Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WARNING? Worm Farm is Out?

WARNING? Worm Farm is Out?
I have had my Worm farm on the balcony for just over a year, its been nice to take out the Veg leftovers and putting them in the bin and letting the red worms do their thing.
Although I don't actually have enough space to put the newly generated soil, it just seamed like a key part of my mini balcony eco farm system.
But now I cant wait to get rid of it..... and others take WARNING....
I have had an on going health issue for about 3 months, now im a vegetarian and eat pretty healthy don't smoke and keep reasonably fit, I kept getting a really bad cough followed by itch eyes and flu symptoms, it came way to often and started to get concerned so a trip to the Doctors for the usual anti viral med's, but nothing worked, this followed by weekly blood test, of which all were clear.
After some detective work at home I realized I was getting sick on a Monday, so process of elimination i narrowed down to chores I did on a Monday, and taking them weekly scrapes out to the worm bin was an unlikely cause, but guess what, seams like its quiet common to get "Compost Lungs" a bacteria spore that causes my exact symptoms and is quiet common also with Mushroom growers.

So if you have been suffering a constant cough, it may be your compost bin, this can be cured by wearing a dust mask when you attend it but I have decided to take mine out of the equation, and get well again.

Some other people with same symptoms from a worm farm LINK
Check Wikipedia  for more details   " Compost Lungs" 

Three Little Birds

Three  Little Birds

2 Birds try to wake up their little buddy that must have been hit by a car,
they kept flying down from small tree landing on the dead bird, squawking and going back up too the tree, by the time i got my camera some gulls frighten them and they didn't attend to it anymore.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Self Watering Propeller Bottle Garden

My latest design for using plastic bottles for indoor gardens is my Self Watering Propeller Bottle Garden!
The thing I like best about this is that it dosent ever need watering so you can seed it and leave it!
The method is using a Large soda bottle with 6 smaller ones cut and drilled into the sides and sponge used as a wick to soak up the water.
I have had one growing for about 3 weeks and and is doing very well, i think you will need to top up the main bottle about every 2 weeks.

Tools used:
Hand Drill, 1 inch drill bit, Scissors, Clear gutter Silicon,

1 Large Soda bottle, 6 x smaller Soda bottles, 2 x kitchen sponge, growing medium,

Fill the large soda bottle with water and freeze over night, this makes it easier to drill holes.
Then drill 6 x 1" holes around angled edge of bottle. Then thaw ice from bottle under warm tap.
Cut the small bottles in half about 2/3rds along bottle, then cut a slot with curved end between the label area.
Add silicon to neck of bottle and thread into hole of big bottle, repeat for all bottles.
Cut sponge to about 1 inch wide and thread threw small bottle neck into big bottle to form a wick.
Fill with growing medium and fill with water  / mix, place cap on main bottle.
wait 24 hours for soil to absorb moisture then seed choice of plant to grow.
In my example I used Coriander / Cilantro and spinach.
top up main bottle level about every 2 weeks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Solar Charger / Solar Lamp

Solar Charger / Solar Lamp
So I found these small garden Solar lamps in my local store for $2.
I immediately grabbed a few to play with, and was very surprised and happy to see a rechargeable AAA battery inside. I cant even get rechargeable batteries at that price so for $2 battery and a solar charger is awesome.
I will add them to my BOB bug out bag for recharging my small FM radio or my small torch.
I then started thinking what else I can do with them so I tried to turn my Lounge lamp into a solar lamp from ambient room light.
It has worked well they do charge but the 9 LEDs but are not bright enough for a reading lamp but do make a nice night lamp with soft glow.
I also am going to use the steak part of the garden solar lamp as ammo for a catapult (which are illegal in Australia) so I only have the elastic not the handle.
I looked on ebay and they are available from several sources, Click for  Solar Lamps on ebay

My Lounge Solar Lamp

9 LED solar lights

Inside a rechargeable AAA battery 

The solar garden Lamp

Top pulls off

Staeak pops back in to make a nice spear

Solar Steak, Solar Lamp, and light cover, and 1 opened by removing 2x small screws

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Balcony garden Makeover

Balcony Garden Makeover
Its that time of year! spring is in the air and time to get the balcony pots ready for my summer veggies.

this is my 4th growing season so I wanted to get the soil back to a good quality state to make sure I get the most production.
First I  took all the mulch from the top and placed in bag for latter use, then emptied all the pots into a pile and spread over floor, I sorted threw and got rid of all the roots and plant matter.

I then added 2 new bags of good potting mix, 2 buckets of soil mixed with chicken manure from my chooks when they were here, soil from my warm farm, I added a bag of Blood and Bone, some slow release fertilizer pellets and wetting agent, then gave it all a really good mix before refilling all the containers

Replaced my drip irrigation system connected to my 100ltr barrel which makes daily watering easier and waste less and gets the water where its needed down in the roots.

I will replace the Wood chip mulch once the seeds have made their way threw.

Again one of my problems is trying to grow everything and over planting so this year I was a lot more selective and went with what I use the most and best yields, so i duplicated each pot with 1 Cherry tomato, 1 Basil, 1 Bell pepper and 2 x coriander in each pot, I will keep the bell pepper and Basil pruned to a controllable size as they grow.

I also had one pot with Zucchini and 1 pot with my blackberry bush, 2 small containers were used for 1 full of marigolds for pest control and 1 with spring onions and radishes and 2 buckets i planted with Lavendar.

Now i ready for a bumper harvest in the summer just add water!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sprouts in a Can

So I wanted to to make use off some sardine cans and found them to be a great size and use for growing spouts.
I filled the container with cotton wool soaked with water, then added the seeds, I used Cress and Mustard sprouts.
Make sure you plant mustard seeds 4 days latter than cress to have them harvest at same time.
cover with a damp napkin and place in a sunny window ledge.
now if you repeat about every 4 days you will have a constant fresh spouting Cress and Mustard sprouts or what other sprouts you choose.
Also have a look at The-urban-survivalist for some great tips and Dan does a great daily video with good tips so go check him out at The Urbivalist
Items needed, 1 sardine can, Cotton wool, Napkin and seeds.

Sprouts after 4 days

Cover with moist napkin until sprouts have started sprouting

Sprinkle seeds on moist cotton wool in the can

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Urban Permaculture DVD

The DVD shows you various small Permaculture garden with Geoff explaining how they function and interact with other elements. Then we go on a Permaculture Garden Blitz.  Geoff and a team of students renovate an extablish garden – the permaculture way over a period of three days. The client wants food security and to grow as much at home as possible. Geoff and his team plan the ultimate food growing solution.

You’ll get to see how it all shapes up.

The DVD runs for over 90 minutes and is ideal for the Permaculture student wishing to implement their own design and is looking for creative inspiration. There’s also an extras feature where Geoff plans out on paper the bones of another urban consultancy and the solution that good permaculture design can bring.

Thats the sort of thing we wanted to bring you.

Watching Geoff Lawton enter an unfamiliar environment – away from the classroom and into the natural domain and watching him plan his way to sustainable abundance.

Its like being there.

The DVD will be available from www.permaculture.org.au in October.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aquaponics Makeover

Time for an update and major makeover of the aquaponics system.
I must say I am very happy with the results from my first year of a small aquaponics system.
The production has been consistent and maintenance basic, no major problems and as far as investment no more expensive than buying pots /soil and fertilizer for my balcony garden.
I do wish I could have located some perch to place in the tank as I would be eating them about now! maybe Ill try and get some this season. but the goldfish have got massive, there's one black one that I call the shark its so big.

Anyway time for a  clear out, one problem i have created by over planting to many big root plants like the bell pepper (capsicum) tomatoes, celery is the roots have clogged up the system to the point that the flush cycle has failed, so now armed with a bucket and kitchen colander i will remove all the plants then the stones, clean and replace and retest flush cycle.

Then its time for some new plants for the summer season
I think I will will go for 1 in each container of Cherry Tomato, Parsley, Coriander (cilantro), Zucchini, Lettuce.

A big thanks to my fellow Urban Survivalist Dan over at The Urbivalist, who kicked my butt for not keeping more regular with updates. Check out his great blog for some great daily survival tips and info.
A clogged up system

all washed and ready to go again

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Aquaponics Update

Just did a update on YouTube of my aquaponics system
As you can see it has come a long way in the 7 months since I started this project, I am so happy with the results and the production it has given.
It really is no effort to take care of, just feed the fish and watch it grow, thats it!
Have been getting a problem with Aphids and lost a really nice Bok Choy, have tried garlic and olive oil but dose'nt seam to deter them , I am trying to find a supply of Lady bugs here in NSW.
anyway enjoy the video

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chook update

Well after having fun raising the Silkie chicks to egg layers and one dying, I decided it was time to find a new home for the one remaining chook.
Now im not sure if they do ok, but I dont think anyone wants to live alone on a balcony 28 floors up so decided to adopt her out to a new home.
She is now living in the countryside with many other Chooks and enjoying more space to peck around in.
It was a fun experiment and proved you can keep chooks in a small space with no smell.
The reality is the production isnt worth the time and effort needed.
I would rather put the time into another aquaponics setup with edible fish.

Monday, April 18, 2011

First Eggs

Just when I had given up on ever getting an egg my hen lays 2.
she had been acting weird last couple of days and making a lot more noise than usual, I thought she was just missing the other hen, guess it was getting that egg out the system for first time.
dropped them in the pan for some fried egg on toast, tasted great bit on the small side but very nice, well done Chook.

Regular Chook egg and a Silkie Egg Ready to eat.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Worm Farm Update

It seams that at last after a few months the worms have bread to an amount where I can add scraps daily and it all gets munched.
I also noticed they have got a lot fatter.
I started with 500 worms in a box which was about $50, I think you really need 1000 + worms to really get it going.
Have traded some of the soil out by putting a few scoops in the top basket with no food so they leave the soil for the lower basket with the munchies in, then I can add the soil to my pots to enrich the soils
The chook got a few treats of big fat worms too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Balcony Garden Update

It was a pretty good summer overall, lots of Tomatoes, but they dried up and stop producing, Im not sure if they were attacked as the plants are well watered, but they have now started growing again.
I dont know what the deal is with my strawberries I had an amazing container full green and flowers but not one strawberry, I wonder if the pollination process isn't happening so high up in a city center, maybe i need a bee hive LOL!
anyway plenty of Spring onions herbs ect and some nice peppers growing to.
Im going to start getting ready for autumn winter crops with broccoli and bok choy.

One thing Im happy with is the containers, the ones with water reservoir in bottom , and I have a drip line all way round from my water barrel and mulch as top layer, it definably is more efficient for water and the plants get what they need even in the hot and windy summer.

The other great thing is I now can replenish my own soil with a mixture of worm soil and the Chook soil, it should remain nutrient rich.
one new container i filled with soil from compost has actually produced loads of tomato plants, must have been from fallen fruit.

more Peppers

Strawberry plants

Rouge tomatoes amongst strawberries
Onions, dead Tomato and Raspberry plant

Monday, March 28, 2011

Aquaponics Update

Well its been a few months, and I got to say its been pretty stable, had a pump die on me but have redundancy  built in so was no big deal.
As you can see the plants are doing great, they seam to favor that we are now in the cooler months and thriving.
 Most of whats growing was from seeds than I just dropped into the grow beds in no order or pattern.
the result is an amazing jungle assortment of plants.
My goldfish are double the size of when I placed them in.
no blockages or block bell siphon to report, water seams to be very clean and full of the right nutrients.
Plants Growing
Green Bell Peppers ( capsium)
Cilantro ( Corrianda)
Bok Choy
Mixed Lettuce

After trying several methods of food production I think Aquaponics is a must in garden growing.
If I had a yard I would concentrate on bigger and more Aquaponic systems than any other form.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chook Died

Very Sad
one of my 2 chooks just suddenly died?
it was fine in the morning, fed them as usual in evening its laying on its side barley moving, little latter its dead.
The remaining chook is very distressed and seams to be missing his buddy.
Any advice on the cause.
Is it ok for one single chicken to be on its own!
could it have started its first egg which got stuck!
oh well thats nature but still dosent feel good!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I purchased a Dehydrator, have wanted one for ages, as after reading up i think its a more preferred way to store dried food.
I was most interested in drying corn, carrots and strawberries which I loaded up on my 5 trays.
It went all night a total of 12 hours and its amazing how small it looks after its dried, the best of it is that all the nutrients are still there .
After drying some stuff I couldn't wait to try it, The Strawberries are like leathery to taste but flavor is awesome.
next a bowl of soup dropped the peas and carrots back into it and after about 3 mins you have perfectly good tasting veg,
Will be adding to my stored items with this new found skill, its a must have, smaller more compact packets and no additives.
Oh I forgot to mention I also got a vaccume sealer and bags to pack and store the things i dry.
Great resource for Dehydrating http://www.dehydrate2store.com/
and of course I got the Dehydrator and the vaccume sealer from my favorite place ebay.com
2 Trays of Strawberries 

Carrots, Corn and strawberries 

My 5 Tray Dehydrator

Vaccume sealed Strawberries