Broad beans planting

It’s autumn. Everywhere I look in this beautiful part of the world I see autumnal colours – reds, yellows, oranges, browns. The light is amazing too! Varying from the soft pink tinge of the morning through to bright blue sunny skies and radiant sunsets.

Today I planted broad beans. Two varieties. One crimson flowered, the other chocolate flowered. It’s a leap of faith pressing dried up bean seeds into the ground. Hoping we’ll be rewarded with an abundance.

While I planted, the ducks strutted, the chooks scratched and the magpies stole fat juicy worms from my beds…poor little squirmers disturbed by me, digging up the beds in preparation for planting. They’re so cheeky those magpies. They come within a metre of me while I dig and plant. I guess they see it as worth it. Such delicious wormy goodness they lose their fear and warble for me while they take their ill gotten gains.

I don’t mind really. It’s such a wonderful experience being out in the garden that we all enjoy – chooks, ducks, maggies and me.

Only 15 – 20 weeks until we enjoy a fab crop of fresh broad beans. Can’t hardly wait!

Harvest

Today was harvest day. Starting with my lavender rows, I harvested the second round of lavender flowers for the year. The bees were not happy and I felt a bit guilty that I was taking away their flowers. That said, the flowers were starting to fall in the dirt and I probably should have harvested them a couple of weeks ago…except I felt sorry for the flowers and the bees. I had a selfish interest in keeping the flowering plants for just that bit longer. I couldn’t bring myself to cut down their beauty.

That said, when I came to harvest today, many of the flowers were leaning so low in the dirt that they’re really not good for anything much. The big rains we’ve had have bowed their heads. The really dirty cuttings went into the chicken shed. They’re edible varieties…not sure the chooks will like them…but I’ve read they’re good for keeping pests or bugs or something away, so I thought I couldn’t hurt.

We…the chap and I…also harvested a lot of produce from our veggie patch today. Pumpkins, the last of the zucchini, lots of corn, radish, carrot and cabbage. We are set for a great winter of fresh food. Happiness.

Ways of dealing with veggie patch abundance

When you plant into your patch you hope and pray that the little seeds you’ve tucked into the ground will find their way up through the soil and reach to the sky.

There’s always a worrying time for a bit, and then gradually little green shoots appear and you’re away! You watch your plants strengthen and flower, and then the fruit emerges. It’ the most exciting event ever!!!!!!

And then it’s time to harvest and that’s where the fun really begins. Coming up with creative ways to use your produce.

We’ve had a glut of zucchini here, so yesterday I made a zucchini & mushroom bake and a zucchini cake. Both delicious if I say so myself.

Pickled cucumber

Pickled cucumber

We also produced a heap of little potato cucumbers which I’ve pickled. I was lucky that a local in my area, Meg, is right into the whole pickling, fermenting thing, and she gave me a recipe. I proudly photographed my endeavours and sent them to her, only to learn I was supposed to keep the cucumbers whole…not chop them up. Rookie  error!

Never mind. Luckily she had a solution. She suggested putting in more raspberry leaves for the tannins that will hopefully keep the cucumbers crunchy. Luckily I’ve got some raspberry plants growing. She also reminded me to burp the jar to release the carbon dioxide…that just means I’ll be opening the lid every day for the next 14 days, and then we’ll see whether I’ve been successful in my pickling efforts.

And sometimes your glut of produce comes from elsewhere. Our friend Anna visited recently and brought a great big box of quinces from her parents’ property in Adelaide Lead, near Bendigo. Funny. With such a squishy sounding name, I’ve always thought they’d be soft. But they’re hard like apples except harder, and their cores are literally hard core.

Box of quinces

Box of quinces

Decided to start by poaching some, just to see how that went. It worked a treat. They turned a beautiful pink and are now soft and sweet. Perfect for popping on my muesli or porridge in the morning, and they also make a nice accompaniment to cake with a bit of cream on the side. Yum!

Poached quinces

Poached quince

Still have plenty more quinces in the box. Might have a go at quince jam next weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

Veggie patch update!

I’m loving my veggie patch at the moment. In January I had to rescue it…it had become a tragic overgrown weedy mess, and to be honest, I looked at it and thought, “I’m never going to get that back!!!!”

But I’m a pretty determined soul and after several hours of hard physical labour I rediscovered the wedge-shaped beds. I fed the soil and planted. It was quite late to be planting, but I bravely went ahead and did it anyways.

Since January, I’ve harvested a batch of little brown cucumbers, called ‘little potato’, a small harvest of beans…they tasted just how I remember them as a child…delicious. Also a heap of pak choy which is a fantastic green…so versatile and easy to cook.

The cabbages have done well.

And let’s not forget the zucchini. I’ve mostly managed to pick them before they turned into giant marrows.

Some of the marrows went home with friends, who were going to mush ’em up and give them to their dog. Lucky dog! Others I still have.

I’m thinking about looking for a recipe for stuffed marrow. That’d make a hearty meal me thinks. Especially given the weather we’ve hit today. First cold autumn day, and first fire of the season.

The pumpkins have fruited, although the cooler weather is coming now, so not sure that they’ll get much bigger. Same with the corn. The cobs have formed but they’re pretty skinny, and who knows what’s inside them. I’ll check soon.

Important to remember to include some flowers in the patch too. Here’s some of the colourful nasturtiums and of course, sunflowers. Such a cheery plant that just makes you smile.

 

 

Eco friendly laundry practices

Like the bathroom, the laundry is all about water use, using the natural environment whenever possible, and, careful choice of cleaning substances. And this in turn is all about:stock-photo-5827022-clothes-drying-on-clothesline

  • minimising our impact on this great world
  • taking care of our health, and
  • saving our hard earned dollars.

How do you manage your dirty laundry? 🙂

Let’s get the conversation happening. Click the Leave a reply link at the top of this blog and share your thoughts.

Make or buy natural personal care products

Recently I made my own deodorant paste and it was soooo easy…and, most importantly it works just like a bought one, possibly better!

There’s many recipes around and the one I used contained baking powder (aluminium free), coconut oil and some essential oils – I chose tea tree oil and lavender oil.

It’s a lovely moisturising mix with a subtle lavendery scent. You could use whichever scent you prefer, but keep the tea tree oil in the mix for its antiseptic qualities.

Some recipes also include beautifully moisturising shea butter. I might try that next time.

My home made deodorant is a bit more fiddly to apply than the commercially produced deodorants, cos it’s just in a glass jar. But I love it so much this doesn’t bother me at all.

At first the paste consistency was quite runny, so I was just dipping my fingers in and rubbing it on. But after a few days, the paste hardened, so now I’m using a flat wooden spatula to scoop up the paste, place it on my hand, and then massage it in. I think my arm pits quite enjoy the massage actually. 🙂

My daughter-in-law recently made herself some home-made shampoo. She loves it and notices her hair is so much more shiny now, although my son, her hubby, says her hair now just smells like hair. I don’t think it was a complaint, just an observation. And really, there’s many people for whom fragrances cause allergy-type responses, so it’s a good thing it doesn’t smell too fragrancy I’m thinking.

If making your own sounds good, but you’re a bit pushed for time, perhaps consider buying yourself some natural deodorants. There’s a number of brands available these days, and the fabulous team at Biome stock quite a few, including Black Chicken, Earth Purities, Miessence, Sanctum, Crystal Essence, Organic Essence, Schmidt’s and Fresca.

If you’ve used any of these brands, join the conversation and leave us all a comment. Or tell us about your experiences of making your own personal care products. Simply click Leave a reply at the top of this blog post. Everyone who reads this blog would love to hear from you.

Is the plastic you and your family use every day safe?

You are what you eat! An oldie, but goldie. Take it a step further, and we’re also what we eat and drink from.

When did you last think about the plastic containers you use to store and serve your food and drinks?

I know life’s busy, but take a minute to stop and look around your kitchen at the plastic you and your family eat and drink from every day. Do you know whether that plastic lunch box is safe or not? Is it safe for you and your family?…and what about the environment?

And, your plastic plates and cups may be reusable but are they made of materials that will either biodegrade after use or can be recycled?

You can get some great reusable cups now, made from natural plant matter such as bamboo, corn and rice husk fibre, so if ever you want to throw them away, you just need to dig them into the garden and they’ll gradually biodegrade.

The Husk Cafe Traveller shown here is made from rice husk fibres.

 

And how about the kilometres of plastic cling wrap that you most likely use wrapping food for school and work lunches. Considered using eco lunch wraps? You can buy some great lunch wraps from us here at ecohomewares, made from recycled PET bottles, with a food safe PEVA lining. They’re colourful, easy to fold and easy to clean. And you just keep using them over and over instead of adding all that cling wrap to landfill.

The folks at Biome also have some great solutions for lunch-time, such as their glass containers with snap lock lids. Made from sturdy tempered glass they’re not only good for keeping your lunch fresh in a safe container, they’re great for storing leftovers in your fridge too.

Or maybe you like the idea of stainless steel. Biome has a great range of stainless steel lunch boxes…not a scrap of plastic in sight with those, and cute little compartments that are perfect for popping in a range of foods and snacks for the kids’ lunches.

It’s important for each of us to live well…aligned to our values. And thankfully, there’s more and more of us who are thinking about ways we can limit or remove plastic from our lives. It’s a challenge! Are you up for it?

Maybe you’ve already got some strategies in place. Feel free to share them with us. Leave a comment by clicking Leave a reply at the top of this blog. The more we work on this together, the greater chance we have of living in a more sustainable world.

 

Eco bathroom ideas

There’s so many advantages to creating an eco-friendly bathroom, and it’s not as tricky as you might think!

stock-photo-52675828-closeup-outdoor-faucet-wash-basin

You have the power!…to:

  • save money by minimising the amount of water you use
  • protect yourself and your family from potentially harmful substances, and
  • conserve our planet‘s precious water reserves

It can be as simple as keeping a bucket on the floor of your shower to carry out to the garden once you’re clean and shiny. Your plants will love you for it; providing of course, you’re using plant-friendly/people-friendly soap to keep yourself clean…which, by the way, your body will also appreciate! You’ll be doing your bit to conserve water resources. And!…you’ll be saving money with lower water bills.

See!…one little action in the bathroom that only takes a couple of minutes each day, and yet hugely benefits your health (build muscles carrying that bucket of water!), your garden, your planet and your pocket.

Just imagine how many more ways you can contribute? That’s what this site is all about.

I’d love to hear your clever ideas and strategies, and I’m sure others who visit this site would too. Tell us your story in the Comments section below. Collectively we can make a difference.

Grow your own vegetable patch

Have you ever wondered how to grow your own vegetable garden? We’ve experimented a bit in the past, and now that we’re on a rural property, we’re building our dream veggie patch. Nothing planted yet. Just in the building stages.

Vegetable garden layout

Vegetable garden layout

Our vegetable patch layout is a potager design. We’ve got eight beds laid out to create a circle and there’s a pathway between each bed so we can easily work the beds. We can also apply vegetable garden crop rotation principles to this design, which is good for the soil and for the quality of our vegetables and herbs.

 

Vegetable garden crop rotation plan

Vegetable garden crop rotation plan

I’ve drawn the design and the type of vegetables and herbs we plan to plant in each bed. The basic pattern uses four types:

  • perennials e.g. asparagus, rosemary
  • brassicas e.g. broccoli
  • legumes, e.g. beans, peas, corn
  • plants from the potato/onion/carrot families e.g. leek, garlic

Then each season, we’ll rotate the crops clockwise around the beds.

We also need to consider seasonal factors to help decide what to plant when. We’re in a temperate climate in the southern Hemisphere, so this month, February, I’ll be planting beans, leek, sweet peas, radish, tomatoes and kale. I’ll also plant some herbs such as rosemary, garden sorrel and sage, and I’ll scatter some companion flowering plants such as marigolds and nasturtiums. Two of the beds will be green manure crops e.g. oats or clover. Again, always good to improve the quality of the soil.

Do you have a starting vegetable patch? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Seedlings update

It always amazes me how quickly seeds pop up out of their seedling trays. It gives me a thrill every time. There’s such joy in watching the seed tray turn into a mass of green.

Radish seedlings

Radish seedlings

The radishes were the first to show up, and now the lettuces are springing up too.

Lettuce seedlings

Lettuce seedlings

Sadly, the mystery tray is still a mystery. If nothing appears in the next day or so, I’ll plant something else in that one. Who knows what those seeds were or how old they were. Perhaps not viable…

Mystery tray

Mystery tray