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.

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

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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.

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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, 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

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

Thrifty Like Your Nanna

‘If you look after your pennies, your pounds will take care of themselves.’

As told by Kristy to mustbethrifty

Grandpa was tight when it came to money. When he was alive, the family never went to restaurants. There were few treats: if Mum and her siblings wanted ice cream, they would have to share between the four of them.

He died when I was six months old. Nanna has been on her own ever since. Us grandkids and her Salvation Army work have kept her busy. She’s received a Community Achievement Award for her twenty-five years of service.

While Nanna isn’t as tight as Grandpa (she prefers to call herself ‘economical’), she is still careful with money. Continue reading