The Chop and Drop method is a time and energy saving way compost plant materials without much effort!
Over the last week, I’ve put in new edging along the main garden paths. Folks kept tripping over the old pavers that we were using for the job – it was a bit of a health hazard! I wanted to do it in one hit and, after a couple of days searching recycling and scrap options, we found long rolls of plastic edging in Mitre 10 around the corner. They were a bit pricey but did the job, although the pic on the packaging looked a lot less wobbly than my effort! The new edging is thinner than the pavers and with a little effort, I made the main path about 15 cms wider than it was. That means that a wheelbarrow or two people can walk along it at a time. The extra little bit of height all around was enough incentive for us to refurbish the main beds. The trip to the landscaping centre is always fun. I
Azolla is a genus of aquatic ferns that can have an important role in a garden. Azolla filiculoides or ‘Red Azolla’ is the most common species around here, but the rest are pretty similar. What makes it good for gardens? Azolla is simple to grow – just water and sunlight is enough, though it does like a few nutrients too. Azolla can double its mass in 3 days! Wow! that’s really important because it can easily supply us with a lot of organic material. Of course, conditions apply…in non-perfect conditions, it can take longer, maybe up to two weeks. This means you have to buy less mulch or compost for your garden. Azolla ferns also plays symbiotic host to a species of bacteria that fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere (and I suppose the water too). Fixing nitrogen into the biomass means a more nutritious addition to your garden mulch. Prolific and fast growing Azolla is rich in protein (25 –
Worm towers are an excellent way to keep up the nutrient levels in our wicking beds. They require little maintenance beyond a regular top up. I was wondering if they needed a periodic clean out, so pulled up one and had a look. I was interested in what was happening at the bottom of the tower, below the surface of the wicking bed – the part I don’t see regularly. What I found was that the soil had been broken down into pretty much just sand and a little silt. There seemed to be little of the organic material that was present in the mix when I filled the beds. It was quite compacted too, not the worm tunnel ridden rich organic material that I expected. Maybe it was because it was Winter. The contents were a little different to what I’d found in he warmer weather (in this post). This material accounted for, roughly, the bottom 10cms of
Empty Empty… It looks like a typhoon has been through our yard. Branches and broken growth are everywhere. Even Athena doesn’t know where to poo! It’s actually not that bad. Yes the place is in a mess. I started with a light pre-Winter tidy up, then discovered that the Madder had spread absolutely everywhere under the cover of the Summer growth of other plants. I found roots a foot deep and up to 3 metres from where we planted it. It is no respecter of weed mat and I’m sure it would punch through brick given time. While I was at it, I pulled up all the irrigation in that area to redo when we put in out tuber garden. That meant moving all the trellises that shade the wicking bed in Summer. While I was at it, I took a look at the dead nectarine tree. Curl grubs were found to be the cause of its mysterious death just
The leftovers.Well, it’s been about a month, so I wanted to check out what was happening inside of the Comfrey Compost Tea Maker that I posted about in January. The tea maker was made from 90mm PVC pipe, 1 metre long. I packed it tightly with Comfrey leaves and, over the month, got just over 200ml of concentrated Comfrey goodness which we added to the aquaponics system to give it a boost. The yucky pic above is what’s left. About 12 cm of dense black, slightly smelly stuff that’s going into the worm farm. Thats a almost 10:1 reduction in volume and it’s quite dry, showing that the liquid component has been squeezed out. Comfrey is chock full of potassium which boosts flowering and fruiting, so we hope to see a boost in our aquaponics tomatoes. To further the experiment, I’ve added extra weight to the bottle weight to see if the next lot can be squeezed even further and have been
A little while ago, I posted a Low Technology DIY showing how to make a Comfrey Compost Tea Maker. This black, odourless liquid is the result of a week of that gadget working. It’s not a lot, but is highly concentrated goodness. I even tasted it and it has, what they call in herbalsim, a ‘protinaceous’ taste. That means that it tastes a little like meat! The liquid result needs diluting quite a lot, so this first batch went into the aquaponics. I’ll keep you up to date with any results.
A way to make Comfrey or Nettle tea without the smell. Comfrey and Nettle compost teas are renowned for their high levels of nutrients and their ability to give any plant a boost. The traditional way of making compost teas from these plants usually involves placing a goodly portion of the leaves and stems into a bucket of water, covering, then leaving the mix for up to a couple of months. The downside of making these teas is the smell. They can really stink! Several times in the past, I’ve come across designs and ‘how-tos’ for a device for making these liquids with an absolute minimum of (and some claim no) smell. The design’s not my own, but I’ll step you through how I made one from spare parts I had in the shed. The basic parts for the ends. We need a cap to form the bottom and a way attaching an outlet. I’m using 90mm and 20mm PVC pipe