Brisbane Local Food

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This discussion comes about from my thoughts of gardening practices, and I can relate to Jeffrey Hodges.  He believes in gardening with nature and that it is meant to be both easy and enjoyable.   He teaches us to be more attune to our garden.  

This had lead me to feel a little uneasy, with my change to wicking bed gardening, as it is quite different to his approach to gardening.   This being said, I am not going to change my system now and will make do with what I have in wicking beds and enjoy what I can give and receive from my garden.  It suits our age and abilities at the moment.

With my compost bin working well and plenty of compost available soon, and the additives PERLITE  and  VERMICULITE, and ROCKDUST, ZEOLITE, BIOCHAR  that I have sitting stored in the shed, I think I will add most of  them to my compost bin.

We have started a regime of spraying fortnightly a Triple Boost & Neem liquid mix which will go into a spray trolley and foliar feed all our garden plants, and once per month or when changes are noticed we will spray with Silica and Potash and Seaweed liquid.   At the beginning of each season, we will dry fertilize our soil and beds with Organic Link.  These mixes are available from a warehouse just down the road from us.  (

My dilemma is in trusting the things that we read on the internet.  Learning what is real and what is really not needed has made me think. This story came about when trying to find out more about HUMUS and ONE SUCH STORY IS HERE.  Who do we believe?

If we keep wanting more food from our garden, we need to replace it with some sustenance. 

Nature replenishes the soil itself, and we, as gardeners, can help speed it up, or just let nature take the slow road. The choices we make, can sometimes be quite expensive, as in the compost bin, and netting for covering plants, water tanks, importing bales of hay, lucerne, or sugar cane, water and also the cost of sprays that I get from down the road. 

I would like to find the happy medium.  We will make a decision on whether to continue our spraying efforts to see if it is was worthwhile.  In the meantime working with nature sounds good to us.    Perennials will be promoted and kept for repeat use, along with our carefree plants in bins.

The KISS rule is finally making sense for us.  What do you think?  Maybe we are getting lazy.

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Interesting. Some folks are in tune with their gardens, some are not. The Biodynamic people have definite views on Humus too as does the guy from Nutri-Tech Solutions. And I suppose Uncle Tom Cobbly and All!

From a Biodynamic perspective, adding Humus is part of the whole soil health regime. They contend that the nutrients for the plants come from the soil alone and do not do 'foliar feeding'. Perhaps that's an extreme view but it works well with healthy plants giving tasty long-lasting produce for the Biodynamic gardener.

Like most things I've found in a long and interesting life, there are few black and white situations. Mostly there is a range of views because there is a range of substances, routines and experiences.

If your composting system produces Humus then use it and rejoice. If it doesn't and just produces 'compost' (whatever that may mean!) use that and rejoice.

I won't be getting my knickers in a knot over points of view or this-system vs that-system. Do what is able to be done - and as a senior citizen I know less and less gets done each year - run your garden the way you find satisfying and only change something if it ceases to work or does not work at all.

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

Exactly my thoughts Elaine, I merely want to use up the excess stuff laying around, and use the compost as the main ingredient for starting off seedlings and to return the good stuff to the soil.  The soil is important to me, some of my fruit trees are not in good condition so maybe some help is needed.  That organic fertilizer I am using is not too bad, so I will use that up and  if the results are good then I have not wasted anything.  

Just one thing, do you think spraying foliage is not worth it?  

The spray has the following in it - CONTAINS:- • Buffered NPK • Liquid Vermicast • Liquid Seaweed • Humic and Fulvic Acid • Liquid Fish • Trace Elements • Triacontanol- Natural Growth Stimulant • Vitamins C, E and B.  Used in conjunction with Organic Link for enormous soil and plant nutrition. 

Let me know what you think?  I respect your choices and ideals. 

Christa, I no longer use foliar sprays. I am trying to go the Biodynamic route (with a side of Homoeopathics where and when I figure it might be useful) and concentrate my efforts on the soil.

Funny giving Vitamins to plants! Plants originate the Vitamins so I hear. Some of that Humic and Fulvic Acid is millions of years old. Like our Palagonite, it is a non-renewable resource. At the moment and using wicking beds remote from the natural soil, I do not see a way out of topping up with minerals. 

Reading as I do on Biodynamics, it seems using the various Preps (500,501 etc) is supposed to make the soil minerals more available to plants possibly by stimulating the microbes. I just don't know if that system works in perpetuity with wicking beds. The BD farmers don't add much to their soil once they have got it to a stage where just the BD compost and the preps in their season is enough to maintain a crop then repeat the preps/compost/cover crop and grow another crop and so on.

BD is a complex system and from what I read about it, one that gives very healthy crops with very little outside inputs. Not that I have achieved that yet but I am working on it.

We are all at different stages in our life and garden journeys. Keep doing what you are doing while you find it works for you.

Hi Elaine & Christa - At the GV I'll show the difference in soil (in ground) in one area of my garden that has had 2-4 BD prep apps over 12 months versus another that is newer - big difference. Though scientifically can not say that is uniquely attributable to BD prep (could be drainage, compost etc) but good enough proof for me :)

It retains moisture so well I don't even have to water it (clay base acts as natural reservoir)

This is the sprayer unit that I bought to make things a little easier, it is battery powered on wheels with 4 extra spraying nozzles 


I reckon the rule of thumb preferred is SOC: Soil Organic Carbon. Here is a great overview of SOC from Ag WA: LINK.

 Humus is a large component of soil organic matter.

SOC is the carbon measure.

In my simple life I am ruled by colour. I started with yellow 'soil' (euphemistically known as beach sand) and added stuff to 'blacken' it. Those who have dark soil to begin with a way way ahead of me...still.

I tells ya to darken soil takes heaps and heaps of vegetative matter. But the more that breaks down (to state the obvious) the larger will be your living organic matter component.

So you move from sterile to a complex living demographic.

Snag for me with this semi-scientific information is the non-ability to work out percentages of this and that in the soil. A straight percentage of something dry and visible is OK but percentage of wet dark stuff and invisible participants like microbes is beyond my basic arithmetic.

So I am back to working on what seems to be working or not working for me and that is about as un-scientific as you can get. It's good to see this info but difficult to grasp how it will work in my garden.

My brain can't seem to soak it in anymore.  But I found this info that I can relate to  "All organic matter, as it decomposes, forms smaller and smaller particles. When it breaks down as far as it can and yet still can be identified as organic matter, it is called humus." 

Also - Humus is the “life-force” of living organic potting soil.    and  'Humus is the ultimate stage in the decomposition of organic matter'. and "Humus can hold up to 90% of its mass in water, and so enhances the soil’s ability to store water'.  

If darkness is a factor, well the soil in our yard is almost a black sandy sort of loose soil.  

If you go into more detail, it just confuses you more.  


I'm with you there, Christa! The Biodynamic practitioners are well into the 'life force' or call it what you will (Chi is another name) and invest the Universe with an organic quality. Meaning a life or living structure/s. It is in the realms of esoterica and while I am aware of the live nature of what we in the West call 'inanimate' objects ... getting right into it is not my scene.

'Humus' or give it any name that suits, is as far as I can see, a soft almost sticky substance which is fluffy and not loose. Colour is only one aspect. The BD-ers call it 'colloidal humus' and whether that is a scientific term or just one we think we know what it means (like 'organic'! Define organic!).

There are more arguments, it seems to me, about which word to use for what than there is about anything of real substance. Take what we in Aus call 'lollies', the English call them 'sweeties' and the Americans call them 'candy'. It is all the same stuff.

Once again I have advanced my clay pot irrigation system (more at a later moment with photos) so today I had to remove one of my pots to straighten it.

The hole  was alive with earth worms (say, 15 or so)  and the depression was a wonderful cross section of the soil below the surface.

A moulded hole with filigree roots, dark and compacted. However, atop this hole -- as is the norm -- is a dark sediment, akin to dried pithy larva, around the rim.

This I always assume to be worm exudate. Worms are great blackeners -- after all the soil passes through the worm, is metabolized, and expelled.

As Aristotle reminded us: "Earthworms -- the intestines of the earth."

Inasmuch as we are all soil blind -- earthworms are my braille.

"It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”
- Charles Darwin 1881
"Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible.”
- Charles Darwin

Although i do not keep compost worms at home, I see myself first and foremost as a earthworm farmer & wrangler. I commit my ministrations to their comfort.

It is remarkable how earthworms can get it I wicking beds! I have 6 beds made from old baths and use a lightweight base for the water storage, then covered with a weed mat then soil from an old chook pen topping it all up. The worms got in and have stayed in. I add coffee grounds each day and grass cuttings when I mow. I have not had to add much fertilizer and I have used those beds for the last 3 years. Each year the crop seems stronger and healthier.


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