Well, will you look at this? It’s been about 6 weeks since I last wrote here. Still, no panic. I guess it just means I have a lot to catch you up on. 🙂
Winter is approaching, which means, with my commute, that I’ll be leaving while it’s dark and returning when it’s dark. Given this and the fact that the output from the soil that was put into my new garden beds was so poor, I’ve decided to “put my garden to bed” for winter.
This basically means that section by section, I’m pulling up any plants that are struggling on, chopping them up into little pieces as a form of green manure, adding heaps of sheeps poo left over from Malane st, any other stray odds and ends of fertiliser I have hanging around, then after digging all that in, covering everything with a massive layer of pea straw.
Some of the garden beds have got added extras, like worm castings full of worms. I finally got around to emptying the worm farm I bought when I moved into The Best House in Melbourne 3 years ago. Well, I had to do something… the plastic legs buckled and twisted, throwing the whole worm farm on a precarious tilt that tipped some of the worms into the garden bed below.
I grabbed some old bricks to support the body of the worm farm while making it high enough to put a watering can underneath to catch the worm wee/free fertiliser. I separated out the sections of the farm to make it easier to lift, then while it was all apart I emptied out the bottom section and took those worms out into the lower wicking bed and put them in. They are within crawling reach of the worm farm I have there, so if they want to be fed like they were in the old worm farm they can be. I hope they survive… I felt a bit mean putting them out into the big wide world, but they have 6″ of pea straw above them so they should be safe from birds.
I put home-made compost into around 3 of the other beds. Remember how I started bringing home the scraps from the Food Tech classes and the canteen? A couple of the barrels of my tumbling compost bins were just about ready, so I put them into the garden beds anyway. I figured they might as well continue to decompose in the ground, rather than take up space in the compost bins that I’ll need for the scraps coming from school over winter.
It’s a very satisfying thing to put compost that you made yourself into the garden. But DON’T do what I did. When I was first putting things in the compost bins, I was wrapping veggie scraps in sheets of newspaper and popping the packages straight into the bin. ARGH!!!
What happens is that the paper gradually solidifies around the food and encases it into an impenetrable layer. I found this out when I dumped the first lot of compost on the top of a garden bed, then got interrupted and left it there for a week before I got back to it. The little packages had dried out by them and were like hard rocks. It took so much time to break them up into pieces that were smaller and more easily able to decompose and release their goodness to the soil – even when I picked as many as I could out of the bed and put them in a bucket of water to soak before trying to break apart the softened bundles.
It took HOURS. Now, every bit of paper is ripped into small pieces to avoid this ever happening again. I don’t care how many podcasts you listen to when you’re doing this – it’s still a very tedious job.
So far I’ve put about half the garden beds to sleep. I aim at doing one a weekend, so by the end of June, the whole back yard will be pea-strawed and silent.
The success stories of the first summer of growing things? Heaps of snow peas and beans, lots of tromboncino zucchini, basil and chillis. Everything else did the best they could, but they struggled.
Hopefully every year will be a bit better!