National Tree Day is next Sunday.

National Tree DayWe are so lucky to be surrounded by gorgeous bushland and big, healthy trees but without care, our environment won’t thrive for long.

That’s where National Tree Day comes in. National Tree Day was co-founded by Olivia Newton-John and Planet Ark in 1996, and since then more than 2.8 million people have planted over 17 million native trees and shrubs.

The event focuses on planting and caring for our local native trees and plants. It’s important to plant local species because they have adapted to our climate and soil.  Other species might not do so well here.  Local trees and plants also offer the best food and shelter for our local wildlife.  It’s all about balance in the world of nature.

In addition to the environmental benefits of National Tree Day, Planet Ark intends to reintroduce children to the outdoor world.  In 2012 Planet Ark and their sponsor Toyota Australia prepared a report on the “benefits of interaction with nature for children’s health, wellbeing and development.”  The report found that within the space of one generation here in Australia, our children have lost the freedom to explore and play outdoors.

Isn’t that sad?   Can you imagine having grown up without trees to climb or bushes to play hide-and-seek behind?  I can’t.

This year, National Tree Day will be held on Sunday 28 July 2013.  Around our local area there are many opportunities to get involved.  To find an event in your area head to the National Tree Day site and click on “find an event.”

If you have never planted a tree before and you’d like to learn how to do it well, head off to one of Bunning’s free ‘How To Plant A Tree’ workshops. Once again, check the “find an event” link to find the workshop closest to you.

The day is an important one but it’s a fun one, too.  Get out and get your hands (and knees) dirty for a good cause and show your kids what it’s like to play outdoors.

Annie’s in Winter

I just have to show you this photo.  If you follow us on Facebook you may already have seen it.

This is what I have woken up to for a few mornings over the last couple of weeks.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

anna1

 

In fact, it reminds me a little of autumn.  The mornings are quite cold, the grass is frosty and the air is still.  You just know that soon the sun will be shining and the day will be quite perfect.

Other mornings have been foggy.  We are quite high up on our hill so the fog is either below us on the flat ground closer to Wallan or on the hilltops above us like it is in this photo.

anna2

 

We have a fantastic view here no matter which way you look and the weather lays patterns all over it.  If you have a camera make sure you bring it with you when you come to stay with us.  You will love what you see.

Don’t worry about winter at Annie’s.  You’ll be snug as a bug in our comfy warm cottages and outside a gorgeous day will be waiting for you.

anna3

 

Give us a call and book yourself a fabulous stay with us.

Organic gardening.

Last week we talked about organic gardening and the effect soil has on vegies.  Today I want to look at seeds and pest prevention.

hydroponic

Seeds

Once you have prepared your soil, it’s important to know a bit about seeds before you start growing your own vegetables. There are usually different varieties of seeds for each type of plant, each with its own characteristics. For example, the common tomato plant has hundreds of varieties.

Some varieties will do better in different conditions, such as being sun hardy, shade tolerant or drought resistant. You can also divide seeds by type. There are heirloom seeds, which are really perfect to use in an organic garden as the seed from the plants that are grown can be used to plant your garden the following year. This is really the most sustainable and natural of all seed planting practices.

There are also hybrid plants that are the result of selective breeding practices. Hybrids may be more tolerant to certain poor conditions but the seed cannot be saved from the plants and planted the following year as each generation will be weaker than the one before it.

In some countries there are GMO or genetically modified seeds, that feature a seed that has been cloned with a different species to make it pest resistant, but these seeds are not “natural” and really defeat the purpose of organic gardening.

Pests

Organic gardening takes advantage of many strategies, such as companion gardening, to help deter pests in the garden. You can conduct a simple search about companion gardening online, and discover which plants “like” to be planted next to each other. For example, certain flowers planted in a border around your garden will deter certain bugs that might eat the vegetables, and certain plants fix certain nutrients or release other natural substances in the ground as they grow and can help an entirely different species of plant to grow better.

Common examples are the practice of planting varieties of squash with corn and beans or planting onions next to your potatoes, dill next to your tomatoes, garlic in your rose beds and carrots near your peas.  You will also want to learn about natural remedies for common ailments such as blight, mould or mildew and other natural solutions that can be made at home to help keep pests from attacking your vegies.

While it’s a bit more involved than gardening with man-made chemicals, it is really much easier than it sounds. Once you set down to enjoy the different, delicious taste and texture provided by organic vegies, and know that you are putting something into your body that you helped to create, that is free of dangerous chemicals and was grown in such a way as to help improve the Earth, you will realize it was well worth your time and efforts.

Organic Vegies Are Delicious

hydroponicThere is nothing more rewarding that sitting down to the dinner table to enjoy a meal made from the fruits and vegetables that you’ve grown in your own garden. Living on our farm with its abundance of good soil and animals that help to provide a source for natural fertilizer, it really was not a huge leap for us to embrace organic gardening practices.

Organic gardening is an important part of adopting a more sustainable lifestyle for our family and the planet. Growing one’s own organic vegetables takes both perseverance and planning. Today and next week I want to show you some things to keep in mind as you are planning your organic vegie garden.

Let’s take a look at our soil.

It’s important to know the quality of your soil before you begin your garden. There are simple home test kits that can test your soil. If your soil is either too acidic or too alkaline, you will want to adjust your soil with natural materials and natural fertilizers to improve its quality before you start planting. If you live on a farm with a lot of animals as we do, you will have an almost unlimited supply of natural fertilizer for your organic garden, but it is also possible to obtain natural fertilizers from other farmers with animals or even some stores.

Of course, not all organic farming methods use soil, but if you have a large amount of farm land, soil is usually one of the easiest ways to grow organic vegies.

We have had people from all over commenting on our organically growing vegies.  They have asked lots of questions about our setup here. At last year’s Whittlesea Show there was an awesome set up which was a hydroponic vegies garden with goldfish in the base of it and the water from the goldfish is recycled with the vegies growing in pebbles. Of course you would have to top up the water level, but it was a different way without chemicals.

This image comes from Pinterest and if you pop over to that page you will find some other clever ideas for hydroponic and aquaponic gardens.

In our next post I will tell you more about organic gardening.  Chat then.