Posts Tagged ‘video


Terrifically Useful Tuesday: Fungi will save the world, one hypha at a time

This post is part of Terrifically Useful Tuesday looking at the immense benefits plants have for people. See more in this series here.

Paul Stamets: Mycelium Running

For a truly mind-blowing experience you need to see this video. Hell, everyone needs to see it–you won’t look at the earth the same way again. Microscopic cells called mycelium—the fruit of which are mushrooms—recycle carbon, nitrogen, and other essential elements as they break down plant and animal debris in the creation of rich new soil. These mycelium can help save the universe in six specific ways:

  • Mycoremediation – decompose toxic wastes and pollutants,

  • Mycofiltration – catch and reduce silt from streambeds and pathogens from agricultural watersheds),

  • Mycopesticides – control insect populations,

  • Mycoforestry and Myco-gardening – generally enhance the health of our forests and gardens,

  • Myco-pharmaceuticals – treating smallpox, tuberculosis and flu

  • Mycocolonisation – terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet.

Love the video? Buy the book: Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets at The Book Depository.

Want proof? Pestalotiopsis microspora eats plastic!

Quick, cheap and easy to produce but taking an extremely long time to breakdown, polyurethane is everywhere. But an Amazonian fungi can eat it for breakfast (and lunch, and dinner).

Polyurethane is one of the most commonly used plastics.  Trouble with all plastics-how do you get rid of it? When burned polyurethane releases hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, so of course it ends up in landfills.

Future landfills could be seeded with the hungry fungi Pestalotiopsis microspora to chomp through all those discarded garden hoses, mattresses, shoes, sportswear, composite wood panels, foam seating, insulation panels, seals and gaskets, tyres, adhesives, surface coatings and sealants, spandex, carpet underlay and hard-plastic parts.

P. microspora resides in the Ecuadorian rainforest and was discovered by a group of student researchers led by molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel as part of Yale’s annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory. Student Pria Anand discovered that the fungi ate polyurethane and could even do so in anaerobic conditions.

This is huge news for waste management. Another fine example of fungi saving the world (for others see Paul Stamet’s fine work, video above) and should be applauded as such. But how will this affect the fungi? A steady stream of trash in, what comes out? How will the fungi evolve based on this new diet?

P. microspora has another significantly beneficial use for humans. The fungi is an endophyte of certain yew trees (Taxus spp.), meaning it lives happily within the yew not causing disease. Endophytes can produce some of the same bioactive natural products as the host plant. In this case taxol, a high-effective anticancer agent is produced by the fungus as well.

Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi

Yale researchers find fungus that can break down plastic


A little music for your weekend’s gardening work


Creating a Happy World in 5 Easy Steps

Anytime I need a bit of a kick in the pants, I turn to my dear friend TED. He never lets me down – inspiring, entertaining, educating and generally just making life feel better. He certainly delivered today by introducing me to Nic Marks. I never thought a statistician would make me so happy.

Watch this video! It will look at how the environmental movement can have more marketing success, what it takes to make a happy planet, one country that’s doing it already AND tell you how to be happy in 5 very easy steps that don’t have to cost money.  And if you’re lazy and/or on low bandwidth then I have notes/observations following this short presentation.

5 positive actions to make you happy

And don’t forget those around you… They’ll be happier too.

– Connect – friends, family, neighbours, community

– Be active – physical movement moves the mind, body and soul

– Take notice  – be mindful of what’s happening around you

– Keep learning – curiosity is a powerful motivator

– Give – it just feels so good

You don’t win friends and influence people by scaring them

I’m awash with examples of the fearmongering that ‘environmentally-based’, well-intentioned organisations use to try to attract interest. And they get upset when it doesn’t work.  I left one group I really supported and really wanted to be involved with and had worked hard for, solely because of the mentality of those running it – scare everyone into panicking about the end of the world. I worked hard to make the case that fear wasn’t the best path, but I lost, so I walked away.

Costa Rica – the happy green paradise

Wow! the latest Gallup poll ranks Costa Rica as one of the happiest nations on Earth. It has a higher life expectancy than the US and uses 1/4 of the resources to achieve it. 99% of energy comes from renewable resources. They disestablished the army in 1949 and invested heavily in social programmes such as health and education.

And it’s freakin’ beautiful! Here’s a small taste – some photos that my dear friend Kim sent me from his visit there last year. Ya’know, New Zealand could aspire to such heady heights if our leaders only had a little bit of imagination.

Landing in Costa Rica - DJ DVAnt

Macaws in the wild - DJ DVAnt

White-faced Capuchin - DJ DVAnt


Seeds of Delight

Golan Levin and Kyle McDonald have been unwrapping flowers – taking images and stretching them out flat using panoramic software. The results are gorgeous, you can see them all on Flickr. And to celebrate such loveliness I’ve used the images as the icons below. Many delights to be found amidst the links below.

Talking Plants talks plants really well. He’s covered two of my long-held suspicions lately. Firstly,  Organic isn’t always the enviro-friendly option – sprays that are supposedly ‘natural’ aren’t always better than manmade chemicals. Everything is toxic in the right concentration. (Article on derris dust).  Secondly, we’re just sex slaves to orchids.

John Folsom makes beautiful mixed-media images and his exhibition Lure of the Low Country features intoxicating images with plenty of trees. Other pictorialised plants I’ve fallen for lately include Dan McCarthy’s screenprint and Luigi Benedicenti’s hyper-real plant products.

The beautiful people at have been busy putting together a series of cute, little how-to cards. Steal ’em, print ’em, share ’em! So far released: Kale Pesto Recipe, How To Save Tomato Seeds, How To Make A Self-watering Container. They’ve also got seed packet templates and adorable labels on the goodies page.

Canada’s University of Guelph is offering Certificates in Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Horticulture.  Each programme consists of four online core courses and one online elective. “Learn the strategies that allow your urban space… to become a destination for the growth of plant material that is both sustainable and productive.”

Confused by Biodynamics? Don’t be – a good little intro video via Pete @ Ooooby. Holistic sustainable organic agriculture and horticulture – really, should there be any other kind? Often dismissed for being a bit ‘out-there’, most of the practices are based on sound farming principles developed over 100s of years. More at Biodynamics NZ.

Press release by the International Blackcurrant Association working to make Ribes nigrum the next superfood. There are plenty of good things to say about blackcurrants and I don’t mind them being said – but I do so dislike this horrible ‘Could-do’ marketing employed by the natural health industry. I reckon I’m about a berry-width away from despising the term ‘functional food.’

Looking for more plant-related link love? Check out past editions of Seeds of delight.


Seeds of Delight – Arbor Day Edition

June 5 is Arbor Day. Thousands of trees will be planted worldwide. People will revel in a feel-good moment. And most of those trees won’t make it to maturity because one day simply isn’t enough to ‘appreciate’ trees. We can’t just plant them and forget about them – they need to be cared for, weeded and nurtured.

Arbor Day feels completely wrong to me – like a memorial day for trees. We rely on them every day of our lives for food, air and shelter and in return, we give them one day to tokenisticly stick one in the ground. It should be Arbor Day every day!

Anyway, don’t let my curmudgeonly rant stop you from enjoying this veritable forest of tree-related links. Main image by Godfrey Stephens at Lloyd’s Blog – I want a tree like that!

The aesthetic values of trees alone make them an incredibly valuable asset. Let’s get warmed up with 50 beautiful tree photos. There’s a nice countdown of the 10 most magnificent trees in the world. Or those with melancholic tree leanings can check out the beautiful Lonely Tree blog. Enter the matrix in the Duplicative Forest.

A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. They help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat and absorbing air pollutants. A healthy acre of trees can store 2.6 tons of carbon a year. If the tree falls – we all fall.

Interesting tree facts: 270000 trees are used each day for toilet paper alone. 90% of a tree’s nutrition comes from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil. The world’s oldest living tree lives in Sweden and is 9500 years old. Trees don’t die of old age – insects, vandalism, weather

TED conferences turn academics and researchers into global sensations, given a voice to change the world – brought to your computer screen. Nalini Nadkarni spoke about saving the forest canopy, prisoners growing moss and ‘Treetop Barbies’. Richard Preston talked about the enormous trees of the US Pacific Northwest.

New Zealand has over 600 native trees and shrubs. And they’re amazing: the Christmas pohutukawa; the gorgeous kākā beak; the sunshine flowers of the kōwhai; the healing mānuka; the mighty tōtara; resplendent kahikatea; our ancient kauri; and our beloved silver fern.

One of trees greatest gifts to mankind has been housing. But it’s tree houses that truly get me excited. And there are amazing examples all over the place. On your next holiday – consider treehouse accommodation. Three of my favourites: the Minister’s rambling tree house, the tree castle at Alnwick Gardens and the Yellow Treehouse Restaurant.


Friday Seeds of Delight: 21 May (on a Saturday)

Well, this may be a bit late, but hey, it’s pretty! The weather on Friday was so gray, drizzly and miserable… thus the need for the beautiful autumnal colours above. Of course, this is a very rare sight in New Zealand as we don’t have a lot of deciduous trees. We do a lot of green in this country, red is reserved for Christmas. (Image link via Studio G)

Designer Natasha Vermeulen has graciously gifted this gorgeous graphic for you to print/share/post online in support of the New Zealand anti-mining protests. (More info on that here). Thanks to Endemic World for bringing the love to town. Make sure you go and buy something pretty from them.

I’m in awe… Upside down trees… I want some. This is a stunning idea, accidentally discovered by an Alaskan landscape designer. Studio G pointed this one out, they’re one of my favouritist blogs right now because Rochelle posts the most wonderful things. Go peek at her inspiration boards.

I don’t know about you, but attractive is not one of the words springing to mind when slime mold is mentioned. But, it should. Professor John Bonner certainly thought they were interesting, studying them for 70 years and noting their primitive intelligence and ability for self-sacrifice. They can even waltz.

Because it is YouTube’s fifth birthday, we might as well celebrate with another video link. A nicely-done piece of animation that the kids will probably love but might freak out a few parents. The plants have eyes! Will you ever look at your garden the same way again? And another pretty piece by the same people.

A simple yet genius solution to one of the world’s biggest problems: sanitation. Peepoo bags are hygienic, biodegradable, single-use bags that don’t require water. They are lined with urea to fast and safe degradation, can be easily distributed, collected and used as fertiliser for growing food.

And a cute little project for those colder evenings – how about building a terrarium? You can create your own little garden in in a glass jar, or maybe a bottle or even a light bulb. May be best attempted by those with a little more patience than I have.


How to save the world with cow dung

NZOnScreen has put up the trailer and an excerpt of the must-see Peter Proctor documentary One Man, One Cow, One Planet.

This film looks at biodynamic agriculture, a Rudolph Steiner-inspired system of organic farming. The film focuses on proponent Peter Proctor, a worm-obsessed Kiwi gardener; and his work promoting biodynamics worldwide, particularly in India, where he argues that modern industrial agriculture (eg. artificial chemicals, GM seeds) has made soil and plants toxic, and farming unsustainable. Proctor’s simple recipe to save the planet? One man and a bucket of cow dung. Narrated by E.T. actor Peter Coyote, One Man screened worldwide at environmental film festivals.

Buy the DVD here.

More resources and info here.


Fleeting Beauty

Ive just been reminded of a New Zealand short film I saw awhile ago. An Indian woman paints the story of spices onto the back of her lover. It’s just over 8 minutes and well worth a look. Enjoy!

(Contains some scenes with naked flesh – if you are averse to such things please look away)


Emilia Hazelip’s Synergistic Gardening

Emilia Hazelip Synergistic garden bedsI’ve taken procrastination to whole new levels on this one and for that I apologise. We showed the Synergistic Garden video by Emilia Hazelip at the May Seedy Sunday.  Finally, I manage to get the notes up and a couple of links for your edification.

I have to admit, I’ve become a little obsessed by these beautiful beds, all curved and mounded in sweeping lines. I also love the very way they are constructed, in sort of gentle sweeping movements. Due to my terrain I’m not able to do them at my house, so I’ve been eyeing up other people’s gardens to work on.

Anyway, here are notes on the video including links to some other pieces on Emilia…

Continue reading ‘Emilia Hazelip’s Synergistic Gardening’


The Queen Rejoins The Organic ‘Victory Garden’ Revolution

For the first time since the World War Two vegetables are being grown in the grounds of Buckingham Palace alongside ornamental plants. They’re also growing heirloom varieties for genetic conservation – YAY!

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August 2020

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