Goodbye Honda Integra

This was my 1994 Honda Integra VTiR. I had to let her go today. Bought in 1998  for $24,000 with 70,000 km’s on the clock, it has served me well for 18 years. In that time it has never needed a major mechanical repair, in fact the most expensive things have been suspension done twice and clutch once. Both which I consider consumable/ wear and tear servicing. Alas her clutch was about due again (~$800-1000), the airconditioning needed a regas (~$200), registration renewal (~$700) and the clincher for me was a small leak from the head gasket which would be its first major engine repair @ ~$1000. Normally I’d keep fixing things as required and for the last few years I’ve repaired a lot of things myself but those repairs above were getting out of the scope of my tools at hand and willingness to have the downtime while working on the car by myself. Also these days I find myself more in need of a ute as well as some days my creaky knees kill me getting into this low machine, so I thought it might be time to move on.

I do find it strange that cars are almost a disposable commodity these days. A lot of people told me to just send it to the wreckers. Given the price of second hand parts for these Integras the wreckers would easily make  $5000+ from parts over time. However because it doesn’t look pretty and its high mileage, as a whole car it’s apparently worth nothing according to most of the car dealers I went to. So ironically the cost of the individual parts to repair the Integra are exorbitant, yet once all those parts are in a fully functional car the package is worth nothing!

I could have spent $1000 redoing the clutch and renewing registration and trying to sell it privately but the second hand car market says it’s worth barely $1-1500, so in the end I handed the keys over to a dealer for $300- I really hope one of the many fanboys/girls of these Vtec Integras gets it as a project car and gives it a new life.

 

I gave it a massive clean out. First time in over a decade!

 

 

A strange little sidenote: I love math as in I reset the trip meter every filled tank so I could calculate my fuel economy. That’s a lot of consistent mathing over 18 years. A while ago I was in the middle of nowhere and there was no premium unleaded fuel 98RON available. When I used regular unleaded 91 RON I got an extra 100 kilometers out of a tank!  Over the years I tested this oddity (I was led to believe that premium fuel would always give better mileage) and the regular unleaded consistently gave significantly better range from a tank. Obviously the non premium fuel gave nowhere near the power in the engine but 25% in fuel savings on volume PLUS the fuel savings on price (up to 20c/litre) was nothing to be scoffed at.
98RON Premium : Fuel light came on around 380-400kms  – Filled up at 450-470km with 42-44litres
91RON Regular : Fuel light came on around 480km – Filled up at 520-540km with 42-44 litres

I noticed no pinging in the engine or other side effects, just the reduction in power. I predominantly filled it with regular unleaded in the latter years when I wasn’t driving the car hard and it saved me a lot of money. I would still put in premium now and then as the additives were good for cleaning out injectors (if the fuel providers sales hype is to be believed), but each time I got less mileage.

 

On the day it was sold it had around 310,600 km’s on the odometer!  That sweet, sweet  redline was often visited. There was a power band at 4500 rpm  and another little boost at 6500.

As many of you may have seen when those rear seats are folded down you can fit a plethora of stuff in the back, all the way to the front.

This tiny (DC2  1.8L  DOHC Vtec) 125kW beast of an engine, while 10+ years older and nowhere in the calibre of M3’s, 911’s, R33’s and WRX’s would still have their drivers come up to me and say “Are you sure she’s stock? I kept looking in my rear mirror and you were still there! “

The factory tint has seen better days as well as evident on the driver’s side door. The 5 speed manual is still one of the best and tight shifting gearboxes I have ever used.

So this is the first time I’ve been without a vehicle in quite some time. I’m flying down to Melbourne tomorrow morning to hang with my cousin and hopefully pick up my next vehicle. Fingers crossed !

 

 

Diatomaceous Earth – Natural Chicken Insecticide Parasite Protection

What is Diatomaceous earth? It’s basically rock containing fossilised micro skeletal remains. It’s usually crushed into various grade of powder and used in different applications.

How does diatomaceous earth work as a natural insecticide? The simplified version is that it’s the equivalent of insects dragging their bodies across a field of super sharp razors that cut through their exoskeleton (armour). As to its efficacy, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Seeing as I was new to chicken keeping I thought it best to outlay the cost to give the chooks a head start, especially given they were coming from an egg production farm with a condensed living environment and could be bringing mites and other bugs with them. The chickens already had a lot of feather loss and I had no idea how much of that was due to parasites.
Here’s an article to leave you a little more confused   :o)
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/diatomaceous-earth-de-benefitrisk.html
How to use it with chickens? You can add it to their feed as well as put it in their dust baths and nesting boxes. I use it mostly as an additive to their dedicated dust bath area. I just mix it into the top layer of sand and the chickens do the rest.

It’s a super fine particle so you will want to wear a dust mask when handling it. After all your don’t want mini razors in your lungs right? I never handle it on days that have even the slightest wind. Other than the respiratory factor it just goes everywhere with the slightest gust when you try to place it. If I don’t have a mask I definitely pull my T-shirt up over my nose ninja style. It’s not perfect but a better precaution than than not doing so. It’s been nearly a year and the chickens have no respiratory conditions that I know of. I stir the DE in with the sand and I think it binds to the sand grains reducing the amount that floats up in the air while still getting flicked under their wings.

You’ll find most diatomaceous products in Au come from Mt Sylvia.
I use their DE.Fines with my chickens (Yes it’s food grade, check out the link below to Mt Sylvia). I spoke to their rep and he said the Absorbacide is ~10 microns and the Fines are ~30 microns.
Seriously, at that level you know there’s going to be 10micron particles in amongst the ‘massive’ 30 micron ones.

When I got pricing I rang mostly produce stores thinking they’d have cheap bulk pricing but they all seemed to be ludicrously expensive too. Pricing ranged from $9/kg up to $60+/kg !
I highly recommend Farmcraft in Acacia Ridge. I get a lot of my rural supplies from them. My Barastoc Golden Yolk feed for $15 (lot  places are $20-$22) and my DE Fines cost $39.95/20kg bag  That’s ~$2/kg!
Just call ahead as you may need to order it in.
There’s a very good chance the smaller packaged expensive DE you get comes from Mt. Sylvia. You can read all about their products here.
http://www.mtsylviadiatomite.com.au/product

I chose fines because I figured there’d be absobicide sized grains in there as well as the 30 micron grains, which it does. It was my balance between insecticide capabilities and possible respiratory issues for the chooks (and myself). Plus it was the best bang for buck. I’m trying to minimise inputs to my permaculture system but I’m not going to be able to grab a shovel and start mining DE so I may as well keep these costs down by buying a large bag that’ll last for ages.

Fruit Tree and Gardening Suppliers

Fruit Trees

Daleys Fruit Trees  is probably the most well known retail fruit tree supplier in S.E. Qld. They’re located just below the border in NSW at Kyogle. Daleys have an extensive range and deliver to most parts of Australia. They’ve got one of the most comprehensive websites and videos/ youtube channel as well, regarding information and care for your tree.
Personally I haven’t purchased off them because usually  when I look to buy it’s not worth the delivery for a single tree. If you were doing a lot of trees for your food forest it’d be worth it. Maybe even driving down there for a day trip. Also a lot of times they just don’t have the plant I want in stock and you have to click ‘notify me’ but that’s probably because I’m always after something a bit on the rare and unusual side.

 

Fairchilds Nursery

Bob McGuffin doesn’t have a nursery you can visit per se. He does his own propagation and also has contacts for plants he doesn’t have in stock. He sells from the Chandler Markets now known as The College Markets out at Capalaba as well as the annual BOGI festival where I first met him and bought trees off him. I have to say the quality of his stock is probably the best of anyone I’ve purchased from.  If you’re looking for something in particular he can sort it out for you and you can pick it up from him at the markets.
Just email him mcguffin.bob@gmail.com  or call (07)3297 6974  (He may not answer straight away but will get back to you)

 

Templex Nursery   1895 Beaudesert Rd, Algester QLD 4115        (07) 3273 3035 (Closed Tuesdays)

I highly recommend you take a trip out to Templex. It’s a super compact, highly decorative, hidden gem filled with dragons, cranes and other works of art by the owner. They get some of their stock from Daleys so with their nursery discount it’s basically like getting a single tree from Daleys freight free. The lovely helpful owners are Asian so their taste in fruit tree stocks are exactly the type of uncommon varieties that I go for when looking to purchase diversity for my food forest plus they’re inexpensive. The pheasants they have (golden and silver) are like the supermodels of the poultry world! Here’s a taste of what to expect.

 

 

Annual BOGI Fair

This is my annual compulsive buying spree. Currently running on the last Sunday of August, it’s where I bought my very first lot of fruit trees back in 2012. Every year I end up taking home at least 6-12 fruit trees then wonder where the hell I’m going to put them. Not the wisest way of tree shopping and makes for a lot of digging of holes. It’s a relatively small area but there’s not much you can’t get from there. Parking can get a bit hard and I’d advise taking cash as not all vendors have mobile eftpos.

 

Forbidden Fruits

I’ve bought the majority of my plants from Forbidden Fruits at the BOGI Fair. For the most part they’re pretty good but some years I’ve had their staff members at the BOGI Fair give me incorrect information regarding trees, which I put down to perhaps them roping in help for the day. Things like being told something is a graft when it obviously isn’t and final size of tree type misinformation. Fortunately I interwebs a lot of stuff beforehand and also on the day with my phone, so I have an inkling about some of the available plants. Their more experienced staff are on the ball and more than 60% of my trees are from them and doing very well.

 

Farmcraft

I use Farmcraft to buy my chicken feed and starpickets. They were also the only place I could get bulk bags of diatomaceous earth at a decent price. It’s a bit of a pain that there’s no prices online but the cost savings for the most part are worth the trip out to Acacia Ridge. They stock Barastoc Golden Yolk for $15/20kg bag where everywhere else near me it’s between $22-$25. YOu can get it cheap online but then postage kills whatever savings. If they put up their pricelist they’d get so much more business, I have not idea why they and so many other companies don’t. Their staff will gladly help you over the phone though.

Heritage Hatching And Hens

I got my chickens from an egg farm that were about to do a cull but a lot of friends bought their hens from Heritage. When I haven’t the time to get out to Farmcraft I will buy a bag of chicken feed from Heritage to tide me over and stop the chooks from squawking at their empty feed bucket. Heritage have an impressive range of chickens so if you want something along the lines of a showpony this is the place to go. It’s probably where I’d go if I didn’t have the opportunity to save more battery hens.

 

Bunnings

A lot of gardeners will rag on Bunnings and yes for the most part a lot of their smaller edible plant stock aren’t as good as buying from a dedicated nursery. Also pay attention to the fruit trees, they’ll often be seedlings not grafts and if they’re cuttings/ air layers they’re definitely not specified so it’s a gamble. Having said that I noticed that a lot of their larger fruit trees come from Birdwood Nursery who are a massive wholesale supplier up the Sunshine Coast who provide to a lot of the nurseries around Brisbane and the stock quality of these plants is usually excellent. They’ve also picked up their act over the years with labeling but there are still times the label has no varietal or propagation method information on the plant info card. I recently bought a feijoa on a whim as it was a stock clearance and there’s zero information about what variety of feijoa it is or how it was propagated, just a generic Sellowiana label saying ‘pineapple guava’. They stick with fairly common varieties but in the last year I’ve noticed a new additions to the lineup that pique my interest. Their pricing though is still a bit more than some of the options above. I noticed too that to match Masters they’re now also offering a 1yr guarantee on their plants! That’s pretty bold given how fickle plants are and bad gardeners can be too.

 

Ebay

Yes Ebay! You can get some amazing deals and really hard to get plants from Ebay. I’ve bought a lot of organic heirloom seeds from various suppliers. Most will give free postage once you spend over $10 too. I’ve also had bought cuttings and small potted plants too that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

 

Geofabrics Australia

I bought my wicking bed geofabric from these guys. They sell predominantly industrial grade stuff which is why I chose them plus their pricing is great, the only catch is you do have to buy in bulk 25-50m rolls so it does push the overall price up but if you’re going to be using it it’s well worth it.

I also bought my root barrier from them. They sold it under their Tree Max brand but it looks like it’s been bought by another company Sure Gro as of 12th Feb 2016. If the product is the same
quality then there’s no reason not to get it from them.

 

 

OTHER PLACES TO ALSO CHECK OUT

 

Nova Gardens Nursery

Good customer service and nice selection of stock standard fruit trees. Much like Bunnings pricing (~$5-15/tree extra than other places) although I’d say plants are in slightly better condition. I haven’t bought any trees from them but only because they haven’t had anything unusual in their lines.