Abrupt Climate Change

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I am sharing this excellent post from ‘A Changing Climate’. A very informative blog which I have followed for over a year. Advertisements

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June Share & Swap

Last month’s neighbourhood Share & Swap was held in a local backyard where  fruit and vegetables grow abundantly all year round. Here, home-made  garden structures are created from recycled materials and  many common gardening problems are solved simply and organically. let’s take a quick tour of this inspiring and productive garden.

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 Here is a large, circular herb garden  made with re-cycled bricks.

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Bunches of ripening apples  are wrapped in small bags made of netting – a convenient alternative to netting the entire tree.

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The winter crop is protected from frost damage and pests by re-using cut plastic bottles as cloches.

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Re-cycled wooden planks are used as movable stepping paths to avoid soil compaction.

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All garden clippings are re-cycled on site via many large compost heaps.

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Strawberry plants are kept warm and productive with a simple structure made from a salvaged window supported by bricks.

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Here is a simple, home-made dehydrator constructed with recycled metal and a sheet of soft plastic.

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This mid-winter tomato crop was established in full sun and protected by circles of salvaged corrugated plastic creating a hothouse environment.

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Plenty of citrus, winter greens, broccoli, radishes, seedlings to share & swap!

Posted in Community, Food security, Gardening, Share and Swap | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

‘Australia’s longest conflict’

Climate change and national security are rarely thought of simultaneously yet damage from storm surges and sea-level rises on Australia’s dense coastal populations and the increased frequency of humanitarian disasters in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region are examples of how climate change can  impact on Australia’s national security in this century.

Australia’s longest conflict: our climate security challenge in the 21st century is the title of a recent report by the Centre for Policy Development. The report examines how Australia can prepare for the coming security impacts of climate change, and how our defence force can adapt. The report concludes that a whole government approach by Australia is urgently needed.

Fostering a larger and viable renewable energy sector, creating a comprehensive national adaptation strategy and utilising Australia’s aid and development programs to improve the adaptability of neighbours and partners are some of the measures suggested to improve Australia’s position on climate security.

“The security implications are known, real and have begun. So too are the environmental and economic impacts. On present form however, it seems that a ‘burning crisis’ combining economic, security and environmental impacts will provide the tipping point. Australia can ill afford to wait.”

[PDF]The Longest Conflict: Australia’s Climate Security Challenge

Posted in Climate Change, Economy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The neglected garden

Blogging about sustainability is not the only activity which has taken a back seat lately. Lots of other things seem to have temporarily fallen by the side.  So what does a usually productive garden look like after months of neglect? Months of no weeding, fertilising, turning soil over, planting, digging in compost, checking for pest damage, collecting seeds and all the other  activities that ensure an abundant supply of home-grown food all year round. Well, let’s take a look.

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The weeds are growing but seem to have stayed clear of the main paths, perhaps deterred by the thick layer of woodchip mulch and constant foot traffic to and from the compost bin.

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The orange tree is loaded with fruit and it’s time to pick and share with friends and neighbours. The neglected garden 16 june '15 010 - Copy

There are still a few kilos of Granny Smiths on the apple tree. The leaves are becoming sparse though, so I will pick the fruit and store it in fruit boxes for the next few months.

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Despite regular pickings the Warrigal Greens (a native spinach) have taken over one of the raised beds and I need to re-locate a few armfuls to the compost bin. No weeds in there as it’s already too crowded.

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The perennial native celery has been a slow grower but is a useful staple to harvest all year round and a self-seeded Bok Choy is slowly taking over this raised bed – time for a quick stirfry.

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These two silver-beet plants are in their third year and still going strong. A few armfuls will go to my neighbours’ chickens tomorrow.

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The cherry tomato bush has been productive since last November. It’s not looking great but I am reluctant to remove it, so I just potted a few cuttings from its branches to re-plant next Spring.

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Among the edible winter chickweed there are still plenty of healthy looking herbs – thyme, sage, parsley, oregano, perrenial basil, nasturtiums.

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Cooking with Nettles is a must with such a plentiful supply and I always look forward to this winter treat. So easy. They just grow all by themselves with zero input from us.

And look what I found hidden amongst the vegie patch weeds…

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Dozens of self-seeded winter vegetable seedlings were also growing around the compost bin. Some gardens seem to thrive even when neglected for long periods. I am so glad ours is one of those.

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Posted in Food, Gardening | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

After the rain

The downpour started at 3.30 am today. Although it was loud enough to wake us up we didn’t complain. This rain delivered 23.5 mls in less than an hour. The last time we experienced anything close to this amount was on the 6th of July 2014 when our rain gage read 21 mls.

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Here is the rain gage we use for our record-keeping

Stephen is the keeper of rainfall records on our property. He notes daily amounts, monthly totals, number of rain days and keeps a running total for the year. Before this morning’s downpour the running total for 2015 was 35.6 mls. This includes a total of 30.8mls over 6 days in January, zero rain in February and 4.8 mls over 4 days in March. Over the years these records have shown a consistent downward trend in the overall average rainfall.

The South Australian Bureau of Meteorology also reports the state-wide average rainfall last month was 87% below the historical average, resulting in the driest March for South Australia since 2005, with several sites across the state having their lowest total March rainfall in 20 years .

Although water security appears to be looming as one of the biggest issues in the coming years, we continue to squander this most valuable resource. According to the  City of Holdfast Bay – Eco City Plan 2012-15,  Adelaide and its surrounds use around 200GL (or 480 000 Olympic swimming pools) of mains water each year with approximately 63 percent of this being used in homes or gardens. Check out this chart from SA Water for daily average water use in our region. How does it compare to your region’s and your household’s water use?

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Fortunately, there are many ways we can improve our household’s and State’s water security and the most important one of these is to simply use less water. There are many useful tips on how to do this in ‘Cultivate water saving habits. Installing and using rain water tanks is an additional option for homeowners. This is what we did a few years ago.

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Back in July 2011, we added two rainwater tanks to our back yard. Their combined capacity is 20,000 litres. They are connected to each other and the water is pumped to the house via a small electrical pump which sits in the shed. The overflow water goes to the fruit trees and all outlets are mosquito-proof. We are still very frugal with our water use although for much of the year we don’t use mains water. The chart below shows the changes to our use of mains water.

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Thanks to implementing water saving measures our water use was already way below the average for our region before installing the tanks. For us one of the main advantages of harvesting rain water was to reduce our dependence on the town supply and improve our household’s water security. Thanks to this early morning’s downpour the volume of water in the tanks has doubled overnight, the garden soil is soaked and it’s the perfect time to plant seedlings for this winter’s supply of home-grown vegetables.

Posted in Climate Change, Water | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Changing the World with Sustainable in Holdfast Bay

I have not posted here for quite a while. We have been dealing with a few health issues and so priorities had to be re-organised!
Last month I was interviewed by Sarah, the author of ‘New England Permaculture Homestead’. I am re-blogging her post here because it covers a bit of history on how we got started on the sustainability path. I would also like to recommend Sarah’s blog to any of you who may be interested in permaculture.

Building a New England Homestead

Today’s episode of Changing the World comes all the way from Austrailia!  Here is what Sustainable in Holdfast Bay had to share with us:

What is your blog and/or project about?

“I started the blog about 8 months ago, primarily as a means to share information and as a way to document local sustainability initiatives. I live in Brighton, a suburb of Holdfast Bay in South Australia, and I write about the changes my husband and I,  and members of our local community, have made in our lives and on the home front in order to live more sustainably. I also trained as a Climate Reality Australia leader in June last year. The blog is also a way to promote this project and communicate local, national and global updates on climate change policies and initiatives.”

How do you think what you are doing is making things better?

“For us, living sustainably implies…

View original post 712 more words

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March Share & Swap

Today we returned to Rob & Marian’s garden to share & swap our surplus plants and backyard produce. Let’s have a quick look around this edible suburban garden.

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Here is Rob taking us on a tour of the backyard and explaining his gardening methods.

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Back in June 2014, this backyard was filled with winter produce – carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers, spinach and silver-beet, winter lettuces and more.

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Although we are now in late summer/early autumn, there are still plenty of tomatoes growing on sturdy trellises with corn in the background …

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… zucchini, eggplants, asparagus and colourful chilies.

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In this sheltered sunny spot we found late-season strawberries and autumn seedlings.

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We noticed that all the raised garden beds have a built-in drip irrigation system and removable shade on top of permanent wooden frames. Winter vegetable seedlings are already in the ground.

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Fourteen chickens free range under fruit trees in a large, enclosed area at the rear of the garden.

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The compost system consists of two large bays to which chicken manure, straw, garden clippings and food scraps are added and regularly turned over.

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Here is a tree tomato (or Tamarillo) loaded with fruit.

Do you know about this plant? It is native to South America and can reach a height of three to four meters. A rare sight in Australian suburbia, it has an average lifespan of four years. The trees bloom in early spring and produce fragrant pink flowers. These turn into an egg-shaped fruit which tastes quite bitter. Because of this the plant tends to be grown more for its ornamental qualities.

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Today we shared & swapped jars of fig and tangelo jam, fresh limes, tomatoes, eggplants, corn cobs and apples, potted aloe Vera and perpetual basil, a banana tree, citronella cuttings, coffee grounds and seedlings of sweet potato, kale, silver-beet, Calendula, borage, cape gooseberries and amaranth, tea, coffee and home-baked treats.

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Posted in Community, Food, Gardening, Share and Swap | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments