-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Earth Garden: March-May 2005 issue

For Christmas Mum got us a subscription to two Australian magazines about eco / environmentally sustainable living. Although the tone is sometimes a bit gungho and self-righteous, there's a lot of useful information in them. For future reference, thought I'd make a note of the articles and interesting ideas from each issue which could be handy for Amherst. It saves me having to put little post-it tabs on each page!

Here's the snippets from Earth Garden issue #131 (March-May 2005):


Scandia in Seymour - they recondition old wood-burning stoves and re-sell. They could be really helpful in getting the old Raeburn stove working, plus if we want to buy another one for the inside (Dave is eyeing off the Raeburn to have in his shed!) Tel: 03 5792 2388. Also Castworks sell all sorts of wood stoves

A UK company Centre for Alternative Technology sells a paper log maker: "Free heat from old newspapers...just thoroughly soak and squeeze the paper, place into the mold and dry. You'll have a log that will burn as well as wood". I'm going to have a look and maybe order one, Dave might like it for the little outside fire.

When it's the end of the summer season, to ripen the last tomatoes on plants rip out the whole plant (roots, soil and all) and hang upside down under north facing shelter... the fruit will continue to ripen for the next month or so even as the weather turns, although the skins will get tougher the longer you leave it. (nb: guessing that in the UK we would replace "north" with "south")

There were a few ads for Australian companies who make natural and non-toxic paints. http://www.naturalpaint.com.au and Biopaints (who stupidly didn't list a website, but phone number is 1 800 809 448)

Awfulness, an article talking about snakes getting into enclosures and eating chickens! And how snakes get into everywhere, you find them on kitchen benches, in the toilet, etc. I *so* do not want this. I didn't think snakes would come into the house; we shall just have to design it so that they simply cannot. Every window must have mesh, etc so that nothing can sneak inside.

There was a good article about how to pickle your own olives... maybe we can start doing that sooner than we thought considering that there are already olives on our little trees! Also, in a sidebar they mentioned the problem of "feral olives", where birds eating the olives and then dropping seeds in native forest lead to olive trees growing wild and taking over from other trees. I don't quite know how we're supposed to stop the birds eating some of the olives, I'm not going to net all the trees, and besides there are other olive plantations nearby. But it's something we'll have to think about if the birds prove to be too greedy.

In the regular section about poultry, they mentioned that there is a homeopathic way to worm chooks. Apparently you crush up one clove of garlic per bird and put in in their water for a few days. You do it on a regular basis, traditionally at every full moon! This may be a good thing to try with the C's. Also there are some herbs like wormwood that if you finely chop in the tips into wet mashes can help, but I don't like this approach as if you do it too much it can be toxic, and how much is too much? However, maybe in Amherst we might be able to grow some as according to this it "succeeds in any soil but it is best in a poor dry one with a warm aspect. Established plants are very drought tolerant. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil... Wormwood is occasionally grown in the herb garden (although) the growing plant is said to inhibit the growth of fennel, sage, caraway, anise and most young plants, especially in wet years. But wormwood is a good companion for carrots, however, helping to protect them from root fly. This herb was at one time the principal flavouring in the liqueur 'Absinthe' but its use has now been banned in most countries since prolonged consumption can lead to chronic poisoning, epileptiform convulsions and degeneration of the central nervous system"

Oasis Windmills (again unfortunately no web address) make windmills that they say are very affordable. Best of all they look like the old-fashioned kind of metal windmills on stilts! They say they are simple to install, able to pump to 80m head, low maintenance, no expensive rebuilds, able to pump up to 4 gallons (18 litres) per minute, and with auto-turnoff in high winds. They come in towers that are 3m or 4.5m tall. They're based in Dookie Victoria tel: 03 5828 6452. Another wind generator that is not as nice looking is from Precision wind technologies

First of a two-part article about how to make a cheap dry composting toilet, like the ones that sell for several thousand dollars. Unfortunately not accredited yet but who knows in a few years... worth remembering about anyway if we want to ever add in an extra toilet to a shed or something.

Weekend hippy person mentioned tree onions... Onions that grow at the top on stems, and when they get fat fall over to the ground and start growing a new bunch. Sounds interesting, like a cross between a normal onion and a spring onion. Apparently they are good especially because they're not fussy to look after, can cope with not being watered except at weekends. I just found a herb nursery in the UK - on Ebay no less - that sells them, so have ordered a few to try them out along with some Angelica that have been meaning to get for ages, and Comfrey for the compost.

Schnitzer sell very nice looking mills for making your own flour, grinding grain etc. I think the idea is that if you ever need flour you can just make it on the spot from the raw grain, as much as you need for cooking. It is really nicely finished in timber too.

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