28 February 2014

The Importance of a Good Aspect

Two beds of corn, planted the same day from the same packet of seed...

I thought there was enough sunlight and space in the location I chose for the three most recent of our garden beds in the Country Garden.  But this summer has shown us that although they do get some sun through the day it's just not enough to make plants thrive.  The beds are also inconvenient for watering, being at the end of a very long hose line.  So they need to be moved, which means sacrificing the meagre offerings in them.  The zucchini, spaghetti squash, beans and capsicum have all done OK, but nowhere near as well as previous years in the other garden section, while the golden squash has been a terrible disappointment after the bumper crop last year, and the asparagus has done basically nothing so far.  The beds will need to be dug out and relocated.  Luckily there are a few extra vineyard workers around at the moment for vintage to do the hard work! ;)

26 February 2014

Another Winery Vegetable Garden

Last weekend I visited Canberra, Australia's capital city, to catch up with a friend.  As well as time in the city we headed out to the nearby wine region and had lunch at Capital Wines.  Their cellar door and restaurant is located in a series of stone buildings in a lovely little town some way from the vineyard and has a fantastic kitchen garden, orchard and chickens.
The vegetable beds are laid out in a formal pattern and well irrigated
Tomatoes are planted against reo mesh to support them 
Beans climb up an arch in the centre of the garden
Zucchinis obviously thrive in Canberra's climate, the surrounding farms
were all growing them too.
Happy chickens in a fenced orchard
...with a very impressive chook house! 
A hedge of quince trees protects a thriving pumpkin patch

15 February 2014

This Week in the Country Garden

A week of "almosts"...
The corn cobs are beginning to develop
The eggplants are flowering
We have about half a watermelon
The cucumbers are climbing and starting to
produce fruit
And the Pinot is nearly ready for harvest!

04 February 2014

Power Consumption Reduction - Time for a New Fridge

In my electricity audit last year, the fridge came out as one of the higher users of power, at 677kWh per year, which is huge for the size of it.  We have a small fridge due to the space available in the kitchen, and as a result pack it too full, meaning it struggles to keep to temperature.  With our recent run of hot weather it's been struggling even more than normal and running almost all the time but still not keeping food as cold as it should be kept, so eating up power at an alarming rate and starting to cause me concern about food safety. 

So with more hot weather coming up it was time to invest in a new one.  The two main priorities were the right size and lowest kWh possible.  I'd assumed that modern fridges would be quite efficient so was aiming for around 250kWh.  It was a shock to discover that most are way higher than that, even some that are much smaller than our current fridge.  After some research I came across a great website to help find the most efficient fridges (and here's the official Australian Government one that you might find handy for a number of different appliances).  The fridge we bought wasn't actually on the list as it's a new model, but similar versions were, so it allowed us to target that brand (and no, sadly I couldn't justify/afford the $4000 Smeg fridge at the top of the list!).  With a bit of perseverance I managed to find a slightly larger fridge than our existing one (it took some perseverance to get it into the space too!) with a 3.5 star rating and 300kWh p/a consumption.

We donated the old fridge to Phoenix Fridges, a Brotherhood of St Laurence business that fixes up old fridges and donates them, sells some to fund their programs or if the fridge is beyond repair they de-gas it, recycle all the bits and cash in the carbon credits to put towards their programs.