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Green

OBEO – A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?

June 18, 2015
OBEO - A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?

Photo credit: weareobeo.com

How often do you find a new product on the market that really excites you?

It’s been a while since I came across something small, simple and affordable that instantly made life easier in the kitchen, but it happened a couple of weeks ago and I’m keen to share news of it with you.

I stumbled across OBEO® in the huge marquee at Bloom in the Park recently and along with many other shoppers, was offered a couple of trial boxes to try out at home. Having now composted both boxes I can’t wait to get my hands on more.

Since we began composting I’ve tried several different types of buckets, bins and bags to collect the kitchen food waste, before tipping them onto the compost heap. Some have been more successful than others but all have been a bit fiddly or a bit slimy or smelly and most have attracted flies. This generally results in someone, on occasion, not bothering to flip the lid, but instead firing the coffee grinds, orange peel or tea bags into the refuse bin and not into the compost.

Until now.

OBEO - A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?The OBEO®, a small Irish business’ solution to our kitchen food waste problem,  is essentially a water-resistant brown bag enclosed in cardboard which can be closed in between use then when full of food waste, fired in its entirety into the brown bin or onto the compost heap.

There are diagrams on the back of the bag indicating what should or shouldn’t be put into it if it’s going into a brown bin – handy if you’re new to separating food waste, and a foldable cardboard handle that tucks the box closed when not in use.

And it works!

OBEO - A Solution to our Kitchen Food Waste?Due to careful shopping (we menu plan and write a weekly list, a necessity when the closest shop is an 8 mile round trip) and feeding animals, we don’t have very much food waste so it took around five days for us to fill our OBEO® with grinds and scraps.

During that time there were no flies or bad smells, and it didn’t look out-of-place on the countertop where it was at its most useful. Once full, unlike our current composting pedal bin, the box was folded shut and walked straight out to the compost, instead of spilling out on to the floor which seems to happen in our kitchen more than I like to admit.

As soon as I’d used my second bag I was onto OBEO®’s website looking for replacements. They run a handy, online shop for bulk buying (great for business’ who are trying to green up but struggling with the food segregation waste or anyone overseas) and after a tweet to @weareobeo, I was told that many Dunnes Stores and SuperValu stock smaller quantities for us regular shoppers, offering them at an RRP of €3.85 for a pack of 5, which OBEO® suggest is two weeks worth of bags.

I’m really impressed with this simple yet innovative product. If you haven’t come across their answer to food waste recycling, take a look at the OBEO® website for more information and tips on reducing food waste in general.

If you haven’t started composting, it’s something I’d recommend for everyone as apart from offering the opportunity for FREE soil conditioner, just thinking about food waste in general could save you over €1,000 a year – enough for a summer break! Here’s a handy downloadable PDF that explains how to compost that can help to get you started.

Have you found a way of saving food waste that eliminates smells and untidiness or might OBEO® be the answer to your dreams too?

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Vegetable Garden

Plant Holders from Breezy Garden ~ Product Review

June 20, 2012
nasturtiums in Breezy Garden pot holders

Companion Planting in Breezy Garden pot holders

If you like growing flowers or vegetables in containers, you may like to add these inexpensive plant holders to your shopping list…

I’ve been saving my review of the Breezy Garden plant holders so that I could show you a couple of pictures of plants in them rather than little seedlings.

I met Noel Joyce last year at an Enterprise Board lunch and was intrigued by his product when he explained it to me… simple plant pot holders that could be fixed to fencing, making gardening more accessible to those less able to bend or dig. I wont go into the detail of how the plant holders are fixed to fencing as The Secret Garden did a great job explaining it in their review and none of the gardens I work with have any fencing. This was not a problem however as the holders have holes in them allowing them to be screwed or nailed into walls or panels.

Breezy garden plant holders

Breezy garden plant holders

The first group who saw them were a bunch of horticultural therapy adults I garden with where all the plants are grown in raised beds. Here we screwed the planters into an arbour and added pots with peas that we hope will grow up the lattice. It was also mentioned that the pot holders could be screwed into the sides of the high raised beds adding an additional planting area.

The following day I took the remaining pack (that contains three plant holders) to  Goresbridge Community Garden. There’s a large grey wall there that we’ve often thought needed a bit of cheer. We  added pots with nasturtiums that will trail down, brightening up an otherwise dull space, with the flowers acting as a companion plant in the garden too, we have a double bonus.

nasturtiums in Breezy Garden potsAll the gardeners I’ve shown this product to liked it and asked where they could buy it. The could see the benefits not only to people wishing to garden with mobility problems but also as a way of adding to their own container planting and adding colour to areas that have so far been neglected. Retailing at €4.99 for three holders, do bear in mind that you’ll be putting regular plastic plant pots into them and if you were setting out to buy terracotta or fancy plastic pots you’d be spending a lot more than that for three containers…

What do you think? Could you see a home for the plant holder in your garden? I know I’m eyeing up bits of wall here now that I hadn’t considered decorating with flowers, vegetables or herbs.

Vegetable Garden

Slated Ireland Plant Markers – Product Review

June 8, 2012

Slated Plant MarkerI can’t tell you how thrilled I was when Tara from Slated Ireland gave me a packet of plant markers when I dropped by her stand at Bloom.

I’ve seen pictures of the markers and had often thought they were a very attractive, more natural way of marking out plants than the usual plastic or lollipop sticks. However, at €18.00 for a pack of four they seemed a little on the pricey side for the day-to-day gardener who wants to be reminded of plant names or vegetable varieties they might otherwise forget.

Slated.ie

Slated Ireland stand at Bloom 2012

But as a gift idea… having held the packet in my hand and now admiring them snuggled into my veg beds and flower borders, I can most definitely recommend the Slated markers if you’re looking for a smile inducing present for a gardening enthusiast.

Tara mentioned that each slate is chosen carefully before being cut by hand using a traditional slate cutting knife. This ensures the rough look of each marker is maintained. Having watched Mr G throw away several slates when making the odd repair in roofs because he’s accidentally snapped them, I can imagine hand crafting any one of the Slated products takes some skill.

The markers are quite weighty (I should know as I subsequently carried them around Bloom for the entire day in my back pack), meaning that they wont blow away or be plucked out of the soil by birds. They’re simply and naturally bound with hessian and raffia and come complete with a chinagraph pencil that DOESN’T WASH OFF. My plant markers have been tested to the full after two full days of wind and rain here. If you want to change the name white spirit will do the job, but rain, hail or snow wont.

Slated Plant Marker

Slated marker faring better in the wind than my Centaurea!

 

As a gardener I loved this gift.

It’s all so very well scrimping and saving with recycled this and home-made that, but sometimes isn’t it lovely to receive a gift that you admire from afar but wouldn’t dare to dip into the housekeeping for?

Vegetable Garden

Product Review: Wheelbarrow Booster

April 28, 2012

Sometimes you see an ‘invention’ that is such a simple idea you wonder why nobody has thought of it before. This week I tried out a product sent to me by Joe Smith from Greanbase Ltd, a UK company who have come up with the idea of one such item.

The Wheelbarrow Booster does exactly what it says on the box (or slim packet in this case) – it boosts the available space in a wheelbarrow. More suitable for light barrow loads such as leaves, grass clippings, hay or weeds, it increases the wheelbarrow space by at least three times as much, saving journeys to and from the compost heap. It’s a simple design – a sturdy elastic ‘skirt’ slips over the sides of the barrow, whilst the heavy-duty plastic sides sit above the rim giving the additional capacity.

I took the Booster to a community garden project, several members of whom are involved in Tidy Towns (lots of leaf picking going on there!) Their immediate response was “where can we get one?” followed by “how much?” (potential stockists note the order of the questions…) They were impressed!

I then tried it out at home after a day of weeding my scutch grassy fruit beds. I had several piles of weeds waiting to be tidied up at the end of the day and they ALL fitted into one wheelbarrow load (and in case you’re wondering, because of the light load I could easily push the barrow). The community gardeners weren’t alone in their admiration, I was impressed too.

I hope that garden centres in Ireland pick up on the idea of this great little gardeners accessory. It saves time, effort and lots of bending and retails in the UK at £14.99. I got the impression that it was well made and would last if cared for too.

Although more readily available in the UK, us Irish consumers will have to wait to find the Wheelbarrow Booster for sale in shops here (though Joe tells me he’s talking to potential suppliers). If you’d like to get ahead of your neighbours however, you can order by mail order from Greenbase directly or from Amazon and to cater for different tastes it’s available in green and pink (now had I known that Joe 😉 …)

What do you think? Would it save you time in the garden?

Vegetable Garden

Product Review: BecauseWeCare Compostable Seedling Pots

February 25, 2012

rp_Becausewecare-Empty.jpgI was intrigued when I saw this new range of environmentally friendly, fully compostable seed pots ‘becausewecare TM’ available in Ireland. I was therefore delighted to receive a package in the post  from the distributor containing a selection of pots to try out.

Our choices are limited in the gardening world when we try to be ‘green’. Recycled plastic pots do exist (I love the colourful range by Elho)  but when it comes to seed pots we usually have a choice of:

a)  regular plastic pots
b)  peat based pots
c)  home made paper or cardboard pots

So, given our limited choices any initiatives to address this dilemma are worth considering.

The strange looking pots are made from a combination of cornstarch and biodegradable constituents that depending upon  conditions, will start to break down, taking two to six months to decompose in domestic circumstances, sooner in industrial compost.

The legume family of vegetables (peas and beans) don’t generally like their roots to be disturbed so these ‘becausewecareTM’ pots seem the ideal vessel to sow pea seeds into. The seeds can be planted into compost and then the whole pot buried into the garden soil once they’ve germinated and grown on for a while.

Although pea seeds can be sown directly into soil we have to patiently wait for soil temperatures to warm up (10 – 12 degrees). Sowing them into compostable seed pots is therefore a way of starting them earlier, giving them a head start as the seedlings will already be established by the time the weather’s warmer (usually from March onwards).

Seedlings will also have a better chance of surviving a slug attack if they’re planted out with several leaves on as opposed to germinating directly in the garden soil and having their leaves nibbled off as soon as they appear.

I started a tray of peas off in newspaper pots three weeks ago but to give me a succession of peas to harvest, was keen to sow some more today.

When you first pick up the pots they’re very flexible but as soon as they have compost in (I used a Westland Peat Free compost) they firm up nicely. The flexibility of the pots makes them very versatile as instead of sitting rigidly in a tray leaving gaps, I was able to fit more seed pots in than usual, using up all the space in my washed food tray. (The tray makes the pots easier to handle and means you can water the tray rather than the seed pots).

If I wasn’t using my usual cardboard or paper pots, I would definitely consider using these as an alternative. I’ve yet to see how well they compost once they’re buried in the soil but will be keeping a close eye on them over the coming months.

Eco-toxicity tests have been undertaken on these pots and have been shown to have ‘absolutely no harmful effects on soil as part of the degradation process’.

If you don’t want to bury your pots with seedlings in, you can of course sow seeds into them, remove the seedling and transplant as traditionally  done with plastic pots, rinsing the pots off and re-using them. These compostable pots are said to have a shelf life of two years and once they start to disintegrate, can be added to the compost heap along with kitchen scraps.

The “becausewecareTM compostable pots are available from a limited number of garden centres around Ireland (see the website for local stockists), or online from Irish Green Award finalist The Secret Garden Centre at €4.95 for 25 three inch pots.

Vegetable Garden

Heated Propagating Tray – Review

March 24, 2011

I promised a review over on Facebook, of a German store ‘Florabest’ propagator but have been pretty busy, with one thing and another. However, one of my close friends helped to plant the very first seeds into it and is now quizzing me on how they’ve performed!

A heated propagating bench has been on my wish list for years now and although relatively inexpensive to make, as is often the case in our house, whenever the funds are tantalizingly close enough to tease me, they’re suddenly redirected elsewhere. When Mr G came home with the latest brochure advertising a heated propagator for just €17.99 the offer was too good to turn down and we snapped one up.

There’s no thermostatic control but the box claims the temperature of the soil is raised by up to 8°C. There are six mini nursery pots with lids, drainage and air vents and first impression was that it was a sturdy piece of kit. On the 19th February the first seeds were sown and we waited. It didn’t take long before the tomato and chilli pepper seedlings were up and again,very quickly their true leaves appeared indicating they were ready to be moved on into pots of their own.

The only fault I’ve found with it is the temptation to sow too much. However, you quickly discover that if you can stop yourself overfilling it, you can almost have the seeds transplanted and the containers refilled before seeds without hot bottoms have begun to germinate.

There’s a lot of condensation in the pots so it’s a good idea to open the ventilation as soon as the seedling appears, removing the lid altogether once they’re fully up. Also a daily wipe around the clear plastic lid doesn’t go amiss as this will help to prevent fungal disease.

Would I recommend it? Most definitely for a hobby gardener. Most families would only need to sow one or two courgettes plants, a few tomato plants, and a couple of cucumbers. They wouldn’t need a larger propagator. Do I still need heated propagator bench? Why of course.

(NB: wondering why my seedlings are so leggy? I need lights too, and probably some seed compost…)

Lifestyle

Decisions, decisions – Which Computer?

January 17, 2011

After several weeks of having to rely on my trusty iPod Touch to keep in touch with the outside world, we’re back on line. What a relief!

Being without a personal computer for several weeks has been an interesting exercise in helping to figure out priorities.  (From a work point of view I was fortunate that December/early January are quiet months in the Grow Your Own world so business didn’t suffer as much as it could have had it happened later in the year.)

So what happened? Basically our video card/motherboard stopped working and because of the weather/Christmas shopping madness/festivities/expense we buried our heads in the sand and decided to sort it all out later.  Later arrived and we realised that life couldn’t continue for much longer. We needed a computer, but how the heck were we going to sort it out after a Christmas with three children that Santa still visits and the worst Budget I’ve lived through since I’ve been old enough to vote?

So then the quandary began. What do we do? Do we try and get the old Dell PC fixed that has already had a replacement hard drive added to it (the old, unbacked up one died mid-college, along with all our documents and pictures). Do we buy a laptop, which will be a great help to Greenside Up but not so great for the family’s needs? Do we buy a cheap computer AND a laptop? Aaaarrrrrggghhhh! Too many decisions!

And then angels waved their magic wands (in the form of parents – THANK YOU) and offered to help us out. After lots of online research we decided to look for a netbook that we could buy quickly, and order on-line a computer for the office once we were clearer what we wanted.  If there’s anything left in the kitty after that we’ll try and fix up the old pc for the children. Sorted.

So on Friday we called in to Carlow to have a look at netbooks ‘in the flesh’ with the idea of ordering one on-line. Our first port of call was to  Click in Fairgreen Shopping Centre. We were greated by Danny who bowled us over with his expertise and enthusiasm, but without the ‘in your face’ salesiness. Immediately we liked the look of the new Toshiba NB250 that houses a dual core Atom processor (good for netbooks I’m reliably informed). We went off and completed our shopping, had a coffee and a chat. And then went back to Click and bought the Toshiba there and then. At the end of the day it was a great price and good customer service sealed the deal.

So here I am, heaving a huge sigh of relief, back to my blog.  I mentioned priorities earlier and of everything that computers and the Internet offer us, whether it’s accounting, emailing or searching the web for research, it’s the blogging I missed the most. Especially when we were snowed in during early December, and over Christmas when we were cooking all our homegrown vegetables in new and delicious ways.

So I’m back, more eager than ever.  It may take a while for me to figure out how to do everything I want to on the netbook (like loading photos from a camera with a different sized memory card), getting familiar with all my settings, etc (our 12 year old is helping there) but I’m LOVING using it and really looking forward to the year ahead, sharing our experiences and knowledge with you all.

Happy 2011 everyone!