Friday 29 November 2013

Eco heroics

Recently I was a finalist in the ettitude eco hero awards. I lost my category by one vote, which was disappointing, but it got me thinking about my eco footprint and I thought I'd share a little about how we live.

I don't really think of myself as an eco hero, per se, just a regular mum who sets a good example for her family. As you know, I use cloth nappies on our daughter and when we wash, its full loads only. Speaking of cloth things we are also big users of cloth for washing dishes, drying dishes and cleaning instead of using paper towels. Living in QLD, I don't own a drier as we get plenty of sun and I think laundry smells nicer dried in fresh air. We meal plan to avoid food wastage, and any food scraps are composted or fed to the dogs. Any paper scraps are likewise shredded and composted. We recycle, freecycle and bicycle as much as possible, and buy second hand where feasible. We have solar panels and our lights and appliances are off when not in use (although I think that's just financial sense!). I also sew, so old clothing generally gets upcycled into something new.

One of the big things that I think makes us eco friendly (and definitely helps the budget) is that I grow as much of our veggies as possible. We don't have a huge yard, but I try to make it as productive as I can - we have a dedicated veggie patch and a fruit section too, which hopefully should start producing in a year or two. Everything is looking lovely after all the rain we've had so I seized the opportunity for photos.

As well as flowers, our front garden has a basil plant which is so top heavy I needed to stake it, as well as that glorious purple chilli plant you can see there. These two are decorative and useful, especially for pasta dishes!

Wider view of the front - the garden behind the hedge is lime, lemon, mandarin and passionfruit vines which I'm gradually training along the fence. This is a slightly old photo and everything is a bit larger now. Mr Fork was a bit vigorous trimming the hedges, so they're looking a little worse for wear.

Here's the raised veggie patch, looking sparse at the moment as lots of it is still underground. There are some rangy cherry tomatoes climbing around the fence, some eggplant, some cucumber, celery, leek and a few other goodies hiding in there.

Beside the house is an area which we don't use very often so I'm making it productive. This boring looking patch actually has some galangal growing beautifully (yet invisibly) along the fence, and then in the mound beside it I've planted sweet potato. Sweet potato is awesome because you can eat the leaves above ground while the potato does it's thing growing underground. Very useful!

Gardens aren't restricted to just the ground either, you can grow lots of things in pots and containers! Styrofoam containers are great for growing lettuce - I plant a variety of types and just harvest the leaves as we need them.

In a sunny place under the stairs I have spring onions in a pot. Fabulous and pretty much ever lasting - I snip them off as I need them. Occasionally I'll do a huge harvest and chop and freeze them in bags for cooking with later. Also some pineapples. These babies are slow growing - it took a year to get my first one, and this is year two, when I get another two! These are seriously the sweetest pineapples I've ever tasted. There used to be rosemary in another pot. People say it's easy to grow but I just can't seem to keep my rosemary cuttings alive at all!

Here's the compost bin. Not very exciting, but it does make exciting things for the garden. I move it to a new position every time it's ready and full and the old position gets used to plant something yummy. You can also see some aloe in a pot in the background. It used to run wild in the garden, until it really did run wild and amok requiring much effort to control, so now it's contained safely in a pot for when we get sunburnt.

So that's some of my gardening and eco heroics. Do you try to be eco friendly or sustainable? I'd love to hear about it (or see your garden if you're keen to share that too!)

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