Monday, 20 April 2015

Site Walk-Through and Spring Cleaning

On the balmiest day of spring yet, about ten Garden@Kimbourne members met with Natalie and Spirit from Permaculture GTA. After a long, cold winter, it was time to have a look at our site, see how it fared, and assess what needs to be done over the rest of the season.

It was also time to make some repairs. We learned a few lessons over the winter:

1. If you run out of screws for your planter boxes, don't use nails instead. At least not if you live in a climate where frost can force those nails right out of the wood.

Solution: Buy more screws.
Has anyone seen our missing plank?
 2. If you are attaching three hinged lids to your worm composter, it may seem like the strongest design is to attach them to a single strip of wood, which is screwed down to the bin. Unfortunately, if the lids do not all hang absolutely square to within a fraction of a millimeter, you'll end up with torsion in your strip of wood. Even a tiny bit can eventually splinter it.

Solution: Cut a new strip of wood into thirds and hang each lid individually. The gap between the strips may be tiny, but its existence gives them just enough wiggle room to allow for the stresses of frequent use and frost.
3. If you are surrounding a worm composter with a hugelkultur mound (actually, we don't think anyone has done this before; it's an exciting experiment), it does offer the excellent level of insulation we hoped for. But small rodents like insulation during the winter months just as much as worms do, and they'll happily tunnel from the mound to the composter. So you should definitely give it a wooden base.

Solution: Empty the composter...
Find some lengths of wood to use as levers and apply just the right amount of force to flip it up out of the hugelkultur mound...

Screw thick plywood to the bottom and drill a number of small holes in the plywood for drainage. Then flip the bin back into its place and refill it.

3. Discarded root vegetables can grow in compost piles. Well, we knew that well already. But it turns out they can even grow when they are buried at least a foot below the surface.
Solution? Plant that onion in a garden bed! We love finding "volunteers" in the compost.
4. Neighbours are wonderful. We knew this already, too, but we were reminded again by the generosity of one who donated a beautiful stack of flagstones, and another who gave us a useful, little shed.

What's next? In the coming weeks we will be laying a path, planting fruit trees, installing our rain barrels, finishing our sheet mulch/lasagna garden bed, and — at long last — getting our seeds and seedlings into the ground. Stay tuned for the dates of our upcoming work days!

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