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December 2009
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February 2010

January 2010

There’s a group of Novocastrian kids who got to…

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...collect fresh eggs

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..see how veges grow

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..learn where milk and yogurt comes from

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 .. and play with some really cool permaculture tools used to keep the grass down between garden beds.

Guinea pigs at purple paear
Thanks for the photo Rachel :-)

Some of them even got to feast on the farm fresh food.

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And of course - nothing impresses me more than a composting loo :-)

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 It was fun. Thanks Kate and Mark!

Interested in joining us on the next Playdate for the Planet? If you haven’t already, subscribe by emailing playdatefortheplanet@gmail.com. You can find the Playdates for the Planet events program here.

Also - there's rumors a Playdate for the Planet is starting up in Canberra. Keep an eye out here for more information.


Some handmade gifts [from reclaimed fabric of course]

I thought I’d share pictures of a few of my handmade Christmas presents – all made from reclaimed fabric. Actually – I’ll be honest – these are the only handmade Christmas presents I made this year. For the rest we went with reusable stainless steel drink bottles or sunscreen.

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These ‘art bags’ hold a sketch pad and coloured pencils. I made them using an old pair of denim jeans and vintage cotton sheets. The denim makes the base of the bag strong enough to hold scissors. After sewing the denim to the sheet, I made a simple drawstring bag. You may have noticed I’ve been making loads of simple drawstring bags recently. I love how useful and easy to make they are.

The drawstring is made from bias trim, folded in half and sewn along the edge. I recently bought a bias tape maker tool. How cool are they!!! I love the look of bias binding from vintage sheets.

IMG_3009I also made a business card holder using this tutorial.

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Hopefully next Christmas I’ll manage to make a few more handmade gifts. I probably shouldn’t give away my plan, but i'd love to learn a new skill and make something like these as gifts this year.


How to have backyard bees and happy neighbours

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I'm loving our new backyard bees. They have been doing a brilliant job pollinating our vege flowers (the above bee is on a pumpkin flower). I was worried about how noticeable they would be in our small urban yard (it's only 10 m wide) and was particularly concerned that they may annoy our neighbours. But after the initial buzz when thousands exited the hive at once (they had been locked up all day for the journey here), they have all settled in and are hardly noticeable.

My initial focus has been on doing everything I can to make sure the bees don't annoy our neighbours (and probably more importantly that they don't annoy Daddy eco - he wasn't overly enthusiastic about getting the bees).

Here's a summary of what I have done to ensure we can have backyard bees AND happy neighbours:

Provide a source of water near the hive. Bees need a source of water and I don't want that source to be our neighbour's swimming pool, bird bath or their wet deck or footpath. So i've established a few water sources near the hive. At this stage they are just pot plant trays and a few other containers I had lying around.

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I'd eventually like to set up a 'bee bath' similar to this one. Bees need a landing site such as rocks, sticks, or gravel protuding above the water. I'm using gravel at the moment. I'll be checking the water every day - because once they choose another water source there is little I can do to prevent them from using it.

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Keep their initial flight path in our yard. The bees are most noticeable in the few meters in front of the hive (their flight path). So when choosing where to put the hive, we not only needed to choose a sunny north or north east facing position, we also needed make sure their flight path is in our yard. Our hive sits in the south western corner of our food garden area.

Check fence heights. Our fence has to be high enough near the hive so that the bees are above head height when flying over it. Our fence is just high enough, although it probaby should be a little higher to be safe, so we will eventually put up a trellis or screen to make sure our bees don't fly into our neighbours face if he is standing near the fence.

I'll wait a month or two before telling them.I bet my neighbours haven't even noticed the bees. I'll wait a month or two before telling them about our hive so that I can say "we've had them for 2 months...didn't you notice?"

Bribe them with honey. Probably most importantly, I plan to keep them rolling in honey. How can they complain then? I hope they like honey.


Produce bags handmade from old curtains

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I recently made some fruit and vege bags from second-hand net curtains. I made simple draw string bags and used ribbon for the drawstring. Using the curtain top and bottom hems as ready-made casing for the drawstring makes the bags super-easy.

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I also made a few small hand-bag sized pouches that fit five produce bags so that I can keep a set in my handbag (otherwise I know I’ll find myself leaving them at home when needed).

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Want your own produce bags, but not interested in sewing your own? No problem. Just keep an eye out for Kelly’s soon to be released Ethicurean Recycled organic cotton and locally made fruit and veg bags.