Hot composting with aerobin

My friend kindly gave me an Aerobin 400 back in february so I could try some hot composting.  A couple of days back I inspected the bin to find that the mixture was not hot anymore (a good sign that it had broken down).  I figured it was time to empty the bin into the garden and fill the bin up with a new mix to cook over the colder months.  The total time it had taken the mix to be ready for the garden was 9 weeks!  Not too bad considering it generated 400kg of compost in this short amount of time. 

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Holiday foraging – Mushrooms and chestnuts

I always enjoy heading away for holidays and exploring a new environment where the food is different to what you typically grow at home.  This is the second year that we have spent some time in a small town called Bright which is situated in the middle of the Alpine region of Victoria.  Its great place to stay for easy access to the snow fields in winter – Falls Creek and Mt Hotham.  Bright is also well known for its beautiful coloured Autumn leaves and many people visit to the town this time of year for the Autumn festival.  The region is also well known for its nuts, berries, wine, cheese and apples and we spent plenty of time visiting the small farms and wineries sampling the local produce. 

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Growing watermelon in melbourne

Is it possible to grow decent watermelon in a temperate climate?  The answer is yes… and no.  Just like any plant, if you provide the right conditions and climate they will grow very well.  The trick is to work out how to do this in a cost and time affective way without having to set up an expensive hot house.  My experiment this year was to try and grow some in the ground and compare them to some grown in my little greenhouse.  The watermelon grown in the ground started really well in the heat of summer, but then faded later in the season.  The fruit only reached the size of a tennis ball and then the fruit started to split and the vine started to die off.  The watermelon grown in the greenhouse started much the same as the plants in the ground, but then as the summer season drew to an end, the fruit start to gain a decent size – although it still wasn’t half the size of the ones in the market.  My biggest melon (out of the 2 grown) weighed in at just under 1kg. Continue reading

Autumn planting and indian myna control

With the summer season over, it is now time to start planting out for the autumn and winter months.  I am experimenting a little this year and have planted some snow peas with the hope that I will avoid the powdery mildew issues I have experienced when planting and growing them in the warmer months.  Despite my best efforts, the mildew affected most of my summer crops including the pumpkin, Zucchini, cucumber and even the beans.  I will plant the crops out next year in different locations to try and avoid the same issue.

The snow peas, beetroot and spinach have started to sprout and I have used a bag of coffee grinds sprinkled around the perimenter of the plants to try and deter the snails.  It seems to have worked so far, which is great as I have an abundant supply of the grinds to use.  I have also placed some netting over the young seedling to try and deter the birds that love to scratch up the fresh soil, digging out the young plants in the process.  You can see the snow pea seedlings next to the fence with a thick layer of coffee protecting them from the snails.

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Another project I have taken on recently is trying to reduce the number of invasive birds in the area which are the Indian or common Myna’s.  Not only do they eat all my produce, they also hang around our back porch and poo all over the deck, creating a health hazard.  The other problem with the Indian Myna is that it drives all the other native birds away and takes over.  So with some help from the Yarra Myna action group, I have started trapping the birds.  The first time I set up the trap, I counted 13 birds hanging around the back yard eating the food I had place in and around the trap.  So far I have caught 9 birds in the first week!  Even though I know that I will only be able to catch some of the population, my hope is that I can get them down to a managable number and also that the native birds will start to return to our area again. Continue reading