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Gardening with Jill

Hi, and Welcome to gardening!

As the saying goes “A happy wife - a happy life.” The same should be said for gardens. Keeping your garden happy should be a top priority and one of the best ways to do this is to “Compost”.


The earthworm family has over 300 varieties, including compost worms. They are really important in our gardens life as they recycle nutrient which we in turn place in our gardens to improve the soils. Garden earthworms live on top and deep in the soil where they dig tunnels, aerating the soil, and this allows water to penetrate; their worm castings add nutrient to the garden.

The compost worm lives on the surface, devouring fresh rotting organic matter. They love fruit and vegetable scraps, newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings, hair, junk mail, leaves and flowers, sawdust, wood shavings, shredded twigs, bark, ash, coffee grounds and egg shells. Try to cut these items up in small pieces, as if they are big and chunky they take longer to break down and longer for the worms to chew through. No diseased plants should be used as the disease can remain in the compost mix. No meat or bone scrapes, nor oranges, lemons, onions or garlic scraps. If your soil is heavy, compost helps break it up.

There are many types of compost bins on the market or try making your own compost bin. The best place for your compost bin is a warm sheltered position. In summer it usually takes about six to eight weeks for the compost to break down. In winter it will take a bit longer, around twelve weeks.

Compost is broken down by bacteria which feeds on nitrogen. As the compost breaks down it becomes acidic. Adding a little amount of Lime or Dolomite helps to sweeten it up, also a little bit of cow manure helps the bacteria survive.

Compost should be kept moist, but not soggy. When placing dry ingredients in the bin, like newspapers, wet them first, although the fruit and veggies should keep the bin moist enough. If the layers are dry, dampen them as they are added. Compost gives off heat as it breaks down and this is a good sign that the bacteria are active.

An excerpt From Walt Whitman’s poem “This Compost”

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,

It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,

It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseased corpses,

It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,

It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,

It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.


An attractive plant which grows well in shallow bowls, looking great on your balcony or in a rock garden which are usually dry areas. Also, good for windy areas.

When growing in a pot use a Cacti and Succulent Potting Mix. Small cacti should be repotted every year and the larger more mature plants every two to three years, best in Spring. When repotting, fold a piece of paper into a band and encircle the plant; this will stop you from getting nasty cacti spines in your fingers. Have sticky tape on hand as this helps remove the spines.

Cacti do not grow all year round. Their growing season is usually September to April. As the new growth appears this is when they need watering – at least two to three times a week. Let the soil dry out between watering. In Winter when they are dormant only water every two weeks. Overwatering causes root loss and the rotting of the cacti.

A low nitrogen fertilizer is best, as they are not heavy feeders. A rose fertilizer, about a teaspoon to a 125mm pot, in early Spring will be sufficient and just scratch it in lightly. You can use a liquid fertilizer and there are Cacti and Succulent ones available or a half strength of Nitrosol with liquid blood and bone would be beneficial.


The scourge of Bribie Island rears it’s ugly head in the form of Mealy Bug - The Enemy of Cacti. So arm yourself with a small brush dipped in methylated spirits for small amounts of mealy bug or purchase one of the spray products on the market.


All gardeners love to grow their own produce, and it really does taste much nicer. Here is a list of good and bad companions that you can plant around your vegetables.


Beans Cucumber Lettuce Peas Parsley Silverbeet

Carrots Peas Sage Chives Onions Leeks Lettuce

Celery Tomatoes Dill

Cucumber Beans Celery Nasturtiums Sweetcorn

Lettuce Beetroot Carrots Onions Marigolds Strawberries

Pumpkin Sweetcorn

Silverbeet Beetroot Onions Leeks

Sweetcorn Broad beans Tomatoes

Zucchini Nasturtiums


Beans Garlic Onions Fennel

Mint Parsley

Peas Onions Shallots Garlic

Potatoes Pumpkin

Tomatoes Fennel Dill Strawberries Potatoes

Hopefully, Hughie sends us down some more rain.

Now, off to the Compost Bin and Happy Gardening!


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