Sunday, April 19, 2015

Drip irrigation for the Urban Homestead

To say that dragging around a very long hosepipe attached to a semi working borehole every second day for the last 7 years, has become tiresome, is a serious understatement.

It gets snagged.

It gets twisted.

It waters paths, not beds.

It gets hooked.

It gets punctures (in the wrong places).

It is messy.

I eventually had enough but knowing the price of installing drip irrigation I had to keep going.

Then it ran dry.

Superman took notice as the municipal water bill started to climb....and climb...and climb...and climb...and climb...

I sent him a little video made by the GrowVeg team which got him thinking.

Then being the number cruncher of the family he crunched his numbers and found that once the cost of the drip irrigation was paid for we would save and save and save.

So overnight he made up his mind and off he went to buy what we needed then gave up two days of his very busy work week to install it along with the help of a friend.

So now every second or third day I simply walk outside, turn on a tap and it drips away.

Our next step will be to link the borehole to a Jo-Jo tank and then use that to pump the water into and from there connect it to the drip irrigation. We also hope to include in our backyard renovation, which is currently happening,  rain water tanks for the same purpose.

Then it will be to water the garden and this will make my number cruncher happy.

So for those of you who understand the numbers this is what I am told...

A normal rose sprinkler uses 27 litres per minute on one spot. It runs for about 6 hours to water the whole garden.

Drip irrigation uses 25 litres per minute over the whole garden and runs for about 4 hours. The holes in the pipe are at 15cm intervals and with the calculations it should give a diameter of 30cm which will overlap with the next 30cm circle.

So while the per minute usage is similar the coverage is vastly different.

How do you water your garden?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

What are you going to do with all those berries?

Yes, I love berries. I love them fresh for a snack, frozen for smoothies, growing on a cane, hanging from a bush...there is just something about a berry that makes me want to eat it!

On our way through to Babylonstoren last week we popped into Hillcrest Berries to get an order I had placed earlier in the week. This included fresh raspberries and strawberries, frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries and 5 plants which were two Misty blueberry bushes, 2 raspberries and 1 blackberry.

The prices are exceptionally good particularly if you tend to buy those tiny pallets of them from PnP or Woolies. I wouldn't drive all the way just for berries, but it fitted into our round trip well and was a huge savings for us, petrol included.



I have planted the bushes and canes in the garden already and our raspberries have a little shade cover as they are in a very sunny spot and during summer will need a little relief. The blueberries are in a spot under our struggling olive tree (got to sort it out!) and we have two other cultivars in pots close by from a previous purchase. The black berry is in a large pot, I need to find a spot for it, I think I have, but until I am certain it will be happy in its current situation.

As for the rest, between the 6 of us we will use the 10kgs fresh and frozen up in no time. My eldest daughter has turned into a real foodie - you can follow her blog where she is doing restaurant reviews and recipes or her Instagram feed to see her DELICIOUS breakfasts that we all stand in line to lick the bowls after she has prepared it!

Here are two of my favourite breakfasts using berries.

Spelt, banana and blueberry muffins - From Gordon Ramsey's Healthy Appetite

2 ripe bananas, mashed
300g wholemeal flours (I grind my own spelt for this recipe)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch sea salt
100g light Muscovado or brown sugar (I use the same quantity Coconut Blossom Sugar)
1 carton of buttermilk
2 large eggs
75g melted butter
200g frozen blueberries

Mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry, mix together adding the blueberries at the end for a quick stir, then put in greased muffin tins and bake for 20 - 25 minutes on 180.

Blueberry Hotcakes - from the Real Meal Revolution

2/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup of milk
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
180g frozen blueberries
50g butter for frying
Smooth cream cheese & fresh berries & honey for serving

Mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry, mix together adding the blueberries for a quick mix at the end. Melt butter in a frying pan and fry large spoon fulls of the mix until well cooked before flipping over. Put honey in between two, to with honey, cream cheese and fresh berries.

Last laugh - so right after I took this photo, I dropped my iPhone into the batter!!!! :O

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How to build a bug hotel

One of my goals is to attract more bugs and bees to our garden. Besides for planting flowers, flowering herbs and the vegetable flowers, I have wanted to make a bug hotel for absolute ages after seeing one at the Bishops Court Community Gardens 2 years ago.

So today my youngest son, his cat and I made one based on this video below.

We don't have his fancy planter on the top but this area bursts into bloom from now through winter with my favourite flower - Nasturtiums.

Here are our pictures of today's work. We used what we had ling around except for the hardboard which was given to us by Builders Warehouse as it was damaged.