things are coming up corny!
(Note: you may think these titles are a lot crazy…try living with this stuff inside your head 24/7!)
The soil garden (AKA the primary veggie garden) is ticking away nicely. In our first year we didn’t get a lot out of it, but it was a time of experimentation and having to put up with fairly low quality soil. To establish the beds we had to truck soil in—what landscape supply places sell you is typically a poor mix of sand and soil and what smells like pine chips, and just doesn’t seem to have much substance to it. On close inspection it is devoid of life.
But over the last couple of years, we have managed to dig into this base a lot of compost which we have produced via a couple of large green compost tumblers. What goes into the tumblers is all of the household scraps that are not fit for chickens or dog or worms, all the chicken poo (yes we pick it up from the lawn 🙂 ), the soiled sugar cane mulch that comes from the chicken’s bedding, plus any and all lawn clippings and trimmings from bushes and wot-not. Absolutely NO meat goes into this system or into the worms—this is just a recipe for disaster in the form of blow flies and rancid muck (eerrk). The garden beds are now a beautiful rich colour, full of worms, with a lovely earthy smell and a really good texture.
One of our recent discoveries has been Biochar, and according to ABC Science, it is a type of charcoal produced by the conversion of biomass or feedstock to a charred product under oxygen-limited conditions in a reactor, a process known as pyrolysis (for more info see: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/03/04/2507270.htm). Go Google it, it is amazing stuff!
What we have witnessed is that the veggies planted with a sprinkling of Biochar dug into the soil are doing measurably better than those without. It is early days, but we have seen better growth than before with the beans, tomatoes, corn, and leeks.
Our current soil garden includes: lemon grass, ginger, galangal, chillies (x2) tomatoes, green beans, onions, leeks, finger eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, newly planted pumpkin and watermelon.
We still have to work out how to achieve that balance between ‘feast and famine’—we often experience gluts of stuff (we are just getting over the Glut of Summer 2013…we had cucumbers up the cahoosie and can only now mention their name without wincing…) but again it is all a learning curve. I guess on such a small block it is always going to be tricky, but what I do know is any excess will be processed, will go to family and friends or we will find an organisation to donate it to…
A selection of photos appears in the gallery to the right (other gallery pics—fish and chickens—are right down the bottom…)