A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.

 

I Bought a Bucket

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This may seem like mindless consumption as I did already have a bucket to collect the kitchen scraps for the compost but I recently bought a new compost bucket.

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I first considered buying this over 12 months ago when I saw the one my daughter had at her place.  The thing that appealed to me about it was the drop-in lid with a silicone seal.  The following photo shows the lid  and also  the bucket insert.  It is also rather more stylish when sitting on the kitchen bench and has the added bonus of being labelled which is a help to guests who are unfamiliar with our kitchen.

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These are the 2 buckets I have used previously.  Each one is a bit larger than the new one so I will definitely need to empty it each day but that is not a great imposition.  The lid is the main problem as it takes 2 hands to seal it tightly as opposed to the drop-in lid on the new one.

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I ordered the bucket online and it arrived packaged in a cardboard box.  This had clearly been re-used which is pleasing but the downside was that it had 2 layers of plastic tape.  I managed to remove all of the tape so that I can use the cardboard as weed mat in the garden.  There was quite a pile of tape.

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In fact, the tape contributed quite a significant portion of our waste for the week.  You can see it all here.

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The rubbish for this week weighed in at 264g which is considerably more than the previous couple of weeks.  This is due in to the plastic sticky tape from the cardboard box.  There is also a selection of items, including, plastic bags from rice paper wrappers, tortillas, cheese and carrots, an expired credit card, foil packet from medications, festival wristband, bottle tops, screen cleaning cloth and plastic packaging from a computer program.

A Working Weekend

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I really felt as though I was back into the swing of things at home this weekend.  We achieved a great deal and by yesterday evening I was too tired to contemplate writing a blog post.  So here it is, better late than never.

We bought 3 new chickens who seem to be settling in well.  This brings the number back up to 6.

GMan managed to do the first coat of paint on the outdoor table as well as mowing and lots of work around the yard.

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This is our old outdoor table but instead of re-oiling we decided on a facelift and I think it will look great on the newly renovated verandah.  We bought some new black chairs from IKEA earlier in the year to go with it.

In between washing, ironing and preparing some meals for the coming week I managed to spend some time in the garden.

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The cherry tomato plants had just gone wild while we were away but it has been too cool for them to develop and ripen the fruit so it was time to pull some of them out and rediscover the garden beds.

Once I had cleared one bed, I emptied the compost from the tumbler and added some of it to the bed.

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We use whatever receptacles we can find for compost and the latest addition is the small rubbish bin in the background of the photo.  GMan removed the rusted base and it is now full of weeds and some tomato plants.  Eventually it will break down and then we can simply lift the whole bin off and we will have a pile of compost.

I bought and planted 3 punnets of seedlings – bok choy, zucchini and lettuce.

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There is much more that I want to do in the vegie patch but it will have to wait for another day.

 

The Great Garlic Massacre & Other Dirty Tales

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We have finally had some of the glorious winter weather for which south-east Queensland is renowned – clear, sunny days and crisp, cool nights.

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The majority of yesterday and today has been spent in the garden. I have previously  shown you the 3 raised vegetable garden beds.  One was planted out with seeds a couple of weeks ago.  I planted 2 bean seeds together in each hole and they all germinated so I transplanted the extras.  I am not sure whether they will survive the process but it never hurts to try. 2013-06-16 02

We moved some lemon tree prunings which had been in this tank and filled it with soil from one of the old garden beds which is now redundant.  The soil is fabulous and it would be a shame to waste it.  We mixed it with some mulch (from the poinciana stump which we had ground last year) and also some mushroom compost.  In the centre you can also see some bok choy seedlings. The bok choy seeds came up so thickly that I have thinned heaps of them and will thin them out again as they get a bit bigger.  I could not bear to just throw the thinnings away so they were all transplanted.  Some went into this old esky filled with soil and mulch.

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I put some others in between the potato plants in the other raised bed.  The bok choy will be well and truly finished before the potatoes take over.

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The carrots, onions and beetroot have also germinated and are growing but are probably too small to identify in this photo.  You can, however, see the beans and bok choy.

2013-06-16 05A few weeks ago I bought some organic garlic ready to sprout and plant.  It has been languishing in a bag on the floor of the pantry but today was the day to plant it out. Firstly, we had to finish preparing the third raised bed.  It was about 1/3 full of leaf litter, mushroom compost and shredded arrowroot leaves.  Today we added some grass clippings after The Duke had mowed the lawn area area the vegie patch, more mushroom compost, lots of mulch and soil as previously described.  Then it was time to plant the garlic.  We peeled off the papery outer layer, separated the cloves and planted them in rows with the sprouting tip pointing upwards.  You can see all of the shredded outer layers on the ground beside the bed.  It really did look like something had been massacred.  The bed is 2.4m x 1.2m and it is entirely planted with rows of garlic.  If this is even moderately successful I should never have to buy garlic again!

2013-06-16 06 I cleared some old cherry tomato plants out of another round tank, topped up the soil and mulch and planted these golden sweet potato plants that had been in a pot for ages since my brother-in-law gave them to us.

2013-06-16 07This is the old garden bed where we have been digging up the soil to re-use.  There is still plenty left.

2013-06-16 08The pile of mulch which resulted from the grinding of the tree stump last year  has been put to good use in the garden beds.  We still have more that we can take from here to build up the next round of garden beds.

2013-06-16 09 It is gratifying to be able to use and reuse everything from our own property in the gardens.  Leaf litter, compost, mulch, soil and grass clippings all go into creating the next lot of vegetables for us to eat.  Chickens, chickens manure and eggs are also part of the cycle. Trees provide fallen timber for firewood which in turn leaves ash that we put back into the compost heap or garden bed. Permaculture in action really is the circle of life.

The Kitchen Bin

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Tonight’s post is in response to a question posed by Jean in the comments of my post a couple of days ago about Zero Waste.  She asked about alternatives to using plastic to line a kitchen bin.

I have read about using newspaper to make an origami-style bin liner and one day I might do that.  In the meantime, I find that despite my best efforts, I always seem to have plenty of plastic bags for the purpose.

I line my small kitchen bin with whatever plastic bag comes to hand.  I do not knowingly bring any extra plastic bags into the house but some is simply unavoidable at this stage.  Any bag that looks as though it would be useful for this purpose is saved. I keep them in a ziplock bag in the laundry cupboard.

For example, I buy frozen peas so I carefully slit the top of the bag and then use that in the bin.  Often, it does not tuck neatly over the edge but I am prepared to accept that.  I use a rubber band to tie it off before throwing in the bin.  If I get any plastic bags in packaging of items such as small appliances these are kept for the bin as well.  They usually have a few air holes to avoid accidental suffocation but that is not a problem as my waste is usually just confined a small number of non-recyclable items which need to be contained rather than necessarily sealed in plastic.

I do not put any meat scraps in my kitchen bin. I generally buy meat that has no waste eg: skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, premium mince etc.  The exception is bacon as I trim the fat off it. I put the meat scraps in a bag in the freezer and occasionally add them to a kitchen rubbish bag immediately prior to putting the garbage out for collection.

Anything which can be composted is collected in the compost bucket  – this includes all fruit and vegetable scraps as well as eggshells and butter wrappers.

Finally, here are the bins in a pull-out drawer in my kitchen.  Each bucket lifts out for easy disposal and cleaning.  On the left is the small one I line with my rubbish bag and on the right is the recycling.

I will do another post soon and examine exactly what rubbish we have for a week.

Let me know how you manage your various waste streams.  Have you made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of rubbish you send to landfill?

End of Life

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Despite all the mending and repairs, there comes a time when things reach the end of their life.  This pair of The Duke’s trousers is a perfect example.

2012-05-24 01I have previously posted about patching them and while the patches have survived there is yet another worn patch lower down the leg.  These are not accidental rips – the fabric is simply wearing out and they are getting quite thin in numerous places.  Therefore, it has ceased to be worthwhile mending them any longer.

My initial thought was to throw them in the bin but then I realised that as well as being mindful when we are purchasing items we should also be responsible for them at the end of their useful life.  Many garments are cut up for rags or tying up plants in the garden but these are suitable for neither.2012-05-24 03

I decided to remove the zip and button for possible future re-use and decided that since these trousers are cotton they could go in the compost.

2012-05-24 02So that the fabric would mix with the rest of the compost I cut the trousers into strips and here it is ready to become part of the garden.

2012-05-24 04This is my seam ripper which is identical to the one that I broke while removing the zip from the trousers.  I am not sure why I had two of these but now there is only one.  The broken one went in the rubbish bin.

Back to the Practical Stuff

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After a couple of days spent debating the carbon tax it is time to get back to the things I do every day which reduce our carbon footprint today and increase our self-reliance so that we can face whatever the future may bring.

Collecting eggsWashing plastic bags

Taking our own bags and containers to the shops

Brewing beer

Raising seedlings

Harvesting from the garden

Making compost

Today was my day off so I immersed myself in all these jobs and more.  It has been productive and worthwhile.