Since the end of last year, I've been feeling the need to reduce the amount of throwaway packaging that comes into (and out of) our home. I've revisited buying at bulk shops where you take your own containers to refill, but there's not a lot of that around here, so I do what I can. I'm hoping The Source Bulk Foods opens in Geelong soon, I've been to one of their Melbourne shops a couple of times, and it's fantastic!
My drawer of stainless steel containers and water bottles. I also use a lot of Pyrex containers.
I'm able to fill these up at the Wholefoods Co-operative in town.
We have a confectionary shop locally that also sells a huge range of nuts, spices and healthier foods. I took a drawstring cloth bag and asked if they would fill it with roasted almonds, and they kindly obliged. They'd do it with their treats too I'm sure, but we'll try to avoid that where possible ;)
A range of food covers- beeswax wraps, and bowl covers. I've only bought 2 rolls of cling wrap in my adult life, I used it so infrequently, I figured I didn't need it. I haven't used it for years as there are plenty of alternatives.
Making your own crackers is very easy, the bought ones are so over packaged. I've been using this recipe, mostly with a buckwheat/teff flour combination so it's GF.
I like to buy oats and flour in 5kg bags, I'll store it in the freezer to keep it fresh if there's room.
My local free range butcher (Warren & Hutch) will fill up my containers, and set aside items that they normally package in plastic for me to pick up plastic free. A local deli wouldn't let me buy cheese or deli meat in my own containers, so I'm buying waxed cheese for now, and I have bought parmesan cheese in one of my beeswax wraps, so it can be done, I just have to go further afield (Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne). I'm drawing inspiration from:
Seems I lost my blogging mojo over summer, but here are some productive garden snapshots from the last 3 months. We had a bounty of apricots and nectarines, the trees were well pollinated by the bees in spring.
A little bit of soap making, lavender and peppermint
And beeswax candlemaking from our beeswax and our eggshells
Some of our almond harvest... scorched almonds for Easter?
Golden delicious apples have been picked this week
Butternut pumpkins coming along
The second flush of raspberries ready for autumn
Banana rockmelon, hopefully will ripen before the cold sets in
Some of our 43kg honey harvest from 3 hives this season
Garden looking good after the huge rains we got on January 27. The sedums are at their best and covered in bees at the moment.
After an unusually hot and dry October, yesterday we woke to thunder and lightning and lots of rain, such a relief. There was 17mm in the rain gauge by the end of the day, and the garden is much happier for it.
My experiment for the summer- growing in straw bales. The idea is that the straw insulates against extreme heat and retains water, it breaks down over summer, and you're left with some good humus rich soil. I added compost into the planting hole.
Pumpkins coming up
The garden bed that not much grew in, with lots of manure and mulch is growing much better.
Lots of apricots on the tree
Lots of almonds on the tree
Lots of raspberries and (not pictured here) lots of boysenberries, which I think will be an early crop this year due to the heat.
This is the final cluster before Andrew was able to come home and catch it before they took off.
Capturing the swarm
These were rehomed to a lady who lives around the corner, and are doing well so far. We had another swarm yesterday, so we had to borrow an empty hive, but this lot don't seem too happy right now. Fingers crossed they settle down.
Andrew pulled out 3 full frames today, they're now sitting in a colander draining out slowly.
The kids enjoyed a taste
The almond tree is in full blossom now, and the bees are all over it. I planted another almond tree earlier this year, because they are the first trees to blossom, and we like almonds!
This year I've been working on soil improvement, particularly areas that have been very sandy and hydrophobic, and difficult to grow things in. I've added biochar, followed by aged manures, and a Natrakelp soil wetter, made from kelp. I've planted a row of sedums (autumn joy) in the above bed, and some agastache 'sweet lili' and salvia rosenwein to fill up the bed, as well as lamb's ears and aloe vera at the back. This bed grows olive trees, but was hard to keep anything else alive in there. Throughout the garden I've added 26 agastaches and salvias for the bees, and their drought tolerance.
The gardens are ready for spring
This bed is also hard to grow in, so with some soil amendments, I'm hoping that will change. I've planted lupins for nitrogen fixing, (and they're pretty), wall flowers along the back as winter food for bees, aquilegia in the shady corner, clary sage for bees and beauty, and divided up a few yarrows and scattered them around. I'll put in some productive plants along the front once the weather warms up.
A couple of our avocados, we've been enjoying them this winter
A new batch of rose geranium and patchouli soap, good marbling this time.