Choking on grey water

This is my version of grey water usage.  I have channeled all the water from my bathroom to water my bed of artichoke plants.  It is quite an experiment.  I hope it works.

How to grow artichokes

The artichoke, Cynara scolymus, can be grown almost everywhere except possibly  where the summer is too hot (which may be my downfall). The ideal growing conditions are cool and moist summers and mild winters.

If you live in a cold climate your best bet is to start new plants each year. If you have a mild winter and mulch well, the artichokes may survive as perennials. Remember, it’s the artichoke’s roots that need protection.

Using transplants, you can grow artichokes as annuals in cold-winter climates with 90 to 100 frost-free days. .

Gardeners who are lucky enough to have the best growing conditions may be able to harvest artichokes throughout the year. For these people, it would not be unusual to harvest 30 artichokes per year per plant.

Meet Betty and the girls

That’s them – I am the proud owner of my first 4 hens.  Betty is the black one, and the girls are the rest 🙂 – I am starting to see differences in the girls but not enough to give them each a name yet.  They shout a lot when I go into their coop (made out of recycled materials) and I don’t think they like me much yet.  I hope this changes.

They like sitting up on their perch like this, and looking out into the bush

and this is their home.  I have stitched shade cloth over the entire cage to keep it cool and to keep out the snakes.

Now I just have to wait and see if they start laying eggs.

A fun way to recycle old newspaper

Two weeks ago we learned a new painting technique at art group.  When Anne told us about it, it sounded a bit strange to me – I thought no one would want to hang a picture like that on their walls.  Boy was I wrong!

Start off by tearing print sections of newspaper (just bits with writing on – no pictures) into pieces approximately the size of an orange.  You can also experiment with larger or smaller pieces I’m sure.

Glue the bits of newspaper onto a large piece of white or black board or paper leaving an edge of at least 1,5 cm’s around the edge as a frame.  Overlap the bits so that you don’t get background paper showing through.

leave the news paper as your background and paint a picture just using black and white acrylic paint.  Our group painted trees.  You can finish off with a glaze to set the picture and paper properly if desired.

Here are some of the results:

Unusual huh?

Less food for more food

My trip down the “slow and sustainable living” pathway is going really slowly, which, in itself,  is probably good because I am learning to do things at a slower pace, however, I am getting impatient with regards to the food side of things. I want to be able to produce as much of my own food as possible. My plans for my veggie garden are in place and should be up and running by winter time as most veggies in our region are grown in winter.  I also have plans to build a chicken coop and plant some fruit trees.

My” little” job with a matching ” little”  salary has forced me to pace myself and do things slowly as I can only do what I can afford to with minimal savings.  In an effort to speed things up and get cracking (see me trying to up the pace again – this slow thing is really hard :)) I need to allocate more funds towards my food production. A large portion of my salary buys food and normally one just jots that down as essential and moves on to look for other areas where one can save.  As the rest of my budget is really tight I decided to see where I can make savings on buying food. I need to spend less on food in order to grow my own food.

Once I put my food glasses on and started to look at our buying, eating and cooking habits, as well as doing a little research I discovered some interesting facts.

Worldwide, from the farm to the table, we throw away about 50% of our food.  If we don’t grow our own food, not all of this waste is under our control, as much is thrown away at farm, market and store level. At those levels I will only be able to make the savings once I produce my own. However, we do waste quite a bit of food at home.

People who practice  “sustainable living” often talk about how their waste goes onto the compost heap and back into the food they grow and so doing make savings that way.  This does not help me right now though because I am not growing my food yet (although I do need to get a compost heap going). So how can I make savings now – before I produce my own food.

When one thinks about recycling which I discussed in this post, we sometimes only concentrate on glass, cardboard, and metal items but the same principles of reduce, reuse and recycle also apply to food.

  1. Reduce – buy only essential food items,  shop around for lower prices, eat out less often, limit junk foods and unhealthy snacks. Buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers.
  2. Reuse – save leftovers, freeze portions that can be eaten as another meal and use the parts of fruit and vegetables that you normally throw away (ie: celery leaves for soups and stews, pineapple skins to make your own vinegar, potato peels for a crispy snack (fried), bones to make your own stock etc)
  3. Recycle – compost only what you can’t eat using a compost heap and/or vermiculture (composting worms) for fertiliser and compost.

I think the areas where we can save most right now in our home are:

  • freeze left overs instead of popping them into the fridge where they eventually grow jerseys and get tossed out
  • find novel ways of using left overs (the same meal for 4 days in a row becomes a little tired)
  • buy fewer “easy foods” for quick lunches and dinners
  • make our own snack foods ie: biscuits, humus, crisps etc.

By following only these 4 points I should be able to save 30% of my monthly food budget.  That’s a huge saving.

Last night I made a pie using left over beef stroganof from the weekend as a filler.


It tasted delicious, even better than the original meal, and it will last us a few days too.  It looks rather rustic but then that’s how we live – rustically.

Now all I have to do is use my incredible selling skills on the Bean to get her buy-in regarding the snack foods. Wish me luck…..