Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I'm still here...

I'm still gardening, I'm still op-shopping, I'm still getting overly emotional about environment stuff, but mostly I'm doing assignments for my other life where I'm a real live student.

I'll be back properly soon.

Signed with love and flowers,
Cassandra Louise.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Compost Soup

The following is everything currently in my head about weeds, how to make weeds useful and compost soup.  There will not be a quiz, because by the time I read your answers I will have forgotten the questions...

A "weed" is basically a plant that's really good at growing.  Some of them are very beautiful, and many of the plants considered weeds in one area are not considered to be so in a place where the climate is different and the plant is not as good at growing, thus can be "controlled".  My favourite weed is clover, every kind of clover ever, and I tend to leave it, unless it's growing in one of my pots.
The problem with weeds is not so much that they're good at growing, it's why they're so good at growing.  Weeds are nutrient sucker-uppers, which robs the other plants around them of nutrition.  Clover (best ground cover ever!) doesn't do so much of this, and actually adds nitrogen to the soil, which makes the other plants sharing the soil with it (such as grass) greener, but can stop them from flowering, which can be good if you don't want a plant to go to seed.  Enough about clover, I digress.
As I have said, most weeds are nutrient sucker-uppers, which is why you don't want them in your garden unless they're really pretty taking over your chosen plants.
You can, however, use the nutrients locked up in weeds to feed your lawn and garden.  You can't put weeds directly in the compost, because the compost heap is a great place to keep seeds dormant until you spread them all over your garden and they sprout up big and healthy, nor should you use weed killer on weeds you intend to feed plants with, but what you can do is very simple.

To feed your lawn, you don't even have to dig the weeds out.  Find a weed, like this one:
Found one?  Ok, now go inside and boil the kettle.  When it's completely boiled and very hot indeed, pour just a little of the hot water on the weed.  The weed will wither down and die very quickly.

The process usually won't harm grass, provided you carefully spot-treat each weed and don't just drench the lawn with boiling water.

For gardens, you can make some lovely, smelly compost soup!  Compost soup is also called weed soup, weed tea or compost tea.  You will need a black plastic bag and some patience.

Dig out as many weeds as you can roots and all and place them in the black plastic bag.  Cover them with water, tie the bag closed and put it in the sun to "cook".  Before I tied mine shut, I also added a tiny splash of this:
and a wee sprinkle of this:
but just the weeds is plenty.  I was also using a very small bag (a plastic shopping bag) which obviously reduced the amount of soup I could make at one time.
The bag should be left in the sun for at least a week.
(exciting picture of a bag, there)
To prepare the soup you will need a container large enough to hold the liquid, a strainer or some folded paper towel and gloves if you don't want wet, mucky hands.
After a week, the soup in my plastic bag looked like this:
and smelled like bunyip farts, which is good as it means the weeds have broken down.  I wanted to add a little extra boost to my soup, so I added a little black tea to the container before filtering the soup.
I don't have a strainer for my garden right now, it's on my list, so I used two sheets of paper towel as a filter.
It was working well until it got too heavy and tried to fall in.  I squeezed it out into the container and got more paper towel, this time a stabbed some little holes in it.  I carefully tipped the bag and poured into the filter I had made.

When there was no more loose liquid in the bag, I took handfuls of the mushy weeds and squeezed as much as I could out of them (that's where gloves are handy).
And there you have it.  Compost soup.  All you need is about a quarter of a cup of the liquid in 9 litres of water (standard watering can) about once per month.  Super! :-)
I put all the paper towel I used in the process and all the dirt that had come from the roots of the weeds in my compost, along with the now safe cooked weeds. :-)
Happy gardening!  Love to you all!
Cassandra Louise.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It's been a bit damp.

It has actually been quite damp indeed.

This is a puddle:
Not even all of the puddle.  To get the whole puddle, I would have had to stand on the road.
This is also a puddle:
I had to walk on the Someone's Front Yard side of the footpath.  This is why I need an entourage, and one guy in my entourage would carry a wide plank, for just such a situation.  Anyway, I digress.

Because it's been so wet, my fledgling herb garden has become overwhelmed.  This is basically all that remained:
Which of course meant I needed to buy some established plants, seing as my garden has been set back so.  I bought
ALL THE MINT EVER! (I don't have a cat here, the cat mint is for me)
Some herbs which are not mint
A gazania named Rupert (he just looks like a Rupert to me)
And a Black Russian Tomato plant.  I prepared a plastic tub for the tomato by stabbing some holes in it, both in the bottom and in the sides.  If you are putting holes in a plastic tub, put the side you are cutting into against the ground, soft ground is best, and push the blade into the soil through the plastic.

I wanted to plant some basil seeds around the tomato plant, as they will keep each other safe and happy.  Some of the basil I had was too old, and probably wouldn't grow, so I tipped those seeds into my compost pot.  Every bit really does help!
I had another packet of basil seeds.  They are happily settled here, with the tomato:
When planting the tomato, I had some older potting mix to use up, which I put at the bottom of the tub, where it would be away from the roots of the plant, as I'm not sure how it would carry nutrients.  The texture is like wet clay mud:
(don't you love my fancy gardening gloves?  Food grade disposable vinyl, for those playing along at home)
And topped it up with new potting mix:
For the herb garden, I took out all the little sprouts that I thought may survive, taking as much dirt with them as possible.  I put them aside and filled the tub to the top with fresh potting mix.
I carefully planted the sprouts back in amongst the other herbs, here:
And as for Rupert, I put him in a nice little pot under a tree:
This is the rest of the tree:
There was also more sprinkling of seeds.  I'll be sure to let you know how it goes! :-)

Love you all!

Cassandra Louise.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Growing on and on!

Since things in my garden have started sprouting, I've taken so many pictures of them that it will be hard to make this post anything but heavily picture-laden and annoying, but I shall try! :-)

Remember the peas I planted here?
They've started sticking their heads up!  Here's just a few of the best pictures I took of them:

My sunflower has also sprouted.
I took this photo yesterday:
And then I took this one today! :-D
She's doing so well!  Hooray!  (Yes, my sunflower is a girl).

The snozberries look like real snozberries, and the coriander looks like real coriander!
Some sort of creature has been nibbling the coriander already, so I gently rubbed the remaining leaves with dishwashing liquid.  That'll learn 'em!

Meanwhile, in Maryborough, here's a picture of the peas I planted for Mum back in early June.  Going so well.  I'm pleased with them. :-)
Well.  I think I'm done, and it wasn't nearly as shutterbuggy as I expected (what?  I can make words!  Dickens!).

Love you all,
Cassandra Louise.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Ok, I'm back. What'd I miss? (OR: welcome to my garden!)

I've recently began a new garden, at my new home.  It's a baby garden, just been born.  It all started here, in a plastic wine tub with some holes in it.

In this one tub I planted seeds for chives, coriander, thyme, calendulas, sweet basil and all-year lettuce.  I don't know if the basil will sprout, because the seeds are a bit old, but if they don't, I have another packet of basil seeds that I know are still good.  As you can see, a few little plants have already popped up.

I've worked out this is coriander, because since this picture was taken, the curly leaves have started to appear.
I have no idea what this is.  Honestly, all plant sprouts look the same.
Guess what this is:
It's a pot of dirt, right?  Right!  But guess what's planted in it.  A sunflower!  It gets a few hours of sun each day where it is, which is plenty.  Sunflowers are native to South America where they grow on the sides of mountains; they don't need full sun, it's more important to keep them wet.

I even chucked some stuff in here:
There's more calendulas, some evening primrose and along the front, near the wall, peas.  I'm hoping I'll be able to train the peas down over the front wall rather than up.  We'll see how it goes.  :-)

One last thing.  LOOK WHAT I MADE! :-D

That's right.  It's a compost heap in a flower pot, because I am just that good.

Love to you all,

Cassandra Louise.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Hello Everyone! (OR: the tiniest update ever)

I'm still here and still happy.  I moved house recently and would like to be settled in properly before I start blogging regularly (my version of regularly) again, but I thought I'd check in and say hello. :-)

Lots of love,

Cassandra Louise.

Monday, 14 May 2012

My first ever refashion project!

(Remember to click on pictures to see them better)
On a sunny day down town a few short years ago (ok, so they were regular-length years) I bought this T-shirt, which I still really love to this day.  It's impossible not to love it, it has a little kitty-cat wearing a tiara on it.
(it is a fact that adorable kitten is adorable)

There's one problem with this shirt now:
As I'm not desperately seeking a date to a high school dance, I think it's a little tight...

My first thought was to cut the kitten off and sew it on a new shirt, but then I thought about all that wasted fabric, and so I decided I'd just make the shirt a little bigger.  I thought I could take the sleeves off and put some panels of fabric in the sides.
I proceeded to look through my fabric boxes, but I couldn't find anything large enough that was the right colour and cotton or similar to cotton.
Then I thought to go through my old clothes.  I have two bags of clothes that I thought needed minor repairs before heading to the op shop.  In the first bag, I found this skirt.
It's a children's size 14, which means it's designed to be about ankle length on a twelve-year-old.  I always loved that skirt, and it's the same shade of blue as my kitten shirt, so here's my chance to preserve both!  I'll make my kitten T-Shirt into a dress!

I was a bit nervous, as I'm good at using things for other purposes, but I wouldn't say I sew.
 This skirt is a dress.
This wheelbarrow is a baby's cradle, also it is full of plants.

 I also have a tablecloth poncho, a milkshake glass vase and shot glass candle holders, among other things...

But the last thing I sewed was this button:
Which looks great until you turn it over:
And I would be hand-sewing this dress, as I don't have a machine (and don't really like them).

But I set forth!  First, I cut the hem off the shirt, for easy unpicking.  I kept the hem, because you never know when you'll need bits in art and craft.

Next I prepared the shirt by unpicking the side seams and unpicking the sleeves:

Next I put the shirt on to work out how much of the skirt fabric I would need for the panels.
Then I cut the top off the skirt so it would lay out flat, and cut the bottom off the skirt to make the panels.  I took a little extra off the bottom in case I needed the fabric, but made sure the dress would still be knee-length.

I worked out how long I would have to cut the panels by measuring them against the laid-out shirt, bottom of the arm hole to a little bit past the bottom of the shirt.

I hemmed the tops of my panels (which will make the bottoms of my armholes.  The rest of the armhole doesn't need to be hemmed, as the fabric doesn't fray) and pinned them to one side of the shirt, "faces" together.
I sewed both panels to the front of the shirt before sewing them to the back.  Sewing the second side was more fiddly, especially since I'd used extra "in case" fabric, but it looked like this:
And like this on:
Which is certainly an improvement!  But now to make it a dress!

I pinned and sewed the front of the skirt first, rather than just go all the way around, as the skirt has two pockets on the front, and I wanted to keep them on the front, you see.

(front of the skirt sewn to front of the shirt.  About to sew the rest)

Next to hem the skirt.  I ironed it out as flat as possible and put a little chalk mark at the edge in line with the shortest part of my jagged cut.

(chalk mark)
I cut the bottom more evenly and turned the dress inside out over the ironing board.  I ironed and pinned the hem as per usual, and then proceeded to sew all the way around it.

As for that shirt hem I saved, it's a choker necklace, now.

And here's the finished dress!

It was actually quite fun to do, and I can say I made a dress by hand! :-D

Lots of love to you,

Cassandra Louise.

PS- I fixed up that button, too.  It now has a lovely back. :-)