Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Garden Diary

Peas, dwarf beans and broad beans sown on the 8th Feb began flowering over the past week.

That was 6 weeks from being sown, which is pretty bang on and the plants are very healthy.

Getting to Know Your Soil: Colour

Every soil has it's own combinations of characteristics, that affect the nature of your soil and how it performs.  These characteristics can be broadly grouped into three, inter-connected, groupings:
  • Physical
  • Chemical
  • Biological

Lets Get Physical!

The physical characteristics of your soil are the aspects that you can actually see and feel.  They include it's colour, texture, structure, strength, depth and stoniness.

In this post, we're going to look solely at the colour of your soil.

Soil Profiles

"dark, crumbly with a hint of stickiness,
3000 years young, 
seeks similar for fun and good times!"

Okay, so not perhaps the kind of profile you were expecting... :)

The soil profile is a 3-dimensional section of the soil.  In this, you can detect different layers (the 'horizons'), which are influenced by different factors in soil formation (see the 'Soil: What it is and where it came from' post) and also drainage and management practises.  A soil profile can vary from as little as a few centimetres, to many metres in depth.

The different horizons can be detected by being able to distinguish the separate colours, structure and textures from one to the next.  In theory...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Soil: What it is and where it came from

It has always amazed me how many of us are ignorant of the earth we stand on.

Even gardeners are often confused about where their soil came from, what type it is and how it can affect the plants that they grow.  Many will follow standard instructions on adding sand to clay to help it drain, and lime to sweeten it, without really understanding why they're doing it or the effect these actions may have.

So, to try and increase our knowledge a bit, this is going to be the first of a series of posts designed to give the average Joe (or Wayne if you're an Aussie!), a good working knowledge of soil.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Glyphosate: a revisit

Back in the UK when I was a lowly agri student, the prospect of reducing costs in an agriculture enterprise by being able to happily spray a broad spectrum herbicide, that apparently had no affect on fauna or the soil, and having crops that were resistant to this, was interesting.

I had always been uncomfortable with the use of chemicals, but willing to use them in certain situations, when I could ensure that they were being used as safely as possible.  So, to me, glyphosate was "just another chemical".  One of the many that were used in agriculture.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weeds: a revisit

I've just come back to writing this blog after a bit of an absence, and found that my views on some things have grown and, perhaps, matured.

For example, the What are weeds? post I wrote originally for the purposes of the HomeOne forum and then duplicated here.

Since writing it, I have decided I am in fact happy to have dandelions in my veg and flower beds too!  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is our greatest terrestial carbon reservoir?

For as long as I can remember, the world has been obsessed with the protection of rain forests.  As the threat of global climate change becomes reality, we are now obsessed with things like pollution levels, carbon capture and our own individual carbon footprints.

The other day I was told by a lecturer that an increase in terrestrial carbon levels (that stored in the soil and vegetation worldwide) of 15% would reverse the impact of fossil fuel pollution that has occurred since the industrial revolution.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My take on organic gardening...

A question I'm asked often, is: "where do you stand on organic gardens?".

Generally, I answer this with a smile and a dismissive: "on the soil of course!".

The reason for this awkwardness is not to be rude or to belittle the questioner in any way, it's simply to cover up my own embarrassment because, to be honest, I haven't yet made up my mind.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA)

I just wanted to throw a wee nod in here for SGA. :)

I think they're excellent and I love watching their Footprint Flicks with the ever enthusiastic Helen Tuton (AKA The Barefoot Gardener).  Helen specialised in soil science and sustainable soil management, so she's a girl after my own heart.

Anyway, the Footprint Flicks are entertaining and a good starting point for those in particular who want to increase their knowledge in certain areas, so please take a look.

As for Helen, she hasn't done much on her own blog, but you can follow her posts and those of the other SGA writers on their site.  Helen's "In Your Patch" posts are good for those of us who're not entirely sure what we should be planting or doing in our garden and give a good summary by climate.

SGA also provide workshops and training, produce booklets and have an online shop.  I like the Home Harvest Booklet, which is a good read for those who are completely new to gardening, especially growing their own food, and don't know where to start.

Why not take a look?

Myrtle Rust

Myrtle Rust, the Uredo rangelii fungal pathogen, was first discovered in NSW at a cut flower production property.  This was in late April 2010.

Action was taken quickly to try to prevent it's spread: a quarantine area was established around the property; affected plants were sprayed with a fungicide, before being removed and destroyed; movements of people and plants to and from neighbouring properties were traced; a surveillance program was put in place; properties approved to import plants in the family Myrtaceae were investigated, but no signs of disease were detected.

Myrtle rust on a Melaleuca paperbark
Myrtle rust on a Melaleuca paperbark (courtesy of the DPI)