Project Self Sustainability

A fine site

FAQ’s June 15, 2012

  • Stagger your planting.   Do not plant all your tomatoes today.  You aren’t going to need hundreds in a few weeks – are you?  So assess what you might need and the family might use, and plant some this week and a week later a similar amount – and so on.  Thinking about what vegetables you eat and cook with weekly might be a good starting point!!
  • Fresh vegetables from your garden can contain up to 45% more nutrients than the “fresh” stuff fromy our supermarket.
  • If you have a yard and can plant a kitchen garden – asparagus, tomatoes, fennel, parsley and rocket are easy to grow as are sage, silverbeet, spinach, potato, pumpkin, basil, rosemary, dill, corn, zucchini, cucumber and radish.
  • Companion plant: this is planting certain things next to each other, and it is usually a natural pest control: basil is a companion for tomatoes and beans; rosemary also near beans and swiss chard; chives near carrots.  Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Planting Chart might help.
  • Use organic pesticide.  I have brewed my own, often.  A simple one is to steep 2 or 3 cloves of garlic in hot water for several hours, strain and spray on leaves.    The safest commercial deterent I have found is Yates Nature’s Way Dipel.  With this it is an organic bacteria.  You can spray, pick, wash and eat vegetables immediately.

If you don’t have a garden and just a balcony, like me, plant in pots in a sunny spot.

  • containers should be at least40cm deep
  • broccoli, celery, leeks beetroot and strawberries are pottable although I would give pumpkins a miss!
  • 23cm soil for herbs and leafy vegetables
  • 30cm for most vegetables
  • at least 40cm for potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • Potatoes grow well in a bag with drainage holes ona  balcony as long as they get sun.
  • Mint and parsley are good indoor plants as they will grow in the shade.

Project grow My Own

I aim to:

  • become self sustaining for fresh vegetables from now on
  • utilise “recyclables” (things I would otherwise turf out) instead of purchasing more.  I have instituted a “one in, one out” policy on my life, and within our lives.  As a starting point and a yardstick to where I choose to go from hereonin.  This means all those cracked cups and teapots and cruddy pans, don’t get turfed; they are repurposed instead to growing our fresh fruit and vegetables, moving forward.
  • plan carefully; this included allocating space, calendarising a planting schedule ( so crops ripen sequentially thereby eliminating the need to deal with hundreds of one vege or fruit.)
  • companion plant
  • use the best compost possible
  • use a natural fertiliser
  • do a little towards this goal every single day
  • document every step of the way

Grow Your Own – Just Thoughts

As I am working to nourish myself, and wandering supermarkets and checking out the costs of herbs, fruit and vegetables, it has become apparent to me that attempting to “grow your own” makes increasing sense.

How many of our children know where fruit and vegetables come from? Even if we are renting, and have limited space or poor soil, there are small things we can do, and indeed should do. There is something satisfying about growing, and nurturing. Feeding ones family satisfies some basic elemental need in one, too.  At least it does in me.

So growing your own will tick both the cost and quality boxes.


Planning my Balcony Garden

My choices in food and produce have become increasingly organic and then progressively locally grown – utilising the Farmers’ Market at the local shopping square each Thursday am for my produce as much as possible.  By the way, at Hornsby Markets, Darcy is the one guaranteed organic and the best!!!!

The benefits are conscience; ( carbon footprint, sustainability etc) and also limiting hormones and chemicals being ingested unbeknownst to me.  This is centred around what is best for the body I have as well as what is the best possible choices thinking and looking ahead beyond my own lifespan.

It has always been a goal of mine to set up a balcony garden for fruit and vegetables as the ultimate in minimising my carbon footprint as well as becoming increasingly self sustainable.  This weekend I have set aside and used some of my time to begin planning and costing this out.


Balcony Garden – Thoughts June 14, 2012

The balcony on my apartment is generous.  With this in mind I am considering what I might plan, and how I might organise this to best advantage with a move towards cutting my “fresh” vegetable purchase costs while cutting my carbon footprint, and ensuring the ingredients I use daily are the absolute freshest.

It is one thing to think about this and consider this and add it to a list as a goal.  BUT to make it happen takes action.

This weekend I have wandered the shopping center and checked out the gardening supplies section to ascertain what is readily, easily and cheaply available.  I have made copious notes and snapped some quick pictures ( including products, pots, trees, seeds, plant stock, soil, mulching).

My next step is to measure the balcony, observe and note where the sun comes from and when.

I then will decide on on how I will place the pots and baskets – and what will go in each  – and hey presto; begin!!!

So far, I have decided on using 6 large pots as a garden base.  Why big pots?  They don’t dry out so quickly.  And hydration is important to plant – for the plants aline and for the quality of the fruits and vegetables they produce. They also heat up more slowly than small pots.

Pot 1: One fruit salad plant: CITRUS. Around the base of the tree I will plant silver beet.

Citrus Fruit (between 2 and 8 grafts available per tree) – can combine oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, tangelos, grapefruit and pomelos.  There can be up to two different varieties of oranges and mandarins only. These ripen at different times, one in winter, the other in summer.  The more fruits on a tree, the longer the picking season, even all year round.  Only the most popular fruits are chosen for the Citrus Fruit Salad Tree.  These are a dwarfing variety of tree and can withstand cold temperatures down to minus 8 degrees centigrade.  Being a dwarfing type, the height is kept to a minimum to allow for easy, safe harvesting of the fruit.  Grown in containers-approximately 1.3 metres(4ft) high x 1 metre(3ft) wide.   The size these trees get to is important to better plot and place all pots and baskets appropriately.  These I will be ordering directly from the suppliers.  I will choose tahitian lime, lemon and mandarin.  3 to 4 lemons all year around plus mandarin in autumn and limes in summer.

POT 2: One grapevine : give me one month of fruit; I will also use tiny leaves in salad, and large ones I will stuff.  Around the base of the vine I will plant thornless blackberries and allow them to trail down the sides of the pot

POT 3: Dwarf apple.  Plant strawberries around the base and allow to trail all over and down the sides of the pot.

POT 4: An all-in-one dwarf almond; plant parley ( curly, continential and coriander) around the base.

POT 5: Giant native Atherton raspberry; plant Cape gooseberries and allow them to trail.

POT 6: Dwarf nectarines;  plant bok choy around the base.

This will form the base of my gardening endeavours.


Gardening with Angus

Vertical Gardens I like this system and it is affordable and suits standard drip watering pipe ( easily available and not clumsy and inelegant).  I am seriously considering this for the side wall ( largely for pick , grow greens and herbs.


More on the “Mini” Greenhouse June 12, 2012

This “mini” greenhouse is big enough that I can walk into it and stand upright, turn around and do what I need to do for plant in there – so how is that “mini”? (but in truth it is the PERFECT fit for my balcony)  I am so chuffed – can you tell??


10 amazing healing plants from your garden: Dig it | MNN – Mother Nature Network June 9, 2012

10 amazing healing plants from your garden: Dig it | MNN – Mother Nature Network.


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