Friday, 31 May 2013

May 2013.

It's the end of autumn (fall) in the southern hemisphere, and it has been a long, hot dry summer and autumn in Melbourne.

Despite this, I have been able to comfortably provide my 5 above ground Ecobeds, inground Ecobed and 8 Ecobins with water exclusively from my rainwater tanks (7500 litres capacity).

I hope I will never need to use town water since it is treated with chlorine and fluorine salts.  There is a risk they would build up in the soil degrading it and eventually killing off some of the microorganisms and worms.

This triple bed arrangement (photo) allows me to experiment a little.

The water tanks are only 500mm wide so there are gaps between them of 320mm (230mm at the ends).  I know from previous experience that the tank water rises upwards and outwards, but I wanted to know:-
  • Will the tanks keep the whole area above them moist.
  • Will there be water losses from the tanks to subsoil via the moist soil above the gaps.
  • Will I gain or lose earthworms from/to the surrounding soil.
I have also used three different media in the tanks.  The first tank uses the course wood chips described in "Making an Inground Ecobed".  The second uses a much finer, softer wood chip which I bought from my local Garden Supplier.  In the third one I used ordinary soil.  I wanted to know what problems I might encounter using these three types:-
  • The first bed sprang a leak.  I replaced the plastic, and since then there have been no leaks.  The wood chips had softened in the tank water during my first attempt and were no longer sharp enough to penetrate the plastic.
  • Bed 2 worked well from the start.
  • Bed 3 fills very slowly and has a leak.  Remedial action will have to wait until after I harvest the broad beans.  I can still water the bed from below, but it drains out of the tank fairly quickly.