Footnote Frivolity***, Going Green, mustbethrifty house

Going electric in the garden

Now that we have surplus free clean electricity from our solar panels, it makes sense to power our garden tools with batteries instead of petrol. Cheap Geek took advantage of the Masters fire sale and bought an electric lawnmower and line trimmer. He’s used both a few times now. The mower was used on regularly cut buffalo grass while the trimmer was used on a neighbour’s neglected garden as well as our somewhat neater yard. Here are his thoughts:

LAWNMOWER

The electric lawn mower is quieter and lighter than its petrol equivalent*. It also doesn’t have a pull cord and therefore does not require muscle to start; if you can make a fist with your hand, you can turn it on. Cleaning is easier too: no need to worry about petrol leaking or accidentally burning yourself against a hot engine.

The height adjuster on the electric mower is not as fine as the old petrol mower, but it is good enough for domestic use on buffalo grass.

LINE TRIMMER

The electric line trimmer is also quiet to use. The noise mainly comes from the sound of the trimmer line hitting the grass. It is, however, heavier than petrol models due to the weight of the battery. This particular model comes with a shoulder strap, which can take some of the load off the arms when necessary.

AND ANOTHER THING

The batteries provided ample juice for our block (and some of the neighbour’s garden as well), and you can buy bigger batteries where needed. When the batteries run out, the tool just stops; there is no noticeable decline in power before this happens. Recharging takes about 1 to 1.5 hours, and should be done while the sun is shining.

Our old petrol garden tools are still in good working order. My dad gave these to us when we first moved into the Mustbethrifty House; they were old models that he had repaired/serviced. Dad will be taking these back and sending them onto family who don’t have solar panels. I’m not sure what to do with the jerrycan though.

jerrycan


* ‘The average gas powered lawn mower is approximately 90 dB…these cordless mowers are almost 100 times less noisy compared to the gas mower’ (Todd Fratzel from Toolbox Buzz on ‘Best Cordless Lawn Mower – Head to Head Comparison’).

Advertisements
Footnote Frivolity***, Gardening on a Budget, Going Green, mustbethrifty house, Second-hand Scavengers

Planning, planting, & waiting for the harvest

While home improvements have limped along at the rate of our mortgage-handicapped savings accounts, the garden around our new home has flourished. Water-tanks are the main bit of hardscaping. However, we have also put in some Colourbond-and-rescued-cypress garden beds, constructed by a local up in Hurstbridge.

DSC00325

And I’ve saved the neighbour’s broken pavers, turning them into a garden path.

DSC00431

More importantly, I’ve been adding as many perennial edibles as I can. It started with turning an ivy-infested patch into a herb garden and ended with me feverishly researching every and any edible plant that might survive in Melbourne. Quandong, anyone?

The plants we have so far includes:

 …almond, apple, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, basil (perennial), beans (runner, and butter), blackberry (thornless), blueberries, cape gooseberry, caper bush, celery (wild), Chilean guava, chives, choko, cranberry, elderberry, fennel, fig, garlic, greenfeast peas, horseradish, kiwiberry, lemon verbena, lemon, lemongrass, lettuce, lime, marjoram, midyim berry, mint (Vietnamese fish, Vietnamese hot, common, and apple), native ginger, nectareze, onion (spring, Egyptian walking), orange, oregano, parsley (curly-leaf), passionfruit, pepino, pepperberry, pomegranate, potato, radishes, rhubarb, rosemary, sage (pineapple, common), salad burnett, samphire, strawberries (alpine and normal), summer squash, tea camellia, thyme, tomatoes…

 Most of these plants are nursery-bought*, a few have come from veggie-swaps. The fig is one of Dad’s strikings.

I’ve tried positioning plants based on their needs. For instance, the orange and the lime has been placed against a north-facing fence**, whilst the cranberry is partly shaded and receiving the occasional deluge from a downpipe. Working with nature, instead of against it, means less watering, fertilising, and need for pest-control. In other words, a garden that is less resource-hungry.

Years will pass before we bring in a decent harvest: the antithesis of today’s have-it-now culture. It’s definitely a bit of wishin’ and hopin’ in a My Best Friends’ WeddingVeggie Garden kind of way.


*Note to self: must learn how to strike cuttings, etc.

*We had to remove a unruly neighbours-be-gone hedge first. I’m looking forward to planting out the rest of our food hedge.

Gardening on a Budget, Gen DIY-er, Going Green, Reviews, Second-hand Scavengers

Localism’s the new black: Millie Ross’ The Thrifty Gardener

Millie Ross' The Thrifty GardenerGardening books are either aspirational or educational. With its brightly coloured pages and photos, Millie Ross’ The Thrifty Gardener comes across as aspirational but unlike other aspirational gardening books, striking architectural plants and stunning aspects do not feature. Instead, The Thrifty Gardener’s aesthetics lean towards the ‘nanna-chic garden’: there’s fruit and vegetables amongst the flowers and the structural elements of the garden such as walls, paths and water features are DIY-ed from salvaged items.

Aimed at the beginner to intermediate gardener, the book starts with planning and design, before moving into specific tutorials that range from propagation to small and large projects such as newspaper pots and clay fire pits. 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, Footnote Frivolity***, Gardening on a Budget, Going Green

Riced-up potatoes

While most households gravitate towards SunRice’s 1kg packets, the mustbethrifty household prefers a rice bag that’s the size and weight of a small child. We go through three or four of these each year, ending up with a small collection of woven bags.

Since I don’t have the time (or the skills) to upcycle them into wallets, I’ve been growing potatoes in them. The process is similar to growing potatoes in hessian bags Continue reading