Monday, December 7, 2015

Hello fellow gardeners..

I am still out here, staring out the window.. the garden is good, the sun is shining. Having injured my shoulders doing horticultural nursery work for many years, I needed a change and have been a bit befuddled for some months about what to do that won't hurt me and uses my fairly vast knowledge of environmental and sustainability issues. It took a while but it seems to have presented itself before me.

I have added a new aspect to my environmental and sustainable work skills. In the interest of educating people not to use so many chemicals in their homes and to reduce chemical use in gardens, I am starting to do some low toxic pest control work with a friend of some years. He has been treating ants and termites and other household pests for years using least toxic and IPM methods and he is probably one of the reasons I am so into bugs, so it is great to have ended up working for his business. (I kind of always thought I would, eventually).

Integrated Pest Management has long been an interest of mine and the next course I attend will cover more IPM than in the past, as the TAFE's finally get to change chemical use towards less toxic answers. I just wish TAFE didn't cost so damn much these days.

I won't add any pictures from work coz it would be pics of ant holes and termites. Not that exciting for most people.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My home made dog food.

Yeah, nothing to do with gardening, but lately our garden has been changing due to our having adopted a greyhound just over a year ago. There are more spaces being made for the long legged dog to run around in. We have started fostering greys too, one sweet girl at a time. (Update, we are keeping one of them).

To make one large pot of dog food, about 8 take away containers full.

- 1 cup of white rice
- half a cup of pearl barley
- half a cup of orange lentils

- about 1000 ml water

- 200 -250 grams each of carrots (2-3 carrots)
- potato (roughly 1 large or 2 smaller ones)
- sweet potato (a decent chunk)
- pumpkin
- or some combo of the above four veg, diced fairly small

- a sprinkle of curry powder and/or herbs to make it smell better
turmeric and black pepper just in case it really is good for them, parsley if you have it
- 300-500 grams of mince or pre pulped dog mince (ie mince for dogs).

Let the rice and vegies cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn't stick.
When you are fairly sure the rice is cooked, add the mince and stir it through.
Cook for another 10-20 minutes to make sure it is all cooked through.

Scoop into containers once cooled a little,

I keep a few in the fridge and defrost when I start to run out.

Bear is about 30 kg and will have between 2/3 to 1 container for dinner.

This amount of food costs less than $10 for 8-12 meals.

For breakfast we give him 2 or 3 chicken wings and a few frozen mulies from the deli fishing bait freezer or sardines if we can get them cheap.

Meaty bones are always raw and we make sure they get put in the bin or compost after a day or so as dry bones wear the dog's teeth more and will get stolen by rats.

Sometimes he gets a few biscuits but not all that often.
For training treats/bribes we use biltong, which probably has less dodgy ingredients than schmackos or similar.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Accidental food aka sow your own weedy edibles.

One way to supplement your diet without actually having to do any gardening is to encourage the growth of edible weeds. Every year we end up with lots of Italian parsley and nettles. In the above picture is also sow thistle and chickweed, both high in minerals. Dandelion is another useful edible weed we have that looks after itself. These are all just growing in the paths around the back yard. 
Many common weeds are quite edible and some even have simple medicinal uses if prepared correctly.

Other plants that can become established by allowing them to go to seed are rocket, lettuces, amaranth, mustards, mizuna, some of the Asian leafy greens.. there's more, too.

Of course, you need to make sure you have correctly identified the plant before you eat it. Oh, and that the dog hasn't weed on it. Foraging is a great thing to get into, but please be aware of roadsides being potentially sprayed with herbicides and possibly heavy metal content may be higher from particulates from vehicles or industrial exhaust.

There is a beautful book written by a local Permaculture teacher, called The Odd Fodder Cookbook that is all about how to safely forage for weeds. It's fantastic to see people making better use of the resources around us. 

Enjoy the rains and go see what new tasty foods you can find to try out.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rats. grrrr...

Rats, the scourge of our attemps to grow food in our garden. Their repeated onslaught into our brassicas, clearing kale and battering broccoli finally wore me down last summer, then of course summer comes. Hot and dry and much too long, still with very little rain compared to 'the old days'. It is not great trying to garden when you feel bad about any water you are using. 

We stopped growing anything the rats like and I have been trying to remove places they can hide. Walking out the other day I saw this confetti-like stuff. 

Weird green shavings and leaflets from the honey locust.

Rat poo and rat shavings. 

Looking up , I realised it was shavings from the stems of the dragon fruit above. Obviously not very tasty and they must be quite desperate to be chewing on that. 

Poxy rats have chewed all the green part off this cactus stem.
We bought some kale and broccoli seedlings the other day and have put cut off plastic bottles around each one for now, but I'm not sure what we'll do as they get bigger.. pesky rodents.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

and then....

and then, twenty years later I was sooo sick of trying to grow food in Fremantle sand, with way too much shade from our much too big trees that we were recommended by permaculture people back in the day.
Since then I have learnt to research better, so I probably wouldn't be planting such big trees. I have also learnt as much as I feel I can for now about growing plants in Perth and am really uninterested in horticulture anymore. The harsh sun and the hard yakka are not something I can put up with these days. Summer never helps and now that is over, maybe a few volunteer food plants will sprout and encourage me to do more, if it ever rains.

There are of course all the other aspects of permaculture that are important, the environmental  ethics and efforts we can all make to make ourselves feel better while the government fritters away time that could be used to leave less of a mess for the next generations to cope with. Resilience and resource guarding, learning how to live more with less stuff is where it's at now. Coz the shit is gonna hit the fan in some way or another and there's an awful lot of folks who aren't ready, sadly, including myself.

I always thought (and still do) that growing food and trees is the most important thing anyone can do in the city or anywhere, to provide two of the most vital things we need for life: food, water, shelter.

People expect that we have an amazing vegetable garden, but it's pretty sparse as far as edibles go. We have two trees we need to remove to get more sun on the vegie beds. Hopefully that will be enough to allow food to grow again. Luckily the framework of the natives and the trees harbour many birds which are uplifting to watch as they come and help with the clean up of insects we can't even see.
We also have an endless supply of rodents that eat anything even slightly tasty. I guess they know where we live after so many years. Slowly slowly I remove the piles of potential breeding sites, exposing more ground for the lanky long dog to be able to explore - so far he has found the same cat twice and no mice or rats.

Trying to figure out what to do next. Education about how to live more with less stuff sounds good.