Sunday, 22 March 2009

WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENS column

WAITATI EDIBLE GARDENS

by Lucy Jack

This month is most likely the last harvest market of the
year. Taking place on April 18th on Mark and Rayna's porch, The Old
Stores, Harvey St.

Highlights of the March market for me were elegant conserves from The
Village Pottager, organic bush honey from Rainbow Farm and the ducks!

Bring down anything you've got in the garden and fill up on fresh
produce and preserves. Or just come and have a lovely cup of fresh
herby tea.

We are continuing our drive for membership. For discounts on tours and
workshops and to support our group providing
vegetable centered services to the community, pay $5 to Lucy at 14
Orokonui Rd for 'life membership'. To be included on mailing lists and
be a WEGgie 'friend', email waitati.edible.gardeners @ gmail.com or
call Lucy on
482 1773

University of Otago anthropologist Michela Carrington is going to be
setting her Honours project in Waitati. She is interested in
discovering how sustainability movements
like ours affect the community in general.
Michela would like to meet and interview community members who are
involved at all levels, even just reading this column. If you would
like to take part, contact waitati.edible.gardeners@gmail.com or ring
Lucy 482 1773

Ask Aunt Lucy: gardeners' agony column

Dear Aunt Lucy,

We have a big oak tree on our property and dutifully compost fallen
the leaves but we never find worms in the oak leaf compost. What's
going on?

Your neighbours in the park,

The Dilligent Composters

Dear Diligent Composters,

Oak leaves are acidic and so an unappetising environment for worms.

If you are low maintenance 'add-as-you-go' folk, composting small
amounts of organic material at a time, you will be 'slow-and-cool'
composting, and much of the breakdown will be done by worms and the
like. Oak leaves might take longer (1-2 years) to break down this way
but will get there in the end. Don't worry about the absence of worms
- the microbes will do it.

If you have big batches of stuff (grass clippings (high in nitrogen)
and oak leaves (high in carbon)) you can hot-and-fast-compost big
batches aerobically. You need to layer or mix your big pile o' stuff
and make sure it has water (dampen with hose) and air (poke with
stick).

You can also add food scraps and some old compost or Bokashi to help
inoculate it with the right microbes to get it started. This will
break everything down more quickly (6 months) and it will steam. The
worms will stay well clear to avoid getting cooked. You might be doing
this already which is why you have no worms!

After you have composted your oak leaves via either method, you should
not have to add lime to compensate for the acidity, as the microbes
will have sorted this all out for you.

XX -Aunt Lucy

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