Archive for February, 2009

Recycling becomes (a) waste

February 21, 2009

If you think you’re helping the planet by recycling, think again. From the Sydney Morning Herald comes this revelation about where the stuff we recycle is ending up.

I had my suspicions this was happening late last year when our Council ran its annual kerbside hard rubbish collection.

We’re asked to put waste items in nice neat heaps, separating glass, plastics, furniture items, metal, computer parts, etc. They even offer a prize for the neatest set of separated rubbish heaps. In previous years a number of vehicles have come, each taking a single type of waste away. We’re led to believe that most of it will be recycled.

Last year, I happened to be outside when the (single) truck came and I was disgusted to see everything thrown into it while a huge compactor crushed the lot into mixed debris. It was obvious the whole lot was destined for landfill.

So much for recycling! If I’d known that was going to happen, I would have tried to freecycle some of it.

So the lesson is…if you want to help the planet, just consume less and don’t produce any waste.

Incidentally, it’s always been illegal to help yourself to someone else’s rubbish after they’ve put it out. I didn’t know this until recently and one year, scored a very good second-hand bath which now stores extra water for me.

I suggest next time your local Council holds a hard rubbish collection, you get out there early and see what goodies you can pick up.

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New compost bins

February 11, 2009

I’ve been using wooden compost bins for a few years now and they’re starting to break down so a new system was needed if I was going to make enough compost to supply a dozen extra water-wicking boxes for next summer.

The wooden bins were made some years ago by my Significant Other. They consisted of two posts to which three palings were nailed. Four of these sections were formed into a square and the posts hammered into the ground. Each bin was just under half a cubic metre and I had three of them in a row. I’ve been thinking about a new system for some time and was still thinking when I came across a contraption in Bunnings that looked interesting.

It was billed as a ‘garden waste storage cage’ and consisted of 4 sections of zinc coated steel mesh with natty little wire corkscrews to wind onto the corners to fix it all together. Each section is 90cm x 70cm.

I’ve put two bins in place so far and have lined them with a plastic tarp to stop the compost falling through the holes. The last of the original bins is on the left:

bins1

bins2

I’ll use one bin solely for the contents of the composting toilet with worms added from the worm farm.  I’ll build it up in layers with mulched bracken or pea straw or sugar cane mulch. The worms will turn it into friable compost in no time.

The centre bin is already half-full. I built it around the old bin contents which I’d been preparing for a few weeks. It consists of alternating layers of soft green material put through the mulcher, wood ash, sieved soil, mushroom compost, partly-composted material from the compost tumbler, a mixture of aged fowl & cow manure and a sprinkling of dolomite, plus worms. I estimate that when the bin is full it will be enough compost for about 9 or 10 wicking boxes.

The result is much neater than the old bins. In addition, I think the plastic tarp will stop the material from drying out around the edges.

Black Saturday

February 9, 2009

Temperature-wise it was one of the worst days I’ve experienced, with Melbourne recording its hottest day ever at 46.4 C.

It seems rather pointless to complain about the effects on the garden when so many people lost homes, their lives and loved ones in the fires. My sympathy goes out to all of them.

I’m so lucky—I still have a home and a garden and some lessons have been learned.

So, hopefully, the worst of summer is over and the weather will start to cool as we head towards the Autumn Equinox.

I’ve pulled out everything that has died or was burned beyond recovery and now I have a huge space free for winter vegetables, so the obvious thing to do now is to sow some seed, which I will do tomorrow. Kale, broccoli and peas will be first on the agenda. Lots of peas—because they bear well and freeze well. We still have peas in the freezer from last year’s meagre plantings. I’ll plant lots more this year.

I have a couple of dozen leek seedlings ready to go in, but held them back because of the heat. Garlic will go in at the equinox. Amazingly, there is still a patch of sweet corn which might give us a few cobs. It wasn’t burned by the heat at all and when I saw how well it was doing, I kept the water up to it. The wicking boxes are still producing beans.

Wicking boxes—they were great! I need more—and more compost to fill them with. Winter will be an intensive compost-making time!

Food growing is too important to be stopped by a bit of bad weather.