Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reasons to reduce your lawn. And some alternatives.

My like of lawn is non-existent. They use a lot of resources best used elsewhere. I personally reckon that couch grass should be banned from sale. It destroys many gardens by taking over and forces people to use chemicals to destroy it. There are some better non-toxic (to humans) herbicides these days but its still a hassle when your precious waterwise plantings get invaded by poxy couch.

Fertiliser use: Lawns need to be fed to look green. If you use too much fertiliser the plants can't use it and in our thin sands the excess can get washed down into the water table or into the river system causing algal blooms.

Chemicals and weedkillers: Ditto for the above reasons with the added bonus of being toxic and using the wrong ones can do more harm than good.

Petrol: to power the lawnmower.

Time: having to spend precious weekend time mowing must be a hassle. Surely.

There are alternative plants you can grow that will take foot traffic including:
Lippia (Phyla nodiflora): this can be weedy as it spreads by stolons, so goes where it wants but its much easier to control than lawn species and doesn't need to be mowed.
Dichondra repens is good for shady areas that will get watered. It's soft and cool but not hugely tough for daily use.

There are MANY very pretty other plants, including Grevillea species that can be used in areas where groundcover is needed but won't be walked over.
These are some Aussie species.
Grevillea nudiflora - low growing with little red flowers.
Myoporum parvifolium - flat plant with tiny white flowers. Spreads to about 2 metres wide. The cultivar M. parvifolium 'purpureum' has a purplish tinge to the foliage and is tough enough to use where a car will be parked (according to Sabrina Hahn, who recommended it as such).
Hemiandra pungens - prickly groundcover with pretty pink or white flowers. Local Perth species.

Edible groundcovers include many species of thyme, oregano, strawberries, sweet potato, nasturtium (they can take over a bit though).

If you don't use your lawn, maybe consider getting rid of at least some of it. Plants will reduce the heat island effect as much as grass will, they will absorb more carbon and use a lot less of your time and money to look good. Plus they provide habitat and or food.
Go on. Kill your lawn!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fremantle Farmer's Market at FERN.

Locally produced and organic goods from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm on Sunday mornings. Lots of farm fresh goodies.

Corner of High Street and Montreal Street, Fremantle.
We went there at about 11 and there were still lots of people. Loads of good food, some decent coffee, organic fruit, veg and lamb. It was cool to see the place so busy.

Permaculture plants book.

Capuli cherry: Jeff Nugent.
Jeff Nugent is a longtime permaculture designer and gardener. This book is an amazing collection of species that will grow in the southwest of Western Australia. He has a great little permaculture farm where he teaches courses form time to time.

Semester one is nearly done.

Having withdrawn from chem and feeling much relaxed about it, I have done a spot of gardening and found a bit of space to squeeze another grevillea in down the back. It should hide the neighbours nicely!

Frogwatch list update: I will be going to see the man with the list soon and returning a backlog of emails. I'm looking forward to meeting the herpetologist. Good timing too as its the uni break quite soon. Phew.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Elder Fizz Recipe.

This is easy to make and a good thing to do with some of the many elderflower bunches that grow in spring. I've been meaning to put this online for ages.

*4.5 litres water
*700g sugar or honey
*Juice and rind of one lemon
*12 elder flower heads (shaken carefully and checked for bugs!)

You will also need some fine cotton cloth to strain the brew, one large enamel, ceramic or glass container (a bucket will do in a pinch but not metal), a clean stirrer and four 1.5 litre plastic water bottles. These are used because they won't burst easily;

*To make sure the utensils are really clean, sterilise them with boiling water. Contaminants in brewed drinks can result in explosive and smelly failures!!
*Mix the ingredients together, making sure the sugar dissolves properly.
*Leave to stand for 24 hours, covered with a cloth.
*Strain well and bottle.
*Store in a cool dark place for two weeks, somewhere you'll see them. Releas the built up pressure in the bottles every couple of days by twisting the lid slightly to let the gas out, then doing it up again.

Friday, May 2, 2008