Saturday, September 16, 2017

Home and Garden catchup

Well we've been home for a week (feels like months!). It was nice to get home and very pleasing to see that my veggie garden was not only still alive, but it had been cleaned up and mulched. We had two backpackers here helping Maitland while we were away and they'd been busy. The house was cleaned (I can see through my windows again!), the lawn mowed and the garden was lovely and tidy. I had lost a few plants and they had failed to water the lawn, so while it was mowed, it was nearly dead! My tomatoes, which had really only just started producing and were absolutely loaded before I left, had been decimated by chickens - they managed to get under the bird netting, and so I don't have too many of them left. I'm hoping if I keep the water up they may improve.

Each year I have a go at growing brassica's and garlic. It's always a bit tricky as we don't always have enough cool weather and this winter was a very warm one, so they haven't amounted to much. I planted broccoli and several types of cabbage, and some of them have hearted up, but nothing bigger than my fist! The broccoli hasn't formed any heads at all. So my plan for this weekend is to pick most of them and make some sauerkraut and kimchi. The garlic I'll leave in and see how it goes. I could pick it now and use it as spring garlic, but am still undecided. The kale and silverbeet have done really well.

Kale and cabbages

Warrigal Greens - these self sow every year

more Kale, Cabbages and the uneventful broccoli

Garlic, with a row of newly planted beans.

The garden was all ready for me to plant some more seedlings into, so lucky I brought some with me.  I've planted out two types of beans (dwarf and snake), rainbow chard because it's pretty and good for you, black Russian tomatoes because they did well last year and seemed to repel the bugs. And I also planted a punnet of lettuce seedlings, which will probably go to seed, but I will hopefully get some lunches out of them. The lettuce went really well over winter, which is a buggar, because we don't tend to eat much lettuce in winter!

The asparagus bed, which I cut and mulched this year (just in time) has been producing, but not as prolifically as I would like. Maybe I need to cut it back and mulch it earlier. I usually wait until it dies off, but there's not enough time between then and when it starts warming up again. Doesn't help when winter doesn't start until mid June and then is finished by July! Also, the asparagus bed is not protected by the chooks so it's been getting scratched up a bit. I did have most of my chooks under control until we went away and the pet pigs busted the death row chickens out! So now there's about 10 chooks and roosters getting their revenge for me locking them away!

My little rainbow chard seedlings

I've had a couple of eggplants for the last couple of years. They died off, but this one has started re-shooting, so I thought I'd see if it comes back.

The other thing I brought back from my holiday was seaweed and sea water. I only brought a small amount of seaweed. Half I put into my worm/compost bin and the other half went into a 200L drum for a batch of liquid manure. Added to this was: the sea water (10L), wheelbarrow load of cow manure, some human urine, and topped up with fresh water. If my comfrey hadn't also been decimated by the chooks, I would've added some of that, and as I write this I remembered aloe vera, so I'll chop up some of that to add to it. I'll stir this brew every day for about a month - it's ready when it smells better than it does right now! I'll then dilute it about 10 to 1 and water my plants.

I did have a full wheelbarrow of manure, but only thought to take a photo halfway through.

Seaweed - I did give it a quick hose off before adding it to the compost and 200L drum.

All you people in the southern states will be getting excited about Spring planting,  but for us up here the growing just gets harder from now on. We have a very short spring. As it'll be hot as very soon,  the challenge is to get plants in now and get them well established before it gets too hot. Once it's hot,  planting seedlings is like burning money! 

Now all we need is some rain.............

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fast Fashion

There are so many ways that we can do our bit to create a smaller footprint on this earth. I bang on about regenerative farming ALOT as you know, but this is another thing we need to be aware of - Fast Fashion and the damage it can cause.

When I was a kid, Christmas was pretty special, because we would just about always get a new outfit. One outfit a year! In between times we wore hand me downs or second hand clothes. I can remember being so excited when Mum would bring a bag of clothes for us to go through and find what we liked. Then as I got older I learnt to sew and that was amazing. My sister and I would make our own clothes, trying to be a little bit trendy. And then when we went to boarding school, life really opened up and we would borrow clothes off our friends.

So naturally as I got older and got a job, one thing I spent money on was clothes! I do remember though that I often chose expensive labels as I knew they would last longer (not because I could afford it!). Now, I see my daughter and her friends and they are always buying new clothes. Online shopping just makes it so much easier!

There are so many problems with fashion today. There’s a lot in the media about fast fashion and the ethics of fashion. Basically slave labour is used in a lot of cases, even with (or especially with) well know fashion brands. This site, Ethical Clothing Australia lists some brands that you may want to check out. I noticed that Nobody Jeans is on the list and I absolutely love my nobody’s – in fact I don’t know that I would buy any other jeans again!

People buy cheap clothes and because they are cheap they don’t last – they either end up in land fill or second hand shops. This does extend the life of the clothes but more often than not they are only fit for rags, thus eventually ending up in landfill soon after. How were those cheap clothes produced? With cheap labour, slave labour.

Re-use and re-cycle. Don’t just throw things out, fix them. This is a bit tricky because a lot of things are poorly made, and we also don’t really have to skills today that our parents or grandparents may have had to fix clothes. My biggest problem is finding the time to do it! 

This is another reason to choose better quality, it may cost more initially but it will save money in the long term through better longevity. Shop at op shops, by buying second hand, at least you save things from going into land fill, for a while. I’ve heard of people that only choose natural fibres so that they can put their old clothes in the worm farms – you may need to pick out the buttons or zips! There are so many costs when it comes to clothes. The cost of the raw materials, the damage to communities through cheap labour, and of course how to dispose of them when there are so many clothes made each year.  

I’ve been trying to find clothes at op shops, but don’t always have much success. However, I will try to source any new clothes from ethical manufacturers or locally made clothes, and I’ll keep checking out the op shops as I can. This theory of buying better quality to last longer, to fix or re-use can be used for all our consumables. The idea of a throw away society has got to stop.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Real Food

Some people find it hard to eat real food when on holidays and if you aren't staying somewhere where you can cook for yourself, it is a real challenge. It can also be hard to find ethical or organic ingredients. Because our holiday spot is close to where we live and regularly shop, we are lucky this time around. We've brought our own meat, have been able to fruit and vegetable shop at our regular markets and we are also close to That Wholefood Place. I stocked up there on a few things, including spelt flour for bread and the ingredients for some cacao bliss balls and muesli (as we ate all the muesli I brought with me, so had to make more). These bliss balls are super easy to make (if you have a thermomix) and are better than chocolate for a chocolate fix. I couldn't be bothered making them into balls, it is far easier to press the mixture into a square shape and then cut into small squares when cool and set.

Lucky I enjoy cooking as I've been doing a bit while away. I haven't preserved my mackerel yet, but hope to get it done - maybe tomorrow. Can't do too much in a day! I did bring my sour dough starter down, but wasn't quite organised enough today and I wanted some fresh bread to have with our left over fish chowder that we had last night for dinner. I did go to the shops to see if I could buys some sourdough but they didn't have any that looked real. So I have baked a loaf - didn't have quite enough spelt flour for it, and couldn't get more from the local store but could get some organic amaranth flour, so I've put about a third of that in the mix. It gives it a nice nutty flavour.

Eating like this is not necessarily cheaper, because buying organic ingredients to cook can be more expensive than going to the local grocery store and buying "normal" packaged food. I know I've mentioned it before, but I just can't eat regular store bought food - I'm allergic to it!

Eating real food is one of the principles that I believe in, both for my own health and the health of the planet. I've been planning a few posts that I'm half way through writing, where I'm going to discuss may views on ways to have a smaller footprint on our planet. The environmental cost to the way we live is huge and there are many ways that we as individuals can have an impact, but it does mean some (maybe major) lifestyle changes. Not everyone is prepared or even aware of the changes necessary and we can't make people change anyway. So we can only do our bit and hopefully lead by example.