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9779356296?profile=originalAll vaxed up and nowhere to go!

I'm therefore sentenced to potting around outback. Mind you, I gotta make a list of what is to be done?

Otherwise, I won't build a head of steam and I need to last to the end of the week outdoors, outback, quarantined at home...

And such gardening weather! The botanicals call to me like over sexed bulls.

So each day I attend to WITBD -- what-is-to-be-done -- by listing on my listing app ToDoist.

My shopping list is a bit of a no start. I can't even renew my gardening supplies, as I am not essential enough to go do the hardware or nursery thing.

I did, however, order seeds online and although many suppliers have been gutted by lockdown greenies buying optimism in little packets, I did snaffle a spring awakening supply.

It is Splinter after all: the warmth is already pervasive, as my mulberry tree informs me.

At the plantation -- our Vetiver crop may be slowly recovering from the cold -- but here at home the comestibles are going bananas (as the images suggest).

The symbiotic method being engineered so well by colleagues  in Vietnam (see here on fb for example of recovering marginal land) -- is delivering for me in backyard Brisbane.

The first principle is that you design your produce growing around planted Vetiver.With mulching and the green mulch ground cover -- my soil is holding onto its moisture better than anytime before because the Vetiver acts like an irrigator. While I do test the soil's moisture content, I know anytime I pull back the Scurvy weed + mulches, I'm getting worm demographics right at the surface.

9779357466?profile=originalThe plant I'm most hopeful about -- as an experiment -- is Portuguese cabbage (Couve Tronchuda). It's actually a collard -- but a brassica that delivers in my patch without all that cabbage angst -- and with a flavour that transcends (spit. spit) the taste of kale.

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As for the rest, when I go foraging, I have a lot to choose from.My Chaya has suffered again over Winter (because of the cold I expect) and is the only one of the veges that looks desultory.

And I can never grow enough Okinawan Spinach to sustain my hunger for it.

I can focus more on particular plants because I have reduced my growing space and consolidated the beds.

I do suffer from the handicap of not seeing the veg for the greenery --as the images -- so busy with plants -- suggest.

I've also gone back to making my own green tea. I don't have a special recipe, but my base ingredients are sheep manure + prickly pear paddles, which I chop up to assist break down.

I also add any excuse I have to dump milk or yogurt. So when I finish with my Filmjolk I add the bottle rinse to the tea pot.

Dairy is  a great driver of tea brew recipes.

For a time I was brewing Scurvy weed I harvested from the beds, but brewing that was like taking coals to Newcastle. Prickly pear -- as a succulent -- should have some of the substrate that empowers aloe vera and yucca based fertilisers.

On areas not growing comestibles, I still spread human urine -- as if you wanted to know that. Don't try this at home unless your soil is as sandy as my own.

I do, however, do a green leaf very well and suffer from no diseases at the moment. I mean the garden -- not me.

The Scurvy Weed abolishes the snail problem, as they must expend so much energy getting from A to B thru the jungle.

And since I've added even more ponds -- I grow on the Vetiver in water -- the frogs are my minions, while all that undergrowth of Scurvy Weed discourages Cane Toads. I bring on Vetiver at ground level, but my three ponds are at least 50 cm above ground and covered all in a mat of Azolla.

Not cane toad friendly and discouraging of mosies.

To delight us humans and the bees, I've planted out an array of cottager type plants, with Pride of Madeira ( Echium Fastuosum Candicans) promising the most buzz for my buck. Any flower that blooms gets buzzed by bees and sundries -- including the local sugar sucking birdlife. At back and next door, the Peruvian cactus is so loud each morning with bee hum when it is in fantastic bloom.

In regard to my use of weed mat and cardboard as mulching mats (see HERE for my past contribution)...just look at the images. The mats are so hard to find amongst all that growth. Nowadays, I'm sophisticated in that department and will select which plant I think will do better under weed mat or with cardboard; what size of mat I should use ; and the planting  layout I should employ as a template.

This matting has solved the overgrowth challenge presented by the vigour of the Scurvy Weed. Some may insist that that what makes it a 'weed' --but I love the stuff in a way only a dotting partner could.

Why Scurvy weed should love my patch so much is a question for ecology, as it is a minor activity in most wild places I've come upon it in its native setting. I have reintroduced Dog Bane and Beach Bean (Canavalia rosea) into the beds -- them being my other fav ground covers. I'll also be planting out Black Beans when they soon sprout and (touch wood) Millet  to keep the Scurvy weed company as advantageous  mulch greenery.

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POTATO GROWING

25.04.15 POTATO GROWING WITH LYLE AT SANDGATE COMMUNITY GARDEN

Big thank you to Lyle (Betts) from the SCG for providing a potato growing workshop for our members, though we did have a couple of ring in's from BOGI in the form of Ed and Louise. Always good when other groups can join us.

What an excellent, no nonsense approach Lyle has to growing spuds.

Below Lyle is discussing the properties of certified and regular store bought spuds.

9779161464?profile=originalMAIN POINTS:

  • Plant from April-onwards for three months.
  • April plantings will be ready for cropping after 60 to 90 days, or around July.
  • Potato plants DO NOT LIKE/NEED TOO MUCH WATER. Water fortnightly if it doesn't rain.
  • Certified seed potato is best because it is disease resistant. But! any regular spud can be used - avoid those that are damaged/cut or show any sign of disease.
  • Buy planting spuds with soil on them - NOT washed.
  • Larger spuds can be cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece.
  • Pieces can be planted immediately after cutting but DO NOT water these at planting time. Alternatively pieces can be left to scab up (dry) naturally or be dusted with sulfur. Leave about three days.
  • Do not cut seed potato. They should be planted as is.
  • Soil should be slightly acidic, friable and contain lots of compost. Clay or limey soil is not suitable.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Plant your pieces between 10cm and 20cm deep - 15cm is good. About 20cm apart.
  • As the plants grow mound soil, compost or straw leaving about 10cm of plant exposed. This is to stop the sun getting at the potato crop and turning them green (toxic).
  • When the plant reaches about 20cm tall they will flower. This indicates that the plant is now producing tubers. This is the point at which the plant needs water.
  • Spuds can be bandicooted once the plants start producing.
  • Leave the crop in the soil for storage for as long as possible rather than picking and putting in a cupboard.
  • Expect about 8 potatoes per piece/seed potato planted.

POINTS OF INTEREST:

  • Basil makes a good companion plant for spuds.
  • Lyle often replants in the same spot in his home garden, something we are told repeatedly not to do. He makes sure he uses healthy spuds for growing and adds lots of compost to replenish the bed.
  • Wanting a good crop during the growing period, Lyle also grows spuds in buckets hanging off his fence. He puts some holes in the bottom and mounds them as well as he can inside the bucket.
  • Lyle grows all sorts of potatoes at the SCG including Dutch Cream, Sebago, Pontiac and is about to try Kiphler. He feels we should be trying to grow as many varieties as possible.

Below: Some of the group taking a tour through the refugee gardens.

9779161487?profile=originalBelow: Lyle cutting up some of the Potkin (Kabocha) pumpkin that grows in the garden for sharing and seed.

9779162072?profile=originalThank you to everyone who turned up, including Mark and Katrina who came quite some distance from the south side. Good turn out for a very useable workshop. I hope you all came away with some usable hints and we now all have tremendous success growing spuds. I know now I was watering mine too often for starters!

If anyone has other information or photos that can be added please add below or message me and I'll add it to the main body of the report so it doesn't get separated and overlooked.

June 2015

So grateful to Lyle for running the workshop for us I had high hopes of some success but things aren't going that well.

I had limited space to plant the potatos but did manage to put them in spots that wouldn't get the same amount of watering as the balance of the beds (full of salad and brassicas).

Plants came up. Yay. I mounded them as directed. They grew well and tall but then a couple of them started dying off.

This morning I have "cropped" the tubers for these plants to see what the problem is and this is what I found - something has been chewing on them. The soil was full of little earth worms - would they do this? I'm thinking the answer to that is yes.

9779163257?profile=originalGROWING POTATOES IN GROW BAGS:

There is an interesting website called KENOSHA POTATO PROJECT in America which gives good information about soils and planting etc.

YOU TUBE VIDEO

09.08.16

Success at last! This season I stuck with store bought chitted potatoes - bought with soil on, not washed, healthy and whole - planted them out in the decomposing compost pile, mulched some weeks back with composted horse poo and topped with lucerne.

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Many plants came up. Most are in the process of producing flowers at the moment so will wait until they have finished as per HOLLIS' INSTRUCTIONS IN HIS VIDEO.

Noticed yesterday that one of the plants was dying so dug around and came up with these below. The biggest is palm sized.

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Lacto-Fermenting DIY

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Since I haven't explained this DIY before, this is the rig I use to ferment vegetables. Now on display for the very first time.

  1. EasiYo Yogurt Maker: cheap and readily available flasks from Op shops(cheap) and supermarkets. I reckon they make great crocks.
  2. Pack in your prepped vegetables and ram them down to encourage sweating.
  3. Covered the top of your veg with a blanket of edible leaves. Choko leaves work well.
  4. Add the stopper and push down on the covered veg.
  5. Add water to a ziplock bag and seal. Place bag on top of the stopper to act as a weight.
  6. Place a lid on the flask and set aside for scheduled ferment period.
  7. If the ferment produces a lot of liquid you may want to place a tray underneath the flask to capture the liquid over flow. 

I have 10 EasiYo flasks and they are kept busy. 

The 'model' for the session was outback harvested turnips, fermented with salt and black pepper.

Turnip Kraut is called Sauerrüben.

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School Garden Update

9779181497?profile=originalThe Community School Garden at Beachmere State School was originally set up in partnership with Beachmere Area Network Group and 2016 is its second year of its operation as a shared project.

Over the past 18 months the program has consolidated as the garden has adopted an approach which is more engaging of the children's input.

Students not only tender the plants and water the garden, but we are developing more activities growing vegetables from seed.

We grow and harvest a variety of different produce -- depending on the season --from herbs like parsley, basil, mint and dill; to lettuces, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, cabbages, beans, carrots, spring onions, kale, peas, loofahs and sunflowers. We keep a lavender hedge, run a worm farm and share our activities with a hive of stingless native bees.

Harvested produce is currently taken by the children or supplied to the school tuckshop.

While a small group of students maintain the garden most school days, on Thursdays approximately 200 children, from all levels, attend the patch for garden based activities.

It can be full on.

We are fortunate in having  a trained horticulturalist  from the local community on hand to guide our activities.As well,  volunteers ensure garden upkeep during term and school break.

While we originally began supplying a couple of local eateries with fresh produce we now plant with student engagement in mind. Exciting plants are popular like huge sunflowers and loofahs. Scents and colours always draw focus. But most of all it is the thrilling growth of vegetation that excites the children the most.

To plant a seed or seedling and each week  monitor its progress, undermines the supermarket presumption that food comes prepackaged or lives on shelving.

We know that as the children's' interactions with the plants rise and they take food samples or potted plants home with them, diets are changing as the 'greens' on offer seem to have their own histories that the children discover through their gardening time..

In the past we have had cookup events run by a trained chef (one of Jamie Oliver's in fact)  with garden produce  and ,occasionally, the tuck shop offers a garden centred menu.

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At the January GV at Lissa's we had a guest speaker Ismail Moola, from Nutri-Organics. It was decided that those who purchased his Potting/Garden Medium might like to do a comparison test with the view to seeing which product performs best and fruits with a better tasting product.

It would be good if we could all keep a photo diary here to show the performance results. It would also help if we could each write a little piece about the performance/fertilizing products and methods used/bugs how you fixed the problem/moulds, fungi, wilt, virus/ etc. Don't forget to date your entries.

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Garlic 2015

Today's the day … out they came! Twenty-four in and 24 out!

Reading the other posts on this season's Garlic, I reckon I left them in the ground a week or two too long. Joseph I cannot remember them splitting; 'senior moments' reign supreme at times. But you are right, there is an optimum time to pull them. Next year.

The bed is a wicking bed (surprise!) in full sun all day and the second year I've grown Garlic in a wicking bed. Just not the same physical bed. It was under covercrop then mulch from when the Cukes finished to when I planted the cloves on 2nd May. I would have added some home-compost, Mt Sylvia rock dust and a sprinkling of Organic Xtra plus Gypsum.

Some pix then some links to earlier posts on Garlic-growing.

The yellow plastic tags are useful and reuseable:

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The crop, more or less in order of size. We bought that trolley second-hand from a nursery closing-down. It is invaluable!

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Splitting cloves:

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Close-up of the damage … think that getting it out of the ground broke the too-dry skin and uncovered a part of the clove, dammit:

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'Dot' n 'dash':

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The variety I call Morayfield Magic its origins are from Malta a couple of people-generations ago; it's a soft-neck I surmise since it's collapsing just above the knob. Bought my original knobs from the grower at the Redcliffe waterfront. Some BLFers will have the same Garlic and I'm interested to know how they fared this growing season.

The grower recommends storing with roots and top intact. Store in a cool dry place with some air circulation.

Some links to previous Garlic posts:

Joseph

My small update


Hmm, there are others. I'll add them when I find them.

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Last revised 27.06.15.

I'm a list maker.

I like to gather information together in one spot so I don't have to keep hunting it down or scratch my head wondering where I read something and not being able to find it again. And I like to share, so please feel free to use this list of links or recommend more sites to be added as it's a continuous work in progress.

It is up to you to decide if you wish to deal with any of the companies, this is not a recommendation, just a list.

Share any comments on your experiences with various companies, such as postage (good, bad), packaging (good, bad), viability of product......you get the picture :)

AUSTRALIAN SEED SITES by state, as many of us like to buy local seed to suit our climate and support local companies:

BEAUTANICALS QLD

BIOME ECO STORES Qld

BOONDIE SEEDS QLD

EDEN SEEDS / SELECT ORGANICS QLD

GREEN HARVEST QLD Maleny

ISABELL SHIPARDS HERB FARM QLD

SUCCEED HEIRLOOM QLD

VAN VEEN ORGANICS QLD Elimbah (just north of Caboolture)

GREENPATCH SEEDS NSW

ROYSTON PETRIE SEEDS NSW

THE HIPPY SEED COMPANY NSW

THE LOST SEED NSW

DIGGERS CLUB VIC

GARLIC WORLD VIC

GOODMAN SEEDS VIC

HUMPHRIS NURSERY Vic

NEW GIPPSLAND SEED & BULBS VIC

THE SEED COLLECTION Vic or FB page

WHITEHOUSE NURSERY Vic

AUSTRALIAN SEED WA

SEEDS2FREEDOM WA

HEIRLOOM HARVEST SA

SEEDS 4 YOU SA

THE ITALIAN GARDENER SA

CORNUCOPIA SEED TAS

PHOENIX SEED TAS

RANGEVIEW SEEDS TAS

SOUTHERN HARVEST TAS

YELWEK FARM TAS Oca, Potato Onions, Garlic, Onion Shallots

OVERSEAS SEED SITES:

Want to know which seeds customs will allow you to bring in? Check out ICON- AQIS’s import conditions database.

Further information can be found at DAFF.

BAKER CREEK HEIRLOOM SEED America

WHATCOM SEED COMPANY Oregon

FRUIT TREE/PLANT SITES by state:

QLD

AIRPORT NURSERY Hervey Bay Qld

AUSTRALIAN NATIVE HIBISCUS QLD

BLUE SKY BACKYARD BANANAS QLD

CREEC Qld Caboolture - native tubestock $2 Ph 38889285

GEMVALE ESTATE DRAGON FRUIT FARM QLD -974 Eatons Crossing Road, Draper Qld 0422301733

We allow farm visits. Email: louceccato@gmail.com

HEART GARDEN Bundaberg Qld

INDIGISCAPES CENTRE QLD

ISABELL SHIPARDS HERB FARM QLD

KUMBARTCHO QLD

LIVING BAMBOO QLD Samford

RED FOX DRAGON FRUIT FARM QLD Nanango

TAMBORINE DRAGON FRUIT FARM QLD Mt Tamborine

VAN VEEN ORGANICS QLD Elimbah (just north of Caboolture)- 70 Bigmor Drive, Elimbah Qld 07 5408 6470 / 07 5495 7946 / 0422 107 914 - most of the fruiting plants are grafted and most of the native are seedlings, however there is some seedlings fruit plants.

WITJUTI GRUB BUSH FOODS NURSERY Obi Obi  Qld

NSW

BAMBOO WHOLESALE NSW

DALEYS FRUIT NURSERY NSW

FORBIDDEN FRUITS NURSERY NSW

FRUIT SALAD TREE COMPANY NSW

VIC

DIGGERS CLUB VIC

FLEMINGS NURSERY VIC

GARDEN EXPRESS VIC

YALCA FRUIT TREES VIC

HERITAGE FRUIT TREES VIC

SA

PERRY'S FRUIT & NUT NURSERY SA

TAS

WOODBRIDGE FRUIT TREES TAS

SOCIETIES, ORGANISATIONS AND NETWORKS:

ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY ASSOC

AUSTRALIAN FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE

AUSTRALIAN CITY FARMS AND COMMUNITY GARDENS NETWORK networking community gardens around Australia

AUSTRALIAN GREEN DEVELOPMENT FORUM

AUSTRALIAN TROPICAL FOODS

BOGI (Brisbane Organic Growers Inc)

CAPE TRIBULATION EXOTIC FRUIT FARM

ECO RADIO BRISBANE FB page

IOPS - International Organisation for a Participatory Society

MORETON BAY ECO ALLIANCE FB site

OPEN FOOD NETWORK

PERMACULTURE RESEARCH INST. OF AUSTRALIA

RARE FRUIT AUSTRALIA INC

RARE FRUIT SOCIETY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA

ROGI (Redlands Organic Growers Inc)

SEEDSAVERS Seed Savers Handbook - for full list of groups

SUB TROPICAL FRUIT CLUB OF QLD INC

TROPICAL FRUIT WORLD

URBAN AGRICULTURE NETWORK

WILDLIFE PRESERVATION SOCIETY MORETON SHIRE

COMMUNITY GARDENS, GROUPS, BLOGS:

BEELARONG COMM. FARM Morningside

BUDDINA COMMUNITY GARDEN - Sunshine Coast

CABOOLTURE SEED SAVERS

EARTHWISE GARDENING 

EUDLO SEED SAVERS

FOLIA

GRACEVILLE COMMUNITY GARDEN

GREEN P - Sandgate Community Garden

GYMPIE COMMUNITY GARDEN

JANE ST COMMUNITY GARDEN

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS and FACEBOOK JC-W

LOGAN FOOD GARDENERS

MANGO HILL COMMUNITY FARM INC

MANLY WYNNUM COMMUNITY GARDEN

MILLEN FARM Samford

NOOSA SEED SAVERS

NORTHEY STREET CITY FARM

QUEENSLAND HERB SOCIETY

ROCHEDALE COMMUNITY GARDEN

SAMFORD LOCAL GROWERS

SEED SAVERS

SELF SUFFICIENT ME

SOUTHSIDE SUSTAINABILITY CENTRE & COMMUNITY GARDEN Bulimba Creek

SUCCESSFUL GARDENING Annette McFarlane

SWAP, SHUFFLE SHARE

VERA STREET COMMUNITY GARDEN Toowong

WESTFALEN COMMUNITY GARDEN, Dunlop St, Collingwood Park Contact: Mr & Mrs Graham & Gillian LYNN on 3814 5080

YANDINA COMMUNITY GARDEN

TRAINING, WORKSHOPS, BOOKS, VIDEOS, EVENTS, INFORMATION and PRODUCTS:

AUSTRALIAN ORGANIC SCHOOLS offers training material

BACKYARD ORCHARD CULTURE Dave Wilson Nursery - sensible info re multi planting and keeping fruit trees at the right height in a backyard

BIRDS IN BACKYARDS

CENTRE FOR GROWING SUSTAINABILITY

CHOOK TRADER chickens etc for sale

CITYFOOD GROWERS Peter Kearney, Maleny

DINNER GARDEN

EARTHBOX AUSTRALIA

EARTHWISE GARDENING

ELIZABETH FEKONIA

FOODMATTERS 

GEOFF LAWTON - free permaculture videos including urban

HIDRO GREEN ENERGY

INDIGISCAPES

KEFIR Doms site

KITCHEN GARDENERS INTERNATIONAL

KUMBARTCHO

MAD MILLIE CHEESE MAKING KITS

MORETON SHIRE COUNCIL

NUTRITECH SOLUTIONS

THE MICRO GARDENER - Anne Gibson

PERMABLITZ BRISBANE

PERMACULTURE RESEARCH INSTITUTE

RegenAG community based family enterprise committed to helping regenerate Australia’s farms, soils, communities and on-farm livelihoods.

WEEDS AUSTRALIA

WEED SPOTTERS QLD

BEE SITES:

ANBees online group

AUSTRALIAN NATIVE BEE RESEARCH CENTRE

AUSTRALIAN NATIVE BEES - WHERE TO BUY

BOB THE BEE MAN Bob Luttrell

BRISBANE BACKYARD BEES

BURNETT BEE KEEPING SUPPLIES Kingaroy - Australia wide service

KIN KIN NATIVE BEES

NATIVE BEES OF AUSTRALIA Museum site

THE NOVICE BEEKEEPER blog spot

SOCIAL INSECTS LAB Sydney Uni

SUGARBAG Tim Heard

ZABEL Russell and Janine

FOOD SITES:

BONNIE BEEF Qld

EDIBLE YARDS

FARM MATCH and FB FARM MATCH

FRESH LOCAL PROVISIONS Samford

GOORALIE FREE RANGE PORK Qld

KOOKABURRA ORGANICS

ORGANIC & QUALITY FOODS Qld

OLIVFRESH ORGANIC OLIVES Qld

QUAIL KINGDOM Qld

TILLARI TROTTERS Tamworth 100% free range see discussion

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How Humus Can Save The World - Report

Lissa and I joined quite a crowd to listen to Graham Sait expound at length on the need for and benefits of Humus (and although tasty, not the Chick Pea Hummus ;-)) See this event: https://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/events/how-humus-can-save-the-world


Not certain of Graham's academic background but he has the gift of making complex ideas and practices plain and clear to we ordinary gardeners.
He can talk the hind leg of a donkey though so be prepared if you attend one of his talks, for 1 and a half hours of non-stop information, anecdotes and explanations.


Some notes on issues which sounded useful if not downright vital ...

1. Earthworms eat microbes of one sort and another including protozoa. So to make a protozoa tea do this:
Get some Alfalfa/Lucerne (synonym) either fresh or dried. Steep it in a 10L bucket of non-chlorinated water with some fish emulsion or kelp extract or both. Aerate it for 24 hours and spay on the soil. The worms adore it and munch one end and crap out the other the most nutritious substances imaginable.

2. A pH of 6.4 is the ideal both for soils and for our own bodies. There's a heap of reasons most of which is that the greatest range of minerals are available to us and the soil at this pH.

3. Humic acid stimululates fungal growth. A lot of plants like to live in association with fungi. Humic acid is extracted from brown coal - it is a compressed form of plants. Humic acid can be bought and you don't need much of it. And completed compost is humus although it takes quite a while for the humus to form, it is well worth the wait.

4. Silica is essential for cell-wall strength. Silica is widely available and cheap to buy. Plants with good strong cell walls are insulated against most diseases and pests.

5. The minerals Molybdenum and Boron are vital for plant health. Available as Trace Elements.

6. Moringa trees are just so valuable on so many fronts - beg borrow or steal a Moringa tree! I will have some billets from my Moringa available at Dianne's GV on Sunday 29th March.

7. One square metre of soil with humus can hold 16 litres of water with only 1 percent humus. What a bargain!

Secrets of soil health: Microbes, Minerals, Humates. In a nutshell.

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I love grass clippings! Can't get enough of 'em.
That's not just me being rhetorical but a statement of fact: I can never get enough grass clippings. Grass chopped up by mowers maketh up my garden. Year in  year out in all weathers I've collected and  distributed cut grasses atop my garden beds. 
This is mulching per the good graces of the local  lawn mowing industry. I have guys working for me gratis.
I save them tip fees and they deliver me mulch. All I have to do it barrow it from nature strip to garden bed.
I've been lawn clipping dependent for years. This is my second garden built from lawn detritus.
The sheer scale of the amount of cut green material I've thrown on my garden beds may have to be my little secret because dessicated grass quickly rots down to a shadow of its former self. 
sisyphus.jpg
It's a total Sisyphusian task. [See image] I'm always just one step ahead of exposed raw earth...which I just gotta cover with still more mulch material.
But after a few years and all those wheelbarrow loads ... my yellowish almost greyish sand has changed to dark grey and black loam while recruiting biota big time.
En route I've learnt a thing or two about mulching and mulching with grass clippings especially.

Lesson #1 : Plop Plop

When distributing grass clipping atop the garden beds throw it down in handfuls so that the surface of the mulch is undulated  and pitted. You don't want a flat surface or even a convex one. You want your mulch to break down unevenly so that any precipitation enters the mesh of  fibres and percolates through to the soil underneath. Undulation rules.

Lesson #2 : Tease it up

Depending on the weather and the condition of the grass on its arrival, the clippings may tend to lock together and create a sort of mat. This can cause the soil underneath to heat up and may prevent moisture seeping through. So you need to tease up the grass cover  as though you are brushing it. Separate the fibres, fluff  up the grass hairdo and aerate the mulch. I use my hands and pull any weeds  at the same time.

Lesson #3 : No dust

In dry weather conditions cut grass mulch will turn to dust. This is all part of the break down process. The solution is to cover the pulverised grasses with fresh mowings. But because the weather is indeed dry -- and we're talking June and July (here in South East Queensland)  for example -- your grass clipping supply may be very low indeed because grass doesn't grow without rain and if it don't grow it don't get mowed and your supply will also dry up.
So you need to plan ahead and as the dry conditions kick in you need to deepen your mulch layer: pile up the grass so that you have leeway in the break down. Watering the mulch will also keep down the penchant to dust and ironically slow down the process .

Lesson #4 : Fertilize

You can read the stuff on the N:P:K of grass clippings and angst over it if you like. Since I'm reliant on the green stuff I've experimented with many throw-on additives deployed to fertilise the garden beds. But I always suspect that I am being wasteful of my resources. It just sits there atop the beds like dollops on a carpet...and dries out to pith.
This is why I seriously explored trench/pit mulching in preference to demanding too much of my sheet mulching habits.Nonetheless, after some experimentation I prefer to 'top dress' my mulch with Blood and Bone (+potash). After sprinkling Blood and Bone over the mulch beds, a quick fluff up of the grass clippings will distribute the ground particles to the soil below. Preferable to 'hosing in'.

Lesson #5 : Weeds

If you are gonna use grass clippings as mulch you are sure to be importing weeds into your garden. 
Fact.
My experience has been that if you keep layering on the cut grass you are usually one step ahead of the weeds as you shade them out. But they occasionally will root and they will spread. 
Every now and then I pull them...but the norm is that one species is the  feral one so you get to know its habits. That's the irony you see: I may get grass clippings mowed from a wide local regional arc, but the weeds I get are usually just the one or two varieties.
Compared to what I got when I laid out locally collected manures -- especially horse -- give me the grass clipping weeds anyday. I got some real nasties from the manures taken from local farms.In comparison, my grass harvest was benign. 
This is one reason why I now prefer to bury my manures in pits rather than let them rest on the surface of the soil.

Lesson #6 : Seedlings

My mulch layer is preferably deep. So when it comes to planting I find that you need to create a pit in the mulch in order to plant your seedling or seed. Pull the mulch aside, embed your plant, and...this is where a problem may kick in. 
Ideally you'd flag your seed or seedling: but so far I've not found a foolproof method for doing this. I don't block plant, so the bigger the plant is/the more chance there is that I'll continue to know it's there. So planting in mulch has its drawbacks.
My garden beds are 'busy' ...and there isn't much order about them. So marking off what I do -- so that I continue to register the fact -- is still a problem. This is exacerbated by the thickness of the mulch layer. 
Nonetheless, a deep mulch layer will also serve as a wind break for your seedling., so with that in mind you could look at your plantings as taking place at the base of a pit  walls all around..
Read more…

Sweet Potato Tower

LEAF TYPE:

PURPLE/PURPLE sharply defined tri-pointed leaves

WHITE/PURPLE softly tri-pointed leaves 

PURPLE/WHITE heart shaped leaves 

 

2013

Some time back Glenyth posted a pic of her sweet potato tower and a few of us thought it was such a great idea we tried it out ourselves. Not only would it give tubers but lots of edible leaves.

Below: Back in January, starting out with a few shooting bits of purple/white variety.

NOTE - I didn't keep a record of what was used for potting mix on the first occasion but feel it was Searles potting mix.

9779054262?profile=originalAbout a month later in February...

9779054693?profile=originalAgain in May...

9779054900?profile=originalAnd in July....

9779056677?profile=originalI attended an Annette McFarlane talk yesterday about growing veg and she told me sweet potato should be ready to harvest 4 months from planting. Enough for me! My patience was running out anyway.  Annette also advised keeping the leaf growth contained with trimming to encourage tuber growth.

NOTE: Information from Yates: They are semi tropical plants that need at least five months of relatively warm soil to grow good tubers. Hence it’s best to get the shoots planted as soon as the soil has lost its winter chill.

I had another experiment going with swt potato growing in one of the raised beds in it's rich soil. Lots of plant growth, but the tuber that I harvested a few days ago lacked flavour. Perhaps it had life too easy!

9779057290?profile=originalCutting back the growth with Hugo's help.

9779057690?profile=originalI wondered if the plant might have grown down into the soil, so enlisted the help of my strong son to empty out the bag.

9779058072?profile=originalAll the growth removed....ready for emptying.

9779058890?profile=original

9779060261?profile=originalThe crop. Not as much as I would have hoped but still a good haul of quality tubers with good colour.

9779060276?profile=originalAll scrubbed up and ready for use.

NOTE: I no longer scrub tubers before storage. Encourages rotting.

9779061060?profile=originalPropagating sweet potato would have to be one of the easiest things, and can be done in a variety of ways using portions of shooting tubers or stem cuttings. Any bit of stem with leaf nodes should provide new growth but with so much material to work with I like to use these bits....

9779061474?profile=original...as they provide such tidy new cuttings.

9779062268?profile=originalPotted in good potting mix (Searles this time) and dipped into the weed tea to moisten the pot.

9779063278?profile=originalThe end result, Heaps of potential new plants for replanting or sharing.

9779063898?profile=originalEleven days later the cuttings are putting up new growth already and growing well.

9779064855?profile=originalBelow - Replanted with purple/purple variety (sharply pointed tri point leaf).

I have turfed out the contents of the two other regular potato bags and will do these up with different sweet potato cuttings - purple/white and white/purple.

9779065462?profile=original10.08.13

Here's the crop out of an entire 4x1.5m bed full of good rich soil. Much the same as out of one grow bag of potting mix!

9779066259?profile=original

2014

Now May 2014 and I've just cropped two of the last grow bags of sweet potatoes. From memory I used some mushroom compost I had to hand mixed with potting mix, not a happy combination for the spuds who's leaves looked very sad in these last batches.

Still, the crops weren't too bad. Especially for the purple/white ones which produced big fat tubers this time. I much prefer the long skinny ones. Cuttings were taken from the plants pictured above.

Four of the tubers had rotted in the bag.

9779066301?profile=original9779067289?profile=originalThe white/purple are very pernickety growers and did not produce much crop, but what I did get was very good eating.

9779068458?profile=originalBoth varieties have been replanted in a mix of Searles potting mix and 5 in 1.

9779067901?profile=original9779069659?profile=original

2016

25.03.16

What a dismal failure today's crop was. I'd be dead of starvation if relying on this crop for sustenance.

Small crops and the potato weevil has made an appearance again. I've come to the conclusion that the grow bags need to be moved each time as the weevils have most likely set up a breeding ground in the soil under the bags. Finding suitable sunny spots for the bags isn't easy in a small yard like this with lots of fruit trees and veg beds.

Bags were filled last time with composted horse poo. Obviously not the right stuff for a good crop.

And I've definitely lost my purple/purple over time. I can only assume I planted up the bag incorrectly one occasion.

Below - The purple/white bag and crop. Heart shaped leaf CORRECT.

9779070461?profile=original

9779070682?profile=originalBelow - White/purple and crop - one spud in the entire bag. Softly Tri pointed leaf CORRECT.
9779072687?profile=original9779074273?profile=originalBelow - what is supposed to be purple/purple with a sharply tri pointed leaf is INCORRECT. I've lost them somewhere along the line. These are in fact purple/white with the heart shaped leaf.

9779074864?profile=original

Crop is actually purple/white. Lots of weevil damage in this bag. Half of the crop had to be tossed into the weed tea bucket.

9779075101?profile=original

SUMMARY FOR CROP 25.03.16

I will try replanting with Searles potting mix which is a bummer as it's more expensive than the composted horse poo.

One purple/white bag did not have much leaf growth but reasonable crop.

The other purple/white (the one I had supposed was purple/purple) had lots of leaf growth and a reasonable crop half destroyed by weevil. Moving the grow bag.

The white/purple plant had little leaf growth and just one small tuber.

Lack of sunshine shouldn't have been a problem but I'm not home to check how much through the day.

21.07.16

All three bags this time around are growing exceptionally well using Searles potting mix. Bags were also moved to avoid the potato weevil. Lots of healthy leaf growth on all three varieties.

Ferreted around the other night looking for a spud for dinner and found this purple/white growing near the surface. Perfect inside. It made great oven chips.

9779075874?profile=original

Read more…

I figure I look like everything at my place has stalled in the last month.  Well, that's not really true - I've been flat out like a lizard drinkin'.  Here's a quick update on what I've been doing:

Garden: is going really well.  Had two solid meals from my snow peas, the rainbow silverbeet has provided a pie and several stir fries, I have a massive kumquat harvest due in a week or two and things like shallots are going well.  Lissa and Elaine's beans are about to start to produce (pic now added below!), we've had some passion fruit and I appear to have potato plants shooting up again (and some random stuff - an egg plant from Lissa, another sweet potato etc).  I ended up with 3 good Kent pumpkins from what was almost a green manure vine. 

Aquaponics:  is dead stalled. I need to work out the insulation and then the folds for the liner. 

Photography: the Abbey Medieval Tournament was on. That stole an awful lot of my time because I am one of four official photographers.  It's all done now and I must post some photos for you all.   It was fab. However, on a more serious photography note, my camera is officially dead.  Harvey Norman Everton Park sold me a card reader that ended up destroying a quite expensive card and the card port on my camera.  I am not happy and am spending a lot of time chasing them to do the right thing by me. Actually, at this stage, a return phone call from them would be nice.  I am conducting a social media campaign against the very store that I used to send my student to.  Go figure.

Cheese:  I ended up with three wheels of Camembert that were pretty good.  The texture was perfect and runny inside but I aged them a smidge too long so they are just a touch stronger than I would like.  My washed rind Drunken Nut was a failure.  Ah well.  I also had the most amazing potential casual job offer from a large home brewing franchise - to work as a food demonstrator showing people how to make cheese and probably sausage, jerky, preserves and some of the other crazy stuff that I do.  Wow. I am seriously considering the option, even though it would make me even more busy than I already am. 

BUT - there may big some other BIG cheese news soon that will bring me, and this site, mucho fame and glory.  I won't tell until I know for sure what is happening, but I am pretty excited about it.  Even if it fails, I'll let you know because it was lots of fun exploring the possibility - although again, quite time consuming. 

Fresh Sausage Making: has proved to be a lot of fun.  I've made around 6 kg now - a savoury pork, maple syrup pork and a few kilos of Thai chicken.  

Demo Day: I have not forgotten that I promised a demonstration day.  As soon as I can get a bit of a break, I'll schedule something so people can get an idea of how easy most of this stuff really is. 

Computer Game Sales:  *Note to self* stay away from these.  I've also spent lots of hours conquering ancient Rome of late.  

Here is a picture the beans donated from Lissa. They are quite huge!  Don't worry Elaine, your's are on the shadier side so they are a bit slower.

9779053661?profile=original

Read more…

A beautiful organic house and garden for sale

Well, after all this time we have found a lovely acreage propoerty. That means that our home and garden in Wishart is on the market. Lots of people from the workshops and garden visits asked to be told if i ever sold the house, cos they'd love a ready made organic garden. Well, this is your chance.

Here is the link. The price is somewhat negotiable. You'll love 168 + different edible and useful plants in the garden with a whole vegie patch ready to harvest in the coming months. We already save at least $25-30 per week on groceries as we pick straight from the back yard. Anyway, would love to sell it to a person who will love it as much as we do.

http://www.realestate.com.au/property-house-qld-wishart-113298975

Read more…

GARDEN REMEDIES & SUGGESTIONS

Check out this website for help with plant problems: VEGETABLE MD ONLINE

TOPICS:

  • SUPPLEMENTS
  • PLANTS and their requirements
  • DEFICIENCY SIGNS
  • PESTS & DISEASES
  • PRODUCTS
  • SPECIFIC PROBLEM
  • MAKING POTTING MIX
  • SAVING SEED & BUYING OPEN POLLINATED SEED

SUPPLEMENTS

Calcium - gypsum, dolomite, blood and bone

Magnesium - epsom salts, dolomite

Phosphorus - fowl manure, seaweed, fish products, blood and bone, rock phosphate

Potassium - ash, composted hardwood, sugarcane mulch, molasses, deco (granite)

 

BASALT (crusher dust) = calcium and iron - buy from Pine Rivers Landscape by the bucket full, sprinkle in garden

BLOOD AND BONE - (from Peter Cundall) Now my favourite - blood and blooming bone and it's a fantastic fertiliser. Do you know why it's so good? Because the blood meal contains slow release nitrogen, and the bone meal is full of calcium and phosphorus. But this stuff lacks potash. That means adding sulphate of potash. About two cups for a bucketful. It’s easy to mix and I'm not afraid to handle it. Add a good fistful, or a bit more, for every square metre.

CAMOMILE TEA = magnesium - open teabags and add to watering can, allow to steep - good for powdery mildew - good for pawpaws

CHICKEN MANURE - nitrogen and potassium

COMFREY = nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in substantial amounts. A high potash feed, it has an  NPK of about 8-2.6-20.5 %. Comfrey is also rich in calcium and many other valuable plant nutrients it mines from deep in the subsoil - MULCH, SOIL AMENDER, PEST PREVENTION & CONTROL, LIQUID FERTILIZER, MEDICINAL, COSMETIC: INFO LINK

COMPOST = Iron - deficiency can be avoided by choosing appropriate soil for the growing conditions (e.g., avoid growing acid loving plants on lime soils).

DOLOMITE = calcium, magnesium, sweetener ie raises PH - good for beans, toms, corn, swt potato

(from Peter Cundall) Use dolomite only if you've got acidic soil and you need to sweeten it. Dolomite is not a fertiliser, it's a soil unlocker, and it's nothing more than calcium and magnesium. It even helps break up this clay soil as well. The great thing about dolomite limestone is that because it's slow acting, it doesn't react against any of these old, well decayed manures. Put it on very, very generously. And all I have to do now is dig it in.

(Dolomite is a term used by geologists to describe rocks containing Carbonates of Calcium and Magnesium )

  • Dolomite neutralises soil acidity, in this application being more effective weight for weight than limestone.
  • Provides the element Calcium essential to maintain plant cell functions.
  • Provides Magnesium essential for chlorophyll production.
  • Stimulates microbacterial activity in the soil to aid plant nutrient availability.
  • Dolomite helps to ensure the breakdown of organic matter and increases the availability of nitrogen to plants.
  • The availability of molybdenum is improved by the use of dolomite on acid soils.

EPSOM SALTS = magnesium - good for pawpaws

GYPSOM = Calcium sulphate - Soil conditioner for improving the structure of hard clay soil.

GRANITE (Deco) = potassium - buy from Pine Rivers landscape by the bucket full, sprinkle in garden

MANURE = Iron - deficiency can be avoided by choosing appropriate soil for the growing conditions (e.g., avoid growing acid loving plants on lime soils).

MOLASSES = potassium - benefits bananas, opens up the soil, moisturises the soil, repels caterpillars: 1 Tble in 1lt hot water, add 1teas. detergent (aids sticking), make sure you spray under the leaves as well.

Donna: Molasses can be used as a drench to kill nematodes (? 1/2 L per watering can) but will also kill other micro-organisms including worms so only to be used as a last resort.

MUSHROOM COMPOST - (from Peter Cundall) The reason why mushroom compost is so marvellous, it's the best of all the fertilisers, and this one is absolutely neutral. It can be used round just about any plant and dug in. Turn it upside down to find this slimy stuff. Get rid of that. It's stinky stuff and will break down later. Then spread it around and it can be dug in later.

PEET MOSS = acidfying ie lowers PH - good for Blueberries and other acid loving plants.

WEED TEA (for use on seedling etc) = bucket of water with Comfrey, fish emulsion, molasses, weeds, epsom salts and whatever else takes your fancy - to the colour of weak tea (personally my weed tea is quite dark, not pale). Cover your container of water with flyscreen to prevent mosquito larvae being laid.

NOTE: I find the mosquitos will get in and lay their eggs no matter what you cover the tea with. But! even loose screening makes it difficult for the adult mosquito to get out and they fall into the weed tea enriching it!

 

PLANTS

AVOCADO - INFO LINK - roots don't like to be waterlogged (will die withing 48hrs).

Picking fruit: A lot of people wonder about the right time to harvest an avocado. Wait until the first one falls to the ground, and put that in the cupboard, keep it for about a fortnight to ripen and it’ll be ready to eat. And at that stage you know that you can harvest them from the tree. When the little button at the top starts to change colour and goes a bit lighter, just snip it off, put it in a brown paper bag, put it in the pantry for about a week to a fortnight and it will get soft and it will be magnificent.

BANANA - nitrogen and potassium INFO LINK

BLUEBERRIES -


CAROMBOLA -

CORN - dried seed should be pre-soaked - viable seed should plump up

CUSTARD APPLE -

LYCHEE - acid-loving - chelated iron and soil sulfur may be necessary in areas with alkaline soils. A soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is acceptable, but plants grow much better in soils with a pH at the low end of this range.INFO LINK

PERSIMMON -

PAWPAW - magnesium

POTATO - add potassium sulphate before planting, necessary for tuber production

SOURSOP -
TOMATOES -
WAMPI -

TAMARILLOINFO LINK Particularly important nutrients for tamarillos

are nitrogen, potassium and magnesium


 

DEFICIENCY SIGNS

CALCIUM DEFICIENCY - distorted growth, blossom end rot in toms

POTASSIUM DEFICIENCY - holes in leaves, spindly stems, black spot, powdery mildew

BORON DEFICIENCY - can be seen in beans by their curl and hard patches and flavourless paw paws.

PHOSPHOROUS DEFICIENCY - black spot, powdery mildew

MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY - black spot, powdery mildew

SOIL PH

PH is important in plant growth because it affects the availability of plant foods and prevents the spread of soil borne diseases. Check it regularly, at least twice a year, as nature tends towards the acid side.

7.0/6.5 = neutral - suits most plants

  • above is alkaline or "sweet" - You can make an acid soil more alkaline by adding lime (dolomite)
  • below is acid or "sour" -soils can be made more acidic by adding peat, iron sulphate or flowers of sulfur.

It is more difficult to lower pH in an alkaline, lime-rich soil than it is to raise pH.

Plants that like a low PH or acid soil - blueberries,

Plants that like a high PH or sweet soil - fig

 

PESTS & DISEASES

Plant Diseases

Disease fungi take their energy from the plants on which they live. They are responsible for a great deal of damage and are characterized by wilting, scabs, moldy coatings, rusts, blotches and rotted tissue. This page is designed to help identify some of the more common plant diseases and provides earth-friendly solutions for combatting them. Click on the links or pictures below to learn more.

Anthracnose Disease

Anthracnose

Generally found in the eastern part of the U.S., anthracnose infected plants develop dark lesions on stems, leaves or fruit.

view all

Apple Scab Disease

Apple Scab

Symptoms on fruit are similar to those found on leaves. Scabby spots are sunken and may have velvety spores in the center.

view all

Bacterial Canker

Bacterial Canker

Infection causes sunken, oozing cankers to form on many stone fruits. May cause wilting or death of branches or trees.

view all

Leaf Spot Disease

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Infected plants have brown or black water-soaked spots on the foliage, sometimes with a yellow halo, usually uniform in size.

view all

Tomato End Rot

Blossom End Rot

A serious disorder of tomato, pepper and eggplant, blossom end rot is caused by low levels of calcium when fruits are forming.

view all

Brown Rot Disease

Brown Rot

A major disease of stone fruits, brown rot can cause huge losses in peaches, cherries, plums, prunes, nectarines and apricots.

view all

Apple Rust Spores

Cedar Apple Rust

On apple and crabapple, look for pale yellow pinhead sized spots on the upper surface of the leaves shortly after bloom.

view all

Club Root Disease

Club Root

Infected plants in the cabbage family will have misshapen and deformed (clubbed) roots, often cracking and rotting.

view all

Rust Disease

Common Rust

Most often found on mature plants where symptoms appear primarily on the surfaces of lower leaves.

view all

Corn Smut Disease

Corn Smut

Corn galls can grow up to 5 inches in diameter and release thousands of spores as they burst or rupture.

view all

Crown Gall

Crown Gall

A common disease of many woody shrubs and some herbaceous plants, including grapes, stone fruits and roses.

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Damping Off Disease

Damping Off

A result of soil borne fungi, damping-off usually refers to the disintegration of stems and roots at and below the soil line.

view all

Downy Mildew

Downy Mildew

Spore production is favored by temperatures cooler than 65 degrees F. and by relative humidities approaching 100%.

view all

Early Blight Disease

Early Blight

Appears on lower, older leaves as small brown spots with concentric rings that form a “bull’s eye” pattern.

view all

Fire Blight Disease

Fire Blight

Named for the scorched appearance of infected plant leaves, fire blight is a destructive bacterial disease.

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Fusarium Wilt Disease

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt initially causes a yellowing and wilting of lower leaves, especially in tomato and potato plants.

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Gray Mold Disease

Gray Mold

Gray mold is identified as grayish colored soft, mushy spots on leaves, stems, flowers and on produce.

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Late Blight Disease

Late Blight

Symptoms appears on potato or tomato leaves as pale green to gray spots, often beginning at leaf tips or edges.

view all

Leaf Curl Disease

Leaf Curl

Disease fungi overwinter as spores (conidia) underneath bark, around buds and in other protected garden areas.

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Mosaic Virus

Mosaic Virus

Leaves of infected plants are characterized by intermingled patches of normal and light green or yellowish colors.

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Potato Scab

Potato Scab

A common tuber disease that occurs wherever potatoes are grown. Scab spots appear as brown, roughened areas.

view all

Powdery Mildew disease

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew appears as a dusty white to gray coating over leaf surfaces and other infected plant parts.

view all

Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt

A persistent soil borne disease affecting fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant.

view all

APHIDS/ANTS - TANGLEFOOT PEST BARRIER - LINK

CATERPILLARS 

DIPEL (Yates Naturesway Caterpillar Killer) - 

MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet link

Yates Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer contains Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacteria. It controls many leaf-eating caterpillars of moths and butterflies, but does not harm other insects, birds, fish or warm blooded animals.

Dipel does not kill caterpillars immediately. Once a caterpillar eats treated foliage, it stops eating, but may take up to 3-4 days to die and drop from the leaf.

Yates Nature’s Way products are based on natural, low toxic & organic ingredients that are Eco Friendly for you & your Garden. To help protect and repair our environment, we donate a percentage of sales to Landcare.

  • LOW TOXIC solution
  • Controls Armyworm, cotton bollworm, native budworm (Helicoverpa sp), cabbage moth caterpillars, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, green looper, lightbrown apple moth caterpillars, pear looper, vine moth caterpillars, soybean looper, tobacco looper.
  • Can be used on vegetables, fruits, vines, herbs, ornamental shrubs, flowers & trees.
  • Safe for bees, ladybirds, birds, fish, mammals & pets
  • Perfect for use in organic gardens
  • Contains 5 X 10g handy sized sachets

DERRIS DUST (Yates Natures Way Vegetable Dust) - NOTE SAFETY CONCERNS WITH THIS PRODUCT

MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet link

  • Based on a natural plant root extract.
  • Withholding period on edible crops only 1 day.
  • Almost non-toxic to humans, bees and wildlife (except fish).
  • Handy easy to use shaker pack.
  • Easy to use shaker pack – no mixing or spraying required

Rotenone is a contact and stomach poison which paralyses the heart and respiratory system of the insect.

Dust at 7-10 day intervals on upper and lower surfaces of foliage, commencing at seedling stage. Do not apply if rain is expected or on windy days.

The product usually remains effective for 7 days except that after rain it is necessary to dust again.


Environmental effects
Derris breaks down in one to three days when exposed to sunlight. Although generally not as harmful as organophosphates or carbamates, derris still kills bees, fish and beneficial insects such as lacewings, ladybirds and parasitic wasps. It should only be used where cultural, physical and biological control is not feasible.

Alternatives
White oil. Plan crop rotation and plant repellent species, such as marigolds. To control caterpillars, pick off manually or see Bacillus thuringiensis (see Naturesway Caterpillar Killer product containing Dipel).

CATERPILLARS - White Cabbage Butterfly or White Cabbage Moth natural predator:

You need to watch the following video to the end to see the parasitic wasp larvae emerge and spin their golden cocoons. The wasps are the size of a small ant but with clear wings and long antennae.

Apanteles glomeratus

http://www.insectes-net.fr/pieride/images/pier116gf.jpg

Another parasitic wasp with similar modus operendi:

Glyptapanteles Wasp Parasitic wasp turns caterpillars into head banging bodyguards

Below are the cocoons of this tiny wasp Apanteles glomeratus. The caterpillar sits zombie like hunched over or near them. The ones I kept in a container hatched into insects the size and appearance (at first glance) of a small, dark ant - except they had clear wings and long antennae that they used quite a lot in a "feeling" motion of the area in front of them. No ovipositor that I could see. Glyptapanteles wasp cocoons with the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar

 

COCKROACHES -
ex Marie Skinner:

I recently discovered I had heaps of cockroaches in my feed shed and the idea came to me to try a simple trap that I had seen my mother use when I was a young girl, which involved placing a piece of banana in the bottom of a jar and smearing vaseline around the inner upper edge of the jar so they can't get out. I was delighted to find it chock full of the little pests the next day - so were the chooks!

CUTWORMS - varieties can live above and below the ground: CUTWORM INFO LINK

FRUIT BATS - ex Donna: either hang some mothballs or a kerosene wick (container with kero and a rag hanging out) to mask the ripening fruit smell.

FRUIT FLY - Eco-naturalure LINK

GREENHARVEST FRUIT FLY LINK

Wild May, traps, Eco-naturalure LINK

Two types of fruit fly: Queensland Fruit Fly and Mediterranian Fruit Fly.

Queensland Fruit Fly - DPI LINK

                                                                                  

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTOilvMUyJAEP5bl1Fdu7KHjvejK4nGE8lMTeuQea553PxsoXORMw    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR5hGWo-7dPQCSPpMqyZHW5nJs9-FS2WDf6GN8Dn2mFpMTsXheLqg       Adult Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni)Larvae of Queensland fruit fly with damaged (darker) areas of fruit. Note the black mouth parts in the head of each larva                                                  

Mediterranean Fruit Fly                                                      

MaleMedfly1.jpgimages?q=tbn:ANd9GcSW76y7qsIVRWtdMvVSvMaBsUus93d1IrPWx3DAPIFnWWjMftLm

 

Here's an interesting home remedy for killing fruit fly:

Fruit flies are attracted to moisture, sugar and protein apparently. 1lt water, 2 cups of fresh pee, 3 teaspoons (cheap) vanilla essence, 1 teaspoon of yeast, 1 cup sugar, mix thoroughly. Use plastic drinks bottles, put lid back on but make a couple of small holes near the neck place 50 mm in bottle. hang about 1m from the ground. change mixture regularly. We make up fresh stuff once a week.  Fruit fly like the colour yellow so if you can paint the bottles yellow that is supposed to help too.

 

OTHER CHEWING/SUCKING INSECTS eg grasshoppers, lady beetles, aphids  -

Spray - Ex Donna: Molasses, garlic, chilli can be used in sprays to deter leaf chewing insects.
Oil has been used to suffocate soft bodied insects. Do not leave these sprays sitting around in the sun or they lose their punch. Shelf life??

Yellow ladybugs are mildew eating ones
26/ 28 spotted ladybugs are the "naughty" ones that will eat your leaves  INFO LINK

MILDEW -

Powdery and Downey Mildew on a grape leaf:

9778940288?profile=originalDowny Mildew: Pseudoperonospora cubensis is a species of water mould known for causing downy mildew on cucurbits such as cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and watermelon. This water mould is an important pathogen of all these crops, especially in areas with high humidity and rainfall.

Preventative steps to control downy mildew are not only natural in character but are often the most effective of any control methods available to the home gardener. Many cultivars of susceptible host plants have been developed for their resistance to downy mildews, so shop around for these cultivars and plant them in lieu of more susceptible varieties.

Humidity plays a large role in the development of downy mildew, so for greenhouse plants, keep humidity inside the greenhouse below 85 percent. For outdoor plants, carefully monitor plants for symptoms after they are subjected to 85 percent humidity or higher. Leaf wetness is also a major contributor to downy mildew infection, so always prune susceptible host plants to increase air circulation and speed up leaf-drying time after watering.

If a plant has already been infected with downy mildew, natural control methods are more limited. Always prune infected plants when symptoms first appear as the spores of the causal fungus can easily spread throughout the plant or to nearby plants.

If you water your plants late in the day or if you water them from above, adjust watering practices once symptoms appear. Watering in the morning when the sun has more time to dry leaves or watering by soaking the soil underneath the infected plant can help prevent the disease spreading to the rest of the plant. If an infection has taken over most or all of a host plant, it will usually need to be dug up and removed before it can infect nearby plants.

Powdery mildew on a curcubit:

9778941070?profile=originalPowdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. Powdery mildew diseases are caused by many different species of fungi in the order Erysiphales. It is one of the easier diseases to spot, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. The lower leaves are the most affected, but the mildew can appear on any above-ground part of the plant.

As the disease progresses, the spots get larger and denser as large numbers of asexual spores are formed, and the mildew may spread up and down the length of the plant. Powdery mildew grows well in environments with high humidity and moderate temperatures.[1] In an agricultural setting, the pathogen can be controlled using chemical methods, genetic resistance, and careful farming methods. It is important to be aware of powdery mildew and its management as the resulting disease can significantly reduce crop yields.

NEMATODES - Donna: Molasses can be used as a drench to kill nematodes (? 1/2 L per watering can) but will also kill other micro-organisms including worms so only to be used as a last resort.Mustard greens and marigolds can be used as a fumigant by growing until just starting to flower then digging into a bed that has nematodes.

Powdery mildew, milk mixed with water and sprayed on the leaves does work as does bicarb soda mixed with water. Active8 works best. 

SLUGS- These will leave a silvery trail and be nipping off your new growth during the night (unlike the cutworm which will slice the new sprout off at the bottom).

slug remedies link -

Create a haven for them eg upturned cabbage leaf or orange rind and collect and dispose of the snails.

Beer or honey and yeast mix sunk into ground in containers.

Don't like copper - gives them a mild electric shock but does not kill - use as a barrier.

Dry dog or cat food under a foil tin, weighted down and with "doors" cut into the rim - collect snails and dispose of.


PRODUCTS

ORGANIC XTRA - local organic all purpose fertiliser ORGANIC XTRA LINK

 

ORGANIC LINK - rec. by Michael Lawson - all purpose fert. from Bunnings not expensive ORGANIC LINK link

 

McLEODS ORGANIC SOIL CONDITIONER - LINK

FISH EMULSION - acts quickly and effectively to feed plants and promote strong, healthy growth LINK

 

SPECIFIC PROBLEM

POWDERY MILDEW - don't use sprays in direct sunlight (? hottest part of day?) - camomile tea (see above), don't water in arvo, spray with Neem Oil, dust with sulphur, Active 8 (from Anthony Foo)

Comment by Steven

I successfully used milk to control powdery mildew.  It does work.   But after a severe  infestation like I had, even though the mildew was halted, the leaves were very damaged and weakened.

FYI  A Brazillan scientist  Wagner Bettiol  found that milk concentration of 10% or greater were just as effective as conventional fungicides. See his original paper.

He used full cream milk, but later tests with New Zealand melon growers showed that skim milk was just as effective. I use 20% skim milk.

BLACK SPOT - on pawpaw etc - Black Spot on Pawpaw

This is what Annette McFarlane has to say about it on her pages LINK
Adequate nutrition is as much a tool in disease control as the use of sprays. Plants deficient in potassium, phosphorous and magnesium are more susceptible to attack by black spot and powdery mildew. Simply increasing the potassium (sulphate of potash and/or lucerne mulch), phosphorous (rock phosphate or chicken manure) and magnesium levels (Epsom salts) helps to make plants more resistant to disease. Pawpaws are most susceptible to black spot disease during the cooler months. Spraying with sulphur or copper based compounds prior to the onset of the cool weather and watering with liquid seaweed can help reduce the severity of infestations.


Major elements: Nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur.

Trace elements: Iron, manganese, boron, copper, zinc and molybdenum.
(Iron occupies an intermediate position and is usually included in the major elements group. In dealing with field problems it is more convenient to group it with the trace elements.)

Nitrogen Deficiency

Older, lower leaves turn yellow from the tips going toward the stem. The plant turns yellowish-green from the ground up, becoming stunted and spindly with small stems and leaves. In time, it will die. Nitrogen deficiency is often found in plants growing in heavy clay soils, in heavily-watered sandy soils, and in soils rich in poorly-composed organic matter.

Phosphorus deficiency

Phosphorus deficiency can cause nitrates to accumulate in the plant, giving it a dull, dark-green look. The bottoms of older leaves sometimes turn purple. The roots grow slowly, causing delayed maturity. In annuals, a lack of phosphorous can cause poor flowering. Soils heavy in iron can cause phosphorus "fixation," delaying the spread of phosphorous to plant tissue.

Potassium Deficiency

After nitrogen, potassium is the second nutrient mineral found in plant tissue, although it can be higher in some plants. The symptoms start with leaf scorch, small spots on the margins of the leaves. This begins on the lower, older leaves. The spots get larger, eventually coming together. High levels of calcium in the soil can cause potassium deficiency.

Iron Deficiency

Newer leaves turn yellow. The veins remain green at first, while the areas between the veins turn light green, then a greenish yellow. The veins then lose their color, and the leaf turns yellow or even white. In time, the leaves can turn brown and die. Weed killers can produce symptoms that look like a deficiency of iron. Iron deficiency can be caused by oil that is cold and wet or that contains too much manganese or where the pH is too high.

Magnesium Deficiency

Older leaves turn yellow between the veins, starting at the bottom leaves and working its way upward. Plants need magnesium, which is generally obtained in soil. It has to be added to the solutions of plants grown hydroponically.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency affects those tissues of the plant where growth occurs. The tips of the roots and the shoots die first. If calcium is not added, the stem will begin to die, followed by the entire plant. As with magnesium deficiency, the lack of calcium is rare in plants grown in soil.

Boron Deficiency

A lack of boron looks like calcium deficiency; it affects the root tips and shoots. The difference is that a plant lacking boron will continue to send out shoots that are sometimes called "witches' broom." Deficiencies of boron are most often experienced by commercial growers.

Manganese Deficiency

The symptoms of manganese deficiency are similar to those produced by a lack of iron; the space between the veins of newer leaves turns yellow. The difference is that when manganese is deficient, the finest veins remain green. The fine green veins on a yellow background make the leaves look like lace.

TOMATOES - DETERMINATE AND INDETERMINATE

Tomato cultivars are commonly classified as determinate or indeterminate.

Determinate, or bush, types bear a full crop all at once and top off at a specific height; they are often good choices for container growing.

Determinate types are preferred by commercial growers who wish to harvest a whole field at one time, or home growers interested in canning.

Indeterminate cultivars develop into vines that never top off and continue producing until killed by frost.

They are preferred by home growers who wish ripe fruit throughout the season. As an intermediate form, there are plants sometimes known as "vigorous determinate" or "semi-determinate"; these top off like determinates but produce a second crop after the initial crop.

Many, if not all, heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate.

 

MAKING POTTING MIX -

https://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/profiles/blogs/added-to-my-seed-stash-cheap?xg_source=msg_com_blogpost&id=2047708%3ABlogPost%3A91042&page=2#comments

Ex Anne Gibson:

I have swapped from using Perlite for several reasons: 

  • while it is good for aerating a potting mix, it has little water-holding capacity;
  • little-no CEC (so has no value in holding minerals in the soil);
  • but more importantly it has a healthy safety issue – Silicosis. Overexposure to dust containing microscopic silica can cause scar tissue to form in the lungs, reducing the ability to extract oxygen from the air – if you do use it, make sure you wear glasses & a dust mask.

I now stick with the vermiculite (grade 3 size) because it offers so many more advantages including:

  • high pore and air space;
  • high water-holding capacity;
  • high CEC (cation exchange capacity) so helps your soil retain minerals for longer by preventing leaching during watering (vital in container gardens);
  • excellent drainage properties;
  • is a good thermal insulator (important in pots/containers as it helps protect delicate roots from heat/cold)
  • and helps aerate the root zone.

9778941701?profile=original

 

I also add compost and worm castings to my potting mix so there are living microbes ready to go to work in my garden.  I'm a firm believer in using a mask when making up potting mix too.

I usually have little time when it comes to garden maintenance tasks so to speed up the hydration of the coir brick and maximise the use of this great ingredient in my potting mix, I:

  • add HOT water instead of cold - it fluffs up in seconds instead of overnight (cold water takes forever!)
  • add molasses, seaweed and Epsom salts to the hot water so that the potting mix will slowly release food for both the plants and microbes and it's right where I want it - at the root zone. i.e. the coconut fibre doesn't just hold moisture, it also releases nutrients.

I also add my organic fertilisers to the potting mix so when I pot up a plant or add the potting mix to the garden, I just pop the plant in and don't need to add anything at that time.  I've found this system saves me bucket loads of time. You can also refresh old potting mix when it becomes hydrophobic or needs reinvigorating rather than wasting it.

 

SAVING AND SOURCING OPEN POLLINATED SEED - If you want to grow your own food from seed or buy open-pollinated, heirloom and certified organic seeds, Anne Gibson has outlined the basics and put a list together here.

Check out the different Seed companies and fruit tree sellers in the Seed and Fruit Tree Site blog.

 

Read more…
There seems to be an influx of new active members and my old method of keeping up to date doesn't seem to be working as well! I used to check the Main page every couple of days and was able to see anything new, but recently I have missed some things due to all the fantastic extra activity.I know that I can subscribe/ follow Groups that I am a member or co-ordinator of by clicking the link on the top right hand of the Group or in individual forum posts clicking the link at the bottom of the page.Does anyone know of a way for me to automatically get an alert/ notification when there has been anything added to:* Forum Posts* Photos* BlogsAt home I have all emails from Brisbane Local Food automatically moved from Outlook into a special folder so that they do not clog up my Inbox and I can go through them at my leisure. If anyone else wants assistance on how to do this I will be happy to create step by step instructions and add them to my page as a PDF just let me know.Would be interested in hearing other peoples tips for this!
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Tips for using the features on this site

It's taken me a while to work out how to do some things on this site:
Keeping informed
* At top right under your name is 'Settings'. If you go into the 'Email' section you can tick which activity you want to be emailed about. So then you'll get an email with a link when something happens - eg someone replies to your discussion post. Also on 'My Page' (one of the tabs in the red menu bar at the top) there is a link to all your discussions etc..
Keeping secure
You might want to check the privacy settings in 'Settings' too - especially the last section which says who can see what you put up (eg entire web vs just your friends etc). It's not recommended to put email addresses or home phone numbers on your profile page (everyone on the internet is able to view your profile page).
Less annoying
* I've made a BLF folder in my email inbox, and a sorting rule. My email service (eg outlook express) finds everything with 'brisbanelocalfood' in the from field and files it in the BLF folder for me, so it's all in one spot and I get to it when I get a chance. Less annoying.
Emailing people
* At top right under your name is a heading called 'Inbox'. It's an onsite private email system. No one can see or read these emails except you and your correspondents. Use this system to post contact details etc. Add people to your friends list so you can send them messages using this system - otherwise you need to know their email address.
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Why have a Brisbane Local Food network....

Jumping off point* find out who is doing what around the place* make pathways to getting to know people and getting involvedSocial networking is the new black (no, that's compost)Apparently 60% of web traffic is now on social networking sites (there must be a reason...)Why social networking sites are easier than email* you can connect in a very informal day-to-day sort of way* you can email people without needing their contact details* you can post photos etc in one place instead of mailing them out* you can browse photos and info without cluttering up your inbox* you can set your privacy settings for emails and photos etc (My Settings, Privacy)* you can access from any computer* you can quickly find other people who are interested in the same things - whereas it usually takes a lot of party chat before you get round to compost :D
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