Wildflower Walks Out West 2012





Isn't it grand when someone else comes up with a beautiful walk to go on in a beautiful place...and then they do it over and over again, for free.  Well these groups of people have and the walks are through fields of wildflowers.  What could be more wonderful?  Having experts tell you about the plants, insects, and photography!  Can you believe it!

Meg

Propagating is not as hard as you think it is



The secret of propagating is to keep the soil moist at all times. I have my summer seeds all on the go: basil, zucchini, cucumber, watermelon, leek, squash, fennel and pumpkin. What I don't use I will take to either the high school or primary school garden.

Get your hands dirty lending a hand



There's a City of Melbourne spring planting day coming up on Sunday 28 October 11am to 3.00pm and it will be a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and meet people.


You will have the chance to get your hands dirty and help turn Melbourne green by joining the team from City of Melbourne Urban Forest at our Spring Planting Day in Royal Park.

Bring your friends and family and join in the fun activities on this fantastic family day out organised by the City of Melbourne.

It’s FREE and registration is on the day
Plants and tools will be provided.


Where?
Royal Park
Park Street, next to western oval


The new chick and coop

Well out of 6 eggs we got one chick. Not good odds really and it may well be a rooster still. Three were eaten by what we now think was a rat (they were stolen from the nest in the middle of the night) and 2 were not viable.


On the day the chick hatched it was mayhem in our yard. The other 2 chooks wanted to eat it so we need to separate them and quickly build another coop for mum and chick. Our new dog decided to get in on the action on the day and started to bark at the chooks the two who had been separated were going at each other.


Hubby and mr 11 couldn't build that coop fast enough!!

Mum is very protective

It is made from an old ladder cut in half (that was my contribution) and the box was made of scraps of timber (barge boards from the house) we had lying around. The top has bitumen lined paper stapled on top to keep it water proof. They are happy for now - until the chick grows too big. Then we will sort out plan b which will involve returning chooks to their owner (we are only looking after them for 5 months).

Carbon Price and Your Electricity Bill





One of my followers has passed this YouTube on me and it is a great initiative to help make the changes to our electricity bills more understandable.  It's a great little video.

The email came to me at a really good time as my hubby & I were just talking about the increases in power bills and whether those smart meters really are smart for the consumer or just smart for the power companies.  Everyone I know who has one seems to have had their power bill go up.

Have you got one?

Have you noticed any changes?

I would love to hear from you.

Give your money away???




I have always like to live with the motto, “Waste not, want not” and also am a great believer in the theory that there is enough food and money to go around in the world – if only we cared enough to share.  So, when this press release came across my desk the other day, it really spoke to me – Give your money away!  What a crazy concept – but maybe there is something in it.

On Saturday, 15 September at 138 worldwide locations, an event called Free Money Day took place.  It was timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman
Brothers. For the day, members of the public handed out their own money to complete strangers, asking recipients to pass half on to someone else. In its second year, ‘Free Money Day’ started
conversations about the benefits of alternative economies based on sharing and captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of people, from all walks of life.

This is the Press Release that they sent me:

FREE MONEY DAY A HUGE GLOBAL SUCCESS
138 Sites Worldwide Participated in ‘Free Money Day’ on September 15
Promoting Global Prosperity through Economies of Sharing

On Saturday, September 15, at 138 locations worldwide, members of the public handed out their own money to complete strangers, asking recipients to pass half on to someone else. In its second year, ‘Free Money Day’ started conversations about the benefits of alternative economies based on sharing and captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of people, from all walks of life.

“‘Free Money Day’ was a wonderfully rich experience. Across twenty-four countries, people were reminded of the mutual value associated with sharing and the ‘gift’ economy” said Australian Dr. Donnie Maclurcan, co-founder of the Post Growth Institute, the group behind the worldwide event.

‘Free Money Day’ was timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, now seen as a turning point in the development of the 2008 financial crisis. “With world debt at over US $190 trillion, and debt connected to growth economics by necessity, now is the time to explore how we might thrive in futures beyond economic growth,” said Dr. Maclurcan.

One hundred and thirty-eight ‘Free Money Day’ events occurred across 6 continents and 24 countries, from India to Nigeria, Kenya, Colombia, Australia and the U.S. More than US $3,600 was given away as well as land estimated to be worth $30,000. Dr. Maclurcan gave away $500 of his own money at Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

For more information, videos, a map of worldwide participation, testimonials and photos from Free Money Day 2012, visit: www.freemoneyday.org/media.
# # #

The Post Growth Institute is an international group exploring and inspiring paths to global prosperity that don’t rely on economic growth

Additional enquiries: media@freemoneyday.org; Dr. Donnie Maclurcan (spokesperson), +1 540 556 4857 Washington, D.C., USA (UTC/GMT -5 hours)

Twitter: @freemoneyday Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/freemoneyday

Ref: $190 trillion debt figure - Kyle Bass: http://www.scribd.com/doc/74335711/Hayman-Nov2011

There you go…

Meg

Eco World Travel


Aquila Eco Lodges - The Loft House

I, like most people, love travelling, however, I do prefer to go places that don’t leave me feeling like I have cost the earth with carbon miles, or that I have learnt something or seen something wonderful.  This is where Eco travelling comes in as the people have set up the accommodation have thought through these issues for you and are happy to share their knowledge with you.  One beautiful place that we took the family to is the Aquila Eco Lodge just out of Dunkeld in Victoria.  They have a fantastic loft house that works brilliantly for families and it is wonderfully peaceful to stay there.   The hosts were very happy to share their knowledge about how it was built and the sustainable features of the lodges. 

Gyreum Eco Lodge - Most Eco-Friendly Hotel

If you are wishing to have an eco travel experience further afield, then TripBase have set up a website that has some of the most eco friendly places in the world.  On this website they look at the people and organisations striving to make the world a more sustainable place (from the most eco-friendly country and city right down the most green home).   Some of these may surprise you and hopefully fill you with hope in a world where rainforests are being torn down, oil is being spilt and people are losing their land.  One of these featured is the Masdar City which was the ultimate exercise in zero emission in urban planning.   There is also a little hideaway in Ireland that was created almost entirely from the renewable materials surrounding it.  There are still many places, and this site I think is just the tip of the iceberg, that are places of sanctuary for the soul.

Bear Creak Dome - Most Eco-Friendly Home

If your feet are itching and you feel inspired, then pop on over to TripBase to see what is happening at the most eco-friendly country, the most eco-friendly city, the most eco-friendly development, the most eco-friendly hotel and the most eco-friendly home.  

Spring into Nature



I love spring.  I think that it is my favourite season.  The time of new growth, flowers and babies.  Trust For Nature have organised some precious private properties that have been nurtured back to something wonderful.  If you live in Victoria and would like to have a drive and wander through one of these delightful properties, then now is the time!

The walks are guided walks and you will get to talk with landowner and Trust for Nature staff about private land conservation.  It is a great opportunity to see wild flowers and threatened wildlife in their natural habitat.

Head to their website for more information: Trust for Nature

Kangaroo and Brown Rice Paella


Well, this is not paella in the traditional way, yet it certainly worked for us.  It was absolutely delicious and I just used what I had in the fridge and kitchen (no running to the shops at the last minute).  I used kangaroo steak as this is one of the main meats that we eat now really for environmental reasons and also because we love it.  There are huge benefits to be had by eating kangaroo.  It is really high in iron, they are free range (not fed on anything that you would rather not be ingesting yourself), there is barely any fat in the meat and the roos themselves have so little impact on the environment.  Living in Australia, I do think that we should eat more kangaroo, so we do.  

That being said, here is how I made dinner last night:


Kangaroo and Brown Rice Paella, Serves 6

2 brown onions, diced
2 tabs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
600g kangaroo steak, sliced
2 tsp turmeric
2 cups brown rice
2 tins of diced tomato
4 cups of chicken stock
1 capsicum, sliced
2 large carrots, julienne
1 cup of peas
1 tin of cannellini beans, drained

Heat your heavy based pan and pour the oil in.  Add the steak.  Remove the steak when brown. 
Add the onion and garlic and saute the onion and garlic until clear.  Add the turmeric, rice, tins of tomato, and stock.  Bring to the boil and turn down to medium.  Add the carrots and peas.  Stir occasionally ensuring that you don't burn the bottom.  Cook until the rice is nearly cooked (about 20 mins).  Add the steak back in, and the capsicum and cannellini beans and serve once the rice is cooked.  

Add a dash of chilli flakes for those who love the heat! 

If you have any coriander, sprinkle that on at the end. 


YUM!  

x Meg

Great Energy and Water Savings


Through our water company, we were offered a really great deal, where someone from  Ecovantage  came out to our house and swapped our old shower head which we had thought would save water, however it didn't.  The new one is GREAT and will actually save water!  It is a FlexiSpray Bermuda shower head and apparently will massage us as well.


The other brilliant thing that the guy Peter did for us was walk through our house finding all of the forgotten light bulbs that I hadn't yet changed over.  It is incredible that even after all of this time, I still have a few.  He was able to change 3 over, leaving a few still to be done.  The ones that he couldn't do were because they had dimmer switches, were dodgy bayonets or were downlights (only 4 of our 6 work and we dislike them so much that we have not replaced them - working with lamps instead).  He recommended for the downlights to change them over the  Low Voltage Halogen Dichroic Xenon Lamp

Low voltage globe

At $80 for a box of 10 globes, he reckons we will probably get our money back in a year.  The LED is a much more expensive option, it would cost us $125 for the 6 globes that we would need, then the additional costs of about $50 of the fittings (driver & flex and plug) to change over to the LED per light ($300) plus the cost of an electrician. 

LED light
LED fiitting

 This is certainly something that I would take into account when we get the sparky out here to do the work that we do need to do.  Until then, I am happy to go with the low energy globes.  They are globes that we are can put in ourselves.

The last couple of things that Peter looked at were putting the computer, TV and DVD on standby.  There are a number of new nifty power boards around now that are clever enough to understand when the machines haven't been used for a while and will automatically put the machines onto standby.  I was a little sceptical as we normally turn them off when we are done, however, there are some things that still don't turn off.  The DVD is one and I know that there are still a couple of little lights around the computer.  


On the TV he installed an Embertec board which will notice if we haven't done anything with the remote for an hour (we can change that to 2 hours or 3 or cancel it) and then will switch the TV and DVD off.  The standby power is then in the Embertec board which uses less power than the standby power in the TV or DVD.  


On the computer he installed an Emerald Planet board that will switch off all "slaves" to the computer (ie the printer, external hard drive, monitor) when the machine goes into low power or off.  It doesn't actually turn the computer itself off - I have to do that, so there is no risk of losing files.  


Feeling a little bit smuggly happy now (and writing a list of all the things that I still need to do; downlights, dimmable low energy globes, an electrician....etc).





The girls

We are looking after a friend's chooks for a few months and have fallen for them. The balance in the family has swung to an even keel. I am no longer the only female.
The girls are brilliant at dealing with all compost. They dig over the ground. They are so peaceful to look at and listen to.
This morning we had our first weird egg - shell free!! The girls had also smashed one egg. My egg allergy kid is on chook duty this week so he couldn't touch those eggs. Easy clean up and removed both to the compost bin so that I don't encourage them to eat their own.
Love chooks!!
Elsie & White Tail (Blackie is on the nest)
Elsie & White Tail
the smashed egg & the weird egg
Elsie & White Tail
Weird Egg

Living fundraisers: Grow-in-the-bag. Do they really grow?

Week 1

I bought these beautiful Grow-in-the-bag herbs (coriander, rocket and chives) from a friend of mine to help raise funds for her school a little while ago.  They are such a brilliant idea.  The bag comes with everything that you need in it other than water, patience and sunshine.  They only cost $6 each.  The concept of it is wonderful for people who either don't have the space to grow any herbs, or for growing herbs during winter.  They look lovely sitting on the window sill in the kitchen.   It is also a much healthier way to fund-raise than selling more chocolates.

That being said, the first photo is from one month ago and as you can see from the most recent photo from today, the chives do not thrive.  Now this could be some glitch at our end, or not.  It is a little disappointing, however, I can pop my own chive seeds in there with some fresh seed raising mix.  The rocket is coming along nicely as is the coriander.

Week 4

The people over at Living Fundraisers have a whole bunch of different options for fundraising other than just herbs and much healthier than chocolate, which I think we are getting quite tired of.  


I like them because they are Australian owned, organic, there is no upfront costs, 40% profit for your organisation or school and the products pretty much sell themselves.  I am hoping that the chive bag is a one off issue, maybe the seeds were planted too low or we may have over-watered the bag (they really don't need much water at all).  


Garage Sale Trail 2012..Today!



Everywhere you look today, you may stumble on a Garage Sale!  What a great way to find a treasure and meet a neighbour.  It is the great day of the Garage Sale Trail 2012.  There are so many garage sales that it will be hard to miss them. The question will be whether you will be able to carry it all home!

This is becoming an annual event, so don't worry if you missed out this year, there is plenty of time to prepare for next year.

Looking for Soil or Getting rid of it



I was busy yesterday doing my research for the high school garden that I am designing, trying to find big rocks in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, when I stumbled on this great website.


This is a site where you can offer the extrea soil that you have (it doesn't matter how much you have, or look for soil that you need.  You can rate the kinds of soil etc.  What a brilliant, brilliant and FREE tool!

The kind of things that you find out about the sod are:


  • Soil Provider
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Location
  • Type of fill
  • Amount of Soil
  • Will it cost you?
  • When is it available
  • Is it fireant free?
  • Fill  information
  • Collection/Delivery


Get into it and give and receive some sod!

Beware of the incoming Myrtle Rust to Melbourne





The dreaded myrtle rust disease is coming into the surrounds of Melbourne and metropolitan Melbourne and all home gardeners (and lovers of nature) need to be aware of what it looks like and what to do if they see it.

It is a fungal disease only recently found in Victoria and poses a serious threat to Victoria's nursery, forestry and bee keeping industries, not to mention our public parks, native forests and gardens and our home gardens; our places of sanctuary.  It has the potential to attack all species of the Myrtaceae plant family. serious concern because the fungus spreads very easily and because the Myrtaceae is a dominant plant group in both natural ecosystems and the plantation industry.

Myrtle rust poses no threat to human or animal health.

Interestingly, this disease has only been detected in Australia for a very short time, and has spread quite quickly in that time.  It was first found in NSW in April 2010 and by December of the same year, the "Myrtle Rust National Management Group" realised that it would not be able to eradicate it.

It is up to every one us Australian, Victorians, New South Waliens, etc, to do our little bit in keeping our eyes peeled for it, and then following the correct procedures once we have seen it.  We also have to be mindful about moving foliage from one forest to another, what is on our tyres once we leave or enter a National Park: are we putting this park into a vulnerable state.


What does myrtle rust look like?
The two pictures above give a representation of the myrtle rust disease on two plants.  It attacks young, soft, actively growing leaves, shoot tips and young stems, as well as fruits and flower parts of susceptible plants.
The first signs of myrtle rust infection are tiny raised spots that are brown to grey, often with red-purple haloes. Up to 14 days after infection, the spots produce masses of distinctive yellow/orange spores.



Reporting
In Victoria, it is a legal requirement that any suspected myrtle rust detection be reported to DPI.
Phone the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 (toll-free), or email photos of the suspect material, together with a contact phone number and the plant’s location, to plant.protection@dpi.vic.gov.au
To avoid spreading the disease, samples of suspect plants should not be touched, moved or collected.



Which plants are affected?
All members of the Myrtaceae plant family are potential
hosts of myrtle rust.
The family includes:

  • gum trees (Eucalyptus)
  • bottlebrush (Callistemon, Melaleuca)
  • tea tree (Leptospermum)
  • lilly pilly (Syzygium, Acmena, Waterhousea)
  • paperbark (Melaleuca)
  • myrtle (Backhousia)
  • guava (Psidium)
  • midyim (Austromyrtus)
  • rose apple (Syzygium)
  • brush box (Lophostemon)
  • New Zealand Christmas bush (Metrosideros).


Which plants are not affected?
Plants which are not in the Myrtaceae family and therefore
not hosts of myrtle rust include:

  • citrus 
  • azaleas 
  • camellias
  • stone fruit 
  • pines 
  • grevilleas
  • pome fruit 
  • roses 
  • wattles
  • vegetables 
  • daisies 
  • banksias
  • clovers 
  • rhododendrons 
  • ferns
  • crepe myrtle 
  • orchids
  • lilies.

However, these and other non-Myrtaceae plants may show similar symptoms due to infection by other rusts.

How does it spread?
Rusts are highly transportable because they can produce large numbers of very small spores.
Myrtle rust can be dispersed by:
• movement of infected plant material (e.g. nursery stock, cut flowers, plant cuttings, germplasm)
• movement of contaminated equipment (e.g. secateurs, chainsaws)
• wind, water (wind-driven rain, irrigation) and gravity
• animals (e.g. insects including bees, birds, other wildlife, pets)
• humans (e.g. on clothing, shoes and jewellery)
• vehicles.


There are things that you can do if you find it in your home garden, other than just reporting it.

How to treat myrtle rust in your home garden

1. Use an approved fungicide
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has issued permits for the use of certain fungicides to control myrtle rust in home gardens and to decontaminate infected myrtle rust host plant material before disposal. The permits can be accessed via the DPI website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/myrtlerust. Your local nursery or chemical supplier may also be able to assist.
Before using a fungicide, read the permit together with the product label to determine the applicable directions for use.
In severely infected areas, susceptible host plants should be removed, since re-infection after fungicide treatment is highly likely.
Protection may be improved by treating a plant with fungicide after removing infected parts.

2. Remove infected plants
Infected plants should be removed and disposed of in a way that minimises the spread of myrtle rust.
a. Spray infected and unaffected plants with a fungicide 3-4 days prior to removal. If fungicide treatment is not possible, carefully wet the plants prior to removal to dampen any spores likely to be dispersed during removal.
b. Remove plants. Small plants should be enclosed in a plastic bag before being either pulled or dug out. For potted plants, the whole plant, plus the pot, should be placed into the bag and sealed, if practical. If pots need to be retained, they should be thoroughly scrubbed with detergent and water, then left to dry completely before they are used again.
Larger plants that do not fit in waste bins can be cut into smaller pieces, securely covered with black plastic or similar and put in a sunny place for 3-4 weeks to kill spores.
c. Dispose of bagged plants by burying on-site, placing in general domestic waste bins, or transporting in a covered vehicle/trailer to a general waste disposal site (not a green waste site). Do not use infected plants as mulch.

3. Remove healthy plants
To reduce the risk of a significant infection developing on your property, plant species known to be highly susceptible to myrtle rust can be removed prior to infection.
Healthy plants showing no signs of infection can be discarded as normal garden waste. If you are unsure whether plants are infected with myrtle rust, use the methods outlined above for removing diseased plants.
Please note: The removal of native vegetation may require a planning permit. Residents who are considering this option should seek advice from their local council on whether or not a permit is required.

Hygiene
After removing and disposing of infected plants, wash clothing and clean any equipment with water and detergent before starting other activities that may infect further plants.
You can reuse pots, wooden stakes and other items that have been in contact with an infected plant. However, you should thoroughly scrub these items with detergent and water, and leave them to dry completely, before reusing them.


Replanting
If infected plants have been removed, replanting with similar species, or other Myrtaceae plants, may result in re-infection.  Select replacement plants that are unlikely to become infected. Contact your local nursery for advice.  In bushland areas, including regeneration sites, use local plants not known to be affected by myrtle rust.



Where I got this information and Where to get the most up to date information:
Go to the Department of Primary Industries of Victoria website for the most up to date information on Myrtle Rust Disease:
Myrtle Rust


Remember, always, seek advice when dealing with plant diseases and don't take a piece of diseased plant to your nursery for identification.  You can take a picture of it to show them instead, or email the photo to the DPI team at plant.protection@dpi.vic.gov.au  where they will be able to allay your fears, or assist you with the treatment program.


Out with summer, in comes autumn

The "before" shots



What a weekend we have just had.  I am completely exhausted.  My bones are weary, but my garden is beautiful.  We had a long weekend here in Victoria and one of my kids had booked a bunch of things in so that meant that we were stuck in town, but not wanting to get down in the dumps about it, I took the opportunity to get my hands into the garden, and boy did it need it!.  The vegie garden was sad and over summer.  It was time to rip things out, fill it up with compost (I will talk my composting moment another day) and put in the new winter vegetables.  


It was also time to review exactly how many parsley plants I really did need (probably not that as many as I had). 


I found that my dwarf peach was shooting below the graft, so that needed to be trimmed.


I gave the oregano a really good haircut and put it all in a paper bag to dry out in the kitchen to use.  This is the one herb that I love dried and always have a paper bag of this in the kitchen.  This my improved version of drying oregano (also known as a lazier version, but it works!). 


The end result for the vegetable garden was incredibly pleasing when I finally sat down with my aching back.  Two beds full of compost and fertiliser, and all of the vegetables planted with a nice wet and soggy layer of sugar cane mulch on top.  

I have planted:
leek
chives
lettuce
mizuna
rocket
spinach
broccoli
beetroot
cabbage
bok choy
cauliflower
red cabbage
rainbow chard
marigold (for the bugs)



I have still to plant once the eggplant, beans and basil and completely done:
broad beans
more lettuce
coriander


I will plant my carrots in and around my natives as I have always had much more luck with them doing it this way.

Lemon Tree Woes with Citrus Leaf Miner and Gall Wasp



If you have been following along, you may know that I have not been a very good lemon tree gardener.  This is lemon tree number five, and as you can see, it is already having issues and is not yet an adolescent.

I called in some experts (ha ha!), well I asked some of my Facebook friends, who confirmed for me that it was the Leaf Miner that I was looking at.  After doing further research, it seems that this is exactly what it is and it is requiring some drastic treatment.

I need to cut off all of the affected leaves (which appear to be most of the new leaves plus some of the older ones) and spray it with oil.  I have stumbled on a great green oil that will not affect the good bugs, the Eco Oil, which is an Australian product (yay!!) on the Green Harvest site (this is a great site to stumble on if you are looking for green products for the garden).

Having not used any sprays, poisons etc in my garden so far, this suits me just fine as the benefits of it are that it will kill the bug but not be dangerous in any way to us as it is made of edible, safe products. This is what the Green Harvest site had to say about it:



Eco-Oil BFA Organic
Eco-Oil is a registered miticide/Insecticide. It is a botanical oil that contains canola oil, eucalyptus oil, melaleuca oil and several surfactants. Surfactants help the oil stick to the leaf. It controls pests by contact, so complete coverage of plants is important. For best results spray at the first sign of infestation. Repeat application may be necessary. Eco-Oil controls citrus leafminer, scale, two-spotted mite, aphids, whitefly and various sap-sucking insects. Oil sprays should not be used at temperatures above 35°C. Do not apply to plants suffering heat or moisture stress. Application rate is 5-10mL per litre of water.
How does it work?
When eco-oil is applied directly onto an insect, including aphids, mites and whiteflies it blocks the breathing holes and prevents the carbon dioxide from being expelled from the body. This effectively smothers the insect. When eco-oil is applied to citrus leaves it prevent the nocturnal citrus leafminer moth from landing and laying her eggs into the leaves. Both the smell and the oil layer left by the spray deters the moth.

Material Safety Data Sheet

Benefits of using eco-oil
  • eco-oil has no significant impact on beneficial insect numbers
  • under sunlight eco-oil dissipates faster than petroleum-based oils, resulting in less risk of phototoxicity
  • there is no withholding period when sprayed on edible crops
  • there is no chemical residue left on plants
  • no protective clothing needs to be worn
  • it smells better than petroleum-based oils
  • it is manufactured in Australia using Australian grown canola oil, which helps support Australian farmers



So, with no further ado, I will be ordering this, and beginning the project of Save Lemon Tree Number Five.



When I snipped off the affected leaves, I did notice that there were a couple of beginnings of gall wasp swellings on the tree as well, so these have been snipped off.  I know that it is really hard to keep under control living in such a high density area, however, I would feel negligent not doing my bit.  It's the little things that make a lot of difference.

Reduce Carbon Locally



This weekend we decided to have a our own little 40 hour carbon reducing time/reconnecting with each other again time.  We were also really hankering for more of a simple time, missing the outdoors.  The boys put up the tent with the Big Guy, and I set about organising the fire pit on top of the grassy area.

It was beautiful to sit around the fire that night, looking at the fire and the stars, remembering different places that we had been camping around Australia and stories that people had told us.  It was a great way to connect. we used the solar lanterns from the garden as our lighting.  It felt relaxed and peaceful.

Breaky was slow cooked on the fire (fuel by sticks and hardwood in the backyard), as was lunch the next day.  There really is something to be said for just slowing down a little.

On Sunday night, Mr 12, the oldest, told me that he was much more relaxed sleeping in his sleeping bag and tent than in his bed.  This may become a more regular event!

Getting rid of the Deadwood




There comes a time in every garden’s season where one needs to just get out there and have a good look through to see what is really going on in there.  For us this happened just a couple of weeks ago.  It sort of happened by accident as we had a number of boxes to take to the green waste (we had missed the monthly council pickup by moments due to a great deal of mismanagement) and thought we may as well fill up the car since we were going.  So what began as a “let’s just do a little bit more of a tidy up since it has been nearly a month”, ended up being a massive four hour clean-up of discovery.

Looking around we found that lost behind the green beautiful bushes, were some dead trees!  We had forgotten to look up obviously for some time, time enough for a couple of wattles to die.  I put the 4 boys onto the job while I set about trimming the unruly Cassia hedge.  It has really been the star of our garden from the moment that I planted it.  It lasted through the drought with barely a drop of water, whilst still giving flowers, and then when the drought broke, it continued to bloom and grow.  While I perched precariously on my wobbly stool with secateurs in one hand and pruning saw in the other, I did begin to notice the vast difference between the two sides of the garden.  One hedge on one side was low and thick, and the one that I was hovering over was tall and woody at the top and slightly thicker at the bottom, but certainly heaps taller than the other side.  I had a completely lopsided hedge!  

With a swapping of tools, after a little bribing because for some unknown reason the kids had ended up with the really great long reach snippers and the hedge trimmers, I got right into it in a way that would make Edward Scissorhands proud.  Before we knew it, there was no space for hedge regrets.  It was cut; short and sharp.  Matt and I stood back and assured ourselves that it was all ok, it was just like a really short haircut, it would be much better in a couple of weeks, just a little woody right now.  We vowed to come back at it with the hedge trimmers on a weekly basis to “thicken it up”, get the sideways, internal growth happening.  Inside, I am just crossing my heart, and my fingers and toes…  I hope that it all works and that I didn’t cut so much that that bushes think that have been killed (eep!). 

The thing is about these plants is that they are hardier than people realise, and mostly don’t mind a prune.  Most native plants actually are able to be pruned and shaped, just like other plants.  It is possible to have an “ordered” or slightly ordered garden with natives; they don’t always have to be left in their natural state.  In their natural state they would actually have animals pushing past them, and people and weather breaking bits off.  This is the natural pruning, so it is ok to take it into your own hands and give your natives a good prune, they will be more likely to thicken up rather be straggly.  It is also a great idea to clear out the dead sticks and branches; it gives you a chances to see what is going on with the health in the garden.  When we pull out the dead trees, we found borer in them.  It is a different borer to what is found in furniture; however, I will now be on the lookout for them in other plants.  This is a reminder to me that I need to fertilise more and water more.  Borer attacks trees that are under stress, suffering malnutrition and have a lack of water.  In my front yard (where these trees were) I have not tended to water a great deal as the plants (all being local native plants) don’t really need it to survive.  Well, now I know, need it or not for survival, there was obviously a need, and I must get water to that area on a regular basis, along with the Seasol (this seems to work well with the natives). 

So that is my work cut out for me, sorting out my watering issues, filling in the gaps, keeping that hedge in line and the continual vegie patch!  The lawn has been keeping me very busy too.  I am now down to a fortnightly trimming (can’t really call it mowing when I am using a whipper snipper), and it is so lush that I can lie on it!  I now understand that whole lawn pride thing that people get.  I have suddenly got it, especially since I planted each tiny little plant into the ground by hand (how many years ago now?)!  For those who are interested, Lemon Tree V still lives, although I did note today that there is an ugly leaf thing going on the very top leaves.  I am going to have to pull it off and visit Russell and Deb at Kensington Garden Centre to get help before I end up looking for Lemon Tree VI!

I am stuffing my face with basil, tiny tomatoes and zucchini at the moment! Hooray for summer harvests! Til next time, happy gardening! 

My KeepCup is a Keeper


For Christmas this year I got a really ace present, one that I have been really wanting for ages, in fact, ever since I first saw them in the first design market when they popped out a couple of years ago, but, being a bit of a non-consumer, I didn't buy it, yet.  I didn't really have a need for it, but it was gorgeous and a really clever, clever design.

The best bit was that it was the brain child of Melbournites, people from my town!  The KeepCup.  Now everyone has one and they come in so many different colours and sizes, even corporate's have got in on the secret.   For those who don't know what the KeepCup is, it is a reusable barista standard takeaway plastic BPA free cup for coffee (and tea etc for those who are not partakers in the caffeine tradition) reducing the need for the takeaway foam or paper cups that so many people use (and are not able to be recycled).  It comes with a lid (you are able to choose the colours if you wish) and plug (to stop your coffee spilling out as you run for the train) and a band that gives you the choice to circle the type of coffee type you like so you don't even have to speak to your barista!

There are so many reasons that Abigail and James Forsyth (a brother and sister team) have got the formula right with the KeepCup and for those out there who have a great sustainable or environmental product, it is worth looking up and taking notice.  They have made something that beautiful, that people want and need.  It is a product that incredibly usable, without any hippy feel to it.  They are not marketing to the people who are already carrying their bags to the supermarkets.  They are marketing to those who haven't even thought about the environment yet which gets people who are not necessarily thinking about it, starting their journey towards a better environment.  This is a really important thing to think about.

All that being said, I love my new KeepCup, it is white, pink and purple and keeps my coffee warm until I am ready to drink it (flat white, strong and no sugar please).

DumboFeather Magazine, another fantastic thing to come out about the same time, have had Marc Whiteway do a beautiful interview with Abigail which I found to be very insightful.  It really is worth a watch if you have the time. 
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