Green gardening tips

By Eco Guy 2:26am 17th November 2010
Just some simple tips I've found that make it easier to maintain a green garden.

Dealing with the pests..

Nothing is more depressing than growing your own veggies and finding the local snails and slugs have taken a big chunk out of them!

So how to deal with? Well, one highly effective way I found by accident is to leave a half empty mulch bag propped up against a raised bed. If you check this every day you will find snails and slugs literally use it as their 'hang out' - so I just put them in an old pot and feed them to the chickens..

Also crushed egg shells and ash from a fire around plants you really care about are good way of putting the snails and slugs right off.

Making plants more self sufficient

In Australia it is usual to get a lot of water in short space of time when it rains. This often results in a lot of 'run off' and water that just doesn't get delivered to the root zone.

A way out of this is to create miniature 'dams' around the base of a plant - i.e. the lip of the dam is on the lower side and it curves roughly half way around the base. Idea is that when it rains water will pool in the dam and have a chance to soak into the ground, watering your plant. If one combines this with mulching you then further preserve moisture just where you need it.

Making good soil

A trick I have found which results in well 'behaved' soil suitable for most plants (by well behaved I mean it does not dry out too quick or get sodden) is to mix up the following materials:
  • sandy soil
  • Ash and 'bits' left over from a pile burn
  • Compost
The Ratio is roughly around 5 sandy soil to 2 of ash to 1 of compost (or worm poo if you have it). I tend to mix it all up in a ride on trailer as I go around collecting the bits. Your aiming for a soil that when wet will slightly clump but will easy break up when worked by a spade. To this you can add blood and bone to get things really going if needed.

Also I tend to also go for the sandy soil that has been under a fire, as this will often have much less active seeds in it, given the soil has been essentially 'baked' in situ.

Making good compost

The trick I've found to making good compost without all the excessive turning over and manual effort is to initially mix up the materials well to begin with. We operate two bins (2 by 2 meters each), with one being used for compost whilst the other is being filled. In our case we have access to:
  • plants from the veggie patch
  • horse manure
  • grass clippings
  • straw from the chicken coup (with all the droppings)
  • kitchen waste not suitable for chickens or worm farm
  • shredded paper
basically this gets thrown onto which of the piles is currently being 'built', but the trick is to spread it across the pile, not just thrown into one corner and leave.

Also I think the chickens help a lot by digging around on the piles, which then encourages me to throw back what they have dug off back onto the pile.

With this technique and obviously good source materials we usually have something usable in about 4 months.

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