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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Returning to our irregularly scheduled program

It must be almost a month since my last post. I'm not dead, and I haven't just abandoned this. Hopefully that doesn't disappoint any of you. It's just that my professional life has been highly demanding in recent weeks leaving not a lot of time for things that actually matter.

Unfortunately that's not likely to change for the next month or more so I have to squeeze things in when I can. That means a quick update now.

1. Seven or so weeks after getting my first tank sited on its base, this morning I finally got the second one into its own spot. The quality of the groundwork is not as good as the first one but I'm hoping it's good enough for the task. Now the next phase begins: drainage, pipes and plumbing.

2. I'm so impressed with the new solar water heater. There's no discernible difference between the new hot water and the old hot water out of the taps, but emotionally it feels great to have yesterday's sunshine warming my back in the shower. It's also wonderful to see the electricity meter sitting unmoved week after week.

3. The worms have me a bit concerned. They don't seem much inclined to eat any of the kitchen scraps, which kind of defeats the purpose of having them. There are also increasing numbers of non-worm inhabitants in the farm including some really tiny white ant-like creatures and some actual ants which are slightly less tiny and rather more black.

4. Of the dozen capsicum plants we transferred from the pot to the garden bed, one has died, two are looking less than fantastic and the rest appear to be thriving. There are flower buds forming around the tops of most of them even though they're only 30-40cm tall. The compost/mulch combination appears to have worked a treat for nourishing the capsicums while suppressing the weeds - so far I've only had to pull out a smattering of nut grass.

5. The tomato plants have just about run their course. They've produced a fair amount of fruit but it's all been very small - the largest about the size of small marbles but many nearly as small as peas. I'm planning to have another go in that pot but with better soil, a larger variety of tomato, just one plant instead of several, and pruning to try and focus the plant's energy on fruit production rather than straggly stalks.

6. Our carrots are also seeming to find their pot-bound existence a bit less than ideal. They're too crowded and the combination of water restrictions plus too-good drainage leaves them looking withered most afternoons. We'll see what we can do to make them fatter and sweeter but I'm not confident that this crop is going to end up being very edible.

7. The compost has been totally neglected for weeks. It's almost certainly full of mice, judging by its popularity with the neighbourhood cats. May have to start over again with that one.

8. A combination of bindies, weeds and flies is making outdoor time less pleasant. At least we don't have a plague of mosquitos - yet - like we did last summer.


Crazy Mumma said...

Terry! You're alive! LOL. I was just wondering where you'd gotten to actually, I was hoping you hadn't all been struck down with the horrible gastro all five of us have had recently :-( Glad to hear you've just been busy with real life. Well done on getting your tanks in, yay! Now let it rain...

Can't help you much with the other issues, my only suggestions are regarding the worms - perhaps you are letting them get too dry as I was told ants will move in if the mix isn't damp enough. Or you could stand the legs in water to stop the getting into the farm?

Regarding the tomatoes, I wonder if you have them a lot of nitrogen-rich fertiliser and not enough potassium? Nitrogen will make leaf growth go mad at the expense of the fruit. My organic gardening guru, Peter Cundall, recommends sprinkling a handful of potash around each plant when you put the seedlings in, to supply potassium, which will promote flowering and it also hardens the leaves to help prevent wilting.

My tomatoes are only just starting to bear fruit down here, but none ripening yet!

Cheers, Julie

TB said...

Hey Julie,

Thanks for thinking of us. No illness up here thank goodness. Hope your family is recovering quickly.

I don't think the worms are too dry - in fact the opposite is probably true, though they do have good drainage. There are many more of the tiny white critters than the black ones. I'm hoping they're not termites but they seem much too small and I can't imagine what termites would be eating in there anyway.

As for tomatoes and fertiliser, I really have no idea about what plants need. From a sustainability perspective, though, I want to avoid using any kinds of manufactured fertilisers altogether. If tomatoes can't grow without them, I need to find something else to grow. But then it could just be that the pot's too crowded.

Give us an update on your garden and your worms sometime, huh?


Crazy Mumma said...

Terry, I'll go and check my organic gardening books and see if I can find a sustainable source of potassium for you, but you are right, they are probably just overcrowded.

My worms are still alive! They seem to be coming along well actually - I only put in 500 as I was scared of killing them but they seem to all still be there and feeding away nicely. Got my first litre of worm wee on the weekend; my wasn't I proud of that, LOL. I don't get much of a chance to update my garden blog sadly, time gets away on me. Battling Mr Snail and Mr Slug is my biggest problem, despite beer traps and coffee spray!

Cheers, Julie.