Obtaining a yield

The lettuce seeds are sprouting

Last week, while I was planting out my potted herb garden, I also cleared out the planter box.

The planter box needing a tidyThe beans are growing nicely, but some tomato seedlings, which had popped up from seeds in the worm castings, where flopping all over the place. The spot isn’t sunny enough for tomatoes, so I pulled them all out.

The planter box ready for seedsThen I added a bit more goodness and microbial action to the soil by burying some Bokashi compost right at the bottom and well away from the bean plants. Bokashi compost is acidic, however once it is buried for seven to 10 days it neutralises as it breaks down.

Seed packetsThen it was time to plant some seeds. I chose seeds that can handle the part shade of our south-west facing balcony – rocket, mixed lettuce, perpetual spinach and coriander. The Johnny Jump Ups will hopefully add a bit of colour and fun for the girls.

Lettuce seedlingsAnd a week later, the lettuce is sprouting.

Obtaining a yield

Herbs in pots

Two bags of potting mix (lugged up three flights of stairs)…

Eight types of herbs…

One balcony herb garden.

This morning it was time to get the balcony herb garden going. The plants and potting mix were bought and the pots had been empty for a long time. It was past time to replant.

Let’s meet the new additions…

Sage, basil and thyme

Chives and curly leaf parsley

Mint (on it’s own because mint doesn’t play nice with other plants)

Flat leaf parsley and oregano.

It was good to add some new friends to the balcony garden.

Obtaining a yield

A start on the balcony garden

The balcony garden has been pretty neglected since we moved back to the apartment six months ago.

Aldi planter box

When I saw this planter box advertised by Aldi, I knew it would be just the thing for the end of the balcony. It provides a decent amount of growing space and is raised, allowing a little storage underneath.

The girls and I filled it with potting mix and lots of worm castings from the balcony worm farm.

We planted some seeds that I had in the cupboard – beans, rocket and cress. So far, the only thing sprouting are some pumpkin seeds that must have been in the worm castings!


Why energy descent isn’t all doom and gloom

Last night I went to a talk by David Holmgren, co-founder of permaculture, at a Permaculture Sydney North meeting.

Speaking on retrofitting our suburbs for a resilient future, he gave a positive spin on the way communities could use permaculture strategies to deal with energy descent. He painted a picture of communities working together to meet the joint challenges of climate change and scarce fossil fuels, rather than a “Mad Max” world of complete chaos.

His talk focussed on the evolution of “Aussie Street”, a typical Australian 1950s suburban street. It starts out housing large families with chook runs and vegetable gardens and slowly changes to what we have today – low population density with two or three people in each house and working families outsourcing their lives and too busy to maintain their back yards.

Projecting into the future, the families, dealing with a depression caused by a collapse in the financial system and high fossil fuel prices, survive and even thrive by taking in other family members or lodgers, setting up urban farms in their back yards, and by running small scale home-based businesses that serve their local area. Overall they spend a much higher proportion of their time at home and the households are highly productive. In addition their greenhouse gas production is significantly reduced, not by design, but just as a consequence of their changed lifestyles.

Holmgren believes the power to get things done lies in the hands of ordinary people. Waiting for governments or someone “higher up” to come up with a solution to the challenges that face us is a waste of time. He encouraged us to implement permaculture strategies in our own lives now, and to experiment to find out what works well. This will then provide a working model for others to emulate while also developing a constituency that, hopefully, people at the top will notice.

More information:

Some of the sources he referenced were:

Waste not - want not

Up and running with Bokashi

Take a look at this now, because this is the best it will look.

I’ve decided to try out Bokashi composting again after a hiatus of several years.

Bokashi composting originated in Japan, and it uses a special bran inoculated with good bacteria to ferment kitchen waste.

It’s a great way for apartment dwellers to reduce waste as it’s odour free and can be done indoors.

But the thing I like best about the system is that you can compost just about everything, even meat scraps (no bones), dairy and cooked food.

With two small children in our household, we seem to be constantly throwing away prepared food…part of a sandwich, uneaten breakfast cereal, rejected dinner, etc…and all this waste has been going to landfill.

It’s taken me a little too long to realise that using Bokashi composting in our waste reduction mix would solve our problems.

And even after one day, our rubbish bin is significantly emptier.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Flowers in the house

Flowers in the house – lilacs and rhododendrons

My mother looked after Alisi for me the other day. And sent her home with some lovely flowers from her garden.

Here are the lilacs – just gorgeous!

And some creamy rhododendrons for Alisi’s room.

Can you spot the spider?

To prove you can never start arranging flowers too soon…Here’s Alisi with her first arrangement – two daisies she picked out of the lawn.

Take a look at some more flowers in other houses at Small but Charming.