"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday 27 March 2010

Magic Seeders and April in Cape Town

Our grandson is coming to visit us for 10 days - he arrives on Monday 29th March.  Can't wait!  Although we Skype him at least once a week, having him here, in person, is what we need - hugs anytime of the day, bedtime stories, answering countless 'why' questions, walks along the beach looking for treasure which may have fallen off passing ships, and for me, getting him into the kitchen to help me prepare the evening meal.  He loves cooking, and at 7 years old, confidentially and happily makes scrambled eggs for breakfast at the weekends.

Also, the timing is perfect, as he can help me plant up my Stack-A-Tub "veggie patch" which should be delivered on the 1st April (available from http://www.growingstacks.co.za/).  I've given up on my veggie patch here in Cape Town as I've discovered that no matter how much compost I add to the beach sand which makes up the soil in our garden, I'm going to lose the battle.  Two years ago I personally dug up approximately 4 mtrs of garden soil to a depth of 1/2 mtr, lined the area with plastic to try and retain whatever water I supplied and to prevent intrusion from the nearby tree roots, and then I worked in 8 bags of compost - last weekend I re-dug the area and discovered that all the compost had sunk down to the plastic.  And the nearby trees had burrowed through the pastic to get at the water!!  Absolutely useless for the vegetables I was trying to grow - no wonder all I succeeded in growing was tomatoes, onions, rocket and carrots.  But at the end of last year I planted some seeding potatoes into deep tubs / buckets and this week we had the first of our baby potatoes!  Absolutely delicious.  We are going to grow potatoes in old tyres on the plot - they will take up less space and be far easier to harvest.  And we will be re-using worn out tyres.  Perfect!

Lemon tree saplings

So I've converted a part of the old veggie patch area to a nursery for the lemon pips which have sprounted into saplings - at last count I have 27!  And two naartjie plants too - only two of the pips which I saved from some delicious naartjies (mandarin oranges) we purchased at Woolies last year took - hopefully the fruit they eventually produce is as good as the original!   It is also housing all the cuttings I've taken -  all of which we want to plant on our plot in Rietkuil.

What I did with the pips was to save them in a half shell of lemon peel (to keep them moist), and which I stored in the fridge for a week.  Then I planted them in some potting soil and ensured that the soil stayed damp.  Lo! and behold! green shoots started appearing about 7 weeks later!!  Very chuffed I am too!  Patience is the key - and keeping the soil moist.

I have recently been awarded the distrbution rights for Southern Africa for the Magic Seeder - a seed dispersing tool which facilitates the control and sowing of seeds smaller than 2mm. This seed dispenser is unique in this country. It won the award for Best New Retail product at the 2004 South West Regional Growers Show in England.

The Magic Seeder

It is an established horticultural product, used by the Royal Horticultural Society, and which, with just a bit of practice, is simple to use and is an efficient hand held seed dispenser.

For more information, please click on The Magic Seeder page at the top of this blog.  And if anyone would like to purchase one, please contact me via e-mail at dani (@) ecofootprint (dot) co (dot) za.

It really does work well!

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Eco-friendly recipes

It's been very frustrating - we haven't been able to get to the farm since January - pressure of work, etc.  So I've had to content myself with trying to do what I can in Cape Town in preparedness for when we next go up - at this stage it looks like it will only probably be for the weekend of 3rd April 2010.  I took the measurements of all the windows (that open) and I purchased some semi-rigid netting which I have used to make insect nets for the windows - we'll install the top section of the netting and hook the bottom to the window frame in order to be able to open / close the windows. 

This netting is not only for the insects, but also I really don't want to share our space with any of the local bats - I'd prefer to build them their own little roost somewhere else on the plot.  (for more on this topic please go to: http://www.batsgauteng.org.za/BatHouses01.htm )  Don't get me wrong - I want the bats around to keep the local insect population in check - a natural insecticide so to speak.  I just don't want them taking up residence in our house!!

Also, judging by the search phrases which have resulted in visitors to my web site (http://www/ecofootprint.co.za) I have been giving some thought to this blog and have decided to make a 'how to make' page (you'll soon find it at the top of this blog next to our Aim and Eco Hints and Tips).  This page will included (amongst other things) recipes for making soap with / without caustic soda, toothpaste, washing "powder", dover stove / hot box / solar cooking recipes, how to make a charcoal water filter, how to make bread without yeast, etc.

My version of a solar cooker - it works!

Let me stress that the information and recipes are mainly what I have found on the Net and where I have the orginal link I will give it - I don't mean to plagiarise anyone else's work.  But the cooking recipes can also be as a result of my own trial and error.