Monday, July 11, 2016

I am a worm farmer!

Well, as you know I have been trying to fit my new compost tumbler into my composting schedule.  You are supposed to stop topping it up at some stage and then let it finish off before transferring to the stand alone compost bin.   The thing is that I am not sure what to do with the kitchen waste that accumulates while the tumbler batch is processing (about 4- 6 weeks.)   I have lots of leaves, and they seem to take forever to break down too!  The kitchen scraps compost down quickly but the leaves take ages....So I keep adding to the tumbler, and it is in fact now getting rather full and a bit heavy, so something had to be done. This is what it looks like.

 and inside:

A worm farm, everyone suggested....  I have only ever heard of one person with a worm farm in this climate.  Recently though, I saw an honesty stall with bottles of worm wee.  Hubby looked the other way when I went to put my coins in the jar and pick up a bottle.  He certainly didnt offer to take it out of the car when we were unloading.... just saying.  I dont think talk of worm poo or worm wee is one of his favourite subjects.  Soooo... I eventually discovered who owns the worms farms, and it is someone I know!
On the way into Town on Sunday the plan was to go and pick up a handful of worms - I had a nice little turquoise bucket, with some shredded newspaper in the bottom.....

  Mr Worm sat down in front of one of his two worm farms and said "I want to give you this whole tray"....Oh no, I said, I just want a handful - just to get started you know.  I only have an inground bucket - just this size, see - and I heard they grow like mad when you feed them..... With his bare hands he began to scoop out mounds of worms, and poo,... and rotting vegetables, into my perfect little turquoise bucket....  I should have offered to help him - he is an elderly gentleman after all, but I couldnt get past the fact that he was doing this with his bare hands.....I placed the oveflowing bucket into a huge plastic bag and placed it in the back of the car.... Hubby's eyes grew huge - "ummmm maybe we can pick that up on the way out of town?"  We left my package there, gave Mr Worm a lift into town,  and did our bit of shopping..   On the way home all the windows were open and I noticed Hubby was doing his best not to breathe unless he had his head out of the window - a bit hard since he was driving....
So, at home I filled the in ground bucket with the mixture, gave it a lid, and some shade,

The in ground system is also a two layer system.... when it is looking full you place another bucket with holes in the bottom and up the sides on top.  I add shredded paper and food and then they  migrate into the top layer leaving the castings in the lower bucket. then I can remove the castings and place them into the maturing compost to enrich it. ...  these worms are taking over my life and it seems as though I have ended up with multiple worm houses... I for one am glad though that I purchased some plastic gloves!

Updated July 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Garden share collective June - taste

The theme for this months Garden Share collective is taste.  Here are the others participating.
We have had an extended wet season, and so my garden is not as far along as it normally is at this time of year.  I purchased an eggplant and jalapeno and planted them in the far back corner.  the eggplant has to go into a pot because of the bacterial wilt in the soil.  Even then they dont always survive.  it is just a case of wait and see.

 I thought I had lost all the tatsoi and rocket in the flooding rains, but they seem to be bouncing back nicely.  Fresh greens in a salad is the best taste ever, and I am sure loaded with vitamins and minerals compared to what we can buy in a plastic packet.
 The bed along the side fence has a few volunteer cherry tomato, and one capsicum which is doing very well.  there are also a couple of cucumber, which go back and forth between looking on their last legs with powdery mildew and thriving....  I planted out a few snow peas to climb that fence too.  They do like it a bit cooler than it is right now. We might not get any cool weather this season.

The other capsicum plant is doing really well.  Also in this bed I have carrot, kangkong, silverbeet, beetroot, mangul wurzel, cherry tomatoes.  This is the sunniest bed.  A lot of them are all still small and hopefully will perk up if we get some sunshine.

I saw we have a volunteer tumeric growing out in amongst the ferns and flowers.  If you are looking for taste, that is one of my favourites.  I made an awesome curry with ginger and turmeric out of the garden.  I feel so blessed when I can use tasty fresh produce straight out of the garden onto the plate. 
I will be heading overseas on the 20th to go and visit both my Daughters and their families.  That means I will miss next months posting, but I will be busy tasting my way around France.  I might come back with some new gardening ideas!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wicking pots system for Solanacea

This year I am going to add some polystyrene boxes to plant tomatoes in.  Large tomatoes don't do well here - we have bacterial wilt in the soil, and I think a myriad other diseases that are commonplace here.  I like tomatoes though, and I did get some free seeds to experiment with.  I am going to try a sort of wicking bed system as in the past I have had blossom end rot as well which indicated uneven watering.   I am putting some boxes front and centre.  They are resting on the front of the the asparagus bed, making use of every inch of the garden.  I hope I wont be disappointed.

assemble what you need:

The idea is to drill a  drainage holes about a quarter of the way up the box.  Add drainage rock - I used quincam, scoria is another good one to use.

  Below this line the boxes are filled with small rocks for drainage. . Now I am not sure if there should be standing water here, or some people even use sand.  There is conflicting advice about what barrier to use above this.  I am not a huge fan of weedmat, so put a layer of chux cloth - water will wick through it, and it is what I had available.

Into each bin I spread some crushed eggshells and a few comfrey leaves - all things I have read will help with this battle against bacterial wilt.
On top of that I put my soil, and in the interests of not using any of my own soil or compost, I used a mixture of :  Crusher dust, potting soil, and pelletized organic fertilizer.

One one side of each box I have a tube for watering - you can see  the level, so that the box will always have water available for the plant.
Update:  Here you can see parsley growing well in a wicking bed, and the eggplant have done well for a couple of years, not getting the bacterial wilt, so my experiment works well!

 This soil never seemed to dry out - the surface was always moist - now that has to be a good sign...
At last the wicking bed experiment has begun....

Updated with new photos July 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Garden share collective - leaves in May

I just made the linkup -  check out who else has showcased their lovely gardens here. This months Garden Share collective is supposed to focus on leaves.  Now I could have a happy leaf photo or I could show you my cucumbers.  I was going to take a photo, but it is all too sad.

My cucumber was doing OK - little bit of downy mildew which is to be expected in this climate, but I gave it a spray with liquid  seaweed with a little bicarb mixed in and it seemed to be doing just fine.  Then the rains came, and it rained, and it rained.  The highest rainfall recorded in this area in May in 96 years! We had 200ml overnight a couple of weekends ago. I had noticed a little insect damage and sprayed with garlic chili spray, but of course the rains washed that all off, but they still carried on chomping.  I saw a couple of catterpillars, so the whole bush got another spray of garlic/chili, but now the whole bush has died.

I also had a lovely bed of tatsoi and rocket, but they just collapsed with the rain and didnt seem to be recovering at all. Needless to say I have been feeling quite down about gardening.  They are beginning to perk up a bit here.

This weekend I got out and replanted a few of my yellow cherry tomatoes, added some mulch and pulled out tons of weeds, and suddenly things look a bit brighter.  Some of the other cucumber plants seem to be doing fine, and I have some baby capsicums!  The mint is doing well in its wicking bed.

 I have been planting out microgreens into wicking beds (had to move one of the beds under cover because it was just too wet!)  Since I have a big packet of tiny tasoi seeds I am thinking that microgreens or baby greens is the way to go  this year. It is quite my favourite green salad leaf to grow, and seems to like to be planted quite close together.

Since we had the top of the lychee tree chopped off we dont have as many lovely dry leaves to add to the compost.  This makes my hubby happy as he doesnt have to mulch up the leaves weekly, but my poor compost doesnt like it!  My compost tumbler was getting too heavy and wet, so I had a big job moving bucketfuls of wet heavy compost into the bin where it can carry on composting.  I stirred that up a bit and it reduced down immensly.  The coffee tree got a good pruning - hopefully I did it right.

I do have some happy leaves, the mint, tarragon and parsley seem to have just lapped up the rain and have been happily adding an awesome flavour to my daily salads. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Green ants nest

I know some of you have been interested in the green ants we find here.  We have been seeing trails of green ants all around the garden and last weekend found the nest up in the tree.  It was about three feet around!  I know they are befeneficial, but that was just too many ants in my little garden, so we cut it down and my brave hubby carried it attached to a long stick down to the creek.  I didnt get any photos, but found this fascinating video that shows how the nests are built. Sir David Attenborough is the best!  Anyone else a fan?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Coffee beans and passionfruit

I harvested the remaining coffee beans this weekend - so they are out on trays drying.  Honey processing, so that means they still have a certain amount of the fruit attached as they dry.
 The curly parsley is doing well in the wicking box.  I keep cutting the bigger stalks, and the plants keep producing more stalks.  I love to have plenty of parsley for salads, taboulli, soups, in fact a handful of parsley will improve just about anything.

The other things that I have been having success with lately is microgreens.  I will do a separate post on them soon.  They deserve a post of their own.   Here I have radish and kale.
 I also took a photo of the passion fruit forming from the center of the flower.  Isnt nature awesome?
I am enjoying the slightly cooler weather and pretty regular rainfall.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Flowers, fruit and tea

The cordelines are flowering and I think they look quite scruffy.  The bees and honeyeaters love the flowers though.  I thought I would take a closer look at the flowers.  They are quite untidy as the birds go crazy pulling bits off, and they go in all different diections....
 Taking a closer look shows how pretty they are though.  They remind me of the flowers on the bromeliads.
 At long last my passionfruit vine has flowers, and fruit.  It has taken so long - I am really not sure why.  Fruit salad alley is sure looking productive lately.  Lemons, limes, the odd strawberry and mulberry, and now passionfruit.  It is perfectly place near the front door because you can smell their sweet scent even before you see the flowers.  It is like living in paradise.  I am truly blessed.
 Sometimes I experiment with seeds that I am not sure will grow in my climate.  I ordered a bag of seeds specially for teas. Lemon Balm, cinnamon basil, chamomile, anise and mint.  I hope they grow, I have had a lot of success with the seeds I order from The seed Collection, and they have published an article I wrote for them on composting in small places.  Have a look here Composting systems for small gardens.
I planted it next to the mexican tarragon in the herb spiral.  My grandkids think I am awesome growing lollies in the garden - peppermint and liquorice, and hopefully next we can make flower tea!


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