Thursday, 28 July 2016

Thrive Through Thrift Thursday - July 2016

"Thrift is the basis of Self-Help, and the foundation of much that is excellent in Character." ~ Samuel Smiles

According to Samuel Smiles thrift meant private economy, and that it is the object of private economy to create and promote the well-being of individuals. He went on to write in his book Thrift that "Wealth is obtained by labour; it is preserved by savings and accumulations; and it is increased by diligence and perseverance."

That does contrast quite markedly with today's consumer culture. It is interesting that Smiles thought that economy was not a natural instinct. It is developed through growth of experience, example and forethought. Today we are lucky to have many examples we can turn to on the internet for inspiration and information regarding exercising wise economy in the home. I have some of these blogs listed on the right hand side of my blog under the heading Inspiration and Information. These blogs are my "go to" places when I need help or just  motivation to keep on going on my path.

What I have done this month to thrive through thrift:


  • This month all nine ceiling fans were cleaned mostly by me but Don did clean two of them.
  • Don finished the repairs to the railings and gates around the pergola. They also have a nice fresh coat of paint.
  • I cleaned the bathroom vanity cupboard and drawers and reorganised contents, including our stockpile of shampoo, soaps etc. I also cleaned out the bathroom vanity drawers and reorganised the contents such as putting numerous tubes of lipsticks into a ziplock bag. I also washed my makeup brushes.
  • I e-tidied by removing some old internet bookmarks.
  • I have made some very slow progress on the vest I am knitting.
  • We were gifted some food this month- both produce and cooked meals, and all the rest of our meals were made from scratch.
  • Prepared weekly menus
  • Prepared shopping lists for groceries
  • Topped up the soil in the keyhole garden ready for planting out.
  • Planted out a Wisteria tree and a Rose of Sharon shrub.
  • Created a scale plan for our perennial food garden. Morag Gamble has provided the inspiration for my efforts in this area. 
  • Re-potted our elderberry cuttings - these were gifted to us some time back.


  • I saved money by doing my own pedicure.
  • Don saved money by repairing and re-painting the pergola railings himself rather than paying someone else to do this.

New Practices

  • I lifted my chive plant and divided it to make more plants. I haven't divided this plant before so I am hoping I haven't killed it!

Today I am letting Samuel Smiles have the last word

"But thrift is not a natural instinct. It is an acquired principle of conduct. It involves self-denial--the denial of present enjoyment for future, good--the subordination of animal appetite to reason, forethought, and prudence. It works for to-day, but also provides for to-morrow. It invests the capital it has saved, and makes provision for the future."

Monday, 25 July 2016

Plant Profile - Chives

This is a garden's greatest gift - its ability to carry you into the future, to wake up every Saturday with a 'must do' list, to lay plans for the coming seasons, plant trees for future generations and take loss and calamity in one's stride." ~ Christine McCabe  

Garlic Chive plant

Chives are a hardy perennial of the Amaryllidaecae family.  Most commonly seen in gardens around my region are Onion Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum). I have garlic chives growing in my garden, as the name suggests the taste is more like garlic than onion. They are a lovely plant suitable for perennial veggie gardens, herb gardens, cottage gardens and for growing in pots.

They can be grown from seed, and the plant can also be lifted and divided. The divided plants can either be replanted back into the garden or into pots. If planting back into the garden plant at intervals of about 6 inches. When dividing leave a few small roots together in each slip. Chives like a well-drained rich soil with a pH of between 6-7.    They like compost and mulch but the mulch needs to be kept away from the base of the plant.

Close up of the garlic chive flower

Both the leaves and the flowers of chive plants are edible.  They are a useful edging plant. The flowers, as well as being very pretty, are attractive to bees and other beneficial insects are said to ward off pests.  My photos do not do the plant justice, they are very pretty and a worthwhile addition to the garden. 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A New Look

"Don't look back and ask why, look ahead and say why not." ~ Unknown

I have changed the look of my blog. I hope you all like it as much as I do. Have a great day!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Permaculture and Your Bio-region Part 3

"[1930 will be] a splendid employment year"
~ U.S. Dept of Labor, New Year's Forecast, December 1929

The above quote reminds me of our latest Federal election campaign slogan "Jobs and Growth".   I would love to see everyone in our region enjoying gainful employment and having the satisfaction of building and strengthening our local community.  I just can't see how it can be done in a globalised economy where resources are so very diminished. Perhaps the way forward for everyday people like myself is to develop a flourishing household economy and work with like-minded people in my local community to build a more resilient local economy. What do you think?

I was disappointed but not surprised recently to read this article regarding the axing of the British Climate Change Department. The BBC Horizon has done a really good documentary called Global Weirding, which discusses the very weird weather extremes we see happening all over the world. As part of my investigation into my local bio-region for my permaculture studies I had to report on weather extremes.  Like many parts of the eastern coast of Australia the coastline of our bio-region is occasionally exposed to direct cyclone activity.  The cyclone season starts November 1 and finishes on April 30.  We also experience low pressure systems that cause gale force winds along the coast and heavy rains. October through April brings our “summer” storm season which bring strong winds, heavy rain, hail and repeated lightning strikes.

Our area reaches fire danger ratings of high, very high and at times extreme. This is usually during spring and early summer before the monsoonal rains begin.
We are experiencing more frequent heatwaves and this winter which is our dry season has seen the region receive unusually heavy rainfalls resulting in riverine flooding. In 2011 we had a one in 100 year flood, in 2013 we experienced a one in three hundred year flood as well as a number of tornado's . The flooding was mitigated to some extent by Paradise Dam.

Paradise Dam is just one of a number of dams in our region that service the local population. There are also large underground aquifers and the dams are supposed to prevent the aquifers being drawn upon too heavily.  The water table is lowered when the aquifer is drawn on too much which results in salt water intrusion into the water table. The water use of the aquifer is now considered to be at safe levels and is managed to ensure salt water intrusion is prevented. Irrigators are issued licences to draw on the aquifer up to a certain maximum amount which depends on the rainfall rather than the amount stored in the aquifer. This means in dry years their allocation is reduced.

 The Bio-regions indigenous vegetation include:
  • Wallum Heath – flora rich heathland on poor acid soil, plants include banksia, eucalyptus, sundews, various wild flowers, tea trees, acacias, pea plants and paperbarks

  • Costal Dunes – Vegetation in these areas are vulnerable due to being buffeted by coastal conditions. Common vegetation in these areas are; she oaks, pigface, and Ipomoea  pes-caprae known as Beach Morning Glory (this looks a bit like  Ipomoea batatas Sweet Potato)
  • Mangroves and Saltmarshes – Grey Mangrove Avicennia marina, and the Stilted Mangrove Rhiszophora stylosa
  • Closed wet heath- also rich in flora on poor soil with acid water in swamps and bogs. Common species include Swamp banksia, Banksia robur;  Tea trees, Leptospermum; and wallum boronia, Boronia falcifolia
  • Dry Sclerophyll Forest – species include Hickory Wattle, Acacia Aulacocarpa; Coast Banksia Banksia Integrifolia; White Cypress, Callitris Columellaris
  • Remnant Rainforest -  Vegetation includes Hoop pine, Isis Tamarind and Yellow boxwood, blood vine and wonga vine. 

We have at least 15 separate recognised wetlands in the province.

Is it any wonder after studying permaculture I feel so much more deeply connected to my patch and the region in which it is situated? As I learn more about this wonderful region, it opens up to me in a deeper and more complex way allowing me to discover yet more on a continuing journey of growth and discovery. As I walk the earth I feel I am more a part of it than ever before. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

In Praise Of Inactivity

"It is impossible ever to be content if we can't amuse ourselves sitting still, focused on our own desires, our needs and feelings."
~Alexandra Stoddard

I remember learning many years ago about the importance of space in an artwork.  The space allows one to appreciate the elements of the artwork. I suppose Henry Moore's giant sculptures are a good example of this. 

The importance of space is always driven home to me when I drive through a neighbourhood of big homes on small blocks. One cannot appreciate the architecture of a home when it is squeezed in between its neighbours like a sardine in a tin.

So too,  I need space in my life.  Time to reflect, muse and remember what it is I want my life to be about. Time to cultivate ideas.

Taking the time to just sit and be, daydream and think about life's possibilities nourishes my soul. As does taking time to acknowledge all of my achievements for the week, month, year, decade - no matter how small.  Time for contemplation and self-examination -am I still living a life aligned to my values or have I been side-tracked by life's happenstance? Time to hear my inner wisdom.

Many of us, myself included can feel guilty if we have periods where we slow down. Sleeping in, long afternoon naps - there are times in life when I can enjoy these and use them to nourish myself. I deserve to treat myself with the utmost care and respect.

Stopping briefly to turn inward and experience a mini-meditation. This helps me stay centred.

Embracing periods of inactivity allows me time to remember who I am, not just what I want to be or do.

"It was time to slow down the frantic pace of my life and begin to listen to it" ~Denise Linn

How do you feel about embracing periods of inactivity?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Design from Pattern to Details

"Can't see the forest for the trees".

This is part seven in my discussion of the 12 principles of permaculture. This time I am sharing my thoughts on the principle, "Design from Pattern to Details". 

This principle is often explained by looking at the site and establishing zones. For me to have the most success in designing from pattern to detail I looked at my patterns of behaviour; my husband’s; and how our household runs,our lifestyles, values and aspirations. Like the spider at the centre of its web we are at the centre of our design, and it needs to radiate out from there.  It will not be successful if I lay grand plans and start implementing them using strategies that others have found successful only to find these strategies don't  integrate easily into my life. This would  interrupt the flow of energy and create more work and lower yields (including personal dissatisfaction). So by identifying our patterns I can work them into a design that is most energy efficient for me and my husband.

Vegetables growing in zone 1

I see the principle of designing from pattern to details as very circular and comprehensive. If I look too hard at what other people do I could easily miss some great opportunities for optimising the patterns in my life and those within my household.

One of the patterns in my life is that I can’t stand working in the summer heat and so do manual labour early morning, late afternoon and evening. This means unlike in cold/temperate parts of the world my fallow garden vegetable season is summer.

Pattern determines how elements flow, function and relate to one another. This information can help us to build smaller, more productive systems such as the keyhole garden shown in the picture above. Other patterns to be taken into consideration are seasons, wind patterns, sunlight, water flows etc. Once these patterns are identified, the details are organised in and around the patterns. These elemental patterns when integrated into a design can help make it self-sustaining and self-perpetuating.

Orchard in zone 3

Before committing to a design for our property I also gathered information on water flow across the property to determine if another dam were feasible and also to determine where we might put swales to slow the movement of rainwater across the property giving it time to soak further into the soil. 

Are you familiar with permaculture. How do you apply the principle 'Design from Pattern to Details' in your own life?

Monday, 11 July 2016

Too tough for forest living?

Swamp grass trees in flower

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going." 
~ Billy Ocean

I think I have made mention in the past that our place is situated in wallum country. Wallum country is native heathlands found  on the eastern coast of Australia. 

Last week, one of my favourite gardeners Jerry Coleby-Williams wrote about Wallum and Kowngan. He said that heathland grows in areas that are too tough for forest. "So" I thought to myself as I read that, "no easy forest  living for me and my husband, we had to pick somewhere really tough." 

Then my heart sank right into my boots when I read that our "Soils are extraordinarily impoverished even by Australian standards....."  

I knew our soil was bad but extraordinarily impoverished? Ouch! 

Although on the positive side Wallum country does have lots of interesting and beautiful plants. And we are lucky to have them pop up over the property. Some of my favourites are the bacon and egg plants, dianella, and the swamp grass trees.

Jerry's article has some lovely photos and a video too, and can be found here

Sunday, 10 July 2016

On the Home Front

"As much as we love our house, housework can and should take a backseat during times when we have set goals to accomplish something specific, and all our energies need to be focused on that project if we intend to succeed."

~Alexandra Stoddard

As much as I hate to face it I have let housework take a back seat; -  so I could focus on my return to work last year, which was more difficult than I can ever describe; and to finish my permaculture course. I needed to focus on these two ventures if I was to succeed in both, and I am happy and relieved to say that I have indeed succeeded.

Now as I look around my home I see that I have walls and ceiling fans to clean. Cupboards and linen closet to organise and a large decluttering to finish.  I am also going to review my routines to see if the way I have been doing things is still the best way for us moving forward. I am sure that there will be some changes but they will probably been small ones.

One change I have made recently is creating a perpetual shopping list on which I have listed groceries we regularly buy. Now I just print the list check it against my menu plan, contents of fridge, pantry and cupboards ticking off the items I need to buy as I go. This has saved me a lot of time. I shred the list once I have completed my shopping and shredded paper work is added to my compost.

Don't worry I am not about to become our households charlady, but in life's revolving cycles there are times for every activity under the sun. I think the time is now for me to focus my energies  for the time being on our home front. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

In My Garden - July 2016

"Like many others, I believe that the most significant causes of ill health are lack of exercise and inferior food." ~ Peter Cundall

I have just been reading about Peter Cundall's garden, in an old issue of the Organic Gardening magazine (July/August 2010) and how he started out on his acreage property with a bare paddock of impoverished soil.  This makes me pause and reflect on our property with its paddock's of impoverished soil, which in its natural state lacks both nutrients and soil life.

I read on to find that Peter's soil is  a fine, clay-based grey loam, that was well draining though impoverished. My soil is mostly sandy and water repellent. 

I was interested to read when they bought the house and property in 1980 it cost $41 000 and they paid it off in eight months. Now that is no mean feat considering that wages in 1980 were way lower than they are today.

The average summer temperatures in the Tamar Valley where Peter bought his property are about 24 degrees dropping to 15 degrees celsius, at night.  Where I live our winter temperatures are about 22 - 24 degrees during the day and about 9 to 12 at night. So the summer temperature range in that part of the country is roughly the same as our winter. Interesting.

Last month when I wrote "In my garden" we were experiencing a prolonged dry spell. Well as you know the dry spell was well and truly broken. In all our property received 232 mm which was more than enough to fill our tanks and dam. Quite a wondrous total rainfall for the first month of winter which is part of our dry season.

This month in the orchard I would like to apply sulphate of
potash to my mango trees. It is my understanding that this adds potassium which strengthens plant cell walls and helps make the trees resistant to anthracnose.  I will also check the citrus trees for scale and if it is present spray with white oil.

In the veggie garden I am hoping to plant some beetroot, parsnip, silverbeet and lettuce.  I would like to take one or two of my strawberry runners  and plant them on, and separate my garlic chives so I have more growing throughout the garden. 

I am planning on working on this ornamental garden this month; weeding, aerating the soil, light pruning adding some blood and bone, mulching with lucerne and then putting manure pellets  for slow release feeding. I have some ornamental cuttings that I would like to plant out in the garden too. 

I would also like to clear up this area. On our permaculture property plan this spot is going to become a water feature. But at the moment my husband finds it a convenient spot to dump fallen branches. 

What are you planning to do in your garden this month?