Friday, October 28, 2011

let's get crackin!

ok ... so time to seriously start getting back into growing our own food again.  planted heaps of green leafy stuff about a week and a half ago and it's already bolted up and going crazy.  the challenge is on to exploit this little block we are renting now .... until we buy our own.

so, in true permaculture style, i have been observing the land and seeing what we can do with what we have.  some pro's and con's .... but this is a rental.  so work with what you have and be positive!

  • maintaining the current bed structure
  • small area that get's really good sun
  • no area for having chooks (e.g. lovely compost makers and eggs!)
the challenge is simple .... grow what we can in a small space and pots, using as much aquaponics as possible.  potential exists for a modified drip line ....

so here is a quick tour of what i have to work with.  heaps of potential and as i'm starting to get to the other side of my pity party and doldrums i think this is helping me feel a bit more sane.

my front patio, aka ... growing spot.  i have all the basic necessary herbs growing as well as
three kinds of greens: mizuma, amish deer tongue and cos.
2 x marmande tomato's from Daley's as well as a yellow pear and a medium running genovase,
heaps of beans and a few zuchinni as well.  all coming on strong.
an experiment.  this is a brazilian cherry or Eugenia uniflora.  it's growing
in our yard and keeps getting eaten by whatever is going for it in the
middle of the night .... so i'm gonna try and grow a few from seed (these are drying out)
to put on our property.  crossing fingers!  thinking about trying some
straight propagating as well ... we'll see!
like i said ... the beans are coming up a treat.
will have to transplant soon to bigger pots!
so that's the front growing area.  here is a peak at some of the area's i'm thinking of growing in.  looking at light, etc.  

this is out front .... get's heaps of morning and mid day sun.
i am imagining some great zuchinni growing here!  <g>
a great spot for tomato's, don't you think?
or maybe beans?  or perhaps both!

this bed will have to have something that
craves heaps of loverly warm sun ...
so i imagine that tomato's will
go here for sure!

there are a few spots like this around the garden.  but i need to observe
them a bit more and see which ones get the best sun as most of these are a bit
shaded.  but i am certain i can figure out something!
and last but not least .... this is the
most likely spot for our aquaponics
set up ... all our greens will be done this way.
this system should be going in within the next 2-3 weeks.
will provide a detailed post on that one for sure!  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

our first ... completely local meal!!!

i felt a real sense of satisfaction in the kitchen yesterday as i prepared our dinner.  in the past our meals have had a different elements of "home grown".  from home made bread to veggies or eggs .... you name it.  but they were always supplemented from a diet of things from the grocery store.  but last night as i prepared dinner i realised that everything we were eating was local.  and it felt really good.  a reminder that i was doing the right thing by our local growers and community .... whether i was growing my own or not.

typically locally grown is defined as within 100 kms.  give or take a few kms here or there.  the logic being that cost and time is being expended to get them to grocery store so that cost savings is passed on to you. (e.g., stuff grown in the northern rivers, shipped to sydney, packaged and then sent back to the northern rivers grocery stores for sale .... what a waste!).  when we lived in the blue mountians we had markets .... but they were full of too much craft stuff.  so i really avoided them.  what i wanted was a pure farmers market.  and woa!  they abound aplenty here!

saturday morning i went to the farmers market at kyogle.  not a huge market .... but certainly full of produce.  i walked away with enough fruit and veg to get us by for the week, and so much cheaper than in the city!  and a few treats to boot!  blue berries and macadamia nuts (i feel a tart coming on!), gonna even try a few tamarillo's!  woohoo!

as i cut the veg up ... i felt really good that i was supporting the local economy here in our area.  helping the farmers by cutting out the middle man.  and on top of that i was doing what was right for our family.  instead of having a bag of beans that have traveled from timbuktu and back again and will go off in a week ... these veg will last .... truly!  they were just picked!

oh .... and what did we have for dinner?  sorry .... forgot to take a picture.

lightly crumbed local snapper with lime juice
warm wilted spinach, two bean salad
with walnuts and parmesan, and a 
balsamic lemon/lime dressing

wish you could've joined us.  the flavours were divine!  maybe next time?  

what i had reinforced was that taking the time to go to a farmers market rather than a grocery store provided me with fresh, cheaper food than i would find anywhere else.  i wonder what farmers markets are in your area?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

a tour of our backyard

i was just out hanging the laundry and thot you know what?  this yard is amazing.  for a rental, wow .... we are truly blessed.  so .... here is a tour .... of JUST the back .... not the sides or the front .... but the very back.  <g>  enjoy.

so this is the orchard.  heaps of citrus growing and it's fabulous.  they may not be the best looking trees in the world but as a renter, man!  i ain't complaining!  woohoo!  we get to reap the rewards!

and here is one of two paw-paw trees.  this one has had two fruit ripen on it.  
and, just when i've thot .... need to go out and harvest that tomorrow ....
"something" has gotten to it before me.
note to self:  make sure and harvest while still a bit green!

any idea what this is?  absolutely gorgeous red funky fruit.... but for the life of me,
i don't know what it is!  hoping it's some sort of exotic red berry
i can make a pie out of or something like that!

two monster rows of grape vines .... 
need i say more?

stone fruit .... i think!  could also be olives .... but doesn't look
like the right leaves for olives.  
maybe a small stone fruit like plum?  

.... and last but not least!  we have spotted three of these gorgeous creatures!
this one is the largest at about 60 cm .... but bearded dragons!
in our back yard!  woohoo!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

getting off the ground

so ... little things are starting to happen.  things that are making my heart start to grow and glow just a little bit.  and helping this, somewhat lonely heart, feel a bit more engaged in what is going on.  (yes, i have been feeling alone and without my friends .... but that is, perhaps, not something to be too transparent about in a blog or is it that i know that it just takes time and i don't want to be lectured about that at this point in time?)

  • took an inspirational road trip out to Daley's Nursery.  if you have never checked them out, you should.  wow!  i was truly inspired in my journey towards self-sufficiency.  while we can't grow heaps, yet ... just seeing the plethora of stuff that they offer for the warm temperate and sub tropical climates is way cool!  and i became a VIP member.  i had never realised just how close they were!  
  • and getting a few things to plant.  just herbs and few marmande tomato's at this point.  but it feels good to be doing that.
  • learning about where to be looking for land has been fun and educational!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Simplicity ... measured in TIME

there are, without a doubt, many things to contemplate and consider as we settle in to our new lives in Casino.  i could ponder many of them.  but here is one.


what do you do with your time?

when we lived in Sydney, albiet a glorified suburb, hubby was catching the 6:25 out of springwood .... to be at work by 8:00 in Paramatta if he was lucky.  if he wasn't lucky, he had to do the 2 hour EACH WAY commute to the North Shore.  and toward the end of our lives in sydney he was lucky to be home for dinner. so the kids would miss him at the start of the day and be lucky to have a bed time book and a kiss and a cuddle at the end of the day.

the kids were on a bus to school by 7:30 each morning.  and when they came home from school, well!  there was piano lessons, swimming lessons and gymnastics.  lord knows how we would handle our eldest son going into year one wanting to play soccer!

as for me .... i was doing laundry, dishes, trying to work on a sustainable lifestyle for the family, grocery shopping.  and then running the kids around .... all a bit manic.

saturday was supposed to be a family day .... but it ended up being a day filled with chores and catch up.  sunday was supposed to be a day of worship and rest.  but after church the insanity of getting ready for the week ahead would set it.  and whew!  i'd fall into bed on sunday night going "what just happened to my week?"

that is what time was like for us.  for me.  the tyranny of the urgent ... never really getting on top of things and never accomplishing anything unless i left it until after everyone was in bed and i could eek out some time to myself.

first day for kids and dad!
that just didn't seem to be what life was supposed to be about!

so how has that changed?  or has it?

hubby used to catch the 6:25 ... now he gets up at 6:25!  the family has breakfast together and daddy takes off for work .... which is less than a 30 minute commute away.  the kids?  no more 7:30 bus that is for sure!  right now i'm rolling them up to school at about 8:55.  next week they'll start riding the bus .... gee .... a leisurly  3-4 block walk and then waving them off at 8:45 am <g> .... and the same coming home.

hubby is home early enuf to get a few things done that he wants before we sit down for dinner.  so yeah ..... i would say we already have and will continue to get a big family time credit in our lives.  the tyranny of the urgent is definately gone .....

tomorrow i'm going to the farmers market first thing ... and then thinking of doing some planting (desperate to get some tomato's in the ground) .... we'll see how it goes.  i'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 10, 2011

a moment's pause in the mayhem

i wanted to take a few moments to write about this great little place in the Hunter Valley that we took respite in on our trip to the Northern Rivers.  i can't speak highly enough of Kate and Mark at Purple Pear Organics.  if i don't write about it now ... it will get lost in the madness of settling in casino.

if you follow my blog at all, you know that i am avid fans of the guys at Milkwood.  but i think seeing what Kate and Mark do at Purple Pear really showed me the true beauty of what permaculture is.  it is a methodology that works  in whatever place you are ... doing the best in the circumstances we find ourselves.

where as Kirsten and Nick are on this apparent barren land in the middle of sheep country out the back of mudgee doing regenerative ag and pasture cropping (whoohoo!) .... Kate and Mark are literally on the edge of suburbia.  they are on the grid and have chosen to be so .... to ensure that they stay in the middle of what is going on and are tied to it.  i have a heap of respect for that way of thinking!  i learned about transition towns from them and something called LETS (i can't remember what it stands for .... but it's a way to barter your offerings and skills -- kate, if you read this can you write a comment and remind us all of what it is please!).  the networking that happens amongst organic farmers and growing enthusiasts is pretty amazing

and in the midst of an absolutely yummy homemade vegetarian pasta dinner ... here i am ruminating over my inability to do anything until i've completed a PDC (permaculture design certificate) and understand contour and keyline better.  and mark, bless his heart, says .... trust yourself.  yeah, a PDC is great to get and important to do .... but you don't need that to do the right thing by the land and to get started.  trust your gut .... look inside and you've already got the knowledge you need inside of you.  thank you mark.  taken to heart!

i suppose what i would really like to say after all that is that we should take the time to learn from those who have gone before us.  i want to visit as many different properties as i can to see how folks are doing it differently (haven't even touched the mandalah concept that PP does!).  we can learn so much from how others are doing it who are already on the land and applying a variety of different concepts methodologies to what we are trying to do.

Relevant Links

Purple Pear Organics -- the official web site
Purple Pear Organics Blog -- kate's blog on the day to day happenings at the farm

Saturday, October 8, 2011

a window ...

i am taking a moment to let you know that i am indeed alive and kicking.  heaps has gone wrong.  heaps has gone right ....

and here i sit on saturday night .... internet tethered through my phone as wifi (blame telstra and their lack of copper!).  kids are on the floor, bathed and in pj's ..... watching a kids show.  something must be right ... in spite of all the boxes that remain.

emotionally i'm feeling in a really surreal place.  like we are on holidays or something and that at some point we'll be going to our home .... the one we know and are really belong in.  i know that reality is different.  but it's how it feels.

random thots ....

isolation  and aloneness .... i can't but be honest and admit that.  the kids will have school, hubby will have work .... i'm gonna have to work at establishing some good local relationships.  but that will come.

we went out and looked at a 15 acre parcel of land that we fell in love with only to find out that the SES won't allow building because of the likelihood of being cut off in a flood.  oops.  ah well.  we have time.  hoping to go and look at a 280 acre plot next weekend.

have been to the local fruit and veg place.  they are good about doing local.

the kitchen in our rental sucks eggs.  no place to attach my pasta machine.  had packaged stuff tonight.  barf.

there is a strong community growers garden going in town.  will have to get involved with that.  have details somewhere.

having a hard time focusing.  but i shouldn't be surprised.  i want a simple life .... but somehow this just isn't the way at the moment.  feeling hopeful .... knowing that once we get into routines and connect with the community things will start falling into place .... but right now life is far from simple and far from sustainable.

promise to get my act together .... truly!