Sunday, December 30, 2012

Molasses based fertiliser using seaweed emulsion or worm "juice"/castings tea..

We have seen some great growth lately after applying molasses based liquid fertilisers so thought I would share how we have been mixing it up.. Will be moving onto a worn "juice"/wee & worm casting tea once the seaweed emulsion runs out..



Have a great one all..
: )»

Friday, December 28, 2012

Aquaponic nutrient & pH testing..


Time to test the nutrient & pH levels in the aquaponic system so thought I would show you how I do it..


Also gives a quick VERY basic explanation on the nitrification cycle..


For more regular updates about the patch come visit us at https://www.facebook.com/Bitsouttheback
Have a great one All...
:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

End of October Update, Seedlings & spice..


Well we have just finished a 2 week holiday of sorts with Bianca having a few weeks off.. I feel like we got a load done around the house as well as the patch..

Aquaponics..
Well, WE GOT POWER!!!
**does a little happy dance**
The day after the last blog we got power connected to a post in the aquaponic area..This has made the whole yard a lot tidier with less cords & hoses laid out everywhere..

No longer do I have to connect 2 together to water the beds behind the chook house & blueberry in the back corner.. The hose can also reach the mulberry tree up at the side of the house..



Another jobbie that has been sorted is the backup air pump for the aquaponics for when/if the power fails..

This has given us some peice of mind but would still like to refine it further if I can scrounge some parts.. To start with, a solar charger for the battery would be great.. Would also like to try to run the 12v pump via a inverter & UPS set up but that is still being researched..
Had a bit of a scare with nutriment readings from the system this week.. The pH has dropped to 5.6, ammonia is steady at 0.5ppm with nitrites trace... The big shock was the nitrates that have spiked to above 80ppm (hard to tell for sure as I have lost the card that goes with the kit).. A few of the plants had started to yellow off a bit so I dosed the system up with some iron & upped the feed for a few days but I think it may be the acid conditions causing the yellowing off.. I posted an enquiry on my Backyard aquaponic forum thread & have been told it's not as bad as I thought but should be addressed ASAP... Slacked lime (also known as hydrated lime, brickies lime, Calcium hydroxide) was also suggested as a quick way to bring it up & an option I was considering, Thanks .. I  decided to add some shell grit to buffer/raise the pH as we already had a bag under the house that we use to supplement the chooks diet.. My mistake there was to tie a insect exclusion bag to the water inflow tap on a grow bed so the water could flow directly over the grit..
After some fish solids had collected it made the bag less water permeable & the bag swelled up over the side of the bed under the pressure..
The water had to go somewhere so it  started to  overflow down into a tray of pepino cuttings underneath.. At least all was not waisted &I think they all loved a good drink of fishy water..
I decided that having the water flow through the bags wasn't necessary so just tied them off & placed them in the clay directly under the taps..
I think we lost ½ the sump, about 300L, over night so that shall be replaced on Friday.. I will hold off adjusting with slacked lime until the system is topped up just to see if the the fresh water (which I know is alkaline here) will help raise the pH..



Community gardens...
Have been visiting the local community garden as much as we can on the weekends.. I am really loving the social aspect as well as learning about different plants, skills sets & ideas others have to share.. Just to give you some idea of what the garden looks like I have done a small walk around clip...

 Hopefully a full clip behind the ideas of the garden & the future plans will be made in the near future..
Last week we were lucky enough to have a tall raised garden bed donated & installed by the local Bunnings store..
It was great that not only did they supply the bed, help to assemble it but also provided the gravel, soil, mulch & plants needed to get it all up & growing..
I think these raised beds are a great idea especially in a community garden.. Members of the community that have back & other mobility issues will now have somewhere where they can comfortably garden & help out.. If we could get a few more of these beds set up we may be able to encourage a few more people to participate in the garden & maybe decide to have a go at growing their own food at home..

Turmeric..
Thought we may have lost the turmeric that we left in the ground over winter so we planted out a few more corms..
We didn't need to worry it appears as the plants in the IBC beds have all survived & sent up new shoots..


Seeds & seedlings...
16th October (missed from last post)
1 row Bulls Blood Beetroot (BOGI) into bed #1
1 row of Dragon Carrots (Eden Seeds) into bed #5..
18th October
7 Passion fruit Giant Granadilla (BOGI) into 2 pots
(These are the largest of the passion fruit family with fruit up to 40cm in length)
 2 lots of Mini Lee watermelon seeds (BOGI) into IBC Wicking beds near the AP & house..
22nd October
3 x red tomatillo seedlings into bed #1
3 x purple tomatillo seedlings into bed #2
24th October
Planted a few of the trees we got from the BOGI fair into larger post & installed Wetpots into them I did a little clip explaining what Wetpots are & how they are installed..

I think the plants will be very happy here over summer until we finish the design for the front yard where they will be planted out..

28th October
3 x turmeric corms into pots
9 x asparagus seedlings (THANKS Tammy) into 2 pots, added to Wetpot system
3 x Opal/Sweet basil mix into bed #2
1 x Thai Basil into spice bed behind aquaponics
1 x Yakon into wicking barrel at the end of bed #3
Potted up the following seedlings that had been sitting in the trays..
1 x Yellow 7 chilli
5 x Bih Jolokia chilli
5 x Jalapeno chilli
8 x Udumalapet eggplant

30th October

1 x Blueberry bush (BOGI Fair) into Wicking barrel..



That's about it for now... Will do a harvest update for the past month when I can scrounge some time..
Have a great one all..

: )»

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Better late than never.. A quick catch up for October..

Decided that my scratchings in the note book really aren't a great way of keeping tabs on what is happening in the patch so have once again made a vow to myself to keep this blog up to date so I can keep track of any mistakes & successes we have in the patch while sharing it with the world, umm, a few others as well.. I might even learn a thing or two which would be nice..

Catching up on the patch...
I think the easiest way to bring you up to date is via a quick walk through of the veggie patch & aquaponic system.. I tend to do a garden walk through one week & an aquaponic one the next... I have posted the latest of each here for anyone interested..
The aquaponic one is up to date as it was filmed late last week..
We are expecting to have the sparky turn up first thing in the morning so by lunch time the aquaponics should be right to plug into its very own power source..
This garden clip was shot on the 5th of October... A new garden walk through will be shot later this week..
I always find it interesting to see the growth in the plants from fortnight to fortnight.. Some plants like the zucchini & pumpkins just grow so fast.. 
Seeds & seedlings...
A fair bit has been planted out over the past few weeks...
The list of seeds that we have been sown out were being listed in the "Planting Diary" but now I shall be listing them on the weekly blog posts instead..
Seedlings...
On the 13th of October we planted out...........
3x bush beans (Ipswich Twilight markets) into Bed#4
1x bush bean (Ipswich Twilight markets) into aquaponic bed
3x Bulls Horn Capsicum (saved seed) into Bed#1
3x capsicum (Diggers 7 colour mix) into Bed#1
2x capsicum (Diggers 7 colour mix) into Bed#2
3x lettuce (Ipswich Twilight markets) into IBC wicking beds (Aquaponics area)
1x lettuce (Ipswich Twilight markets) into Aquaponic constant flow bed
2x lettuce (Ipswich Twilight markets) into Bed #4
1 nasturtium (Ipswich Twilight markets) was planted into each of the following beds,spice wicking bed (aquaponics area), spice IBC (behind chook house), pumpkin IBC & under the Kaffir Lime tree..

Seeds...
Today (16th October) saw us planting out a few seeds..
4 lots of seed were planted into coco peat pellets (thanks again Watsamadoing),
7x Purple Vienna Kohlrabi (Eden Seeds)
7x Osaka Purple Mustard Greens (BOGI)**
7x Tall Utah Celery (BOGI)
7x bok choi (BOGI)

**(BOGI = Brisbane Organic Growers Inc)


Garden Pond...
About a month & a half ago we decided to plant some water chestnuts into a bucket & keep it in a bathtub pond under the lemon tree at the back of the patch.. Probably wasn't the best idea in hindsight.. The pond had 8 White Cloud Minnows in it when the bucket went in but we quickly noticed a fair amount of leachate coming from it as well as finding a few deceased fish :(» The bucket was quickly removed as were the fish into a fish tank & the whole pond got a good cleaning from top to bottom.. The fish were quickly returned without the chestnut bucket & appeared to be doing rather well.. Well, they were that is until a White Faced heron decided to snack on 2 more.. We don't know for sure that it did but it was seen taking off, rather awkwardly, from the vicinity.. That left us with 3 minnows & little hope of their survival, until the other day that is......
We are rather pleased with this result & were surprised by finding even more over the past few days...

I suppose that's about it for now... Shall be back early next week with another planting update as well as any other interesting Bits from Out the Back...
Have a great one..
Rob...
: )»

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wicking Beds & Barrels for a water wise garden..

As it is getting nearer to spring I thought I would post some Wicking clips for anyone interested in making up some new beds.. There will be more posted in the future as I haven't filmed a complete clip while making a full size bed, only the barrels..

The whole idea behind the wicking system comes from a gentleman by the name of  Colin Austin...
http://waterright.com.au/wicking-bed-history.html
I came across it while we were in the tail end of a drought here in South East Queensland here in Australia & though it was one of the best ways to go to save water in a fairly large back yard veggie patch..
Wicking Barrels MK II..




The above clip is how we now make the Wicking barrels... They are a big improvement on the original design as the water holding capacity of the reservoir has doubled... As the existing barrels finish their crops they are slowly being swapped over to this design...

Wicking Beds...


I have ever only made clips after the fact with the beds so made up a bit of a sideshow clip to show how we made one of the earlier Wicking beds...



Wicking Bathtub...


This was a relative easy build with a free bath we collected from a member of a  local Free Cycle Group..  I must say the plants we had in there were probably a bit too large for the small reservoir in the bath...I think plants like small cropping herbs, leafy greens would probably do better than 5 foot tall lemongrass... Lesson learnt..


Wicking up IBC's (Intermediate bulk containers)...
These guys are a really easy build that could easily be done in a few hours if you were more organised than I...




That's about it for now...
Have a great one all...
: )»



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Walk about the back...

Just a quick walk around clip to show where we are up to...
 Will be spending the week planing the start of the spring patch lay out & setting up some new beds...
What Spring plans do you have ??
Have a great one...
: )»

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Srring time preps...


Bits from the patch...

We have had a great crop of Broccoli & Cauliflower this year especially in the little "white house" with only one incursion by a lone white butterfly.. I actually think it may of emerged from a chrysalis in there as we found no evidence of grubs after finding it..  We have planted out 3 lots of broccoli & caulie's with a forth batch ready to plant out now.. Shall be holding off a week or so until we the current lot of broccoli side shoots have been all picked then the bed needs a good turn & feed before the next batch goes in..

Looks like we will have a bumper crop of the Roi De Carouby snow peas this year.. We did have a small hiccup with all our saved snow peas being mixed which resulted in a crop of both the RDC & mammoth melting that were saved last year... From what I can tell even though they were planted together there is very little chance of cross fertilisation due to the way the flowers then pods form on a pea plant.. We will be planting some to make sure that they are going to grow true to type before offering them to others though..
 The honey pod & sugar snap peas have also done really well so far.. The plants starting to pump out enough pods for a meals worth every second day if the girls don't get to them first.. They have become a bit of a lunch time hit being eaten with a selection of nuts & seeds with a small handful of dried cranberries..

Spring is near, time to get busy...
Even though the summer heat appeals to the lizard in me I really must admit to looking forward to the winter cold & the crops it allows us to grow here in South East Queensland.. We are also lucky
enough to be able to grow some crops through the mild winters like sweet potato, as well as having fruit form on the tomatoes & eggplants.. Another surprise to me so far this year have been the galangal with all putting out new shoots this winter event hough the ginger & turmeric have both had a bit of die back due to the cold..







Started to sort out the bathtubs for the spring & summer crops so needed to harvest the lemongrass from the tub up the side of the house... The plant was divided & 3 were planted into a re worked wicking barrel & 8 small shoots were potted out.. To get soil for them I needed to raid the water chestnut tub where I got a bit of a surprise as some had started to shoot already..

I have a feeling that I may have planted out the water chestnuts & lemongrass it a bit to early as we have had a few nights at or bellow 0°C here... They are not looking the best at all..

Worm Bathtub farm..

Have made up a bathtub worm farm over the past week.. The stand is made from some old metal chair frames that were reborn into the Aquaponic barrel system frame & have been reincarnated once again to hold up the tub... The red side rails are from an old discarded bed frame & the bath was the old water chestnut bed.. The drainage rocks cost $7 & the weed cloth was under $2 so was a really cheap build..
Sort of forced myself to do it as I have harvested all the worms from the blue barrel farm so that can be turned into a Black Solider Fly Larvae (BSFL) farm... Once it's up & running I shall do a post on the farm & the BSFL themselves...


That's about it for now...Have a good one...
**wanders off to start worm harvesting**

: )»

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Have fish will grow..

This is one post I am very happy to be able to do as I think we are finely there… It has taken us a while but I am now happy with the way the Aquaponic system is going… The last 2 grow beds have finely been plumbed into place after being used first as de chlorinating trays then being invaded by tadpoles… Although it was great to see 2 different species of frogs use them to grow into fully functioning members of the amphibian community it is great to see them used for their intended purpose…To begin with we were tossing up with the idea of using gravel in the grow beds but as We already had 3/4 of a bed worth so it & had been very frugal in other parts of the budget we decided on splurging on Aqua Clay for these 2 beds…  The pipe work was another part of the system that I had been undecided on… Initially I wanted to stay away from ridged pipes but found them the best way to plumb up the system.. The clip bellow brings you up to where we are up to at the moment…







Something I didn’t mention in the clip is that the Ammonia & Nitrites are only showing trace readings at best & the Nitrates are not really showing up at all.. The pH has been stable at 6.5 so that's also good.. Fairly happy about that as it means all the nutrients are being used up by the plants.. It will be something I shall be monitoring over the next week though with the added grow medium..
The first thing that was planted into the new beds was some purple Vienna kohlrabi & some rainbow chard seedlings… The first bed had some of the strawberries thinned out & moved over with all but 1 green onions also being transplanted as well.. 
I must say that I had no idea how many strawberry runners had taken hold I the original bed.. There are now over 25 from the original 5 or 6 that were planted in there originally.. All the smaller spring onions got a trim then were planted out into Bed #1.. All but 1 of the larger ones got a trim & were planted into a new Grow bed..  The one that was left is being  used as a guinea pig for a detergent based aphid spray along with the bulls horn Capsicum & the Chinese red shallots we got from a You tuber on the Sunshine Coast.. I think the Strawberries shall be pulled soon & added to a grow tube or 3 to make room for more greens in the beds in the future..
The only part left of the system that really should have been completed is the backup air system for the fish tank just in case of a power failure.. We have the pump & the Relay used to allow power from the car battery to run the pump... All that we need is the battery itself & a small 9v adaptor to run the Relay..  We have the sparky lined up to set up a permanent power supply to the patch & a utility light for night time viewing as well as attracting fresh insect food for the Jade perch.. The only thing stopping the power being laid is my motivation & a few extra coins in the jobbies jar to pay the sparky..

That's about it for now... Shall try to post at least once a month for anyone who is still following..
Have a great one....

: )»



Monday, April 23, 2012

Aquaponics, Jade perch & a bit of a roundup.....


Aquaponic update…
We finally have some table fish in the Aquaponic system… We ordered 25 Jade Perch from ANFE & picked them up on Thursday the 12th of April… Just held off posting to made certain I didn't "loose" any ;)»




Aquaponic mishaps...



Spent the past few days playing around with the pipe work for the system after having a few HSM's (HOLY SHIT/SUGAR/SHIVA moment's) with the FT (fish tank) overflowing due to clogged ports.. The fish are eating the algal growth & the stray bits are causing blockages in the drilled out end caps of the SLO's (Solids Lifting Overflow) that feed the GB (grow bed) & empty back into the sump.. I added an "emergency overflow" port that runs directly into the sump as an extra precaution..   I was looking at increasing the size of the holes in the end caps of the SLO's but received a comment on the clip from a most helpful viewer that recommended  making slits in the pipes instead of holes & run them vertically down the uptake pipe so did them first thing this morning.. Thanks "youronnit" 
A make shift cover was made up to help keep sunlight out so that will hopefully slow the growth of the algae..


 New grow beds & pipe work..
Have picked up the extra pipe needed for the grow beds but ran out of time this weekend.. I already have the bell siphons & enough 1" pipe to make the returns to the sump so hopefully some progress will be made this week.. Once I'm happy with the set up the GB's will be lined with black plastic on the outside (to stop algae growth)  then set in place.. Would like to fill the GB's with clay balls but due to a change in state government, B will be bumped down a few pay levels **zips lips so as not to rant then kicks soap box away** so it may mean a change from clay balls to rock for one of the GB's.. Might bring them on line 1 at a time as I think there are enough clay balls leftover from the old barrelponic system for 1 GB so we shall just see how we go..

Week in the dirt patch...

On Thursday we had whole house water filter system installed.. As chlorine & chloramines (found in most town water supplies around Australia) both indiscriminately kill good & bad bacteria/fungi we are concerned about using tap water that smells like its come straight from a pool on the garden beds... The system contains 2 coconut carbon filters as well as a pre filter that will remove the larger particles giving the carbon's longer life spans.. The main aim is to remove as much chlorine & chloramines from the water in case we need it for emergency top up water for the aquaponics.. It will also mean that we won't be killing off any of the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi we have been adding into the beds over the past few weeks when we have been sowing seed..

Made the decision to order some Veggie netting from Net Pro on Friday & it arrived 1st thing Monday morning (today) so will need to knock some frames up this week.. White cabbage butterfly eggs & a few small caterpillars have already been removed from some of the kale & cauliflowers in the patch.. Will also be used as a 20% shade cloth during summer which is another bonus as we have been looking for a lower % shade cloth..

Sunday saw us planting out a few seeds & 9 broccoli into the beds.. (Full list in Planting Diary)


Friday also saw this little feller finely emerge from a chrysalis...
Not sure of the variety as of yet but have set the task to our eldest as part of her studies for Monday..




 


Until next time, have a good one...
: )»






Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to basics with mulch...

“Back to Eden” Documentary & Timer mulching..

Have been getting stuck back into a few jobbies in the patch the past few weeks as Winter is creeping up on us.. One job that we neglected to do for a few of the beds during summer was mulching.. We normally buy sugar cane mulch & top the beds with.. This is then turned into the beds before planting out the following crop.. Was reading on line (a Simple Savings thread from memory) where someone mentioned that sugar cane mulch tend to use up nitrogen when dug through the soil as added organic matter.. This is far from desirable when trying to build up fertile soils..  It wont be turned into the beds from now on & the plan is to make up our own mulch for future use from local resources.. 
One method of mulching we have become interested in is the “
Back to Eden” method that some You Tube gardeners we follow have been using.. This documentary was a great mini refresher course in the ways of mulch that have helped us to rethink our mulching ways.. 
The core theme of the film is the use of semi composted tree trimmings/wood chips as a thick mulch that can help you to garden on undesirable soil types..
Other ways wood chips/timber mulch can be of great benefit to the health of all soil types are,
  • Beneficial fungus, worms & bacteria will break the chips/mulch down from underneath working the nutrients into the soil improving soil structure so no tilling is required..
  • Suppresses the weeds from growing & the ones that germinate on the surface are easy to pull due to the loose nature of the mulch layer..
  • Insulates the soil from the extremes of cold & heat.
  • It can be used in many styles of farming/gardening.. Orchards, veggie plots, pots on a deck or veranda could all benefit from a layer of mulch..
  • Fertilisers such as composted manures & garden waste can still be added as a top dress.. 
  • Liquid fertilisers like seaweed, worm cast tea & fish emulsion are a great to use as not only do they add nutrients but the action of the liquid will move nutrients from the decomposing top layer into the soil below..
  • The wood chips hold water & release it when the ground around it dries out..
Our mulching progress..
We have been slowly processing a ½ rotten mango from our neighbours yard in the electric mulcher with some of this mulch already being added to bed #’s 5 & 9.. There is still more to mulch & we might play around with it in a few different mulch blends yet..
 The mango tree in the chook yard & some Chinese elms have been pruned then mulched up to run a few experiments.. The aim of all is to find which will breakdown the best into a usable wood mulch.. 2 barrels were set up with a mix of the different mulch, some lawn clippings, a large bag of off spinach leaves from a store & a bag of well composted horse manure that had a few worms inhabiting it.. Some castings full of worms were then added straight from a worm farm into 1 barrel to see how the 2 compare..
On Good Friday morning we purchased a Tumbleweed Composter from Gumtree then set about mulching the rest of the elms.. The mulch was used in 3 different tests to try some other methods of composting.. A barrel was set up with a mix of dried & fresh Chinese elm mulch with about 500g of 
Dynamic Lifter to add some extra nutrients to see how it will go..  The Tumbleweed was also filled with the same mix as the barrel.. The last batch of mulch was left in a pile to decompose naturally with no additives & exposed to the weather on the spot of last year’s Good Bug Mix garden..These will all be left until mid May when a comparison of all batches will be made.. Hopefully we will get some nice nutrient rich blends to use in the patch.. We shall continue to use sugar cane trash while we build up our stores of tree mulch.. (We will swap to Lucerne hay once the S/Cane runs out)
 Since mentioning it on the
Brisbane local Food site a fellow member (thanks Even) pointed me in the direction of Jean Pain & his Brush wood composting methods.. Jean goes a few steps further using the heat from the composting mass to heat water as well as collecting gas to run vehicles & cooking equipment.. These other bi products from the composting process  have interested me greatly but I fear Bianca will not agree with modifying the car to run on methane from compost just yet..
The clip bellow runs through our progress with the different set ups & some of the results so far..



Thanks for reading if you made it this far.. Feel free to leave suggestions if you can see where we could improve in our methods..
Have a great one…

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Autumn & Winter plans...

Exclusion bag on Capsicum..
Pests & rain...
Has been quite some time since I last posted... No single reason, the holidays came & went, School started back up for the girls.. I  think I also became complacent about gardening after loosing most fruiting crops to combination of fruit fly, too much rain & a plague of mini grasshoppers... We still have been harvesting a variety of veggies that didn't get targeted my the grasshoppers or fruit fly..  We did manage to save some fruit by covering them with pest exclusion bags so am thankful for that.. I think we have learnt some valuable lessons & are already planing a defensive strategy to deal with them for next summer...

Plants for the coming months...
    We are looking at Autumn & Winter seasons so have put all the pests & deluges behind us.. We sowed a selection of broccoli, cauliflower, as well as some kale, rainbow chard & tatsoi.. The are also a small tray of tansy that will be used to deter  the ants that love colonising the wicking beds & barrels..  Some roma tomatoes have been planted into one of the top IBC beds & we also have a tray of unknown variety of tom's needing to be planted out as well..
Barrels have been selected for this years garlic crop as well as the onions sets we grew last year..
 
 Tadpoles/Froglets & Aquaponics...


We have some movement in the tadpole "ponds" with a few metamorphosing into frogs & disappearing into the garden.. So far we have seen ½ a dozen advanced tadpoles with legs & 2 that are wee small frogs with stumpy tails attached like the little feller to the left..
As much as we love watching them grow & change we would really like the trays free to turn into grow beds for the Aquaponic set up..
The 1 grow bed we have is slowly filling up with strawberry runners which is great as we are looking at trying to build "strawberry wall MKII" in the next month or so.. We still only have the 7 large goldfish & a single Pacific blue eye in the fish tank... We have our name down for 30 Jade perch at one place & have another we still need to check out.. Really want at lest one more grow bed before we put any more fish in just to make sure there is enough medium to filter out the waste...

Below are a couple of the latest clips done of the garden & Tadpoles...



That's about it for now but will be back a lot sooner this time as we have a few little projects on the go...
Just to finish, here is some of the udumalpet, White & Long Asian purple eggplants we have been harvesting over the past few months...

Have a nice Day!!!


: )»