Tag Archives: garden

And there was rain

16 Apr

This is the second day straight we have had rain. So what better time to get my mulch happening? While doing the groceries I collected a bunch of cardboard, and went past the garden centre to get a bag of organic compost. I’m not even really the gardening type (yet. YET.) much less the gardening-in-the-rain type, so I’m proud of myself for going out and getting wet and dirty. It’s much easier to garden on a nice day when the plants are practically glowing. But the rain was soft and it wasn’t cold, so it was actually OK.

This is the before picture of the garden. Note that we have been using the bottom terrace as a compost heap.

Laying down the cardboard. I only got enough for the bottom terrace so will have to do the second one next time. I'm not bothering with the top one as it is too hard to get to.

The baby watches from the dry and warm... but really wishes he was outside with his Mama!

Then a layer of newspaper to cover any gaps.

A bag of compost seems quite big in the shop, but it looks like I'll have to get a couple more next time I'm at the garden centre!

And that’s my first mulched bed. Go to work, rain!

Advertisements

Sterile seeds

14 Apr

I learnt last night, towards the end of ‘Choosing Eden‘, that a type of seed has been designed to genetically switch off a plants ability to germinate a second time. It’s called Terminator technology, or the official wag: Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURTs). It seems strange that I never knew this before, but the very idea is unfathomable: that someone would be stupid and selfish enough to deliberately stop a plant reproducing in order to force farmers to buy seeds over and over again. It’s just another example of how money gets in the way of life.

Imagine if Monsanto actually got away with this. It strikes me as being a violation of human rights. Are company profits so much more important than farmers’ livelihoods? Sterile seeds are almost like forced sterilisations of women. Less immediately hurtful, but just as devastating.

I’m relieved to learn there is an international moratorium on field tests and commercial use, although according to the site Ban Terminator, the Canadian government is trying to overturn the moratorium. Apparently NZ and Australia are in on the act too. Shame on us!

When putting in my garden I plan to use heirloom seeds as much as possible and learning how to save my seeds.

Mulch, mulch, glorious mulch

13 Apr

Since we’re coming up to winter, I’ve decided that the most useful thing I can do for my garden-to-be (apart from plan it) is to get mulching. From what I understand of permaculture so far, mulching is a method of preparing the soil that doesn’t require any digging, and has lots of benefits. Not requiring any digging sounds like a benefit to me! But it also “improves nutrient and water retention in the soil, encourages favorable soil microbial activity and worms, and suppresses weed growth” 1. And the plants grow with ‘vigor’. Vigor sounds good! Given my poor track record of sustaining gardens for more than a month, I’d like to give this garden a good head start at least.

According to Wikipedia, this is what I need to do:

  1. The area of interest is flattened by trimming down undesirable and/or invasive plant species such as weeds and grasses.
  2. The soil is analyzed and its pH is adjusted (if needed). [Note to self: figure out how to analyse the soil pH.]
  3. The soil is moisturized (if needed) to facilitate the activity of decomposers.
  4. [Add in some manure.]
  5. The soil is then covered with a thin layer of slowly-decomposing material (known as the weed barrier), typically cardboard. This suppresses the weeds by blocking sunlight, adds nutrients to the soil as weed matter quickly decays beneath the barrier, and increases the mechanical stability of the growing medium.
  6. A layer (around 10 cm thick) of weed-free soil rich in nutrients is added.
  7. A layer (at most 15 cm thick) of weed-free, woody and leafy matter. Theoretically, the soil is now ready to receive the desirable plant seeds.

But first, I need to plan where and what I’m going to do with my garden.