Tag: permaculture

Winter, the Spring in Disguise

Winter, the Spring in Disguise

I always see people lose their green momentum when Autumn hits and Summer ends. They see the Spring crops wither, giving their last offerings and assume wrongly that the time for growth is over. Do not miss this great opportunity!

 

There are many plants that thrive in the Durban Winter. Most of these are intolerant to the harsh spells of heat, wind and storms that come with Spring and Summer. Now is their time to find comfortable root and flourish. Begin by ensuring the same parameters that you do in preparing for spring: mix beds of dying plants with rich compost and organic matter, fertiliser (especially those for rooting strength such as bonemeal) and turn thoroughly with a pitchfork- bringing bottom layers of soil to the surface.

 

If you have a BeeGreen Worm Farm, add in your worm castings and worm pee to this! Once turned, water thoroughly. Once you have watered, I always recommend immediately mulching the moist ground with dried leaves or other organic material that will not seed (see the blog on mulching for more information).

 

Next, pick your plant varieties carefully- bearing in mind which will need the sunny spots (which will be scarce during winter) and which prefer the shadier spots. Also pay attention to which plants work well together and which should not be planted in close proximity. Most of the root vegetables such as carrots, beetroots, sweet and normal potatoes, radishes and turnips do well in winter. The Asian greens, lettuces and spinaches (the leafy green crops) as well as your Brassicas including kale, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli enjoy the milder climates. Legumes such as peas and beans will also do well if they are prepared with supports or trellises. Finally, winter squashes will do well but should not be too close to more sensitive plants as they have a habit of taking over rapidly- draining the water and stealing sunlight from other plants.

 

Winter also will see many plants such as grape vines and fig trees lose all their foliage- this is heartbreaking to the new gardener, but the BeeGreen community knows better: this is the ideal time to do your pruning on your summer plants and trees while they are not fruiting. Look up the specific plant pruning tips as these vary from species to species.

 

As you can see the gardener should be as busy as they are in the more hotter months. There is a great deal of work to do and when done thoroughly, the gardener will ensure a rich harvest whilst also keeping the soil active and rich for when the Spring returns! Provide a sanctuary for your local wildlife in these harsher months and you will see them reward you with pollination and pest control.

Caring for your Worm Farm

Caring for your Worm Farm

The BeeGreen Worm farms make use of the eisenia fetida worm or commonly called the red wriggler worm or red worm. These worms primarily feast on decaying matter and break it down into worm castings and worm pee.

 

 

The worm castings look like a very loose, moist version of compost that can be used in a similar way to compost: mix it into your soil beds and turn thoroughly for humus-rich soil. This is taken from the bottommost containers of your worm farm when all of the containers are too full to put more organic waste. At this point majority, if not all, of your worms will have migrated to the higher containers in pursuit of more organic matter. The bottom container is purely worm castings. Remove this container and mix with your soil. Keep the other containers in the same order but place the now-empty container on top of the stack as you fill this with organic material. To ensure your worms are out- place the full container on top of another container and vibrate it constantly- the worms will seek to move out the base of the vibrating container to avoid the disruption.

 

The tap at the base of the bin should be drained when you hear swishing at the base upon moving the worm farm. Drain this into a vessel you have at home such as a 2 litre bottle etc. This worm pee is an extremely powerful organic fertiliser that provides a massive boost to the growth of any plant it is brought into contact with. Simply pour a little worm pee above the root system of your plant.

 

The worms pretty much thrive by themselves as long as they are provided with organic material. You can ensure they get a stronger foundation by providing them with bedding. This is achieved by tearing up newspaper (only black and white ink as colour ink is toxic to the worms) or cardboard or eggboxes, soaking them in water and wringing out excess water (to avoid drowning the worms). Sprinkle coarse soil over this as the toothless worms use the soil to grind their food down and finally layer this evenly along the bottom of your container. Place your worms onto this and add your organic waste on top until it is full. Once the container is full, place the next container on top of this and repeat the process. It is not essential to provide bedding but it is recommended.

 

  • The worms cannot be in the sun at all! Keep them in an area that is permanently shaded and out of the heat.
  • Whilst the worms like organic decaying matter, do not put in material that has begun to grow mould, or put too much organic material that the worms cannot digest it all before it becomes mouldy. You need to constantly moderate your input by how much they are going through. If you are smelling bad odours from your worm farm, this is an indication that mouldy material should be removed.
  • The worms do not do well with acid-based waste such as citrusfruits, onions, tomatoes, garlic , meat and dairy products. These can alternatively be put into a compost heap.
  • If there are any other bugs in there, try remove them by hand and cover any holes they may be getting into. If there are too many bugs or flies in there, you may need to bury your worms and compost to get rid of them and restart a new worm farm. The worms will continue living in your garden whilst the flies will die.
  • They take roughly 45-90 days to double their population if the ideal conditions are provided.

This is the best way to transform your organic waste into something that will make your garden thrive and flourish. Contact us on info@beegreen.co.za for more information on purchasing our range of worm farms or any troubleshooting you may need.