Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Our intention, with the soil in our yard is to build it up and let it take care of itself eventually in a natural way.   The wicking bins also need topping up annually.   We are tying to make things easier for ourselves as we get older.  The garden is almost full of permanent plants and only  our little decorative and supplemented veggie plants, need regular work.  We have delegated Tuesdays as our gardening day, spraying, composting etc.

 Well I have finally figured what the C:N figures are all about in compost books etc.  Our latest toy is an Aerobin 400.  We found that we had about 4 different composting heaps, which were not successful for us.  A hot compost heap, in my opinion, is the best system.

There are different recipes in different books and websites, and it can be very confusing. One website which made sense to me was HERE.  We placed our bin on  a concrete path not far from the back door and closeby the house, and we have put scrap bins for carbon- BROWNS and nitrogen- GREENS.  

So now I have managed to work out the recipe required for good compost, I can use all the stuff I have heaped around the yard.  It took us a whole day to 3/4 fill the bin, which has the capacity to carry up to 400kg of compost.  It should reach a temperature between 50 and 70 degrees. I have ordered a temperature probe to check on this.  Most weed seeds should be heated and killed but diseased plants etc will not be included.    

This heap should shrink within the next couple of days, so we will see how we go.  The 2 base doors, will allow us to access to the finished product.  As this is the start time of our compost heap, we will have to wait a couple of months for our first lot. From then, it will be ongoing. 

Most of us have our own adequate ways of handling our scraps, and I would love to hear them all. This Aerobin 400 is our answer now. 

TODAY is the 3rd day after filling the aerobin and I received the temperature probe in the mail today and tested the temp.  It reached 131 degrees F or 55 degrees C which is just over the active mark and into the hot area of the gauge.  The probe is 500mm long stainless steel with a gauge on top. 

Just read on Gardening Australia site

Question:- Can you compost all weeds?
Answer (JOSH:) You can compost anything organic, but to kill persistent weeds you need a really hot compost, about 65 degrees Celsius and above. Home composting systems rarely get that hot so weeds with rhizomes or bulbs, like couch grass or oxalis, are best put in the bin.

7 days since filling the compost  aerobin and temp reads 120F or 48.8 C which leaves it in the active stage and starting to cool down a bit.

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 Nut grass Used in Chinese and Indian herbal medicine as a diuretic, anthelmintic and for the treatment of coughs, fever and bronchial asthma.
Probably best to not eat .weeds are very good at growing in harsh conditions when its dry and you forget to water and the vegetable plants look dead and the weeds are green and healthy. Hot compost bin is  hot enough to cook food in would be interesting to try this but would need to seal up so not to get contaminated.

Since I made a corral in the chook pen where I feed the hens, my kitchen waste problems are over. I strain the scraps above a lidded bin and ferment the liquid but the solids are consumed by the poultry in around 40-60 minutes.

Later I just remove soil from the bottom of the corral for the garden.

Although I cover my beds with lawn clippings I do get the weed seeds  they contain. But the mulch is free and plentiful and any nasties imported I blanket with more lawn clippings.

I hope to grow enough harvested Vetiver to fulfill my primary mulching needs because my grass clipping habits also encourage flies.

'Tis a tragedy. I think the flies use the desiccated grass as a sleepover.They certainly don't breed in it.

In transition, I may recycle the cut grass through the corral first.

Vetiver also mulches for much  longer than lawn clippings. Any other cuttings (and papers), I lay on the paths to break down under traffic.

(The rotational gazing trick)

They hot compost horse manure at the Green P farm in Deagon and still get plenty of weeds. The advantage is that the horse feed has a limited seed menu.

Won't you end up in China, Dave?

I have a hankering to compost my harvested Vetiver as I reckon there would be more nutrients available to the soil rather than just chopping and dropping.

Vetiver  roots are microbially rich and fix Nitrogen. But research on composting vs mulching isn't keenly on the side of composting -- although studies on combining composted Vetiver with mulching Vetiver is supportive of the marriage.

But from what I've read composting is not a Vetiver norm.

I don't have enough of a crop --as yet -- to rule on the mulch utility but Vetiver Papua New Guinea is a very keen V-mulching franchise. See HERE.

Very neat and methodical.

The advantage with Vetiver as a soil covering is that it outlasts many other vegetative mulching materials. indeed it was introduced around the world initially as roof thatching. Vetiver grass mulch also doesn't harbour insects.

Given silica content higher than other tropical grasses, such as Imperata cylindrica, vetiver shoots take a longer time to break down. This makes vetiver ideal for use as mulch and roof thatching (as thatch it does not harbour insects). (LINK)

In a Nigerian study Vetiver Mulching  had the highest impact on soil quality  but not significantly different  from 'veticomposting' . So you have to weigh up the effort.

Hmmm, have to re-think and maybe read the book I bought on Vetiver.

Good link on V mulching and those photos of the hillside houses with the rows of vetiver grass, are amazing. 

There is so much stuff on the Vetiver International site that it takes a lot of effort to get through any of it.

While I have some ideas in mind, my interest is to explore Vetiver as a domestic garden tool -- and not so much the contour driven aspect of bioengineering, water pollution recovery, sewerage and the like.

I think self sufficiency in mulch is one such aspect in the home garden. How many Vetiver plants? Harvested how often? Deployed which way? ...are all part of the quest.

So far: early days. My plants have not grown as fast as I'd expected so I'm behind schedule. But I'm learning V nursery skills.

The skills of the professional Vetiver horticulturalist & researchers around the world are positively awesome and the passion for the plant is inspiring. Anyone interested in a V hobby should sign on to the Vetiver Group on facebook:

The generosity of the folk from around the world is humbling and the knowledge base, keenly shared, is so useful:

"I may recycle the cut grass through the corral first." If you do not know where the grass comes from there is a chance that it could have been sprayed with a chemical .

I know that. I'm a recylcer not an organic purist. That's my core principle.

But then folk who get their lawns mowed tend not to be keen users of garden nasties like herbicides. They are landlords, aged or handicapped or the keenly lazy.

Poison the chooks? They tend not to eat cut grass but will dig it up.

There is a small chance they get the building or concrete cleaned with chemicals or someone has thrown something toxic over the grass.

It is hard to control other people Jeff.  Next door to us, uphill site, a developer has cleared the yard of everything and left dirt that has been moved around the block.  When the rain comes down it flows across our front yard and I think of all the zero etc. the lady (who lived there) had used.  All I can do is keep the backyard garden as clean as I can and do my bit.   Maybe some of our members aim to supplement their food with their garden, the best way they can, with what they have available. 

I feel strongly that strict organics isn't necessarily equivalent to sustainability.That doesn't mean that I consciously add chemicals to my gardening regime -- but I accept the urban reality and make the best of it by selectively harvesting its available resources. Our houses, our neighborhoods, our day to day habits, our air ... are all ruled by 'toxic' inputs. The soil below us has a pre-use history. Most housing is termite sprayed.  We all share the same aquifers. Even in so much of the countryside mining is turning ground water toxic and destroying farmland. Manures carry the pharmacological detritus of livestock. Land Care groups rely on herbicides to protect river catchments.I've built my garden from what I could find and the primary input has been lawn clippings. Otherwise: no garden.The other aspect is 'free' -- I've not brought in soil nor paid for it. I've used seed raising and potting mixes on occasion -- but my soil (sand to soil conversion) is all my own work. Under regenerative agriculture protocols this is the accepted DIY: rebuilding soil in the real world today by shifting focus away from reductionist thinking ruled by chemical supplements and  inputs while ignoring the microbial health of the soil. It's an ongoing, long term transition.I find it tragically ironic that the organic  Northey Street Farm was closed down for some time because its soil was found to be toxic with asbestos.But that's the urban reality unless you can work around/make the best of it. If you live in an old Queenslander chances are your soil is rich in lead paint run off.We have to make do as best we can.


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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

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