Monday, April 27, 2009

Temperature controlled aphids.

There seems to be a few aphids around at the moment. I think it's the milder temperature with no rain so far, encouraging the little beggers to breed. Luckily there are also plenty of ladybirds around so they will keep the aphids in check.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A change of seasons..eventually...we hope.

Perth isn't having an autumn this year. There's still been none, or barely any, rain. It's over halfway through autumn and today is the first below 30C we've had. Or nearly. There were a couple of overcast days, bringing the hope of not having to hand water the summer's surviving plants.
It is encouraging though as vege seedlings will survive much more easily at this time of year and there are lots of deciduous fruit trees for sale at the nurseries.

Given that I have a little more time free all of a sudden (having quit the stats unit) the garden may get a bit of attention from me.
P has been making charcoal lately. We found a website on how to make a simple charcoal retort, to produce your own carbon capturing soil addition.
Simple char. Two barrel charcoal retort.
The charcoal has carbon trapped in it that will stay in the soil for decades. It appears to harbour beneficial soil organisms and has a huge surface area so it can hang on to nutrients, increasing soil fertility.
Terra preta study at Cornell University.

In industry the byproducts of combustion can be used to power the charcoal factory. Any biomass can be used to produce the char so wastes can be used. Once the carbon is in the char in the ground it stays there for a long time, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
Done on a large scale this could make a big difference to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere while increasing fertility in the poor soils of Perth and elsewhere.
So we'll see how the garden that has had charcoal added to it does compared to the other beds.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Small trees for Perth gardens.

There are a few trees that I think could be used in small gardens.
Firstly a little definition of the difference between trees and shrubs. A tree is a generally single stemmed plant that reaches a height of say 4 metres upwards to the 100 odd metres of the world's tallest trees, mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) and Coast sequioa (Sequoia sempervirens).
A shrub is a multistemmed plant that only gets to 3 or 4 metres.

Eucalyptus forrestiana: has gorgeous red gumnuts and pretty pink flowers. They are drought hardy and tolerant of lots of sun. They also attract small birds, providing much needed nectar for the little bird species.

Eucalyptus platypus is a mallee type tree that is almost wider than it is tall. The leaves are shiny and thick, the trunk is mottled and the flower buds are fused to make a space ship shaped gumnut after the fluffy yellow flowers.

Grevillea species that are in the 3-6 metre range can be pruned to shape to a central stem to create a tree shaped shrub. Honey Gem, Pink Surprise and others can be used as small trees. I have one of each of Honey Gem and Pink Surprise out the front of my house. I think the dog sat on one though because it isn't standing up, so maybe I should have staked it until it got a bit bigger.

Crepe myrtles are beautiful decorative deciduous trees that are pretty tough for hot and dry conditions. They do need some watering but they are small and pretty.

Lastly, while not a tree, the dragon fruit cactus can be grown into a tree shaped form that allows the stems to take up little room and the tops cascade over, producing enormous white flowers followed by delicious fruit.
The red dragon fruit is much tastier than the white. It has a sweet, scented flavour similar to rasberry and watermelon. That is where the white flower above is from.

..and this is the fruit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why am I doing this to myself?

I am having one of those mornings when I am questioning my decision to go to uni. I have no idea what is going on with the stats unit yet I completely love the water earth science one (so far, hydrology yet to come).
My feelings about the stats are making everything else fade as the stupid pressure, anger, despair, frustration that I feel are overwhelming my clarity so I don't want to read any of my other subject.
This one subject puts at risk all the other parts that make up a degree, it's a core unit, so there's no skipping it.
Maybe I have developed my procrastination skills to a new I am..moaning and dribbling on my blog. Woe is me, 'n' all, but, hey, I am trying to learn this stuff so I can hopefully make a difference in keeping this planet of ours habitable.
I get frustrated because its so important to me that I can understand and not have to repeat a semester doing the same boring thing again.
I have to learn to love the numbers.