Produce provided by Mother Nature
In the last month of winter, Mother Nature readies herself for spring growth. Nature’s bounty is on its way. As stewards of the earth, we can help her plight.
The humble earthworm (Eisenia foetida) plays an important role in the garden. They aerate the soil helping air and water circulate through it and encouraging root growth in plants. Transporting minerals throughout the soil and keeping the soil's PH constant is one of their greatest contributions to the organic garden. As well as turning organic matter into nutrients they produce their own. Earthworms secrete slime, which contains nitrogen. This gives the plant its dark green colour and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Even if their waste is precious, worm castings are pure fertiliser and will never burn your plants. Rich in trace minerals, plant nutrients and plant growth enhancers worm castings have an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) ratio of 3.2-1.1-1.5, producing growth benefits that exceed compost. What’s most impressive though is they work for free and in six months will produce 187 babies that will do the same! Research has suggested that crop yield can be increased by up to 50% using this method of fertilisation.
Creating your own Worm Farm
In the interest of sustainability, build your own worm farm out of reused and recycled materials.
Stack 3 or 4 old tyres on top of a piece of corrugated iron covered with plastic with sacks in between each tyre. Underneath the corrugated iron place 2 old telephone books on one side and one on the other to make a slope. Place a container at the bottom of the slope to collect the worm tea (wee) as it runs off the iron. Fill the bottom tyre with bedding material (shredded paper and some soil) and add 250grams of tiger worms. This is suitable for a family of 2. (Check out places to buy online) Feed regularly with small kitchen scraps. Suitable products to use include tea bags, coffee grinds, toilet paper rolls, tissues, paper, ripped cardboard, bread scraps, vegetable and fruit waste, dirt and leaves, egg shells and wood ash. Don’t use onion, garlic, spicy foods, citrus and large quantities of grass clippings. Avoid meat, fish and dairy products also which can attract vermin. Keep the worms covered with newspaper, carpet or cardboard and place a lid on top of the tyres to prevent flies from getting in. Add water every few weeks. The bed should always be moist. After several months, when the tyre stack is full, slide out the bottom tyre and empty it of worm castings/vermicast. Place the paper in your compost heap and add the worms to your garden. Stuff the tyre with fresh newspaper and add it to the top of your tyre stack. Contact your local council for worm farming initiatives operative in your area. Some offer free advice and even the chance to win a worm farm.
Sow seeds in trays or seedlings into the garden of cabbage, cauliflower, celery, spring onion, onions, silverbeet, spinach and lettuce. Sow into the soil in warmer districts: carrots, parsnips, beetroot, peas and radish and in cool climates, sow broad beans, parsnips, turnips, Swedes and peas. Plant seed potatoes, rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries. Plant new citrus and deciduous fruit trees.
In plentiful supply now in the garden are brussels sprouts, silverbeet, cauliflowers, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, radish, spinach, leeks, kiwifruit, avocado, cherimoya, passion fruit, tamarillo and guava. Happy gardening!