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Showing posts from June, 2013

Garden Update - July 2013

This month I'm joining the Garden Share Collective, which was started last month by Lizzie from Strayed from the Table, to allow vege gardeners to share their successes and failures and generally encourage everyone to grow more of their own food organically.  This first month, I'll give a detailed update on everything that's growing in my garden, for anyone who hasn't been following for long.  I'll do my normal farm update on Tuesday as well.
If you've just joined me, welcome to my vege garden.  I recently wrote about gardening in our sub-tropical climate, so if you're wondering about the huge shade structure, that's for protecting the garden during our hot, humid summers.  At the moment though, the garden is full of brassicas, which grow best here in winter, and are suitably frost-proof.  The garden is about 12 m long by 5 m wide, and surrounded in chicken mesh to keep out the chickens and the bandicoots.  The garden has spilled out around the edges th…

Growing food in the sub-tropics - the vege garden

As I’ve written previously, its taken me a while to get accustomed to our climate and figure out what to grow and when. Part of the problem is that we are just on the edge of a climate zone, we are in the humid sub-tropics, but as we are around 500 m above sea level, we experience cool overnight temperatures, particularly in winter. We are also 200 km inland, so our rainfall is not as regular as coastal areas.  I'm slowly realising that, despite the confusion, we are in the best possible climate.  We have cool winters, so we can grow temperate plants, and with out hot humid summers we can also grow tropical plants, as long as we can protect them from frost through winter.  In this climate, many annuals can be grown as perennials (I have been picking from the same kale "bush" for 12 months now).  There are very few things that we can't grow at all, and although our climate is probably not ideal for anything much, we are just on the edge of possible for so many food…

Getting started with chickens - NZ Eco Chick

Farmer Liz: Over the past few weeks I have been interviewing bloggers who keep chickens in various situations, in order to help wannabe chicken farmers to get started with their own little feathered egg-producing garden-scratchers.  This week I have a new blogger to the series, Madeleine from NZ Eco Chick lives in Wellington, New Zealand, on a suburban block with her husband and is mama to two beautiful boys.  NZ Ecochick is about her family and their journey to living a (semi) self sufficient life on their backyard homestead. They live on a quarter acerish section, with four chooks and grow their own food, green and frugal living, diy, crafting and organizing, and their life in general. 


FL: How many chickens (and other fowl) do you keep, what breed and what do you use them for (meat, eggs, slug control etc)?

M: We currently have four orpington chickens. In the foreseeable future I’m going to Japanese quails as well. I chose orpingtons as they are really big birds and should be able t…

Insulation for our house

As I discussed in an earlier post, we have tried to use passive solar principles to position our new (secondhand) house at Cheslyn Rise to take advantage of the sun’s heat in winter and to shade the house in summer.  The other technique we can use to regulate the temperature in the house is insulation.  Under Queensland building law we actually have to put a certain amount of insulation in the house anyway, so the only decision to be made was what kind and if we would add any extra insulation.



My first thought was to use a natural fibre, so I started to investigate options.  As the use of insulation is mandated and must be a certain ‘R value’, we couldn’t just use any old scrap wool available, it has to be a proper tested insulation product.  Our options seemed to be: Sheep’s woolCelluloseRock woolGlass wool (fibreglass)Polyester (not natural, but still an option) When I started to research sheep’s wool I found that all the products available in Australia are only 70-80% wool, stabilis…

Finger-crocheted rag rug from old t-shirts

Recently I've noticed lots of posts on rag rugs, or maybe they just caught my attention because we need new bath mats, I had read a few quickly, it looked easy enough, so when I saw fill a bag for $1 at the op-shop I decided to choose some t-shirts to make myself a rug.  When I went back to look at the rug instructions, I was amazed to find all the different techniques, I found at least five different ways to make a rug:
knittingbraiding and sewing (hand or machine)braiding only (and this one)crochet (or use a toothbrush)weaving I decided that I would probably need a few new bath mats, so would have opportunities to try each method at some time in the future.  For now, I want to learn crochet, and this seems like a good way to start, with nice big thick "yarn"!

I have also noticed that you can buy pre-cut fabric for making rag rugs.  To me this defeats the purpose, and it seems a real shame to use new fabric to make something that's going to go on the floor!  I think …

Getting started with chickens - Gavin Webber

Farmer Liz: A couple of weeks ago I started a series of interviews with bloggers who keep chickens, as a continuation of my series of interviews about getting started with growing your own. Most of the bloggers from the first series keep chickens too and were keen to join in again. This week I have an interview with Gavin Webber from the The Greening of Gavin

Gavin grows fruit and veges in Melton, Victoria, just south of the Great Dividing Ranges, on his suburban house block. Gavin also keeps chickens, has two worm farms, and many compost bins. His blog was recently awarded ReNew Magazine 2012 Blog of the Year, where he writes about his sustainable journey and lifestyle that was brought on by a green epiphany.  You can read more in Gavin's first interview about growing food.
Attracting well over 1.4 million page views, and containing over 1350 posts, The Greening of Gavin has been published nearly every day for the past 5 years, and is a treasure trove of sustainable living adv…

Reusable menstrual cups and pads

I'm only going to warn you once, if you don't want to read about menstruation, stop reading now!

All women will be aware of the amount of waste generated by most commercial products used at that "time of the month".  Whether you use tampons or pads, there is the product itself and all that packaging, all going in the bin or down the toilet. Think how much that builds up over the years.....

It turns out that there weren't any such disposable products until an excess of bandages following WWI led clever marketers to come up with disposable "feminine hygiene" "sanitary" products for women to use.  As explained in the first youtube video below, companies have accentuated the feelings of fear and taboo around menstruation in order to make their disposable products seem like the solution to an invented problem (if you're reading this in an email you'll have to follow the link to the blog post).

I don't like using anything disposable an…

Making a meal of it - book review

Do sometimes find yourself with a glut of something that you need to use up?  Or with a little bit of left-over something?  I was sent a book to review by Wakefield Press called "Making a Meal of it", by Jane Willcox and Rosemary Cadden, and they really have thought of a lot of ways to make meals that prevent food waste.  Its not just about veges either, they also include meat, cheese and eggs.


This is relevant to the permaculture principle I reviewed earlier in the month, produce no waste.  Food waste is a massive problem.  Not only is the food wasted, but also all the energy used to produce and transport the food.  One of the main ways we can reduce this waste is to eat locally and seasonally (more here).

This book is full of useful information, here is just a selection of the things I learnt or used from the book so far:
some varieties of apples keep better than others (buy/grow the good keepers such as Granny Smith)avocado, eggs and lemon slices can each be frozen for lon…