Design Project: Implementation Plan Catch Up

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If any of you remember the Implementation Plan that I posted back in December 2014, I’ll make this a catch up post which will pretty much be along the lines of feedback and tweaks.

I scheduled breaks in April and July, thinking that my family would have a holiday in April, and that winter illnesses would hit us in July/August and would need the rest. It was a good thing I scheduled the April break as I sliced my left index finger with sharp kitchen scissors doing a craft activity. Yeah, ouch. Luckily I didn’t need stitches, but I needed lots of healing time.

The schedule for May and June assume that the patio cover has been installed and therefore the surrounding land is ripe for scaping. That hasn’t happened yet so tasks 14-23 have been pushed back.

So what happened?

I had a plumber install 2 water saving toilets to replace the old single flush toilets (permaculture principle #6: produce no waste)

I joined the Diggers Club (from my husband as an early Mother’s Day gift)

A box of goodies from the Diggers Club

A box of goodies from the Diggers Club

I assembled a new rabbit hutch for Nibbles the guinea pig and Miffy the bunny

Assembled rabbit hutch with some flyscreen modifications

Assembled rabbit hutch with some flyscreen modifications

I had Miffy desexed, poor little munchkin

I planted poppy seeds and lettuce

Poppy seedlings - bonus seeds from the Diggers Club

Poppy seedlings – bonus seeds from the Diggers Club

Lettuce seedlings

Lettuce seedlings

I sheet mulched a section of the side of the house

Controlling the weeds and improving the look of the side of the house with sheet mulching

Controlling the weeds and improving the look of the side of the house with sheet mulching

I planted a couple of salvia plants in the front yard

Salvia to fill in gaps in the front garden

Salvia to fill in gaps in the front garden

AND got the wheels in motion for the patio cover! After lots of back and forth with the Operations Manager at For Life Patios to clarify details, I signed off on the Patio Building Plan in July. Very exciting! And then I worried about the state of our exposed aggregate concrete being rough, losing stones, and unsealed, and that in all likelihood, whatever we decided that we needed to do would need to be done before the patio could go in. Cutting a long story short, I found a company, Policrete, that does concrete grinding and sealing, and that looked like our best option for beautiful, comfortable, long-lasting flooring. The guys at Policrete were able to do the work in July and relieved my mind before For Life Patios needed the check measurements for the patio cover. Then patio materials started arriving near the end of August, and organising the construction has been my major activity since then.

What I learnt from that

I probably need to space out tasks involving trades in terms of the time it takes to find suitable contacts, organise quotes, finalise the scope, and schedule the work. Often the work is also weather-dependent, which means anything could happen in Melbourne.

Reflecting on the schedule and my point above, this implementation plan will probably be a 2 year plan.

I’m really glad I have resisted the temptation to start sheet mulching or edging new garden beds near the patio. Anything I did would have been trampled, covered in concrete dust, and otherwise ruined. Hardscaping is messy work.

I’ve enjoyed watching Nibbles and Miffy in the playpen outside on suitable weather days.

Miffy the dwarf lop bunny and Nibbles the guinea pig enjoying some time outdoors

Miffy the dwarf lop bunny and Nibbles the guinea pig enjoying some time outdoors

Sadly, Nibbles passed away earlier this month after being part of our family for nearly 6 years. She was very comfortable in her outdoor visits and went straight to grazing the grass and depositing her fertiliser. She’s buried next to her sister Boo in our backyard. I’m holding off using the new hutch until Miffy has a buddy bunny she’s happy to live with.

Seed raising soil is helpful for sprouting, but doesn’t contain enough nutrients for continued growth. This means another potting stage to nurture the growth until it’s hardy enough to plant.

What about the plan?

You can see why I’ve said this is feedback and tweaks to the plan. It’s happening slowly, but surely, as they say.

What about you?  What have you found impacts on your project timelines?  Do you find re-potting seeds is a task that goes on the back-burner or do you have a process to save you time?

The Ducks Project

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I have two wooden ducks for outdoor decor donated by my parents.  Applying the permaculture principle of “produce no waste”, the plan is to fix them up and put them in the children’s garden section of the backyard once we are at the implementation phase. Miss Z always loves the sculptures whenever we visit a nursery and this way she’ll have her own ducks to peek out of the plants. Our property has a caveat of no farm animals, which means no horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, goats or pigs, and strict limitations on poultry and how they are housed. Luckily, we also have a lake nearby with lots of birdlife, so with all our visits “duck” was one of her first words.

The ducks are laid out on newspaper, ready for painting

The ducks are laid out on newspaper, ready for painting

As you can see, the ducks are dry, weathered, and the texture is quite rough.  Their feet rotted away in the garden, but otherwise look like they can be fixed up to my untrained eye.  I’m not particularly crafty or into DIY although I love seeing what other people can do, so there is a learning curve in this for me.

I asked for advice at the local Bunnings about whether to use an oil or other paint to preserve the ducks and chose a deck stain. This means no sanding involved (too fiddly with set up and maintenance and I just know I wouldn’t do it), and no need for careful painting. It’s also a sample pot, which keeps the costs down.  I chose European Oak to give a more naturalistic duck appearance. 

Deck stain sample pot

Deck stain sample pot

After one coat of deck stain, this is how the ducks looked.

Staining the ducks

Staining the ducks

Really rich and wet, don’t you think?  Then with some drying time, you can see the stain really sunk in.

The ducks after some drying time

The ducks after some drying time

I like the little nail eye.

Hello duck

Hello duck

The ducks stained with a second coat

The ducks stained with a second coat

The ducks look a lot darker with the second coat.  I stood them up so they could dry all over without sticking to the newspaper.

Standing ducks to dry

Standing ducks to dry

And this is how they look dry.  I’m very happy with this, and I notice the rain beads on them nicely so the deck stain is doing its job.

The ducks after the second coat has dried

The ducks after the second coat has dried

Project costs

Ducks $0.00 (donated)

Deck stain $14.95

Pack of 2 paintbrushes $1.99

Off cut of sleeper wood as a base $0.00 (excess from installing new sleepers in the front yard)

Total: $16.94

I think that’s very reasonable for preserving two cute additions to the backyard.

As a little aside, there is a point to consider – the clean up. Again, I’m trying to produce no waste here. The paint recommended using turpentine to clean the brushes. Used turpentine is a highly flammable and volatile substance and definitely not to be poured down the sink, and I have no intention of ruining the soil in the backyard by pouring it on there. So, what do you do?

Ehow says Do not use a plastic container to dispose of turpentine; the solvent will corrode the plastic.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_8313285_safely-dispose-turpentine.html#ixzz30bvqgU4Z

Safety tips

  1. So use a metal or glass container, preferably with a lid, and grab a sticky label so you know what it is
  2. Handle turpentine in a well-ventilated area
  3. For small amounts, leave the container outside (away from children and animals) to let it evaporate
  4. For larger amounts, put the lid on and leave the paint to settle. You can pour off the clear liquid to be reused in another labelled container. Then add an absorbent such as cat litter to the solids remaining until it becomes completely dry.
  5. If you’re not sure, contact your waste collection centre, local council or other environmental agency for advice and disposal

Links:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8313285_safely-dispose-turpentine.html

http://thriftylink.com.au/Easy-Solutions/Environmental-Tips/Paint-Disposal

http://www.resene.com.au/comn/safety/dispose.htm

Back to the ducks, there are 2 more steps to finish.  1. Find a way to stand up the ducks, and 2. Place in the backyard.

Number 1 will be tricky as the ducks’ legs are slim and have a nail embedded through them.  I want to find a way to prevent more of the ducks from rotting as they would if they are just staked into the garden as they are.  I’m happy to use the off cut sleeper if I can find an easy way to make it work.  Or try something else, like a duck nest maybe? 

What would you do to settle the ducks into the backyard?