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Sunday, 27 September 2015

A Great Freebie and Why I'm Not Composting Kitchen Scraps

Strange Coincidence?
Last week as I was making my cold frames I thought - what I need is perspex to cover them. Well Derek arrived home from work that night with 6 sheets of perspex! His whole office has just moved and he has come home with a few things that were about to be thrown out.

The vege garden is full of constructions using free materials. Not pretty, but well, free.


The perspex had been covering some posters and was a bit scratched - but perfect for covering my plants. I'm saving one sheet to make a solar dehydrator like the one below for the abundant tomatoes I'm hoping to grow. 



Eschewing the compost bin with the kitchen scraps
I remember when I was young that we always dug the kitchen scraps into a trench in the garden. So when I discovered that we had rodents in our compost bins again, I decided burying it all was the way to go. Since then I have read, in "Organic NZ" magazine, that it is far better to bury scraps than to compost them. The scraps break down much quicker, and "much more fixed carbon stays fixed, incorporated directly into live cells and bodies that will become food for other life forms in the web of soil life".
The garden soil is looking great and is full of worms. I usually throw a handful of sheep pellets in with the scraps as that encourages those worms to get in there.

So here's where that compost went...

Before and after


.. because I couldn't stand the thought of using it around the food crops. It made an instant garden, along with free driftwood from the river, and free plants that I split up from the garden. 
So now I just use the compost bins for lawn clippings and garden waste and use the contents on the ornamentals.


Monday, 21 September 2015

A Seed Raising Tip and Some Upcycling in the Garden

The blog posts are a bit infrequent at the moment as I find myself settling into making the same things that I have already posted about. That's a good thing - it means that those things have become habits that I can sustain.
Last week I whipped up a batch of dog food, using up some items from the pantry and fridge that were past their best. I described my process for ecofriendly dogfood here, but I have yet to get the cat to eat anything that doesn't come with too much packaging.

Batch of dog food


but he's gorgeous, my old Cinderpuss

Acting like a kitten


I've been out in the garden too. My seedlings have just taken off - I think thanks to a tip I read from Lynda Hallinan who experimented with seed raising techniques and discovered that those that did best were the ones watered with warm water. Good enough for me, and I would have to agree - best ever growth.
Those are all recycled pots and tags -I haven't had to buy any plants this year.


In fact so good that my courgettes and cucumbers are of a size ready to plant out, but the weather is still a bit cool here. Today I fossicked around (as gardeners do) to find materials to make protective tents for those plants. I came up with these old beehive boxes, which are just perfect. One has a plastic lid that we found in the mangroves, the other I have stapled recycled plastic to.



I'm feeling more confident about the survival of my plants  - although you can spot some Quash (eco friendly) snail and slug bait in there. Quash is an iron compound, beneficial to plants but toxic to slugs and snails. However our personal tally from wandering about at night with torches and boiling water, is now over 3,000 slugs and snails. 
Lastly, a shot of our lime tree which is just thriving. It gets mulched with seaweed and lawn clippings, fed with citrus fertilizer 3 -4 times/ year.

The Tahitian lime tree - covered in blossom, little fruit and ready to pick fruit


Thanks for visiting

Thursday, 10 September 2015

If You Hate to Throw Old Photos Away - Ideas.

I've just been sorting a box of old photos that I have had since the pre-digital age.
Among them were photos that were terrible - you know the ones - arty shots that didn't work, boring ones you took as a tourist, photos with your ex in them...but I have trouble throwing them out.
Yesterday I scrutinized them with an artists eye to see if there was anything I could salvage from them...and this is what I came up with....

A  mosaic of cut up photos on a theme

First up I cut several summer photos into squares (uneven of course, I don't do straight lines). They became a mosaic. What I noticed was that each little square became an artwork in itself. I have put them into the upcycled book that I nabbed to make into an art journal. Every so often it has a quote, and these blue half pages, which are a great feature.

Next I cut out anything redeemable in a photo - such as the next two pictures. 

A lizard we saw in Australia - now an interesting feature in my art journal

My daughter in a tinsel wig when she was little - released from a bad photo

Sometimes there is a feature that can be enhanced - like these belly dancers. Using a blade to scratch away the background highlights them and makes it arty.
Scrape away the distracting background


I drew on this really old, faded photo of the Sydney Opera House with a fine tip permanent ink pen, then cut it out. Now it's interesting.



Once I started I kept thinking of more things I wanted to do with the large pile of would-be rubbish photos. I'll take some before photos next time, I was just too engrossed to remember to do it this time.
Anyone else got good ideas to share for using up those photos? 


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Grumpy Old Codger

Sometimes I fear that I am turning into that Grumpy Old Codger.

The more I travel down my own path of steps to be more environmentally conscious, the more annoyed I get with others and have to restrain myself from commenting. Because being all righteous doesn't help.
For example, in town the other day I watched a woman stub out her cigarette and flick it into a drain - one marked with a clear environmental message.


I wanted to bring it to her attention, a lecture on the damage from chemicals in cigarette butts to our marine life -  but didn't. Would you have?

The supermarket is another challenge. As they pack my cloth bags, I always look along the row of checkout counters to see if I can spot anyone else not using plastic bags. Sometimes there are one or two. At the moment at the supermarket that I frequent there is a promotion where they give little plastic "kitchen" treats away. When I declined them, the checkout operator asked if I would be happy to give them to someone else. I would have said "please don't, I am trying to reduce plastic waste" except right behind me was a little girl looking at me with hope, so I mumbled "sure - go ahead". 


And Daffodil Day (NZ Cancer Society) - every donor gets a plastic/synthetic flower pin. Now for that one I will write them a little email, requesting they go back to real flowers or biodegradable stickers. Of course we can just refuse them - but most people don't.
Cancer Society's daffodil pin

Then there is wanting to correct everyone's spelling mistakes.You would think I am perfect to feel like this, but no, I make spelling mistakes myself, as some of you will probably have noticed. And there is still some plastic in my shopping trolley...

Fortunately there are enough fabulous green and creative innovations going on in the world that keep me from feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I love getting feeds of Treehugger.comTrash is for TossersGlobal Slow MovementColossal (an art design and visual culture website)Make Do and Mend.orgGreen Ideas.co.nz
If you are not a Facebook fan these links will take you to their homepages anyway. Go on - if there is something new to you there, go give yourself a treat with your coffee break.