Earl Mardle's Blog (38)

Propagating from laterals

For a couple of years now I have been propagating tomatoes from laterals, providing both easier seedlings and ensuring succession production without having to wait to find out if the seeds will germinate. You know in 48 hours whether the lateral has survived and they produce as well as any from seed.

However, over the weekend, I noticed that spuds, being…


Added by Earl Mardle on December 13, 2010 at 10:07pm — 15 Comments

Help, my BREAD is dying.

Since August 2008 we have made all our own bread and its been great. In fact, just lately, it has been better than ever. Then about 2 weeks ago we had a serious failure, the yeast did not work in a batch. Then another good batch, then two successive failures.

Last night I put down my "sponge" as usual and this morning another failure.

The sponge is 300 gm of wholemeal flour, a pinch of salt and 300 ml of warm water with a teaspoonful of yeast in it.

By morning the mix… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on November 16, 2010 at 9:00am — 2 Comments

Food security - NZ in the climate-change crosshairs.

Lets add to all the concerns about how we grow enough of the right food with the least impact the whole issue of our most fertile soil, river deltas, disappearing. NZ climate change warning

Melting ice sheets, warming oceans and disappearing glaciers could mean New Zealanders have to cope with sea level rises more than triple the international estimates, scientists say.

... international…

Added by Earl Mardle on September 23, 2010 at 9:30am — 2 Comments

Growing TOO MUCH food

Back in February I posted a blog on the politics of Ooooby gardening and local food production. Immanentising the manifesto

As long as we can simply say, "well, we choose to grow our own food and share it informally" there is little that the existing economic and political powers can do about that except to start propagandising us about the downsides of local food production, horror stories in the…

Added by Earl Mardle on September 15, 2010 at 9:16am — 4 Comments

Fires Work for November 5

I've been interested in biochar as a soil amendment for a couple of years, since I saw a documentary on Terra Preta in the Amazon basin and its valuable effects on fertility, water management and food production.

So naturally I want to try some out for myself. Making it turns out to be, potentially, a LOT more fun than I suspected, but also a LOT more spectacular and noisy than I reckon would go down in my local… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on August 26, 2010 at 7:30pm — No Comments

Food security - Russian wheatfields on fire.

Whatever your position on climate change, there is no arguing with the changing picture of food production.

Australia, once a massive grain exporter is now a net importer and now a Russian heatwave is causing alarm, not so much about hunger as about the political discomforts of food riots as experienced a couple of years ago. Global Wheat Shortage Feared

Wheat prices…

Added by Earl Mardle on August 4, 2010 at 10:03am — No Comments

Food security - malfeasance rears its head.

When systems are running under serious pressure, it takes very little to collapse the whole system. Complex systems do not degrade elegantly, they strain to return to the previous normal and then they collapse rapidly. As well as broad economic problems and climate change affecting our ability to grow the food we have been sued to, when things are stretched they are also vulnerable to opportunistic attacks. Like this;… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on July 7, 2010 at 8:39pm — 4 Comments

Market Power is Undermining Our Food Security

A couple of weeks ago this story about the corrupted relationship between food suppliers and supermarkets caught my eye. The farmer gets $5 a kilo. You pay $69

KEL SHARMAN, a Tasmanian beef farmer, was astonished to find out that meat from a beast he sold for about $5 a kilogram last month was on sale at a Surry Hills butchery this week for $69.
This is pretty… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on July 5, 2010 at 10:38pm — 5 Comments

Houston we have a (water) problem

This started as a complaint about my water bill but those of us interested in local food production, food miles, locavore communities etc had better get our heads out of the soil and into the political arena if we want to make a successful transition to these fine qualities.

My water bill which arrived the other day and showed that for three quarters of the year we consume very little water on our property, eking out showers, moderating laundry and using a modern dishwasher that is… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on March 23, 2010 at 11:28am — 5 Comments

Glen Innes Sunday Market

I am out of date about this. Saw it a few months ago and it was dire, about 3 stalls and no people. Checked it again yesterday and there are maybe 30 stalls and no room for parking.

Its humming. Maybe time to consider a second Ooooby Market stall. Any Eastern Suburbs producers and Oooobyists apart from Angie and me?

Added by Earl Mardle on February 22, 2010 at 7:42am — 8 Comments

Fast, cheap tomato paste

I've made a few batches of tomato paste but it takes forever and you have to keep monitoring the pan to make sure it doesn't burn and it uses a lot of fuel.

But yesterday, quite by accident, we discovered a much better way.

Its glut time so I have been cleaning and quartering tomatoes and pressing them gently into 1 litre pots (mostly to get as much in there as possible) then freezing them till I can turn them into passata or soup or whatever.

Yesterday we took… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on February 14, 2010 at 3:23pm — 2 Comments

Connecting some dots

At today's lunch meeting we were asked about what project we could start right now that would help improve access to locally grown food. Since I'm principally interested at this stage in the production side - I'll be more interested in trading once I am sure I can regularly and sustainably produce a surplus - I'd like to connect some ideas that came up and a few that have been floating around and propose an actual project for Ooooby.

An integrated project that;

* promotes Ooooby… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on February 4, 2010 at 10:30pm — 4 Comments

Immanentising the manifesto

It was an inspiring meeting today at Freeman's Bay. Just to see the number and variety of people inclined and enthused enough to come out and take part makes it easier to think about doing this stuff well.

Some thoughts on what we are engaged in.

On the broader economic front we need to consider how we will cope with the transition from the existing normal economic model to the one we are proposing will happen and for which we are preparing. For example, I need good…


Added by Earl Mardle on February 4, 2010 at 6:30pm — No Comments

Almost all purpose spray recipe

I've been having some success with this one. Its not perfect but it does a pretty good job so far this year.

In a 5 litre sprayer add:

Half a cup of milk for the mildews

A tablespoonful of baking powder dissolved in a cup of warm water as backup

I cup of wormwood tea to repel boarders

15 ml of Neem oil emulsified in half a cup of warm water to ward off those that are not repelled

a splosh of Canola oil also emulsified to help it all stick to the plant… Continue

Added by Earl Mardle on February 1, 2010 at 11:11am — 2 Comments

Tomatoes, Plums, Potatoes and Pumpkins

This day last year we were harvesting 1.8KG of tomatoes from the garden. (Nothing like a diary to keep the memory straight). This year we have much bigger crops on all the plants and bigger fruit as well; but we have not yet picked a single one. One Roma is just starting to colour up now but the rest wont be ready for a couple of weeks I suspect.

If we can keep them healthy through that time we are in for a bundle this year. A little tomato porn for you…


Added by Earl Mardle on January 7, 2010 at 12:19pm — No Comments

Urban beehives get a redesign

With a hat tip to the NYTimes, a new and improved design of beehive could be used by city dwellers to harvest up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of their own honey each year, according to Natural England, a British government conservation agency. The hives could also help stem the decline of bee populations.

Natural England produces the Beehaus which they claim should make it easy for anyone — from amateurs to seasoned apiarists — to help bees find a home in urban…

Added by Earl Mardle on August 12, 2009 at 9:29am — No Comments

Weed control with white vinegar

Just read this piece on the use of white vinegar for weed control.

There are some limitations of temperature, concentration species but its worth a read.

best bit is its effect on OXALIS!!!!!

Now, anyone know where we can get it in decent quantities?

Added by Earl Mardle on July 10, 2009 at 8:30pm — 1 Comment

Great Gardening Books

Go to Fishpond or Amazon or any of the online bookshops and you can get a barrow-load of books dumped into your browser just by putting "gardening" into the search field.

But are they any good?

I started the Gardening Books Group as a place to drop my own reviews and recommendations and for you to add yours.

Do drop in, the browsing is fine.

Added by Earl Mardle on June 15, 2009 at 11:30am — No Comments


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