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John Ashworth
White Hair. Balding. Still thinks he's a 25 year old.
White Hair. Balding. Still thinks he's a 25 year old.

John's posts

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Home Page
My aim is to
grow plants in my garden as nature intended.  Grown in a manner
embracing processes refined by millions of years of evolution. This natural approach results in strong and healthy plants living in balance with their local ecosystem of which th...

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Last updated 15th March 2017.

The Soil Foodweb.

In natural ecosystems, organic material is deposited on the soil's surface as animal waste and the remains of dead plants and animals.  It feeds the soil's microorganisms and through them helps provide food for plants.  The plants then provide food for animals and other creatures living above and below ground.

Organic farmers and gardeners adapt these natural processes by adding compost to soil to feed microbes which release plant nutrients into the soil surrounding plant roots.  The leaves, roots, flowers and fruit taken from plants grown in this enriched soil provide people with essential minerals and nutrients in their food, essential for energy and good health.

When this relationship between microbes, plants and animals is working naturally, it is totally self sustaining and abundantly productive.  Scientists call this relationship the Soil Food Web. 

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March 2017
The capsicum are at their peak, but the tomatoes are almost finished.  For the first time I am growing a second crop of tomatoes sown just after Christmas.  I have terminated them at 5 sets high, so the plants energy is focused on growing larger fruit than ...

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Harvested yesterday.
3 Photos - View album

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It looks as if I will get 4 or 5 of these Golden nugget pumpkins off each of the 4 plants in my garden. That's plenty for our needs, especially as the butternut will give me another 8 pumpkins. I think I could at least double these numbers if I were to allow more fruit to set, but I need the space for other plants.

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Lil and I went for a stroll at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne today. It was a typical autumn day starting misty in the morning and then breaking through with luxuriant sunshine about mid day. The gardens always have something new to enjoy, even after a long dry summer.
10 Photos - View album

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In 3 days it will be autumn here in Australia, and the summer has been very dry, although not as hot in Melbourne as it usually is. The reason for this blog is to update you on my organic lawn. Despite only having 2 days of meaningful rain where I live over the past 13 weeks, the lawn has coped very well with a weekly hour long drink from the sub-turf drip irrigation system.

Added to that, I have not fed the lawn since last April when I applied a top dressing of 9 litres of filtered compost. I do spray the lawn with aerated compost tea every month, but it only gets about 7 litres each time. By mowing the lawn every week to about 75mm thick, the roots have established a strong deep network and they seem to be finding plenty of water in the subsoil. The dense mass of leaves and runners on the surface is acting like a mulch and helping the highly active microbe population in the root zone to retain nutrients and moisture and minimise evaporation.

I will feed the lawn with the same quantity of filtered compost again in April to help keep the beneficial soil microbes fed during winter when photosynthesis is lower. (The plants will be producing less root exudate because of the reduced sunlight and reduced plant growth).

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Latest Update 22nd February 2017.

Growing Nutritious Food.

Nutrient Rich Food: 
The Soil Foodweb:
Excellent Health:

If you want to enjoy excellent health eat nutritious organic food, and if you really want to be sure you are getting all the nutrients you need from your food, grow your own. 
Modern farming and food processing practices have resulted in food which looks good on the supermarket shelves, but does it provide the nutrition we need?
Modern convenience foods are often laced with sugar and over-refined.  They are great at providing your body with the energy it needs (often far too much), but do they look after its health.  Food nutritionists are beginning to think not.
People are realising this and are changing their diets so they get far more fresh fruit and vegetables.  This is very commendable, but is it enough?  
In nature, plants get their food from the microbes in the soil.  Wonderful mutualistic relationships between the plants and the soil's microbes benefits them all.  The plants make energy food for the microbes and in return the microbes provide the nutrients the plants needs for growth (see Soil Foodweb).
Modern farming is well known for its high output producing nice looking produce with a long shelf life.  What is not so well known is that by killing off the microbes in the soil over many years, essential micro nutrients, which we need in our food are in short supply.

Use the links above for more information about Nutrient Rich Food.

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Latest Update 20th February 2017.
Growing Organic Fruit.

Growing Dwarf Apples.
Growing Apricots.
Growing Peaches.
Growing Olives.
Growing fruit in a small suburban garden can be very challenging, but I have found the following 3 devices enabled me to maintain a small orchard in very limited space:-
Dwarfism: By planting normal sized fruit on dwarf stock, you can reduce the plants overall mature size without reducing the size of the ample fruit obtained.
Rigorous summer pruning to encourage fruit development at the expense of growth.
Training a tree when young to take an espaliers or similar form to fool the tree into thinking it's mature when its actually still quite small and ready to fruit along its horizontal branches.
My fruiting plants are all drip line irrigated in slightly raised beds (200mm).  1 or 2 hours each week keeps the subsoil moist and my perennial plants establish deep roots so they can survive long periods without rain.
I supplement my irrigation using water from my rainwater tanks, but only when establishing new plants and on a few flowering annuals grown to add a little colour and diversity.
Soil fertility is maintained by adding a generous top dressing of home made compost in spring, and by drenching the root zone of my fruit trees every 3 months with aerated compost tea (Orchard Tea formula).  I protect the compost from drying out with a thick layer of organic sugar cane straw mulch.
My "Growing Organic Fruit" blog contains about 10 pages showing how I prepare soil, propagate, plant, train, harvest and prune each fruiting plant, and how I control its pests.
For more information on growing fruiting plants in a small garden, take a look at the examples above in the links to my blog on Growing Organic Fruit.
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