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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Wicked Wicking Beds for the witless

Scarecrow (AKA the goddess - think: adore, worship, love, pedestal - you get my drift) suggested that I might like to do a tutorial on making wicked wicking beds so here it is.

Some stuff for the sides
Some other stuff for the ends
More stuff to join them all together - lots of stuff at my place!
Some plastic to line the bottom of the bed(s) with
(or you could just use an old freezer or other suitable receptacle that would hold soil and worms)
Some 2" slotted agricultural drainage pipe to get water into the bed
Some soil and stuff (see Scarecrow for more details)
Worms - not those of a personal nature, but the ones you grow in your worm farm. Everybody has a worm farm, don't they?
A spirit level <---betcha never thought I had one of them!
Sand or fine loamy soil
Mulch to cover the bed when you have finished

First of all, some points about wicking beds, so listen up.

1 Wicking beds are useful in an environment that does not have much rainfall. If you get plenty of rain and water is not an issue then maybe you should simply look at having raised garden beds.
We are not that far from a desert.

2 Wicking beds allow water to get to the area the plant needs (the roots, so the goddess informs me) by, you guessed it, WICKING!

Think of an oil lamp with a wick in the container that moves the fluid from the bottom of the container (the wicking bed) through the wick (the soil) to make the flame (or plant) at the top grow <--see what I did there. I believe the process is called capillary action, go look it up somewhere if you want.

3 The concept and application is as easy as it looks. Do not overthink the idea or you will never get the job done.

4 The total soil depth is about 300mm and water is poured into the pipe until the pipe sounds full then the water will 'wick' up into the surrounding soil. It is 'normal' for the topsoil to feel dry, since it is. The moisture is at the roots where it is needed.

If you don't believe me, ask Scarecrow. She knows these things.

5 Any excess water (yeah, right) in the bed will simply leak out over the 100-150mm plastic layer at the bottom. If you are using an old freezer drill a drain hole 100-150mm from the bottom of the unit to allow drainage.

6 If your bed seems to be constantly wet (and you have sought medical advice!), re-read point 1 a bit more slowly.

7 Be nice to your critter helpers in the garden

In the example within the goddess' garden, I have used some old galv iron that was lying around (actually, it was neatly stacked in my storage area within the garden, but you get the picture) and some scrap 4X4 timber supports from a friends veranda that blew down during a nasty storm.

You use whatever you have around or go steal from a neighbour.

Step 1
Cut everything to size. Use whatever you have (this is a frugal site, after all) but try to limit the width to something you can comfortably reach over from one side to the other without needing medical treatment later.

You can see several in the process of being made, here. The goddess thought I looked too quiet and happy in my workshop.

Step 2
Join the cut pieces together using whatever is available.

Step 3
With help from your lovely, though a little bossy (!!), assistant, carry the bed(s) to their final destination.

Check for roominess, right way around-ness, knee-banging-ness, whether or not your barrow fits between-ness etc etc

Ensure management approves of the process. I do not like cats.

Step 4
Find a willing volunteer and start the process of levelling the ground under where you are going to place your wicking bed(s). This is a very important part because the site must be level for water to move properly through the bed.

Step 5
Carefully line the base of the bed with your plastic and smooth it to fit (without tearing). This can be trimmed to allow a depth of approximately 100-150mm.

You can place a little sand around the bottom of the plastic to hold it in place whilst you smooth and cut it.

Check the levels of the bed again.

Step 6
Measure, cut and lay your 2" ag drainage pipe (or equivalent) along the bottom of the bed and carefully cover with sand.

Keep checking your levels, this is important. One end of the pipe will be bent 90* and run up the end of the bed to allow you to pour the water in whilst the other end is blocked off.

Step 7
Once the pipe is covered, you are ready to start putting in some nice soil, complete with worms to bring the bed up further ready to plant into.

In the bottom of the piccy you can also see where the water will be poured in.

Step 8
Get out of the way as Scarecrow pushes her way through to plant some spuds in this particular bed.

These were planted, covered with soil and then covered in a layer of mulch.

Because I think the spuds are a little shy, Scarecrow fitted the bed with net curtains so they could have a little privacy whilst they do the growing thing.

Either that or it offered some protection from the plague of locusts that are expected within our area any time soon.

Yeah, that would be the reason, probably.

If you want to grow something up a trellis you can carefully place an appropriate trellis within the bed thusly and lay a couple of bits of wood across the base of said trellis to prevent it blowing over.

Clever, hey!

Fill with your nice soil mix but be careful not to upset your levels.

Make sure it looks tidy, too.


Righty ho, any questions, you know how to get hold of me.

A couple of caveats (sounds like a foreign dish), though.

I can tell you all about building the beds but the goddess is the one to ask about what to grow and when. It's her job to grow the stuff, my job is to just cook it so don't ask me if now is a good time to plant <insert stuff here> or not.

Anyhoo, til next time, I'm off to hide.

Love, peace and mung beans.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Feed the birds...

...tuppence a bag - yeah, I'm sure Mary Poppins fans will be crying into their soup about now. wink

Anyhoo, here are a couple of cheap and easy(ish) feeders/troughs for your feathered friends - chooks/chicks/chickens/fowl <--just helping out search engines.

They are made from stuff that I had lying around but I am sure you could probably rustle up some similar stuff or else steal it from somewhere. eek

The goddess (Scarecrow) requested that I make our chooks something nice to eat out of.

Obviously I just never look busy enough.

Being the dutiful 'henpecked' hubby (not really, but thought I could squeeze in a chook joke) this is what I came up with.

Some PVC pipe of some diameter or other about the length you need
Some wood for the ends
Hammer or mallet for, erm, hammering or malletting(?) eek
A drill or drill press <---Legal Warning: Fast, sharp thingy
A saw for, erm, sawing <---Another legal warning: Fast(ish) sharp, thingy that bites
Some gadget for making big round holes in wood (also called hole saws)
About half an hour (but you can drag it out if you need to impress)
Some chooks to try it out on - the feeder not the hole saw

This piccy shows the gear needed to make two feeders/troughs.

Step 1
Using your hole saw, cut about a third into the wood to make a shallow, groovy circle in your wood.

Step 2
Carefully measure (yeah, right) to cut the circle in half on each piece of wood.

Please note, this piccy was staged. I've never used a measuring implement to do this in real life.

Step 3
Cut circles in half, carefully <---watch out for pinkies. eek

Step 4
Take time to admire your handiwork and wonder how much longer you can look busy before you're sprung for another task.

Step 5
You now have two ends for each trough almost ready to rock and roll.

Step 6
Cut the PVC pipe down the middle (don't forget the sharp, fast thingy warning). This can be done with a hand saw if you do not have a bandsaw.

Step 7
Become awed at your greatness as you stare at the collection of bits that you have now made. cool

Step 8
With your hammering device, knock the wooden ends onto the end of the PVC pipe. If it doesn't fit, you can carefully sand or file the edge of the pipe to get it into the groove.

Repeat this for all ends.

Watch your pinkies - mallets hurt - don't ask me how I know this. rolleyes

Step 9
Bung the end product on the concrete so you can show everybody the completed project.

Step 10
Bask in the praise of the goddess and allow her to make a fuss of you. Sorry. You are not getting any pictures of that. wink wink

Well, there's another ten step program for you to try.

Break a leg <----Wonder if you can say that in the States or will somebody sue you cool


Doc wink

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Crunchy granola...

...sweet biggrin

Righty ho, Neil Diamond fans. Here comes Doc's Ish Crunchy Granola.

You will notice that the main ingredient in my recipe is Ish. What is Ish, I hear you say (must be time to up my meds) well, let me tell you.

It is a form of measurement used to accurately(ish) determine quantities of a substance used to make up a recipe in amounts that are not really all that critical.

It can also be applied to the measurements for the handyperson when millimetres (or inches for those in the third world) are just waaay too precise.

You can see why NASA did not ask me to design their space shuttles, they want accuracy.

Anyhoo, this can be made up of pretty much whatever you have in your cupboard/store room/pantry etc

WARNING: Not suitable for people without teeth or incomplete control of their teeth - babies, toddlers, grand parents, drunks, politicians. Also, (when you add nuts), IT MAY CONTAIN NUTS so if you are allergic maybe don't add nuts - duhh. eek

Doc's ish crunchy granola

3 cups-ish rolled oats
1 cup-ish rolled wheat/rye/barley flakes
1/2 cup-ish wheatgerm
1/2 cup-ish bran
1/2 cup-ish sesame seeds
1/2 cup-ish crushed nuts
1/2 cup-ish sunflower seeds
1/2 cup-ish shredded coconut
1/4 cup-ish oil of your choice but not motor oil <---somebody will try it. Why do you think we have lawyers!
1/4 cup-ish honey

Preheat oven to 100*c (ish) (quite low) or if you have a cob oven, move the coals out of the way and kick the cat off the top of it.

This can also be cooked on top of a stove in a frying pan but keep the heat low and the pan moving and stir the stuff constantly whilst cooking.

You can also choose to eat this in the raw (the recipe not you).

I have done this but it is not for everybody (eaten the stuff raw, not eat it naked). In fact, I was not really all that impressed.

Step 1
Whack it all in a bowl and mix it up.

Step 2
Dollop onto trays. Spread it out in trays.

Step 3
Cook until golden brown or just before it starts to smell burnt.

Usually about half an hour but stick around so you can keep an eye on it.

When cool (the granola, not you) add as much as you want of chopped dried fruit: dates, apple, sultanas, bananas, more nuts, whatever, yadda yadda etc etc

If you look carefully and have a magnifying glass, you can see all the goodness in this mix.

This can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for god knows how long and even longer in the freezer.

I wack it all in a great big zippy bag and stick it in the freezer.

I usually use it up within a month or two from the freezer. Pour in a bowl, add cows milk, goats milk, soy milk, water or beer <<----it all counts as liquid.

Should keep you pretty regular, too, I'm guessing eek

Until next time, remember those famous Neil Diamond words:

Deede-ee deet deet deet deet

deet deet deedle dee dee

(If that did not make any sense, you are probably a lot younger than I am. Google can be your friend). biggrin

Love, peace and mung beans

Doc wink