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Showing posts from May, 2015

How I use herbs - Neem oil

I first discovered neem oil in 2012 , and since then I have found more and more uses for it. Even though this isn’t actually a herb that I grow (yet!), but it’s a herbal product that I think you should know about, so I’m including it in this series on the herbs that I grow and use . My original post about neem oil is particularly popular at the moment and I thought it was time for an update. In that first post I had only tried neem oil in an insect repellent, but it turns out that there are many other ways to use neem. Here’s what I wrote last time about how neem works: Unlike most chemical insecticides that kill by contact with the insect, neem oil works by disrupting the insects’ hormones, so they must ingest the neem oil to be affected. This means that it only affects insects that bite or chew, and is safe for bees and spiders (and, unfortunately, fruit flies), unless they become coated in the oil. As the neem oil affects the hormones, only small amounts are required for inse

What is real food?

I talk about real food and so do many other bloggers, and we probably all mean different things, so I wanted to share with you what I consider to be real food and how I got to eating this way. When I was growing up, I was pretty lucky that my parents didn’t allow much junk food (didn’t feel lucky at the time of course!). We very rarely had takeaway, soft drink, or packaged foods and my mum cooked most meals from scratch. When I left home and started studying at university, I lived in the hostels (colleges) for the first year and we ate in a big food hall with thousands of people. They usually fed us rice, pasta, potato, bread rolls and a little veges and meat in a sweet sauce of some kind, followed by desert. It usually tasted awful and I filled up on the carb options so I didn't go hungry. After that first year, I went flatting (lived in a share house with other students) and we usually cooked from scratch mainly because we couldn’t afford to do anything else! I wouldn’t s

Removing asbestos from our secondhand house

One of the reasons that we were reluctant to buy another old house was asbestos. Unfortunately asbestos was a very common building material in Australia up until the mid 80s. In Australia, asbestos was widely used in construction and other industries between 1946 and 1980. From the 1970s there was increasing concern about the dangers of asbestos, and its use was phased out. Mining ceased in 1983. The use of asbestos was phased out in 1989 and banned entirely in December 2003.  Two out of three homes in Australia built between World War II and the early 1980s still contain asbestos.  -  If you are not familiar with the dangers of asbestos, try watching the ABC TV mini-series Devil’s Dust (you can download it from itunes here , well worth it if you have a husband who doesn’t think he needs to wear a dust mask). It traces the life of Bernie Banton, who worked in an asbestos factory, and his fight to get compensation for himself and his coll

Threading an overlocker

I’ve had my eye out for a secondhand overlocker for a while, and when one popped up in our local buy/swap/sell group (has everyone joined one of these on facebook? They are great fun, Pete and I play out that scene from “The Castle” regularly !). Anyway, it was only $30 and it looked OK, so I claimed it, and I picked it up in the weekend. I actually said to Pete “how hard can it be? Surely between the two of us we can get an overlocker working”. Maybe I shouldn’t say that kind of thing. So began my crash course in overlocking. If you’re not familiar with this machine, its like a sewing machine, but it takes 4 threads and it cuts and binds the edge of the fabric as you sew a seam, so it saves time. You still need a sewing machine for button holes and tricky sewing, but for straight lines and simple patterns the overlocker is quicker. I dreamed of sewing up shopping bags and cloths and wheat heat packs and maybe curtains, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I found the man

RIP Cheryl

RIP Cheryl (Chez) 2003-2015 Pete's best mate. Comments will make us too sad.  Just hug your dogs for us.   And this link about a dog's purpose in life is very sweet.   I'll be back next week.

Is it winter yet? Cold weather preps

Technically no, its only Autumn, but in the last week our temperatures have plummeted (to use a TV weather report term) and we have started to take this cold season a bit more seriously. Now I know you Southerners and anyone from a country that gets snow, are all just laughing about the “cold” we experience here in Queensland, but when you consider that over the last few weeks our overnight temperatures have gone from around 20degC (i.e. sleeping under a sheet only) to 5degC (i.e. finding more blankets in the middle of the night), I think we can safely say that it is now cold (relatively speaking). Winter starts at winter solstice, 21st of June here in the Southern Hemisphere, so we have plenty more cold to look forward to (and I spent the last 6 months of 30-35degC highs waiting for winter, so I'm not complaining!). Here’s a few posts I prepared earlier, because winter happens every year and I’ve written about it before a few times! Keeping Warm If you haven’t read abou

Slow living farm update - May 2015

Here we are in May already and its time for another slow living update.  Once again I'm joining in the Slow Living Monthly Nine,  started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials  and currently hosted by  Linda at Greenhaven .  How was your April? Nourish We have been experimenting with different dog food options.  We've decided that most of the dog biscuits have too much grains, and even the grain-free options have too much pea protein.  We've tried BARF and K9 Natural, both are made from meat, offal, vegetables and extras like eggs, yoghurt and kelp.  Both are very expensive.  Then we found this pet mince at our local supermarket, and the butcher told me is only meat trimmings and offal, at $3/kg, its perfect.  We add vegetables and the extras.  Only problem is that Taz doe sn't like offal, she picks it all out. We are trying to teach her to like it by mixing in some canned "Chum", which is grain-free canned dog food! I have never put so much th

Garden share - May 2015

April was a strange month, in a good way though.  We had about a week of rainy days, and cooler temperatures, but not too cold.  The garden flourished!  Suddently we have tomatoes, tromboncinos, chokos and asian greens and chickweed everywhere.  The celery has even got nice thick stems.  It is kind of sad to see this and know that we will get frost soon and the tomatoes, trombos, chokos, beans, rosellas and lettuce will all die, leaving only the hardy asian greens, silver beet, celery and broad beans.  I planted some peas too, but I may have left that too late, as they won't survive a heavy frost either, but I couldn't have planted them any earlier with the heat wave we had in March.  I've started to prepare for winter by rolling up the shade cloth around the sides of the garden to let more sun in, and moving sensitive plants into the carport.  My plastic greenhouse, which has been so useful other winters, has now degraded and gone brittle, so I need to replace it, but I