Garden Tea prepping

Even though here in sunny Melbourne we are in the midst of a glorious Spring I am preparing for Winter. I only really crave hot tea like beverages when the weather is cold but the chamomile plant is at it’s most prolific for me now, so I will make hay while the sun shines (or tea…)

IMG_4178

I grow my chamomile in pots, it is self seeded, I haven’t planted any seeds for years. This is probably what makes it a Spring crop for me, I cannot keep up with the watering requirements of a pot in Summer. It would need watering every couple of hours on a super hot day.

IMG_4206

IMG_4195

This is my 4th harvest. I cut the flowers every 4 or 5 days. I am hoping to get a jar full. That ought to get me through Winter. The Lemon verbena is looking lovely and healthy. I will start cutting leaves off that soonish.

IMG_4179

My peppermint (which I forgot to take a photo of and am now to lazy to get up a go get) is not looking too great. I think it is root bound and needs some TLC, I’ll get on to that soon. I will harvest that in Autumn.

Then I will be set for tea in the Winter 🙂

Advertisements

Pumpkin Pumpkin and more Pumpkin

I have mentioned before that I grew a lot of pumpkin this year. I have finally finished it all!!!!!!!!!!! This is quite momentous. So. Much. Pumpkin. Has. Been. Eaten. I have a pot of soup on the stove now and it represents the last of the pumpkin.

IMG_4170

The freezer is looking a little less packed after taking these jars out.

IMG_4173

Onion from the farmers market, garlic from the back yard, cumin and red lentils package free, water from the tap, pumpkin from the backyard. The only culprit is

IMG_4171I didn’t have stock in the freezer like I thought I did. So I threw in a stock cube. I guess I need a better system in the freezer so it is immediately obvious what is in there.

I cannot express the satisfaction I feel at finally getting through all the pumpkin. I did plant 2 vines again but they are both good storing varieties and I think probably less prolific.  I may have planted the corn too early though as they are massive and blocking the light to the baby pumpkin vines. Trial and error, I can’t say I would be devastated if the pumpkins don’t thrive….

Low waste update

I haven’t bothered to collect my rubbish in a mason jar, I don’t think I will ever want to keep and store my trash, maybe that’s too confronting.

I am going with a self reporting sort of measure. I feel like I haven’t put anything in the bin for a few weeks now. I stopped being so lazy and put the vacuum cleaner canister contents in the compost. I bought a heap of butter and froze it. It wasn’t a success zero waste wise. The lady was happy to put the butter in my large tin but she used a disposable glove and a piece of plastic to get it in there. Butter was one of the last things that I bought frequently but hadn’t found a solution for. I still haven’t.

IMG_4144
A glass pineapple soap dispenser that my grandmother gave me from the ?70’s. I love it!

I made my own pasta. I used the last of the pesto that I froze from last Summer, delicious. Bought my dry goods with no packaging. Fruit from the farmers market, no packaging. My sister is coming to stay the weekend and she Loves milk. So today I will go to the health food store and buy some milk in a glass bottle, although they are not returnable they recycle better than their plastic counterparts. I have called a few companies that were sending me advertising and asked them to stop. Lots of small steps.

There was a period of a couple of months where I felt like I hadn’t reduced the amount that I was putting in the recycling bin. I feel that has changed. The last few weeks I have seen a real improvement. I have put only a couple of things in the recycling bin.

tired1

I am close to where I want to be, waste wise. If I find any peppermint essential oil at the health food store I will be diving into home made toothpaste. Wish me luck!

Silver

While on holiday a couple of years ago I bought a heap of mismatched glorious silver cutlery. I love it. My sister does not. She likes symmetry, matching, neat. These do not match, they are different sizes, they need polishing.

IMG_4083IMG_4084

Actually once I got home I realised a couple of them are not real silver. I have Antiques Roadshow to thank for this.  And for some reason I did not get 8 teaspoons. I got 4 plus a special one. Weird!

IMG_4085IMG_4088

So they are not the set we use every day. They come out when I have people over for dinner or when I want to feel fancy.

IMG_4002

IMG_4086IMG_4087

This is my favourite spoon. It is engraved with Johannes and Katherine 13/11/1929. I assume it was a wedding gift, I would love to have the whole set. Sadly only this one was there.

I am still using the same cleaner that I bought years ago for a candelabra that I have. It is running out (thankfully, the chemicals are horrid) but I don’t want to buy more plastic, more chemicals. Is there a zero waste, eco friendly way to clean silver?

Success and failure

Cheese. I love it. I am trying to eat less of it but I do still eat it. I was purchasing it at a farmers market, it came in plastic. It tasted delicious. I have stopped buying it from them.

IMG_4059

I went to the deli near my house and saw some Australian feta, great, I wanted feta for a quiche I was making ( I eat a lot of quiche when the ladies are laying lots of eggs). I was all set, I went in with my stainless steel tin and politely asked if she would mind putting it directly in the tin. She was lovely, said no problems, took my tin. She then used a piece of plastic to pick up the cheese. Used another piece of plastic to put on the scales and weigh the cheese. Then put it in my container. SO sad. Yes I was bringing no packaging home but I had created 2 lots of instantly disposed of plastic. Such a fail!!

A few days later I went to the Queen Vic Market and saw unpackaged butter (still unsure what vessel I will take in to get butter put into) and a wheel of cheese that weighed a kilo and was wax coated. I was fairly happy with that. I bought the wheel but I wasn’t paying enough attention and the woman walked away with the cheese and came back with it wrapped in paper. Fail.

IMG_4063

I have learned. I will probably buy the same cheese again but I will be more attentive and ask for no wrapping. I am unsure what I will do regarding feta and other fancy cheese.

I am unsure if the wax is biodegradable. I think I will try putting it in the garden and see whether it breaks down. I anticipate buying the wheel twice a year and freezing portions of it. Eventually once a year or none at all. Or I may find completely unpackaged local tasty cheese. That would be ideal. I started cutting the wheel before I thought to take a photo. I have frozen nearly all of the wheel and left a wedge in the fridge.

Slow steps in the right direction.

Too many aims

I think I am trying to do too many things. They are all in the same vein but I have trouble when there are conflicting means to ends.

I would like to create next to no waste.

I would like to have a minimal carbon foot print.

I would like to eat only local food.

I would like to be off grid.

I would like to have less technology in my life.

IMG_3983

Each of these by themselves is achievable (with a lot of work!) But to create next to no waste I have to drive further (petrol=big carbon foot print) than I can ride my bike to get package free food. I bought big jars to store the zero waste food in which seems counter productive. Sometimes I need to choose between local but packaged or further away and package free. Or organic from India or non organic from Australia. I would like less technology but I love writing a blog, the internet is invaluable when researching better ways to create less waste, people get annoyed when I don’t answer the phone.I feel like each step forward I make in one area is a small step back somewhere else.

IMG_3984

Off grid is more challenging. I have solar panels but no means of storing the power, so at night we use grid power. We have a gas stove top and heater. I drink mains water. I think it would be expensive to get off grid but I also believe you shouldn’t work all the hours of all the days in this life. Balance is so important. But money makes all of this easier. Conundrums upon conundrums. I guess this is just a venting of frustrations. Slowly I will work out the nuances of how and what works for me. Til then I will just keep compromising. I do drive for package free shopping but only once a fortnight when I am kind of in the area. I am growing nearly all of my own fresh food so especially going into Spring/Summer hopefully the garden will be in abundance and I can eat delicious nutritious food from my back yard.

IMG_3986

I try to charge the computer and phone only during the day when the solar panels are doing the work. I run the dehydrator on sunny days. I try, I try, I try.

IMG_3988I guess that has to be good enough…

Caring for what I have

My aim of a closed loop garden has almost been achieved, a few things to nut out (mostly my seed acquisition issue) but otherwise a massive improvement on when I first started gardening.

I no longer purchase organic fertilisers, sugar cane mulch for the garden beds, or plants that come in plastic pots. Now all I need to do is look after my tools so that they last me a life time.

I have a lovely hand trowel that I got from my grandmother when she had to stop gardening. I think it is great! I usually am very good at not leaving it outside when I am done in the garden, til a few weeks ago that is. I left it in my wine barrel where I store my ready to use compost. In my defense I went back to get it, saw it wasn’t there and thought I must have already put it away. A week later when I went to get it it wasn’t where it should be. I grabbed a poor substitute and went to the wine barrel. Upon digging I found my lovely shovel. The chickens had buried it. I should have thought of that when I could not see it the week before instead of just assuming I am a great candidate for early Alzheimer’s screening. The lovely wooden handle was soaked through and not looking its finest.

IMG_3656IMG_3657I let the poor thing dry out for a few days.

I sanded it, and gave it a few soakings with linseed oil (this is all I had) and it looks much better now.

IMG_3681IMG_3682

If I continue to look after the tools that I have I am hoping to not need to purchase any more. Initially I had quite poor quality tools that bent and fell apart within the year. I have learnt from this. Quality lasts!

This technically falls under DIY which I have been a little leery of in the past but baby steps like these give me hope for full on DIY adventures! The shovel looks beautiful again.