Please read this first...

If you want to know what I'm on about in the shortest time then please read the introductory first post and my current action plan. Comments are very welcome. And if you like this blog, please tell a friend. Thanks!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Starting again, though not from scratch

It was about a year ago that I first became seriously concerned about the environment and the sustainability of human civilisation. For about six months my energy and activity built up, then they plateaued and eventually waned over summer. Now here we are approaching the March equinox and I think things are on the up again. I'm totally out of phase. Maybe I should live in the northern hemisphere.

In the latter part of last year I came into a bit of extra money. It was enough to offer lots of interesting possibilities, but not so much that I didn't have to think carefully about what I'd do with it. I kept a chunk of it in reserve in case the appalling mosquito plague of the previous summer repeated itself, in which case I'd have invested in a gizmo to help make going outdoors a less hazardous proposition. But thankfully summer was mild and the mozzies were less than awful and so the funds stayed in my bank account.

Over the same period though, my gardening and composting efforts pretty much stopped. I got the overflow from the south tank connected up to the street, and I ripped up four old sleepers and a previous owner's intricate irrigation system in preparation for a backyard renovation... but that was about it. The compost pile has had no turning or tending. And yesterday I found that my mulch heap has become home for cane toads and termites! That's going to be a challenge to sort out. But anyway...

Pragmatically speaking, living in a city and having a sporadically time-demanding job as I do, I can't guarantee regular time to devote to gardening during the week. So I need to be smart about the way I set things up and to make use of systems and solutions which don't require a lot of maintenance.

Realising this, I've finally given in and used my stash of cash to purchase a fancy compost bin to take over duty from the simple open-bottomed thin-walled mouse-eaten black plastic box I've been using up until now. I put it on a base of four large pavers sited nearer the back door so hopefully it'll be less inviting and accessible to the furry little bastards, and adding things to it in the evenings should be less of an, um, "adventure".

I have to say, though, that as I set about giving my new bin a good feed of starting materials I was rather impressed with the quality of the compost in the bottom of the old black bin. It was made from a huge pile of woody weeds, a large dose of hedge trimmings and half a dozen or so 4-litre buckets of already-putrefying kitchen scraps irregularly thrown in on top. After removing some of the sticks and stalks and chunks of onion, what I was left with pretty much fit the descriptions of good compost that you read in books: dark brown, spongy, slightly moist, little odour. About ten centimetres of that has gone in to the bottom of the new bin to hopefully give the thing a good kick-start.

And along with that I'm hoping to restart my gardening efforts. In the past year or so I've failed to grow heaps of things, but I've learned a fair bit along the way and am ready to have another go. In truth it's a little out of character for me to show that kind of long-term persistence. Sadly, though, the signs are increasingly suggesting that a backyard garden is going to be an invaluable asset in years to come.

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