Monday, 31 March 2008

Dry But Chilly

Garden Log: 30 Mar 08

It's been dry all week (again!! or should that be still!)
So much cooler now though.
Touch of Ice on Thursday
a gentle reminder of what's to come.
Since Monday the temperature hasn't gone above 20C (68F)

With two extra days last weekend (for Easter) I got Doc out in the garden to help tidy up some branches that had come off the gum trees out the front. We've salvaged the bigger branches and I noticed him eyeing them off for some future projects. I wonder what he has in mind???

This has meant the garden has more light now and also that I need to get planting a lower growing bush/shrub layer of plants to fill the more gum trees though!
Possibly some acacias, eremophilas and melaleucas as these are tough and water-wise.

I've collected some Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) seeds from the large trees that line our main street. These aren't natives but they are very drought tolerant once established, together with some of my home saved Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) seeds, these will be planted in the chook runs for extra shade and fodder.

I finally managed to get the oldest Wicking Bed re-built and have planted it up with some Brussels Sprout, January King and Red Cabbage seedlings that were way over-due their planting out time but I'll see how they go...the chooks will like the greens if they don't come to much.
Some Silverbeet seedlings went into the bed too for some picking and over-the-fence-food for the chooks.

I'm slowly developing the pathside beds in the Pergola Garden as a path-side-picking-bed as it's a frequently used leads to the clothes line and is just outside the backdoor.
It's part of my permaculture upgrade for zone 1. I'm developing this area as part of my homework for the design course I'm studying through Permaculture Visions.

Part of this upgrade has included a new wicking tub made from an old washing machine tub.
This was made in a similar way to these wicking boxes.
It seems to be working well and I planted a rescued parsley plant into it the other day.

I've planted some greens seed into larger plastic containers with the intention of planting the whole lot into this (and another one I have yet to build) for salad clipping beds!

Seeds planted were:
  • Beetroot - Cylindra and Heirloom Mixed (for beet greens)
  • (Kate's) Giant Red Mustard
  • Kohlrabi - Purple
  • Asian Greens - Pak Choi and Wong Bok
  • Mesclun Mild Mix - a mixture of Letuces - Cos/Purple Oakleaf/Red Coral, Red Orach, Red Radicchio, Tatsio and Mizuna.

I would really like some rain soon to make all this garden grow.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


While many areas of our state have had rain this week we are still waiting...

BUT just look what was on the car roof this morning!

eek ICE! eek

Not quite a killing frost but a gentle reminder of what's just around the corner!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Potted Ninja

I've been wondering what to plant in this pot!
I think it's best left empty...
...Ninja has claimed it!

A Cool Change...Now A Frost Risk!

With the cool change I have to wonder if these will ripen!

Garden Log: 23 March 08

From last weekend's heatwave temps of 38C (100.4F)
the cool change has brought the temps down
considerably to 20C (68F) this weekend.
Friday's minimum of 5C (41F) was even chilly.
Being Easter weekend it was a chance
to get some work done outside for the first time in quite a while!

However the weather hasn't been quite as cold
as up in the North World
Lottie - Allotment Lady in UK - posted some wonderful photos
of her back garden during their White Easter. Brrr!

At last we've had a chance to get some more seeds in as some earlier ones either frizzled in the heat or just refused to germinate:
  • Dill: Anethum graveolens
  • Alpine Strawberries: Fragaria vesca
  • Coriander: Coriandrum sativum
  • Perennial Alyssum - Evergold: Aurinia saxatilis
  • Siberian Pea Tree: Caragana arborescens
  • Phacelia tanacetifoli (for beneficial insect attraction)
  • Angelica archangelica
And seeds for some more...
  • Motherwort: Leonuris cardiaca
  • Corn Salad: Valerianella locusta
  • Onions: Mini Purplette and Creamgold
  • Lady's Mantle: Alchemilla xanthochlora - needs to be planted in Autumn and left outside through Winter to germinate in Spring...I hope!
And into some LooRoll tubes (because the beds aren't ready just yet...)
  • Peas: Telephone
  • Peas: Roi de Carouby Snow

A chance to pot up some seedlings long outgrown their cell trays...
Celpar (Parcel Apium graveolens var. Secalinum) and Silverbeet

To also see the new planting of Lucerne doing well
and catch up on the ones braving the heat on Bed 8.

To check up on Bed 2 plantings of Kale
and also note that the Peanut on this bed has survived the summer
but I fear there won't be enough warm weather left for it to mature
(I'll have to try again next year)

That little pumpkin I hand pollinated on bed 4 isn't so little anymore
and (just for Kate) the Kale next to the Clay Pot Waterer
hardly noticed the heat at all. biggrin

This week we have temps predicted in the low 20Cs
and even a chance of rain...
...but I'll believe that when my head gets wet!!!
That's all very well BUT
they even have us down for a slight Frost Risk already.
Gardening certainly is challenging these days!

Sunday, 23 March 2008


Kale - Brassica oleracea Acephala Group
From a collection called Morton's Mix
From Phoenix Seed in Tasmania
Growing strong through the recent record heatwave
in the Wicking Box Gardens
Go Here to see how they were made!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Wicking Boxes and the Heat

The great news with these Wicking Boxes is that
despite that record heatwave they are going great.
I've only watered them once
at the beginning of the last weekend
when I was going to be too busy
to keep a close enough eye one them.

I've been picking Kale leaves for about three weeks now and the trimmings from the broccoli and cauliflower have been relished by the chooks.

I've removed the shade cloth cover now that the weather has cooled but will keep it handy in case it hots up again. A lace curtain has replaced the shade cloth but this is only temporary until I can make something bigger up as the moths will sting through the holes in this curtain.

One problem I've had was that some of the bulbs of the Tree Onions were beginning to rot off. They must have been too wet quite unbelievable in all that heat!

I've also dug out one of the Lebanese cress plants as I'll need to over-winter this in the hot house. I need to keep this one alive because all the plants in the garden have died off in the heat.

I've planted some Celpar seedlings in the boxes now as Companions to the brassicas.
I have noticed that the boxes might need a bit of a top up of soil as some of the bulkier materials in the mix break down.

So far I'm very pleased with the out come...

Red Back Spider

This Red Back Spider is living on some pond weed.
I'll leave her there
But I'll have to remember her when I tidy the pond.

For Madame Benaut

This is my Bay tree Lauris nobilis
Described as slow growing,
This one sure is but has never been shaped.
They can grow to 5-17 metres tall.
Just watch that you don't confuse it with
Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
which is toxic.

Some closer shots of the leaves for you!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Feeding Worms in the Garden...

Having now realised that an integral part of the Wicking Bed set up are the compost worms kept in them, I was very interested in a system I saw at Nirvana farm last weekend.

Deb has a tube-like structure which is buried under the soil into which you you place the worm's food. This is covered with a moistened jute or hessian type fabric (loosely woven natural fibre) and has a well fitting lid on top.

Basically the tube is two large plastic buckets joined together in the middle. The bottom bucket has fairly large holes drilled into it on the sides and bottom.
The sides of the top bucket are left intact but the bottom of the bucket (now at the top) is removed.

The whole unit is buried in the soil with just enough exposed to enable a lid to fit for access and also to keep other critters out! The holes in the sides of the unit allow the worms to visit the feeding unit and them go off into the garden bed to leave their deposits!

The one in these photos from Deb's Garden was made using large plant pots with a lovely, bottomless, earthenware pot on top. This not only looks great but according to Deb helps to keep the worms cool.

This concept seems and ideal way of caring/feeding the worms in the wicking bed system. The size of the unit (the buckets or other containers) could be varied depending on the size of the bed you are using.
Since the wicking beds are self contained the worms won't escape although you would have to watch out that the pesky blackbirds didn't steal them and make sure the chooks don't escape and devour the lot!

I've found that worms enjoy their food after it has been buzzed in a blender. So we picked up an ancient blender at the secondhand shop just for this purpose!

Everything gets blitzed up with water to form a sloppy glug that the worms go crazy over. This makes it easy to pour down the tubes in the wicking boxes too.

Wicking Boxes
Wicking Beds
Watterright site
Nirvana Organic Farm

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

We've Been to Nirvana.

Some how it didn't seem quite so hot there...

...Sunday 16 March Doc and I surfaced early (before 5 am) to leave on the dot of 6 am for the trip down to the big smoke. Fortunately that meant travelling before the heat got too bad and we actually arrived at the hills site early!
Deb Cantrill was hosting a visit from The Hills and Plains Seedsavers group and gave us a delightful tour of this incredibly diverse Bio-Dynamic Farm.

Memories struggled to surface of my childhood visits to my Uncle's apple orchard in this area but they were too distant.

Some of the features that got my attention were:

The truly 'free range' poultry

Wonderful and useful water features...

...even some tadpoles!

Hebe's Possum!
(yes, that was what all that barking was about)

And even a couple of relatives!

Thank you Deb and Quentin for a glimpse of your life at Nirvana Organic Farm!


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