"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

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Over Wintering...

Seems I've come to an over wintering point...

Mr camera is broken.  My mobile, which I was having to use to take photo's, is frozen / broken, the skies are filled with black, heavy clouds and outside it is cold and miserable, and we can't find a moment to get to the farm...

However, to be grateful whilst I'm complaining, our home is warm and protected from the inclement weather, we have food on the table, and I can read about all the summer warmth and progress on others' blogs :-)

And have I ever found some brilliant idea's out there...

...more uses for those damn plastic bottles...
Image source:http://www.insideurbangreen.org/2010/03/
This is called a SIP - a sub-irrigated planter.

I am fascinated with "wicking" / SIP type planters and have no idea what is attracting me to them.  But I think they are extremely clever.

What also fascinates me is the fact that apparently the yield in a wicking / SIP planter is noticeably more than in a conventional in-ground bed.  I believe that they have their place in any garden, no matter how small or large.  Certainly our 2 Ha farm has more than enough space to grow what we want, but we are hoping to plant it up with mainly fruit producing trees.  One of the reasons we are going to be doing that is because trees, even fruit trees, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  And any assistance this planet can get in that regard is a must in my book!
Recycled bath

I will be having a shade cloth vegetable patch on the farm - as large as I can make it, for the summers there are wickedly hot.  This will house raised beds, straw bale beds - whilst outside it I will have wicking and SIP planters for those plants which need the benefit of all the bees :-)
This experimental one that RMan made me worked a treat :-)
The plants on the southern side of the vegetable patch will need some protection from the incessant summer wind.  I am visualizing a large "barn sized" vegetable patch, of at least 9 mtrs long by 3½ - 4 mtrs wide - big enough for at least three horizontal beds with paths in between.  That should give me approximately 27 running mtrs for vegetable production - which should produce more than enough food for RMan and I, and still have some left over to barter with / gift :-)

But, my herbs will be planted in wicking / SIP planters close to the kitchen door.  I'm trying to convince RMan that we can (and should) take our recycled bath with us - not sure if I'm going to win this one because he's not mad about the sight / thought of it, even though I have told him I can disguise it better...

Another great site I came across in May this year is this one.  Grant and Max Buster are two young brothers who are applying their brains to assisting the starving millions with their ideas.  There is hope for this planet if youngster like this are in the next generation.

Raised beds (Image source:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Natural-Wood-Raised-Garden/ )
The beauty of all the above systems is the fact that there are a zillion plastic buckets out there, especially food grade one's at restaurants / take away outlets.  When they buy their supplies in bulk, a lot of their consumables are supplied in buckets, and there are just so many buckets they can re-use.  So there will never be a shortage of plastic buckets to go round, all you have to do is become friendly with your closest restaurant / take away and do your bit for recycling...
Straw bale beds (Image source:
http://www.growandmake.com/straw_bale_garden )
And the final benefit of this type of growing container is the water preservation - we all need to conserve our water and use it as sparingly as possible.  I have been fascinated to read in the past couple of years that England goes through periods of drought - England??!!  My country of roots has droughts?  Hard to believe, but it's true.

If England is experiencing droughts, what does that say about South Africa's worsening situation in the years to come?  Help Mother Nature, and she's sure to reward us - but it will take a concerted effort from us all.

Linking the wicking / SIP planters to our irrigation system will ensure that the water will go where it is intended - to the roots of the plants and not to the surface of the soil where it will evaporate.

Itchy - damn so itchy.  I want to get going...  So much to do, so little time.  And patience is not one of my virtues.

Does anyone have any other sites which could provide further inspiration?

Aside:  As I was typing this I received the following message from TUT (Totally Unique Thoughts).  And I thought this mornings message from TUT was particularly apt :-)

"Some will hear, but not listen.
Some will listen, but not understand.
And some will understand, but not act."

I hope someone - anyone - a single person - out there understands what I am trying to do / doing and is influenced by our journey to the extent that they make a change in their life.  Change happens one person at a time...  And "thoughts become things" LOL


  1. I'm VERY interesyed in the "shade cloth garden", Dani. I'm putting a post together (posting tomorrow) about my "roasted peppers" (on the vine no less).

  2. Tami - Look forward to reading about your roasted peppers "on the vine"? :-)

  3. there is a very decent yahoo group whose main focus is container/bucket gardening....take a look when you have a free moment:

  4. Thanks wickets, will have a browse...

  5. Here is another fine blog that grows veggies in a climate similar to your own that you might find interesting.


  6. Mr H -Thank you - yes, I already follow that blog, and very interesting it is too :-)

  7. Well .. I almost didn't come by for a visit because you have the word 'winter' in the post title ;) We skipped spring and are just warming up to summer .. so winter must be pushed back into the far recesses of my mind (LOL). Some pictures won't show up for me (probably the ones taken with a phone .. for some reason) .. but you certainly have some good ideas floating around here today. Stay warm and dream, dream, dream about getting back to the farm .. all the while being content with where you are :)

  8. Even in an area where my plants were shades about 1/2 the day they were burning up. I have just strung some shade over them and they already have perked up.
    I have friends that have black plastic over the soil in their potted plants to keep moisture in as evaporation gets us here in the desert with 0% humidity.

  9. Mrs Mac - LOL thanks for taking the time to visit. A pity your Spring did a duck - I find it the most beautiful time of all with it's promise of what lies ahead slowly becoming visible.

    Dreaming - oh yeah - doing that... LOL

    Frann - Your heat sounds hectic. If your friends have got white plastic or white anything to put over the black plastic that would be better. The black will be absorbing heat like a solar oven!

  10. Mrs Mac - P.S.none of the photo's on this posting were taken with my phone.

  11. Wow, you've found some great ideas indeed. Thank you so much for sharing! That's one good thing about winter, it allows time to research, study, and explore.

  12. Leigh - Your welcome :-)

    R&D is the only thing keeping me giong till spring / summer rolls around...


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.