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?

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.

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.

What to Take?

Leave a comment

I know that 2 weeks have passed since my last post as I have been occupied with various activities both at home and elsewhere.  However, I will save those stories for another day.

Although we live in a semi-rural area, bushfire has not ever been regarded as a high risk due to being in a high rainfall area (1800mm or 72 inches is our average annual rainfall) with relatively high humidity and a generally temperate climate.  This has changed over the 14 years that we have lived here with longer dry spells, periods of low humidity and an increasing number of days over 30C and even over 35C.

We have been watching the increasing fire emergency with concern for the residents who have been impacted.  Yesterday the emergency came too close to home.  An uncontained bushfire was burning a mere 10 kms (as the crow flies) from our home.  It was posing a threat to properties to the point where people in the immediate area were readying themselves to leave.  The threat has eased today but we are mindful that things can change very quickly.

2019-11-10 01

GMan and I have made a physical list of what we would take/do if we needed to leave the property.  It is in 3 parts:

1. What we would grab if we had to leave with virtually no warning.

Clothes – long-sleeved top, long pants, closed shoes and socks
Wallet/purse and car keys
Laptop, charger and external hard drive
Phones and chargers
Documents (passports, certificates etc) which are all stored together and easy to grab
Medications and prescriptions – I now have 2 weeks worth stored together

2. What to do before we leave.

Shut all windows and doors
Turn off gas cyclinders
Open chicken run

3. Additional items if we had a little extra time to plan.

More clothes
Woollen blankets
Feather doona
Jewellery
Contents of single-drawer filing cabinet
Box of family history documents
Camera
A couple of items of value
Some non-perishable food
Chickens  (in a large cardboard box)

The overwhelming majority of things on these lists are based on practical considerations rather than any sentimentality.  Decluttering over a number of years has allowed me to look rationally at what is really important when the chips are down.

I hope I never have to action these lists but the way things are changing I can no longer leave things to chance.

Please have a plan, stay safe and remember, that above all – it is only stuff.  Your life is paramount.

Back in Town

Leave a comment

We have been home for 4 days and things are returning to normal.  While I don’t suffer greatly from jetlag, I did feel generally tired for the first couple of days which I think is simply travel fatigue.

Yesterday I had a peek in a couple of op shops (thrift shops) and picked up this top for $1.  It was marked as $4 which seemed reasonable to me but when I took it to the counter it turned out to have a blue label and was reduced to 25% of the original price.

2019-10-26 01

The top appeared to be in excellent condition with no marks or wear.  It was several sizes larger than what I wear so my plan was to refashion it.

This is the result of a couple of hours work.

2019-10-26 02

It is a little shorter than would be my preference but otherwise I am very happy with my handiwork.

I also bought this maxi-dress for $8.  It was brand new with the original tags which showed the price as $60.

2019-10-26 03

Once again, it was not my size, however, I could not resist the jade green fabric.  I unpicked the dress to maximise the amount of usable fabric and I now have the equivalent of about 2 metres of 120cm wide jade green viscose fabric.

2019-10-26 04

I am still debating as to how I will use it but it will probably be a dress or perhaps a pair of wide leg trousers.

What would you do with the fabric?