Greening the Desert with Geoff Lawton, Original and Update: 1 of 4 – YouTube

The all-time ultimate introduction to Permaculture. All the world’s problems can be solved, in a garden:

This half hour video documents the ongoing work of Permaculture Gurus, Geoff and Nadia Lawton, in the Dead Sea Valley. It begins with the famous original ‘Greening the Desert’ five minute video clip, and then continues into Part II, a 2009 update to the 2001 original.

If you prefer, you can watch the whole thing in one hit on Vimeo:

You’ll get to see and learn about the original Greening the Desert site and see some of the spin-off effects of its influence throughout Jordan, and you’ll also be introduced to a new educational demonstration site that was started in 2008.

You can see the video, and more information about it, in its original post here:…

This is inspiring, practical work – the kind of work that should be encouraged, supported and emulated worldwide. It is the ultimate root-cause type of aid work.

via Greening the Desert with Geoff Lawton, Original and Update: 1 of 4 – YouTube.


Floating islands can boost fish production while cleaning water, creator claims : Lifestyles

Breaking muddy night crawlers into thirds, Bruce Kania is so anxious to get two visitors to catch fish in his pond that he’s baiting their hooks.

“A little pressure here, we have to average one fish every two minutes or you screw up my average,” he said like a coach urging his team on in a critical playoff game.

During all the banter, he deftly baited hooks and unhooked perch and crappie as the anglers reeled them in, tossing the fish into a 5 gallon bucket.

“We’re like a machine here, we’re like a factory,” he cheered on. “Our job is to harvest nutrients. That kind of sounds grandiose, but that’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to harvest nutrients before they get down to the Gulf of Mexico and create a dead zone.”

Kania is the owner of Floating Island International, based northeast of Shepherd. On his property, Kania has a 6-acre pond in which he demonstrated the capability of his products.

The large plastic squares that the islands are made of — resembling huge, hollow honeycombs – provide the structure for plants to grow in by sucking sustenance out of the nutrient-saturated water. The water is nutrient rich because of runoff from agricultural and domestic fertilizers as well as from cattle manure.

In a typical pond, such nutrient loading can produce huge blooms of algae that feed on the minerals. But at Kania’s pond that’s not the case. Instead, the nutrients are gobbled up by biofilms growing on his islands and the plants interweaved into the islands. The biofilms are eaten by aquatic bugs that are then eaten by fish.

But the biofilms must be nurtured to thrive.

“The two variables we control are circulation and surface area,” Kania said.

By providing constant circulation to his pond through aeration, the biofilms flourish, keeping away the algae mats that would otherwise typically form. In the process, the water quality is improved as the biofilms chow down on phosphorous and nitrogen from fertilizer runoff. Water clarity has also gotten better, going from 14 inches to 19 feet in the pond, Kania said.

“I think this represents a new message for folks: that we can take water that’s dead and make it high quality,” Kania said. “And you don’t have to travel far to do it. You can do it wherever.”

Kania pointed to 64-acre Lake Elmo in Billings as an example of a place he’d like to show off the capabilities of the floating islands. He claims they would vastly improve the fishing at the shallow, canal-fed impoundment.

There are costs involved, though. In addition to the initial expense of the islands, there would also be the cost of powering the islands’ pumping systems for circulation. At his 6-acre pond, Kania said he spends about $110 a month to pump about 10,400 gallons of water a minute.

“One or two of them would fix Lake Elmo,” he said.

The idea to create the islands came to Kania while he was working as a muskie fishing guide in northern Wisconsin. The Chippewa Flowage, a 15,300-acre manmade impoundment, is dotted with about 200 islands and floating bogs.

The waterway has the distinction of producing the world record muskie, a 69-pound, 11-ounce fish caught in 1949.

“When you dive into the water you can see why it’s so productive,” Kania said. “There are roots everywhere.”

Those roots harbor the biofilms that feed the insects that the fish eat. Kania uses his islands to mimic what’s naturally occurring in places like the Chippewa Flowage.

Kania said he’s pushing to get some of his islands into New York City’s East River to help clean it up and further prove the viability of his system. Islands have already been installed elsewhere, including New Zealand.

He said he’s proven the islands work on a small scale at his pond. Last year he said anglers caught 2,600 fish from his impoundment. This year he hopes to top 5,000.

“I guess what’s exciting here is that water quality is essential to fish growth and fish harvest, which is fun,” he said. “So which would you rather harvest, 280 pounds of algae or 100 pounds of fish?”

via Floating islands can boost fish production while cleaning water, creator claims : Lifestyles.

Wall Gardens, Living Walls in Home Decor –

Consumers with deep pockets will find wall-garden systems that are elaborate and high-tech. GSky Plant Systems Inc., of Vancouver, sells a ProWall system that holds plants without soil in 1-foot-square stainless-steel units, watered through an automated drip system. Typical cost of a custom 10-foot-by-10-foot wall ranges from about $10,000 to $15,000, says Hal Thorne, chief executive. The company won’t install the ProWall system unless the homeowner or business agrees to a maintenance contract for at least a year—which for a 10-by-10 wall would cost about $150 a month.

“We don’t just build them and walk away,” Mr. Thorne says. “It’s a living system, and it needs constant attention and care.”

Bright Green, of Hartland, Mich., creates living walls from plastic trays of 10 or 45 cells, which hold plants in soil at an angle so they don’t fall out when mounted on a wall. Hand-watering is required. Water enters through notches at the top edge of the tray and travels down via a “moisture mat” made of a coconut-based fiber. A tray collects water at the bottom.

The system retails for $29.95 for the small version or $39.95 for the large. A kit including a wooden frame to set off the design on a wall costs $95.

Woolly Pocket, of Los Angeles, offers a system of 2-foot-wide planters filled with soil. Each pocket has a plastic-coated mesh liner that is both a moisture barrier to protect walls and a reservoir, focusing water onto plant roots. The systems generally are watered by hand or by an automatic system with a timer that can cost as much as $60.

The single-pocket “Wally One” planter retails for $40; three cost $100, five $150.

via Wall Gardens, Living Walls in Home Decor –

After some trial and error with plants, homeowner Angela Day, a financial analyst, enjoys tending her collection of kangaroo ferns and prayer plants. “When I walk by, it’s calming, just a little more serene, maybe a little bohemian,” she says. “It’s a lot different from where I am most of the day.”

Incorporated into a sleek interior, a green wall lends unexpected freshness and some appealing contrast, designers say. “It gives an otherwise smooth, straight, linear design some texture,” says Jason Lempieri, a 41-year old industrial designer in Philadelphia.

Mr. Lempieri’s recently remodeled 1920s brick row house has an open floor plan and a sleek, black-and-white interior.

Recalling plant-filled walls he had seen in Europe, Mr. Lempieri installed a wall garden in the dining room, on a partial-height wall 13 feet wide by 8 feet high with a skylight 30 feet above. He used a system of felt-like pockets filled with soil and, working with Philadelphia-based designer Peter Smith, came up with a palette of ferns and tropical plants. Total cost: $1,000.

Jason Lempieri, a Philadelphia industrial designer, installed a wall garden filled with ferns and tropical plants on the wall of the kitchen in his renovated 1920s row house. Wall gardens are a good contrast in linear modern interiors, designers say.

Mr. Lempieri says he enjoys watering and tending to it. “I’ve come to care for it like it’s a member of the family,” he says.

Wall systems are often modular, with stackable cells of plants that can be arranged in customized displays. Irrigation can be an old-fashioned watering can, or a hidden computerized watering system on timers. Plants may require soil, or they may be fed hydroponically, through chemical-nutrient mixtures in water.

For some, living walls can be a bad fit. Conditions indoors are more challenging for plants than outdoors, because there is less light and moisture. Homeowners have to be a little more “in tune” with their plants’ needs, says Kimberly Labno, a Philadelphia designer.

People may forget to set the timer on an irrigation system. Yet with automatic irrigation systems, there are risks of mold problems and overwatering, designers say. Manufacturers say their systems are safe, but many have been on the residential market for less than five years—not exactly a test of time.

Ms. Labno actually advises homeowners against certain automatic watering systems for their indoor wall gardens, because she says there’s too much that could go wrong. “If dust prevents a valve from closing, you could have a serious flooding event,” she says. The wall gardens she designs typically require watering by hand.

“I think the jury is still out,” says Rebecca Sweet, a Los Altos, Calif., garden designer and author of the book “Garden Up,” about vertical gardening. “Because this is such a new field, I don’t know any homeowner that has had any of these walls up for 10 years at a time.”


How to Make Moss Graffiti: 6 steps (with pictures) – wikiHow

Moss graffiti, also called eco-graffiti or green graffiti, replaces spray paint, paint-markers or other such toxic chemicals and paints with a paintbrush and a moss “paint” that can grow on its own. As people become more eco-friendly and environmentally aware, the idea of making living, breathing graffiti has become a more green and creative outlet for graffiti artists. It can also be considered another form of guerrilla gardening.

via How to Make Moss Graffiti: 6 steps (with pictures) – wikiHow.