Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Water wise gardening

Well it appears to be official, in the news anyway, 'the drought is over'.  I'm reserving my judgement, until it rains like this for a few more years.  Too many times the drought has broken for a year or two, with disappointment the following years when the drought returns.

The flooding that has resulted has been reported as out of the ordinary.  Contrary to this, I recall then I was a young girl many areas of the Riverina near my home town Leeton flooded.  My thoughts continually go to the suburb of North Wagga.  The flooding occurred every few years, to the point that when it was suggested the suburb be moved, the moto became "We shell not be moved'. I believe the same moto still appears on the suburb sign today.

Whether or not the drought is over, should not impact the need to have a water wise garden.  Having plenty of water doesn't give us a reason to waste our resources. As responsible human beings we should ensure we do the best we can to reduce the consumption of all our resources, water, coal and oil. 

So with summer almost on our doorstep, this is just a friendly reminder to continue your water wise practises, even with all this rain. The tips outlined in the article below, specifically refer to the vegetable garden, but is applicable in all areas of the garden.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mulch now before the tempature rises

Mulching plays a large role in our garden.  When we first moved to our rural property, our garden looked wonderful.  Maintained by a semi retired couple, there was plenty of time to weed and do the required jobs to keep it looking so fine.  We soon came to the realisation that no matter how many weekends we spent in the garden, the weeds were going to take over no matter what. Over the past twelve months we have been experimenting with ways of reducing the maintenance required for each garden bed.  With some success, we are slowly taking the garden back, although there is still a large part that has gone wild. 

Our strategy, to mulch everything, no matter what the season.  Not only has this reduced the amount of weeding, it has protected the soil life from the high temperatures experienced in the heat of summer.  The life that exists under the mulch we place is amazing, and is just not possible without it.  Of course there is the water saving possibilities, due to less evaporation.

We've used a variety of materials, including straw and pine bark purchased from the local nursery.  This was an expensive option, and we realised we had plenty of free mulch out in our paddocks, the dried grass that the livestock no longer wanted to eat.  Although we risked some seeds coming into the garden, we have tried this over winter and it appears to be a success. 

We continue our experiments, and have now successfully removed and kept at bay creeping grasses that invades the garden. To further our sustainable approach to life, we are also attempting to grow a small lucerne crop, with plans of a larger crop if successful, as well as lucerne trees, which are both a great wind break and apparently fire retardant.

Mulch your garden now before the heat of summer arrives.  The existing plants, as well as the life within the soil will love you for it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Get ready for the summer, sow seeds now

Summer is always a great season for the veggie garden.  Tomato, lettuce, eggplant, capsicum and so much more.  Rather then purchasing seedlings from the nursery, why not start your own from seed.  Not only will you know just how they have been raised, chemical free, but its a cheap and easy way to begin the cycle of life.

Growing anything by seed, be it veg, herbs, flowers or trees requires some pre planning.  Depending on the type of seed as well as the time of year it can take from six to twelve weeks for seeds to grow into something that can be planted outside.

We are located in a cooler area, our summer season is short, so we need a head start.  For a large part of spring, a late frost is always possible, so starting seeds indoors is a great way to get ahead.

Currently, we have tomato's, basil, lettuce, rocket, snapdragons, marigolds, sunflowers, hyssop's, roe, gogi berries, and luceance tree's now well on there way.  There is still so much more to plant, and will be a project over the coming month, including pumpkins, capsicums, chillies, corn, beans and watermelon.  All starting out indoors in our sun room, before moving permanently outside.

We've started early this year, but there is still plenty of time to make a start. So set some space aside on a window sill or sunny room, and let the growing begin.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Spring has sprung, so go forth and compost

Well Spring has certainly sprung, and of course, so have the weeds.  Weeding is probably the biggest time consumer in our garden, and over the past two years we have attempted to reduce this by mulching and improving the soil.  How good the soil is, directly relates to not only the type of weeds in the garden but also how easy they are to pull up. 

The theory has been proven this spring, with a distinct difference between those garden beds we have added compost too, and those we are only just starting to work on.

The up side of having loads of weeds, is there is always something to add to the compost.  Compost in turn can be added to the garden to improve the effort of weeding, and the health of those plants you want to keep around, be it veggies or flowers. Funny how nature works like that.

The best method is hot composting, and will return the most nutrients back to the garden.  There are a few tricks to hot composting, which are explained in the article below.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pests just part of the cycle

To truly understand the concept of organic gardening, its important to understand that everything is just part of a cycle, including those so called nasty pests.  Pests don't have to be nasty, you just need to look at them a little differently.  By ensuring balance within all elements of the cycle, pests can be naturally kept under control without having to use nasty chemicals. 

This is one of my favourite articles as it explains my fundamental views on organic gardening, how to become better intuned to nature, so you work with nature rather then against it.