Ngarrindjeri Basketweaving Classes


Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, Ngarrindjerri Elder and Master Weaver is holding a Residential Class on weaving and how it applies to Indigenous Culture.

The 3 day residential class will be held from Fri Mar 16 to Sun Mar 18 at Camp Coorong 7 Mile Road, Meningie, SA.

If you’d like to book, here’s the LINK

Is a great opportunity to meet and work with with Aunty Ellen and learn traditional Ngarrindjeri weaving skills and to understand how weaving as an art form is used to share stories within culture.

The class is suitable for beginners and advanced weavers and those who just enjoy a good yarn.

Aunty Ellen says about herself:

“I was born at Point McLeay (now called Raukkan) in 1955 and was raised near Tailem Bend a small town in the Murray lands region of South Australia. I spent my childhood staying at fringe camps just outside of Tailem Bend town with my grandmother, Ellen Brown, from whom I obtained my name. I watched my grandmother weave when I was a child but never had a chance of learning it. My own weaving practice only began in 1982.

I describe myself as a ‘Ngarrindjeri cultural weaver’ making the baskets, mats and fish scoops that the old people used for gathering food and for protection.

Everything made by the old people served a purpose and it is an honour for me to be doing it today’. They were tools of survival in the past, now they are tools for the survival of the culture. Although I may occasionally use some of the baskets, primarily my work functions as a symbol of my culture and for mys self-fullfilment as a representative of my culture. I work hard to make sure that Ngarrindjeri basket weaving and Ngarrindjeri culture and tradition well continue to the next generation.

I have spent a lifetime keeping the art of Ngarrindjeri traditional basketweaving alive and teaching many others during basketweaving workshops at Camp Coorong. I have travelled with my basket art around the World and also travelled to North America to Indigenous Basketweaving Conferences, where my practice is respected by fellow international basketweavers. Innumerable school groups and international visitors have attended my workshops at Camp Coorong and I invite you to this one”.



Comfrey composter update.

IMG_20180212_170128.jpgThe leftovers.Well, it’s been about a month, so I wanted to check out what was happening inside of the Comfrey Compost Tea Maker that I posted about in January.

The tea maker was made from 90mm PVC pipe, 1 metre long. I packed it tightly with Comfrey leaves and, over the month, got just over 200ml of concentrated Comfrey goodness which we added to the aquaponics system to give it a boost.

The yucky pic above is what’s left. About 12 cm of dense black, slightly smelly stuff that’s going into the worm farm. Thats a almost 10:1 reduction in volume and it’s quite dry, showing that the liquid component has been squeezed out.

Comfrey is chock full of potassium which boosts flowering and fruiting, so we hope to see a boost in our aquaponics tomatoes.

To further the experiment, I’ve added extra weight to the bottle weight to see if the next lot can be squeezed even further and have been tempted to make another one from 100ml pipe for another try.


Joe’s Connected Gardens Open Garden.


Every year, as part of Open Gardens SA here in sunny South Australia, Joe and neighbours open up their connected gardens to the public for two days of exploration.

The gardens are in Elizabeth South and are one of the best examples of people sharing space and ideas that you’ll see in suburbia. At last count, 5 properties had opened their fences and minds to an ever growing collection of plants and Permaculture ideas.

This weekend, the Joe’s Connected Gardens event is on the 10th and 11th of Feb.

There’s always a lot happening…plant sales, Permaculture, workshops, talks, food and even more. There’s also a handsome guy taking a walk and chatting about edible weeds on Saturday. I wonder who that could be?

If you’re anywhere near South Australia, it’ll be worth your while to drop by.

(Bubble) wrapping your windows in Summertime


IMG_20180206_163755-01.jpegBubble wrap can be easily applied to windows as insulation. 

A while ago, I wrote a post called ‘Bubble Wrap Insulation‘.

That post was aimed at keeping the Winter cold out and our precious heat in but as its been so hot here lately, I thought I’d measure the difference it made on the windows in Summer.

IMG_20180206_163902-01.jpegThe digital weather station with today’s temperatures.The pic above shows the weather station in the lounge. You can see the inside and outside temperatures. The digital ‘gun’ type hand held spot thermometer that I used to take the other measurements agrees with this, within a few 1/10ths of a degree.

IMG_20180206_163544-01.jpegThe bubble wrap pulled back so that I could get a comparison.To prepare the window, I pulled the bubble wrap off of one half of a window and left the other half attached. Then I left it for half an hour before measuring.

The window wasn’t in direct sunshine, it was under light shade and indirect light. The temperature measured, then, was the ambient or radiant temperature both insulated and uninsulated.

You can see from the pic of the weather station that the inside temp was 27°C while the outside temp was 38°C.

IMG_20180206_163603-01.jpegThe temperature on uninsulated glass.

IMG_20180206_163810-01.jpegThe temperature on insulated glassThe uninsulated part of the window measured 38°C while the temp on the inside of the Bubble Wrap was 36°C.

That’s a two degree Celsius difference and the difference remained consistent throughout the daylight hours and until the we put the air conditioner on several hours later.

Bubble wrap then provided enough of a difference to be said to have an insulating effect. I don’t know about you, but, subjectively, I can’t discern temperature differences of one degree, but two degrees makes a noticeable difference.

All in all, combined with the Winter measurements in my other blog post, we can say that adding bubble wrap to window glass will make a difference to the internal temperature of your house.

Applying bubble wrap to your window

It’s soooo easy to apply bubble wrap to your windows. You’ll wonder why you never tried it before! I lnow I did!

IMG_20180206_163735-01.jpegJust wet the glass and the bubble wrap will stickSimply cut the bubble wrap to size.

Clean the window glass, wipe it over with a damp cloth, making sure that the glass surface stays pretty moist.

Then, just press the bubble wrap lightly against the glass and viola! It stays there. This bond is pretty strong and the wrap will stay there until you pull it off.

If, for some reason, it does peel off, just add more water and reapply.

I like to use a single layer of clear bubble wrap so that it still allows plenty of light in. It’s up to you though, theres even coloured wrap for you to make insulating, stained glass window coverings from.

How does it work?

The most effective, affordable insulator is still air. Even your batts and blow in type insulations rely on this. They are really just a matrix with hundreds and thousands of gaps, each filled with motionless air.

You can see that bubble wrap is similar. Different brands have different amounts of bubbles and different sized bubbles. These bubbles play the role of the insulator.

Also, plastic by itself is an insulator. Bubble wrap is really two layers of plastic pressed together in a way that allows bubbles to be formed. These layers act as an insulator too and have a different coefficient for conducting heat than glass.

On a more expensive scale, ou can get acrylic sheets, insulating films and double or even triple glazing. These all work on the same two basic principles that bubble wrap as an insulator that give bubble wrap its properties. Of course, bubble wrap is much cheaper, if not free!

Low-tech magic!

What’s a CONDU?



Making up acronyms can be fun, so while I was making these pipe composters, I played around with many variations of names and letters.

My final choice was ‘Columnar Organic Nutrient Distribution Units’ or ‘CONDUs’

For those of you not familiar with pipe composting, here’s the good oil…

Small space gardens and gardens with isolated, sick plants can both benefit from a way to deliver a nutrients over time to fairly precise locations. Small gardens, also, may not have enough space for traditional compost tumblers and heaps and a worm farm can only do so much.

In step CONDUs to save the day!

As you can see from the pic, they’re terribly complicated to make. While checking YouTube to see if anyone else had posted on the topic, I found videos 10-15 minutes long!

That’s not bad for showing how to drill holes in a pipe!

Here’s my super simple method…

Find a length of pipe. About 1m long. Usually pipe narrower than 90mm doesn’t work too well, as it doesn’t hold enough compost to keep itself moist. I used 100mm (or for those still hanging on to the past, 4″) pipe.

Give yourself about 2cm or 1″ of clear space around one end of the pipe. This keeps the end a little stronger and helps the pipe to not break should it be pressed into the soil with too much force.

Then for the next 15 cm (6″) or so, go to town drilling holes. I go for 19mm holes You can make them smaller or bigger, though smaller block up too easily and bigger let all the goodies out too quickly

Then you find an end cap, or even (recycled) plastic. One time, for a biy of colour, I even used a bright shower cap! The thing is to be able to block the end that is above ground so vermin can’t get in.

That’s it!

To use, you dig a shallow hole (about 20 cm) deep and put the endof the pipe with the holes into it, then backfill around it.

Nearly fill the pipe with a compost and soak with water.

Place the cap on and walk away. Done.

The nutrients from the compost will now be delivered to a small area around the buried end of the pipe. If you’ve placed the pipe skillfully, this will mean that the nutrients are being delivered with pinpoint accuracy to exactly the plants that need them.

A lot of folks (me included) add worms for faster processing and all the extra goodies that they add. Be a bit careful with this. The pipes and compost don’t have a lot of mass and can heat up or cool down far too much and too quickly in the relative seasons. This causes the worms to do a runner out into the garden. That’s not such a bad thing, they’ll continue to do great things out there, but we really want them in one place.

There you go. CONDUs (or pipes with holes).

How we save nearly 2000 litres of water a year

It’s this simple!

We all know that water is a valuable resource and one that shouldn’t be thrown away lightly.

Some of us are still in mains water, so here’s a way to save quite a bit of that precious and increasingly expensive resource. The idea works for those on tank and bore water too.

Here’s how we save a almost 2000 litres a year…

The idea’s simple. A 1 litre bottle of water placed in the cistern of a toilet will displace 1 litre of cistern water. That keeps the float valve always just a little bit higher, causing less water to flow into the cistern. I’m assuming you already have the float valve adjusted to the minimum.

The pic above shows how easy it is. Just fill a bottle with water. pop the cistern lid, slide in the bottle where it won’t catch on anything like the float and pop the lid back on.

The next time you flush, you will be using a litre less water.

So…how much will it save (the number of flushes is just an estimate on use)?

Lets say you have 5 flushes a day. Thats 5 litres a day saved 365 times over a year.

5 x 365 = 1825 litres (or 482 US liquid gallons)

To show you how much that is, the average IBC (those big square white containers that folks reuse for rainwater) in Australia is 1000 litres. Thats almost 2 IBCs that youre saving.

1000 litres is 1 cubic metre, so you’re saving nearly 2 cubic metres of water a year.

1 cubic metre weighs 1 tonne…

You get the idea!

All for the cost of a free bottle!

Weather Station Zebra



Thanks to our friends, Peter and Ilze, we now have a Digitech digital weather station. Thanks guys!

Ive mounted it on a shadehouse beam on the northern end of the house for now, to see how it will perform in out st extreme summer conditions.

Once we’ve finished Jelina’s new clothes dryer, it will go on there.

I won’t be boring you with hourly posts about weather conditions!

(P.S. The title of this post alludes to an old movie that I enjoyed as a kid – ‘Ice Station Zebra’, starring Rock Hudson).

A jar of Comfrey tea


comfrey tea
A jar of Comfrey Tea

A little while ago, I posted a Low Technology DIY showing how to make a Comfrey Compost Tea Maker.

This black, odourless liquid is the result of a week of that gadget working. It’s not a lot, but is highly concentrated goodness.

I even tasted it and it has, what they call in herbalsim, a ‘protinaceous’  taste. That means that it tastes a little like meat!

The liquid result needs diluting quite a lot, so this first batch went into the aquaponics. I’ll keep you up to date with any results.

Viili – a room temperature yoghurt.


IMG_20180116_104826.jpgViili yoghurt.

Simple though it is to make, regular yoghurt needs to be temperature controlled while the microbes are doing their stuff.

That’s enough to put some folks off of making it themselves.

So, what if there was a yoghurt that would do its thing at normal room temperature and need no fussing around.

Well, I’m happy to say that thete is! It’s a traditional yoghurt from Finland called Viili.

Viili is a ‘mesothermic’ culture of bacteria and yeasts. That means room temperature, no heating.

Regular yoghurt needs the milk to be ‘denatured’ beforethe microbes can get to work. Horrible though that sounds, it simply means heated until things break down so that the milk doesn’t form curds.

The combination of microbes in Viili don’t need that step and are quite happy getting to work on the milk as it is.

All you need to do is get some Viili culture from somewhere (I got mine from a friend) and some milk.

Add the Viili culture to the milk, place the container in a place where it doesn’t receive direct sunlight and wait.

The milk will thicken as the microbes do their work and it will develop a smooth (some say ‘velvety’) texture due to the presence of particular type of yeast.

When the consistency is as you like it, take a tablespoon of your Viili yoghurt and put it into another container of milk and repeat the process.

This is the hardest bit! Put 1 tblsp of the last batch into the new milk.

The culture is happy to be moved from one lot of milk to another many times, giving you a fairly bland, slightly sour, but easy to make yoghurt that you can spice up with your favourite fruits.

If you want a break, just refrigerate it until you’re ready to start again.

That’s pretty well all there is to it. I haven’t found anything yet that can go wrong.

I started using Viili because I’m lactose intolerant but we have a surplus of milk from time to time. Viili doesn’t work as well as Milk Kefir at breaking down the lactose in milk, but it doesn’t do too bad a job.