Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Saving over $2k without even realising it

Wow. Sometimes it really does pay to pause and reflect. Over the weekend I updated my harvest tally for the  2011-12 season, and came to the staggering conclusion that even this early into the season we have grown over $2000 worth for fruit and veg!! I have weighed recorded almost everything we grow (minus what I eat in the garden , and herbs and leafy greens). On Sunday I did some online research and put per kg prices for the equivalent organic item next to everything and added it up - $2047. And that's probably a bit higher as I didn't weigh or include all the lemons and limes.


Now, the bulk of that - a staggering $1450 - was for the berries and currants - which have an average organic retail price of $52 per kilo  (assuming you can even get them - and I suspect the redcurrants and blackcurrants would be more as they are harder to pick)

It really is quite sobering to see how much all that produce is worth - we tend to take it for granted a bit. In  some ways it is a paper only saving - we'd never actually spend that much on berries if we had to buy them - we'd just be going without. But either way, it has been an interesting exercise.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Fruity weekend

Our peach tree has been dropping almost ripe fruit for the last week or so. Rather than waste it I decided to make a batch of chutney. I chose a recipe from the Ball complete book of home preserving - Caribbean peach chutney. It smells pretty good!
Our neighbours down the road as usual have too many damson plums this year - so while Jerry enjoyed a refreshing dip after a hot day, I picked 2 buckets of fruit. Today it's cooler and raining, so out with the steam juicer and to work. 1 bucket gave almost 6 litres of juice. I've used 2.4 L to make jelly (9 jars) and the rest I'll preserve in the fowlers for more cordial or jam making later in the year. I'm in the process of juicing the rest

Next week my uni course starts - so I'll be working part time, gardening and preserving the harvest part time, studying part time and looking after Jerry (full time!!). So needless to say my idea of doing the weekly independence day challenge has fallen by the wayside!! I have no aspirations to be superwoman :-). I'm already thinking of dropping back to just one subject this session to ease myself back into study. After all, the tomatoes and fruit won't wait until I have time to do bottling.

I hope you've all had a good weekend

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Solar update - first full bill

A few weeks ago we received out first bill where we'd had solar on the roof for the entire period. We were $170 in credit, which is nice!

For the stats geeks out there:
  • from our 3kw system we exported 823 kWh of energy over the 94 day billing period - almost 9 per day. We got paid 60c per kWh for these. 
  • In that same period we generated 1922 kWh - or an average of 13 per day.
  • Average daytime consumption is 4kWh - although this obviously varies. 
  • Our average daily buy-in from the grid was 7.6 kWh of premium (ie peak energy), and 6 kWh of super saver energy (hot water only, and not many baths were had in Oct-Jan, so you see why we need to get a new hot water service at some point!!)
  • We're on a green power tariff, so some of our savings went on that extra cost, otherwise our bill would have been over 200 in credit.
  • The minimum power produced by our panels since they were installed is 2kWh, and the maximum has been 16.
  • By using the solar power during the day (av 4 kWh) we've saved $64, plus the power that the panels have generated has more than paid for the bill, with some credit to store over for winter, when there will be less sunshine.
  • With savings and power generation payments, we've "paid off" about 5% of our outlay in this 3 month period.
All in all a good start!

How about you - do you have panels? How are they performing?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Independence Day Challenge 10/2

Plant something: Rocket, welsh red onions, daikon raddish, kale. Also transplanted cabbage, cauliflower, and kale seedlings into bigger grow-on pots

Harvest something: Tomatoes, beans, silverbeet, cabbage, plums, herbs, courgettes, runner beans

Preserve something: Bottled peaches and apricots from a local orchard and plums from home. Also dried apricots in the dehydrator.

Waste not: Fed food scraps to the worms and chickens

Want not: Preserved fruit for winter - Mmmm plum crumble and apricot pie :-). Plus stored the dried beans form the scarlet runners to use in stews.

Eat the Food: All the harvested food from above - plus home made blackcurrant jam, and using last year's honey pickled jalapeƱos (YUM) on Saturday night's pizza

Build community food systems: Shopped at the local farmer's market, and went to local orchard to buy fruit.

Skill up: Got a place on a Masters course - which (if I finish it!) will give me more local employment opportunities / flexibility. Probably a broad definition of skill up, but hey ho !!

Fruity colour

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Independence days challenge

A number of bloggers seem to be running challenges this year around simple living, and as I'm as susceptible to a trend as the next person I thought I'd join in Sharon's independence days challenge. It seemed appropriate as I was given the book for my birthday. Basically each Friday (although given the time difference I might be able to sneak it to Saturday!) I'll be posting an update of what I have managed to achieve in the week in the following areas:

Plant something:
Harvest something:
Preserve something:
Waste not:
Want Not:
Eat the Food:
Build community food systems:
Skill up: 

I think this kind of thing is a great idea to help focus on what you have managed to do, rather than all the things that haven't been achieved.

For more details on Sharon's challenge check out the blog link above. Or for a local version try Christine's slow living month-by-month.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Garden volunteers

Daikon - planted the seed 2 years ago!

Volunteer tomatoes - always the first to be ready. I think they are cherry yellow and tommy toe


Apple juice, gelatine leaves, brambleberries, and these directions

Too easy!

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