Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vale Bill Mollison, father of Permaculture

Some people have an amazing vision, and start a movement that travels the globe. Bill Mollison, Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher, and biologist. Considered to be the "father of permaculture", died this weekend. Anyone who cares about local food and sustainability will have come across Bill's ideas.

Thanks to Bill and his Permie groupies, I have had a lot of fun growing vegetables and fruit in my own garden. We have learned to be more self reliant and careful to support local producers. I haven't done any workshops in Permaculture, but have read some of his works. I love the idea of making a wider range of foods available than what is offered in the shops -hence my excitement at growing heritage varieties of tomatoes for example. I love the idea of making one's efforts in the garden do more than one thing -why can't a pumpkin vine grow over a nearby lime tree, thus getting more food per square metre and keeping the pumpkins off the soil (extra support may be necessary when they get heavy). 

Recent 'picnic dinner"- pesto made from home grown leaves, tomato salad with home grown chives and basil. 

Extra water for the bees and birds in a rehomed old birdbath -near a wicking bed with beans growing in it, made from a pot with a hole in it -just right for the overflow pipe. 

Birdlife in a productive garden is a joy !

I am so happy that my idea of planting more flowers in the back garden has been successful in bringing the bees out there, and the white flowers glow at night around the patio. 

Vale Bill Mollison, and thanks for the inspiration.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A wonderful Sustainable House Open Day

This picture shows the wall quilt I hung outside for the day,on the wall near our entrance, with a variety of ornamental and edible foods in pots. 

We had an amazing day yesterday at our first Sustainable House Open Day, with a whopping 72 people coming through. My DD and DH did all the work on the day -because I was required to be at work yesterday (bad timing, eh?) and they were exhausted when I got home, but very very happy.

This picture shows us in the process of adding pea straw to the garden beds, near the new handrail DH made for our steps for public safety reasons, and with the shade sail up to show people how to get cooling when you don't have room for  a big tree. 

When you meet people who care about the things you care about it is most encouraging. We have a lovely collection of online friends, who are keen about slow and simple living, but sometimes it feels a bit lonely in the northern Perth suburbs if you don't know anyone else who is passionate about these things too. 

The appreciative comments make us realise what we have achieved! 

Some who came were interested in our retrofitted house, some in the garden, some in the passive heating and cooling features. I have now posted the leaflet about our house and garden  here.

Some people came from our own suburb, and had figured that looking at our house and garden would inform them about what was possible in their own. That alone encourages me-there are people nearby who care about this too! 

Our house and garden are looking pretty wonderful just now, so this week will be in full recovery mode! We are all tired and happy. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Why we are opening our house on Sustainable House Day 2016

We are OPEN as a sustainable house on Sunday September 11 from 10 am to 4pm.


  • We want to inspire others that live around here, in houses like ours which were built in the 1970s, that it is possible to improve your quality of life without knocking the house down and starting again. 

  • ENERGY We have made simple affordable improvements over the years which have reduced energy. At one time we were up to 24 units of electricity per day. By changing what we did with electrical appliances -such as making sure we turned them off as we finished using them, and getting rid of an old drinks fridge and replacing it with a modern one, for example, we were able to get to about 12 units per day. Of course we installed low energy light globes and fittings. Then we installed the solar array and now we are down to 4 units per day in summer, and up to 12 for some of the winter due to using some electricity for heating. We changed our gas hot water system when it died, for a solar hot water system too. Free hot water for much of the year!

  • WATER We have a 3000l water tank which we use on the garden. This supplements the other water saving measures we have taken, such as removing the thirsty lawn and replacing it with fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs, and installing drip irrigation instead of above ground sprays. We have remodelled both bathrooms and now have water saving toilets and showers installed. There are two wicking beds for vegetables which allow the water to be drawn from below the plant roots, thus saving on evaporation. We have average water use for this suburb even though we grow vegetables and fruit and are active gardeners. 

  • FOOD MILES As we grow more of our own fruit and vegetables, we are reducing the amount of carbon which is required to transport our food to our home. We enjoy picking salad leaves and herbs for our cooking, and have increased our skills at preserving, jam making and dehydrating. We have learned how to pack as much food growing as possible in a 700sm block -using a trellises to grow a passionfruit or some grapevines vertically 
  • We have developed passive cooling of our home wherever possible, including:
  1. Shade sails to the west 
  2. Pergola for a grapevine or two to shade the north side of the house
  3. Shade on the north west 
  4. Planted LOTS of trees to cool the air and provide microclimates for our other plants to reduce water use and enable survival in Perth's hot summers
  5. We took down a low flat roof pergola and replaced it with a gable with some perspex panels to let in light, reduce heat 
  6. We put up shade blinds on the east and west windows to allow in light but reduce the heat and glare.
If you are in Perth and free on Sunday September 11 2016 I hope you will come and let us show you around! If you register at this site you will be able to find our house listed with its address.