Update on 2012 Themes – March April and May

Following on from our ‘Themes for 2012′ here’s a quick recap on what we’ve been up to in March, April and May.

1 Permaculture Gardening – We’ve made a few changes to our garden over the last few months mainly in establishish a larger food forest area directly below our chook house. The food forest is an area for most of our fruit trees and perennial vegetables and is an important part of the Permaculture system. We’re now growing most of our annual vegetables right near the kitchen and we’re building some additional stone beds repaired our terraced vegie beds using recycled fence palings. We finished the plant nursery and will fit it out over the next few months. We built our first vertical garden just outside the nursery and added a few medicinal and tea plants to the garden.

2 Sustainable food includes growing your own, cooking from scratch, vegetarian cooking, preserving food and minimising food miles – We’ve planted out our winter vegie garden and have a great range of winter annuals and perennials growing.  Our pullets Pipsqueak and Dusta started laying in the last week of May and we’re now at the grand total of 249 eggs since October last year.

The new girls

We preserved 4 bottles of choko pickles, 2 jars of rosella jam, 3 jars of lime pickles and 6 jars of traditional Indian lime pickle which will keep us going for a while.

We picked of our tomatoes in May and were amazed at a total of 20kgs for the season. We’re consistently eating 4 vegetarian meals per week, made 120 bottles of ginger beer, replaced bought muesli with our own home made version and we’re making our own  hommus, yoghurt and another 12 loaves of bread.

3 Saving Energy – Unfortunately we received confirmation that our house isn’t suitable for solar power. We have a huge eucalyptus tree overhanging the north-eastern side of our house and we’re not prepared to sacrifice the cool it provides to our house in Summer at this stage. But I’m really proud of the kids because they’ve help us reduce our daily electricity usage by yet another kilowatt. As electricity prices rise that’s a great achievement and we’ll continue to look at ways of reducing it even further.

4 Water Saving – We’ve hooked up another water tank and connected a new pump to our overflow tank. We’ve installed a self-watering vertical garden.

5 Creating healthy soil, composting and worm farming and reducing waste – We’ve been impressed with the Bokashi bin and continue to re-use all our food scraps sharing them amongst the chooks, worm farm and compost bins. Every single scrap is going towards the production of nutrient rich soil. It’s been over a year since we’ve put out our green bin and continue to make mountains of mulch from leaves on our property.

6 Reusing old materials, roadside collectables and hand-me-downs – Our local Council had another kerbside cleanup in April and we scrounged some fantastic pre-loved goodies: terracotta pots, PVC pipe, 2 gates, a wooden garden seat, wooden photo frames, plastic pots, a billy cart with brand new wheels for our seedling tray, hardwood pallets for a future garden bed project and some used chaff bags. We got given a second hand juicer, some old baking ware, a stack of spinning wheels, 2 large bags of limes and 5 chokos.

7 Greener cleaning – We’ve made another 2 batches of rosemary hair rinse which is a total winner, another batch of soap and started using home made citrus enzyme cleaner.

8 Getting organised – We got rid of some unwanted junk at the last Council cleanup and took a stack of pre-loved books, clothes and electrical kitchenware to the local Op Shop for sale. I’ve been thinking a lot about getting organised lately and can feel a plan building but there’ll be more on that later.

9 Community, skilling up and getting back to basics – We ran a presentation at our April Permaculture meeting and ran a small group soap making work shop at home. We celebrated Earth Hour with a candlelit dinner and (Inter)National Permaculture Day visiting some local gardens. We’ll be learning some new skills with Costa Georgiadis at a Milkwood Permaculture course in September and I’m plugging away at my knitting and finished one of a pair of my first ever socks.

As always, we’re keeping busy but achieving lots. Stay tuned for my next update on…user friendly garden beds.

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