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Posts Tagged ‘Compost’


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hi .. still taking a break from blogging.   But, watching the busy insect activity in the yard and the beautiful blossoms & leaves unfurling from the once bare trees .. I just want to share these magnificent videos with you.

If you haven’t already seen them .. then you are in for a treat.

Number one is:  Queen of the Sun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekoeQodrVoM

Number two is: The D.I.R.T. on Farmer John:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhMWz1QWQ0g

It just takes the power of one .. of us .. at a time .. to do our part to stop the pesticides, nurture the earth and all the living insects and animals (including us).

Grow the healthy, natural way.  Throw away the artificial fertilizers .. use the effective microorganisms, the compost teas .. research the information.

Here is a good site to start, to find out about good ways to improve your garden soil:  http://www.gardenerspantry.ca/

And there are a lot of compost tea maker sites.   Each one has some excellent information (although I think that the Bruce Deuley site is the best .. down below)

Compost tea (using only one aquarium aerator): http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/how-to-make-compost-tea-why-you-should.html

Here’s another site:  http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/airwaste/wm/recycle/tea/tea3.htm

Compost tea (using two aerators): (and this is the best one, I’ll be making one of these):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8_PuUon5_Q

Yours in gardening ……

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Wednesday .. was .. at times … sunny .. then cloudy .. some rain .. followed by sun.  A potpourri kind of day, weatherwise.

Spent some time outside, relocating some of the taller plants in the back of the yard.   I’m making a kind of little secret garden, of sorts.   Starting with tall perennials along the fence, with a little pathway in front of that.   Then I’ve moved the garden bed back a foot, and began the process of moving the taller bamboo plants closer to the edge of that.

Then I’m moving a line of raspberries in front of them.   There will then be a staggered height of plants, tall to medium and then shorter (garlic, herbs).   The tall plants will give protection to the lower plants.

My garden is in constant change and it’s easy to move them.  Except I had to tug away at the Buddleia, thought.  The roots are mainly fibrous, with one long tap root that extended farther than I wanted to dig, so I just cut the end of the root . . still have a two foot length left and these plants are tough as nails, anyway.

Why am I doing this?  Well, in a burst of creative thought a few days ago, I thought that if I could rearrange the veggie garden (part of it, anyway) then I could install my propagating area here.  In a nice and tidy fashion, that is.  And I find that these projects sort of take on a life of its own … I simply start the process and my inner artist takes over.   The results are always creative and I’m always surprised and impressed with the results.

And I’ve decided to install rustic fencing along parts of the garden, to visually break up some of the areas.  I’ll be re-using the branches and bamboo canes that I’d used to make a  holding area for my mountain of mulch leaves from last fall.  I have my eye on several very tall bamboo canes currently growing in one area of the yard, so luckily, I’m not lacking in fencing materials.

I like the look of the rustic fencing that was installed at the front of Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, and when I’d last visited there on Tuesday, I looked at this fencing again and thought, perfect for the back yard!  So, thanks for the inspiration, Swan Lake!!

I was quite involved in digging away yesterday when the rains came .. I simply covered up my camera, binoculars, iPod and simply went on digging.   After all, what’s a little rain?  Then the sun came out and it felt like a warm summer day.

After what I’ve been learning in my gardening course, I’m not really happy about digging up and disturbing the soil .. saw the thin white strands of the mycorrhizal fungi in place, doing their part to help the roots of the plants.  And promised that I’d add some of the powdered M. fungi that I’d purchased from the Gardener’s Pantry.  I’ll soon have this soil healthy and vibrant  again.  Plus, liberal doses of EM!!

Took a break and read through some books on composting .. one mentions Bokashi, pallet & worm composting.  However, the “helpful” information listed is nowhere near as detailed as the information that I learned in the Organic Master Gardening Course (Gaia College, at Royal Roads University).  My gardening world has forever changed and I cannot go back to the way of thinking that I had before.

Funny, found a bag of plant fertilizer that I’d bought a few years back.   The cardboard box holding the plastic bag had long since disintegrated and all that is left is the bag and the contents of several cups of white and pale green “fertilizer”granules.  I shudder to think that I had used some of this on some plants.  Now I’ll have to dispose of this in “hazardous” materials.  Never, no more.

From now on, it’s EM, Compost Tea (Dr. Elaine R Ingham ), worm bins, mulch, grass cuttings, manure (organic preferably).    What a difference that course has made in my life.  And, luckily, I have access to the online videos and course material for a year.  It will take at least that for me to go through all of these invaluable resources.

Anyway .. on with this most wonderful day.  I think the rains have stopped .. can hear the birds singing away .. so out to my garden I go!   And if it is still raining, well, there’s no shortage of things to do inside.  Or maybe go for a walk.  Choices .. it’s a good thing!

🙂

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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  Yesterday .. I made a firm resolution to declutter, but all I succeeded in doing was spending hours looking for certain Coronation Street memorabilia ..

in-between times I managed to get laundry done, sort the recycling, play with the cats.

Finally, enough of the indoor stuff and outside I went .. to work on the compost containers.

Gathered the goat manure/hay mix, composted leaves, seaweed, pieces of cardboard and my precious EM mixture.

Emptied compost container #1 .. eeyouw .. and filled empty containers.  Next I started the layering process.  Veggie scraps, cardboard, leaves, manure, seaweed .. in layers till the container was full.  then I watered it with the EM/water mixture.

This feels so much better .. there is no foul odour and this layering technique allows the compost to breathe, soon there will be a lovely mix of bacteria munching away.  There were already a healthy supply of plump earthworms in the mixture already and I believe the population will increase.  Looking forward to lovely earthy compost in a few months or so.

This is the time of the year to watch for the emerging bumblebee queens . .I saw another one today .. was just reaching my hand to open the gate latch when I noticed a dark speck on the gate frame .. whew, that was close .. I had almost brushed against her.

I’d noticed a yellowjacket a few days ago, wonder if that was a queen also.

The time arrived for us to prepare to go to the Royal Theatre to see William Roache ..an event we’d been waiting for since last fall.

He plays “Ken” in the Coronation Street show and has been acting in this show for 51 years!

80 years old and he certainly appeared in excellent health.  A good role model.  He is a vegetarian and shared with us that meditation has provided him with a sense of peace and relaxation.

His life has been an interesting one and he shared with us many of the most interesting periods.   He is certainly an excellent speaker and had all of us spellbound for the entire show.

There, I haven’t gone to Granada, but I’ve met 5 of the characters.  Organized a bus trip to Vancouver  years ago to see & meet “Des”.  “Audrey” and her hubby attended a Bay signing event a number of years ago .. that was lovely.  And “Derek” and “Mavis” were in Victoria years ago and we met them also.

So .. I think that’s most likely the extent of my meeting CS actors.  One person I would love to meet is the character that plays “Becky” .. she is an amazing chameleon of an actress and also acts in Shakespearian plays.  Now, that’s an interesting combo.

Well, short and sweet and on with this day … sunny and rainy . .and  I plan to play with my plants today.

🙂

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

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And a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  Oh, the joys of Facebook & Skype.  Via Facebook, I was able to watch one of my great-nephews play his fiddle, along with his instructor, playing some Irish tunes.  He plays much better than me, despite the lessons I’ve taken. However, I’m not giving up.  I might never play at Massey Hall (ha ha ha ha ) but I can scare the heck out of any marauding crows that visit the yard.

Hmmmm .. maybe I should just dust off my fiddle case and practise in the backyard, when the European Starlings visit . .should be interesting to see if this would act as a deterrent!  I remember our dogs cringing when I opened the case.

Anyway, I’m travelling on the lovely gardening path into my ever-expanding world of gardening .. it’s a wonderful journey.  I’m continuously meeting the most interesting people and learning more and more about plants.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to volunteer in pulling invasive species out of a natural forest area.   I’d heard about the magical results of Fawn Lilies growing in areas which were once heavily infested with ivy and Himalayan blackberries.  Once the heavy top-growth was removed .. the Lillies appeared. Isn’t that amazing!  The powerful energy of nature.  Humbling, I would say.

So I was excited to be part of this activity.  We uncovered a very heavy growth of ivy from a number of tree stumps.  And once that was done .. the space seemed to be calmer, cleaner .. sort of feng shui of the area.    Huckleberries are going to be planted in the trunks so I really look forward to seeing that.  I posted some pics and will follow-up when the berries are growing.

Learned about other vegetation, such as Alaska onion grass .. the leaves look exactly like grass and one must look to the base of the blades to see the little bulbets!  And, I also learned that the tiny weeds that I’ve been busy pulling out of the ground at home, are actually a type of cress, edible and most likely high in minerals and vitamins.

Oh, Nature, you are so subtle.   Leaving lots of plants around for us to nibble on, we just have to learn them, pay attention.

We chatted with a young man, who is a finishing carpenter .. now that is a trade to be proud of … my dad was such a person.   Such a joy to meet talented people who, it follows, most certainly must have a love for natural materials.

Back home, I refilled the hummingbird feeder and while I was standing there .. I saw several zipping around, so camera out.  I think that there is a Mr & Mrs, there were 2 at the feeder at the same time, sipping companionably.  Then one, without the red neck feathers, omg, this must be the female!  Her head looked to be shades of brown .. I’m standing there trying to focus and she just hovered there in the air.

I wasn’t able to click a photo of her .. hovering .. but I will always remember the joy of the moment!  Hummingbirds are little sprites in the air. They are tough little birds.  And so very beautiful.

Friday .. and Saturday .. well, lots of sun, followed by bursts of rain. Perfect gardening weather.

I’m just so looking forward to working in our yard .. to chop up the kelp & seaweed & spread around the garlic bed.  Then, my first major gardening feat will be to empty the 3 composters, one by one and start layering them in properly with the carbon/green layers.   Once that is done, I will feel so much better about the composting process.  Instead of just throwing vegetable waste in (which is what I’ve been doing) I’ll be consciously layering, creating a good atmosphere for the specific bacteria to grow.  Some like it hot, some like it warm, some like it cool.   Just like Goldilocks & the 3 Bears!

I’m going to build the compost just right!

Anyway, on with this day.  More ivy to pull.  Some plants are moving in for a vacation while their plant mom is away travelling.  Here is my chance to give them some EM and keep them in a healthy condition till she needs them back.

So .. away I go .. on this lovely Saturday morning.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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Tuesday .. that wonderful day which follows Monday .. was a mixed bag of weather.

By the time I set off on my trek to Orr’s Butchers (to fetch some Farmer Ben’s eggs) there was a slight sprinkling of rain.  And, since I’m not made of sugar and won’t melt in the rain .. I just simply started walking.

Just simply stepping onto the pathway leading into the Nature Sanctuary felt absolutely wonderful .. the perfect way to start the day.   Looking around at the emerging new growth of leaves and the richness of the mosses & lichens draping branches and trunks .. felt the magical touch that nature bestows on all living things.

Only a few people at the time I was walking .. so peaceful and quiet .. couldn’t see many birds .. and saw the little Anna, who likes to perch atop one of the tall, narrow trees along a pathway.

Noticed the emergence of the growth of the marsh grasses.  Spent stalks of last year gracefully folded back, the structural breakdown  to feed the soil already well begun.

Finally reached the little observatory . . a few Geese majestically sailed over, expecting food.  And a little Ms. Mallard flew up to the wooden decking, looking for flatted oats .. which are sitting in a bag at home.  Reminder to keep a supply in my purse, cause ya never know!

Continued on my way … to Orr’s to pick up a few dozen Farmer Brown’s eggs .. to the Mediterranean deli!  Here I picked up a Mizithra cheese, an assortment of feta, humus, olive tapenade (the humus & tapenade are made there!) Plus some beautiful baklava etc.

Now my shopping bag is very heavy and I ponder the wisdom of shopping while walking.  Well, I’m not a delicate little flower, so I hoist the bag onto my shoulder and trudge onwards.  Soon I’ll be home.

Decision time .. take the shorter, overland path or descend to the walkway down below?  As always, I choose the latter and soon am nearing the little observatory again.  This time there is a birding group, including a former work mate .. so we chat for a few minutes.  Then all is quiet, as the birders listen to an assortment of bird calls, identifying each one.  Oh .. my .. I simply must join a birding group for a walk, “one of these” days.  I always learn so much.

Then . .homeward bound .. where I reward myself with a mug of Yorkshire Tea, my spanakopita and one of those delicate baklavas!!

Yesterday was another great learning session at our gardening class.   This session was devoted to lawns .. the creation, maintenance, troubleshooting .. the whole spectrum.

As our instructor opened up the doors to this new world, I found myself gaining great respect for this plant.  I learned that lawn is actually composed of thousands of plants, now that was not something that I was aware of before.  Grass was just, well .. grass.  Oh, no, that is not so.

We learned of the varieties of grass and why such a mix of types are used and how best to determine that.   About the zone of elongation .. who knew?  Why thatch develops.  Natural lawns are a bit longer than conventional lawns and are so much healthier.

Why and when to mow and .. understanding the “why” “when” “nurturing” makes only sense, now that I am more aware.

And for years I’d heard of people planning their lawns, layering, adding sand, plugging, fertilizing, etc.  Creating an artificial environment which really is toxic.

Imagine, feeding the lawn with chemicals and then letting children and pets play on this surface.   All those materials are in contact with the things you love .. is that good?   And then visualizing innocent birds pecking away at the poisonous concoction and being part of the food chain, passing on the chemicals, on up through the various life forms.

We discussed the benefits of natural materials, again, just like the “soil food web” nurturing the soil with materials  like EM (effective microorganisms) Compost Tea (Dr. Elaine Ingham), rock dust, on and on.

I have much more to study, transcribe my notes …. to further understand all of the information that was given to us last night.

Ok, grass, I respect you and your tenacity.  You are not just a blade beneath my feet.  You are an entity unto yourself and I intend to treat you with the care that you deserve.  And besides, anyway, as much as I’d like to rid the yard of lawn, it’s here to stay and I’ll make the best of it by taking care of it the natural way.

So .. on with this day.

Oh, yes, yesterday’s weather!   I was typing away at the keyboard, happened to look up and saw .. what?   Snowflakes!

Ran outside and sure enough, there was a steady stream of tiny, then shortly, larger flakes of snow tumbling down!

Grabbed the camera and started taking pics .. I knew that all over Victoria, there were many people doing the same thing.  ha ha .. what do you do when you live in a place like this and have a camera, anyway!

Then the sun finally came out and transformed everything . .and that was a day!

Well, on with this day!

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Monday, March 13, 2012

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  The sun was out yesterday and it seemed like a spring day.  The skies were blue, then cloudy, then blue, then cloudy, then blue .. and, well, you get the picture.  It was a mixed up type of spring day.

And a lazy day for me.  Spent a lot of time looking up gardening information.  Seems that’s mostly what I’ve been doing lately.  Learning and learning and learning.  One thing leads to another, which leads to another and so on and so forth.

It’s a wonder I have time to sleep, I’m learning so much lately.

Anyway, finally, I could stand it no longer, yesterday afternoon and finally went outside.  I planned to water some flats of scotch moss with my “precious” ..  which is a dilution of EM ( effective microorganisms)  ok, I’m not a scientist or a botanist or a biologist.  I just know that the microbes in this solution (my first batch) are liquid gold in respect to plantings.

These are so wonderful, that I’ve mixed my second batch, as mentioned a few days ago.  I plan to water all the trees, bushes, plants, vegetables, fruits etc. in my garden with this solution.

And so once I finished that little task . .I began to clear away a circle of grass at one of the fruit trees.  Started with an apple tree.  Dug away at the tenacious grassy  roots, trimmed away suckers, pulled weeds (all this stuff is going into the compost, btw).

Carefully pushed aside the many earthworms that were busy at their job of breaking up the soil, leaving their wonderful castings in the garden.  Finally, I stood up .. satisfied with my work and then watered a generous amount of EM on the ground.  Welcome to your new home, guys .. now settle in and get to work!

I’ll post the pics tomorrow.  Today I want to share the photos from our gardening class’s visit to Government House this past Saturday.  A mix of formal and semiformal gardens.  A lovely place to walk around.  Lots of roses there.  Although, they were shivering, and really needed a top layer of mulch, methinks.

Whenever I see bare ground on a garden, I feel sadness for the plants and the soil.  Nothing for the microbes, worms, etc. to nibble on .. such a barren look.  Breaks my heart, it does.

So, anyway, I’m all enthused about using my EM.   And learning more about compost tea.  And building a compost tea brewer.  Found some great sites, easy plans, to make one for under $30.  And saw some easy YouTube videos on how to build them.  They look very simple, straightforward.

I’m in a decluttering, sorting, organizing type of whirlwind today .. so will make this short and sweet.

🙂

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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  Tuesday was such a beautiful sunny day .. brilliant in fact!  Up early .. many things to do in the morning.   Car loaded up with recycling items the night before,  I began the journey of the day.

Bottles to the Bottle Depot, plastics to Syntal – they recycle the plastic and make, among other things, landscape ties that are used on trails .. never break down.  The company had reconfigured their plastics work system to comply with Victoria’s criteria.  All for naught, as the city chose another company to collect the city’s plastic.

Humbug to them  !  DH & I accumulate all of our plastics (all properly cleaned) and every once in a while, when we are heading out to the Keating X Rd area, we bring all our materials to Syntal.

Grocery specials … gardening items … and then .. to the Gardener’s Pantry!  To meet with Christina and pick up my order of Mineral Salts, Organic Molasses, Liquid Kelp, Mother EM, Innoculant for peas, snap & lima beans.

The Gardener’s Pantry carries the best  Mycorrhizal Fungi – it has the most diversified, complex mix of fungi.

Plus a copy of “the Compost Tea Brewing Manual” by Dr. Elaine Ingham.  The cover photo shows someone holding a section of grass, which was sown from seed a mere few months ago.   And the root system looks to be nearly 3 feet in length!  No chemicals.  No pesticides.  Nothing but a healthy preparation of compost tea.

And .. I don’t mean merely running manure through water!  That is what I thought compost tea was .. before I entered this amazing world of understanding that soil health is the key to good gardens.   This includes a world of fungi and microbes living in the soil .. each communicating with the other.   On and On.. Oh, I have so very much to learn.

The journey has begun and it feels like the last cartoon of the Calvin & Hobbes series!  With C & H sitting on a sled, zooming down a snowy hill .. it’s a new year .. new adventures are beginning.

I’ve not studied much in a number of years and I’ve found an awakening joy of discovery as I’ve started my organic master gardening class, with Gaia College.

I’ve spent many an hour at the kitchen table, reading, writing, typing, trying to get a glimpse of understanding in this new world.  The vocabulary is new, the terminology is new .. I’ve tried to memorize the information.

And comprehensive is opening up the doors.  I’ve found that I quite enjoy the art of studying and learning.  The details are fascinating.   There is a long way to do, but the adventure has started and the journey is exciting.

Looking through my new book, I  see the way to my future in gardening.   Healthy vegetables grown in healthy soil is my goal for this summer.

I’ll post pics of some of my bounty as the year progresses.

And I’ll be conducting a grass test with some of the mixtures that I’ve recently purchased.  Sort of a “before” and “after” sort of thing.

At class last night. we’ve learned of people who, a hundred years ago, bespoke of the benefits of improving the soil, but not with chemicals.  And not many people listened. But I believe that the tide is changing and more and more people are paying heed to the proper care of the earth.

Oh, and I want to mention those gentle little chickens, they are so sweet, friendly, each one has their own personality!  A dignified lady, a mischievous one, a “pack leader”, they are a lovely little group of ladies.   I was even able to  pat the feathers of one of them.  Before I met these chickens, I just thought all chickens were the same, squawking, chattering beings.   But the chickens that I met yesterday were totally different.

And .. did you know .. that many millions of chickens are de-beaked when they are held in those commercial prison cages?  That is inhumane.  And one of the reasons why I don’t buy cheap eggs in the supermarket.

The more I learn .. the more I become aware .. the more I become aware, the more I change my buying habits .. the more I change my buying habits .. the more money goes towards people who are working hard to provide healthy food, who treat their animals with respect.

well .. on y va .. on with this day.

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