Posts Tagged ‘Herb’

Wicking Barrels Construction.

February 3, 2017

I have become aware over recent years of the value of wicking beds but have not been in a position to establish any barrels or beds until this past year.

However, I have now completed my first barrel and it has been in operation successfully for the past year with no wilting despite some very high temperatures.

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For this project I am using some half wine barrels which had been used as large pots at my previous address for growing herbs.

When I emptied these barrels of their soil and moved them they very quickly dried out so they needed to be tightened up before using them again. To tighten them I sat them upside down on a flat concrete base. Using a flat punch I  gently tapped down each ring until they would go down no further starting with the smallest and working down to the largest ring. Once the barrel is again tight I set the rings with a small Tek screw through each ring on opposite sides of the barrel.

The barrel after the rings have been punched down. You can see the amount they have been punched down by the fresher look of the timber.

The barrel after the rings have been punched down. You can see the amount they have been punched down by the fresher look of the timber.

Once the barrels are tight the barrel can be lined with a waterproof material. Pond liner is best but in a pinch heavy builders plastic will do the job. Make sure the tek screws used were short so they did not break through to the inside and can puncture the plastic. If they do come through to the inside then grind them off with an angle grinder before installing the waterproof liner.

 

Barrel is lined with plastic pond liner and then the socked drainage pipe is installed on top of that followed by coarse sand to finish about 30mm above the side drainage hole.

Barrel is lined with plastic pond liner and then the socked drainage pipe is installed on top of that followed by coarse sand to finish about 30mm above the side drainage hole.

On top of the coarse sand use a dividing layer of some sort to separate the garden mix from the wicking sand. In this case I have used sugar cane mulch which transmits water well but others use various forms of weed matting.

Once the barrier is in place just top the remaining 30cm or so with good quality potting soil and you are set to go.

The wicking process is a natural process but only works to around 30cm in garden soils and mixes. Most garden plants and especially vegetables, for which this system is particularly suited in my climate, do very nicely in it.

I recommend that you mulch to surface to reduce evaporation. Once mulched fill the reservoir with water until it runs out of the overflow tube. From this point on you have to decide to wait for the wick to start which will take a few days or to prime the system by watering from above. Either way will work and after that it will keep working until you stop filling the reservoir and the soil dries out.

The best part of this method is that there is no need to water morning and night. Even with fully grown plants using their full water allocation you only need to fill once a week or so. The reason for this is simple. Instead of top watering and gravity dragging the water down and away from the roots leaving them dry, the water rises to the roots as needed keeping conditions ideal for the plant without any water-logging and no evaporation if well mulched.

UPDATE

I started this post a year ago and decided to delay publishing until I could show some results. With a year since the barrels were planted out everything has grown well and the following photo shows how well this lemon grass is doing.

Lemon grass one year after being planted in the wicking barrel. February 2017.

Lemon grass one year after being planted in the wicking barrel. February 2017.

June 2012 First Week

June 3, 2012

This is the weekend entry for the first weekend of winter 2012. Saturday afternoon was a beautiful winter afternoon with no wind and plenty of sunshine and around 17 deg C. I got home around 2pm after closing the shop and doing a bit of shopping. The plan was to remake the cream buns and that happened and is in a separate report here . While the dough was rising I spent some time putting together Pamela’s Sun Lounge which had finally been replaced after the warranty claim for one of the first two being damaged.

SUN LOUNGE IN PLACE

Mother’s Day sun lounge after warranty replacement was constructed and put in place 3-6-12.

HERB SCHOOL

Although I fancy myself as a passable cook some of my efforts lack that special bit of pizzazz and it has occurred to me that using a few more herbs and spices would make a big difference. I decided to start a program of using a recipe including herbs or spices each month and this weekend heralded the start. I had some very succulent chicken drumsticks so they formed the base. I researched some suggested herb additions for chicken and set about a better chicken soup. I boiled the drums in stock until just soft then took them out of the stock. To the stock I added basil, thyme and parsley along with in season vegetables and simmered the lot together until the veges were just tender. I then blended the soup to a nice consistency, returned the meat which I had removed from the drumsticks and re-heated the lot. Result was magnificent and that was our Saturday tea and Sunday lunch. The herbs turned a basic chicken soup which Pamela generally turns her nose up at to a culinary winner. One up for the herbs!

BRANDY SNAPS

On another wordpress blogsite I saw an interesting recipe for Brandy Snaps. Since it was raining Sunday morning and there was very little that could be done outside I decided to have a go at these. The result was ok but not brittle enough. See the instructions here.

Brandy Snaps 3-6-12. More practice needed but they are on the right track.

STRAWBERRY JAM

While the oven is hot and the rain continued I decided to make the frozen strawberries we had saved from summer into delicious jam we haven’t had for some time. Strawberry jam is definitely our favourite here. To the 1.4kg of berries I added the juice of 6 lemons and 1.4kg of sugar. Once the sugar was dissolved bring the whole pot to the boil and let boil gently until the sugar thermometer reaches 105 deg C which is the setting point for jam. After about 1 hour there is beautiful well set jam. This lot made 8 jars and that will be it until the next strawberry season begins.

Strawberries defrosted and warmed through with the juice of 6 lemons.

Sugar added and the sugar thermometer in place just boil a few times to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. This rarely happens with a good heavy cast iron pan such as this one.

AVOCADO GARDEN

I have been working away at tidying up the Avocado Garden each morning before going to the shop. This morning the job is pretty much complete with just the mulching to done to reduce any winter and spring weed growth. New guards will also need to be built for the  Avocado trees as they have outgrown last year’s. The plan is to keep the trees protected for another summer at least to prevent the trunks and branches from burning and killing the tree as has happened in other attempts to grow avocados.

Avocado Garden ready for mulching and further plantings. A truck load of cereal straw ready to be put out during the week.

Another view of the avocado garden 3-6-12


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