Category Archives: Renovations and Gardening

This category covers such topics as making your home beautiful – inside and out.

Plantswap revisited and revamped

Plantswap revisited and revamped – Like the title says, and after spending over 12 months of my own personal time and finance, I have finally revamped the Plantswap website. It is now bigger and better than ever before! Well, not really bigger, or at least not until people start using it and posting photos of plants they are looking to buy, looking for free, want to get rid of, or want to sell.

I have added some new functionality and a lick of paint.

  • Members can now add photos of their plants and a map marker of the location of the plant on the map of Australia.
  • To maintain privacy, users can now post their plants by suburb only (rather than having the full address or personal details showing), and communication is all done through an internal messaging app – so their email address is safe.
  • New social interaction functionality has been introduced including member profile (you can upload photos of your garden), following of members, internal messaging, ratings of plant Ads, Member reviews and Badge system.
  • The map of Australia shows member’s plants and the location of the plant.
  • You can search for plants by category, location, or plant name.
Plantswap - For plantlovers and greenthumbers.

Plantswap – For plantlovers and greenthumbers. Australia’s first, free online website dedicated to plantswapping.


Plantswap member profile to show off your goodies, and talk a little bit about yourself.

Plantswap member profile to show off your goodies, and talk a little bit about yourself.

Plantswapping is easy!

Adding a new plant advertisement on Plantswap is straight forward and easy.

Grill on wheels

Grill on wheels

Grill on wheels

Grill on wheels – if you Google these words, you’ll probably end up seeing some hotted up cars with big fat “grills” and massive shiny rims. If that’s what you were looking for, then I congratulate you.

On the other hand, if you were looking for something to roast meat on, that has a certain level of mobility then you probably ended up here.

The grill on wheels was an idea that came to me after I made a grill for the WFO that I used for roasting a pig in the WFO. When I pushed the grill into the oven, it scratched the surface of the bricks and made my teeth grind at the same time. So I came up with this simple idea to easily insert and extract the grill from the wood fired oven.

The wheels are made from solid steel flat bar that I cut into squares, then transformed into circles. They are attached to the grill by bolts that were welded to the grill’s ‘feet’. If you have mild steel square bar (10mm x 10mm), some flat 10mm x 75mm bar and 4 M10 nuts and bolts (and know how to weld), then the grill on wheels concept is quite easy to put together. Here are some photos showing the build process  and then the grill on wheels put into action. I certainly hope you enjoy these, as much as I enjoyed eating the Peruvian charcoal chicken that came out of the oven!

Propagating Gracilis Bamboo by Division – 102

Propagating Gracilis Bamboo by Division – 102

Propagating Gracilis bamboo by division is much, much easier than from cuttings. I’ve had mixed results with bamboo propagation via cuttings, but one thing is for sure, the technique outlined below is fool-proof.

Here are a few guidelines that have worked for me that I’d like to share with you.

1) Larger bamboo culms do not work as well as smaller ones. I use Gracilis culms that have the diameter of a pencil.
2) Make sure the culm has a few nodes (3 or more is good).
3) When you dig up the culms, make sure the rhyzome and roots are still attached.
4) In the photos below, I have two culms and a new shoot growing off the rhyzome.
5) Keep the rhyzome wet and work quickly. Don’t leave it out in the sun to dry out.
6) Cut the culm where it is attached to the parent rhyzome, but make sure it has roots attached!
7)  Water new plant in and keep the soil damp (but not water logged)

Progpagating Gracilis bamboo by division is quite straight forward and easy, Just be careful and gentle with the fragile young culms.

I’ll update this post with more photos as the new culms grow. These were taken on the weekend of the 25th of January 2015.

How to make homemade grape juice

How to make homemade grape juice

How to make homemade grape juice a quick tutorial by Henry Gomez.

The Indian Myna bird has successfully managed to shoot to the top of the list of animal pests introduced in Australia – way past cane toads, rats and stupid neighbours. This year, I had to pick the grapes off my muscat vine earlier than I would have liked to because those birds were gorging themselves on my fruits.

Once I collected the grapes off the vine, I was ready to make Moût. I recall as a child after the grape harvest in Geneva ,they would sell grape juice at La Migros and La Coop, it was great and that is when I may have developed my love for red wine.

Over the last couple of years, I used to pluck each grape individually off the bunch to make juice, but I have since talked to a friend who suggested I try this technique:

The method:

1) Wash all of the grapes thoroughly in a large container or in your kitchen sink. Remove any leaves, twigs and sticks etc…

2) Dry the grapes (only kidding)

3) Place the grapes in a pot with boiling water. I fill the pot approximately 3/4 of the way up – if you use too much water, it’ll boil over and make a jolly good mess.

3) Boil the grapes until they become soft and fall off the stem on their own – this usually takes around 30 minutes. Your kitchen will light up with deliciously sweet fragrances…

4) Place the grapes in a colander and squash them till you only have seeds, skins and stems left – make sure you place a container under the colander to catch the grape juice!

5) Repeat this step a couple of times with the colander, and then again with a strainer.

6) You can put the juice in a jug or storage container like a used Coke bottle and add sugar to taste.

This juice can be placed in the fridge once it has cooled down. It is a refreshing beverage in the morning, full of vitamins and anti-oxidants. The only downside is there is no alcohol content.


Check out the deep, dark purple colour. It reminds of a bottle of Grenache I shared with Michel Blanc at Chateau-Neuf-du=Pape in 2007, or was it 2006??

Gardeners of the world unite…

Plantswap is here!

The new website is finally here for all you gardeners to enjoy! The concept is quite simple, you join by registering  your free user account and start posting in forums. Imagine you’d just cleaned out your garden, and have a bunch of plants you are about to take to the tip, but instead you’ve put a post on plantswap… Imagine the joy that another plant lover would see the post and contact you by email and he/she organises to come over to take the plants away for you – that’s pretty awesome right?! It’s a win-win situation. In other instances, you may even be able to get some free help – for example if you have a bamboo grove you no longer like and you put an ad on asking for people to come over and dig up the bamboo and take it home for free. That’s another win-win situation.

Obviously the site is moderated for people looking for marijuana and other such “exotic” and illegal plants.

I came up with this idea since my wife has been looking for a banana plantain sucker to use in our cooking. This plant is quite popular in South East Asia and Latin America. I am aware that there are plantain trees in Australia but have not been able to find one. Does anyone have one they would like to part with? I have a bunch of plants I could swap you for it!