I have been thinking a lot lately about where I want our family to be heading sustainability-wise. Granted, it's not always easy if you don't always have the finances to back you up but I would like our family to at least have the knowledge of how to be self-sufficient and how to avoid chemical, pesticide ridden foods and medicines wherever possible. 

I do sometimes cringe at the thought of using plastic bottles, even though I am currently using some as seedling planters (Ironic I know) I would like to one day not have to use plastic at all just due to the negative effect that plastic has on the environment. Understandably, plastic is very hard to avoid these days as it is all around us and, in a way, I'm hoping that re-using certain safe (well safe compared to other grades of plastic anyway!) plastic bottles wherever possible will keep them out of landfills. However small the effort may be. I will be a lot happier when we can stop buying milk in plastic bottles altogether and have our own fresh milk daily straight from the cow or goat :-)
And by creating sustainable vegie gardens, we won't have to rely on supermarkets and produce stores so much. Also raising our own grass-fed beef and poultry would be one less thing to buy and we wouldn't have to worry about what was being injected into our food. 
Another thing I am hoping to learn more about once I have our Herb garden established is how to make our own natural shampoos, soaps and skin care items from herbs and natural products.
We have also been talking about putting some beehives on the property (I have always wanted to try make my own candles) but we would need to learn a bit more about beekeeping first. I remember my grandmother always had beehives on the farm. Right next to the driveway. And, when walking home from school, I would try and take a shortcut through the paddock on the other side of the driveway to avoid them. Especially if they were out in full force, you didn't want to be driving along with your windows down on those days! Needless to say I experienced my fair share of bee stings but these days I am a lot more cautious and a bit more observant of where I walk when there are bees around. Bees have suffered a rapid decline in numbers lately due to the increasing uses of pesticides and genetically modified crops. This is another reason why I do not want to use pesticides or chemicals on our property and why I am starting to buy heirloom seeds and plants wherever possible. I have plans to plant a wildflower patch somewhere on our property, not too close to the house though. While we do want to encourage more bees to hang around, we don't want them flying into the house accidentally and causing mayhem so I am going to sow a patch in the paddock this spring and see what happens.

My partner surprised me by bringing home a bag full of large strawberry plants yesterday. Even though we are heading into winter, I have just been informed that this is actually the best time to get strawberry plants planted out as it gives them time to establish a good root stock before spring and summer when fruiting starts to happen.
My very first experience with growing strawberries didn't end too well. I had 10 plants which did reasonably well over summer but when it came to winter time I was a bit worried about what I was supposed to do with the plants. How would I protect them from the frost and heavy cold rain? I started searching on Google for anything I could find relating to caring for strawberries in winter. All I could figure out was that I needed to cover them with straw to keep them warm until spring. So this is what I did. I covered them completely over with straw and by the end of winter, my strawberry plants were completely dead.
A lovely lady informed me today that I only needed to cover the ground AROUND the strawberries with straw... not the whole plant. Well, I learnt my lesson from that. And this time around I will actually be using pine needles instead of straw as I have been told that the strawberries love the acidity of the pine needles and the slugs hate it. Our property is surrounded by pine trees so no problem there. Only problem I have is waiting for the wet weather to clear so I can get my strawberry plants into the ground.

Here's hoping for some nice sunny weather tomorrow :-)
 


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