Thursday, June 14, 2018

Zero waste Master class

Doesn't that sound fancy? A master class, in reducing waste. I wanted to shout out to those in the local area, about an event coming up on 20 June. It's a Wednesday, at 6pm.

Here's a link for more information. Tickets cost the change out of $12. A pretty reasonable price, for a Master class.

No personal affiliation - okay, maybe a little. The Source in Toowoomba, is my favourite place to bulk-buy foods and reduce packaging.


 Shhh...I get loyalty points


I slipped them my email, and they mentioned the Masterclass, in one of them. But I still pay full price for my goods. Unless I use my loyalty card. Yeah, but everyone has one of those. So no extra concessions.

I guess there's nothing to see here, but someone who is excited to reduce waste. Do you have a favourite store/local merchant, to shop for bulk supplies?


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Easy wins

Sometimes on 5 acres, when there's only two of you for labour, and only so many resources to go around (plus, the weather isn't playing very nice) well, you take a few losses in the garden. A substantial few! Like, why am I still doing this, few?

You may have noticed this, when I wrote about food production (or lack there of) in this post, about the necessity of water.  I was going to curtail my gardening efforts, until I resolved the water issue. But then, inspiration happens and you think about the situation a little differently.


Greens


Like how can I get some easy wins, on the board? Having endured so much failure, I wanted something with minimal effort, delivering quick results. Perhaps it will cost me a little more, but buying punnets of seedlings, instead of growing from seed, will get a quicker turnaround. Because I realised winter is perhaps our optimal growing season, and we're already three days into it.


 Infrastructure?


While I'm at it, why not purchase some pots designed to deliver water to my plants, more readily? Two of them, cost me the change out of $50. It's not something I would normally do, but I wasn't happy, avoiding growing food in my garden for a lack of water. I needed something to deliver it more efficiently.


Water conservation


This self-watering pot, works somewhat like a wicking bed. A cavity is created for a water reservoir, under the black insert. While the soil and roots can wick it up, from above. I already had one of these (lasted 12 years) so knew they faired better, than most pots in the garden.

Because the bane of growing in pots, is the capacity for them to dry the soil out, if they're put in full sun. Which is exactly, what I planned to do! But I had a strategy too. This was not just going to be any garden, it was going to be my kitchen garden. I have wanted one, just outside our kitchen door, for ages.


Level up


First thing was first though. Site and design. It was a north facing site, right next to our concrete verandah. Meaning, it would receive all day sun. If I was hoping for an overexposed site, to dry out the pots - I succeeded in finding it. But to my plan!

I was going to raise the pots off the ground, to avoid frost (on the rare occasion we get any) as well as make it easier on my back, to come out at night, and pluck the bits I needed for making dinner. I also didn't want cane toads jumping in the pots, squashing my seedlings. So I dug the site, to level the ground, for my recycled crates.


Shade


Then I put my creative thinking, hat on. I needed something to shade the pots from all day, sun exposure. Luckily, my son had destroyed an inside screen, last year, running through the house, lol. It had three panels, and one was destroyed. I sat an, intact panel, on the edge of my crates, and put up a few recycled wooden stakes, to hold it up. I knew that broken shovel handle, would come in handy, one day.

The beauty of this temporary set-up is, I can remove the screen, if I find the pots actually NEED the sun, to warm the soil. Especially with semi-overcast days. I like the thought of being able to change the set-up, as the weather conditions change.


Pot arrangement


Then it was time to arrange my collection of new and old, pots. The pale ones are new, and the darker ones are old. Because it was limited space too, plant selection was important. I couldn't have anything in these pots, that wouldn't be used. I kept this in mind, when purchasing seedlings.

Most of the new plants were seedlings, but I discovered after planting out, there was room for a few more. So I grabbed some from my existing garden. They will take a while to come back - as their roots were more disturbed and I had to prune them, but I was happy with my final arrangement - which I'll get to in a moment.


Fill


Another one of those easy wins, came about, through purchasing premium potting mix. Two bags full. They're ready made, to give plants a good start to life. But I also had some leftover compost from the wicking beds, I was in the process of breaking down. And David scored some unexpected, free leaf matter, as well.

So I only purchased half the amount of bags I needed, and substituted with the other available resources. It pacified my recycling philosophy, that was getting ruffled, due to the newer resources I was bringing in.


Herbs


This is my favourite pot, I will be visiting regularly. Herbs! Basil, oregano and thyme. There are other herbs sprinkled through other pots, but these are my favourite to eat in omelets.

The hens are still laying, thankfully. Between one and four a day. On average, two. It's not bad for 6 hens, with some going through a moult and the sun hours are diminishing. So I still have the opportunity to eat my herbs with fresh eggs.


Kale leaf


You saw the mixed lettuce, in the first image, but we also like to eat kale. I got two different colours, and pretty advanced specimens, at that. So I shouldn't be waiting too long to snack from the kitchen garden.

I've had this kitchen garden on the back-burner for a while, and I'm happy to see it finally take shape. Of course, you may think this next plant I chose, to be a rather odd placement, in a kitchen garden.


Strawberry flower


Strawberries. Only three plants. It won't make much of a meal, but I do like to snack on berries in the garden. Being so close to the house, I dare say the kids will find them, before I do!

But that was the whole point of placing strawberries in the kitchen garden. To make it a place of interest for the kids. They may not like to snack on herbs, and thankfully one of my kids will at least, eat lettuce - But neither can resist strawberries!


Common mint


I've wanted garden mint for a while. Every time we've tried it however, it didn't receive the kind of moisture it needed. I ran out of space on my raised area, but knew I could rig something up for the mint. It would sit on the Eastern side of the kitchen garden, so would be shaded by afternoon.

I also had another strategy up my sleeve, to help.


Two buckets


I have many, 5 litre buckets, around the place. The pale bucket (above) once grew ginger in it - hence the holes. I was going to make my own self-watering pot, and create a layer of insulation from direct sunlight, by placing the bucket with drainage holes, inside the sealed bucket. I should hope the mint will do well.


Finished kitchen garden


All in all, I'm happy with the result. I can grow a small area of food, without running out of water, or depriving the plants. I can alter the shading arrangements, to suit the climate also. It's easier on my back to pick from the raised platform, and I have outside lights, for ease of picking at night too. No more, trudging outside with the torch.

It may not be pretty, but it's an easy win, all the same. So I'll take it!


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Smash repairs

I was glad to hear back from our Smash repairer, about fixing David's car, after the hit and run incident, at Grand Central recently. While he was in the shopping complex, someone ran up the side of his vehicle, and left no contact information behind. The damage they did, was not small...





The Smash repairer, verified my personal estimation. Only a van could do that kind of extensive scratching, to the driver's side door. Smaller vehicles, with protruding bumper bars, have a smaller damage area. You can increase the image size, by clicking on it, to see how wide the damaged area spans.





We did a temporary repair on the side mirror, with black gaff-tape. Otherwise it was hanging down, and couldn't be used. Fortunately, the electrical wires to the mirror, still worked. So David could re-angle it and continue to drive the car safely.

It was the hanging mirror which made me believe, it wasn't just any van - but a courier of some variety. They were leaving in a hurry. When you're backing out slowly from a car space, you feel the impact and stop yourself from going any further. But this was a fast impact, with enough force to snap the casing, holding the mirror in place.

Anyway, David's car goes into the shop next week, and we can put it all behind us.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Drylands strategies permaculture

I wanted to share a small Youtube channel I've been following, for a while. They originally came up on my feed, when I searched for permaculture videos. I was excited to note they were based in Australia (WA) so would have similar hot and dry conditions, during summer, as us.


JBFromOZ


I invite you to subscribe to their channel, and share the play list to those you think, would benefit from the information. Enjoy watching a property in WA, develop, according to permaculture principles.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Off, with a bang!

The May, birthday parties for our children, have come and gone. But not without their respective dramas. David had his car damaged, while parking at Grand Central in Toowoomba - a major shopping complex. It was a hit and run, that had the paint scraped on his car door, and the mirror dangling.

It happened the day before Peter's birthday too. David was collecting last minute party supplies. It's going to be an expensive birthday, after paying the $600 excess on our car insurance. But it wasn't going to ruin our day, because cars are just things. Money comes and goes. Parties however, are about making lasting memories. Those were the important things, to invest our thoughts and feelings into.

So what of the amigurumi present, I was fervently crocheting, for his big day...


Hurry up Luigi, get dressed!


Thanks to this clever crochet pattern, I made Mario, in about a week. I had a bunch of other stuff to do, in between. So Mario patiently awaited the arrival of his brother Luigi. Thankfully, it only took about 3 days to make him. Because who can resit the Mario brothers, right?


Two men & an egg!


Not long after Luigi was finished, I had my sights set on making a Yoshi egg. Apologies to those unfamiliar, with the Mario Brothers franchise. This will all sound like gobbledygook! But strangely enough, Yoshi is a dinosaur (a happy go lucky guy) who has this ability to devour his friends and enemies, and turn them into eggs.

Normally, it's Mario's job to avoid Yoshi in the various platform games, but in this case, they make excellent babysitters! So why would Yoshi want to eat them?


The Mario gang


Luckily, the Mario Brothers, were almost the same size as Yoshi - who was an official Merchandise plushie, Peter got from his uncle, several birthday's ago. How were the amigurumi plushies, received? Well, Peter takes them to bed every night, they get up every morning and eat breakfast with him. He calls them his best friends, and even talks with them.

I was hoping he'd like them, but I was amazed how MUCH he does! Which makes the amount of time I put into them, extremely worthwhile. We seriously could have saved us some money, avoiding the other toys we purchased. They have barely had a look in.

I had a lot of fun, making the Mario brothers, too. I could easily become addicted to making amigurumi. But more than that, it was really nice to be able to give my son, something I made with my hands.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Ma-Ma Mia

Just a sneak-peek, at what I've been up to lately. A bit of wool, a crochet hook and some free patterns, made by some very clever people...


From head to toe


...and I have the makings of a wee birthday present - Amigurumi style. As if one was not enough, however, I had to go and make two! A pair of pixelated brothers. Can you guess who they are?


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May mornings & mulberries

May is always a busy time of year for us. Both our kids have their birthdays. That's why I've been quiet on my blog, lately. Otherwise, ferreting my little surprises away, and making gifts all round. But I wanted to take time, this morning, to write. As I was inspired by a few things.




Like...the sun dipping underneath our verandah, as it always does, this time of year. May. The last month of autumn. When the morning sun comes in like this, I know winter is not far away. Maybe I needed the reminder, because I've been so busy otherwise.

I tip my hat to the tea-cups, sunlight and the lull of a May morning. Yes, I see you there, and; appreciate the reminder.




I also noticed, on my way to feeding the chickens, the last vestiges of the rain that fell, all day yesterday, and overnight. The thick droplets clung to the foliage, like the shiny treasures they are. Our parched ground, so needed their company.

After feeding the chickens, I wandered down to the birdbath, at the bottom of the gully. And on my way, heard a succession of those droplets, like a chorus of wee Christmas bells, falling to the ground. I tried to dodge the low hanging branches, to avoid wetting my camera. As there was something, I wanted to share with you all.


 

Our bird bath, is a tithe to the animals and landscape, for sharing their space with us. We always keep it full. Do you see the wonderful treasure, which has planted itself, nearby? A wee, mulberry seedling.

A kurrawong, or brush turkey, was responsible perhaps? Taking a drink and having a splash about, after dining on our mulberries in Spring. The moist ground, combined with rich manure and fermented seed, made a little miracle for me to be in awe of.

I will keep the delightful treasure, and as it grows - the mulberry will eventually dwarf the birdbath. May mornings, and mulberries. Thank you for reminding me, things will always happen at their appointed time. No matter how busy, or stressed, I get.