Category: Freedom from these chains

Produce No Waste

waste

By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.

I love the principle of “produce no waste” simply because it sets a challenge, but also because in a permaculture setting it is a classic example of closing a loop. Instead of stealing resources from another ecosystem and depleting that system you use everything you have on site to its fullest capacity.

From food crop, to kitchen scraps, into the compost bin, then back out into the garden as compost to feed your crops.

Another way of reusing kitchen scraps is feeding it to the chickens, who produce poop, which can be made into a compost tea to go onto the garden beds.

Do you compost or have a worm farm? In what ways can you be more mindful of your waste?

Obtain a Yield

yield

Obtain a Yield.

Well, that would certainly be a nice idea after all the hard work you put into designing your garden and planting all your seeds and seedlings, plants, trees, shrubs and bushes.

Obtaining a yield in your garden only comes with careful planning and of course trial and error.

One way to obtain a yield is by staggering your seed sowing. I sow seeds every 3 to 4 weeks in order to have food all months of the year. There is no point in sowing broccoli seeds only ones and then having 30 plants maturing all at the same time.

Another way to obtain a yield is when you share with other permaculturist/gardeners in your neighbourhood. If you are great at growing tomatoes and your neighbour excels at zucchinis, why not swap?

A great idea, when planning your edible garden is to make a planting calendar. By doing this you can assure you won’t starve to death when winter comes around!

When I bought my raspberry canes I made sure I bought many different varieties. I want raspberries for 5 months of the year, not just for 2 months. The same goes for citrus trees, different varieties fruit at different times of the year. Planning is key!

How have you planned your garden design?

7 reasons why you should mulch your garden.

17sugarcanemulch

Mulching is such a simple thing to do, so easy and so rewarding. In fact there are only benefits to mulching your gardens. But when I drive through the country side and look at all the bare farm land, I wonder why those farmers don’t bother protecting their soil from the elements.

Mulching protects the soil from the damaging effects of wind, sun and water. Mulches have so many function and a lot of benefits. Let’s have a look at some of these;

  1. They prevent evaporation of the moisture in your soil. Especially helpful in summer.
  2. They absorb water on the surface and hold it there until it has time to be absorbed.
  3. Mulches reduce erosion from gravity, wind and water.
  4. they keep your soil warm in winter and cool in the extreme summer heat.
  5. They suppress weeds, which also robs the soil of water.
  6. Mulches supply nutrients and organic matter to soils.
  7. Mulches are one way of using up your garden surplus. (lawn clippings, newspaper)

I sometimes use sugar cane mulch, which is a fantastic product. But because I have chickens I use the lucerne hay they have been pooping on for weeks and I scoop the whole thing onto my patch. Full of nutrients for my garden.

At the moment I am in the process of growing the Lucerne grass in my chicken pen, because not only do my chickens love it, it also can be cut and used as mulch and when I grow it myself it’s free. Who doesn’t love that?

So, go out into your patch and give a bit off dress up. Your vegetables will love it!

 

 

 

3 secrets to growing seeds successfully

Today, we are planting seedlings that we grew ourselves from seed. They have grown large enough to be transplanted in our large bed and it is the right time of the month to do it.

 

seedlings

Most people would say it’s very difficult to grow plants from seed and in all honesty, it can be a challenge. But once you have worked out how to do it, it is actually really easy and very economical.

What you need are good quality seeds. Not the hybrid kind from Bunnings or any other big company. You want Heirloom seeds from places like Eden Seeds or Diggers.

Secondly, very important is that we plant those seeds in a good quality vegetable mix, not a seed raising mix. I have not had any success with growing a viable seedling in seed raising mix, EVER! Seed raising mix does not have enough nutrients to sustain the growing plant. My friend Kathryn from The Homegrown Country Life got me onto growing seeds in normal soil. Great success!

Thirdly, you should plant according to the cycles of the moon. It makes a huge difference in how your seeds turn out. I bought my Moon Planting Calendar from Diggers.

Once the seeds are sown you need to make sure the soil is damp. I use a spray bottle to water. Once the plants are a bit bigger I will use a regular watering can to water them. You have to make sure not to drown them with water. Using a large pot is helpful because it retains the moisture but also drains the water nicely to the bottom away from the roots.  The small black containers in which you would buy seedlings from Bunnings are not that great as they can be overwatered. So, I now use a large orange pot and I am very happy with the results.

Once your seedlings have developed their second set of leaves you can transpant them into your garden bed.

seedlings1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the new seedlings are in their bed make sure you give them a sprinkle of water and very importantly, cover the soil with mulch. This retains the moisture in the soil.

There you go, I hope this may make your seed sowing adventure a successful one too!

An update on my veggie patch

photo8 weeks ago I installed my vegetable garden and filled it up with the most luscious of winter vegetables. Can you believe we are already eating from it?  I tell you what, it is so worth it to plant a few things as there is nothing more enjoyable than picking your breakfast fresh out of your garden. My silverbeet and eggs come straight out of my backyard and in the morning I saute my greens and poach my eggs. The other week we picked up half a trailer load of mushroom compost from my friends house and dumped it in our garden beds at the front of the house. The funny thing is that mushrooms still grow in it! So after collecting the eggs and picking off some fresh silverbeet leaves, I walk out the front and pick some fresh mushrooms. Breakfast done!

Last week we just finished eating all the bok choy and have already allocated that space to a whole 2 rows of broccoli. Planning your vegetable garden properly, beats going to the shops.

vegepatch

At the front you can see the parsley has taken off, together with the kale and silverbeet. Behind the parsley are 3 rows of endive which will be eaten over the next few weeks in salads, juices and cooked meals. Right at the end is more kale, a huge coriander plant and some mint. The empty spaces have been filled with recently transplanted seedlings of more kale, broccoli and silverbeet. Next fortnight I will add seedlings of fennel and beetroot. All of these vegetables I chose because I love juicing with them to and of course kale has some amazing amounts of nutrients. For example; per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk (90 grams per serving) and is also better absorbed by the body than dairy. So there you go, hale the kale!

Want an easy start to your veggie patch?

If you want to start your own veggie patch, just keep it simple. Get some untreated wood or hardwood from your local timber mill and build a box with it. 6 x 1 mtr is a great size to start with. Of course you can build longer if you have the space, but wider can pose problems as reaching in to plant or harvest can become challenging.

Make sure to fill your box with some excellent quality veggie mix from your local garden centre. Buying a tonne at the time is much cheaper than buying bags.  And believe me a tonne doesn’t really go all that far.

If you want to plant straight away you can buy seedlings from your local garden centre and plant them right away. Make sure to water them in nicely and cover the soil well with some sugar cane mulch. This allows the water to be retained in the soil and the mulch also supplies nutrients to the soil.

Now go and have some fun!!

 

 

Pantry Item #2….Here is a money saving tip.

freshcoconut3

 

I have been itching to make this for ages and yesterday, when our very first Co-op order arrived, I finally had the chance to do it. I get so excited about real food, it is almost sickening. And when I find a way to make things myself without going to the supermarket, I get even more excited.

I love coconut milk and I buy lots of it in evil BPA lined tin cans from the Aldi. I have found the Aldi one contains the least crap and has the most yummy layer of cream on the top. In fact I use that layer to make whipped coconut cream and even chocolate filling to put in between a macaron or a cake. Oh yeah, I can taste it right now and I am salivating. However, it is not organic and it is in a tin can, lined with BPA and as we all know by now this is toxic, as are many other things……and it is 0.89 cents per 400ml tin. Being Dutch, I like to save money wherever I can. I know ya’ll think the Dutch are tight as anything, I would like to suggest I am frugal. It has a much better ring to it, don’t you agree?

So, when my 10kg bag of the most beautiful organic shredded coconut arrived, I headed to work and made myself some nice coconut milk. And it was quick and it was easy and it was also money saving!

I boiled 1 liter of water and poured it over 2 cups of organic shredded coconut.

I let it sit for 2 hours to cool down and then whizzed it in a high speed blender.

Then it was ready to be strained through a nut bag. The pulp sits in my dehydrator at this very moment and later tonight I will store it in a glass jar. And guess what, it is now coconut flour! Tada! You can of course put the pulp on a tray and chuck in the oven to dry it, if you don’t have a dehydrator. Or you can leave the pulp in the milk, this will create that yummy creamy layer on the top.

Of course I would like to share the math with you:

400ml of home made certified organic coconut milk = 0.53 cents!

If you dry the pulp you have “free” flour as well, which is especially exciting for those who are gluten intolerant and grain free. I remember paying $18.95 a kilo for coconut flour before I started the Organic Whole food Co-op. Thank goodness, those days are over!

To join our co-op, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Save with pantry staples you can simply make yourself.

Have you noticed that buying convenience is a whole lot more expensive than making your own? And have you noticed also that buying these foods can have a detrimental effect on your health and the health of your family?

Yes, it is easy to go to the shop and buy a box of A, B or C, but is it really beneficial to our lives and health? Would it not be a wonderful thing to pass down some basic life skills, such as cooking,  on to the next generation? It is such a tragedy, that some of today’s kids and even their parents struggle with sickness and obesity, simply because we have been led to believe that buying box A, B or C is easier, more convenient and not an unhealthy option.

It might be easier to open up a box or buy a cake mix from the store but at the end of the day it does not teach our children anything other than, “food is not important for our bodies” and “We must spend more time on activities and work, than on keeping our bodies healthy” and “If we are sick, we will buy another box from the chemist to fix us quickly” (but makes us sicker in the long run).

I wonder how we ever got into such a mess? Even with the economic climate we find ourselves in today, many of us still spend a lot of money on convenience foods rather than on basic ingredients to make these staples at home. The amount of debt that the average Australian carries is a very daunting statistic. And with a high rate of mortgage foreclosures in my area,  I wonder what can be done to teach parents and children the basic life skills of healthy home cooking.

Healthy home cooking certainly does not need to be expensive at all, I believe I spent less on my monthly budget than the average family in Sydney. We have a family of 5 and spend around $600-$700 a month on food.

The majority of the food we eat is organic and delivered to our house. I used to be part of this wonderful co-op for quite a while as you may have read in my previous post, but when I got sicker I decided to go onto an organic diet to heal myself. I changed from spending $50 a week on fruit and veggies to $90 a week on organic fruit and veggies.

We spend around $180 on organic beef every 3 months. I am really stretching that meat as far as I can. Some weeks we eat no more than 1 kilo of beef a week, shared between 5 people! But it is worth the stretch. And truth be told, our bodies don’t need anymore meat than that to function at it’s peak, no matter how much the man of the house thinks he needs it!

I also receive lots of bones from these organic cows from which I make delicious soups and stocks. This is an excellent and very frugal way to prepare nutritious dense foods. I purchase around 2 kilos of organic chicken carcasses for $12 to make stock with. Again, nutritious dense food for less. Stocks these days are mainly purchased in a carton or a can a cube or powder form. But when the butcher cuts all the meat of the chicken carcasses, he has no purpose for the carcass which to him is a waste product. To me it is real food, which I turn into golden liquid to strengthen my families bodies!

We used to spend $15 a week on raw milk and made kefir and yoghurt with it, unfortunately I no longer drink milk and have decided to deprive my whole family of it as well. I now make Almond milk for my smoothies instead or coconut milk, which I am experimenting to turn into yoghurt!

In the next few weeks I will share with you a few food items I make from scratch. These items are almost always bought in boxes, jars or cans from the supermarket. If you only had these basic ingredients in your cupboard you can make anything you desire……..well almost!

So, stay with me and learn some nifty tricks, to keep you away from the dangers of additives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world according to Monsanto

Did you know, that today, most of the world’s seeds are owned, grown and CONTROLLED by very big companies like Shell, or pharmaceutical companies like Monsanto’s Pharmacia, and others such as Aventis and Syngenta. These companies grow seed as a commodity and not a food resource, to make a profit.

The problem with this is:
Most seeds are hybrid seeds that won’t grow well without fertilizer and pesticides. If the farmer has a bad crop due to cyclones, floods, drought etc. the farmer will sink into debt because they had to borrow money to buy all of the seed companies products.

The seeds that are sold to the farmers are genetically altered so that the crops will grow sterile seeds. The farmer will need to continue to purchase seeds from these big companies together with their fertilizers and pesticides to continue to get a yield.

These large companies patent these genetically modified seeds so they own the rights to them. If a crop of a farmer next door to a field with GMO seeds gets contaminated by the wind blowing seeds accross, these large companies will go ahead and sue this innocent farmer for a a breach of patent. His crop will be destroyed and he will go broke. This is pure EVIL.

When buying seeds for your own backyard, make sure you buy them from organic and Heirloom companies. These companies are in no way associated with these greedy and evil companies. The seeds you will yield from your crops will yield new crops, “true to type”.
Seeds bought from companies such as Yates and DT. Brown are all hybrid seeds and you will not be able to yield a crop that was the same as last years crop.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
The land produced vegetation–all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.”