The nursery – aka rubber ring of manure!

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The kraal originally housed our tents, but when these came down with the advent of ‘the shack’, we had two areas of cement slabs (previously used as the raised platforms for the tents) that were clearly not the best use of space.  One area became the keyhole bed shown in the previous post.  The other became a nursery.

We had received a delivery of tyres for a windbreak wall in the further-removed mandala area.  There were plenty of tyres left over, and they became the semi-circular lower walls for the nursery.  These were filled with manure in the hope that eventually we could plant different veges therein, making a living wall – a good use of space and an attempt to detract from the harshness of the tyres aesthetically.

The tyres were laid one row at a time.  One layer goes on, and manure is added so that it fills the bulbous part of the tyre too – kind of like filling rammed-earth tyres, but easier.  The next layer of tyres goes on, and the attempt is made to make sure that where manure is falling through gaps, enough compaction occurs to hold the manure in place.  Straw at the bottom of these areas acts as a nice net to keep the manure in place.

A word of warning – we had to use fresh horse manure to fill the tyres, and where there’s horse poo, there are flies… many many fellonous flies, enough to drive one absolutely insane.  This lasted for about two weeks – in hindsight it was was worth it but at the time it was rather challenging to wade through swirling swarms.  If aged manure is available and easy to get into the tyres, use it!  We also found later that covering the exposed parts of the manure-tyres with a layer of compost helped hide the flies’ bounty – should have done this right at the beginning.

The freakin flies did act as something of a blessing in disguise.  They forced us to for some kind of barrier to keep them out the shack.  The answer was hand-me-down net curtaining, (thanks gran!) which was staple-gunned in place; the before-and-after view of this can be seen in the first picture compared to the panoramic shot.  Having done this, pretty much all but one or two flies get into our palace per day, compared to dozens prior to even the manure-tyres being introduced.  Now the windows can be open for a through-draft, considerably cooling the place, and no flies get in to bug us.

We later added a few gum-poles, sourced from the overgrown plots around us.  These poles were pushed through the tyres where possible and dug into the ground.  Cable-ties and rope have been used to secure the cross-poles, over which the shade cloth is positioned; cable-ties are then used to secure the shadecloth in place.  A short irrigation spray-system is connected to the poles.

We were pleased to see that whatever we planted into the top layer of compost grew immediately without any signs of being affected by the nitrogen-rich manure.  Admittedly, we have not planted a huge variety of veges or herbs in the tyres – mostly squash plants.  The squashes definitely prefer it, and their long leafy vines do a good job of hiding the tyres.