Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rocketing along

The rocket looks amazing as the whole packet of seeds came up.

I had no idea they would be so tough, whereas the spinach seems to have gone on holiday.

Today I spent an hour thinning out the rocket and replanting some in a garden bed after the chooks has turned over the soil.

Now roll on rocket pesto!

Rocket seeds are very resilient...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spring rain ahoy!

While it might seem as though we have had buckets of the wet stuff, the soil in my raised beds is pretty dry, so I gave them a good spray tonight from the tank.

Of course, as soon as i finished, dark clouds gathered!

But the rocket, beans, peas, etc all seemed much better for their watering and if it does pour toight, that's a bonus.

This weekend I'll finish planting the tomato seeds, always an exciting task.

Mmmmm, i can smell them now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ride 2 Work Day

THE roads will see an increase in bright lycra today as many commuters try out the two-wheel option for Ride2Work Day.

But for the majority, it will be a once-a-year effort when they don a helmet and pedal off to their workplace.

Tomorrow, it will be back to business as usual as they pour themselves into their cars and re-emerge from garages.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Buy Nothing New

OCTOBER is Buy Nothing New Month, and there's a lot to be said for incorporating the old tried and tested into a modern lifestyle. 

As a colleague said, you are living the new Amish life.

While I am yet to acquire a bonnet or a buggy, I do adore using much-loved retro objects, rather than dashing out and committing "affluenza".

Read the article at the Geelong Advertiser...


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spring sunshine

Today's spring sunshine has been magnificent.

The chooks were allowed out and given the left-over breakfast pancakes and weren't they ecstatic! After this they wandered all over the garden before enjoying a sand and dirt bath, then they did a little judicious scratching about before having a wander about the fruit trees in the glorious sunshine.

After this I herded them back in the run, got out the treddly and did a nice 55km ride down the Great Ocean Road, along Forrest Rd and few back streets then home via the Moriac General Store. Birds were out in great numbers and saw the most cheeky little superb blue wren, numerous parrots, fan tails, honey-eaters, magpies, ravens and many others I could not name while negotiating the hills.

Came home, let the girls out for the second Sunday free-range and finished making the pea and ham soup i started yesterday. Took some over to a friend who's not well and his fabulous wife who has an amazing veggie and herb garden (who also loves the eggs I send her) gave me some cabbage which had gone to seed and the little madams went into another frenzy.

Bees were also out in force today, zipping about the nasturtiums, coriander flowers, roses, passion fruit flowers, apple and peach blossoms and the marigolds.

A bee in my flower bed having a great time...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Troubleshooting Compost

Just give me the facts madam.
You say your compost is too smelly?
That cockroaches or vermin have taken up residence?
That’s your compost is slower to mature than a good red?
Well madam, the Compostchick Patrol can certainly help.
Now it's spring, we need to get out compost out of the winter doldrums.

Keep a brick or heavy pving on top to prevent the lid blowing off. Grow comfrey near the bin. I break off a couple of leaves and them to the brew everytime I add scraps or cuttings as it helps break them down.

Smelly Compost
Can be caused by a lack of circulating air in the heap. A common cause is having too much food with too few dry ingredients in the mix.

How to fix it:
* Fork in dry leaves or garden mulch.
* Add garden lime, dolomite or woodfire ash to the heap to reduce acidity.
* Turn the compost to add air.
* Combine nitrogen-rich ingredients with sawdust or shredded newspaper before adding to the heap. If you have chooks, add some of their old straw as it will be loaded with manure.
* Give your compost heap a ‘floor’ of crossed planks (old garden stakes are excellent) to ensure good drainage.

Pests/ Vermin
Get a cat. Seriously, when I found mice in one of my six cone bins (they never get in the tumbler) I borrow a cat. Amazing how fast a lazy old tom can move when presented with dinner on the hoof.
However, if you are living sans feline:
* Remember to always cover food scraps with a layer of garden vegetation or soil – then cover heap with something heavy such as really thick carboard, Hessian, some old underfelt, or polythene plastic sheet.
* Regularly turn the compost over to discourage habitation.
* When starting a new heap you can place firne wire mesh such as canary wire under the bin – this allows wrms and good bugs in but not vermin.
* Avoid placing dairy products, meat and seafood in the compost.

Taking too long to mature
The rainy winter this year certainly is not ideal compost maturing weather.
* Firstly if the compost is not hot enough, consider moving you bin to where it gets sunshine as this will help speed the process.
* Secondly, investigate, or there may not be enough air or water.
* Add nitrogen-rich material, such as kitchen scraps or green garden vegetation.
* Turn the heap and add some water – I keep a small bucket under the kitchen tap for when I rinse veggies off and add liquids such as water I have cooked the rice in or dreg of wine.
*Cover the compost with insulating material in winter if it gets too cold.

Tip - A friend keeps an compost bin in her chook run so her gals can turn it over and add their manure as they look for scraps!

According to the good folk at International Composting Awareness Week, approximately 60 per cent the rubbish Australians put in the everyday mixed-waste ‘garbage bin’ could be put to better use in the garden as compost and mulch or could be returned to agricultural land to improve soil quality.

Seven Bin Composting
At the moment I am using seven compost bins; six static conical or square bins and one tumbler.
The clay soil was a surprise when I moved to seaside Jan Juc and has been a real challenge.

They resemble a squad of garden DALEKS but are a thusand times more useful.

So any time I find a plastic compost bin at the tip shop or in a hard rubbish collection, it’s quickly recycled and cleaned then pressed into action.

To breakdown excess grass clippings I also use five large steel rubbish bins to which I add water. After a couple of weeks stewing it make a nice sludge to balance out  the compost bins when I have heaps of dry material to add.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rocketing along

Great excitement this morning as I went to feed the gals - the rocket seeds i planted last Sunday have popped up!

Woo hoo!

As you can see, they are coming up thick and fast so I'll thin them out tomorrow if the rain stops (or maybe I'll just pull on my op-shop version of the driasabone) and put some in pots to give to friends.

To the right are a couple of clumps of the ever-useful comfrey which I will add to my fertiliser mix.

Spring really is settling into full gear and it is so exciting to witness those tiny seeds transform into green goodness.

My rocket is up but not the lettuce...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy henhouse

This weekend I'll be cleaning out Gidget's chook shack, which means bundling the little darlings out into the run while I don disposable gloves.

After removing all the soiled straw and newspaper, I give the floor a brush and a wipe, line it with fresh newspapers and straw. If I have any garlic skins or lavender flowers then I'll toss them in to help repel insects.

Then all the hen house sweepings of manure and hay go into an old salvaged steel rubbish bin and i cover it in water, leave it for a few weeks and hey presto! Great fertiliser which goes straight into the compost.

Plus the hens have a sweet smelling hutch.

There was also a good article in the Weekly Times on the hen health, including hutch design and cleanliness.

Hilda inspecting her spring-cleaned hutch

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ahoy Summer!

I know it sounds nuts with all the rain we have enjoyed in Victoria over the past few months, but the weather guys are predicting a long hot dry summer so it's a good time to go back to the 2011 November issue of Gardening Australia, where Josh Byrne talked about how important to spend time now preparing your garden for the season's challenges.

So I'm now about to go out with the Bombora, my trusty old station wagon, and buy some straw to step up the mulching.

It's also a great time to turn over your garden beds and plant summer veggie seeds.

Last Sunday I had a fine old time rotating the garden beds and planting beans, peas, broccoli, rocket and pas choy. Yum! Also planting marigolds and nasteriums to encourage the bees.

Now all I have to do is keep the gals out of the beds, so i think a trip to the tip to reclaim some chicken wire is on the cards.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fertiliser is fabulous

St Peter Cundall gives his always-bang-on advice in the Weekly Times regarding how nitrogen-hungry plants need fertilisers, either manufactured or organic...

Cabbage, pak choy, bok choy - they all benefit from fertiliser...

Right now, an urgent task in all parts of the garden is to apply fertilisers of every kind, he says.

The warmer weather is causing a flush of growth and my garden needs food to grow food!

I make my own using chook manure - just place a heap in an old rubbish bin, add loads of water to dilute stir and leave it a week or two to break down.