Good news on soil sampling

Our apartment complex was built 20 years ago on top of an old rail yard, so we decided  last year that it would be a good idea to test the soil for heavy metal contamination. We wanted to make sure that we could grow our vegies and herbs without putting our health in danger. Continue reading Good news on soil sampling

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Winter planting #1: Beetroot

We are about to start our winter planting.

Meg’s already put in some broad beans & the other vegies we’ll be planting are:

  • beetroot
  • english spinach
  • silver beet
  • purple kale

I thought it would be a good idea to find out a bit more about the conditions these vegies like, rather than just throwing them in the soil and crossing our fingers.

What have I learned from my research? Continue reading Winter planting #1: Beetroot

The Grow, Cook, Eat Festival

In search of compost, inspiration and a good lunch, I dropped in on this food festival in Bundanoon on my way back from Canberra last weekend. I found all three.

Set in the abundant community garden of the Quest for Life Foundation, the festival aims to celebrate and promote locally grown produce and sustainable, community based food production. It was very like a farmers’ market, only with more educational opportunities, like workshops on seed saving and beekeeping .

2015-03-08 13.06.32-200I spotted two good ideas within minutes of my arrival: a retaining wall made of wine bottles and an eco-friendly method for repelling cabbage moths. Apparently the moths won’t lay their eggs on foliage that’s protected by white balls on sticks. It seems like a great idea, but I couldn’t see much evidence of it working, there were plenty of moths fluttering around.

My next stop was Curly’s Compost. Unappetising bags of the compost’s raw ingredients, sawdust, cow and turkey poo were on display, along with the final product – a rich, crumbly and surprisingly not very smelly soil. At $4 for a 20 kilo bag, I didn’t think I could find a better price for much needed manure to enrich the Broughton garden.

I didn’t meet any of the community gardeners, but I did chat to a few of the stall holders, including the inventors of an impressive multi-story worm farm made of stacked plastic drawers, and a recycling expert from the local Council. Continue reading The Grow, Cook, Eat Festival

Farewell Clivias, hello cucumbers

A new kind of caterpillar invaded our garden recently. Thankfully, they were only interested in the clivias, which were already established in the garden bed before we started planting it out with mint and chillies. (Click on any pic to see larger versions).

Meg and Bev dealt with them, I just looked them up online and found out they are called spodoptera picta. They inflicted a huge amount of damage in a very short time. On the upside, they don’t eat vegies or herbs, and they gave us a good excuse to uproot what remained of the clivias and gain a bit more space in the garden bed for our own plantings.

Meanwhile, in other news, over summer we were able to harvest cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies and, as Bev pointed out in her last post, lots of herbs. We’ve been fertilising with copious amounts of juice from our worm farm, which is also pictured below.

So far only six units in our complex are involved with the garden, but we’ve been telling other residents and we’re hoping that a few newbies will turn up to our working bee this coming Sunday.