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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Garden update

So it's week 3 of using coffee grounds to repel snails and so far, so good!
Part of me does wonder whether its also due to the fact that I have companion planted marigolds along side the veggies, along with a flower which we planted ages ago and can't remember what it is!

So these first couple of pictures were taken the day I first posted about trying a natural snail repellent here
L-R: Strawberries, forgotten-name flowers, brussel sprouts, spinach and a couple of herbs in there somewhere

L-R: herb pot (coriander & parsley), snow peas, thyme and marigolds

These photos I took a few minutes ago. Don't you just love the light on a spring morning?
One a little moth-eaten, but pretty good

So far so good here too. 

Sadly, the basil's a bit eaten, but otherwise ok. 
So, as long as one of us is having a morning coffee, I'm going to continue with the coffee grinds and see how we get on.

Now I need to work out how to prevent white moths... oh and the birds from eating the strawberries! Any suggestions/tips/comments will be greatly appreciated!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

DIY Cleaning Products: Tips

One of the problems we have found with making out own cleaning products is that they tend to solidify over time (especially if the area they are stored in gets cold overnight). We are talking here about recipes that use soap of some kind (for us that means, dish washing liquid, hand wash, and laundry detergent). Commercial products contain ingredients to stop that happening but not when you make it yourself. Here are some tips to solve this problem:

  • Make sure you use the right amount of liquid and soap when you make up the recipe 
  • Always give the bottle a shake before using.
  • If it gets really thick then pour the bottle into a mixing bowl, add a little boiling water at a time while mixing with an electric mixer on low or a whisk. When it looks like the right consistency pour it back into the bottle.
  • Ecostore soap makes products of a better consistency than Sunlight Soap. 
Let us know if you have any other issues.

While I'm talking about this, I found yet another source of soap; Trade Aid. You can buy their soaps from Trade Aid stores or online and they only cost $3. As everything Trade Aid sells is fair trade so these are sustainably  produced (even the palm oil!) and the workers get a fair wage. More info here. I have not yet tried these soaps in a recipe but I don't see any reason they would be much different to the Ecostore soaps as they have similar ingredients.

Anybody found another good source of soap?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

DIY Cleaning Products & Ecostore

Like the new blog design? I got distracted when I was meant to be writing this post!

If you are looking for an more environmentally friendly alternative to sunlight soap that doesn't cost $10 a bar then try  Ecostore bar soaps. I picked up one for about $1.80 from New World. They are a bit smaller than the average bar soap so to get the same amount as 1/2 a bar of sunlight soap (as required in this recipe) you will need almost a whole bar (60g out of a total of 80g to be exact, use scales is my advice).

Now, they do contain palm oil and I have given Ecostore a lot of flak in the past about their use of so called 'sustainable' palm oil. But recently Ecostore have been using a programme called GreenPalm. This is how their website describes the programme:
"Ecostore supports the production of sustainable palm oil through the GreenPalm programme. This means that for every tonne of palm oil/palm kernel oil we use in the production of ecostore products we have paid a voluntary premium to a palm oil producer which is operating within the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm oil’s (RSPO) strict guidelines for social and environmental responsibility." -

The way I understand it is that for every tonne of palm oil Ecostore buys, they send a premium directly to RSPO sustainable growers regardless as to whether Ecostore actually bought any palm oil from those growers. This is necessary because at the moment it is impossible to know which grower grew a particular shipment of palm oil or whether any of it is sustainable. This is because palm oil from different growers is mixed up when it is processed. The GreenPalm programme means that sustainable growers are rewarded despite the lack of traceability in the industry.

This is a major improvement from Ecostore's previous policy ('we're a member of RSPO so it's all ok') but it still relies on the RSPO definitions and policies on what 'sustainable' palm oil is (which are not ideal) and on their auditing system (which, from what I've read is practically non-existent). More on the RSPO here.

So as far as I see it, GreenPalm certified palm oil is a big improvement and I think it is good enough to be supported as a step in the right direction, but it should not stop there!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Natural snail repellent- phase 1

I'm a newbie to gardening- getting better, mind you, but still very new. We have a small veggie garden which seems to be chugging along ok but Ive just noticed that the snails seem to be back... Since I've just planted some snow pea seeds (now seedlings) I really want to beat the snails before they eat them all! Since we are trying to be less damaging to the environment and have a little one who loves the garden, we will be trying all sorts of things to rid our garden of these pests.

Week 1: coffee grinds

The coffee plunger is used every morning, so we tend to have coffee grinds every day. Some websites reckon its a great way to repel the snails, other websites dont think it works. So here we go!

I put the grounds around the seedlings this morning which are in a half barrel.

What other methods should we try?
Egg shells, sandpaper around the bases, diatomaceous earth, beer pools?

What has worked for you? What hasn't? Any suggestions would be great

Dirt is great!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Good Stuff: Cookies!

This segment highlights the good things out there. Products that by design or chance are free of all the ingredients and practices that we keep banging on about. So enjoy!

I'm not sure if we have mentioned this before but pretty much all supermarket biscuits contain (or probably contain) palm oil. We don't eat a lot of biscuits but when we do we generally make out own. But when you want a biscuit in a hurry though what are your options?