k did it equal to $11k?!

So with simple cheap ingredients, you can begin to take back your hair’s health and save some casholas.

Natural soaps and oils are what has been the base of every hair care treatment from the beginning of time.

The best thing you can do is try it out. Hair can be very resilient so unless you’re pouring chemicals on your head, your hair can stand some natural oils.

Finally, remember to respect and celebrate other’s hair as well as your own. All types of hair are another person’s story and all should be equally admired.

This is how my hair looks now after it’s been rained on. Very satisfied with its volume and health.

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I’d love to hear from you all and learn what type of hair you have, listen to your hairetage stories and learn from you too.

What have you found works for you and what would like to see more of?

Hit us up in the comments.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

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Here’s some further reading with a few of my sources:

https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9Z6vCGbf66YC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=shampoo+history&ots=YM3dB_qbm7&sig=VGYjVOGu34-Le8vQN33BGvjDuS0#v=onepage&q=shampoo%20history&f=false

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2007.00414.x

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/PL00007707

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1467-2494.2001.00057.x

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/18125440903151538

https://patents.google.com/patent/US4919838A/en

https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=oCbSCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA225&dq=hindi+champo&ots=gZuk8zCnGA&sig=0eytnR6J_9iPvyKQcd2lT_lCmeA#v=onepage&q=hindi%20champo&f=false

http://www.plantsjournal.com/archives/2017/vol5issue2/PartD/5-2-29-448.pdf

http://kccollege.edu.in/pdf/srujan/2013-14_Srujan_V-3_Is-1.pdf#page=54

https://search.proquest.com/openview/750bb418352b2a95fef2b57a95089735/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1096438

Aquaponic Lettuce- The Kratky Way

Lettuce is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, folate (a member of the Vitamin B group) as well as being recognised to have anti-inflammatory properties, cholesterol-lowering agents and anti-diabetic compounds.

So if the lettuce is indeed dainty you probably don’t want to check out my recipe for my zesty falafel, halloumi and lettuce salad here either.

The thing is lettuce is almost necessary to our natural diets. The fibre alone keeps you digestively regulated that are disrupted by the strain of processing the manipulated foods we eat.

The second best part is that lettuce grows all year round and I have a cheap, no-energy consuming, viable method for growing lettuce for small spaces and produces a high yield.

It’s called the Kratky method.

Say we’re trying to grow 4 heads of lettuce.

Lettuce takes about 9 weeks to harvest from seed planting, so if you set up two seeds a week, you’ll have never ending lettuce.

Like forever lettuce.

So without further ado, here’s the step by step.

The Kratky method

What you need:

  • Jars – one jar per lettuce head
  • Lettuce Seeds
  • Yogurt cups- or similar
  • Drainage- I’m using gravel
  • Water
  • Plant food- soluble nutrients- it’s easier to buy than to source naturally unfortunately
  • That’s all, don’t make it complicated

This method entails empty jars. Mason jars are the size you’re after but any jars will do.

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So the first thing you want to do is grow your seeds.

If you plant your seed in its eggshell and get them grown until they have a little sprout out the top and some nice roots coming down, you’re set.

Secondly, you’ll be cutting up the yogurt cups.

I had leftover seeding trays that I upcycled when I bout some plants from the hardware store so I’ll be using those.

Look around your house or recycling bin for something you can use without having to go out and buy extra.

You’re going to be making slits all around the bottom half of the cup. The idea is to make space for the roots to come out of the bottom to sit in the water but not for the gravel or plant itself to fall in.

This is what the plastic store bought ones look like.

images

Next step is to mix your nutrients with the water.

Follow directions on the bottle. The one I got was cheap and had listed ingredients that I researched to make sure my lettuce wasn’t going to get covered in unnecessary chemicals because that slightly defeats the purpose.

The one I got is Manutec’s Hydroponic nutrient. There are two bags inside; one is the fertiliser and the other is calcium nitrate.

So following the directions you dilute in some water and you mix well.

So with your yogurt cups sitting in the jar, you fill the water so just the first cm or so of the cup is sitting in water.

Make sure there’s a little bit of an air gap at the top of the jar.

Next, you transfer your lettuce seedlings into the cup without any soil, and you put gravel around it so they sit flush.

You want the roots to head into the water solution and the gravel acts as a drainage system for the plant.

My fellow blogger http://www.greenandvibrant.com have the perfect graphic to describe what’s going on:

The-Kratky-method-system

Finally, you want to cover the jar with something.

The water in the jar is nutrient rich and allowing sunlight to get to it will help Algae grow. These algae will steal all the lettuce’s nutrients.

I’ve wrapped the jars in the newspaper.

Voila. Hydroponic lettuce.

No electricity.

No soil.

Almost no effort.

Conclusion

Lettuce should be a part of everyone’s diet but the price of food is ridiculous. And I call it food, not healthy food, just food. The point of food is sustenance, flavour and bonding.

The going rate for lettuce at my supermarket right now is $3.50.

That’s the price of a full course local meal in Vietnam.

For the price alone, I’ve sent $15 on this setup, using trash items most would throw out, and now I have lettuce forever.

Literally forever.

This method is excellent for kids or anyone trying out hydroponic methods.

It’s economical, it’s super easy and accessible and can be used in small spaces like apartments and share houses as well as maybe having colder winters where frost would normally kill your leafy’s off.

One day I want to try and set up a system with siphons and fish but I travel too much and it’s not fair for the fish.

Let me know how you’re getting on with your garden or if you have any other no-fuss hydroponic systems worth sharing, leave me a comment.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

For further reading on the sources I’ve used:

https://www-tandfonline-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1300/J484v11n02_04

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157516300230

https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/vc-1.pdf

https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/hawaii/downloads/Growing_Lettuce_by_a_float-support_non-circulating_Hydroponic_Method_in_Hawaii_and_Pennsylvania.pdf

My Garden (round 2)

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I killed off most of the first plants. I had a whole tonne of different plants and was determined to be all natural with no pesticide.

I also forgot how important drainage was to potted plants.

So I lost most of them to aphids, White Flies and growth stunting.

ROUND 2!

This time around I made sure I gave each plant it’s space, drainage, enough water and a new pesticide help.

What I’m Growing Now

At the moment we have

  • blueberries (not currently in season)
  • Tahitian Limes
  • Strawberries
  • Parsley
  • Mini capsicums
  • French carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Endives
  • Bulb zucchinis
  • Potatoes

So it’s definitely a full house but it’s lots of fun learning about each plant and being overly excited when a new flower or fruit shows up.

What pesticide I Use

After a couple of weeks of research, I landed on eco neem.

Neem targets sucking and chewing insects specifically like aphids, whiteflies and caterpillars.

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Another name for the tree that produces neem is the Indian Lilac.

This tree is used in many medicinal properties and is part of the mahogany family.

Do not use eco neem for medicinal purposes. Leave that for doctors, chemists and specialists. They know what they’re doing.

The oil is extracted from the bark of the tree and when you buy the bottle from your hardware store, a small amount 5mL to a Litre of water and spray on the plant while avoiding any flowers or fruit.

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While it has rid us of most other pests that were eating our plants it seems to have freed up our garden with these guys who I still haven’t been properly introduced to.

Leave me a comment with the answer if you know it, please.

The main thing I like about eco neem is that it’s a natural property with a small number of chemicals unlike more damaging pesticides on the market.

It is also a safe chemical to have run off into the drainage and further down the track, into our rivers and oceans.

Australia has a very damaging problem when it comes to chemicals in our water supply.

Particularly our mining industry who uses the major water supply from the Great Artesian Basin that is our country’s only source of fresh water. But that’s another story. Our politicians are really corrupt.

Anyway, the last thing I want to note about neem as a pesticide is that it DOES NOT AFFECT BEES!

Bees are absolutely integral to your garden and the ecosystem.

Without them, nothing gets pollinated and the health of your garden diminishes.

This season has been particular barren.

We all know there is a major problem with how we manipulate and destroy the world’s bee populations but never has it been more apparent than now.

To increase bees to our garden we got some viola flowers that bloom most of the year, and I can use them in food if I’m being fancy, and sage.

The most common way to attract bees is to grow lavender but I have allergic family members so sage and viola were the next best things.

So far we’ve had one bee in the last month.

That’s depressing.

Disclaimer

One thing that must be brought up is the importance of land and sustainable living and eating. This point is that of oppression. The withholding or inaccessibility to land and food resources has for centuries been used to disenfranchise people. Having the ability to sustain yourself releases you from that control and your dependence.

Keep this in mind when you grow and think on the people all over the world who are food insecure due to war, man-made famine (Yemen) and greed.

Many areas in major western cities have been put there into ghetto-like situations where food insecurity becomes a major issue and getting fast food is the only option. This diminishes health and keeps people impoverished.

Maybe look into starting a community garden if you are in these areas, or just share your extra harvest with soup kitchens and food banks.

Donate extra plants so people with children can also learn how to feed themselves like we as a species once knew to do.

So what next?

 

At this point, the zucchini’s will have to be pollinated manually but everything else is growing really well.

By giving them the boost with lots of water nutrients, a helpful and constructive pesticide as well as the right amount of sun and drainage, your plants will grow in no time.

We have a big fat tomato that’s almost ready to turn red and every little fruit is like having a new puppy born.

The ultimate goal is to provide enough ongoing harvest so we have no reason to go to major supermarkets to get our food.

Being self sustainable is a feat that most don’t venture. This is sad and worrying for our species.

While technologies are amazing, we have gotten to the point where we have overdone technologies in agriculture.

While we have more food than we need, we dump 40% of it into landfills and people we don’t see across the world have absolutely no food.

Food security is a serious issue. If you are financially struggling, having food can be the be all and end all of your health, making it harder for you to get money.

The pride you get knowing you rely solely on your knowledge and your own resources frees you from being dependant on exorbitant prices (looking at you Coles with your $2.50 capsicum) and poor quality food.

Having a garden can be hard if you don’t have space. Luckily I live in subtropical weather so my plants have a real fighting chance as well as a large area to house them.

In the next article, I’ll be going through how we make our hydroponic lettuce using the Kratky method which will hopefully provide tips for the space challenged.

If you’re looking for new inspiration check out these Instagram accounts. I would love to have a garden area just to be able to do these.

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If you have any tips or advice for me to improve my garden or what to try next, leave a comment and I’d be happy to try some of them out.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Here are my sources for further reading:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15777222

http://articles.x10.mx/neem_mother_earth_news.pdf

http://www.madr.ro/docs/ind-alimentara/risipa_alimentara/presentation_food_waste.pdf

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rstb.2010.0126

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652614003680

https://www.pnas.org/content/104/50/19703.short

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5967/812

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/319/5863/607

The Worst Things You Can Do For Your Garden!

Ok so it’s your first garden, whether that is outside in the yard or in your apartment. The point is you’re ready to begin raising your plant nursery.

The question is, where to start?

Well starting a garden, particularly an apartment garden is relatively easy if you know the basics and science can go a long way. Indigenous science can go even further.

The first thing you need to consider is the reason you want a garden.

Is this for food or decorative landscaping? What plants are best for the season you’re growing? How do you juggle each plant’s needs without too much work or effort?

What will the new garden look like? How organised and modern is it going to look, maybe even a little fancy with the landscaping?

While I’d love to have the garden of @urbanveggiepatch or @ggthegardengirl, I don’t have a backyard but that’s not going to stop me.

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My first garden was when I was a child and my grandparents had a massive backyard where they grew everything from figs, mulberries, tomatoes and coffee. My first attempt was a watermelon and one thing to know about watermelons is that they’re tricky if you’re a five-year-old with no gardening knowledge.

The main reason I grow my garden is to have a sustainable food source all year round without relying on the big food companies. In doing this it’s a great investment, saves a lot of money in the long run, the quality of your meals improves dramatically and the sense of accomplishment of bolstering your own survival is unmatched.

The first thing you need to know, however, is that you are going to fail!

Many times.

This is what you do when you learn. You may get half a good crop then stunted plants for the rest of the season. This is totally normal and while it may feel like a waste, it’s not! Every garden is unpredictable because plants are living things with their own versions of personality. Helping the plants grow rather than expecting to control their growth is the best way to mentally engage with the process.

One thing to remember is, as beings on this planet, we need food to survive. We eat a variety of foods to make sure the quality of nutrients is at it’s best. We live in a time where food is accessible from all over the globe and yet most of us in Western societies have no idea how it grows or how it gets to us. This is one of the saddest detriments to our species and our planet.

Without this knowledge and engagement, we have become complacent, dumping 40% of the worlds food surplus into landfill, using famine as a weapon of war and depleting our water resources for waste to be accumulated on an industrial level.

The engagement in a garden is one of the fundamental ways you become a global citizen as well as a biological achievement.

Which plants?

So you’ve made the decision, you’re going to paint your thumb green.

But what plants?

If you’re a novice you may want to start out with an easy plant to get your confidence up.

My first apartment plant was lettuce. I bought seedlings from my local hardware store (with the necessary snag for a gold coin donation) and a couple of plastic pots with some fancy-sounding soil mixture.

This was very exciting.

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After two weeks the pots were overrun! I picked the lettuce and had three massive meals.

Unfortunately, they never grew back.

Winter came and the frost killed them off.

So that was my second failure at having a sustainable food source.

A good first plant would be a herb like basil or mint. These plants produce a lot of yields, grow quickly and need little attention. The more you pick, the more they grow!

A few many sources will tell you that tomatoes or zucchinis are also a good place to start. This is a lie!

Tomatoes and Zucchinis are picky.

Zucchinis may grow quickly but they need to be pollinated in order to fruit, which is difficult if you don’t get bees often. They also need just the right circumstances. Tomatoes are the same. Both are prone to pests and if you’re starting out, there’s just too much to think about without enjoying the early stages of garden life.

Basil is a plant that regenerates and clones. This means that the more you pick the more it yields and instead of dying out and needing to be re-sewn like tomatoes do, basil almost never goes away. Tomato plants, on the other hand, have a life span, meaning that after harvest, it’s time to start over again. So if you want quick gratification, go with the herbs. Basil also only takes 8-14 days to yield whereas tomatoes can take up to two and a half months to fruit.

For a decorative plant; bamboo will grow faster than you can prune and needs very little attention other than your inevitable admiration.

These are a great starting point; grab some pots and some decent potting mix.

I go for Bunnings Tomato and Vegetable Growing mix mainly because of its price and that it comes with blood and bone, a great fertiliser. This averages out at $4 AUD a bag.

fertilizer

https://www.bunnings.com.au/brunnings-25l-tomato-and-vegetable-growing-mix_p2960225

For pots, I like to keep away from plastic as they don’t last in your garden but last forever in our oceans. Try and get ceramic pots, they are great temperature regulators for your soil and they don’t crack and fade easily like the plastic ones will.

What are the choices this Season?

So when thinking about your garden nursery you need to consider seasons.

Coming from Australia, our climate is different in all different parts of the

continent. For 60,000 years Indigenous Australians cultivated, shaped and worked with the land and the climate, yielding one of the most impressive and comprehensive agricultural systems on the planet. To ignore this knowledge will only be a detriment to yourself.

To find out what your specific climate is in your area of Australia check out the Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive page here to see where you sit:

http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/index.shtml

My home is in the Banbai region and there are six seasons here.

indigenouse seasons

This means I don’t get eh typical 4 seasons we see in the movies and to be honest, you probably aren’t either.

As I write this it’s late April so the weather is changing from dry to cool. I live in a semi-tropical climate so cool never really gets proper cold. The plants that are fruiting in my garden right now are tomatoes. While my potatoes, limes and strawberries are flowering (possibly because I planted a bit late this season) my blueberries have dried their leaves and turned pink.

The key is to find out what plants grow best in what temperatures. Check out the seasons according to your indigenous calendar and plan ahead.

Some plants will grow all year regardless of the season. These are a good staple to have in the garden as you always get satisfaction through your efforts even if everything else is growing quietly under the soil.

The plants that will grow all year round are:

Onions, garlic, potatoes and beans.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you just leave them out in the elements and they’ll grow regardless. This just means it’s possible to keep them yielding all year round with the right amount of TLC.

How much Sunlight?

So we all remember year 7 biology I’m sure, plants need sunlight to convert into energy through a process of photosynthesis and they get their nutrients from the water they absorb from their roots and body, depending on the plant.

But how do you know when enough sun is enough and you don’t end up with sad and defeated cucumber plants?

dead cukes

No, they didn’t last but I’ve learned a lot for next season.

The traditional rule of thumb is that plants that need full sunlight need six to eight hours of sun a day, the partial sun would need three or four hours direct sunlight and of course, the shady plants need a good disguise. Just kidding, they’d only need two hours of sunlight maximum.

This works if you have a typical lovely late summer day that’s not too cold and not too hot or cloudy or humid that lasts all year round. Which is obviously unrealistic.

If you live in more tropical climates it can be very hard to judge what the temperature will be like throughout the day. Most plants have mechanisms to combat and control the amount of sunlight they need such as cucumber plants having very large leaves that are covered in white hairs (cilia) that reflect sun rays. Some plants will shift entirely to shield themselves from too much sun.

If you live in a place that does have too much sun at times, or where the sun burns harsher like my own, it’s a good idea to invest in a shade cloth.

If a plant isn’t getting enough light the new leaves may come out yellow as well as overall poor growth. This also happens if there’s too much sun so it can be tricky to figure out.

Just remember what we said before, you’re helping it to grow, not controlling its growth. Have a look and see what the plant is doing, try a couple of things, if they’re potted plants move them to a new location and see how they react. While there is science involved it’s not exact and even if you’ve been born with a green thumb, it’s impossible to predict.

 

How much and how to drainage?

Drainage… drainage…. Drainage!

So in my second garden, we bought a whole bunch of seeds and seedlings and set them up in pots with the proper mixture and great sunlight and watered them regularly and got our first batch of chillies!

Then things just stopped growing.

At first, I thought it was the pests that were starting to take up the rent. But then once we almost killed everything, we renovated our garden.

We got rid of the table, we re-potted everything and gave them some yummy fertiliser.

Then we nicely put them on pegs so they had…… DRAINAGE!

Rookie mistake.

If you give something some water, that water has to go somewhere.

This one doesn’t need much explanation. Make sure your plants have drainage!

(I’m looking at you pot planters)

Chemicals

 

First things first.

A pesticide is a chemical that kills weeds, insects, fungus and some plants.

An insecticide is a pesticide that kills insects specifically.

A herbicide is a pesticide that targets unwanted plants or weeds.

So with your new garden, you want to make sure your yields are fresh and your plants are healthy.

My first mistake was thinking that this could happen naturally. I was naïve in thinking that my perfect plants could defend themselves and I really wanted my plants to be chemical free.

So when the White Flies, slime mould, aphids and spider mites moved on in they wiped everything out!

slie mould

This is slime mould- they don’t affect the plants very much but the soil was saturated in the slime threads, blocking the nutrients for the plant.

So in keeping with the chemical-free approach, I tried my mum’s old school remedy of vinegar and water solution.

This killed whatever was left of my plants.

So this learning curve led me to do my research and find the best natural insecticide I can get without poisoning my plants or our food.

The best thing you can get for your plants is Neem. Neem is a tree native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh and the Maldives and is part of the Mahogany family. While the plant is used for many medicinal properties like anti-inflammatories and antibacterials, Neem is also a great insecticide.

Neem targets aphids, White Flies, cockroaches, mosquitos, snails and nematodes.

What it doesn’t target are birds, mammals, bees and plants.

This is essential because you want the good bugs but not the bad bugs. You also don’t want to kill ALL the bad bugs. This is because what might be bad bugs for our plants are great bugs for our compost or against other predatory plants.

For this reason, I chose Neem. Neem only kills insects that are eating your plants, not the ones that are visiting.

If you choose a pesticide that doesn’t moderate its kill-shots then you may end up with no fruits or flowers at all. Without the bugs that visit or pollinate, you won’t get any cucumbers, tomatoes or any pretty flowers.

Lastly, I chose Neem because of how it breaks down. Its half-life in water is between 48 minutes and 4 days. It’s easily broken down in the soil as well as by the plants themselves. In doing so the runoff and ongoing effects beyond your garden are absolutely minimal and effective.

For more information please do your own research but the University of Oregon is a good place to start, http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html.

I picked up my Neem from my local hardware store for just over $20 AUD and 100ml can be diluted to 50 Litres so it’s also very economical.

 

Conclusion

 So to wrap it all up, you need to decide what type of garden you want and how it needs to be set up, whether that’s in a yard or pot plants in your apartment or balcony.

Great plants to start with would be high yield little maintenance plants like basil and bamboo.

Understand the seasons of where you live, use the indigenous knowledge of the land respectfully and figure out what sun and climate are best for your garden and each plant.

Don’t forget to provide drainage!

Do your insecticide research, find one that has the least amount of impact and best results. I’ve found Neem was the best for my garden and my environmental impact.

All in all, the take-home message is to give it a try. Gardening is a life skill you’ll never forget even if it’s not a predictable success, the successes you do get will greatly outweigh the obstacles.

What were your first garden blunders?

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Here are the sources I used for this article if you want to learn more and fact check my advice.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-010-9803-z

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1442-8903.2011.00622.x

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-010-9804-y?LI=true

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/impact-of-a-schoolbased-food-garden-on-attitudes-and-identification-skills-regarding-vegetables-and-fruit-a-12month-intervention-trial/97893704F2180E391EA1F76DDAC315F3

https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/25/2/166/561809

https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GbIWAAAAYAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=how+to+garden+vegetables&ots=nj_AtLgvw2&sig=cuuutX1iHpMQQb5VqeDCiSQi-cU#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20garden%20vegetables&f=false

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494412000060