Archive for August, 2015

Milk bottle planters

August 25, 2015

I go through 3 litres of milk a week. While the plastic containers are (supposedly) recyclable, it still irks me to see them in the recycling bin. Being a Grade A Cynic, I doubt that much of what I put in the bin actually gets recycled.

In a permaculture system, each element should perform more than one function. So the bottles have already functioned to deliver milk to the system. What else can they do?

I’ve cut the tops out of them to use as dippers in my 60 litre rainwater harvesting bins which sit beside the rows of wicking boxes :


How about growing plants in them? Cut away the top and part of the side, leaving the handle intact. Drill a couple of drainage holes about one-third of the way up from the bottom (so it becomes a wicking container) and fill with compost :


Add a seedling lettuce and voilà :


Hanging on the side of the deck…..rabbits and possums, eat your hearts out! You won’t get them there!

Of course, I don’t expect them to last very long. The plastic will degrade in the sun and they’ll crash to the ground and those pesky milk bottles will end up in the bin eventually, but oh well, it’s a bit of fun, a few extra lettuce leaves won’t go astray and a permaculture principle has been satisfied.

Around the blogs

August 16, 2015

Some more stuff from the blogosphere this week that I found interesting.

I love this idea! It’s called a Swedish torch or Swedish fire log:

There’s lots more on this at Pinterest.

This is from the blog Resource Crisis by Ugo Bardi of Florence. Things in Italy are not so good weather-wise or economy-wise. They’ve had their hottest July ever, with forest fires and non-normal storms, yet their politicians have their heads in the sand, promoting business-as-usual. Sound familiar? Read his latest post here.

You think wind energy will be part of an oil-less future? Here’s a post from Energy Skeptic which details how many resources it takes to make one wind turbine. Did you guess 900 tons? And that’s just resources. How much energy it takes is another matter. Drop that one into your next dinner conversation.

Read also the previous post “Dozens of reasons wind power will not outlast fossil fuels“. Here’s my favourite:

Windmills are too dependent on oil, from mining and fabrication to delivery and maintenance and fail the test of “can they reproduce themselves with wind power?”

That’s the big question about all supposedly ‘renewable’ resources: can they reproduce themselves with the energy they produce?

Oh, and I do love this bit as well:

“And then, after the oil was gone, and there was no way to replace or maintain windmills, they’d sit there, our version of Easter Island heads, of absolutely no use to future generations, not even for hanging laundry.”

When fossil fuels are long gone from living memories and written history, will there be people in a far distant future who will gaze in wonder at the remains of ruined wind turbines and wonder what the heck were they for?

July update

August 10, 2015

Despite the cold and the rain, I managed to get a few jobs done last month. The first was to get the dwarf Stella cherry ready for the new season…..its second year of growth. I dug a small swale behind it so I could keep the water up to it in the summer :


Then I installed a support for a net :


I picked only about eight cherries last year and I’m hoping for a bigger crop this year.

I bought a dwarf Granny Smith apple and planted it on a hugelkulture mound. I’ll eventually put in a couple of posts and a wire framework and have a go at espalier :


It will get more TLC here because I’ll be planting my zucchinis on the mound when the weather warms and there’s a sprinkler system from the tank in place. The original Granny Smith I planted is right down the back where I never seem to want to drag the hose and the apples are always small. It’s too big for a net, but I try and protect a few with bits of netting, otherwise I generally leave them to the birds.

I also bought 5 bare-rooted, thornless blackberry canes and planted them on a new hugelkulture mound I’d been building up for a few months, with raked leaves and sticks from the walking tracks in the bush :


This mound is on contour and on the slope that leads to the first of the three pools on the property. Although I haven’t yet dug out a swale in front of the mound, water is already collecting there and running underneath the mound and into the pool.

I’d love to have nasturtiums growing everywhere, but the rabbits love them as well. The only place I can keep them is inside a wire circle. These are keeping a Cox’s Orange Pippin apple company :


Fortunately, the rabbits don’t like Warrigal Greens, so they’re doing a great job as a ground cover in the food forest :


These climbing peas have just started to flower :


Attractive foliage of Jagallo Nero kale :


And Red Russian kale :


I’m not picking much from the garden at the moment….just some greens and a few yellow tamarillos. The red variety has produced very few fruits because of an aphid attack last spring when they were flowering and most of the flowers dropped off.

On the chook front…..two of the New Girls have started laying again and I’m getting about 8 eggs a week from them. For the first time since I started keeping chickens, I went through the winter without having to buy eggs. Good one Girls!

I gave the pepino in the wicking box on the deck a haircut :


It will be interesting to see if it recovers.

The blueberry in a pot on the deck is flowering :


In the bush, Victoria’s floral emblem, Pink Heath (Epacris impressa), is flowering :


And a large patch of native Nodding Greenhood orchids :


Meanwhile, I’m hoping for spring and some warmer weather.