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recycling and gardening

(6 Posts)
Joan Mon 15-Oct-12 05:30:27

Eating for nowt

This is about recycling and my suburban garden in Queensland, Australia: a garden that relies on reusing everything because I rarely get chance to go to a hardware store, and can’t afford much anyway! I grow flowers because I love them, and I grow food crops, often from saved seed, because we love to eat fresh real food.

I started by growing trees, and probably have too many because the vegetable growing area has shrunk somewhat. Getting actual fruit from them is another matter: last year I had I avocado, 2 figs, 3 mandarins that the fruit flies left me, a few loquat fruits, and 9 mangoes. The choko, paw paw and passion fruit did OK though.

In the middle of the vegetable garden is a chicken pen: quite a posh one too. I ordered the basic one, but the supplier was unable to deliver it on time, so they gave me the penthouse version for the same price! My 6 Sussex cross chickens are thus living a life of luxury, and very happily produce lots of eggs and manure for my garden, while devouring plenty of weeds.

I have herbs, cabbage and silver beet to eat right now, plus green paw paw, mulberries and a few green beans. There are many more vegetables which I’ve recently planted or transplanted: Just like the fruit trees though, all sorts of disasters transpire between planting and harvesting – usually because birds, possums, fruit bats and multitudinous little multi-legged creatures get them first.

The soil here in Dinmore, traditionally a pottery area, is heavy clay with rocks of varying sizes. It is horrible to dig, and hopeless for growing in, so I had to come up with various solutions. One way is to riddle the soil and add lime: I made a riddler out of an old fan guard and a polystyrene box cut to size and strengthened with duct tape. The fan guard sits atop the box, and separates the stones and rubbish from the good soil wonderfully.

Another solution to the soil problem is the raised garden. I redirected an old rectangular iron frame that was on the way to the dump: surrounded by recycled chicken wire it became my first raised bed. I filled it with silky oak leaves which are forever falling on my yard, and then grass cuttings rescued after the council had brought their tractor and done a good job of slashing a nearby grassy bank. I topped it with compost and potting mix: Currently I have potatoes growing in part of it, and various seedlings in another. I look forward to feasting on my wonderful potatoes – in a case of hope triumphing over experience!

The thing with recycling is this: if you are looking for a specific you probably won’t find it: if you find something that possibly could be useful, you’ll find a use – eventually!

glitabo Mon 15-Oct-12 06:24:33

That is inspirational joan. My soil is heavy clay and I can't dig it. I tend to grow a lot of things in pots. I did get someone in the dig some beds in the front garden to take the flowers that I have grown in the greenhouse. I do have a large rose bed at the top of the garden roses love clay so they are thriving and last year I had roses until mid December.
This is the first year that I have grown any vegetables and I am pleased with the results. Next year I am going to make a fruit cage out of an old tomato house frame as the birds and slugs had all of the straw berries this year. I did well with apples this year but only had 1 pear and no plums.
It is 6:20 am and I only got up to make a cup of tea to take back to bed, but couldn't resist a peak at GN.

Joan Mon 15-Oct-12 12:55:48

Be careful, glitabo - you can get addicted to the garden!! Isn't heavy clay soil awful! I have to wait till it's rained, then stand on the shovel to make even the slightest dent in it!

I just love being out in the garden, fighting to make my vegetables survive. Gardening books suggest that if you keep your garden well fertilised, the plants will be strong enough to withstand predators. Well, I can but try. Some chicken manure wrapped in old lace-curtain material, and suspended in a large bucket of water, provides plenty of liquid manure to feed my plants, along with home made compost.

When our son left home he left his old metal single bed behind: it was not in the best condition, so I stuck it in the vegetable garden, covered the base with some recycled wood also rescued from a trip to the dump, put old chicken wire round the sides and filled it, too, with silky oak leaves, grass and compost. Some very healthy looking butternut pumpkins are growing there now, in my real 'garden bed'.

An old table was falling to pieces, so I upended it, and fastened a large pruned branch to each leg for tomatoes to climb on, and put chicken wire all around. I had already filled many empty chicken pellet bags with fallen leaves, and others with grass from the council slasher, so I filled the cage with this stuff, and will soon add compost and potting mix, then I’ll transfer the tomato seedlings into it, which I’ve already grown from seed. They will climb up the pruned branches. This again will be an exercise of hope over experience, but you never know…

Bags Mon 15-Oct-12 13:47:45

The no-dig, deep bed approach is good for clay soil.

glitabo Mon 15-Oct-12 14:35:05

That is a very interesting leaflet bags I have printed a copy.

Joan Thu 18-Oct-12 23:09:11

I've continued this on an official guest blog:

I was asked to start a blog and started this thread, but the other one has a photo and, well, I've continued there.