Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Harvest Monday, December 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Harvested, took photos, went on Christmas holidays, forgot to post. Posting now!

Capsicum (sweet peppers):

Two small capsicums. These went into a chilli dish I made whilst in the outback over Christmas.


Soybean seeds, blue butterfly peas, and purple tomatillos planted in November didn’t survive me going away. Purple “sapphire” seed potatoes and “midnight specials” potatoes have sprouted greenery. The greenery has (sort of) survived some 40 + degree days (104 F). It has been hot.

I have harvested one full warre box of honey, about 6 frames (6/8) from a second box. This is probably about 20kg worth of honey, unknown amount of beeswax.

Look at them apples:

I have had an incredible amount of pollination this year on my columnar (ballerina) apple trees. I shouldn’t have over 20 apples growing from a pot. I think because of the drought this year, there has been less in flower/less of a nectar flow elsewhere & since these are well watered I got A LOT of pollination.

We are now in “stage 2” water restrictions, with the main dams for Sydney at just of 40% capacity & a lot of bushfires going on (which needs water to fight them). Sydney is basically surrounded by a burning ring of fire. These water restrictions mean that now I can only water my plants with a bucket. Which is ridiculous because it is less targeted than a hose. I’ve had crop swap friends observe that they are actually using MORE WATER with bucket watering than they were with a hose. Surely, me growing plants that help keep the area cool & the bees & birds fed, as well as reducing food miles is a more useful deployment of water than someone washing their car (also with a bucket)? Makes me so angry. I got a few more unglazed terracotta pots & installed them as ollas in my raised garden beds.

So dear reader, what have you harvested from your garden recently? Do you have any tips for keeping plants going through water restrictions?

Harvest Monday, 4 November 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Super busy. Harvested a few snack-y type things, took photos, forgot to post.



Probably harvested too early. But I’m about to go away, and the last time I left them in the ground over November (although technically I’m supposed to wait until the summer solstice), my garlic rotted. No seed garlic, I think it was a “rose” variety of garlic that I bought at a market stall.

Honey. About 12kg. I don’t remember harvesting in October before, it looks like there’s a bit of a honey flow going on.

More blueberries (Sunshine Blue), growing in a pot.

Planted more soybean seeds (endamame). I think I’ve planted about 30, and so far only 3 look to have germinated. Fingers crossed they survive!

Also planted some blue butterfly pea seeds and purple tomatillos. I think blue/purple is my colour of the year.

I left it too long with the purple “sapphire” seed potatoes, and the slaters have started to eat them. I’ve had more luck with the “midnight specials” which have at least started to sprout.

So dear reader, what have you harvested from your garden recently? Is your also garden dying from lack of attention?

Harvest Monday, 30 September 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

I’ve taken a bit of a break with the harvest posts, mainly because the plastic free July is a bit draining, and, well, work.

Springtime asparagus

Very tasty. Not enough crop. I think the crowns are at least 4 years old? Probably more. I’m not sure on the cultivar, but I think Mary Washington.

A few Alpine Strawberries.

Taste like bubblegum. Very sweet. Very delicate. Can’t harvest and eat later, if you harvest you gotta eat straight away.

A couple of blueberries (Sunshine Blue), growing in a pot. Delicious!


Not mine. I knocked at the neighbour’s door and harvested theirs. Different to the last lot who didn’t realise that fruit grows on trees, these people just don’t eat grapefruit. I took most of these to a crop swap, and got some slow fermented saurkraut, blueberry tomato and “black cherry” tomatoes in return. The rest… kind of rotted. Fruit fly had got them already.

I haven’t done much in the garden apart from dig up bindis. I tried sprouting some soybean seeds so that I could harvest endamame this year, but the pods just rotted. Better try again.

I got some purple “sapphire” seed potatoes.
Purple potatoes
Hopefully (once I plant), I will get a good crop! I swapped out three at the crop swap, saving two. I do hope that’s enough.

I also bought some heritage raspberry canes. Should probably plant ’em.

So dear reader, what have you harvested from your garden recently? What have you intended to plant, but not quite gotten around to?

Plastic Free July 2019 The Wrap Up

In 2018, I counted 66 pieces of plastic used during the month of July.
In 2019, I used 65.

This is not much of an improvement. It just made me feel so down and out – despite my best efforts, I couldn’t reduce my plastic usage much .

This probably means that on average, throughout the year, I am using at least 780 pieces of plastic.

So let’s see what did I learn to do differently this year?

I found this slogan inspiring:

One Person can do so much

What a difference one word makes. “One can do so much” versus “One can only do so much”

I made much more of an effort to buy milk from Alfalfa House by using my reusable glass bottle. The milk comes from Country Valley Milk at Picton, on the edge of the Sydney Basin. Un(fortunately), my other half didn’t like that this was full cream milk *all the time*, and demanded that we return to using light milk (semi-skim) during the weekdays. Turns out you can have too much of a good thing.

Country Valley Milk

I have switched to using a bamboo handle toothbrush. The bristles are still nylon/plastic, but there is less plastic total in the toothbrush. When I visited Great Barrier Reef/Lady Elliot Island in 2018, I was told that one of the most commonly found plastic items found washed up on the island are *toothbrushes*.

I am making a more conscious decision to eat a little less meat. So if I’m cooking, I eat mostly vegetarian, with a little bit of the meat from his portion. This doesn’t apply when it comes to brisket – in which case it is mine, all mine.

I found a local source of coffee beans (Circa coffee), that sells you coffee in a reusable container. That is just fabulous, and I will continue to use them.

But what also does my head in is this. White vinegar, woolwash laundry detergent. I can buy 2L white vinegar from the supermarket for $2. I can buy 1L woolwash detergent from the supermarket for $5.

The milk in the glass bottle, above cost me $1.87. It is 640grams.

Woolwash detergent

The woolwash detergent that I have refilled cost me $7.93 for less than 1 L.
The white vinegar that I have refilled cost me $10.50 for less than 2L.

Why does the refilled product cost more than the product + bottle?

Note: I worked out later that it depends where you refill your bottle. I have found alfalfa house to be the cheapest place to refill, when I refilled 2L of white vinegar, it was less than the $10.50 I quote above

Plastic Free July 2019 Day 30

Continuing on my attempt at a plastic free month (or a month of cataloging my plastic usage).

On Day 30, I had a

Pork Chop:

Pork chop and some socks

Food. Supermarket bought. Hard shell plastic (bottom), softer top layer.

I also bought some socks, because they were on special. Two pieces of plastic, the “hook” that hangs on the supermarket rack, and “H-shaped” piece that ties the socks together. My other half has toenails that saw through socks like nobody’s business. Also the quality of this brand of sock has gone downhill since they shifted manufacturing offshore, so they are not lasting as long as they used to.

As an example, this is what the branding of socks look like after one single wash:
non-bonded bonds socks

The iron on transfer is coming off. I guess you could call them NON BONDED Bonds socks. This is pathetic. Why can’t they “knit in” the brand name like they used to, instead of using a plastic iron-on transfer that clearly isn’t working?

Five pieces of plastic today.

Plastic Count: 65

Plastic Free July 2019 Day 28

Continuing on my attempt at a plastic free month (or a month of cataloging my plastic usage).

Day 25 – 27. No plastic. On Day 25, we went out to a Japanese restaurant. I cried at seeing the single use disposable chopsticks, so I pulled out a reusable metal fork that I had been carrying around (borrowed from my accommodation). But then I left it behind at the restaurant. Hmm. At least it will get reused.

Don’t worry, I’m nearly done.

On Day 28, I took a flight from Melbourne.

This time I had tea without milk (although It didn’t taste the same), and my snack was a gozleme served in a little cardboard box. OK so the cardboard box ended up greasy… and could’ve been composted.

Baggage Tag:
Baggage Tag

I can take a flight without checked baggage, true. But I had a bag with badminton racquets, and didn’t want to risk them being confiscated.

Then I had to cook dinner once I got home.

Cabbage wrapper

Organic cabbage. Wrapped in plastic. Yes, it was on special. Yes, I could shop elsewhere; like at an organics specific store where there is no need to separate the conventionally grown veg from the organically grown veg. But the closest choices I have are either at Homebush West (hard to get to on public transport), or at Richmond (a long way away). Oh the price of convenience.



We go through cheese like its going out of style. Again, I could buy it at a deli counter and have it placed into my resuable container. Although I can’t remember if I have seen King Island cheese behind the deli counter. Alternatievely, I could buy an entire 25kg wheel, wrapped entirely in wax. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Meat Packaging:
T-bone steak

Purchased outside of July, consumed during the month of July. Kept in the freezer in the meantime.



Purchased at the supermarket. I think I purchased this specifically to make a dish … maybe goulash, but then didn’t. So the parsley looks a little worse for wear. A few years ago, I had so much parsley growing in my garden. It didn’t self seed as well last year, so my 2019 parsley consumption is down. If I have found some parsley plants popping up in the lawn, or inbetween some pavers, I have carefully transplanted it back to a growing bed

Five pieces of plastic today.

Plastic Count: 60

Plastic Free July 2019 Day 24

Continuing on my attempt at a plastic free month (or a month of cataloging my plastic usage).

On Day 23, I took a flight to Melbourne.

Aeroplane refreshments:

Aeroplace snack

Although I brought my own reusable cup for the plane, the one-shot milk and the snack gave me three piece of plastic. Plus plastic from the baggage tag.

Gelato tasting spoons

Gelato Tasting spoons

I was in Melbourne. I was going to the theatre. I was about 10m away from Gelato Primavera, how could I not get gelato? But to get gelato, one must taste gelato. Hence spoons. You can see that I have tasted two flavours. Although the back of the tasting spoons states “Biodegradable & compostable”, it appears that this may be just a case of greenwashing, with plant-derived plastics being worse for the environment than fossil fuel derived plastics. I had the intention of taking these spoons home to try and compost them at home (to prove or disprove that they are compostable), but
“Another issue is that even when they are composted, the quality of the compost is not very good. The “compostable” bio-plastics break down into a very sticky, resin-y debris that creates poor compost that’s not rich and nutritious for plants like compost from truly organic materials.”

Ew. I don’t want that in my garden.

Five pieces of plastic today.

Plastic Count: 55