Our new, very big compost bin has arrived. With all the rain we've had, the area around the compost bins has become quite wet and not too pleasant to work on, and the weeds/grass are taking over. We have managed to bag up some free road-side mulch, which will fix the problem. First we put down layers of cardboard and newspaper, covering the area around the bins. A thick layer of mulch was then placed over the cardboard. This should settle well over the school holidays while there is no traffic on the area.
The potatoes are growing well, and we've added a few more layers of tyres.
We may finally have a solution to the mystery of the snowpea and watermelon seedlings, which went missing without a trace last term. A visit by Katrina to the garden late one afternoon found a flock of ibis making themselves quite at home there. Earlier this term we noticed rather significant pock marks in the mulch around the corn seedlings, which now make sense because they clearly fit the profile of an ibis's beak! So it seems the ibis were responsible for eating our seedlings! Not content with seedlings, they've apparently been devouring the juicy worms which are growing fat in our layered garden beds. We really want to keep our worms, as they continue to improve the soil daily. As a solution to this problem, we put thick layers of newspaper around the corn seedlings and mulched over the top with lucern. That should keep the ibis at bay!
At the garden we have a pile of spare car tyres, so we decided to make use of them to plant some potatoes. Grayson, Vincent and Ioan were keen potato planters, placing soil, followed by sprouted potato pieces, more soil and finally mulch in the bottom of the tyres, then watering well. Over the weeks, 4 out of 9 have grown into potato plants. As they grow, we are adding more soil and mulch, leaving part of the plant to stick out of the top. More tyre layers are added as the plants grow taller.
Rumi, Sam & Rueben took on the task of planting some pigeon pea seedlings (donated by Andrea) along one edge of our garden area. These plants will help to break down the soil, which is mostly clay, ready for planting fruit trees at a later time. They had their work cut out for them, as digging was quite difficult in the hard ground.
Unfortunately, something got to our watermelon vine during the Easter school holidays and destroyed our fledgling melons. We decided to mulch over the vine and continue layering up the garden bed, for another planting at a later date.
Lellie, Tammy and Cienna have planted tomato and strawberry seeds in seed raising trays.
With all of the food waste we generate at St John's, our compost bin has filled up quickly. While we wait for our new, bigger bin to arrive in a few weeks, we need to reuse the current bin, which means emptying it. We came up with a way to use the waste in its current form (ie, not yet fully decomposed)... If we buried it in the centre of the banana donut garden, and mulched well with a thick layer of newspaper followed by straw, it could safely break down there, bringing in an abundance of worms over time, and creating lovely rich soil to be used on the banana plants at a later date. After some brave Year 6 boys lifted the bottomless bin to reveal the layers of compost in various stages of decomposition, Michael and Katrina took responsibility for moving the waste.
Some not-so-good news this month... Something has completely eaten (or removed?) our watermelon seedlings (planted in-between the banana suckers) and our snowpea seedlings. There is simply no trace of them. It's a bit of a mystery, as none of our other seedlings have been touched.
But, some good news... Our corn seeds have successfully sprouted, so we planted them into our remaining raised garden bed. We also decided to put in two extra banana suckers, as there was a bit of space to fill in the banana garden.
We're off on our Easter school holidays now for two weeks. Let's hope we get some rain in the holidays!
Mr Bleakley and the Garden Club have been busy on Tuesdays tidying up and mulching all of the decorative gardens around the school buildings and playground. Our school is looking great!
The Garden Club has also been working with Katrina on Fridays to continue the progress of the kitchen garden on the top oval...planting basil, spinach, tomato, marigold, snowpea and watermelon seedlings. We have also planted corn and sunflower seeds (donated by Andrea), hoping they will soon sprout into seedlings to plant in our garden.
We have continued to build up the layers in our as-yet-unused remaining raised garden bed, in an effort to create soil good enough to plant in. We have used newspaper, green garden waste, cow and chicken manure, lucerne, and straw. As the lower layers break down, we will continue to top up. More and more worms are coming in, doing a great job breaking down the raw materials, helping us to create our own soil. It's wonderful to see so many worms...lots of worms mean good, healthy soil.
Banana plants need lots of water and food, so we have fertilised our banana donut garden with a rich mixture of manures, and made sure to give it a good watering weekly. Onion weed continues to sprout around the donut so we have dealt with this by placing a thick layer of newspaper over the weeds and mulching over the top with straw. The bananas are looking good! The watermelon vine has a few small fruit on it, and one larger one. We fertilised and mulched this garden bed as well.
Mrs Salmon has brought a wonderful new compost bin into our kitchen garden for the start of the school year. Here our “waste warriors” will make daily deposits of all our food scraps. To keep the compost healthy and breaking down at a good pace, we need to ensure that it remains “aerobic”. This means lots of air and not too much moisture. If it becomes anaerobic (less oxygen, more moisture) it will be smelly and break down very slowly. So, along with each bucket of food scraps, the waste warriors will add a bucket of dry material, such as leaves, lawn clippings, shredded paper, sawdust or torn newspaper. Just to be sure to stop the compost from becoming smelly, the waste warriors will add a few handfuls of hydrated lime each week.
Hooray!! Our garden shed is up! Now we have a place to store our tools and all the other materials we need for working in our garden. Thanks Michael, and helper, Katrina.
Our school Garden Club is up and running. We plan to meet at lunch time on Tuesdays (with Mr Bleakley) and on Fridays (with Katrina).
Andrea planted watermelon seedlings in one of the raised garden beds, which we hope will continue to grow over the Christmas holidays!
Mr Bleakley organised for a local concreter to come in during the holidays and pour the slab for our shed base…ready to erect in the new school year 2014.
Kinder’s Sunflower Garden
Malte & Marlo from Kinder have been busy gardeners at home, sprouting seeds and raising seedlings. They brought in six sunflower seedlings and two tomato seedlings for their class to plant in the school garden. We used the new keyhole garden, planting directly into the layers, but adding a pot-full of rich composted soil around the little seedlings.
Mini Working Bee
Lynnette, Nicolette and Katrina got together and tackled the invasive vine along the side fence. It is taking some work to remove it!
Katrina worked with a group of children from Year 6 and Aspect during morning tea and lunchtime play breaks to start on the no-dig gardens in our new raised beds. Kilani, Sam, Rumi, Quinn, Ioan and Marlin enjoyed layering-up using newspaper, green garden waste, cow manure, lucerne and straw. Thank you to Karen who came along to assist during morning tea break.