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Perch Gardening on sand

At the local  markets yesterday -- at the Caboolture Markets -- fresh fruit and vegetables were running out soon after 9am and vegetable seedlings soon after. The floods which have closed down the Brisbane markets , devastated crops and disrupted transport and processing has taken a massive toll on the state's food chain.

That we had produce to hand at standard prices was a  delight, but , like me, folk were also buying seedlings for planting out after the rain had taken such a heavy toll on domestic vegetable gardens.

Any week at the markets there will be queues, 15-20 long,  for vegetable and herb seedlings as you can get so much for $1.

The irony is that over the last three months I had invested my energies into keeping useable water within  garden access  by trying not to  facilitate its speedy exit. 

I may be planting on sand but the whole gambit was to 'perch' the garden on a sea of sand in the same way that lakes and rain forests float on the surface of  Fraser Island

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My major strategy is to snaffle 'soil' from elsewhere on my property where I can -- and there is little of that available --  and cover that with cardboard, grass clippings and horse manure. I have had much difficulty getting cardboard but  we are surrounded by horse farms out of town -- horse poo is $2.00 a bag at the farm gate.

I love horse manure. 'Tis my favorite back end product.

The grass arrives daily from a local lawn mowing family business. I need to cart it outback, mix with the manure as I can and layer the mix with more  grass.

I find that I can dispense with the cardboard or paper bottom layer by using a thick layer of wet grass clippings and allow it to mesh up and sweat and shade the underlying grasses (which I don't dig up).

There are challenges with using grass clippings as mulch  in that you have to keep monitoring the layers to ensure the clippings don't  interlock  to make a less permeable air and water layer. But sometimes that is an advantage.

So hands on is all.
When I moved from our last house three months ago  I really wanted to take the soil with me, Pick it up and go, sort of thing -- but it wasn't practicable. But that's the main game: soil. Plants are decoration. Soil is all.
This way it takes time and effort to build up/create your soil but success in my estimation is determined by the amount of worm activity underneath. Since I probably started with zero vermiculture  it's a challenge to move the biomass into full activity. As you go 'texture' is all.

Pick it up and squeeze.

When planting I need to spoon in an extra handfull of soil to allow the seedling or seed to root -- but the manure/grass mix soon enough breaks down and more soil like activity is available. 

This approach is reminiscent of Esther Dean's no dig gardening or what the Americans call 'Lasagna Gardening '. I also like to ensure that the underlying contour of grass  and soil is uneven in reference to The One Straw Revolution. By ensuring that your surfaces are rough and hilly you encourage more things to happen -- micro within micro . A rake is the devil's instrument!

However, I've never found a good enough  reason to be overly active and busy in layering with this sheet mulching method. I'm a lazy gardener and abhor the labours demanded by  traditional composting. I compost kitchen scraps and large cuttings from bushes and the like, but

I guess I'm a sheet composter/organic impostor...

The question is -- now that my supply lines are assured -- how many cubic metres of cut grass can I accommodate and encourage the soil organism to break down and bury? It is amazing how little compost results from a huge pile of grass clippings.


1 comments:

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