Creative uses for Tree Branches

Days ago I gave our ‘wattle like’ bush a massive trim, to allow more light onto the far top vegetable patch.  As I previously mentioned, I used to place the trimed branches of this tree bush in the green recycle bin.

It only recently dawned on me what a waste of resource this was and hence I needed to start getting creative, with the trimmed branches.

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Long straight branches, to be used as garden trellis - for peas, beans and tomatoes etc.

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Fire wood

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Branches used as fence stakes - allowing light through but not toddlers or small white fluffy dogs.

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Long skinny and flexible branches to be used for weaving - baskets and fences

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Leaves and small branches used as mulch in an area we need to rejuvenate the top soil.

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You Can Never Have Enough Disco Balls

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Remember the tiny disco balls I sourced second hand for our Little One’s cubby house?  I just found a large one about the size of a soccer ball (bought at a second hand charity store).  Apparently you can never have too many disco balls!

At any time of the day, light bounces off the large disco ball, adding dancing refections throughout much of our veggie garden beds.  Interesting that I have noticed this scares the annoying black birds from this area.

In conclusion it appears large disco balls, are potentially the coolest scare crows ever – loved by small children.

Finally my Upcycled Security Door, Garden Feature is Finished

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My friend and neighbour Janine, gave me clippings from her gorgeous ‘ground cover like’ succulent plant.

I felt the tiny, yet hardy succulent will grow well in these old recycled coffee mugs.

The coffee mugs now hang on an old security screen door that I upcycled – painted racing car red and mounted outside, on our back verandah frame.

Finally my upcycled, garden pot plant hanger is completed.  I will post an update  in a couple of months time with photos – it will be interesting to see how the plants grow.

Lack of Imagination Creates Garden Waste?

What I considered as garden waste is now a treasured resource.

Two years ago I was raking the Autumn leaves to fill the Council’s green recycling bin.  Even last year, I was chopping up tree branches to also fit into the green recycle bin.

Yes it is good that these items will be turned into mulch by the council but I was throwing away good resources.

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Now the above tree branches are being used for numerous weaving projects like privacy screens and fencing.  Also the strong ‘bamboo like’ branches have now been turned into garden stakes. It is crazy that I was throwing the branches away then buying bamboo stakes from a garden centre.

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Autumn leaves fallen from our large deciduous trees are now being used as mulch and compost.  A large sandy area where nothing but weeds previously have grown, now has a very thick layer of mulch leaves.  The leaves will stop or slow the weeds over time (leaves takes awhile to break down). Then the leaves will turn into a nutrient rich top layer for the garden – helping the soil to support future growing plants.

I doubt there really is ‘true’ waste – just our own lack of imagination, knowledge and motivation to see things differently.  To see waste as a potential resource.

An Even Better Way to Build Wicking Garden Beds – A Cracker of an Idea!!

From challenges, great ideas can come!!

One of the Green Square, community’s raised garden beds, has deteriorated – to the point it needs to be replaced.  You wouldn’t believe just how much research, discussion and community / council consultation the drivers of the Green Square Growers has put into coming up with a solution.

The raised garden bed was made from recycled wood.  The bed uses ‘wicking reservoir’ technology that we built inside the garden bed.  The bed also has an inbuilt worm farm.

Wicking Garden Bed - how it works diagram

Wicking Garden Bed – ‘how it works’ diagram. 

The above diagram shows the wicking garden bed design.  The challenge we have had with this design, came from the tremendous outward pressure from the water reservoir, causing the wood to bow and bend (over time).

Making smaller wicking garden beds (1 m x 1m) can help to limit the bowing of the wood but we weren’t happy with this solution.

Then Sabena and her husband Peter came up with a cracker of an idea!  Instead of using builders plastic in the wicking bed design, use a large food grade plastic container (which can be recycled and rescued from landfill).

These food grade plastic contains, are selling on Ebay (2nd hand).

These food grade plastic contains, are selling on Ebay (2nd hand).

These containers will make the whole garden bed structure stronger, less prone to leaking and hence last longer.  If repairs to the wood is needed in the future, we can easily replace the wood – as it is not part of the structure but really only has an aesthetic purpose (making the raised garden bed look pretty and traditional).

The Green Square Growers, plan to build either two or three beds together (with the timber frame built around all of the containers together – giving the illusion of one big bed).

Each garden bed will be approximately 1.3 metres x 1.1 metres.  If two are position together, then the total bed size will be 2.6 metres x 1.1 meters.  If three beds are position together, then the total bed size will be 3.9 meters x 1.1 meters.

The new raised garden bed design will require a small wooden ‘lip’ at the top to hide the plastic container – however this is only for aesthetic purposes too.

What do you think of Sabena and Peter’s cracker of an idea?

A Yummy Winning Recipe for Stale Bread

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Bread and butter pudding - easy and yummy way to use stale bread

The smell of hot cinnamon wafts from the kitchen and fills the cold Autumn air.

Yep it is still blowing a gale here.  Everyone you speak to is rattled by the wind.  Everyone has been staying indoors.  This recipe was baked with my neighbours in mind (fingers crossed we will soon be outside enjoying a windless, sunny Autumn day soon).

This recipe is great for using stale bread (reducing food waste).  However it is so easy and yummy, why wait till bread goes stale?

Bread and Butter Pudding  (gluten and dairy free)

5 free range eggs
2 cups rice milk
5 tablespoons of coconut cream
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 slices of gluten free brea bread, crusts removed (stale or fresh)
Jam of your choice (I had kiwifruit jam on hand)
Handful of sultanas

*  Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced.
*  Grease a medium sized baking dish.
*  Whisk eggs, rice milk, coconut cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.
*  Spread both sides of each bread slice with jam.
*  Arrange half the bread in rows in prepared dish.
*  Sprinkle with half the sultanas.
*  Repeat with remaining bread and sultanas.
*  Pour egg mixture over bread.
*  Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
*  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and set.
*  Serve with a spoonful of coconut cream (or two spoonfuls).

Conclusion

“ohhhhh” “yummm” was all I heard, then slience until everyone finished.  I just love it when non gluten and dairy intolerant people enjoy my food too – not knowing it is gluten and dairy free.  Giddy up, this was a winner!

Biodynamic Composting – a Very Basic Description

Saturday I spent the day with my friends at MacArthur Seed Savers group.

Not only do the Seed Savers share produce and saved seeds with each other but they also run workshops about growing edible food.

Yesterday’s workshop was on ‘biodynamic composting’.

Honestly I have never heard of biodynamic composting but as always keen to learn.

One of the benefits of this particular composting technique is you don’t need to ‘turn’ the compost mixture once competed.

From listening, it apperas biodynamic composting is based somewhere between science and spirituality (a little like moon planting). However like most things in life, some people will stick to the pure techniques and philosophies while other people will only be interested in applying the basics to their gardening skill repertoire.

One workshop doesn’t give me the best understanding to share an expert, detailed description of the biodynamic composting process (especially when I was taking photos).  So if you are interested to know more, this website would be my recommendation.

Otherwise sit back and enjoy the photos and be slightly amused at my lack of descriptive information – hover over the photos (if viewing on a computer but not sure how to ‘hover’ over the photos on a mobile device so you can view the description – any ideas?).

Have you ever heard or tried biodynamic composting? Very interested to learn from your experiences with it!!

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