Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We have solar!!

Well on 17th May we had our solar panels installed. 

While we were happy to have them installed early (we were originally told the second week in June) it was a bit annoying knowing they were sitting there ready to be saving us money buy generating our own electricity, but we couldn't flick the switch because we had to wait for our meter to be changed over. Unless of course we wanted to pay for the electricity we were sending back into the grid, because we had one of the digital meters which cant differenciate between electricity going into or out of the grid.

Expecting to be waiting until early July for our meter change over it was a nice surprise to come home Monday (18th June) to find that we had our new meter and could flick the switches, and start to make our own electricity. Hopefully saving us money, well after this next bill comes in which is likely to be twice our usual amount, because it should have the meter charge on it as well as a full quarter of (non solar) usage.

On the plus side in the last couple of days according to our new meter we have exported more kwh's than we have used!!!! So hopefully this will continue to allow for the extra usage we have in winter when we use the airconditioning.

Now the geek in me is itching to set up a spreadsheet to track our usage and feed in to the grid and see how close we are to what we had initially estimated as we didnt sign up early enough to get the 44c or higher feed in tariff for the next 10 years we will be getting a guaranteed 16c Feed in Tariff until 30 September 2016 plus minimum retailer payments which change each year

Our Feed in Tarrifs will be:
21.3c - To the 30 June 2012 (16c +7.1c)
25.8c - 1st July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (16c + 9.8c)
27.2c - 1st July 2013 to 30 June 2014 (16c + 11.2c)

Which is less than even the lowest tier of our electricity usage, so even with exporting more electricity to the grid than what we use I am still expecting that we will get a bill

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Well today was a lovely day.

After discovering this morning that we didnt have to go out and do our normal saturday morning veg shop as the fridge was already quite adequately stocked with veggies for most of the week, I decided to make the most of the sunny winters day which seemed to be ahead of us.

So the strawberry bed which receives the afternoon sun was weeded first while the sun was still on it (and me while I was weeding)

Then the raspberry bed was weeded and the rather large self seeded chard plant was hacked with most of it being fed to the chook, which she seemed to not mind at all. while weeding the raspberry bed I discovered that the canes I planted last year are now starting to shoot at the base so I did something which sort of went against my gardening expertise and cleared the bed of all mulch which was remaining from summer, put that in the compost. Now I could see all the little weeds, and I could also see all the new raspberry shoots, weeds weeded, a layer of horse manure spread around and chopped pea straw on top all watered in with some seaweed solution, all neat and tidy

Mid june already!!!

Where has the time gone.

Last weekend we had some very cold nights, enough that the lawn was covered in ice, the car which had been left in the driveway had ice on it and even our house roof had ice on it, no wonder we were feeling cold in the mornings. Despite that we still had quite nice days, I managed to get out into the garden and weed on of the garden beds, to find that the iris's I planted last year are starting to flower, the myoporum (native groundcover) I planted will soon need to be "hacked" because it is going so well it is starting to tumble over the sides of the bed, but it is doing a good job at keeping most of the weeds down which was my original intent for it, and it is lovely and green with no care given to it at all, another plus!!!

I was hoping to make some comfrey ointment sometime, but I'm not sure of how much comfrey leaves I need and how much my comfrey plant can donate to me without me killing it, although I have heard that you cant kill comfrey even if you try, I'm looking at using the recipe from here which is just a vegetable oil, comfrey leaves, and beaswax.

The sun is out at the moment so hopefully it will stay nice an sunny and I can get out in the garden again and get a few jobs done, I have noticed the strawberry bed I didn't quite finish has now got more weed foliage than strawberry foliage, so I want to weed that and then spread some chopped pea straw I got last weekend along with some hedging shears, which I want to use to trim the dieities bushes we have which are looking quite dry at the ends (I have seen councils hack them back almost to ground level and they come back nice and lush), the other reason for the hedging shears is I wanted to use them for green manure, to clip the tops of getting lower and lower and create a relatively fine mulch rather than just pulling the plants out......but I need to get the green manure growing first. Last weekend I did manage to pull out a whole heap of marshmallow weeds form what was the path between two garden beds, I'm now thinking after looking at it about joining the two beds together, more beds less paths, would make the bed about the right size to use the pine sleepers, similar width to the garden bed on the Gardening Australia garden.

I promise more photos will come soon

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June and winter is here already

Well since the last post we have had quite a bit of rain, enough to close up all the cracks in the ground, and set all the soursobs into growth phase, some are just starting to flower.

The chilies are still producing but I think the sick chili is not going to recover, but that is fine three plants and we have a couple of jars of sweet chili sauce, quite a lot of dried chilies and fresh ones still being produced on the bush. After picking a couple of handfulls this afternoon and looking at how many we have already dried, and in the process of drying, this "harvest" will be going to work to be shared with anyone who wants to take them. I'd like to be taking more "produce" in to share, especially considering that I take home the coffee grounds and teabags from the kitchen and a few people know that they go into my compost so it would be nice to show that what most people throw into the bin can be turned into homegrown food.

All the leaves are gone from the apricot and peach, the apple doesnt look like loosing its leaves for a while yet, I have been thinking about how to prune them every time I walk past them.

Picked the first two lemons, there is about 6 little lemonades on the lemonade plant and it has more flower buds to come, I am waiting to see if the orange is going to come back and sprout to life or if it has given up the ghost, and needs to be replaced, there is still a few leaves and some buds but it is not doing to much. I have decided that I will not make new citrus endure our winter but I will wait until spring to put any more in, it is much easier to keep the water up to them than to try to protect them from the cold. spring will hopefully see a tahition lime and possible a kafir lime go in and perhaps a new orange to replace the existing one if it doesn't pick up.

Our "ball" trees (moptops) have almost lost all of their leaves.

The lawn is looking lovely and green but on close inspection it is mostly winter grass which is starting to grow, with the odd sour sob here and there, but the lawn is looking relativly good as well

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Savouring the nice weather before winter arrives

I've just been outside on this lovely morning  wandering around the garden, doing a little bit of weeding and just enjoying the freshness after the rain we had yesterday and enjoying the peacefulness that is a Sunday morning before the rest of the neighbor hood (or even just this household) awakens and starts to go about their lives.

Yesterday we had rain falling for most of the day but even so it was still nice enough to sit outside and enjoy the rain, checking the rain gauge this morning we only got 5mm, but it was the nice light soaking rain so everything is looking a bit more healthy in the garden this morning.

The lawn was looking quite sad so seeing that it is coming into winter where it will go dormant (santa anna lawn) we decided to make use of the rain and feed the lawn with some blood and bone, but already just with the rain I can see it has started to green up quite nicely.

Speaking of lack of rain I think I almost killed my lemon grass I thought it had some sort of disease with the leaves going brown and speckly but now that I have given it a bit of water it is starting to shoot green leaves again, so hopefully I have saved that one.
The worst one
Another which is not too bad, but shows the regrowth.
A few months back I put in some Chilli Seedlings (cayenne peppers) when I put them in I gave them a sprinkling of Sulphate of Potash and they have been producing really well.
Chillies which will be ready to pick in a couple of days
At the moment I have been picking a handful every few days, some of them get used in cooking, most of them are in the process of drying but we have plans to make some into sweet chilly sauce. out of 4 plants three are really healthy but one is looking very sick, again I thought it was lack of water but I'm not sure that is it, I have sprinkled blood and bone around all of these and will see if this is the issue, (I know the soil in this bed is not the best).
Sick Chilli
The four chilli plants in the herb garden bed

Saturday, March 31, 2012

First of our wind break

Well last week on a lovely Sunday morning, a start was made to our first plantings to our wind and noise break in our "back paddock"
Three native tubestock I had bought at a local craft shop a few weeks earlier and had been sitting on our outdoor setting waiting to be planted.

First plant: Agonis Flexuosa (why do I get the urge to wave a wand when I say this??) Willow Myrtle as the common (less Harry Potterish) name

Second tree is an unknown eucalyptus "tall gum tree creamy flowers"

And third tree is a dwarf sugar gum 

And all importantly the whole view, well you cant see much but hopefully in time to come it will give a good contrast as these little ones grow into big tall trees full of birds and bats and other wildlife that will call it home.

friend or pest?

Discovered a couple of these in my citrus trees first one I picked off and threw over the fence for the birds to get, second one I decided to find out what it actually was.

Turns out it is the Caterpillar of the Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly, to grow up into this (from