Tag Archives: Radio Live Home and Garden Show

IMO* Green waste

My Sunday mornings with Tony Murrell on Radio Live’s Home and Garden Show have moved to the more civilised hour of 7.45am. This was just as well this morning with our land line down. Because we live in a mobile black spot, I headed out across the property under an umbrella (it was spitting), to the point where I know I can get at least one and sometimes two bars on my mobile phone. I was committed to speak on my concern of the week – green waste and the ubiquitous wheelie bins.

“Go forth and multiply” – the rise and rise of the wheelie bin

When the directive came to “go forth and multiply”, I cannot think that it was ever meant to apply to wheelie bins. But that is the case. We live in the country and for years we took responsibility for our own waste disposal. When the local council extended rubbish collection to many rural areas, it was undoubtedly convenient but it came with a hefty price tag. We now have a wheelie bin for recyclables and an inconveniently shaped bin for glass which needs to be transferred to a wheelbarrow to transport it out to the roadside. But wait, there is to be more. Plans are afoot for another wheelie bin to take the non-recyclable rubbish, another for green waste and I am not sure where the plans are to give us a fifth small bin to sit upon the kitchen bench to take the green waste before we transfer it out to the wheelie bin.  Plastic, plastic and more plastic.

As I said, we live in the country. Everybody I know who lives in the country has some sort of composting system. There is no need to charge us for removing our green waste and increasing its carbon footprint further by transporting it to a central depot.

Wheelie bins of London. I have seen British gardening shows showing strategies for concealing your wheelie bins in little enclosures with “living roofs”

What worries me the most is that this new drive to collect everything from the gate actually fosters an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. And these great thunking wheelie bins encourage people to put yet more rubbish out. Councils such as ours can espouse “zero waste by 2040” sentiments all they like, but these are aspirational only when their actions are geared to hoping residents will sort their rubbish at home before they wheel it out for collection. It is still predicated on ratepayers paying a levy for somebody else to cart away their rubbish and to deal with it. The feel good factor without actually achieving much at all.

Wheelie bins of Coogee to the right

Our Sydney daughter lives in a third floor apartment and has a worm farm. She alerted me to Compost Revolution, an organisation that works with Sydney councils to encourage residents to take responsibility for their own green waste and to deal with it at home. Attend a two hour course and you get either a free or heavily subsidised composting option – Bokashi, worm farm or bin, whichever is best suited to your circumstances. That is a constructive model that gets ‘buy-in’ from participants and changes long term behaviour. Green waste can account for around half of household waste. So it is a huge reduction in volume if it can be dealt with on the home site and a big reduction in carbon footprint if it is not being carted away for recycling. It is interesting that Compost Revolution appears to have worked on solutions applicable to high density urban living.

Centralised waste collection in Tivoli

I was impressed by the European models I saw of centralised collection points where people sorted to the appropriate bins as they dropped off their rubbish. In a densely populated, old town like Tivoli, individual household collection would be near impossible. These collection points were emptied each day and the area swept. There was nothing offensive about them, even in very hot weather. Everything about this model encourages a reduction in volume and individual responsibility.

Rural waste collection in Camembert, France

Rubbish disposal, New Zild style, near where I live. 

In France near Camembert was this smart and tidy collection point for community refuse. It remained tidy for the several days we stayed nearby. Sometimes I despair at home. Prior to the collection of our refuse from the gate, Council tried a local collection point down the road from us. People treated it like a roadside tip. Literally. It was revolting. Don’t worry about how the system works. Just hiff your rubbish out from your vehicle whenever you want. Sometimes we seem so backward and uncivilised in this country I love and never more so than on household rubbish. Out of sight, out of mind.

Don’t, just don’t pile up your lawn clippings around the street trees. This is likely to kill them. Mount Eden, Auckland

At the very least, next time you replace your lawnmower, get a mulcher mower. It chomps the clippings so finely that they reintegrate with the turf. This means you do not need to collect them and then find some means of disposing of them. It also means you never have to feed your lawn because you are not stripping all the nutrients off. And look at other ways you can deal with the majority of your green waste on site rather than paying somebody else to remove it and to take responsibility for your waste. It matters.

Should you wish to do a bit of DIY compost, I have in the past posted step by step instructions on


*IMO – in my opinion. The Radio Live Home and Garden Show opinion pieces each Sunday may translate to a new series of posts here.

Garden diary, January 31, 2017. Radio, geckos, summer flowers and a tour in the rain.

img_20170129_064707A quick trip to Auckland at the weekend saw me rushing hither and yon but also enabled a face to face conversation with Tony Murrell in the studio at Radio Live. Usually we do these by phone. It is at the unseemly hour of 6.30am each Sunday morning so I had to rise even earlier to get to the studio. These conversations are remarkably complex for the early hour but both Tony and I are enjoying them enormously. Last Sunday it was partly about taking inspiration from other people’s gardens and not falling into the trap of thinking that recreating these ideas at home means using their blueprint, often from another climate, another country and another time. The link is here if you want to listen – it is about 25 minutes of solid gardening discussion.

img_3767We did not see Glenys, our resident gecko, last year so were thrilled to spot her again last week. But this one is not Glenys. It is considerably smaller so our best guess is that she is the daughter of Glenys. Whether the mother is still around and we just haven’t spotted her remains unknown but having a smaller specimen this year suggests we now have a breeding population. Why do I use the female gender? Because those more knowledgeable about herpetology tell us that this is the behaviour of pregnant geckos, incubating their young. These reptiles can disappear in a flash if they are spooked so it takes quiet movements to sneak up to see. The safe haven appears to be in the fissures of the tree, beneath the bark.

img_3770The UK gardening tour I mentioned last week has done been and gorn. It rained, steadily, when they arrived which was disappointing but we moved them all indoors for tea and cakes and the rain stopped a few minutes into the walk around the garden. While hosting these tours takes a bit of work and a surprisingly large amount of mental energy, the visitors often repay the efforts in more than money.  Being able to share the garden with appreciative visitors who have a fairly high degree of knowledge themselves – albeit with an entirely different range of plants – is what it is all about really. We don’t garden on this scale just for ourselves and it can be extremely affirming to share it with a group like this one. I have to report that the lilies in the garden did not flower as hoped but we have enough lilies planted “out the back” as we say for me to pick an impressive display for vases indoors and they did not go unnoticed.

img_3900img_3902Also putting on the very best display we have ever seen here is Tecomanthe venusta.  Other plants here may be more floriferous. Indeed there are some years that T. venusta doesn’t actually flower at all, but it is lovely when it does.

img_3784Finally, a few snapshots of summer flowers I liked this weekend. I called in to Joy Plants to check out their perennials and the kniphofia in the gardens were looking marvellous.



There are times we get distinctly sniffy about both agapanthus and red hot pokers in this country but look at this scene – it was simple but lovely.


Auckland Botanic Gardens have some excellent, large scale perennial plantings which are well worth a visit at this time of the year. This yellow achillea with a compact, very dark foliaged dahlia which is opening yellow flowers was a striking combination.

Fingers crossed here for some more sun this week and it really would be awfully nice if the temperature rose a few degrees more so we were in the mid twenties, rather than barely breaking into the early twenties.