Gardening on a Budget, Gen DIY-er, Going Green

My dad’s mini greenhouses

Dad is a Jim’s Mowing man. He’s also one of the thriftiest gardeners I know. I don’t think he’s ever bought a bag of compost or a plant; most of his specimens come from seeds or cuttings or are castoffs from other people’s gardens.

I shared some of my seeds with him and he’s been nursing them in mini greenhouses made out of plastic food containers:

The greenhouses help maintain a warm and consistent climate for the seedlings. They also protect the seedlings from snails. Continue reading

Gardening on a Budget, Thrifty Asian

Striking betel leaf cuttings

It’s lunar new year this weekend and one of my favourite snacks to eat from the street-festival vendors is bò lá lốt, beef wrapped in betel leaves. I’ve recreated it at home, using Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen’s recipe (via Secrets of the Red Lantern). Nguyen and Jensen use pork mince and pork fat to enhance the flavour, but Luke Nguyen also has a pork-free version up on the SBS website.

Because betel leaf is a such rare commodity in Melbourne, I’ve struck my own with the stalks leftover from cooking. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Gardening on a Budget, Glut(tony), Going Green

When life denies you lemons…

Growing food to save money seemed like a smart idea until I discovered that planting a lemon tree and getting it to bear fruit are two different things. It’s been three years since Dad put in a Eureka for me and so far there have been no lemons, only gall wasps; I can’t count the number of times I’ve driven past someone else’s tree and had lemon envy.

The rhubarb is doing well though, alongside the thyme that thrives on my neglect. But there are only so many rhubarb crumbles one can make. What to do with the glut?

Some folks preserve their harvest. They freeze it, pickle it, turn it into jam or chutney. The last time I tried my hand at preserving though, I ended up with rubbery marmalade. 😦

Whitehorse Urban Harvest (October 2012)There is an easier way to make use of the glut: veggie swapping. Veggie swaps are like clothes swaps but tastier. Continue reading

Buy Nothing New October, Gardening on a Budget, My Suburb is My Gym, Second-hand Scavengers, Thrills without frills

Frugal thrills: spring in Melbourne

It’s past the midway mark for spring and the weather is finally warming up in Melbourne. Time to try 5 outdoorsy activities:

1) Bike it, hike it

Grab your bike, a mate or a date and pedal along the Capital City Trail, the Merri Creek Trail, or any other of Melbourne’s dedicated bike and pedestrian trails. For details on specific routes in and around the city, check out The Bicycle Network’s Melbourne’s Metro Trail Network page.

If you prefer a slower travelling pace, put on the hiking boots and explore one of the region’s many walks. I haven’t done Werribee Gorge yet, but apparently it’s a stunner.

Bike it, hike it, whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to take drinks and food so that you’re not spending a fortune on lunch along the way. Continue reading