Monday, October 1, 2012

Our Sustainability Journey…..

It’s Spring Time in Sydney and my garden is ablaze with colour.  After what seems like an incredibly long winter, the weather is finally getting warmer.  We didn’t really experience much hot weather last year…so we are all anxiously awaiting that time when we can sit outside to enjoy the balmy evenings and sip a cold drink while the men cook up a mean feast on the barbie Smile 2012 10 Sustainable Garden2










This year we have been slowly working toward converting our house to one that is more sustainable.  Some years back the lawns were converted to mulch and planted with natives which are now thriving but it is _MG_2627now time to take the next step.  A few months back our hot water heater literally blew its top, and we had a rather rude awakening at 2 am when our fire alarm was set off by the smoke that filled up the downstairs area.  Always willing to look on the bright side, we realised that it seemed like an opportune time to replace the old system with solar hot water.  While we were at it, we decided to go the whole hog and install photovoltaics that would also convert the sunlight to electricity and give us solar power!

In Australia, it makes good sense to use solar power for your hot water and energy. Using the abundantly available solar energy to heat your water and make electricity means not only do you save on energy bills you reduce your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions thus reducing your carbon footprint.  I was pleased to find out that we had already saved $250 in our first bill..and energy costs will only keep rising.

This spring we have also started to build a few no-dig gardens.  After a bit of research  and chats around the traps at work (thanks Scott) we discovered that the best solution to building a no-dig garden was to buy a DIY kit from Aldi.  The 1.2m x 1.2m garden bed is about 0.4m high and perfect for the space that we have. We plan to install about 3 of these garden beds this year in the hope that  in a few months time we will be harvesting tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, salad leaves, spinach and a variety of herbs.   Little seedlings are already emerging and it is exciting to watch them grow…

Earlier this winter we also planted a variety of fruit trees in amongst our native plants and they have already started to bear fruit although I am not sure if this first years crop will be that good as the trees are still very young.  We have a variety of citrus plants (lemons, mandarins and grape fruit) which are ideal for this part of Northern Sydney as well as nectarines and figs.  Unfortunately, we don’t get enough frost for apples and cherries and we are just not tropical enough for the mangoes and papayas.  Our passion fruit plant has been the first we might give that another go!

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As part of this journey we have also installed a worm farm for all our organic waste.  The ‘can of worms’ is easy to install and comes with a package of 1500 worms to help you get started.  The worms are still babies and seem to take awhile to get through the food, so we have also decided to start a separate compost bin which will make sure our red bin has minimal waste…ensuring we are well on our way to becoming a zero waste household. 

The next step is to install a rain water tank with a fully functioning irrigation system that will take care of the watering when we are not home.  We are in the process of getting some quotes and deciding if we should also plumb it back into the house….stay tuned.


The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.  Paul Hawken

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