Monday, 13 February 2012

The recipe for No-Poo! :)

Instead of shampoo use a paste made of: 1 tbsp Bicarb of Soda, and half a cup of water. Wet hair as usual, and then apply the no-poo, gently massage into scalp, and rinse with warm water.

Follow with the ACV(Apple Cider Vinegar) conditioner which is made of: 1tbsp ACV and 1 cup of water.. apply to hair, gently massage into scalp and hair right down to tips, and rinse with warm water. :)

That's it! Easy hey.. ;)

The no-poo way - for your hair!

This is just a short blurb to say that I have decided to embark on an adventure to free myself from using commercial shampoo/conditioner. I have opted into the no-poo way!

What does than mean you might think? Well in simple terms it means not using shampoo and conditioners that are commercial.. So how do I wash my hair then?

Bicarb paste and condition with Apple cider vinegar! Yes its that simple. So today I washed my hair for the first time using the bicarb-paste, and the ACV/water conditioner, and I will report back as to how my hair behaves by the end of the week.. But today its soft, and seemingly more shiny, and has a little more body that usual as well..

I was inspired to try this by another blog, Yes a "green" one... which I follow. Its called Bonzai Aphrodite and is an excellent source of all kinds of info regarding "greening" up your life..

You can read more about the whole No-Poo idea here: Bonzai Aphrodite

If you want the recipe, let me know!!

Abundance - just not of grass..!

Veg patch :)
This year we have tried something different..we have used the circle/keyhole setup known from the Permaculture Mandala garden.. our designated plot, or rather the bit we have declared as veg patch is not big enough for a traditional mandala garden, so ours is a little un-traditional in shape. Also we don't have all our planned circles working due to other crops, beds which are currently in that space. But we have two operational domes, and these are working great, even though our circles may be smaller than what is the norm as well..

We can grow Pineapple!!
But this year has by and large been more experimental, and we have wanted to try out some "other" types of crop.. so we put in Pineapple crowns., and to our amazement they have actually taken.. I am very excited about the prospects of growing Pineapple!! How awesome is that?? I currently have four, that have taken, but have an extra three crowns which I will place under/around some fruit trees in another place in the garden.

Our tomato/cucumber plants in tyres.
 We have many tomato plants this year, and despite having sown then in situ a little early it seems we may still get some sort of yield from them. Next year we will do a more controlled seedling planting. We have already harvested cucumbers, which were really firm and sweet. So we will try that again next year. 

Our first swale :) or part of it at least
Having made the decision to employ Permaculture techniques to our veg patch has proven to be a tremendous learning experience, but also lots of setup work.. I know Hazel will probably disagree with that, but we are learning as we go, and though its been laborious, it has also been fun. We dug the beginning section of our first swale in the lower orchard part of our garden a couple of weekends back. This swale will catch our bathwater from the second bathroom, and it is our plan to plant strawberries, comfrey and perhaps goosberries on the ridges of the swales.. our plan is to be able to pass the planned fruit tree spots so that they too get fed with the bathwater.. but its early days yet, and much planning still needs to happen. :)

On the orchard side of the fence we have planted two Boysenberry bushes, these will eventually cover the fence, and also act as a natural barrier/living fence here. On the other orchard fence facing the garden proper, we have lemongrass, and chives, but will also later expand with more comfrey and maybe even horseradish, and perhaps even some more Rosemary. Comfrey is very good chicken feed.. :)
Our lemongrass - still very young.

The living fence is a way of keeping out bugs etc, and that's why one should plant smelly stuff on the perimeter of the garden.. ideally.. :-P Also lemongrass creates a very dense root system which prevents the penetration of stuff like unwanted grass!! Which has really been a huge problem for us since day one... and we are slowly starting to get rid of it.. through manual labour, our own btw.. as we have since found out that moles love grassy areas. So if we can eliminate the grass in our veg patch then maybe just maybe the moles will disappear too.. *sigh*

Two sisters... :)
We ended up doing 2 of the traditional three-sisters (corn, beans and pumpkin), we did corn and beans together.. but will clear an area for the real thing next spring. :) We found that our corn plants were really healthy looking and strong, and our beans growing up the corn are bigger, and sweeter... :)

The Strawberry patch
The strawberry patch will be reclaimed in favour of a circle. And like I mentioned earlier we will be replanting the strawberries on the ridges of the swales. We will still be doing many more swales over the next couple of months, so there will be plenty of space for these little delights.

On our veg patch side of the fence we have a solitary raspberry bush.. we got a few from Carmen and Pierre over the mountain in De Hoop, but sadly out of the five, we have one survivor. We places shade-cloth along the fence which will also help separate the boysenberry bushes from the raspberry bushes in future.. and as the raspberry is of the cane variety it down not need support like the boysenberry will. :) I am very excited about these tow additions to our veg patch as the climate here is perfect for them. :)

Our Tamarillo tree
We have also planted a Tamarillo tree-ling in the one corner of the veg patch. This will eventually become a nice tree with edible fruit, under which we will create a food forest of sorts with more shade-loving things.
It will be interesting to see if it will thrive in our strange valley here.. :) as it was gifted to us by friends of ours near Lanceria up in Gauteng.. But for now it seems eager to grow, and has tripled in size since we planted it.

Brinjal - for the first time!
And last but not least we have our first brinjal plant ever! Yay!! I don't know where is came from as we didn't actually sow any brinjal seeds in any of our circles.. but this one plant has decided that that's where it is going to grow.. and it looks very good, so hopefully we will get a few brinjal from it.. very exciting stuff.. Its always such a pleasure seeing ones garden flourish, even if some if the plants are not in their proper places, or seem coincidental, and this year more than any of the last three years here, have we actually been more excited about planning and developing the veg patch into something glorious!!! at least in our own opinion.. hehehe..

Little porky, does not give lots of Gaaassss!!!

The digester bag... almost full!!
So far the summer heat has been good for the digester.. extra sunshine, and hot days = more gas production!...

Unless of course your animals get a thrill out of chasing each other round the garden... This was the case last weekend, and what happens then? Well dogs plus cats most often spell disaster, and since ours have a very love/hate relationship, the dogs chased the cats under the plastic which we use to cover the digester, and then.. Pffftttttt!!!!! Someone misses their footing, and punctures the bag. Luckily we found the hole, and managed to patch it. :)
Have gas - will cook!
Jan was not impressed at all though, and we have decided to close the sides, and top of the digester as well.. We don't mind that our beloved pets create extra work and hassle for us.. :-P

Anyways, we fed it a little more cow manure, dog poo, and grass clippings, and by the next evening the gas production was well underway again. :) Now we just need to actually close the top and sides so that it does not happen again.. The gas has come in very handy over the past 2weeks.. our oven is on the blink, it has a loose wire, and we need to have that fixed.. so as it was tripping the power all the time we had to switch of the entire oven/stove. The guy who was supposed to come and fix it for us, hurt his knee, and was therefore delayed... but he was very concerned that we couldn't cook, so Jan told him not to worry as we produced our own gas! LOL!!!! this statement led to a myriad of questions as you can well imagine, but the short version is that we have been cooking solely off the biogas for the past 2weeks and counting (the even/stove is still not fixed), and even tried baking bread in the solar cooker!

Kevin Bacon... heh.
Other news is that our piglet, Kevin, is getting big now.. well big in organic pork terms.. heh. He gets broken mielies, and kitchen scraps, and for a treat we give him some of our fallen pears now.. He LOVES apples and pears.. and we were talking about what our plans were for him..

We have decided that going the piglet/breeding route will be to intensive for us, and logistically we are just not ready, and may never be.. so for now we will raise him to slaughter weight, and then do him chop chop.. lol. And this will be how we do pigs from now on. We will get two, raise them and slaughter when they are the right size. It will probably be a very sad day once he has to go, as one does get attached to the livestock on ones smallholding, but that's life! And like with our chickens, we raise them consciously, and with a knowledge that they are 100% organic. They have a good life, and that way the circle is complete. I have a lot of respect for our friends who actually farm intensively with pigs and can manage to keep their farms organic... its lots of hard work, and takes a lot of thought! But at the end of the day its more rewarding, and at least you know that the meat you get, is pure... no antibiotics or hormones, no GM feed, and so on. :) And that my friends is what makes it all worthwhile in the long run!!

Rub my snout...?

Project mudroom & shade house

The beginning of things to come.. New front door.
Towards the end of January we decided it was time to start on some of the planned projects for 2012. One of them involves building a section of our stoep closed in order to create a mudroom, or utility room actually.

This will be a room where we will have space for extra storage for "stuff" that does not belong in the house proper.. like the washing-machine, the deep freeze, Jan's Biogas things, storage cupboards and shelves for seeds, and that sort of thing... and the dogs!

The inside..
Granted its not going to be a massive room, but with some clever design, and storage it will be an awesome addition to the house. Not only because it will be a nice room for Jan to showcase and demonstrate how the Biogas stuff works, but also because then the dogs will be moved out there to sleep in the evenings.. and much less dirt and hair in the house.. Yay!

We have wanted to do something like this for a long time, and now this year we finally have gotten around to starting this, we have two builders who will be helping on an on/off basis.

The front with a nice big window
 The builder himself is a Rastafarian, and his helper is just an ordinary guy. But I tell you what.. our house is not perfect, and by no means square, or straight, so that alone has been a challenge for them. We don't mind though, cause at least some of the originality of the house gets preserved... hehehe.. And usually after lunch break things seem to go a little off kilter... I will not say why, as you can probably imagine.. lol. But it matters not, because it has been a pleasure having them here for the two weeks it took them to build up to roof level.

Up to the roof
We opted to build in two doors - one onto the stoep itself which will be the new front door, and one going into the garden, and down to the washing line, which will serve as the back door. we will also not plaster the outside, but rather lime-wash the brickwork. We will also have to build a parapet-wall on each end of the room to accommodate for difference in roof/ceiling heights.. I did say that nothing in this house was straight or standard by any means..and once we are done with the new roof, then we can actually paint the which plaster, which is in dire need of a fresh coat of "GOOD" outdoor paint... :)

The seed tray shelf
Another project which we have started is the new shade-house. This is one part of the Permaculture principles which we are slowly incorporating into our small-holding.. Its a place where we can propagate seeds, and sow seedlings for planting out once the season comes around.

We started by building a long shelf of sorts along the kitchen wall. This will hold all the seedling trays, which can be moved along as we make new trays, and as the seedlings start to develop. We already have shade-cloth in place here, and for that reason Hazel suggested that we make the shade house here, also because it is our access point to the veggie patch.. so it could not be more perfect or practical!
The whole seedling shelf

So in future we will start sowing seeds in the trays, and then nurture them under here, slowly moving them into the sun, so that by the time they are big enough to plant out, then they will be strong enough to survive. :) The problem we have in our valley, is that our spring/summer seasons start very late, sometimes as late as January, so we have a very short season in which to grow stuff, and sowing directly into the ground is risky, because we have frost, and very cold conditions very late in the year.. Like last year our good weather only started halfway through December! By them most people in the rest of the country already have good plants, and might even be harvesting crops!! So maybe by changing the way we sow seeds, to accommodate the micro-climate in our valley, we might have a better chance of getting a better yield. But hey.. that's how we learn, and given that we have only been here for three full years, I don't think we are doing too badly. :)