Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

Count Your Blessings!
Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
Count Your Life With Smiles And Not The Tears That Roll.
..... Author unknown.

Knowing me, Knowing you..... Aha.....!

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
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Friday, April 15, 2011

5Rs To A Gardener's Sustainable Living 2011 and April 2011 GBBD

Etlingera elatior, edible Torch Ginger flowers
In conjunction with Earth Day which falls on Friday, April 22nd, 2011, Jan Doble of Thanks for Today blog is hosting the 2nd Annual Gardeners' Sustainable Living Project 2011. It is also time for April's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and Fertilizer Friday!

While displaying April's blooms from my garden, I shall also write down some of the things that I have been doing and plan to do towards a sustainable lifestyle.

Can you see a couple in love???

(a) I REFUSE to use harmful and toxic chemical pesticides and herbicides in my garden. I'd rather use natural remedies such as soap/organic/neem sprays, vinegar, coffee grounds, etc. to combat plant diseases and pests (2 legs, no leg to many legged creatures).

(b) I REFUSE to use energy powered machinery in my garden. I can use my hands to do the weeding and watering.  I have selected 'pearl' cow grass for my lawn. This compact, short grass seems to grow horizontally with little room for weeds and I have not mowed the lawn since the day I started my garden 7 years ago. Hence, I have never used and don't need a gasoline powered lawn mower or grass cutter. Any muscle power will be welcomed here ;-)

(c) I REFUSE excessive and unecessary packaging. It is better to buy refills and in larger quantities. I can buy direct from growers and farmers markets. This applies to produce, seedings and fertilizers.

“5Rs To A Gardener's Sustainable Living 2011 and April 2011 GBBD”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on April 15th, 2011.

Portulaca grandiflora cultivars (single petal)

I can REDUCE trash and uneccesary packaging by:

(a) Sorting my rubbish. Some items such as plastic spoons, containers and party cups can be reused in the garden. I print only when necessary and use both sides of the paper, first writing with a pencil, then with black pen and finally with red pen before I dispose off the paper. Even confidential records can be shredded down before sending off to a recycling centre. Gardening records are kept in spreadsheets and soft copies in the computer. Metal, plastics, paper, clothes and used batteries are first sorted out and later sent to recycling centres, any income generated can be donated to charities. Sorting also prevents toxic substances e.g. paints, inks and thinner from being leaked to the public drains, rivers and sea. It also reduces the amount of trash that goes to landfills.

(b) Kitchen waste such as fruit peels and cut vegetable parts are dumped into my compost bin. Bamboo stem cuttings can be used as support for vines and climbers.

(c) I plan to grow more plants from seeds leftover from the cooking process. Chili seeds, tomatoes, pineapple crowns, tropical fruit seeds and discarded stems can be used to start new plants. Similarly, expired potatoes, gingers and onion bulbs can be planted.

Costus curvibracteatus

Plastic spoons can be reused as plant labels while the cups can be used to germinate seeds. Old kitchen wares can be reused as flower pots.  Water used for rinsing and washing vegetables can be used to water my plants. Old furniture like the wooden coat hanger, shoe racks, stools can be used to display plants.

Portulaca oleracea

Due to lack of space, I do my composting in containers. My compost bins are actually large flower pots where I dump my kitchen waste such as fruit peels and cut vegetable parts. Then I cover it with burnt soil which is strerile and can be purchased from the local nurseries. I apply the layering technique. This compost rich soil will later be used to grow my plants.

"Kunyit" the grasshopper has finished up all the leaves of my tumeric ginger plant.


To keep up with the needs of a changing world and the environment, I need to recreate and also change my way of thinking. My garden need not be landscaped with manicured lawns and perfectly lined borders and paths.  I have let it become my canvas where I create my own masterpiece. Hence, my piece of garden artwork is always changing and evolving.
  • I try to learn more about permaculture and practice its methods.
  • I have planted more native plants in my garden and write about them in my blog.
  • I shall learn more about the indigenous plants and wildflowers in my country and try to grow them in my garden.
  • I wish to grow more vegetables in my garden and I can grow them in reusable containers.
  • I try to eat and buy more local produce.
  • I have made my garden wildlife friendly.
Spider on my Torch Ginger flower

These are the simple steps we can start with.
Like the Japanese method of Kaizen ( a philosophy for continuous improvement),
we can take small steps, each new step better than the previous one.
There is no need to spend a lot of money. In fact, we even save money in the process.

I may be outdated in my approach and I welcome your sharing of ideas.

To participate and join in the fun, click on the links below:

1. Annual Gardeners' Sustainable Living Project 2011 at Thanks For Today - here.
2. April 2011 Garden Blogger's Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens here.
3. Fertilizer Friday at Tootsietime, here


  1. Outdated? Trailblazer! How perfect to find a lawn, that just grows right, and doesn't ever need mowing.

  2. Hi,

    I think your ideas are great and are a wonderful way to help our planet. Every little bit counts!!!
    I bet the native plants that you can grow in your garden will be beautiful and way more diverse than what I grow in Colorado in my short-season garden.
    That grasshopper looks like it is smiling as it chews that leaf.

  3. I have learn many things from you! You are really helping mother earth! Thumb up to you!

  4. Hi,hi, hi, miss you! Just saw your comment in mine, actually earlier looked for yours in the Skywatch list and thought you are a bit late! I've made mine yesterday put automatic posting but when i opened the list its already full. How early those people are! Yes serendipity again, but when it happens often that is not that anymore. Have you seen One and mine's comments earlier, we had these also! Amazing.

    Your 2nd photo is marvelous, almost the same as that of One's previous post. I am amazed you were able to get them shot, those insects moved a lot. I love the style of your post today too!

  5. Autumn Belle, This it TOOOO weird. I have that 2nd photo...a few more of those white critters hanging in the air. I didn't post it. But Andrea said your photo looks like mine. She hasn't even seen it yet.

    Keep up the good work! Every bit helps.

    Oh ya! I couldn't plant cow grass because of the dogs. It will easily be destroyed and may take forever to regrow. Happy for you that you need not mow the lawn regularly.

  6. Diana, yes, this grass is special but it is not easy to find in my area now. People prefer the Philippines grass which looks more elegant but more difficult to upkeep.

    Rosey, the grasshopper disappeared after eating up all my tumeric leaves. It became a member of a food chain:

    Plant --> grasshopper --> bird

    Malar, if we make it as a habit/way of life, practising will be easy.

    Andrea, serendipity is a new word I learn after knowing you!

    One, this is weird, I mean what you said and Andrea said. Anyway, now I am happy to be linked to this 'triangular affair' of me, you and Andrea. Hahaha!

  7. Bravo!Helping Mother Earth in many small ways all adds up:))

  8. Truly you are just not a planter of green but a Green Gardener keeping mother earth healthy.
    If all follow your advice - the world would be a better place without all the industrial waste and garbage.
    Keep it up Belle!

  9. I admire that Torch Ginger flower very much. Thumbs up of sustainable living.

  10. Lovely pics... precious lessons...

  11. Your house is so eco-friendly and i'm so impressed how you do for the mother earth. Thumps up for you, Autumn Belle!
    I grow some pearl grass too in my garden and i have not mowed the lawn for 4 years. I just wonder when will be the first time that i have get them trimmed? At least now i know it still can 'tahan' for another 3 years or more ;)

  12. The torch ginger is gorgeous! All your flower photos are beautiful.

  13. A great post, Autumn Belle! I think if everyone did as much as you are, the planet would be a much healthier place. Great idea to combine Earth Day with Bloom Day--if we don't care for Mother Earth and all its creatures, it will be harder to come by all these lovely blooms.

  14. I compost in pots like that too! I thought I was reinventing the wheel :)

    Wonderful post!! I love your sentiments and agree totally with you!!!

  15. Pretty blooms. Have a nice weekend.

  16. what a great reminder of the cycle of life. All things have a purpose and use. And RRR is always a good thing not only to save our landfills, but also a good stewardship of things given to us.

  17. You've thought this out so well. I particularly love your last 'R' Recreate. What a lovely way of looking at our changing thought patterns and behaviors--by recreating. It seems to bring us to a sense of evolution and growth instead of a dreaded change.

  18. Here, here! I'm right with you on the pledges for a more sustainable lifestyle. Happy Bloom Day!

  19. What a perfect post for Bloom Day and Earth Day, and I totally agree with your gardening philosphy. It's so much nicer when all living things work in harmony in the garden! Happy Blossom Day!

  20. I like what you are doing. I have a reel mower, and not much lawn left:). We recycle too, and I garden organically. Your flowers are beautiful, and very unusual. I love coming to your blog.

  21. Thank you for sharing such great ideas....i will definitely think twice before throwing anything useful...

  22. I LOVE everything you just shared. I LOVE your pictures and can't wait to read more of your blog.

  23. A very thought-provoking post, Autumn Belle. We can all try harder and your instruction can be our guide.

    Gingers, lovely. Some of mine never get around to bloom before frost, but I try.

  24. Beautiful flower. made me nostalgic coz one of our neighbors, gave their blooms for our wedding. My Fertilizer fridayHope you can visit mine too.

  25. Great post, Autumn Belle. I would really like to try at making my own compost, and like you, do have the space for it. Your way of making it with burnt soil is really interesting. Would it too much trouble if you could perhaps one day, show a tutorial on this in one of your post in the future? It would be most beneficial for green horn like me! Thank you!

  26. I guess each one of us can do our part to make Mother Earth happy and stay healthy. Your 5Rs are the same as mine. I love that bunga kantan...thats remind me I got to take one from Keats!

  27. Hi Autumn Belle, I do most of these things too. I'm a great believer in recycling. Also in using bamboo for staking and for trellises. you're right. Every bit counts! Lovely shot of the grasshopper. And the torch ginger is amazing!!

  28. gorgeous blooms especially the ginger flowers. happy weekend.

  29. Iadmire your attitude towards mother nature. if more people would think the same way, there would be much done saving our planet. I too share your thoughts of an non-toxid garden .
    Have a great week :)

  30. Beautiful and inspiring thoughts! Thanks for sharing. The photos are stunning, as always. :)

  31. I like your R's! We should all think about these ways as well.

    What about that grasshopper? He doesn't look one bit guilty about eating your ginger plant.

  32. Dear friends, thank you very much for your comments, ideas, encouragement and precious support. I will always have these principles in mind for my blog/gardening plans for 2011.

    Kitchen Flavours, I hope to make a post about the flower pot method of composting soon.

    Wendy, the grasshopper became dinner for a bird while new leaves have sprouted from my tumeric plant. So the tumeric plant just had a hair-cut - it was bald for a week or so before the leaves grew back ;>)

  33. Hi Autumn Belle, I really enjoyed reading your post...and got double-the-pleasure with all the blooms for Bloom Day/FF! So nice that you combined them. In addition to all of your 'R's, I like all of the ideas you have about learning what natives will grow in your area. You are far from 'outdated' are perfectly up-to-date in your thinking;-) Thank you so much for joining my project and for linking your post. Happy Earth Day to you;-)


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