In and about our house

Composting … everything! Well almost.

by cjj on November 15, 2014

2 x 1 cubic meter bins 2 x 1 cubic meter bins

We’re still making this compost bin, but I’ve started using it already … because I can! And I need to! I’ve always wanted one of these but never really realised how good it would be. When you have a garden, there is always green waste: old vegetable plants, trimmings from hedges, weeds etc. These have to go somewhere. They are best if they’re mulched into little pieces … but of course I don’t manage to have the mulcher out and ready to go each time I have an armful of stuff. Now, with 2 cubic meters of space, that stuff that I seem to be collecting everytime I go into the garden, has a place to go! And the idea is, once the space is full (and I figure I could fill both sides), you pull it all out and mulch it, firing it back into one side only. At the same time make sure you get a mix of green and dry brown plant matter, and it would be good to blend in some horse manure or other organic waste. I’m not an expert, but I reckon a variety of stuff is best.
When you do the mulching, blast the mulched mix of organic matter into one side only, because if you can toss it into the other side after a few days or weeks, depending on heat and moisture in your weather at the time, you will be able to turn it into compost more quickly than if you just let it sit there. If you manage to get a few cubic meters of mulched matter, and if it is a little bit damp, you will find that it will get quite hot. After it starts to cool off is when it’s time to turn it over. Try to put the outside of the heap on the inside of the new heap, and it will heat up again. Then it can go onto the garden, and you have the space to start storing more old plants and prunings.

This type of composting is aerobic composting. By allowing oxygen into the mix it will break down quickly.

I don’t put food scraps into this compost bin, because it is too hard to keep scavenging animals out of it.

Food scraps go into this bin:

Gedeye bins Gedye bins

 

I have 2 of these Gedye bins. Bury them into the ground a little bit, and vermin will never be a problem. These bins are anaerobic in their action, and take a long time to break down food scraps. Everything can go in them, so they are very convenient. Just what you need in a busy kitchen. However, there are three things that I have learnt are better not put in them: Avacado seeds, biggish meat bones and tiny stick on food labels. Avacado seeds will shoot and don’t break down. They end up being like rocks with small trees attached. Large bones make the end product very messy, and a chore to get out of the garden. And those tiny labels don’t break down either, and you end up with billions of them in just a small amount of compost … they’re really messy!
The reason I have 2 bins is that I’m very lazy! When one is full, I just let it sit there. I do nothing! It takes about a year to fill. (2 people in my household, but a very busy kitchen!) It would fill quicker if you do it properly, ie add some dirt for each bucket full of scraps. (But for me, having the dirt ready to throw in is asking too much!!) After a year the other bin is full. If I have the time, I lift the first bin and move it to another spot. The compost by then, is broken down to a small mound. If you dig it up to use, it can be a bit like vegemite! It’s usable, but usually too much trouble for me! These days I just leave it there, with a layer of more pleasant looking mulch over the top to hide it. I position these bins under trees and assume that the trees benefit from them. So that’s good enough …. and so convenient!
Oh, by the way, if after the 2nd bin is full, you can always just go back and start using the first bin again, because by then there is a lot more space, but you won’t be able to empty it for another year. This way you hardly ever have to deal with them. I love my gedye bins 🙂

Garden trimmings fill the gedye bins immediately, which isn’t much use, and grass trimmings make an impenetrable layer that never seems to break down. So grass trimmings have yet another type of bin:

Spinning bin Spinning bin

 

Even though we have a lawn, we don’t always have a lot of grass clippings, so this solution might not suit everyone. We live in virtually permanent drought, so only a small section of our lawn is watered and needs cutting, and we prefer to use a mechanical push mower because it doesn’t suck up all the precious top soil between the blades of grass. However, there is one area that gets run off from the garden and it is quite thick lawn. It’s easier to use the motor mower there, and if it rains, then there’s more grass to cut.
So the grass cuttings that we have go into this spinning type aerobic bin. A friend gave us this bin because she couldn’t deal with the compost .. she put all her food scraps in it, and when it was full she had to empty it. She tried to bury the compost but couldn’t stop the rodents from finding it. Oh, too much work!! So I didn’t even try that, but I did find out that if I put the grass clippings into it, and remember to give it a spin most days, they break down very quickly, and voila, more composted mulch!

If I had some grass clippings at the time I was putting stuff through the mulcher, it wouldn’t hurt to add them to the mix. If they were already moldy, I would certainly keep clear of the dust and take particular care not breath it.

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Vegetable garden is going fine!

by cjj on November 11, 2014

Vegetable garden with early morning shadow. Vegetable garden. November, mid spring.

 

The vegetable garden continues to provide us with enough vegetables for our real food diet. As well as vegetable and meat meals and salads, we have a green smoothie every day. I love the fact that I can make it all from living vegetables that have been grown completely without man made chemicals. So far, our only fertiliser has been horse manure and organic mulch. On the advice of the local nursery man (Heemskerks in Tamworth) we’re switching to lucern mulch. He pointed out that it is much more nutritious for the plants than sugar cane mulch. (NTS: find a reference for this!)

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Two eggs in the nest of a crested pigeon. Two eggs in the nest of a crested pigeon.

 

I thought I was going well with the winter chores in the garden because I was ready to trim the abelia hedge weeks before the official start to spring … but oh no! I can’t do it now because there’s a nest in it.

On the same note, we have an untidy stack of boxes out side the back door, and there’s a nest in there too!! So that mess will just have to stay there for a while. After all, the birds live here too!

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Garden’s progress

by cjj on June 1, 2014

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First day of winter today. We are so lucky to be able to grow vegetables during winter. There are enough green leafy veges here now, to keep us supplied with green smoothies. Actually the weather has been unusually warm and I even still have basil plants. There are also lots of so called weeds that are becoming part of our staple diet.
The downside of warm weather at this time of year is that there are still so many flies. Never been so bad 🙁

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A new vege garden

by cjj on April 29, 2014

Even though I’m making daily progress with my Chinese, I haven’t been able to keep up with the challenge. (I’m up to Lesson 338 today) But I think I have a really good excuse. We have been making this new garden to grow green leafy vegetables … for green smoothies. And it’s been a lot of hard work. We’ve had to bring in loads of manure and even loam. These patches of dirt will grow the quickest green leafy veg. And seeing as it’s well into autumn here and things are slowing down, we need  to give  them every chance to grow well.

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Wow! So long since my last post!

by cjj on January 16, 2012

I can’t believe it has been so long since I last made a post on this blog. It’s only because I’ve been incredibly busy!
For most of November however I didn’t even have my computer. I only had a small notebook to work on. No fun making posts when you can’t quite see what you’re doing. My computer was at the doctors because it had a strange habit of rebooting itself when I didn’t ask it to. It was at the doctors for so long because they wanted to see this strange behaviour, and guess what! It didn’t do it! Not once! My guess is the 3 hour trip on a rough dirt road shook the loose parts back into their correct places. If I had known that, I would have just dropped it out the window at home .. to fix it 🙂

My next excuse for not blogging is that I started spending every night of the week talking with new friends in China! Yes, really! I found these people on a web site called Lang-8.com They can all speak Mandarin, and they are learning English. So we agreed to help each other. Amazing how much time you don’t have when you decide to do something like that every night. But that was only quite late at night after we had finished doing things around the house.

Because it’s summer here, the days are very long. Naturally J and I have things to do outside, things like putting an electric fence around our house! We did that in the week before Christmas, and then we went away for almost a week and stayed with J’s cousins, the ones that grow hay at Dungowan. Of course we had a great time, lots of socialising with neighbours and family. Sad when that was over, but then we had my family to look forward to.

The next week we had guests at home. My twin sister and her husband drove up from Sydney. It was a great week, especially when our sister joined us for a few days. She brought a tent with her and camped in the back yard! So still no time for blogging. No time for my favourite hobby either, that is, studying Chinese.

Since they all left and we’ve been alone, I’ve found a little time to study, but we have had another important job to do. We have to paint the roof of our house!!! After decades of wanting to, we finally bought a solar hot water system .. and a solar power system. Both have large panels that go on the roof. They can’t go on there though, until the roof is painted because it badly needs to be painted! It’s a tin roof and the paint is peeling off. We collect drinking water off the roof so it’s about time we repaired it. Because it’s summer, it’s hot during the day, too hot to paint a roof, so we’re doing it in the early morning and late evening. Just a little bit every day, well most days. Today it’s been raining … so I have time to write this blog!

And that is why I haven’t written anything in a long time.

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Our latest home improvements!

by cjj on October 18, 2011

Flower pot brackets

Flower pot brackets

They might look a little strange in this photo, but I love the shadows on the white walls. In a little while they will be festooned with flowers and looking just lovely. We made these brackets from some rusty steel we bought at the local hardware shop. I love being able to transform raw materials into something useful, and in this case so smooth, clean and white!

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Aquarium update

by cjj on October 1, 2011

Little worms have been pestering the mystery snails so badly that some of them have died. So action was needed.
One plan to get rid of the worms was to buy a fish or 2. Hence Little red and Big blue. They are common gold fish (comets), but a little bit more decorative. We’re not sure if they’re eating the worms, but they spit out the baby snails who don’t seem to mind nearly being eaten. There really are too many baby snails though, so it would be handy if they were on the fish’s menu.
For the moment, the big snails are in a separate container that I am monitoring carefully. It’s a bit milky because there is no filtering going on. We have a pump in there though and because the water is being stirred up, and there is a sea shell in there, the water acidity is staying neutral. I’m changing half the water every day, and keeping it warm with hot water bottles leaning against the outside. The heating should not have been necessary except we have a sudden cold change in the weather.

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A Frosty Morning

by cjj on June 25, 2011

J was up early this morning and ventured outside. It was good of him to take the camera. Frosts are beautiful, and around here, and usually means a clear sunny day, which it was.

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Too cold, and too busy.

by cjj on June 12, 2011

Using a chain to move a big rock.

Using a chain to move a big rock.

I haven’t been doing any posts on my blog lately because it’s been too cold! The room where I have my computer is too hard to heat, so on frosty nights, there is no way I’m going to work at my desk. And recently it has been frosty. Today though, it is raining, so not all that cold.

Another reason I haven’t been at my computer all that much is that we have been doing stuff. We are trying to make our place a little bit nicer than it is and that means work! For example, the rock in the photo was in the way when we tried to mow. It was bigger than we thought it was too, so after a bit of digging we needed the chain on the truck to move it. It did too, it just pulled it out of a deep hole and dragged it along the ground.

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