29 September 2013

Reducing Energy Usage

I think this post is going to be one of those where you share embarrassing information in an attempt to force yourself to make improvements!   

In my August Slow Living Journal I talked about my realisation that we need to reduce our electricity usage in the City Garden house.  When I think about it now just one month later, it seems crazy for me to say that I have only just realised this, but there have been so many reports in the media over the last couple of years about the increasing cost of electricity in Australia, and our electricity bills have been expensive, and rising even further, so I just assumed that we were pretty average and everyone has had the sort of bills and energy usage that we have.  But no, actually, it turns out that lots of people don't!

25 September 2013

A Momentary Diversion

Please excuse this momentary diversion.  This post has nothing to do with gardening but possibly quite a lot to do with permaculture...

Last Friday night I went to see the fabulously talented Amanda Palmer at a gig.  She was famously in the Dresden Dolls, a cabaret punk band, who played at MONAFOMA last year, and is now doing her thing solo.  Amanda is a gutsy, artistic, creative powerhouse of a performer, who isn't averse to courting a bit of controversy in support of her art or causes she believes in strongly.  A big advocate of social media, she has well and truly embraced blogging and twitter (918,000 followers!) and last year funded her most recent album on kickstarter, raising $1.2Million in the process!

The permaculture connection?  Amanda Palmer has managed to create a closed-system by connecting with her fans via social media and challenging ideas about "celebrity" disconnection and the way that music is sold/controlled.  This has enabled her to procure things that she needs to produce her work in exchange for her art, and in the process changing the nature of the relationship between artist and fan.  Some examples include sourcing obscure instruments for one-off performances, to finding a bed or dinner with strangers while on tour.  She recently did a TED talk called the Art of Asking, which is a fascinating insight into her motivations and justifications.  You can watch it here.

And here's a photo from the gig, quite blurry but clearly a very perceptive woman!

21 September 2013

This Week in the City Garden

I've been transfixed by the local White Plumed honeyeaters who have been enjoying the Echiums as they come into flower.  My bird book describes them as "aggressive in urban gardens" but I like to think of them as feisty and acrobatic!

There's been an egg bonanza this week.  But I'm suspicious - I think one of the chickens (probably Blacky) is about to go broody and is trying to gather a clutch of eggs.  If/when she does go broody again we might try to find some fertilised eggs to add a couple of chickens to the flock however we would look to getting a breed that are less inclined to broodiness and more inclined to laying regularly, which are the downsides of the Pekin Bantams.  Bantam Australorps sound interesting.  Does anyone have any experience with them, or know where I could get some fertilised eggs?

In the vegetable and herb gardens:
  • Trays of seeds have been planted for the Country Garden
  • The last of the  City Garden broccoli was harvested and the bed replanted with two tomatoes (Tigerella and Yellow Cherry), basil and alyssum, which I learnt this week is great for attracting beneficial predator insects due to the shape of its little individual flowers
  • The broad beans are continuing to flower and have started to produce tiny pods, but they probably don't have quite enough sun and have been battered by some strong winds
  • The herbs from the street garden were repotted in preparation for Spring growth.  There have been a couple of strawberries (which disappeared as soon as they were ripe!) and there are lots of bright red nasturtiums and blue violets to brighten up the street.
The back garden has its share of bright splashes of colour too!

20 September 2013

September in the Vineyard

I've been carefully watching the pinot noir vines closest to the Country Garden to try to capture the moment of budburst, but I was away for one week and arrived back to the sight of new green sprouts everywhere, so didn't quite manage to capture it.  

Each year the order of progress in the vineyard is the same: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, followed by Semillon, then Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, so if I'd walked over to the Cabernet vines on the far hill I may have still be able to observe it.  

With the weather warming up the vineyard will quickly become a sea of green, with tasks such as de-budding (of the growth on the vine stems), pruning and grass slashing not far away.

06 September 2013

Slow Living Month - August 2013

It's time once again to check in with Christine and the gang who gather each month at Slow Living Essentials to reflect on what has been achieved in the past month.

I've hardly managed to post anything on the blog this past month, which has nothing to do with not having anything happening, in fact it's actually the opposite.  I've had so much new and exciting stuff going into my head that when I've tried to write it down it all tries to tumble out at once and gets stuck!

Apart from starting a new work project, which is taking its own little corner of my brain (of course I pretend at work that it's more than just a corner!) and doing some exciting things around Fair Food, the main thing for me this month has been starting the Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.  I was really looking forward to getting into the course, but it has completely exceeded my expectations.  Each week has filled my head with new learnings, or pushed things I already knew much further and linked bits together in new ways.  Wow!

So here is my August Slow Living Journal: