Saturday, March 15, 2014

Green Urban Living 12 Week Challenge

I'm taking part in a 12 week challenge set up by Janet over at Green Urban Living.  From 1st March to 24th May there are a variety of weekly challenges from going chemical free, to carless days, going foraging and recycling. Participants are encouraged to take part in as many of the challenges as you like, and interact on the websites forum and/or Facebook page.  There are a number of judges including Wendyl Nissen from Wendyl's Green Goddess , Lynda Hallinan from NZ Gardener, NZ Eco Chick, and Malcolm Rands from Ecostore, who will give out prizes to some of the lucky participants.

Week One was to Ditch the Chemicals.  I already use Baking Soda and White Vinegar for a lot of things - cleaning the toilet, Vinegar as Rinse aid in Dishwasher, Fabric softener in washing machine etc.
I cleaned the dishwasher with some vinegar in the top rack and some Baking Soda sprinkled in the bottom.  Seems to have come up a treat and I think the dishes are getting cleaner too.

I have also made some Dishwasher powder too using Citric Acid, Washing soda and Baking Soda.  I'm yet to try that as finishing the previous "green" one I bought.

A couple of years ago I invested in a second hand steam mop and love the result on the kitchen lino.  The ultimate no chemical clean using just water.

We are using cloth wipes with bubs and after using up my bottle of Wendyl Nissen's wipe solution, I filled the bottle with water and added a few drops of both tea tree and lavender essential oil. It has worked really well, with no ill effects and it has saved me trying to track down affordable rosewater and witch hazel extracts that were in Wendyl's mix.

Week 2 of the Challenge was to shop local and source as many locally produced foods as you could.  I have been using some of my own vegetables and fruit, and was also given some apples from my Mother-in-law.  Buying local is one of those hard ones as everyone's idea of local will differ.  For one Canadian couple the magic distance was 100 miles.

A few years ago, when Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average food in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to the plate, they decided to launch an experiment to reconnect with the people and places that produced what they ate.  The 100 Mile Diet was born and they documented their journey in a really easy to read book.  They discovered the story that went with the production of the food, and the disturbing trend of  food that has travelled half way round the world.  I enjoyed reading this book, and know that the connection with the growers and producers  one of the reasons why local farmers markets have become so popular in recent years.

Next weeks challenge is to go foraging.  I know there are quite a few roadside fruit trees in the neighbourhood so might have to take bubs for a walk in the buggy and load it up!  I'm always a little wary of trying some foraged things so I am looking forward to other peoples ideas of food that is safe to collect in the wild.

What foods do you like to collect in the wild?  I've always like paddock mushrooms and I loved picking wild blackberries when I was holidaying in the UK.  There is something ultra satisfying collecting food that nature has provided for you without you having direct input.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Garden Share Collective - March

This is my first post as part of the Garden Share Collective, an initiative where like-minded bloggers join together and share the happenings in their gardens.  It's a great way to share ideas, get motivation and encouragement as we endeavour to provide produce for our families.  If you are interested in joining contact Lizzie from Strayed from the Table.  Her blog is well worth a look, and also has links to the other members blogs too.

February brought with it 58mm of very welcome rain, and the promise of a bumper crop of Black Boy peaches. They have swelled noticeably since the first rain earlier in the month. The Golden Queen Peach is bare, and the Peasgood Nonsuch Apple and the pear have been attacked by some very hungry birds.  I have hung some old Cd's in the trees in the hope that will scare the birds....

Oops seem to be a bit lopsided!

I have spent more time in the vege patch in February, taming the wild jungle that had taken over in the months prior to the birth of our son in November. 

Currently growing in the garden are silverbeet, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin, carrots, and beetroot.  In the glasshouse I have tomatoes, and a cucumber.

Kale, Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli protected from the chooks.

The Damson Plums have finished and I managed to get a little over 5kg of fruit.  This was turned into Damson Plum jam, vodka liqueur, cordial and a bottle of Damson gin for my Mum.

This month will see me

  1. Resting the bed that had the Broad beans.  I'm layering various compostable materials and will let that sit over winter.
  2. Digging up potatoes.  These were planted in a 'no dig' fashion with seed potatoes put on bare soil, then covered with layers of pea straw.  I am planning to plant my broad beans in this area in April.
  3. Harvesting Tomatoes that are starting to ripen .  We have Sweet 100, Money Maker, Black Krim and an unknown variety from my Mum's neighbour.
  4. Starting a new compost heap.  I have got coffee grinds for this as well as for snail/slug protection as I mentioned in a previous post.
  5. Pruning currants/raspberries/blackberry, and taking some cuttings for more plants.
  6. Clear space for a new berry garden.
  7. Sow some more carrots.
  8. Remove suckers from Hazelnuts.
I am hoping that by writing down these it will motivate me to get things done.  It can be a challenge in between caring for bubs, taking Miss 6 here, there and everywhere, looking after the animals on our 7 acres, and everything else an "Undomestic Goddess" does!  I'll update my progress throughout the month.