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Hello from eastern Australia

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Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/4/2013, 3:06 am

Hi all, I'm Em and I live near Coffs Harbour on the sunny Mid North Coast of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia which is pretty much the southern most tip of the Subtropic Hardiness Zone.

Most of my gardens are filled with natives, tree ferns and drought hardy plants as I live on a small sloped block, I've got some vegetables and herbs growing in pots and Styrofoam boxes but recently I bought myself a 120 cm x 90 cm (4 x 3 ft) raised garden bed to grow vegetables both for me and for my pet rabbits. I placed it on a concrete slab that use to be the 'BBQ area' which faces north and gets sun for most of the day in both summer and winter.

But I've already filled it (with a potting mix and compost) before I came across SFG looking for ideas, but am planning on using the SFG method and ideas in my little garden.
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  ericam on 1/4/2013, 5:58 pm

glad you\'re here

Hi Em, nice to see another Aussie, I'm in western Sydney so not quite as warm as what you get and I started my SFG nearly 12 months ago.

I highly recommend that you get Mel's book and change your mix in your bed before you get planting. You don't need to take out all of the soil, just the top 6" (about 15cm) and replace it with Mel's Mix. It is an expense but it really will get you off to the best possible start.

Just in case you don't know Mel's Mix (MM for short) is 1/3 compost, 1/3 coarse vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss.

Feel free to ask lots of questions, this is a wonderful site full of friendly people who are more than happy to help. As an added bonus a lot of them are in the US and have their gardens shut down for the winter at the moment so they are really happy to see pictures and help us so that they can get their gardening fix! Wink
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  plantoid on 1/4/2013, 6:26 pm

Hi Em ,
Welcome to the site , if you have a photo device would you put up lots of pictures with your posts of your journey into AHSFG and successes
Mels book , our song sheet so to speak is a good one to follow. The details are in my strap lines .
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Hello from Eastern Australia

Post  Ray'ssfg on 1/4/2013, 11:41 pm

Very Happy Hi Em,
I live in East Gippsland in Victoria next to the Gippsland Lakes. It is nice to welcome another Aussie to the forum.
Like Erica suggests it would be worth changing the top part of your soil to Mel's mix before you get too far. You won't regret it.
I will include a photo of my garden which is in full production at present.
I look forward to seeing some pictures and hearing about your progress.
cheers Ray down under
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/5/2013, 5:54 pm

The problem I have at the moment is affording the large amounts of vermiculite and coco peat that'd be required. I'm also planning on starting a compost bin to turn the bunny waste and kitchen scraps into something I can use on my gardens but looks like everything will have to wait until I get more financial.
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  plantoid on 1/5/2013, 6:30 pm

Toady use neat compost if it is all you can get add vermiculite at a later date .
check out the BERKLEY 18 DAY HOT COMPOSTING METHOD for lists of available things ( in the links within ) you can use to make a decent compost, it is not as difficult as you first think .

If you the method precisely you'll soon have your soilless growth medium by the shed load .
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  quiltbea on 1/5/2013, 7:33 pm

Welcome Toady, from the cold northeast of the USA where we're under snow now til March. Its always nice to read about those of you on the other side of the globe with warm weather.

Ray....love the picture of your green garden. Its just the 'fix' I needed while I wrap myself in fleece for another cold nite.
Good luck to our Aussie neighbors.
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/5/2013, 10:10 pm

Thank you Plantoid for that very useful hot composting idea, especially good since the weather's quite warm in Australia at the moment and it uses everything including the scrap hay that I clean out of my bunny crates and the paper litter from the paper kitty litter.

And QuiltBea, I spent some time in Alberta Canada over 5 years ago and it got down to -22 celcius, so I completely understand how darn cold it gets over there for you. Also nice to see a fellow crafter although I've never quilted, just spin wool and occasionally crochet and weave.
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  quiltbea on 1/6/2013, 12:29 pm

Even Mel agrees that if you can't get all the components for his special mix, the thing to add is compost, compost, compost and get started. Its the heart of any good soil.

Toady....I keep busy in my retirement by gardening 3/4 of the year and then making quilt items during the coldest months when my gardens are asleep. Keeps me out of trouble. Very Happy
By the way, I've crocheted lots in my years, even to making sweaters for adults and large afghans and dozens of baby sets. I've always wanted to try spinning, but never did. Lucky you.

Rabbit doo doesn't need composting before you add it to the garden.

To heat up any pile, add nitrogen. I like to add alfalfa meal.

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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  JeanneRamick on 1/6/2013, 6:14 pm

Ray, your garden is fantastic! As QuiltBea said, just the thing for us with snow.

Plantoid, would the Berkly Hot Compost method work with one of those enclosed barrels that gets turned by a crank? At my age, I'm done with the pitch-fork work!

Also, I would echo what everyone else is saying ... if nothing else, more compost. Though it truly is the combination of compost types, vermiculite, and peat moss that's the key to success.

OT: I've combed and spun wool a time or two, myself! Never did get the hang of needles or more than chain crochet. But I've loom knit acres of yarn goods!
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Kelejan on 1/6/2013, 8:25 pm

Welcome Toady (Em),
Just come from Chat and discovered you are a newbie. It was nice having you there and I hope you enjoyed yourself.
Didn't know you were a lady toad, i thought you were a gentleman toad.
Enjoy yourself here, I do.
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Extremely hot tomorrow

Post  Ray'ssfg on 1/7/2013, 4:08 am

Sad Hi folks,
Thought you might be interested if you live in the northern hemisphere, where it is the middle of winter.
Tomorrow it is going to be 44c (112f) over most of Australia. An extreme day predicted with forest and grass fires everywhere. Over 100 homes lost yesterday in Tasmania our smallest state.
My garden has taken a battering and watering 3 times a day. Cooking the fruit on the apple trees.
All the new tips on the plants are burnt off from the heat of the last few days.
The temps are the highest recorded in many places.
Hopefully the garden will survive tomorrow.
cheers Ray
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  walshevak on 1/7/2013, 8:00 am

Bummer!!!! Is there any way for you to get shade on your plants? We deliberately planted some of the tomato in buckets in the shade of an old pin oak tree last summer to filter the late afternoon sun. For the first time we had tomatos survive the 100* plus days until the weather finally broke. No new setting of fruit, but the plants survived to produce later.

Kay

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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Kelejan on 1/7/2013, 8:22 am

Ray, I will no longer complain about our cold and snowy days.
Such a pity we cannot average out our weather with each other.
You know our thoughts are with you.
Hugs.
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  ericam on 1/7/2013, 4:45 pm

Not going to be a pleasant day today, I'm fairly safe where I am but my sister is in an area where they have declared it a catastrophic fire danger zone. This is a relatively new fire warning that came about after the massive Victorian fires a few years ago. Basically it means that if there is a fire, evacuate straight away, don't even try and stay to defend your home.

Scary stuff, I'm praying that it won't come to that but all it takes is one idiot to light a fire for fun for it all to go horribly wrong and it is school holidays so there are a lot of kids out there with nothing better to do...
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/7/2013, 6:34 pm

Erica and Ray, keep cool!! Hopefully our plants will survive these hot days, I watered all of my plants including the orchids at 7 last night and topped up my water containers so I can water again today if needed.

Looked at my future SF garden and so far no direct sunlight, I'm keeping an eye to see when the sun hits it so I know when the hottest times will be for it and if I'll need shade sails.
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Hello from Eastern Australia

Post  Ray'ssfg on 1/9/2013, 6:45 am

Very Happy Hi Folks,
The extreme heat and more than 150 fires fortunately hasn't resulted in loss of life so far. 8 houses burnt in Victoria and lots of grasslands and forests destroyed.
My garden fared pretty well and I did take the suggestion of Kay and put some sheets over my boxes and that certainly helped.
One positive was the tomatoes ripened with a rush and I picked about 8kgs today. Made some spicy tomato ketchup tonight.
Erica, I hope your sister was not effected too much.
Supposed to hit 40c again on Friday.
cheers From a warm downunder, Ray
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Kelejan on 1/9/2013, 8:27 am

Glad you were not too hurt with regard to your garden, Ray. Yes, you had to get busy processing all those toms.
smiles from a cool upover, Kelejan
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/9/2013, 6:25 pm

We're having a one day break from the heat here, it's going to be the hot tomorrow and over the weekend... not looking forward to that! Thankfully my garden and potted tomatoes and herbs seem to be surviving well, my future SFG is still sitting barren with it's layer of shredded paper on top of it.
I brought myself some seeds - chinese broccoli, leaf lettuce mix, radishes, pak choy, endive and mizuna which I'm planning on raising in egg cartons then planting out. I also have some other seeds to raise and plant out- rocket (arugula), carrots, silverbeet (chard) and radicchio. I'm just waiting for this heatwave to go before I try sprouting anything
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/10/2013, 3:38 am

A quick question to all the Aussies, I'm wondering if those big expanding coir blocks for their SFG's (Brunnings I know make 1), found one that make 90L of mix, I think that with some of my mother's worm compost will make a good base for my SFG.

Also does anyone use seed raising mix or just MM?
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/11/2013, 2:39 am

Here's the photo you've all been waiting for... my future SFG!


I added about 45-50L of coco peat/coir to the top 4 or so inches of previous mix.
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hello from eastern Australia

Post  Ray'ssfg on 1/11/2013, 6:34 am

39c again today but toasting that the garden survived again.
Supposed to be a bit better for a few days so planted out onions, carrots and beetroot seedlings tonight.
I like the look of your garden Toady, my sister has a similar tub and it works well.
From my experience you will need to add MM to the peat so that you have enough nutrients. I put a lot of mushroom compost in my new garden and now finding that it is needing extra compost as it is a bit course and I have had trouble getting seeds to strike. It also has settled quite a bit.
My two compost barrels are nearly ready so will add a lot to the mix. They make about a large wheel barrow each time.
I have just finished putting up a new shade house so can start growing all my own seedlings in trays. I put enough in for a square every few days, so gradually build up a supply.
I will put a photo up in a day or so.
cheers Ray
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  Toady on 1/11/2013, 3:34 pm

Ray, the coir is the start of my MM, have to add some compost when the worm farm's ready to empty and at the moment can't afford the big bag of vermiculite so going with a 50/50 mix of compost/coir for the top few inches of the garden bed. I'll also be watering my plants with liquid worm poo and seasol when my plants get big enough to transfer into there.

Fellow Aussies, keep cool in this crazy weather!!
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

Post  plantoid on 1/11/2013, 3:57 pm

JeanneRamick wrote:Ray, your garden is fantastic! As QuiltBea said, just the thing for us with snow.

Plantoid, would the Berkly Hot Compost method work with one of those enclosed barrels that gets turned by a crank? At my age, I'm done with the pitch-fork work!

Also, I would echo what everyone else is saying ... if nothing else, more compost. Though it truly is the combination of compost types, vermiculite, and peat moss that's the key to success.

OT: I've combed and spun wool a time or two, myself! Never did get the hang of needles or more than chain crochet. But I've loom knit acres of yarn goods!

Well the cranked barrel does exactly as the Berkley when you tunr it every three days or so with a full load and don't add any more materials till you have removed the finished comnpost .
As long as it can get the heat build up to fast breed the useful bacteria and fungi. So If your living in the freezer at present perhaps not workable unless you can some how insulate and or heat the contents of the barrel . You'll most likely see your barrel freeze solid till spring as well if it cant be heated and insulated
Some of the big Swedish jobbies are housed in the basements of blocks of flats and are electricall turned and heated Massive things doing a cubic yerd or more every few days.
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Hello from Eastern Australia

Post  Ray'ssfg on 1/13/2013, 3:19 am

cheers Hi folks up there in the snow.
I have included a few photos of my garden to cheer you up.


Tomatoes picked today

New shade house

close up of bed

salad onions

zucchini plant

Pumpkin plant

Peppers

Flower garden

cheers From down under, Ray
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Re: Hello from eastern Australia

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