Friday, October 21, 2011

Using old bath tubs to make wicking beds

At the Orange community garden working bee a weekend or two ago we constructed some bathtub wicking beds.  Over at Child's Play Permaculture there is a good article on wicking beds if you would like more information but here is a few snaps of what we did on the day.

Placing the bathtubs in position... we had to level the sites out a bit and sink the northern tub
in lower than the southern one. The idea being that the northern tub will shade
the side of the southern (back) bathtub and stop it from heating up too much.
Some old downpipe was recycled as the watering for the wicking bed.  Pipe ran flat along
the bottom of the bath and had slits cut to allow water to run out into the bottom of the bath.

After adding and wetting the wicking layer of straw we filled the baths
with some good garden soil.
Testing the wicking pipes.

Now for some seedlings - lettuce in the front bathtub.

Taller plants in the back tub (sweet corn at the moment - we might plant some
beans and cucumbers in here at the next working be).

Can't wait to see how they are coming along.... might have to visit for a quick peek on the weekend.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A trip to Sydney by train

In the last week of the school holidays we had to take our oldest boy down to Sydney to get braces on his teeth - his orthodontist's surgery was right in the heart of Sydney - near the State Library.  We took the opportunity to take the trip from Orange to Sydney and return via the train - the Countrylink XPT is a daily service from Dubbo to Sydney and return daily and although not ideal times for commuting it was a great way to plan for a few days exploring Sydney and the kids travelled for $2 return.

Lots of time for colouring... without getting travel sick.

Time for some puzzles... something we would not have been able to do in the car
The freedom that we and the kids experienced with no car for four days and a small backpack of essentials was great.  All this on top of the fact that the train takes the same time as a car to get to Sydney and you have no parking hassles in town once you get there and we got to have some quality time with the kids while travelling down because we were not driving.  It is certainly a trip that we will be trying again.

Here are some highlights from the trip.

 The Powerhouse Museum...

Slime making workshop

A snap shot of some startling statistics from the EcoLogic dipslay at the Powerhouse Museum (the numbers kept  changing as we watched)
The Darling Harbour area was also a highlight and a refreshing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the cities streets.
The water playground at Darling Harbour's Tumbalong Park kept the kids occupied for hours

The Chinese Garden of Friendship was a magic garden to visit

Bamboo forest - we would love to have a Bamboo Forest in our  yard

The kids enjoyed walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens

Looking at the Pitcher Plants

A Dragon's-blood Tree - just like out the Tashi stories the kids read

In the evening we walked home through Chinatown
Exploring Chinatown by night

All in all we had an intense couple of days in Sydney - but got time to relax on the train-trip back to Orange.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Medicinal herbs in our local park

Last weekend we had the opportunity to tag along with a tour of our local Cook Park looking at medicinal herbs and their uses.  The tour was part of the National Herbalists Association's National Herbal Medicine Week and was lead by local herbalist Angela Duncan.

We all certainly had fun walking along and exploring what was in our local park and learning more about what some of the uses of the herbs were.

Some plants that I would like to get into our home garden include Yarrow and Wormwood.  I learnt that the nerve toxin drug absinthe was made from Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) but also that wormwoods have great anti-inflammatory properties - as well as being useful for repelling pests such as lice and intestinal worms around the chookpen. I feel that I have so much to learn about various uses of herbs - many of which are common in our everyday gardens such as rosemary and willows (the active ingredient of Asprin is based on the active ingredient in Willow Bark).  Of course, many of these herbal medicines need to be taken in tablet form under the guidance of qualified herbalists to ensure correct dosage and usages.

The kids also enjoyed some time in the park at Spring time.