Phil’s sand mini-wicking beds

I was visiting our friend Phil last weekend at his home. While I was there, he showed me an interesting take on the wicking bed idea. Phil’s idea is to use shallow trays of sand to raise seeds and seedlings using the basic design of  wicking beds. You can see the concept in action in the above photo. Essentially, an inverted (recycled of course) soft drink bottle is supported by a plant pot. The bottle provides the water source. The opening of the bottle is kept below several inches of washed sand in a tray. This provides the reservoir for the water below the sand’s surface and allows it to wick its way to the surface. On the surface, you place seedling containers with seeds or seedlings in them. The water is drawn up into the seed raising mix and the seedlings put down roots into the sand, allowing for easy removal and cleaning. The water level can be controlled

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Mealworm Madness #5

  As you can see from the pic above, it’s time to clean out the Mealworm Palace. The fine powdery stuff in the pic is called ‘frass’ and it’s what we call the leftovers after insects (in this case Mealworms) have eaten. It also includes other waste materials that we won’t go into here. You might like to check out the post I wrote on building a Mealworm Palace and this other on the lifecycle of a Mealworm so you know what to expect in each tray.   Any large sieve will do. Being a fine powder and, by volume, denser than bran, frass work its way to the bottom of the trays through the actions of Mealworms constantly moving and stirring the bed. That makes it fairly easy to separate with any reasonable sieve. The frass will fall through, leaving the bran in the seive. To clean the trays, work in an open area (it can be a dusty job). Then you take scoops

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Comfrey composter update.

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

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(Bubble) wrapping your windows in Summertime

  Bubble wrap can be easily applied to windows as insulation.   A while ago, I wrote a post called ‘Bubble Wrap Insulation‘. That post was aimed at keeping the Winter cold out and our precious heat in but as its been so hot here lately, I thought I’d measure the difference it made on the windows in Summer. The digital weather station with today’s temperatures. The pic above shows the weather station in the lounge. You can see the inside and outside temperatures. The digital ‘gun’ type hand held spot thermometer that I used to take the other measurements agrees with this, within a few 1/10ths of a degree. The bubble wrap pulled back so that I could get a comparison. To prepare the window, I pulled the bubble wrap off of one half of a window and left the other half attached. Then I left it for half an hour before measuring. The window wasn’t in direct sunshine,

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A jar of Comfrey tea

  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.

Building a mealworm palace

  Mealworms Mealworms (Mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, Darkling beetle.) are an easy to raise source of protein and nutrients to feed to people, chooks or lizards. They are easy to breed and raise and this breeder helps make it even easier and tidier. This is a design that was shared with me by a friend a while back. There are heaps of videos on YouTube showing similar designs with the only differences being the number of drawers which are either 3 or 4. There’s little waste and hardly anything that can go off in this breeder. Everything besides the plastic can be either composted or put straight onto the garden or, even better, fed to chickens. A semi-automatic Mealworm breeding and harvesting thingy can be easily made from a set of plastic drawers from a ‘cheap’ shop and following these instructions.. Drill some ventilation holes on every side, near to the top of each drawer. Cut the middle out of the

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Bokashi bran update

For a while, I’ve not done any Bokashi composting. I just wanted to remind myself of the difference it made. Then I forgot to start it again… So, this week, I made up a new batch using 10 kg of wheat bran. Here’s how I did it…     I put 10 kg of bran into a large tub. This is what the bacteria will live on(or in?). To this, I added about 2 kg of pre-made bran that was a gift from a friend. This contained all the innoculant bacteria I needed.     I thoroughly mixed all this, breaking up any lumps.     The next step was to add 5 cups of molasses in a little water then mix this thoroughly through the bran. The molasses provides sugars and nutrients to get the bacteria breeding up in huge numbers. I then added water, a couple of cups at a time, until the consistency was as you can

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