Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose
Photo: Journey Worker Productions, CC SA 3.0 (C)

Thursday, 30 April 2015


This post on mallow - a wild but edible plant - is worth looking at: for a few years, mallow has been a salad standby for me, and a plant I let grow for the leaves, and then chop off and let its roots rot and enrichend the soil.

The blog is a good one too - and the cookbook she has just produced is rather fine as well -

Sunday, 26 April 2015

no dig gardening and nitrogen replacement

I bought some broad beans to plant for the next few months, but had a thought when considering the issue of nitrogen-fixing: that thought being - to what degree does no-dig gardening make nitrogen-fixers unnecessary because one always has the rotting root systems and attendant fungi and bacteria in situ which they produced, which are going to be not only nitrogen rich, but also carbon rich too?

If one cuts off one's produce plants and cuts off weeds to rot, and leaves the roots, and - if appropriate - the leaves and stems to rot back in as a mulch layer, to what extent does nitrogen depletion occur, because most of the biomass is recycled?

A short guide on no-dig -

And a very good basic primer article on soil composition and vitality - the section on "Soil food web" is excellent -

I am still mulling this over. It is another case where a conventional practice is backed by conventional wisdom universalised, but when one rethinks it in a new context, it might not make the same sense. I am not sure that the traditional practice of 'nitrogen fixers' is actually that necessary if one is doing mulch-and-root-cut-no-dig.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

strange lime

Walking along the street one Sunday, I came across this lime? lemon? in a garden, with a remarkable skin texture. Does anyone know anything about it?

Friday, 10 April 2015


On Saturday 28 April, I cut everything down that had been hanging around in the garden in readiness for the first winter crop of things. I was mostly mulching and collecting various vegetables. This is the rather modest haul after low water rationing from late Feb onwards.

I think it actually went pretty well, except for the tomatoes, which got infected with Tomato nastiness. I was pretty happy with the zucchinis and the single Japanese yellow pumpkin -

I hadn't planned the pumpkin, it just grew out of a composting clump I threw back into the garden. So it is going to be pumpkin soup this week.

And I got a lot of tomatoes, some potatoes, and some butter-beans. All quite good I think.

Monday, 6 April 2015

hand powered lathes

I was thinking about the problem of lathe products when one doesnt really want a loud machine around. So a bit of searching for future-primitivity came across various forms of non-electrical lathe.


Very impressive indeed. Probably not something one would want to use for large scale work, - as admirable as the chess-vendor is - but for an ad hoc usage, seems to be easier than building a pedal-powered lathe. The other idea buried in here is to think about other pedal powered systems (eg spininng jennys, old 19th C sewing tables) that could be converted into non-electric lathes. I have seen the pedal powered sewing tables around the place, perhaps being chucked out on the streets on cleanup weekends, but hadnt really thought about them. THere you go.

The other thought I had about powering them concerned the location of water tanks and using water-power. Instead of putting a tank at the side of a house, make a thinner, more rectangular tank (like alarge cereal box), and suspend it above the ground but just below the roof. So the water is stored in an extended enclosed case adjoined to the gutter. Then, when one wants a source of quick power, one can set up a lathe and use the water flow via a modest water wheel. Lathing is intermittent enough to be broken up by buckets of water? The waste of the gravity always struck me as something we could avoid with marginally better planning. That loss of stored potential energy in the 2m move from roof to the hose in the hand strikes me as a loss. If we designed better houses, it could easily go to use on a mixed-use generator/water wheel.


Friday, 3 April 2015

native bee information

Blog on honey and wax from native stingless bees -

Unfortunately they dont flourish south of sydney. 

But it turns out that some solitary natives do. Its worth learning what the solitaries look like, and how to encourage them. This doc covers it:


Impressive. There were a lot of them around in Jan-Feb, but they seem to have given way to the profusion of wasps...