We are thrilled that our green message is being picked up by other publications. Thank you Green Home Magazine for sharing our story. They have shared an electronic version. Click here and go to p.12 to see what a wonderful job they have done!
It’s a cliche that the kitchen is the heart of the home. For families who love to cook and eat together, though, it is true. After many years of cooking (often alone) in a kitchen separate from the rest of the house I was excited about designing a space that was more open plan, with the main cooking and prepping area integrated with the dinning and lounge, but with a scullery area tucked out of sight.
I trust you will agree, that even if you have no interest in the green stuff, this is a beautiful kitchen. You know you’re getting the green info any way, so here goes:
We chose bamboo for the cabinetry as it is the most extraordinary sustainable product. It grows up to 10 cm per day (is actually a grass) and is as hard as nails by the time it is processed into a ‘plank’. A far greener option than any wood you could choose. Better still, it has been heat processed to give it this gorgeous caramel colour, which will never scratch off like a stain/coloured varnish. So for those of you who have been put off all the ‘blonde’ bamboo that’s mostly available this other option may be of interest. Darryn Kemper from Woodkraft Kitchens did the installation. Wonderful precision craftmanship, thank you Darryn, it was a joy watching you work!
We found this fabulous work top product from Samsung. It has aproximately 60% recycled content in it. Natural granite is hard pressed to compete for beauty and no hillsides have been demolished in the process. This particular composite has unusual copper coloured flecks in it – a beautiful tie-in to the colour of the bamboo. Tracey and her team from Flintstone Granite and Marble did a wonderful job on the installation. Lots of tricky elements and cut outs all executed beautifully.
We thought long and hard about the re-cycling storage. At one point we were thinking about ‘post boxes’ to outside bins. This could have led to a lot of broken glass so we went more conventional with large pull out drawers with off-the-shelf plastic bins lined with the bags that they go to the re-cycling depot in. I’ve made the bags out of large feed sacks simply by sewing on handles. Works like a charm.
After years of having containers with the worm food (vegetable, fruit cuttings) sitting on bowls on the counter top a special drawer was planned to scoop the peelings into as we go. Far less unsightly.
We were also concerned about heating water and really wanted to stick to installing one solar geyser in the house. The kitchen is at the furthermost point from the geyser which would not really have been practical as heat would have been lost over the distance. Our solution was this tiny induction geyser that sits under the sink. It heats only 10L at a time, more than enough for a sink of dishes. Perfect!
All the appliances are energy efficient. Shop around and ask all the specific questions. It is not just the expensive brands that do green appliances. I am particularly thrilled with the induction hob. After being a confirmed gas lover for many year (instant heat) I wasn’t easily convinced that it would work as well. I am delighted to report that the heat is quicker, hotter and ‘off’ quickly to. It is so easy to clean and ‘disappears’ into the work surface. Best of all uses very little electricity, so it made sense as we are generating our own, not to bring another non-renewable product into the home.
The taps are also cleverly designed to minimize water use.. Grohe have a wonderful range of water wise sanware to choose from.
The splash back has no green credentials, but for those that are interested it is not mirror but brown glass painted black on the back which makes it somewhat reflective. A beautiful final touch!
This kitchen is a joy to cook in and we look forward to many many years of feeding family and friends from the beautiful space.
I have developed quite an emotional attachment to my worms. For good reason, they are truly amazing and greatly underappreciated creatures.
If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of worm farming I urge you to give it a go. For the yet to be initiated:
Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Wikipedia
Earthworms aerate, till and fertilize the soil, breaking down organic waste into plant-available forms, improving the soil structure and nutrient and water-holding qualities of soil. Current farming practices that use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and over-tillage of the soil kills earthworms and other beneficial organisms, leading to poor soil fertility, loss of soil structure and soil erosion. At the same time, rotting organic waste dumped in landfills is polluting our underground water supply and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.
Earthworms eat organic waste and give us healthy soil and organic fertilizer in return. The knock on effect is healthy plant growth and food that is significantly more nutritious and delicious. Farming/gardening without man-made chemicals enables us to avoid poisoning our soil, environment and bodies. This perfect partnership is easy and fun to develop on a smaller scale at home.
There are numerous commercial systems available but you really don’t need a hi-tech operation to get started so go with what your budget allows or make your own. My
son has designed this ingenious system which enables us to maintain the health of the farm and easily harvest the ‘gardener’s gold’. These simple re-cycled plastic boxes are divided by a section that has holes cut into it. One side of the box is filled with food until full. At this point we begin filling the other side leaving the first side to break down further. As the food disappears the worms will move into the food rich section leaving behind the easy to harvest worm castings which contain up to 100-million microbes per gram – up to 20 times more than ordinary soil! Added to your garden, these microbes continue to break down organic matter into plant-available forms, thereby enabling plant roots to take up nutrients that would otherwise have stayed bound in the soil. These beneficial organisms also suppress the growth of pathogens, which means healthy soil and healthy plants. In addition to harvesting the castings we catch the worm wee (leachate) which drips through a hole in the base. It makes a wonderfully nutritious tea when mixed with water. Tea for plants that is :-).
My farms, however, we getting a bit to much attention from other wildlife in the garden. I realised that the aeration patches had been gnawed through and at least one rat was feasting on my red wrigglers. I’m all for ‘the cycle of life’ etc. but realised my population was taking to much of a knock. It was time for some maintenance and harvesting anyway so I got stuck in. The old aeration patches
were replaced with wired mesh, the harvestable sides were harvested, the worm filled sides set aside and the whole box was given a good clean. Worms were returned with a note on top to advise other family members to now only feed on the one side (yes it is necessary in my family!). Worms are now safe from predators and I have buckets of gold to mix into my veggies boxes.
P.S. I know many of you are very anxious to see images of the incredible vertical garden. I ask you to bear with me a little longer. The scaffolding will be coming down soon and then you will get a much better sense of this exciting project. If you can’t wait to get started on your own VG but need some help, get hold of the plant wizard James Halle on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veggie farming is great fun at the best of times but when you produce something like this what a great laugh. I must confess I’ve probably left them a bit long but they are still really delicious. Not quite as peppery as when small but many people would prefer that. Really delicious lightly sautéed in a little butter and salt.
Radishes have to be one of the most rewarding crops; they germinate from seed in 3 days and you harvest within 3 weeks. They are really good fun to grow with kids who can lose interest in a carrot or potato that can take months. My radishes (actually all my veggies) are nurtured with worm wee and organic fertilizers. In this instance Comfrey tea. The easiest thing in the world to grow and make. Just squish the leaves into a container (I use and old 5L product bottle), stick some holes in the lid (if you don’t it may explode) and leave in the sun to ferment. Then dilute into your watering can about 1 – 20.
I’ve had a long-standing love affair with my worms so I won’t short change their PR in this post and will give them one on their own. Suffice to say that their ‘wee’ is really leechate and once you’ve got over the squeamish bit they are fun, really easy to farm and really make a difference to the quality of your harvest.
Oh and look at this beautiful Dietes bicolour. The two beetles match with their yellow spots! It must be very tasty in there as all the flowers in my clump had these beetles on. If anyone knows anything about them please share.