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
Against the odds, we harvested a few handfuls of broad beans a couple of weeks ago. Why against the odds ? First of all, they had no sun over winter, and then, once they finally started powering upwards in spring, they got attacked by aphids. Nasty.
The essential ingredient for winter gardening is sunlight. Do we have it in our community garden? Not really. In spite of this, we have enthusiastically planted out plenty of sun-hungry greens: spinach, silver beet, kale, broad beans and snow peas. Continue reading Winter planting #2: Leafy greens
We are about to start our winter planting.
Meg’s already put in some broad beans & the other vegies we’ll be planting are:
- 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
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 .
I 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
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.
They may be a pretty green, but in our view they’re criminals. When we find them, they take the fast train — that is, we throw them over the fence.
On the other side of that fence, there is a train line. What happens to them on the wrong side of the tracks is none of our business.
It may sound cruel, but it works for us. Snails and slugs get the same treatment, although we also try to deter them with broken eggshells around the seedlings.
At least it’s more humane than the ‘firm shoe heel’ method suggested on this Whirlpool forum. And less icky. I love the smell of basil & mint on my fingers after combing through the foliage for caterpillars. Continue reading Critter control