Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Paper Bricks

Hubby, somehow, stumbled upon a second hand paper brick maker while he was checking out eBay. We both thought we could re-use all the newspaper and maybe some cardboard from recycling and make them into 'firewood' to use in either the pizza oven or the wood fire when we get one (which could be sooner than later!).

Having never done this before we did what any self respecting DIYer does - we googled it! So first we made a lovely paper mache type mix. There are many and varied recipes, but we thought we would go plain and simple to begin with - water and newspaper. Hubby is using a paint mixer attached to his drill to mulch it up a bit more. I think it was just an excuse to use a power tool of some description!

Next we placed the mulched up paper in the press. We had lots of helpers for this.

Once this is full, then the squeezing begins! We didn't realise until we went to use the press that it is actually broken, hence the need for the clamps. Buyer beware i guess :( It stills works though, but you tend have have less skin on your knuckles than what you stated with.

After squeezing a couple of times to make sure as much of the water is out as possible - voila! - one paper brick!

The bricks then need to be left to dry out. One suggestion we found was to put them in a greenhouse on a top shelf so that is what we did.

The ones piled on the left are the first batch we did a couple of months ago and the most recent at the right and bottom.

We have yet to use them as it is now 'fire season' and no fires without a permit, but hopefully come autumn I can report back on whether it is worth the time and effort!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Parties and 'To-do' lists

Phew! What a weekend!

First, my eldest daughter turned 7! (that went by crazily fast! Hubby pointed out she is almost halfway to getting her licence! Crap!). We had a Star Wars party and thankfully the rain held off (we had 3 inches in the previous 48hrs leading up to the party). I always like to make the kids' birthday cakes and although this one was a compromise (she wanted a light sabre but I just wasn't creative enough for that one) I think it still turned out OK. My hands are still stained black from the icing though.

So with the party out of the way and a couple of hours of sunshine we were able to mow the forest of weeds that we affectionately call 'the lawn' and didn't get the mower bogged in the process - double yay!

Sunday, after a leisurely breakfast of fresh homegrown scrambled eggs (yum!), we were out to cross some jobs off our 'to-do' list. First was to net the fruit trees as the birds had already gobbled up all the cherries  (grrrrrr). We we were too slow getting around to those ones. So netted at the moment are the three apple trees, plum, nectarine and almond. HOPEFULLY we will win against the birds this year :)

Next I finally planted out the beans I have been meaning to do for weeks, and am trying to grow red kidney beans for the first time.  I also planted the tomatillo plant that a friend gave me, along with a great salsa recipe for the fruit. It looks much happier now it is in the ground and out of the greenhouse.

Next we finally strung up the onion and garlic harvest that had previously been sitting on the shed floor. The onions were substantially heavier than what we thought, so hubby came up with this idea to use the trailer frame to hang them off. Works pretty good I think! Just as long we don't need the trailer frame in the next little while I guess!

Then we made some more paper bricks but I'll do a more detailed blog about that later.

Kids were still happy playing outside at this stage so we thought we would finally start planting out our mountain of dirt left over from the pool excavations. I picked up some native tube stock a while ago for a couple of dollars each but they have been sitting in the bottom of the greenhouse waiting to be planted. Poor plants must feel neglected in there! Anyhoo still have a long way to go - like some edging and mulch would be good!- but its a start. We planted grevilleas, bottlebrushes, banksias and some westringias that I had left over from the hedge around the pool.

I know I blogged previously that we were going to plant the pumpkins on the hill this year but I didn't feel that the soil had been prepared right so we decided to plant then on the front bank and let them grow down towards the tank. This year I have planted QLD Blue, Kent, Butternut and a vegetable spaghetti. I planted the watermelon and rockmelon seedlings here as well but they are sort of behind me in this pic.

(OK pic is not the best, and we need to mulch here again too, but you can just make out the bamboo stakes!)

After that we had a BBQ dinner with salad from the garden - and the kidlets got to have the first cherry tomatoes of the season.

Hubby and I were both exhausted but happy we were able to cross some things off our very long 'to-do' list.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Stop the Clock!

Seriously need to hit the stop button as time is moving way too quick and I have way to much to do!!!!

Where has the last three weeks gone?!? Sheesh! Its like I'm standing still and time is flying. I was looking at my diary today and there are only 3 (!) days in the next 3 weeks that I don't have something planned. 3! Please tell me other people are this busy!

I still have my watermelon and rockmelons to plant out, as well as planting some beans (I'm going to try red kidney beans this year - has the potential to be an epic fail but we shall see!). I have harvested my first 3 tomatoes tonight, and am about to harvest my first of a zillion zucchinis for this season. The garlic and onions are out (might be a bit early for the onions but if I left them any longer they would have been the size of overgrown squash!) and eggplant, capsicum and chilli seedlings are about to go in. I planted my pumpkins out the other day, but not up on the back mound as previously mentioned, but down the front instead. I also picked my first handful of raspberries tonight but they quickly disappeared into four hungry little mouths.

And the most exciting thing is that my kiwi fruit vine has its first two flowers on it! Yay!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Once last chance.....

I may be a glutton for punishment, but this time, is the last time....I promise.

After killing countless passionfruit vines  - some with too much love, some with not enough love and others just plain freezing them to death in our cold winters - I have decided that these will be the last two passionfruit vines I plant on our place. If these two don't survive, then that it is it. No fresh passionfruit for us.

So here they are. The last two passionfruit. I have decided to encroach on a small part of the kids play area and plant them up against the north facing shed wall which will hopefully keep them warmer in winter, and the kids trampoline which normally sits in front of them on the grass, will protect them from frosts. If they grow big enough, they will also help cool the shed as well.

Fingers crossed .......