Wednesday, August 21, 2013

No Dig Garden Beds- Gardening 101

Our land is beautiful, however the soil is clay. There is no rich, dark brown, worm lively soil here! 
We had two options (well three actually but not growing food was discounted)...
1. Change the soil we had with lots of digging and adding drainage 
2. Make new raised garden beds with no digging
Our backs are pleased we decided on option number 2. It also means the water that flows down our land when it rains won't wash our produce away, we don't have to bend over so much when picking produce and most importantly we will know what exactly is in the soil we are growing our food in.

After reading around about the "no dig" garden bed idea I was inspired by Nicola Chatham , a local lovely lady who happens to have a recipe for an organic no dig bed. 
We followed it fairly closely however we were not as accurate with quantities (oops). We couldn't find the rock minerals (since found at Diggers) so added a chook poop & minerals blend, which must be delicious because the dog can't get enough of it! Also we had fewer worm castings but quite a few worms. The molassis was sourced from a stock feed shop cheap and we had plenty of cardboard boxes from the move. We had been building up leaf and green waste piles for a few weeks so we added some of that on the bottom too.
The frame was built with the steel walls taken from our house (an entry room removed) by one talented and handsome husband and will be filled in with some bamboo soon. All was watered in by tank water and we waited a week or two, checking it stayed moist.

I have planted the Nasturtium (great for veg gardens) and Kale and the boys popped in their beans and corn because we had these in pots ready to go and so far they are loving it. 
I have started reading up on Permaculture ideas and on companion planting, but this is a work in progress and we will just start growing some things and learn as we go.

 I also planted the cut off bottom of a bunch of celery and it is growing more celery from the middle.
I ordered some seeds from Green Harvest, randomly selected things that we like to eat or would like to try growing, so in the next few weeks we will start some seed sowing, once I work out which ones sow direct and which ones in seed trays.

We also had a few fruit trees we wanted to plant and heaps of passionfruit that we want to use to hide the large monster of a shed, so we used the same no dig recipe and some of the bamboo we thinned out. It is a race to see which one reaches the top first ,"survival of the fittest".

Trying to use everything we have is quite interesting and challenging sometimes, but rewarding in the end.

Three more beds have been set out, placed on angles because of the natural water flow, it can get quite soggy down here and the citrus won't like that, although I am told they don't mind a bit of clay. We have a lemon, lime, blood orange and hopefully some berry trees to go in this area and whatever else tickles our fancy in the future.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mustard Crochet Cushion

I have had this wool for a while and I wanted a cushion so this is what resulted. 
I doubled the wool to get a chunky look and stretched it tight around the insert, plain single crochet. 
Now I just need to do something with that old IKEA chair?

Loving the mustard colours.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Renovation - Laundry Part 1

We decided to do this room first so that we would have a clean sink to use when the kitchen is out of action. So far handy husband has made a ply bench top with a deep sink and ply cupboard door for undersink storage. The ply was sanded and whitewashed before sealed with Ecolour Polyclear, an environmentally friendly Non toxic sealer for timber, stone, floors etc.
We also replaced the old solid laundry door for a glass one to let in more light.
It is small but has plenty of bench space and we added a wall shelf for extra storage.
For minimal spend I think it looks quite good and compared to the old one, it is brilliant!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Captains Chair

 This swivel Captains chair was found at a seconds store. When I found it, it was well worn with many layers of stain and varnish, however after a bit (quite a bit) of rough sanding I started to see glimpses of a lovely rustic looking timber (and various etchings from previous owners). 
Once I had had enough sanding,  I finished with a light whitewashing using our Ecolour primer and then when dry, a light coat of Ecolour Polyclear.
After a few new screws, it is now sitting pretty waiting for a new captain.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Renovation Begins - Some Before Photos

This is the little brick house that we have started renovating...
 We have ripped out the bathroom including the walls which were mouldy.
There were different colours in different rooms and mould on most walls, so one of the first things we did was spray every wall and ceiling with vinegar and water solution, then wiped off well with clean sponges and repeated in places if needed. This did remove the mould. We then painted with Ecolour paint, a Non toxic environmentally friendly and locally made paint. 
To this we added an anti mould paste recommended by Ecolour. We are confident of keeping that mould out of the house now.
The paint colour we choose was Resene quarter Bianca. I am happy with this white, we have no natural light coming inside due to large verandahs so it is brightening but warm (photos to come).
 This kitchen is too cramped for how we like to live so we have pulled the wall out (on the left) and will rebuild the cabinets and make a new concrete benchtop and add a bifold window to open to the outdoor entertaining area which will have a diy clay oven and teppanyaki grill plate BBQ (oneday).
The lounge below was also cramped because of small bedroom near the front door, so this was removed also, which lets in so much more light.
 The floors are cold, old dirty grout tiles, so we have gone with laminate, which is in budget. I  was wanting a Scandinavian whitewashed oak look, however we don't have as much choice in Australia as they do in Europe, so had to settle for the closest I could get. Laminates are better now in terms of VOC levels and some use mostly sustainably sourced and recycled materials.
There are more environmentally friendly options for flooring if you have the money to spend, however for a fairly low allergy, easy to keep clean option we choose laminated timber.
Our roof is tin and had no sarking or insulation at all. Moisture was a problem and inside was would have been cold if we didn't have a fire and extremely hot in summer. After some research I picked Green Insulation Reflecta-Guard foil insulation, a locally QLD made eco friendly product and since we have had it installed it has made a difference to inside temperatures already. We will also paint the roof a lighter colour to reflect the summer sun at a later stage.
Ceiling fans have been installed because we will not be using airconditioners and LED down lights in the ceiling to reduce energy use.
We have septic tanks, they are old and we need to look at these. We also have tank water, three plastic ones, which we need to look at, do they have filters? is the pump energy efficient? 
Our hot water is electric, so that needs looking at also.
Unfortunately (and fortunately) we have many tall native trees that shade our roof, which doesn't face North, so solar is not the best alternative for reducing our electricity bill.

Many more things need doing...better get back to work I guess.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Seed is Growing...

I am setting up this new journal because we are...

-Beginning renovations on our new (old) house on acreage in the Noosa Hinterland with the goal to be as "eco friendly" and sustainable as possible  while on a budget.
-Beginning to grow our own organic food and hopefully dramatically reduce costs and our trips to the Supermarket chains.
-Learning along the way, and
I think a blog will be a great way to store all this new information we are gathering.