Into the promise of Summer

It has been just under three weeks since filling the bioreactor.

After about two weeks it had sunk down just over two feet. It smells like a damp forest floor and I’ve only removed the pipes in the last few days as I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have them in there. After taking them out it was easy to see that the contents have settled and firmed and the space left by the pipes will continue to allow air to circulate through the mass for some time I speculate.

I’ve also noticed that on removing the pipes there is mould forming between the various materials such as mulched twigs, leaves and grasses. On top of the pile I’ve watched fungi already forming and dying down.

Overall, the surface has remained quite damp. Despite this I have followed the instruction and continued to give it a water each day. At this point I am doing this by watering can or hose. It gives me a moment to actually observe what changes are occurring.

Since starting this bioreactor I’ve knocked together another. Not as high, but with a greater circumference. Again, using the resources I already had available. I filled it mostly with fresh cut green grass, fresh mulched acacia branches and soaked cardboard, dried grass and some more woody pieces of material raked up from an area of the garden. I remember now also adding some woody spinach plants that were bolting to seed and which I did not require. Most everything got mulched or chopped up into smaller lengths of not more than 5 cms or about 2 inches.

After seeing the results in the higher bioreactor after only a couple of weeks I am really keen to see how things progress and what the finished result is after several months. If, as they say, there is a huge build up of fungal hyphae in the material which can then be added to garden soil to inoculate the area, then I think it will be of interest to see what results I get in our sandy soil.

Particular species of fungi can form symbiotic relationships with plants and trees, benefiting both as the hyphae penetrate into the plants root tissue in response to the chemical exudates that are produced by both plant and fungus. Typically, the plant or tree roots offer the hyphae nutrients from its cells. In return, the fungus transfers minerals from the surrounding soil into the plant. I want to create this interchange to the maximum benefit in our sandy, coastal soil. Hence the excitement about the bioreactor and what it creates.

Some observations from the garden at this time. The dahlias opened their first flowers today. Others, planted just a few weeks ago are only just coming up. The early ones are those that have come up from bulbs left in the ground.

The Scarlet Runner beans are in full, splendid show. I’ve already harvested a few pods to eat at dinner. I do love getting produce from the garden, but there is also a quiet little rejoicing voice inside that says, “Yes, a healthy plant from which I can get some healthy, fresh seeds for next years crop.”

We’ve had several visits, usually several a day from Red-winged Fairy Wrens. They come early too which has me think they are actually nesting close by in backyard gardens somewhere, rather than moving down from the bushland at the top of the mount.

Not surprising then that I’ve also heard the call of a Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo in the neighbourhood over the past few weeks. These cuckoos are considered parasitic to other birds species – in particular Fairy Wrens.

An amazing feat by these turtles each year as suburbia encroaches upon their ancient nesting ritual.

I also took pause to look out the front window yesterday, not for any particular reason aside from just feeling that I should look. Though it was a sunny day, there was also patchy rain. No surprise then that I should see an Oblong Turtle making its way across the park into a class of school children. I dashed to get a photo whilst Mrs PP went to make the teachers aware of the turtle and its clear ambition to make it back to the pond safe and unhindered.

This is one of the best sources of information on Oblong Turtles that I’ve come across recently. A great read for locals should you happen to witness these amazing creatures in nature.

This is the first Oblong Turtle I have seen this nesting season, though Mrs PP tells me others have been sighted around the place over the last couple of weeks. Not quite the same as the 2018 season.

In general, anything I have managed to keep water up to in the garden at this time is flourishing and looking pretty good. The hoyas are looking at producing an abundance of flowers this year which are already garnering interest from the local New Holland Honeyeaters who visit the back deck for the hoya flowers numerous times a day. Cicadas are calling noticeably each day now.

I’ve also had a Willy Wagtail visiting the garden. I see them down at the park so I am led to believe that they are regulars in the area and seem to venture further afield at different times of the year. It may be that this is an adolescent from a spring brood which is making it’s way out into the world.

The Red Wattlebird is also making dozens of visits to the garden each day, in particular under the eaves and verandahs, gleaning from the windows, walls and eaves any spiders for insects it can get its beak onto. I mentioned in a previous post that I have seen them nesting still not far from our house. If it’s the same pair it is likely their second brood for the season.

So summer is really swinging in this part of the world and its early days yet. There are so many more observations that I’ve made, but this gives a general overview and I will post more on some specifics later.

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