Friday, September 2, 2011

Doing things the hard way

This 'organic' thing ain't easy. Slugs are presently ruining my life. During this unseasonably warm weather we sowed madly. But where young artichokes and radishes should be flourishing only tiny stumps remain.

I've tried beer traps, iron chelates (which I'm not that comfortable using), 6 year old slug hunters paid at the rate of 1c per slug, sheets of plastic laid overnight and slugs wiped from underneath each morning, but none of it seems to help. Imagine my dismay at potting up 200 tiny lovage plants, only to find the lot eaten to nothing the next morning.

Fertility is also an issue. In my tiny plot I seem to have several different soils. One spot is double depth topsoil where soil salvaged from the nursery area is mounded up, another is the old chook run where there is a thin layer of fertile black stuff on top of our native clay. The rest is mostly our 5 inches of soil, atop rocky, mudstone clay. Soil that looks great when it is damp and has something growing in it, but dries out and grows twitch and yellow dock like thatch if you look away for a moment.

We also make our own potting mix. I figure if I only want to use organic methods in my plot, why should my pots be any different. I use Tassie composted pine bark, sand, blood and bone, kelp meal, rock dust and dolomite, as well as a couple of certified organic fertiliser blends to provide other nutrients. This isn't working as well as a mix containing artificial fertilisers does, but if I'm growing food plants, this is the way I want to do it.

So, today, we have a compost tea expert coming to look at our soil biology, and hopefully help us find a holistic, low input way to deal with our challenges and put tasty, healthy food on our tables, and produce healthy plants with out the need for artificial fertilisers in the potting mix. From the little I understand, compost teas, tailored to the soil type you have, can increase biological activity in the soil, making the nutrients, that are already there, more available to plants. It also makes a broader range of nutrients available, increasing the nutritional value of foods and letting plants develop a full spectrum of flavour.

So I'll be off now to fill the bikkie tin, make room for her microscope on the table, and cross my fingers that this will be part of the answer to a more successful plot.


  1. Awful isn't it. It loves my raised beds and hides between the sleepers where it is impossible to get at. Grr!