Congratulations to the Habitat Nertwork who have won an Honorable mention for Urban Landcare and also a joint 1st for the Innovation Award - through Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority! Well done to all in the Habitat Network & Bev Debrincat http://www.habitatnetwork.org/
Wildlife in Focus: Masked Lapwing or Vanellus miles. Listen to the podcast here.
For more information on the Masked Lapwing go to http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/The call of the Masked Lapwing was provided by Bill Rankin of the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group http://www.awsrg.org/ Listen here:
Vegetable Heroes: Grow a green manure crop.The steps are as follows-
- Rake the garden smooth to prepare the seed bed. Plant seeds that sprout and grow quickly for your green manure crop.
- Recycle any kind of seeds for green manure - leftover flowers, outdated or extra veggies. You can add any out-of-date vegetable seeds you have left over from last season as well. Just scatter the seed around your garden bed, about two handfuls per square meter.
- Lightly rake it over to get the seeds into the dirt, and water it in well. You may need to cover the bed with a net if the birds discover the free feast you’ve laid out for them.
- Let the green manure crop grow 7-10 cm tall. Leave the green manure on the garden until it matures to control erosion and existing weeds in the bed - call it a cover crop. Don't let it seed With legume crops, when the plant begins to seed after flowering, the nitrogen fixing potential of the crop becomes less because the nitrogen is partly used up in seed the forming process. With grain/grass crops, the flowers are insignificant and usually a light brown and difficult to notice. If you don't catch them in time, you will have lots of seeds falling into the bed and this will make it hard for you to stop the seeds sprouting of the green manure crop instead o the one you want.
- When it has reached a good height (half a metre) and is not seeding, cut it down to the ground. If it is a small bed, use shears. If it is a large space, use a mower. Place all the green matter back on the bed and it will cover the bed and the roots of all the plants will remain in the soil. Leave the bed for about a month and don't dig up the crop, let it rot in the bed. It should not grow back because you haven’t let it seed. I find this method easier then digging it in which is what gardeners used to do. That practise has been found to destroy soil structure too much and it’s a lot of hard work anyway. Save your back by doing it this way or you can use a digging fork to turn the plants and their roots completely into the soil.
- Give the soil and the worms time to do their work. The green manure adds nitrogen and also adds organic matter to improve your soil. Plant also in compacted areas - such as under trees - and newly graded lots. Allow little roots to break up the soil, which will aerate and renew its structure.
- For a cheap alternative trive bird seed that you buy from the supermarket. It should contain oats, wheat, barley, sunflower and many other seeds.
- http://www.greenharvest.com.au/ for green manure seeds.
“I have an awkwardly shaped shaded area between the house and fence where grass won't grow properly, and the second problem is have an awkwardly sized and shaped bit of the garden which receives some light.”What to do? Listen here to the podcast.
Plant of the Week: Cotoneaster is a declared weed. Find facts and information on growing cotoneaster and some of the most common varieties. http://www.weeds.org.au/ and look up the Grow Me Instead booklet. These plants have become widespread weeds in bushland and farming land. Prostrate forms sold as ground covers or rockery plants do not appear to be invasive. Gardeners often choose trees and shrubs with showy persisten berries for winter colour in their gardens when flowers are scarce. Unfortunately these berries often attract birds and small mammals that spread the seeds of these unwanted plants into bushland and open spaces. By eating the berries of course. If you really want to feed the birds and look after the environment, you should be planting any number of Banksias-try B. Collina v spinulolsa for the biggest flower spikes on any Banksia.