Essential in growing your own food is to keep it green all the way. So we will always be utilising waste items for all the processes which we teach. You don’t need to rush out and purchase special equipment. Use what you have or scout the junk yard or any place where you see waste piled up – you will find useful items to help you in your food growing endeavours.
What do I need to get started?
So here is the equipment you will need, mostly made of repurposed items for your food garden. Start keeping the following items:
- Use netting potato and onion bags to protect your plants from the sun.
- Use an old spray bottle to spray your home made bug spray.
- Use cans with holes as watering can.
- Use plastic meat trays and egg boxes for seed planting.
- Use wood ash for compost and trench bed.
- Use 2 litre plastics cool drink bottle for slow watering.
- Use old tea bags for trench and compost.
- Use cardboard for compost and trench bed.
- Use stick to mark trench bed.
- Cut old milk bottle into spade or scoop.
- Use string to mark trench bed.
- Use an old pen or fork for making holes.
- Use cardboard toilet roll inner to plant seeds in.
- Use ½ plastic bottle as incubator.
- Use a pair of old pantyhose to soak manure.
- Use old cork with nail to make holes in plastic bottles.
- Use egg shells to deter snails and put in trench bed.
- Use a pair of scissors
- Use crisp packet to scare off birds.
- Use CD’s and tin tops for labelling your plants.
- Use a permanent marker to write on above.
- Use candle and matches to heat cord and nail tool.
- Use foil juice pack (tetrapak) as incubator for seedlings.
- Use old rusty tins to line trench bed.
- Use corks for drainage.
- Use old piece of wood to make measuring plank and smooth plant bed.
- Use a big tin as plant container.
After this course, you are going to see differently when you next look at a dump or landfill site. You are going be scouting the neighbourhood for dried fallen leaves. You are going to be eyeing out your friend’s dustbin as she chops, slices and carelessly discards those veggie cuttings into her bin. Every possible ingredient that could go onto your compost heap is going to become like gold to you!
Layering your own compost
Compost can be made in various ways. One can use a container like a drum or simply choose a shady spot in your garden – preferably out of sight. Now you are going to layer this pile from the bottom in the following way…
- Place place strips of cardboard & newspaper.
- Now place small sticks, twigs, bones (clean & meat free) egg shells, used tea bags.
- Add a little water.
- Now put a layer of soil on top.
- Next add some dried fallen leaves – these are especially great for the heap – then a bit more water & a more soil.
- Now some green wet vegetable & fruit cuttings from your kitchen, grass cutting and weeds.
- A little more water.
- Another layer of soil.
Now cover the heap with a big plastic sheet or an old carpet or blanket. You want everything to rot and begin to break down.
After a few days… should you see little fruit flies flying around your compost heap, it’s a sign that it is too acidic, so you can add some wood ash. This will neutralise the heap and make it more alkaline, which is what you want.
You should see lots of different little insects crawling all over your heap & they are usually all necessary. They all work together as an ecological team to break down & aerate your compost.
After 10 to 12 days, when removing the cover, you should smell a rich earthy smell. If you feel the soil in your hands, it should be warm. You can at any time add cuttings from your kitchen, but remember to cover the heap every time & add more soil from time to time.
The heap must also be turned at least once a week, as it needs to breathe and circulate all the insects too.
If you find big fat white cut worms, its best to remove them from your heap. They won’t negatively affect your compost heap, but if they happen to get into your garden and veggie beds they can be destructive. (ed’s note…give them to your chickens)
This lovely dark brown, rich earthy compost can be added to all your veggie beds for extra boost and nourishment. You would also use your compost in any new seed boxes.
Next time we will sew our veggie seeds in seed boxes, made from what-have-you. Start keeping old polystyrene boxes, crates and an old bath to be put to good use.
Happy gardening from Vinny.
Every 2 weeks you will be able to read your next lesson here, and share your progress with us too. We would like to hear from you and assist where we can. Soil for Life are also offering regular weekend workshops which you might want to attend. Read more at www.soilforlife.co.za.