Category 15

Natural Beekeeping

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Growing in popularity globally, natural beekeeping offers an api-centic approach to beekeeping, mimicking the bees’ wild environments and honouring the natural rhythms of the colony.

Though there is some overlap with traditional beekeeping, natural beekeeping differs in several important ways, from the design and construction of hives through to the caretaking of the colony. Natural beekeeping encourages the creation of natural comb and natural reproduction through swarming, and reduces intervention in the hive by keeping hive inspections to a minimum. And while honey is harvested, it is an added bonus of beekeeping, not the main point.

How To Grow Asparagus

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Often the first vegetable in the garden to herald the arrival of spring, asparagus provides a delicious welcome to the coming season. While it can take some patience, there is little that comes close to the taste of your own asparagus plucked straight from the ground. Once established, asparagus plants can produce for over 20 years.

A member of the lily family, Asparagus officinalis is a perennial plant with fern-like fronds growing to 1.5 m high. It retreats to dormancy in the cooler months, with quick-growing shoots emerging from the ground in early spring. It is these shoots that we recognise as asparagus spears, and when they start to emerge, they will need to be picked every day or two to get the sweetest, most tender asparagus for the pot. If left to grow, the spears continue skyward and the tightly bunched scales on the tip loosen and elongate, eventually becoming branches on the tall, ferny plant.

Once established, around eight to twelve plants will provide a family of four with a good amount of asparagus for two or three months over spring. Nutritionally, it’s a great addition to the vegie garden, containing B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium, as well as a number of antioxidants. It also contains the compound asparagine, which gives asparagus its ‘umami’ flavour, the savoury fifth taste that’s also found in tomatoes and mushrooms.

A Bountiful Garden All Year Round

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A highly productive vegetable garden that produces lots of food all year doesn’t just happen, it comes about through intentional design. It’s achieved by selecting appropriate plants and using particular gardening techniques that extend the harvest season.

Gardening Calendars And The Importance Of Timing

A gardening calendar is more than just a reference, it’s a valuable tool to help gardeners get organised, perform scheduled tasks and carry out long-term planning. Good gardening calendars usually contain more than just seedsowing information; the better ones will detail the expected weather patterns of the month and list the garden tasks that need to be performed, making each monthly gardening experience much more structured and predictable.

In The Garden: November – February

map of aussie

November: Basil, beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, chives, coriander, cucumber, English spinach, kohlrabi, leek, lemongrass, lettuce, marjoram, mint, onion, oregano, parsley, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rosemary, silverbeet, swede, sweet corn, tarragon, tomato, turnip, thyme and zucchini.

December: Asian greens, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, potatoes (such as Kennebec), pumpkin, rocket, salad onions, silverbeet, sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini.

January: Asian greens (e.g. rocket, mizuna, mibuna, mustard, cress), beetroot, bush beans, carrots, lettuce, radish, silverbeet, spring onions and turnip. If you live in a warm spot, try seedlings of late zucchini, cucumber, small pumpkins like Golden Nuggets, sweet corn and even more tomatoes.

February: Plant winter vegies including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, leeks and parsnips. Garlic is good to go once the weather cools.

Visible Mending

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Visible mending is trending at a time when there have never been so many clothes in the world. In the past two decades there has been a transformational shift in the way most people buy, use and dispose of clothes, leading to exploitation and waste, as well as a loss of skills and knowledge of how clothes are made. Because we know modern-day slavery and the increasing use of synthetic fibres derived from fossil fuels are the main reasons clothes have become so cheap, many are now looking for more thoughtful ways to dress.

Choose Natural Fibres

Long before sustainability became fashionable, HRH Prince Charles had been urging people to consider the environment when choosing what to wear. As patron of the Campaign for Wool, he promotes wool as a renewable and biodegradable resource and has expressed concern about the poisoned legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren through the rise of synthetics.

Slow Flowers

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Just as the slow food movement made us more aware of local and seasonal produce, the slow flower movement is doing the same for blooms.

Tara Luca is a sustainable flower grower from the Northern Rivers area in NSW. Tara and her family live and work on Olive Gap Organic Farm in Woodburn. The farm, which specialises in native essential oils, as well as seasonal flowers, is run by two couples: Tara and her husband Alex (along with their three daughters), and Alex’s sister Tess and her partner, Nina. ‘Basically, we are a big girl gang, plus Alex,’ says Tara.

Tara developed her love for all things floral while studying an Organic Farming course. ‘Whilst at TAFE I discovered an amazing old floriculture section in the student library and I became completely obsessed with learning about flower production,’ she says.

Save Your Seeds: Dill

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Anethum graveolens var. esculentum. Anethon is the Greek word for dill. Graveolens means strong smelling and esculentum means edible in Latin.

Origin

Dill is an annual whose distribution is widespread due to its medicinal popularity. Being native to such diverse climates as Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, parts of Turkey, northern Tibet, Afghanistan, Mongolia, northern India and Pakistan is an indication of its hardiness.

Dill also grows wild as a natural companion to field crops in southern Europe.

DIY Bathroom Basics

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It’s not uncommon for bathroom benches and shower recesses to be filled with plastic bottles: bottles for shampoos and conditioners, hair treatments, face washes, toners, moisturisers, deodorants … and that’s just the basic products! Then there are all the other lotions and potions that promise great things and claim to have unique properties that will keep your face looking younger, your skin supple and your hair shiny.

The amount of waste produced by these products is becoming an increasing problem as they end up in landfill and, sometimes, in our oceans. With recycling systems falling apart, even our attempts to do the right thing by recycling are falling short.

Store-bought products are also full of all sorts of ingredients that may have damaging effects on our health and wellbeing. By making your own products, you know exactly what is in them and you don’t need Google to decipher what you’re putting on your body.

Embracing Community At Bend Eco-Neighbourhood

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You’d go a long way to find a purpose-built, permaculture-inspired, organically certified econeighbourhood like Bend. With those credentials, you might expect a remote location, miles from anywhere, but Bend is located in a major town on the NSW Far South Coast, near schools, shops, a post office, library and medical facilities. The aim of this intentionalliving project was to build community, not just build ‘a community’.

‘Bend is integral to the town of Bega. We wanted to be inclusive and diverse, and part of the town,’ says Jenny Spinks, who was active throughout the project and now lives there. The eco-subdivision was intentionally medium density, with twothirds of the houses privately owned, and the remaining onethird purpose-built for affordable housing rental.

The eco-neighbourhood of 30 houses harvests and reuses its own water, mandates composting toilets and runs on permaculture ethics and consensus decision-making. Ideally, being in town allows a further reduction in ecological footprint, through less car use.

Animal Care: Summer Chook Care

The most critical considerations when looking after your flock over the coming summer months are the provision of shade and cool water. It’s also a good idea to keep your chickens’ stress levels as low as possible and avoid handling them.

The Summer Hen House

The chicken house should mimic the forest as a safe and social resting place. Whether you have their coop (or tractor) placed in an orchard or a quiet corner of the backyard, in the height of summer special care of your flock is needed.

Chickens cannot sweat, so create good shade and a place for them to dust bathe. Dust helps them to cool and cleanse at the same time. Watch for signs of heat stress: walking around with their beaks open, holding their wings open away from their body, or lying on the ground with their wings open. Put up beach umbrellas for extra solid shade in the midday sun.