Monday, December 29, 2008

sky enjoys a strawberry

home grown

Monday, December 22, 2008

garden update

Two months after planting the garden I created with the first batch of compost I made, we have lettuce, Swiss chard, two types of parsley, basil, cucumber, aloe, two types of peppers, oregano, thyme, and strawberries. We are waiting for the papaya and tomatoes to ripen. I just planted more lettuce. Pretty cool in December.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

essay submitted

Tonight I submitted a 500 word essay for this upcoming book: Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming AN ONLINE ANTHOLOGY
I also sent in several photographs of the Maui landscape to be considered. I will let you know if they choose to use my work.
The American outdoors has been central to some of this country's greatest books, from Henry David Thoreau's The Maine Woods to Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi. Writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Peter Matthiessen, and E.O. Wilson have inspired us to make positive changes in our lives with their wisdom and words about our lands, geographical riches, and wildlife.

Now it's time for new voices to inspire us to fight the dangers of global warming.
Your voices.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and Penguin Classics -- along with bookstores across the country -- are encouraging all aspiring writers and photographers to submit their personal stories and images about global warming for publication in a new online book, to be published in 2009, Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming.

The submission process is open to anyone in the United States through November 15, 2008. A panel of judges will select the top essays and photographs to be included in the book. Writers and photographers whose submissions are selected for publication will receive a limited edition printed copy of the book and will be invited to participate in book promotion activities.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

back to the simple life

I am taking advantage of the heat and sun where we live. I am loving the entire experience of drying clothes on the line -- from the smell of freshly washed damp clothes, to hanging them, to taking them down, (they are dry within a few hours),to knowing I am not putting more CO2 into the air, to looking forward to the savings on our upcoming electric bill (which by the way, like in many places, the rates have gone up!)

I do put a few pieces once dried that get stiff into the dryer for a few minutes. (jeans and older towels). But the new towels I just got at Costco (Kirkland brand) are so fluffy after being line dried, that they need no dryer time. I am delighted with this. And clothes will last longer without being dried in the dryer. Thanks Mr. Sun!

This is a recent article from, a website designed to provide information about how to offset CO2 levels. Click on the link below to get to their website:

Climate change and global warming FAQ

October 2008

Carbon Dioxide, Global Warming & You

Humanity is facing one its biggest challenges - global warming induced climate change. One of the main offenders contributing to rapidly increasing temperature isn't carbon itself, it's increased carbon dioxide (C02) emissions, methane and deforestation.
Trees ingest carbon dioxide and turn it into carbon which they store - the problem is that there's simply not enough trees left to deal with the massive carbon load we put on our ecosystem.

Our oceans are increasingly bearing the strain of absorbing carbon dioxide, which is making them acidic.

As a part of the battle to help reduce global warming, we need to reduce general consumption and to plant more trees to take carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it into plain old carbon - to carbonify C02! We also need to implement more in the way of renewable energy projects.

... prevention is better than cure, so there's also plenty we can do to lessen the amount of C02 that gets into the air in the first place.
What human activities create carbon dioxide emissions?

With the majority of us still sourcing our power via fossil fuels; the scope of our activities that generate carbon dioxide is massive; for example:

Driving your car
Switching on a light
Watching TV
Heating and cooling your house

In fact, most human activity generates carbon dioxide - even breathing. While we can't stop or reduce that, there are other ways we can start lessening our carbon footprint.
What can I do to lessen my carbon impact on the environment?

Carbonify is powered by wind & solar energy via green tag offsets!- About Carbonify -
Latest Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels:383.09 parts/millionTrend : rising read more

Made in Australia, Greening the world!Copyright (c) Michael Bloch and
_uacct = "UA-2648410-2";

Monday, October 20, 2008

another sale

This Thursday I am hosting another Green Mama sale at our house. It's from 10 - 1:30. I am accepting donations, and again, they are pouring in!

This time the money raised is going to benefit Mother Miracle school, a school in India for very poor children. It was founded a few years ago and we have been sponsoring kids since its inception. It was started by this amazing American couple, who decided to sell everything they had and move to India and devote the rest of their life to helping poor children. The school has over 170 kids now. Their intention is to help their students get the best education they can offer. They also want to help their older students get into college, so they can reach their dreams and then in turn help their families break out of the poverty cycle. Pictured above are two of their top students, with our son, both of whom want to be doctors. These teenage girls are now helping teach the younger children. We got to meet them this summer when the founders brought them to America. They were so sweet, humble, appreciative and very bright girls. We really enjoyed them.

This is the link to their school.

Here I am pictured with the founders of Mother Miracle, Patrick and Shahla

The leftover items from this week's sale are going to our local shelter for women and children. Last time we had a truckload. They were also very appreciative, and the items were very much needed, especially bedding.

Please spread the word! We also need donations of food for the shelter (cans, bags of rice, etc.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

more on tulsi

A friend and I worked last weekend at her tulsi garden to harvest the plants and pluck leaves. My girls also got in on the action and helped. We are going to have the leaves dried and then made into tinctures and tea to be sold on the mainland.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

environmental defense action fund

Below are two links and some excerpts from an email I received today from the Environmental Defense Action Fund.

I thought the email made sense. Everyone is worried about the economy, and we obvious should be. But now, more than ever in history, we should also be concerned about the future of our planet.

"We cannot solve our economic crisis without solving our energy crisis and we cannot responsibly solve our energy crisis without stopping global warming.

Our environmental and economic future is in our hands. We must keep the pressure on our federal candidates to support real action to stop global warming and unleash our green energy future.
It's up to us to make sure that the green energy economy and global warming are front and center in voter's minds when they go to the polls on November 4.

Our 2009 Green Energy Agenda – the strategic principals supporting our 2009 Battle Plan which show how a strong economy and our clean energy future are closely intertwined.
Jargon Watch – a jargon glossary that will help decode greenwashing in political speeches and debates."

The following will be helpful for voters concerned with this issue.

"The following timeline documents America's global warming inaction during the Bush administration. As the timeline makes clear, we are running out of time to solve this urgent environmental threat."

Please pass this on...

happy windmills...there will be many more

let's get serious about reusable bags

Some staggering facts on the PLASTIC BAG issue.

*The United states Environmental Protection agency says that somewhere between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. - National Geographic News, 2003

*Less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled!!!!!!!!! It costs more to recycle a plastic bag than to produce a new one. - Christian Science Monitor Newspaper

*In case you don't find the above paper scientific enough - An article I found on this topic from the Sierra Club states - "San Francisco is considering a 17 cent surcharge on both plastic bags and paper bags at major supermarkets to encourage shoppers to use their own cloth bags. A study by the City of San Francisco determined that 17 cents is what it costs to handle each discarded plastic bag." - Kay Bushnell, Sierra Club

*It costs $4000 to process and recycle a ton of plastic bags which can be sold on the commodities market for $32!!! - Jared Blumenfeld, Director of San Francisco Department of the Environment

A friend sent me this link about plastic bags this summer.
It was heart wrenching for me to watch. I realized how many plastic bags we, as a family, mindlessly use, how cashiers hand them over with very little thought. Once I realized how expensive it is to recycle them, I decided to do my part, and made a vow to stop using plastic bags, to stop taking plastic bags for merchandise from stores, and to start using reusable bags. I have about 20 reusables. I got them at Whole Foods Market in California and Wegmans in N.Y. They are everywhere, and usually only cost a dollar or so. I also found some smaller cloth bags to use for produce and bulk products at an ashram in California last year. They were a dollar each. I bought about 20 and now I wish I had bought double that. They are not available online. However I have looked online and there are plenty of places to buy reusable bags in all shapes and sizes. Here are two places to look into:

By the way, the same ashram was selling handmade products made from woven plastic this summer. (mostly handbags and baskets). People all over the country in this community are getting into the idea of using less, and recycling as much plastic as possible into usable items.

Now I am in the habit of using our new bags whenever we shop -- and I have gotten my sweet husband (Green Papa I call him) also in the habit. I have to remember to put the bags in our cars once we empty them. And sometimes once I am in a store if I forget the bags I have to go back to my car to retrieve them. But it's no biggie.

These bags I have are far sturdier than paper, and especially plastic.
We also have stopped using plastic bags for garbage in the house. We use paper in the kitchen and we don't line small trash cans anymore with plastic. We have considerably less waste each week. We compost so much now, and we have also cut down in buying products with excess packaging. We hardly buy plastic bottles anymore. Most of our recycling is glass and some is metal cans. We also have a lot of paper and cardboard, which is eventually shredded and helps make compost that is resold on our island. I also am composting our dryer lint and some of our paper. It feels so great to have so little waste each week to bring to the curb. Our family of five has less than most of our neighbors with smaller households.

Also our girls have new teachers this year and we have volunteered to recycle their paper from school, so each Friday they are sent home with a bag of paper for us to sort.

Every little bit each of us does makes a difference. The less we pollute the earth, the healthier it will be for all of us. Please forward this information to people who you think will care.

Here is is again:

Monday, October 6, 2008

don't forget to dream

Write them down. They happen when you do that.

Notice the unique handmade letters in the above word. Stay tuned for my idea of making letters and wreaths from, not grapevines, but passionfruit vines.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

first compost batch

This is beautiful, rich compost! Now I will use this to begin a small veggie garden. More is to come. That's the great thing about compost. You can always use more, and you can constantly make more.

What I learned: Kitchen scraps naturally are wet. You don't need to add much water to keep compost moist. In fact I needed to add a lot of dry green waste (in our case grass clippings) to make it just the right balance. You just have to experiment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

preparing for the tulsi

This week I drove to a rural town to the home of my friends Udeya and Andrew. There we began to prepare the garden bed for the future tulsi garden. We are going to try for a square patch, pictured in progress, below. We were lucky to have help from Susie, also pictured below. Also Udeya's friend Stefan came with a trailer of compost which we were able to dump. I loved being out in nature and digging in the dirt. I have to admit, I am most at home in that environment. By the time I had to leave most of the entire garden was cleared, and the compost had begun to be spread...

Susie, the angel, who drove many hours to help us.

Udeya and I shoveling compost into the garden

Udeya displays a new "tropical" version of tulsi that she discovered. If we can get this to grow on her property we will be set. Apparently, it grows very tall like a bush, propagates quite easily, and if this works we won't seed to start from seed! The seeds, though very cute, are a tad persnickety.

generous hosts of the tulsi garden, Andrew and Udeya

Atticus, age 3, helps his mom Susie

Monday, September 15, 2008

the tulsi sprouts!

This is day three. So exciting, and more and more are coming. This is my first experience doing something by seed. I have a little nursery in the back yard. I love it!


The first Green Mama Sale/Exchange went really well. I gave all of our shoppers a free reusable shopping bag. We gathered some food, raised some money, and now have a TON of stuff to bring to the shelter. Lots of toys, books, clothing for kids of all ages, and their moms. We also got a whole bunch of bedding - sheets, comforters, pillows. Now to get in touch with them and arrange for delivery.

I received donations from about ten people, and that was plenty! So anyone reading this -- it really isn't hard to find ten friends to clean out their stuff. Just make sure you ask for items in good shape. I don't want to donate stained clothing. Luckily I received items that fit this category.

Thanks to everyone for your help and care for our community, especially Aniko for helping me set up, and run the sale.

Monday, September 8, 2008


"I only went out for a walk
and finally concluded to
stay out till sundown, for
going out, I found I was
really going in."
- John Muir

Friday, September 5, 2008


Next week I am hosting the first of what I hope to be several green activities in my small town. I am having a children's items sale/exchange at my house on Wednesday Sept 10. We will be meeting for a few hours in the morning. I am encouraging people to bring gently used items separated into 2 categories: that which people want to donate or trade and that which people want to sell. I am asking people to price things ahead of time. I will also put out a box for monetary donations. I have also asked for linens, as it is also for a charity.

The donated items, any money donations, and the linens will all go to our local women's shelter. I have spoken with them and they are very grateful. The last I heard there were 12 children there.

I'm excited. There is a fair amount of enthusiasm in my community to come to this, to help, or to donate items. I hope to spread the idea and would love to see this as an island wide happening, and see other moms inspired to organize these. I also am imagining designing a tee shirt that says "Green Mama" and selling these too, eventually. I am working on that design.

When I told a friend about this idea she was really enthusiastic. She expressed her desire to go to the shelter and do birthday parties once a month for kids who are there. She was reminiscing about how when she was a child, her mom made such a big deal about birthdays, and how sad it would be for kids to be in that situation on their birthdays.

One idea that comes from love can sometimes ripple into more and more loving ideas.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

rob report - big on bamboo

This was written by my friend, Rob Parsons. For those of you who might just skim it, I have bolded releveant details that gave me food for thought.

Rob Report
Big on Bamboo
This could be the crop of Maui's future
by Rob Parsons
May 8, 2008

Can you believe we import $50 million of this stuff yearly?

Outside my Haiku window is a stand of golden bamboo, catching the morning sunlight and swaying in the trade winds. From time to time I have selectively cut a few pieces of different sizes for a variety of purposes: fruit picker, coconut harvesting long-handled saw, curtain rods, garden plant stakes, and to hoist decorative flags.

On a recent trip to Bali, I noticed bamboo used for construction scaffolding, framing, railings, furniture, fences, flooring, ladders and more. I saw an entire shade house covering an acre of organic vegetables constructed entirely with bamboo.

So why not grow this versatile crop on Maui? While it grows here vigorously, and even invasively in many locations, it does not enjoy the wide array of uses that make it one of the world's most useful resources.

At least, not yet.

Within the next year, a Kipahulu grower will begin to harvest two-inch to three-inch diameter poles of bamboo, among more than 40 varieties planted over the past several years. Rich von Wellsheim of Whispering Winds Bamboo already has achieved a measure of success with nursery sales of bamboo varietals. Beyond that, he envisions a "culture of bamboo" with opportunities to provide food, shelter, protect our soils and watersheds and add more jobs to our local economy.

In a time when many conversations are turning to self-sufficiency, sustainability and revitalizing our economy, growing bamboo seems to outshine the status quo of importing virtually all of our building materials, and more than 90 percent of our food and energy needs. Bamboo is actually a family of plants in the grass family, found in both tropical and temperate climates, and native to all continents except Europe and Antarctica.

Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world, with rates of three to four feet a day documented under ideal soil and climate conditions. Mature bamboo, though light weight, has a tensile strength greater than steel, and thus is prized for housing construction, bridges, and even as a substitute for rebar in concrete.

Bamboo shoots of many varieties are prized in Asian cooking, though others are bitter or even toxic. It's also the primary diet of China's Giant Panda, a docile vegetarian whose numbers have dwindled from lost habitat in a country that once had 40 percent of its primary forest standing in bamboo. Growing populations in many other countries means that demand can outstrip available resources, leading to over-harvesting.

Bamboo is trendy today, and expensive. The United States has a huge trade deficit in bamboo, importing $50 million worth of products yearly. It's used in durable and attractive flooring, paneling, curtains, musical instruments and even textiles for clothing. As a source for papermaking, bamboo out-yields hardwoods six to one.

Von Wellsheim cautions that bamboo can indeed be invasive, but that Whispering Winds cultivates only non-invasive "clumping" varieties. But upon reaching maturity, they will be selectively harvested and are never clear-cut like hardwoods.

The long-term plan is for 20 acres of bamboo, including ornamental, edible and timber quality varieties, inter-planted with nitrogen-fixing hardwoods. The 175-acre property, just below the Kipahulu Bioreserve portion of Haleakala National Park, also is the site of 40 acres of tropical hardwoods, planted by the State Division of Forestry and Wildlife, part of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Another 80 acres will be gradually cleared and restored with native Hawaiian plants.

Von Wellsheim also succeeded in gaining acceptance from the Maui Planning Department of his overall farm plan. That means they are going ahead with construction of farm worker dwellings, creating both housing and jobs in rural Kipahulu.

One of bamboo's attributes is the ability to produce up to a third more oxygen than trees, meaning it's one of the best crops in the world for sequestering the carbon dioxide emissions produced by our industrial society and internal combustion engines. Thus, aforestation projects with bamboo could be eligible for carbon credits, offsetting emission from other sources while we make the slow transition away from burning fossil fuels.

Another way bamboo can assist in environmental restoration is through holding soil in place and preventing erosion. It does well on steeper slopes, reducing runoff, and enriches poor soil with its own nutrient rich leaf litter, helping to restore depleted topsoil.

Once planted, there isn't a need to dig it up and replant every couple years, making it an attractive replacement candidate for water-thirsty sugar cane, still grown on some 36,000 acres in Central Maui. Planting bamboo could keep the fields green, provide more biomass per acre, prevent soil loss from wind erosion when mass acreage is tilled, and bring an end to burning, while providing viable economic opportunities for self-sufficiency.

Bamboo living structures has been the focus of Bamboo Technologies, founded by architect David Sands and builder/designer Jeffree Trudeau. They specialize in uniquely designed, pre-fabricated homes built to exacting factory standards in Vietnam, then disassembled into wall panels for shipping. Over a hundred structures have been assembled in Hawai'i and the Caribbean by Bamboo Living, sister company of Bamboo Technologies.

"Tre Gai" bamboo is extremely hardy and strong, with poles three inches to four inches in diameter, and was the first species to begin forest regeneration after Agent Orange defoliation during the Vietnam War. Twenty-nine provinces in Vietnam grow bamboo for domestic use and export.

Trudeau and Sands pioneered a treatment process with a vacuum pressured bath in a salt (boric) solution. The result changes the cellular structure from sugars and starches, so beetles no longer are attracted to it. Termites generally aren't a problem.

A typical 2,500-square-foot home made of Douglas Fir two-by-fours requires an acre's worth of trees, and twenty five years to mature. Built with bamboo, the same acre could provide necessary materials in seven years. Sands' custom designs incorporate bamboo structural poles where four-by-fours would go in conventional construction.

Sam Small lives in a bamboo home on Pi'iholo Road in Olinda, and is a Vice President for Developing Markets for Bamboo Living. "Everyone who walks in my house comments on how relaxing and comfortable they feel here," he says.

Small says his main structure, a 30-foot round (actually 12-sided) pavilion with vaulted roofs and a covered lanai, was assembled in just three days. Finish work, plumbing, electrical, caulking, and other details may take another four to six weeks.

But the basic covered, waterproof structure goes up extremely quickly, making it very useful if disaster relief is needed. But their bamboo homes are also strong, and have stood up to hurricanes.

Their certification process with the International Building Commission (IBC) has been arduous and expensive. The IBC certifies building materials per species, and location where they are grown, which means that bamboo grown here in Hawai'i would have to go through rigorous testing and lengthy permitting to meet building code standards.

Jericho Stringer of Yellow Seed Bamboo Nursery in Haiku works with Steel Timber Bamboo to import Guadua Angustifolia from Columbia. Their pre-treated, non-toxic poles are available for a number of construction uses. Yellow Seed also offers many varieties of nursery stock, non-clumping bamboo. Like Whispering Winds, they place an emphasis on sustainable local agriculture.

Yellow Seed states that they use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, opting for bone meal, azomite and worm castings for nutrients and wood chip mulching to add organic matter and increase soil microbial life. Their two-acre nursery, near the corner of Hana Highway and West Kuiaha Road, is open Monday through Friday.

Von Wellsheim sees bamboo as a viable crop throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Once certified, it could provide a myriad of building material applications, from carports to gazebos, and from rafters to main structural supports. When the "culture of bamboo" is established, he writes, people will be able to "grow their own house" in just five years.

Bamboo might even provide an innovative new way of looking at affordable housing in Hawai'i, as well. Sounds too good to pass up.

For more information:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I received this in an email recently from Greenfriends:

Bamboo Facts and Environmental Benefits

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet! Some species can grow more then 3 ft. a day, and can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-50 years for most softwoods and hardwoods. Almost 1 million acres of forests are lost each week worldwide to deforestation. Bamboo's quick growing nature and versatility as a substitute for hardwoods offers a chance to drastically reduce that figure and protect the forests that we have left.

Bamboo can help mitigate global warming. Bamboo absorbs up to five times more carbon dioxide, and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than an equivalent stand of trees. It has been calculated that some bamboo plantations are able to capture 17 metric tons of carbon per hector per year. According to experts, bamboo could be the fastest and least expensive way to offset CO2 emissions (by sequestering atmospheric carbon) while new systems of energy and conservation are developed.

Bamboo is an ideal replacement for wood due to its incredible strength, regenerative properties, and natural beauty. In structural engineering tests, bamboo has a higher compressive strength than many mixtures of concrete, a higher tensile strength than most types of steel, and a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite. Bamboo has been used as the main building material for the majority of the world for thousands of years. There are many examples of buildings constructed entirely of bamboo, which are now several hundred years old. Due to its strength and flexibility, bamboo is considered ideal earthquake proof building material.

Bamboo can be harvested and replenished with virtually no impact to the environment. Bamboo can be selectively harvested annually or continuously re-harvested every 3-5 years. When it is harvested, it will grow a new shoot from its extensive root system with no need for additional planting or cultivation. During the time it takes to regenerate, the bamboo plant's root system stays intact so topsoil is held in place and erosion is prevented. One bamboo clump can produce 200 poles in the five years it takes one tree to reach maturity. Because of its dense litter on the forest floor, it actually protects, enriches and fertilizes the topsoil over time, providing healthy agricultural lands for future generations.

There are over 1200 species of bamboo on the earth. This diversity makes bamboo adaptable to a wide range of climates. Bamboo can grow in arid regions where droughts cause other crops to fail; and since the roots are left in place after harvesting, it helps to preserve vital moisture in the soil. From low wetlands to higher elevations in the mountains, bamboo's versatility helps it to thrive. And perhaps its most important adaptive quality is its ability to be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agriculture techniques.

Bamboo is an ideal soil conservation element. Because of its wide-spread root system and large canopy, bamboo greatly reduces rain runoff, prevents massive soil erosion and keeps twice as much water in the watershed. Its anti-erosion properties hold the soil together along fragile riverbanks, deforested areas, and in places prone to earthquakes and mudslides. Bamboo also helps mitigate water pollution due to its ability to take up excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and heavy metals. This ability could provide a solution for processing excess nutrients contained in wastewater from manufacturing, intensive livestock farming, and sewage treatment facilities.

No fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are needed to grow bamboo. Unlike most cash crops, bamboo requires no agricultural chemicals to thrive. Unlike cotton, which is one of the most intensely sprayed crops in the world and rapidly depletes the nutrients in the soil, bamboo sequesters nitrogen and cultivation does not add chemicals to the environment. Bamboo is rarely attacked by pests or infected by pathogens as bamboo contains a natural antibacterial agent and pesticide known as "Bamboo Kun". The bamboo kun is also maintained when bamboo is transformed into fabric, making it naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and odor resistant.
Bamboo is a livelihood for many poor rural communities. Bamboo plantations do not drain the resources of these communities or expose the workers and the environment to harmful chemicals. Bamboo and its related industries already provide income, food, and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide. In under-developed countries, bamboo production and the manufacturing of bamboo products provides job opportunities in areas that desperately need social and economic stability, without degrading the environment.

Bamboo is a high-yield, renewable natural resource for agro-forestry products. After harvesting, virtually every part of the plant is used to make a wide variety of products. Bamboo is being used for wall paneling, floor tiles, bamboo pulp for paper making, briquettes for fuel, raw material for housing construction, and rebar for reinforced concrete beams. It is used in scaffolding, food, utensils, arts and crafts, furniture, instruments, clothing and more.

Bamboo is an ancient medicine and has been used for centuries in Ayurveda and Chinese acupuncture. The powdered hardened secretion from bamboo is used internally to treat asthma and coughs. In China, ingredients from the root of the black bamboo help treat kidney disease. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal disease and cancer. Sap is said to reduce fever and ash will cure prickly heat. Current research points to bamboo's potential in a number of medicinal uses.

Bamboo shoots as a food source provide nutrition for millions of people worldwide. In Japan, the antioxidant properties of pulverized bamboo bark prevent bacterial growth and are used as a natural food preservative. Bamboo "litter" makes fodder for animals and food for fish.

Environmental Bamboo Foundation
P.O. Box 196
Ubud 80571, Bali, Indonesia
Telephone: 62-361-974-027
Fax: 62-361-974-029
Ong, C, 2006 Can Bamboo Replace Thirsty Trees? 
C4 carbon fixation
Urban Bamboo Farms – winners of Chicago sustainable awards
Ong, C, A , 2004 Giant Solution to a Giant Problem
International Network for Bamboo and Rattan
Rayne-Oakes, S & SRO, 2007, S4 Sustainability Trends in Fashion
Bamboo, FAO,
Why Bamboo?
Bamboo Farms for Carbon and Methane Sequestration, Biodiversity, Project for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emission


I have begun a project, and it is in the infancy stage. I was asked by a friend, who is part of an organization called Greenfriends, to help her with this. She gave me a packet of seeds and asked me to get them started. Eventually she wants to have about 3/4 acre of this plant on her property. She says she has the perfect climate, and once the plants get going they will grow like weeds. I should know. I had one in my yard and I hardly cared for it, but it thrived.

The plant is tulsi, or holy basil. It is the most common herb grown in India. Tulsi leaves and seeds have numerous medicinal properties. My friend and I are involved in a humanitarian organization that raises money for charity by selling various products. One of the products is tulsi teas and tinctures. They can't keep up with demand for this particular product. They grow it mostly in California, where there is a shorter growing season than where we live. So for all of those reasons it seems like this is meant to be the first Green Mama project.

My trays ready for planting. I have gotten different advice as how to start. I know the tiny seeds need to be kept wet at all times. I am trying various measures, and now have most of them on trays or plates, covered with paper towels that I am keeping moist. They are supposed to sprout in a week or so. I do have one row planted in soil on the above pictured shelf. Keeping these moist is tricky in the heat here.

Greenfriends -

Their tulsi project, with a slideshow -

There is much on the internet about tulsi. Sometimes it is spelled "tulasi."

The tulsi or
holy basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition and is worshipped in the morning and evening by Hindus at large. The holy basil is an herbal remedy for a lot of common ailments. Here're top fifteen medicinal uses of tulsi.

1. Healing Power: The tulsi plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves are a nerve tonic and also sharpen memory. They promote the removal of the catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. The leaves strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration. The seed of the plant are mucilaginous.
2. Fever & Common Cold: The leaves of basil are specific for many fevers. During the rainy season, when malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent, tender leaves, boiled with tea, act as preventive against theses diseases. In case of acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a liter of water and mixed with sugar and milk brings down the temperature. The juice of tulsi leaves can be used to bring down fever. Extract of tulsi leaves in fresh water should be given every 2 to 3 hours. In between one can keep giving sips of cold water. In children, it is every effective in bringing down the temperature.
3. Coughs: Tulsi is an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma. Chewing tulsi leaves relieves cold and flu.
4. Sore Throat: Water boiled with basil leaves can be taken as drink in case of sore throat. This water can also be used as a gargle.
5. Respiratory Disorder: The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorder. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. A decoction of the leaves, cloves and common salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza. They should be boiled in half a liter of water till only half the water is left and add then taken.
6. Kidney Stone: Basil has strengthening effect on the kidney. In case of renal stone the juice of basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6 months it will expel them via the urinary tract.
7. Heart Disorder: Basil has a beneficial effect in cardiac disease and the weakness resulting from them. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.
8. Children's Ailments: Common pediatric problems like cough cold, fever, diarrhea and vomiting respond favorably to the juice of basil leaves. If pustules of chicken pox delay their appearance, basil leaves taken with saffron will hasten them.
9. Stress: Basil leaves are regarded as an 'adaptogen' or anti-stress agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of basil, twice a day, to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common elements.
10. Mouth Infections: The leaves are quite effective for the ulcer and infections in the mouth. A few leaves chewed will cure these conditions.
11. Insect Bites: The herb is a prophylactic or preventive and curative for insect stings or bites. A teaspoonful of the juice of the leaves is taken and is repeated after a few hours. Fresh juice must also be applied to the affected parts. A paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches.
12. Skin Disorders: Applied locally, basil juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. It has also been tried successfully by some naturopaths in the treatment of leucoderma.
13. Teeth Disorder: The herb is useful in teeth disorders. Its leaves, dried in the sun and powdered, can be used for brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustered oil to make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums. It is also useful in pyorrhea and other teeth disorders.
14. Headaches: Basil makes a good medicine for headache. A decoction of the leaves can be given for this disorder. Pounded leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat, headache, and for providing coolness in general.
15. Eye Disorders: Basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of black basil juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Yes, that's dirt all over me!

Composting is simple. My uncle once said if you raked a huge pile of leaves and left them out in the elements, eventually you would have great compost. He was right. For years I have been saving my grass clippings in a pile. Left untouched, it rots and when I lift up a segment, it is hot to the touch. This is from the decomposing of the organic matter. There is no odor beyond what soil smells like when composting is done right.

I got a new tumbler composter at the end of the summer and I am very excited. It's an Achla Design brand. I researched many brands and designs this summer, looked into shipping onto our tiny island, (almost the cost of the composter) and ultimately chose this one because it was the only one for sale here. I got it at good old Ace Hardware -- paid $229. I wanted something that had no holes for rodents to enter, and something that I could spin. (I have a small property - less than 1/2 acre and I don't want to attract rodents. I have found that a regular compost pile with kitchen scraps seemed to bring little mice into my house in a way that this isn't.)

It's a great product, and very easy to use. I am now composting almost all of our organic kitchen scraps, (fruits, veggies, eggshells) the small amount of grass we get from our lawn being mowed, shredded paper, green waste from the garden, and even dryer lint! I have had it going for a few weeks, and will be getting a batch of compost soon. For anyone who has never done this, it's REALLY easy. The trick is to get the right amount of wet and dry ingredients, adding a bit of water when necessary, and "turning" the compost, which brings air into it and helps with decomposition of organic matter. In my case the compost is turned by spinning the container, which is connected to a metal frame.

My composter is pictured behind me. I have begun clearing out an overgrown tropical plant in the corner of our property. It's a big job...and I am trying to get some help. I'll be lucky to find someone...or slowly I will plug away. It's a messy job. But nothing Green Mama can't handle...or Green Mama and a couple of guys!

Monday, August 18, 2008

let me introduce myself...

Green Mama with Smoky, Tehachapi, California

I had the thought this summer of starting a blog called "Green Mama" - a way to share my thoughts, ideas, and the wisdom about caring for the environment. I have been a wife and mother for twelve years. During this time I have become increasingly interested in living a more sustainable, responsible, "green" life. You hear that word a lot now. In this blog I hope to inspire people to think, reflect, share ideas, discuss issues, pass on info to their children, and consider how we can all live more in harmony with nature, live more consciously, and at the same time have fun.

I am in no way the expert. In fact, I am a novice. But I believe that if something really inspires you, it's important to follow that thread. Doing just that has led me to so many blessings and wonderful opportunities in my life.

Today I bought a bag of potting soil from the local nursery for a project I am about to embark on. Carrying it to my back yard, I got a whiff. I had forgotten how much I love the smell of potting soil. So I guess you could say that I am a gardening nut.

I enjoyed holding this chicken for this photo, which was a first for me. I have always felt that I am a part of nature - no more, no less than any creature, except that hopefully I use my free will with some semblance of intelligence as I walk through my life on this beautiful planet.

I have always been a "nature" person. As a child I loved being outdoors - playing in the mud whenever I could get away with it, picking up worms, and caterpillars, climbing our gigantic cherry trees and picking buckets of the juicy, red fruit, picking black raspberries from bushes in the woods right across our street until my fingers were stained for days, gathering wildflowers in the surrounding meadows for bouquets for my mother.

I grew up in a small U.S. eastern town, out in the country, surrounded by working farms, cow pastures, and cornfields. The small produce stand with the coffee can honor system of payment was a common sight in my neighborhood.

When I was first married and living in the western U.S., I discovered a love of gardening. I must have absorbed something from my upbringing, being surrounded by avid gardeners. Both of my grandfathers had beautiful gardens. I can still remember my dad's father's peony bushes in his small city lot, with the enormous fragrant pink blossoms. He was so proud of them. Every time we went to visit he was always outside in his garden. And you should see my mom's gardens - like something out of one of those fancy magazines. But she makes it look so easy.

I now live in a small beach town in the tropics. My husband and I are raising our three children here. Over the years I have gained knowledge about living in harmony with nature. Recently I have been examining the impact that I have, just by living my life, which includes so much consumption. I realize that I am ready to give something back.

Thanks for reading,
Green Mama