Gardening in Extreme Heat

Leave a comment

My apologies to those of you who live in the northern hemisphere.  Here in Australia summer has just begun (officially) after having sweltered through the driest and second-hottest spring on record.  Daily temperatures in excess of 30C, and sometimes 35C, have been the new normal here for several weeks.  Hot, dry and windy days have increased the fire risk to ‘severe’ on many days.  We live at about 400m above sea level and within 30km of the coast so our conditions are nothing like those facing the drought-stricken farmers further west.

Growing food in our current weather is a challenge but one I am prepared to try.  Summer means salads and salads mean lettuce.  So, I am growing lettuce.  I have some in one of the main garden beds which was grown from seed as well as some in styrofoam boxes that were purchased seedlings.

I water the plants thoroughly twice a day – early in the morning and again late in the afternoon.  I cover them during the day and so far this seems to be an effective strategy.

2019-12-07 01

2019-12-07 02

We picked the first leaves today and are looking forward to plenty more salads based on lettuce grown without chemicals within 10 metres of our back door and completely devoid of packaging.

2019-12-07 03

2019-12-07 04

Making a Difference

Leave a comment

Australia has just recorded the driest spring on record – EVER!  Additionally, it was the second-hottest spring on record and fell just 0.04C short of the record.

We live in what is generally regarded as a high-rainfall, temperate sub-tropical area, however, that description seems but a distant memory.  As the hot, dry weather continues we are constantly looking for ways to save our precious water.

Our water supply is entirely rainwater which we collect in the 2 large tanks with a combined capacity of close to 100,000 litres.  In the 14 years we have lived here we have barely scratched the surface of that capacity, however, the current drought has made us consider what measures we can take to preserve every precious drop. If we were to run out, our only option is to buy water.  Even purchased water has to come from somewhere and there does not seem to be an endless supply.

In an effort to be as self-reliant as possible we are trying to grow more of our own food which necessitates watering crops in the dry weather whereas during a ‘normal’ season they manage quite well on the natural rainfall except as very small seedlings.

We retrieved a square plastic washing-up dish from our camping equipment and it now lives in the kitchen sink to catch any excess water from washing hands, rinsing dishes etc and that is then tipped onto various ornamental shrubs to help keep them alive.

The other thing we did was to buy 10 metres of hose to attach to the washing machine outlet.  Before I do a load of washing I unroll the hose out of the laundry and across the verandah so that it empties the washing water onto the hibiscus bushes at the front of the house.  The only problem is what to do with 10 metres of hose when it is not in use.

Today, we located a bracket that we had and GMan kindly attached it to the wall above the sink and now the hose coils neatly in place when not in use.

2019-12-02 01

What changes have you made to save water or other resources?

Patterns and Pants

2 Comments

Dressmaking can be a challenge when trying to get a perfect fit.  One of the best methods I know is to disassemble a garment which you love and fits well and then use the pieces to make a customised pattern.  I did this several years ago with a sleeveless, collared shirt and have made numerous shirts from the pattern.  Here are a couple of examples.

This time it was the turn of my white cropped pants which I have had for about 9 years.  They are starting to get a bit thin in places.

003

I generally use non iron-on interfacing for tracing the pattern. It is reasonably sturdy and stands up to repeated uses. However, on Sunday I discovered that I did not have any left so I had to think laterally.  I had a scramble through my stash and found several large pieces which had been part of a donation to Boomerang Bags but were not suitable.  The fabric is medium-weight, cream synthetic with no stretch so I decided to use it for the pattern pieces which worked perfectly.  It was easy to add markings and instructions, too.

2019-11-27 03

This is the fabric that I had earmarked for my first attempt with the pattern.  About 3 metres of a medium-weight cotton drill that I had bought last year for $4 at the local Salvos thrift shop.

2019-11-27 04

I am very pleased with the result.

2019-11-27 05

The only variation I made from the original was not to add belt loops.  I never wear a belt with these pants and the absence of the loops makes for a smoother silhouette.

2019-11-27 06

I call them my ladybird pants and you certainly won’t lose me in a crowd when wearing these.

I have a black, fitted t-shirt which I will be able to wear with them and I plan to make a black linen shirt using the pattern I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Now that I am happy with the construction and fit of these pants, I am working on a pair of lightweight dark navy linen ones.  They will be full-length rather than cropped.

I have several sewing projects underway or planned and I will show you more in future blog posts.

A Gift of Love

Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

2019-11-25 01

The first block completed.

2019-11-25 02

All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

2019-11-25 03

The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

2019-11-25 04

It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.

Sewing Something Different

Leave a comment

While my sewing is generally bags or clothes, occasionally it can be something completely different.

Last week was one such moment.  I decided to make a cover for my newly-acquired overlocker.  I also made a matching one for the sewing machine.

2019-11-22 01

Covers completed and on the machines.

2019-11-22 02

These were all made from salvaged secondhand scraps from my stash.  The one for the overlocker was the quilted side of a decorative pillowcase.  This meant that it had enough body to stand alone.  The sewing machine has a hard plastic case so I simply made a fitted slipcover for the case so that it would match the overlocker one.

As well as looking pretty they do the very practical task of keeping the ever-present dust off the machines.

Walk on the Wild Side

Leave a comment

I cannot believe that I have lived here for 14 years and never walked along this section of the Obi Obi trail which runs from the Showgrounds to the centre of Maleny.

Although it is only 680m in length (according to the information board) it seems like a million miles from anywhere.

Here are a couple of views from my walk on Monday.

2019-11-20 01

2019-11-20 02

I was aware that the walk was there but it was not until I decided to walk that way to get to the gym which is at the Showgrounds that I discovered this hidden gem so close to the centre of town.

It is an easy and relaxing walk which I will incorporate into my routine more often in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

New to Us

Leave a comment

A few days ago I was lying in bed in the morning  and scrolling through Facebook when a Marketplace advertisement popped up and caught my eye.  It was for a silky oak dressing table which looked to be in pretty good condition and a fair price- $150.  Silky oak is a tree which is native to where I live and we have one growing on our property so it is quite special to have furniture which was obviously made with locally sourced timber.

Within a matter of 10 minutes I had contacted the seller and arranged to buy it with collection that afternoon.  GMan and I took the ute and collected this beauty.

2019-11-17 01

It is currently in the workshop as we intend to sand and refinish the timber as well as replacing the handles on the drawers and possibly replacing the mirror.

You may remember the other dressing table, also silky oak, which GMan restored a few years ago.

Dressing table

Once the new one is restored I will probably swap the existing one to the guest room and replace it with the slightly larger one in our bedroom as there is more drawer space.