I'm Maria and I'm a computer engineering student from Lisbon who is probably going to follow a bioinformatic masters. Anyways, this post is not about that. *
In January, I started sowing my first plants so I can have a vegetable garden at home. I decided to go with a no dig garden technique (following Charles Dowding and after reading Michael Phillips' Mycorrhizal Planet), and so I built a raised bed, putting compost mixed with substrate (is that what you call it?) directly on the grass. Now, where I live it's windy and it's by the sea, and we've been having some problems with our fava beans due to (we believe) the salty air from the sea, that's been burning the leaves, leaving them black.
This week, since Spring is around the corner, I was thinking of moving the tomatoes which have been growing inside (they're about 50cm tall now!) to the raised bed outside, but I'm worried about the wind/salt and sun. I wanted to do some mulching, since the place the raised bed is located gets about +10h of pretty much direct sun and I don't want the ground to dry up nor weeds coming out. The problem is, the only trees we have in my house are perennial and the only cuttings we can get are from other plants (so a lot of nitrogen, right?). I was wondering if anyone knows about places that can give out bags of tree leaves, or I can ask someone for a ride and go to some park and fill the bags myself.
My university has a vegetable garden based on permaculture principles, and I was borrowing compost from them, but I feel bad taking it (although last year they made 11 tons). I e-mailed my city council asking for a composter (apparently they used to give out free composting bins) and it's been 3 weeks and they haven't replied. Apart from that, I was wondering if it's possible to source unrefined, cold-pressed Neem oil from somewhere that doesn't have to be shipped across continents and I didn't really want to buy it from Amazon as well. Also, how does one go about propagating endomycorrhizae?
Sorry if this post is all over the place. With Spring about to start and school, I feel like I'm on the verge here.
* Actually, I wanted to ask if anyone in Portugal knows about incorporating bioinformatics into agriculture...
Thank everyone for any possible insights, ideas etc. :-)
Call local arborists for wood chips i would also start leaf mold in the fall by going to a wooded park and rake like crazy also you can create a small vermicomposting set up within the home pretty cheaply and can help create some great fertilizer ..you can also harvest rhyzobium by putting organic rice in pantyhoes burying it next to an old healthy tree after frost about 10 inches in the ground...come back a month later and inoculate a bucket of rainwater mixed with a 1to 3 ratio of molasses let that sit for a month then poor the mixture into several other buckets of water and use it to water the ground.and plants also collecting egg shells newspaper and coffee grounds is perfect for soil building and protecting it.....look up morag gamble no dig garden video on youtube she has a great no dig method.
Maria, your garden is located to which cardinal point?
You can have a ton of leaves at your door, just ask the junta de freguesia guys and they'll delivery it to you. (They pay the waste disposal company to receive those leaves...). Or just go to Monsanto forest and rack them You dont need much for a small home garden.
About Neem oil, it's made of the Neem tree and this tree grows only in subtropical regions? so... no chance of finding neem oil from our continent .
And don't worry about nitrogen, if your soil is mostly compost you only need to add some carbon every year plus some what the other guys said, banana skin, egg shells, coffee, your pee, etc.
First of all, the city council (Câmara Municipal) ended up delivering to my house a huge composting bin (I looked it up and it costed 50€) for free. I have been putting kitchen waste, fava beans and grass, but I still need to find some brown stuff to put in so it evens things out. I'm going to go around when I have time to "steal" my neighbors pruning waste. I gotta tell my family to also put the coffee grounds in the compost bin.
Velho Barbudo, my garden is located towards the sea, so it's South looking. We have a problem from the air of the sea killing some plants which I think don't deal very well with the salt, is that it? Also something that started bugging us is the fact that we have hares (lebres) coming into our garden. At first it was fine, my dad left a bucket of water for them. But now they have found that they have a vegetable garden with lettuces (they ate the 20 I planted) and chards! This morning I went to check my tomatoes and I caught them on the beds I made. They ate some onions which I found surprising. My dad put a 1m something height plastic net with 1.5cm holes, and the next day there was a hole on the bottom (some mouse or the hares did it, I believe), and they ate away the top of some peppers and eggplant :'-(. We're gonna have to get a metal net that they can't bite into.
Has anyone tried to grow plants that hares or rabbits don't like? Or is the net the only option I have?
Apart from that, I ended up finding some pure Neem oil, it had to be from Amazon unfortunately. I looked up a few Portuguese stores and they only had processed Neem oil, so it was a 3% concentration instead of pure, and they were much more expensive (8€ for 125mL). The one I found was 1L for 15€, so it had to do.
If anyone lives in Lisbon and is interested in checking out my university's permaculture project, it's called HortaFCUL and we gather on Wednesdays to work. It's a project that was started 9 years ago by students who were into sustainability and agriculture, and they transformed a grass lawn into a beautiful vegetable garden, with a lake and a few swales. Then two years ago, some PhD students started working with us and they were given 1.5 greenhouses and 8 plots to do their thesis. One of them is going to be printed soon, and the other one is still being worked on. Anyways, two years forward we have an abundant garden, with another lake that is part of a thought out water retention structure. We started working with the university, taking the kitchen and coffee shops waste (coffee grounds and vegetable scraps). They ended up saving money because they don't have to pay the school's gardeners to take the leaves, grass and branches to another place to be put away. We have a couple of vermicompost bins and a large composter that since September has made 12 tons of compost. So look us up on Facebook and shoot us a message if you're interested in seeing what's growing here.
Thank you everyone for the kind replies and suggestions :-)