Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Backyard Blitz - building your own veggie garden cheaply

Backyard blitz - backyard garden
The other month our friend Lowie visited and he helped transform our garden so we can start growing herbs and veggies!! Three months on and all I can say is - why didn't I do it sooner! Okay, I know; threat of too much commitment and I didn't have the first clue of where to start. I had tried growing a few herbs in pots without great success so I didn't have too much faith in it all. Well turns out it's pretty darn simple!

So this was our yard beforehand, it wasn't getting too much love, stuff was stock piling up and it was just looking pretty ordinary!

This is our garden after, you can see the bed at the back being used for our herbs/veggies and the bed closest filled with all our ornamental plants :)

These are the only two herbs I had successfully kept alive before Lowie worked his magic, they ended up going into the garden bed and are extra super happy now

Lowie also helped set up the garden bed outside our house which until now, was just over run by weeds. Lowie definitely knows his stuff so I wanted to write down everything I learnt from the process

Lowie's Garden Tips

1/ Create a garden bed.  We used what we already had (wooden sleepers) to create the sides. You want your garden bed to have sides so you can have depth!

2/ Break up the soil. Lowie used a mattock to fluff up the soil and I think this will help the roots be able to grow deep and ultimately let your plants grow huge!

3/ Add Nutrients. We used compost from our compost bin and we bought a bag of compost (organix xtra). It pays to check the compost, a lot of the cheaper bags just have filler, I think chook poo and lime/dolomite are good/important for the mix.

4/ Mulch. This will retain moisture within the soil. You can buy mulch but all we did was rake the yard and use leaves as our mulch to save money.

5/ Walkway. If your garden bed is quite wide and not accessible from both sides, putting some wooden planks down the middle is a good idea so you can walk through the garden and pick things without trampling anything. Again we just used wood we already had lying around.

The outside bed before and after. In the after photo on the right you can see Lowie planting some seedlings underneath the leave mulch and utilising the walk down plank in the middle!

Super thanks Lowie for doing all the weeding/hard work!

If there is one thing I regret and will do differently next harvest is not to buy seedlings from a big home and gardens store. I did this because I didn't know any better but I later found out our local farmers market sells seedlings WAYYYY cheaper! Also I wouldn't be afraid to grow a majority of things from seeds helping to keep costs down as well another added benefit - which I'll talk about in a second.

I also made little tags stuck on twigs so I would know what seeds were what as they grew. Definitely don't need to do this, even though there are still moments where I wonder if a seedling is a weed or not, eventually it will become clear, well I hope so anyway!  We also put some chicken wire along the back fence so the tomatoes have somewhere to climb.

The animals dug (har har!) that we were out in the garden. You can see the sleeper (wood plank) which made the garden wall.

Another money saving/smart tip is to save your seeds. I had an Oprah aah-ha moment when I was talking to Lowie about buying seeds and he mentioned to remember to save them from my food. DUH! Why buy capsicum seeds when you are having capsicum for dinner and can just scrape out the seeds before you cook with it! I think I needed to feel stupid on this one and make the connection between what I buy and that yes, it has been grown and yes I can probably just grow it myself :p

Lowie's dog Shanti also a keen project supervisor. On a side note she and the cats got on much better this visit, although Peachy does still like to push buttons and be the queen of her domain :p

We had some cool things happen too such as these mystery plants that started sprouting. Lowie said the seeds were probably from the compost and once they were a bit bigger Lowie could identify them as watermelon. So many watermelom seeds sprouted that I probably should of pulled some (or a lot!) but I started to feel bad for them and equally amazed at their determination to grow so I made them their own garden bed :p

Another garden issue that popped up and that people warned me about were bugs! I started noticing some leaves being eaten and spying some grasshoppers (which I'd try and pick off and relocate), mainly from the outside garden which is more out in the open (no fence around). I asked my gardening friends for tips and one idea was to plant marigolds, not sure if they have helped or not but they look so pretty in the garden and you can eat them! I have a bunch of other organic pest control ideas (Ben's mum even sent me a whole fact sheet) but for now, I figure as long as I'm eating my greens faster than the grasshopper there shouldn't be too much of a problem. I've also noticed since the zuchinni and eggplants have taken off they have shielded the basil and spinach - a Lowie tip was definitely to scatter your planting to confuse the bugs - I'll report back if things change there! 

A friend also said his garden during the winter was fine for pests and since we're going into the cooler months here in Australia I might just have timed my planting to avoid them. Oh and guess what I spied a bee friend in our garden the other day which almost made me cry because I know we desperately need them for pollination!

This is what the garden beds are looking like now - so awesome!

I did learn that our veggies and herbs like sun and water, der :P The back garden bed only gets sun in the morning and early afternoon, whilst the outside bed gets sun all day! During the first few weeks, I was pretty confident the back garden bed was going to die, I was watering the plants every day (sometimes twice) but as soon as the seedlings got sun they looked wilted and dead, especially during the really hot hours. At one stage I even resorted to putting up a bed sheet to try and save them. I told Lowie my sad story and my doom and gloom over everything dying and he didn't seem too concerned and guess what, once they started growing they become sun hard and now totally love getting sun. I can even see that the outside bed is growing at a much faster rate and I'm guessing it's all to do with getting that extra sun each day. The outside bed also didn't suffer from the wilted seedling crisis and I think a big part was a lot of that garden was grown from seed and thus they grew up only ever knowing that one environment. My friend told me to never buy seedlings if they are for sale in a sheltered spot because most likely once you transport them to your sunny garden bed they'll die - ahhhh!

Backyard blitz - Vegie patch
I think the best advice I can give a fellow newbie like myself, is to just give it a go (and follow Lowie's above tips). I've already learned so much and I'm even excited to begin planting my new crop when this one dies because I now know what does well, where to plant it, how much to plant, what I really love to eat from the garden, etc. I can totally see above that I may have planted a few too many zucchini and cucumber seeds, who knew they grew so big :p

Corn for Ben! I actually hate corn (don't judge me) I'm hoping when he comes back from work they will be ready for him!

And the best thing ever, walking around your garden and picking a bounty to use in your meal!

Here's to learning and growing!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Clay Peachy

You know how I try and do a cat craft a year for Gremlin (that was the plan anyhow!) well I figured Peachy shouldn't be left out either, so I present you....clay Peaches!!

I made three because I wanted to try out different glazes and because of how temperamental clay is. Turns out one didn't make it - I'm compiling a bunch of clay fails to show you guys at some stage too!

The littlest guy I tried to paint realistically, using a bunch of under glazes and it ended up being my favourite!

The biggest Peachy I dipped into paint and did a speckle effect on top (thanks Ben for the inspiration!).

I do really like her too but maybe the smallest one is just cuter because of the size?!?

You can see my clay Gremlin version over here 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Beach + Seaglass Roundup /8

I've found myself going less and less to the beach (must fix this!) but the times I have been in the past few months have been magical!

I've started gathering glass containers to house my collections and so far I have all my white treasures together  :) 

can't resist a good heart rock!

Smooth seaglass is always my friend :)

The perfect feather

and a kick-arse bounty!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Holga 135 - Lomo Lady Grey Film

I was almost not going to post these photos because they are super super old but I figure film is always fun to share no matter the date. I shot these guys using lomography's b&w Lady Grey film (400) in my Holga 135bc which I'm going to rock later in the year for my film camera a month series, so stay tuned for more!

Holga - fee and Ben

It's brown haired fee - gasp!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

bought/gift/made /09

Three awesome things to share today!

First up in the bought category an electric planer, which has made my woodworking game even more solid - heh! heh! :P :P

Continuing with the home beautification project - a garden hose holder (try saying that fast 5 times) Super simple but it beats a tangled mess of hose on the ground.

Made - hose holder

And to finish off, the cutest drawing from my cousin's little girl!

Can you spot Gremlin and Peachy?? :) :) So much love!!!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Circle Rag Rug DIY

Okay as promised here is my circle rag rug!

This mat involved cutting your old rags into roughly one inch strips (I did this really roughly!) and then plaiting these strips together - you can see the ball of plaited material over on the left. I also used a combo of different materials, old clothes, shirts, bed sheets and the rug turned out fine :)

After plaiting all your rags, it's time to sew! Choose a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine and keep sewing round and round, over and over again.  This project is definitely on the longer end, it was a good week of watching trash tv whilst plaiting and then a couple of days of sewing for me to complete it. Also when I first tried to sew it on my machine I thought it was too thick so I spent the first night hand sewing (I didn't get very far!) and the next day (
determined not to spend months stuck hand sewing!) I successfully jammed the plaits under the sewing machine foot - hooray!

Again Peachy killed it with her project supervisor status :)

In the above photos you can see how its a bit lumpy in the blue/purple zone this was before I had perfected my method, which simple involved, pining (with pins!) one circle at a time + ironing it all flat and then sewing that ring before repeating the process.  I also used a bed to make sure the mat stayed flat whilst sewing too :)

As I sewed I also squished both sides of the plaits together as they ran through the machine so the zigzag would catch both sides :)

Getting there!

and complete - hooray!

It's now living in our lounge room and it's so nice to have a little bit of warmth against our wooden floor boards, especially heading towards winter :)

I'm going to keep collecting old rags for future projects which lets me feel not so bad rejecting clothes from my wardrobe knowing they have a good future use!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Film Camera a Month - April - Instax mini 8

This month's (well technically last months - bit late!) film camera was my Instax mini 8 which I was pretty excited to use!

This photo above was before the camera had it sticker makeover which you can see in this post here!
By the way, the stickers seem to be holding up fine (for now!) :)

I already had a pack of the airmail film at home to use and a couple of months beforehand I had ordered a bunch more film off eBay knowing I'd be using my Instax in April. Spoiler alert that film never arrived and apparently you need to lodge a claim within 30 days of the postage arrival date for eBay to do anything about it - oops! Oh well, I do still have some photos to share so that's the good news :)

Family photo, although apologies goes out to Gremlin for chopping him off! Before taking this Ben asked if it was okay to take the photo horizontally - yes! I've actually been meaning to do that but I seem to always default to portrait shots - I think in part due to the way the camera is shaped to hold.

Adventures with my little bro and our friend Daz, ontop of a mountain, folding a paper plane to launch off the top.

Me on my birthday! And Ben with Gremlin to make up for Gremlin being chopped off in the first pic -lol His yawn + teeth cracks me up!

The camera is pretty simple, it runs off 2xAA batteries and it always fires a flash at 1/60th of a second. When you press the button in (the one closet to the lens) the lens pops out and it takes a few seconds to read the exposure and light up a suggested setting. You can see the orange light above has lit up the indoor symbol. Indoor has a f stop of 12.7, cloudy f/16, fine f/22 and clear f/32. So all that really means is the higher the number the less light the lens lets in. Which makes sense for the clear setting (pic of bright sun) that you would want the least amount of light when shooting on a sunny day so your photo isn't overexposed. There is also a hi-key setting which is meant to be the brightest of them all but I've been too scared to test that setting out! All the above info from the fuji website here which is worth checking out for some super simple/easy how-to photos.

I thought I might learn a lot this month, imparting the wisdom gained on here but I'm not sure I'm any better with my instax than I was a month ago :p Case in point, two fails below

The black photo was taken in Ben's bedroom with the window light shining on us but not an out-of-the-ordinary lighting situation, so I was very confused when it came back completely black (maybe Ben had his hand over the flash?!?). I took a couple of instax photos on top of the mountain we climbed (back-lit situation) and those photos got completed washed out and thus binned - note to self, wait to see if a photo works before taking multiple more :p  The photo of gremlin above is also washed out and probably too close, the minimum shooting range of the instax mini 8 is 0.6m. 

I have a sneaky suspicion that the maximum fstop (32) coupled with auto flash means it can't handle super sunny days or bright backlit situations outdoors?!? Anyone have any thoughts or experience?!? Maybe you could sneakily cover the flash :P

On the plus side and almost in contradiction I think it handles mix light on a subject well, that shot I took of me and then the one of Daz were both shots in pretty horrid mixed light but I think they came out pretty well and probably due to the flash always firing :)

Now before I go I wanted to show you some Instax accessories! There is a great blog, Citizen Erased run by Kathryn and although she seems to have stopped blogging for now, her site was always a constant inspiration for myself with this post in particular helping with my purchases below!

A cute case to carry my mini in :)  I bought it just as the plain pink and then figured some extra stickers wouldn't hurt :P

I also bought these stickers which you can add to your photos

I found adding the stickers to the album sleeve, instead of the photo itself meant if I got sick of the stickers I could simply remove without any damage to the photo :)

my album!

I also bought a close up lens, which pops onto the front (took me ages to work out how to pop it on!). I think the middle photo in the album shot above was taken with the close up lens.  

A nice feature of the close up lens is this little selfie mirror to the side! One downside I forgot to mention with the instax is the viewfinder doesn't actually relate to the lens, meaning you're simply looking through a hole that is above and to the left of the lens so you do need to take this into consideration when shooting things!

My plan now is to hunt down some more film because I think the Instax is a nice camera to just have for its instant ability. I really missed having a reliable film camera this month, so although my plan was to use Superheadz toy camera for May (and I did already take some shots with it) I've also busted out my canon 1000f to get me back into believing that film can replace digital!