Sustainable House Day

The verge garden is part of Bendigo’s Sustainable House Day (SHD) being held Sunday October 27.

In preparation I have re-mulched the verge beds with a think layer of straw.
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The timing was perfect with 5-10mm of rain falling a few days later to settle it all down. The potatoes also seemed to like the mulch and have grown a few centimetres over the last few days as well.

Busy preparing some signs and fact sheets so SHD participants can get the low-down on how to start their own verge garden.

Potatoes up and going

So its been a few weeks since the potatoes went in the ground and they are looking amazing. I will need to keep mulching then a) to suppress the green manure and b) to promote more yield. Potatoes were planted about a month ago now. Watering will be key as the weather starts to warm up.

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Also have some capsicums in. Having a bit of a tough time among the green manure but they will kick on soon. Butternut pumpkin seedlings (purchased) are looking OK as well.

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Aside from the vegetables growing on the verge I have some carrots, peas, corn, tomatoes, capsicums and beans happening within the confines of the property. Raspberries are about a foot high and growing profusely. Strawberries are also starting to flower, rhubarb is about a foot high as well although needs more water as a few plants have bolted. The 3 blueberries have flowered profusely so fingers crossed we are in for a good crop.

Need to get more seeds in the ground. Won’t be this weekend as I am running the Melbourne marathon but now daylight saving is here evenings are available and a good chance to get the boys outside getting soil under their nails 🙂

Still mowing…

Part of the reason for starting a verge garden was to cut down on the amount of pointless mowing. While there is still some grass remaining surrounding the garden beds I have also been having to mow the garden beds. The green manure (see cover crop), even though it was mowed before planting the potatoes has still been furiously growing. No major issue although now I have to be careful to dodge the growing spuds, capsicums and pumpkin plants in amongst it all. Need to get onto my straw supplier so I can lay down a nice think mat.

Soil blocking – fail :(

So I invested in a hand blocker to get some seedings up and going in preparation to plant out after the cold and frosty weather passed. Did a bit of research and decided to stay clear of peat moss given it’s not sustainably harvested. So went to the hardware store to find some cocopeat which they had but only really course fibrous stuff. Figured I’d be able to pull out and use the finer fibres to make my blocking mix.

The blocking mix turned out to be OK although 50% of the blocks created fell apart – no problems they just went back into the mix to reuse again. Planted a heap of seeds and covered them with my simple little plastic shade house. Unfortunately non of the seeds germinated. While some of the problem could be put down to lack of watering, I suspect it was because the blocking mix was just too course. So my next challenge is to find some fine cocopeat and try again.

Green manure cut down and potatoes planted

Took the opportunity to cut down the green manure and drop the seed potatoes into the warming soil. Four varieties comprising Sebago & Ruby Lou in one bed with Nicola & Desiree in the other. Its amazing just how much the straw & chicken manure have mulched down so it required a little bit of muscle on the end of a spade to cut a deep enough slot to deposit the seed potatoes into. Good thing is the potatoes will break up the soil and if I keep mulching them as they grow we’ll have more than enough spuds to fill our tummies.

Seed library

Just read an article on Modern Farmer describing the increasing interest in seed libraries in the USA. I like the concept and I guess neighbours/friends have probably been nurturing informal seed libraries amongst themselves for a long time. A quick Google search shows Seed Savers maintain a list of seed libraries in Australia with one operating in Bendigo (something I am going to follow up).

While a seed library is a useful idea in itself, it is really the educational aspects on the benefits of starting and maintaining a backyard (or verge) vegie garden that is really lacking. Sure there is no shortage of information available on the web or courses detailing the ins and outs but, if you are like me, the enthusiasm and knowledge deteriorates after a little while.

The idea of using more information learning techniques such as mentoring is what would be beneficial. Having access to the a range of people with the same interests would allow knowledge to be transacted in a more informal way. Ultimately it is about sharing rather than hoarding the knowledge we have with the ultimate goal being to do things more efficiently.

Do you know of any garden groups that work like this?