Garden waste recycled as useful resources

Check out the bean stakes (see photo in previous post) – straight from another part of the garden, from a shade-loving plant that grows on a cane! I’d like to make my garden sustainable by keeping its footprint small: using material produced in my garden, and other recycled materials – see old chicken wire gate recycled as the support for the snow peas.

I have been experimenting with mulch, trying to use organic matter shed from other plants in the garden, as there is plenty, which I have to rake up each day – now I understand why it is preferred not to have trees surrounding the house, though I do believe that the benefits of shade over the house in summer and experiencing the wildlife, especially the amazing birdsong that we hear each day, does outweigh the annoying aspects of maintenance.

The best mulch so far is the shorn ‘hay’ from the native grasses. Cutting the grasses back at the end of winter allows them to shoot anew in spring. This should be a fairly sustainable method of mulching. Not sure about the nutrient value of these grasses going back to the soil.

Jobs – plant more native grasses to use as mulch.

I have held off mulching too much until the plants grow up a little. Small plants can get shaded and lost beneath mulch.

I am not super impressed with the soil that I bought for the garden. It is going to take a while to create a good growing environment with lots of nutrients and organic matter. I will improve the soil over time with additions of compost and manures.

My compost is much improved with adding comfrey. I have added several green leaves, chopped up, each week and it has reduced the vinegar fly maggots. I have sourced the comfrey from my local community garden.

Jobs – plant some comfrey and get a bag of horse manure.

Check out the Greenharvest website for more info about Comfrey.

http://greenharvest.com.au/Plants/Comfrey.html

‘Comfrey probably has the widest range of uses in a permaculture system of any plant.

The leaves are a useful addition to compost or used as mulch,as they contain silica, nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Comfrey is lush and fast-growing in the right conditions and can provide abundant supplies of mulch. When planted in the orchard, it can be slashed to provide mulch under fruit trees. Comfrey leaves, measured as dry matter, are about 15 to 30% protein which is as high as most legumes. The leaves readily decompose when soaked in water to make a liquid manure.’

Check out my lil’ garden!

8 weeks later – almost ready to munch on!

TaDa! Instant garden! Well, it has taken 8 weeks for plants to grow from seed to this:

  • Butter beans and rattlesnake beans are flowering.
  •  Bok Choy is beginning to flower, not so great as this indicates that it may just bolt to seed, rather than getting lush, green and leafy – Note – better to plant the bok choy in autumn next year, as it is growing too fast now!
  • Garlic tops are looking fabulous, though it is hard to tell what is happening below the ground.
  • Silverbeet plants are growing well, as are the snow peas.
  • Several tomato plants are thriving, though it is interesting to note that the plants that were planted into a hole lined with home-made compost are bigger than the others.
  • Carrot seeds were sown directly into the garden 2 weeks ago and are popping up.
  • The mandarin tree, which had a heavy prune in August is shooting new greenery and has many flowers beginning to set. I have been feeding it up with compost and worm wee at this time to give the tree enough energy to produce fruit – I think the fruit will take at least 6 months to produce. I am very excited, as I have not had a mature, fruit bearing citrus to care for – though have planted many citrus trees that others are now hopefully enjoying.
  • Kafir lime, which was a housewarming gift is also going very well, and leaves are regularly and creatively featuring in the cooking.
  • Parsley that was also a beautiful gift,  along with a basil plant and coriander is thriving now it is planted in a garden bed. The original basil has been replaced with several new plants grown from seed, and I have just killed my second coriander – oops. Jobs – Scatter coriander seeds all around the garden to improve chances of survival – we eat lots of it!!


Already planning my first meal from the garden – a silverbeet and bean salad with basil- which will be only a couple of weeks away. Yippeee!

Planting!

Sprouted and ready to go!

After attending the Harvest Share, I figure that I should just get the garden planted and the weather is spring-like.

Still worried about the possums and the harlequin beetles and other unknown pests – I will deal with them if they become an issue!

I now have tumeric roots and ginger along with basil seedlings, procured at the Harvest Share, to add to the garden.

My garden planning is slowly shifting from a Melbourne climate zone perspective to the Brisbane zone – it certainly helps to see what other gardeners are growing!

Local Harvest Share

Home made produce to take to the Harvest Share, including some yummy strawberry jam

The Wynnum Manly Community Garden had the first Harvest Share today.

The Community garden itself is such a great example of what is achievable by a local community. The produce brought for sharing from local people’s garden was truly wonderful.

Produce taken home from the Harvest Share – thank you everybody!

In addition to the photo, this is a list of what I took home: duck eggs, chook eggs, passionfruit, lemons, limes, oranges, bell pepper, tumeric root, ginger root, oregano cuttings, bay leaves, celery, lemon grass, small (hot) chillies, kafir lime leaves, macadamia nuts, tomato relish, white chocolate biscuits and basil seedlings.

Everybody was so generous with their produce, and it has certainly provided insight into what is possible to grow in the back yard.

Very inspiring!

Cooking the Compost

Too acidic – this compost needs help!

Every veggie garden needs a compost. My compost is  overrun with vinegar fly and so many maggots. I feel like giving up as it is so yuck!

Too many vinegar flies show that the compost is too acidic. More ‘browns’ – dried leaves, cardboard, wood shavings –  will balance the ‘greens’ – kitchen scraps. The remedy is worth a try.

Organic scraps account for about 60% of household waste and, when composted appropriately, provide ongoing, recycled and free nutrients for the veggie garden. Compost is a large part of what makes a garden sustainable. I can do this!

Building raised garden beds

One raised garden bed 3x3m

Filled with  soil – ready to go!

We built this on the weekend! Amazing family effort. The kids wanted to be involved in the building and filling, it was handy to have some ear muffs and gloves for them to wear.

The garden bed was designed to be 3x3m square and 0.4m high. Due to the slope of the ground, only two sides are the planned height – 2 sleepers, and the other two sides are 0.2m – one sleeper high. Enough materials left over to build another smaller raised bed, 2x1m large, 0.2m high, which was also completed on the weekend.

The raised bed was designed to use the full 3m length sleeper to avoid wasted off cuts. The post holes were dug 0.6m deep.

Materials used include: 8 x 3m sleepers and 3x 2.4m posts, 150mm bugle head screws, 3.5m3 premium organic soil. Total budget: $370 – a big investment!

Seeds of inspiration!

Organic seeds selected

Planted and set to flourish- 17 July

I have planted the seeds of seasonal vegetables that i’d like to eat. At this moment I have planted seeds that would normally be the summer crop in Melbourne – tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, beans, watermelon, etc.

My gardening style is rather intuitive – lots of trial and error. I do hope to learn some tips from local gardeners and understand a locally appropriate crop rotation plan.

Seeds are planted in small pots, using an organic seed raising potting mix from the local produce store.

With some watering each day, this should give me about 3 weeks to build the veggie garden – nothing like a bit of pressure to get motivated!

Dreaming the veggie garden

proposed site for the veggie patch

My garden is large and well shaded providing a welcome refuge in summer and homes to many creatures – naughty and nice. My challenge is to  build the veggie garden where it will receive enough sun. The proposed site currently receives full sun for about 2 hours of the day, and dappled sun for another 2 hours – considering that it is the middle of winter, this may be adequate.

Existing food plants at the beginning of this productive veggie garden project are: 1 mandarin tree and 1 paw paw tree.There is a resident possum in the garden: it ate all the mandarins in June.