My little sister (6 years younger), Teena who lives in Qld is very excited about going green. She has very kindly allowed me to share an email full of questions with you all, and my replies to them.Disclaimer to all: Take my advice at your own risk. I accept no responsibility for the outcome. Let common sense prevail!
Hey Gav just a couple of quick questions about greening.
1… Can i use the bedding from my guinea pigs (with droppings in it) on my compost heap? they have wood shavings with the dust removed that you can buy in a large brick from the local livestock feedlot. Their diet is vegies (capsicum, beans, peas in pod, carrots, sweetcorn on cob with husk and hair, cauliflower, rolled oats, chaff, sorgum tips)…most vegies i am already growing now but will increase my vegie patch when compost matures a little more.
Most definitely you can. The wood shavings should not be treated pine, or otherwise your guinea pigs wouldn’t last long, so they are fine to add to the compost heap. Their droppings even more so. Any herbivore droppings are fine for the compost heap to my knowledge. Now, after you add the bedding to your bin/heap, you next need to add some green material, like kitchen scraps or green weeds/grass clippings. That way you will end up with a good carbon to nitrogen ratio in your compost heap and it will rot well. Too much carbon (dry stuff) and it doesn’t rot down, and too much green stuff, and it turns into a smelly mess that even the worms won’t eat (cows might though, remember silage on the dairy?). Also remember never to add meat to the compost heap, unless of course you want rats as pets as well!
2… I went to council about chooks etc and am a little confused as to what I can legally make for chooks. The cat situation in my area is terrible so am allowed to make a pen with a wire top but it cant exceed 6ft tall and pen cant exceed 3metres square, and it cant have a permanent floor like slab concrete without permit, but I can have 6 laying hens and 4 meat hens but no rooster. question is how can i make the chooks free range of sorts with a nightly home with boxes and they still be safe? Should I make a small but raised hut for them to sleep in that’s in a permanent spot with a small caged area attached for them to peck around in during day? Can I also use the wood shavings that I use for guinea pigs in the nesting boxes or do I use something else?
There is no real uniform standard for chook houses between the various local councils of Australia. Our local council laws state that the cage is to be 2 m from a boundary fence, and 6 m from the main house on opposing blocks. It took us a while to figure that one out. It just means that it must be 6 m from your neighbours house. We are only allowed up to 12 hens of any type, but no roosters. I think that a cage with a secure wire roof is best, with something to stop the vermin from digging under the wire as well. I am going to bury those plastic cable covers into about 10 cm into the ground and attach the bottom of the wire to them. I would definitely put a wire roof on, as we have a similar cat issue in our neighbourhood. You may have noticed the little house that I made from recycled wood. I am going to make a ramp on a hinge so that I can secure it at night so they are safe, and let them out into the cage area in the morning. I will begin to let them have a scratch around the rest of the garden only when I am in that part of the garden, just at the beginning to make sure they are safe from cats. Hopefully, Butch will keep an eye on them for us as well. He has a few bird friends already that he lets bath in his water bowl, even when he is watching them! You can use wood shavings as flooring material, or even sugarcane mulch from what I have read. An even simpler solution, because you are renting is a chicken tractor. Have a look around on the web for a “chicken tractor”, you might be able to find a small one cheap on eBay and it would help with your grass problem. When they have mowed the spot under the cage, just move it to the next spot. That way, you will always have the lawn under control, happy healthy chooks, save your back and petrol costs by not mowing! You can also take it with you if you ever move, and take the chooks as well. All this advice, and I don’t even have my own chooks yet. At least I have read a lot about building cages! Bloody back.
3… No-one can tell me what to do with onions (recycling them) my worms wont eat them, told not to put them in compost heap, do chooks eat them or should i just put them in the weekly otto bin? And is it possible to get the bottom root to shoot again in the hothouse/shade house?
Whoever told you that you can’t put them in the compost bin are telling porkies! They do contain a bit of acid and sulphur, but rot down well in my compost bins. To make sure that the final product is not too acidic, I make sure that once a month I sprinkle a handful of dolomite lime over the surface and give the bin/heap a good stir/turn. That “sweetens” the compost and brings down the acidity. My vegetables are certainly not complaining about the onions I put into the compost! You are also correct about the worms, they won’t touch them with a barge pole, nor anything citrus. I have never tried growing from the bottom shoot. I use seeds directly sown in March to grow onions. They are very slow growing and you won’t get to harvest them until Jan/Feb, but well worth it for using the small ones for making organic pickled onions and drying out the rest for later. Yum!
4… Council up here wont allow a hot house (the plastic lined ones) larger than 2 metres square and not allowed to have a permanent floor either and must be cyclone proof pegged down, doesn’t make sense, what is the best natural flooring I can use in hothouse to help keep the temperature up? Will those click together recycled tyre pavers be enough? Or should I stick with sugarcane mulch or something?
The one I have doesn’t exceed 2 sqm, so one like that would be fine. Kim bought ours 2 years ago from Deals Direct online for about $35. We have it tied to the veranda railing, not sure how you would secure yours. Maybe heavy duty cable ties and replace them every few years as they become brittle when exposed to the sun? A few small holes in the plastic won’t matter when you secure the hot house, just tape around them with gaffa tape. We just have our greenhouse on a pebble base, which we have all over the garden. The snails and slugs have so far kept away, so be careful if you choose sugarcane mulch because they love to live and hide in it during the day, only to appear at night and decimate you seedlings. The recycled tyre pavers might be enough as they probably would keep away from the smell of the black rubber. Just a guess though.
I think that was it. If I think of more I will email again.
No drama Sis, anytime.
Right back at ya!