Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sustainable Home & Garden Show, Paraparaumu, 26th/27th March

Well, after a couple of days of recuperating from our efforts at the Sustainable Home & Garden Show in Paraparaumu, it seems the right time to talk about our stand/show in the marquee, where the contestants in the KCDC “Greenest Street” Competition were on display for the public.

Our street had put in a concerted effort over the previous 3-4 weeks to assemble a display of what we have been achieving as part of the Competition. We presented photographs depicting our Glass Recycling idea showing how the bottles are ground down for use on driveways plus bottles of samples of the various grades. This display caught the interest of many people over the two days, as did our trays of Native Tree Seedlings which included 16 different varieties. We gave these seedlings away over the two days with a “Guess the Plant and you can have it” contest. Over 50 trees were given to community people this way, as well as pots of impatiens flowers donated by Watson’s Nursery, Otaki, where we buy our vegetable seedlings.

Our photograph display showed examples of our vegetable gardens, composting, our home grown pigs, the making of preserves. Our table display included eggs, apples, citrus, nuts, fresh herbs and vegetables, Monica’s delicious apple shortcake, which she supplied for the two days, tasting of preserves with crackers and cheese. The tasting was extremely popular and a total of 14 different varieties of pickles, and preserves were presented.
All of the produce on display was provided by members of our street. Including a huge pumpkin which was given away as part of a “Guess the Weight” contest. This was won by Monica from Neighbourhood Support, who was the closest to the correct weight of 5.65 kgs.
We met up with our other street competitors, who are very nice folk. Hopefully we encouraged other people to test their enviromental footprint, and consider entering the next Kapiti Coast “Greenest Street” Competition for next time.
We had a total of 16 of our Te Roto Road group who helped out over the two days, (wearing our new Te Roto Road teeshirts, thanks to Terena for organizing these), and all did a marvellous job answering enquiries, and explaining our effort to be the best “Self Sustaining” street.
Terena was our main “Chief of Operations”, and did a great job, along with much support from; Pat, Peter, Heather, Denis, Campbell, Jo, Sian, Bobbie, David, Sonya, Paul, Vicky, Monica, Andy, and Sheila. Many thanks to you all.
We finished off on the Sunday night where a majority enjoyed each other’s company at a dinner at the Red House Café, Te Horo. A great time was had by all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Very Economical Eco Friendly Washing Powder (liquid)

I've done this and think its fantastic! We are outside all the time with animals and usually come in with very dirty clothes at the end of the day. Not to mention our four year old !

The ingredients last for ages so you're not continuously shopping for them.

1/2 bar of sunlight soap - grated
1.5 litres water
1/2 cup of washing soda crystals
50g borax
4 litres hot water

Place grated soap in saucepan with 1st quantity of water. Heat until soap melted.
Add washing soda and borax.
Stir for a few minutes until soap thickens and remove from heat.
Add soap mixture and mix well.
Pour into 2 or 4 litre milk bottles or other bottles you may have, using a funnel or just keep in the bucket.
It will thicken after 24 hours. It gets very gluggy - but easy to squeeze out.
I also add a few drops of essential lavender or eucalyptus oil for a slight scent. (optional)

Have a go - it's easy to do, easy on the pocket, and easy on the land !! :-)

Limoncello evening

We all got together at our place recently to utilize the many lemons we grow in our street. It was a fun evening with a lot of laughs.

After heaps of effort (well not too much) grating lemons for my jar, adding the vodka, my wonderful husband went to place it in a safe cool dark place and promptly dropped it !!!!!!!!!!!! No more limoncello for me!! Never mind was worth it for the fun we had.

Update on Wyeths garden

We are now eating veges out of Wyeth's garden, much to his and my excitement. Corn, beans, lettuce, rocket, now waiting on the beetroot, spinach and carrots (the latter not looking to flash) but fun anyway. Will endevour to plant a bigger garden next Spring.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Autumn Harvest Time

Here are pictures of some of what we have been growing in our garden over the Summer months. We are very pleased with the results this year. Although we have gardened for years, this particular garden is only about three years old.

Our Monty's Surprise, (anti-cancer) apple tree is only two years old. They mature in April, so we are very keen to try these large apples, and hopefully the birds don't get to them first. I think one apple stewed would be nearly enough for a pie.

The Aubergine, Butter Nut & Butter Cup pumpkins have grown well, the Butter Cup Pumpkin was delicious made into Soup. Must plant more of these next Spring. We also have ample supplies of the grey skinned pumpkin, which should see us through the Winter months.

We have grown Kamo Kamo Squash, (Maori Heritage plant), for the first time, and daughter and son-in-law have eaten two of them so far, and said they were delicious. We are yet to try one.

We also have a two year old Chilean Guava shrub, and find when they ripen the birds get them first. I think we will have to seriously think of covering this shrub, plus the blue berries which disappeared.

All our produce grown is shared with family and our neighbours.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lesson on How to Make Pear & Date Chutney

Sheila kindly opened her home to show those not familiar to preserving, how it is done. We had a good turnout there with workers and onlookers.

While the recycled jars were sterilizing in the oven we proceeded to peal and chop up the pears, (collected the previous day from Sheila's pear tree, with the help of neighbour Heather), and other ingredients, and all was put in the preserving pan to cook. Once cooked, jars were filled and sealed, and satisfaction all round that a good job was done. We then ended up with coffee and nibbles, and a good old chat around the table.

A few days later we had a Street Meeting, with Ben & Richard from KCDC, and decided to have the street pickles and chutney tastings for Supper, along with cheese and bikkies of course.

Sheila, like myself, has been bottling and preserving her home grown goods for years, and not only is this satisfying, but economically it is a big money saver. I checked with the Supermarket and most jars of pickles etc cost between $4 to $5 a small jar.

Winter Firewood for the Eco Woodburner

Our Street decided to buy a bulk order of dry firewood so that we are well prepared for the cold days ahead. Campbell & Denis kindly organized this, and delivered to each property, and with extra workers managed to stack it all away in the wood sheds. Nothing worse than leaving it too late to buy it and finding it too wet to burn.

As you can see Bobby & David are very happy to receive their wood, and a photograph of some of the many hands that made the job easier and quicker to do.

We are lucky to have a wetback attached to our fire box which heats the water in the cylinder, and we are able to turn our hot water off in Winter. Big electricity saving here. Also we have a system where excess heat in the lounge is pumped up to the bedrooms to take the chill off the air.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Great Mulching Debate

I spent the entire day yesterday mulching hedge clippings & a very overgrown & I admit neglected Mock Orange which more resembled Jack's beanstalk with branches towering over the roof of the shed.
Whilst I was standing there posting branches into the mulcher & feeling slightly disgruntled that I don't have time for this I was having this debate with myself & thinking of all the other things I could be doing instead of standing here feeding the hungry machine & wishing that I could multi task. Perhaps it wouldn't be quite so tedious if I could perhaps do some sketching or at least listen to the radio, but not possible due to the ear muffs & safety glasses.
But the other side of the debate was, reducing this huge mountain of green waste to virtually a few loads of compost with the added bonus of some firewood for next year,so I decided that it was well worth the effort & the time.


Neighbourhood Support Group

At the right of this page under Useful Weblinks you will see we have added the NZ Neighbourhood Support Website, which we do hope you will take a look at.
We were invited to attend a Public Meeting here in Otaki, late in 2008, which was conducted by the NZ Police, and Levin NSG Co-ordinator, Wendy Forman. This was a very informative evening, about how to keep ourselves safe in our homes, etc., and how, by joining a group we could also establish a close knit community in our street in case of emergencies or disaster, earthquakes, etc. The result was that the three households from our street who were at the Meeting signed up to form a group.
We spoke to people in our street, and arranged a Meeting, on 4th February 2009, at one of our houses, and invited Wendy Forman to sign up the other neighbours who were interested in joining. Wendy supplied us with stickers for our homes, and explained the benefits of joining. Since then we get regular emails from Wendy about any Police matters we need to know about in Otaki, which may ultimately help the Police. Statistics have proven that we are now 96% less likely to be victims of crime in our street.
Looking back over the last two years we have organized our own security by making a list of all the things we own which would prepare us, and help us, in the event of a disaster, whether flooding or earthquake.
This of course is why we have bonded as a great street to live in, and enjoy each others company.

Stewed Apples and Tomatoes

Inspired by the pear bottling session, the Frasers decided to take the new found skills and learn how to stew fruit. With a little bit of guidance from Pete and Pat, we have successfully stewed apples and rhubarb, this is a BIG first for the Fraser household!

Also, as our tomatoes are ripening, we are picking them straight off the vine and putting them into snaplock bags for use in the winter, easy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Homemade Tomato Passata

Homemade Tomato Passata
I had a very productive day in the kitchen yesterday.  I converted two boxes of locally grown tomatoes into 9 bottles of delicious homemade Passata - and look at the results!

I have been collecting these jars for years and years and I have often been asked "are you ever going to use them?"  I have to admit that my inside voice usually answered "probably not!"  I have another habit of tearing recipes out of magazines but seldom using them.  Well, thanks to this Green Street initiative I can proudly say that has all changed!

Not only have I used some of my jars and a recipe I tore out of a recent Mindfood magazine, I have also put to use the preserving skills I learnt from our Street pear bottling day.  I washed the jars and lids (very dusty), sterilised the jars in the oven (150 degrees for 20 minutes) and once full, checked they had all sealed by pressing my finger on the centre of the lid every time I walked past (100% success rate)!  It was all quite simple and totally satisfying.

And it tastes delicious (one jar will not make it to the preserve shelf).  This is the perfect time to make Passata as the tomatoes are sweet and ripe and all you need are tomatoes, olive oil, onions, garlic and basil.

P.S. I now have only five jars of Passata in the pantry as I have given away a jar to both Campbell and Denis for delivering and stacking my firewood and a jar to the Frasers because they keep giving me beautiful fresh eggs.  Looks like I will be bottling more tomatoes this weekend - weather permitting!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Hullo All

Following the aftermath of the disasterous Christchurch earthquake, followed by the two shakes in the Wellington region, it has prompted us to think "water storage". Hence a call to Sheila who suggested phoning the SoapBox Factory Shop, 62 Riverbank Road.
David shot down there this afternoon, and returned with two 20 litre water containers, for $15 each. They kindly fitted these with taps for a further $3. Jolly good value we thought, and alot cheaper than a tank on stand. We plan to end up getting four when we have organised space for them in our storeroom.
Thanks to Terena for listing emergency items necessary for an emergency kit. We do have a simple one but minus the spare batteries, and tinned food! On investigating have just found a couple of tins of Baked Beans. This is food for thought and we do feel that we should be better prepared for tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Big Crush

Saturday morning, 5th February, saw a majority of our Street members gather at Andy Fraser’s for a “Bottle Crushing” exercise.
We've been collecting our glass bottles with a view to looking at other methods of recycling, instead of disposing of them in our street recycling bins.
Andy contacted Barry Lucinsky, a well known Kapiti Coast identity, who has been involved in “Keep NZ Beautiful”, and other worthwhile projects. Barry has a business, Silica Glass Crushers, and he readily agreed to attend with his equipment.
The small crusher took care of all the bottles easily reducing them to about a 5mm chip. The glass can be put through the machine again and again until eventually it's reduced to a finer consistency, almost like sand.
The end result is that this crushed glass is excellent for driveways, (the local café, uses this there is a local Café, The Winemaker's Daughter , whose driveway is laid with this product, and it looks excellent).

Our team had a lot of fun with this project and it created a good deal of interest.
Andy is currently using the crushed glass on his own driveway here.  We intend to keep up with this idea of recycling the bottles, and will continue to collect them up and continue with the process, and it is possible that Andy will eventually have a very colourful driveway.