Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spring babies

Not R-e-ally community garden, but how can you not go gooey at the sight of these. Port Waratah rang as they were having to move machinery which had swallow nests attached, with eggs. When they actually came to removing them and transporting them to me, one lot was in the process of hatching, there was a group which were clearly much more advanced, and eggs which are now in the jury -rigged incubator.
This is the second "Noisy Myna" chick for rescue but NPWS are wrong, it's a Little Wattle bird.The first one, Buddha Bird,  is about to join an older one in another carer's aviary and keep learning how to be a NM before being buddied with others to form a new troupe for release
Just hatched swallow chicks, eating with the help of a toothpick loaded with an insectivore mix.
The "Dream Pot" slow cooker has been a lifesaver
Older swallow chicks are eating very well.and often, feed one end and you won't believe the size of what comes out the other, birds are messy critters

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biodiversity is the key

"Biodiversity is key: Organic agriculture best means of tackling pest control and producing larger plants

A study released by Washington State University in the Journal ‘Nature’ has found organic agriculture gives better pest control and produces larger plants than conventional farming due to a higher level of biodiversity.

The researchers found that more balanced animal and plant communities typical of organic farms work better at fighting pests and growing a better plant and highlights the importance of biodiversity.

The researchers looked at insect pests and their natural enemies in potatoes and found organic crops had more balanced insect populations in which no one species of insect has a chance to dominate. And in test plots, the crops with the more balanced insect populations grew better.

"Organic agriculture promotes more balanced communities of predators," says David Crowder, a post-doctorate research associate in entomology at Washington State University.

"What our study suggests is that organic agriculture is promoting these more balanced natural enemy communities and they may have better, organic pest control."

"I think 'balance' is a good term," says David Crowder. "When the species are balanced, at least in our experiments, they're able to fulfill their roles in a more harmonious fashion."

Crowder and colleagues use the term "evenness" to describe the relatively equal abundance of different species in an ecosystem.

Conservation efforts more typically concentrate on species richness - the number of individual species - or the loss of individual species. Crowder's paper is one of only a few to address the issue and the first to look at animal and fungal communities at multiple points in the food chain.

The researchers say their results strengthen the argument that both richness and evenness need to be considered in restoring an ecosystem.

The paper also highlights insect predator and prey relationships at a time when the potato industry, including large French fry retailers like McDonald's and Wendy's, is being pushed to consider the ecological sustainability of different pest-control practices.

Conventional pest -management on farms often leads to biological communities being dominated by a few species.  Looking at conventional and organic potato farms in central Washington State's Columbia Basin, Crowder found that the evenness of natural pests differed drastically between the two types of farms."

This was sent to me in an email from a fellow member of the
Australian Plants Society Newcastle Group who also happens to be a passionate organic gardener.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Letting in the light in the Memorial Garden

Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, known as St Francis,  has something new to look at - Kangaroo Paw "Red Devil"


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Organochloride poisons

As an animal rescuer/carer with the Native Animal Trust I have seen the effects of poisons like Dieldrin, Lindane and other organochloride poisons on birds. Tawny Frogmouths eat things like cockroaches and spiders from our gardens.Squeamish about these creatures? Sprayed around the house? Had the pest exterminator man in? The runoff and spread through the environment means that these lovely birds are poisoned. They suffer a slow death with dreadful epileptic-like seizures, are unable to fly or walk and are killed by cats and dogs if they end up on the ground.  The next time somebody screams and says that cockroaches are ikky, ignore it and don't reach for the spray can. Think - if these poisons are killing the birds, what is happening to human health?  People like me don't want to get called out time after time to a "rescue" which ends as another bird euthanased to prevent further suffering.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

September 4th Drippy Spring and Judy's new boots

Borage flowers and bee

Judy wanted to have a picture of her new boots on the blog - happy to oblige.

We planted Sweet Basil, Red Mustard and Borage and said goodbye to the three PawPaws by the tanks. Looks like the very wet weather has rotted their roots off Annie will bring up some more banana suckers and this time we will mound them.
Not a lot to talk about at the meeting. We will plant two more big beds, oval shaped this time, to take the flower seedlings and a pumpkin patch. Judy has some genuine Gramma seeds and so do I. Can't plant 0ther cucurbits at the same time as they cross when the bees do their pollination and the fruit could be any old thing. Had the unfortunate experience once of growing what looked like a beautiful watermelon which turned out to be a waterkin/pumpmelon when cut open!!  The loofahs we grew at Villiers Street crossed with a cucumber or a zucchini and turned into loofumbers/ zoofahs - inedible and no use for a back scrubber.  Bees will fly 5 Km to collect pollen ( makes the claims that GMO crops are safe with a buffer zone of 1 Km) so we still will have no guarantees unless we do the pollination ourselves.

That  Parterre again - is doing fine.

Judy will tell the congregation they can start picking some of the leaves from the outside of the coloured spinach.
Red Mustard grows quite large. In Summer it will go to seed pretty quickly but will make a very colourful splash in the meantime. Very hot, so it sparks up salad with just a single leaf