Sunday, 29 March 2015

Plastic-free “last-week-of-March” score card.

I’ll give us a 9/10 J - it was a joint family effort – not just me J.

I only had one slip up and purchased hot- cross buns on special to put in the freezer (plastic bagged).  It was actually quite interesting to examine why I forgot – it was just that – went into the shops to buy one Easter egg for school raffle (no plastic) – it was a a bit of a stressful day and I was on auto pilot…

Had some wins too though:


Milk in glass bottle, milk powder in cardboard box (yay – didn’t think I would find any!), plenty of yummy home-made bread (bread flour in paper bag, everything else in pantry already) and new egg flip – none available locally that were bamboo or all metal so this has a silicone flip.

And the local butcher was happy to put some mince in my own container J - though, for public health rules, he did have to use a plastic bag to pick it up…

The biggest challenge was actually the little plastic bags that we usually buy fruit in – they are a plastic that had inadvertently crept back into my life because I already had some re-usable ones:



The lacy ones are a recycled curtain (purchased from a community garden stall) and the brown ones feel like organza (purchased from The Environment Shop in Fremantle) – so they are both actually polyester based – so the orange cotton crochet will be my next one J - and I will search out a cotton crochet table cloth at the op shop to cut up and sew some more.

I enjoyed the challenge so much, we are keeping it going for next week too.   The big search is now on for a local bulk detergent outlet – we are about to run out of the dish detergent that I already raided from our camper!

We are dearly missing having our usual unlimited supply of cheese – the supermarket deli cuts from a bulk supply don’t they?  Wonder if they would be able to sell without any plastic packaging??

And thank goodness eggs come in cardboard cartons!!  Well if you have to buy them like we do…until our chook run is finished…(that would actually be ‘started’….another story….).

Saturday, 28 March 2015

We had a half hour to spare yesterday afternoon, so I said to the little kids we would go to the playground.  I took them to the Busselton Community Garden!

They do have a playground there – but the real entertainment was watching the chooks dust bathe and jump (straight up and as high as they stand!) for some overhead vine leaves.  Then the windmill started to pump some water – and it was lovely to hear the laughs as I was sitting on the swing seat J.

We left as some clouds came on the horizon and were treated to a double rainbow:


Sunday, 22 March 2015

I spent my yesterday doing a plastic inventory of my day. 

I have been having a good read through Down to Earth blog – I have already read the book several times – it is where I got the soap recipe I use (so nice and easy and gorgeous soap to use), and it is where I read the best quote about crafting!

Anyhow, somehow it got me onto thinking about Plastic Free July – something I have never attempted – and I was honest with myself, I am not at my best in the freeze of winter, so I might never get around to anything much in July! – but I figured, I could always do a Plastic-Free last week of March.  Yeah why not – how about joining me?

My inventory was my experiment to see what plastic I could cut out.  Here’s my list:

Item containing plastic
Egg flip/spatula
Coffee machine
Metal grinder and pot
Hairbrush; comb; hair elastic
Bamboo brush and comb; ?rubber band
Toothpaste (plastic tube)
MYO = make your own
Deodorant (lid)
Milk container (incl milk powder in plastic bag)
Glass bottle, bulk powder
Bread bag
Home baked!
Clothes (some polyester)
Stay with cotton; wool; etc
Shoes (I assume the soles are synthetic, not rubber)
Not sure…leather soled shoes do exist
Polyester blanket
This was a gift, so we will keep it and cherish it.  All our others are wool or cotton
Eyeglasses – plastic on arms
Not sure if fully metal arms are available
Gardening equipment – plant pots, bucket, irrigation pipes
At least they are all recyclable.  Could use earthen or wood pots and buckets.
The pen I wrote the list with!
You can get wood cased pens – or use a pencil with real graphite.
Microfibre cleaning cloth
Stick with cotton rags
Plastic bottle of cleaning vinegar
MYO – I am giving this a go right now – in a glass jar of course!
Food storage containers
Change to glass!
Toaster machine
Could use camp (gas stove-top) wire toaster – but not with my induction cooktop…what to do?
Duster (wool with plastic handle)
Wooden handle
Mending supplies – plastic button; needle case and scissor handles
Wood, shell or metal buttons; cloth only needle case; metal scissors
Recycling bag and wheelie bin
Could use a cardboard box – but council requires the wheelie bin
Wheelbarrow – plastic tray
Sharp kitchen knife – plastic handle
Laundry basket and pegs
Wicker trolley basket (very hard to find a good quality one, will have to try harder); wooden pegs (I only buy wooden, but have been given plastic over the years)
Clothes horse
It is metal, but with plastic ‘ends’…
Clothes line – currently using rope – some plastic
Stick to fabric rope – and get Hills Hoist in the ground one day soon…(all metal)
Food packaging – plastic bags and wraps
MYO foods – cheese, yoghurt, cold meats – at the very least, buy in bulk
Kettle – plastic handle
Fully metal stove top kettle
Tea bag – plastic wrapped box
Grow your own tea – buy bulk
Craft supplies – almost everything is plastic or is in a plastic container or wrap L
MYO recycled paper J.  Buy other supplies second hand.
Grater and saucepan - ?rubber/silicone coated handles
All metal
Silicone baking tray liner (apparently good quality, non-coloured silicone is just ‘sand’ (silicon) and oxygen so no probs – mine are ‘good quality’, but are coloured).
Oil +- flour base instead
This computer!!!
Could always use the public library computer instead…

I was quite shocked to see how much plastic is part of my daily life.  It will take a bit of investigating to find the alternatives that I know exist – but worth it I reckon!

And just to be clear, I won’t be replacing everything – quite a bit of the above have been gifted to us and many other things have been purchased second-hand – we do try to be conscious of buying with the least packaging, but I do think some things have slipped in, so I am going to have a go at getting some of the alternatives as things need replacing.  The egg flip is first on the list – it broke last week (a good 15+ years’ service though). 

The first ‘big’ challenge is upon us too – milk about to run out – we have plenty of UHT and some milk powder – so I just need to avoid the shops really (and pretend the alternatives taste ok)!  Next to run out will be the dish detergent – I will see if I can find a re-fill bulk alternative at the health shop – otherwise it will be home-made soap and water this week.  And bread is in the machine as I type – so here’s hoping I got the recipe right to get a good tasting loaf.

Seems almost sacrilege to cook up heirloom tomatoes – but there are too many for us to eat and I am sure it is worse to let them go into the compost (some already succumbed on the bushes…hope they resprout!  That is the thing I have learned about heritage tomatoes – they are ripe before they look it, but if you pick them when they have a little bit of ‘give’, they will last as good as ‘normal’ ones – and look prettier and taste better!!  Those yellow ones looked superb – I don’t think I have eaten one of them yet…).


Everything in the pot was homegrown J!  A rainbow of tomatoes, leek, parsley, oregano, spinach and half a zucchini.



I think its colour will lend it to a nice curry base – I don’t’ think I could get away with pouring it over pasta.

And if you are needing some reading on food gardening – I found this one interesting today, “Why bother?”

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The luck of the Irish to ya!

And a bug update.

The garden is showing us a wonderful example of ecosystem equilibrium in action:



Old broccoli full of aphids for a few weeks now – and along have come the ladybirds to feast on them J.

Our house, too, is progressing to an ecosystem in equilibrium.  We had noticed new bugs in the house (these ones fly and are bigger), so Jye (ecological pest control) came and took some samples to post off to the Ag Dept – and here is what we have now:

          Foreign grain beetle/mould beetle (Ahasverus advena)

          Predatory pirate bug (Anthocoridae) – feed on other insects, mites and eggs.

          2 x Mites:

Laulapidae – Large (1mm) predators of insects and other mites

Tydeidae – Scavengers (~0.5mm) feeding on fungi and remains of dead invertebrates

So – predators of the barklice – should mean they are slowly getting eaten out of existence! 

My big question of course was “What eats these bugs then?!”  I did a bit of research on the net, and spiders seem to be the go – plenty of those in the house too (though I did just vacuum them all up this morning… it was time to clean up the quite large webs they had spun…they will come back…).

Don’t you just love it when your home is a science experiment in action ;-)?!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Van Gogh would be happy with these sunflowers – don’t you think?

A close-up – look at how perfectly motley they now look J.

And because I was having fun editing the photos – that one above is my original, just resized; this one below is edited with “one step photo fix”, twice – I love the orange coming in…




Then in computer Van Gogh style, add the painterly effect and you get this masterpiece:

For Nicola.

Borrowing an auger is a good thing – Thanks Mike!


Chook yard is started!! J

This week in Sunny Strawbales:
Paving – of course – getting there….the going is slow with so much cutting around the plinths – and it is very noisy and oh, so dusty work – so it is good to just take it steady!

Gardening – lots happening which is lovely – we set up three new raised beds.  Valerie painted the waterproofing on them and I (mostly) filled them with our usual lasagne of rocky sand/rocks; then cardboard and paper; then straw; then mumby magic; then sifted sand and mumby mix; and finally more straw for mulch. 
I’ve decided our tractor sure could do with power steering – I was feeling my muscles the next days!  But we do love our Bob (that is our tractor’s name).


The hard work is worth it – we have got this to show for our efforts:  asparagus and tomatoes:


And three rows of potatoes – we will plant more next time it is below-ground planting days:


This here is our current, most exciting waiting:

Our boy loves his corn and these ones he planted are looking delicious!!