Seed Swaps

Ah, Well.... That's Surprising.

29 Aug 2011
Rainy 22°C / 72°F

So while we were weeding and clearing the bare patch where my melons and zukes failed so miserably last year we stumbled upon this gigantic hardwood stump buried about 6 inches deep. The roots are huge and spread at least 8m from the stump. The thing was covered in a strange white mould and was the palace of an enormous ant colony. It’s obvious that my ant baits last summer did have some effect, but they were still survivors in there starting again.

So, for these reasons we decided to remove as much of it as possible, even though we are building raised beds on top of it, and could theoretically have left it there. Bens’ phobia of termites also played into it.

So we can’t afford a professional. Instead we bought a new chain saw chain and Ben hacked away at it. (We know that’s not great for the chainsaw btw). The roots are still there, but are less ant eaten, we’ll remove as much as we can, but I doubt it will be a huge % of what’s there. We had to rip up brickpaving as it was.

So I’m guessing this is the source of the rapid fungus that killed my lovely vine patch. One of the zukes was planted directly over it. My theory is once the roots grew down to the infected stump it spread all over. :(

It’s also definitely the source of the unkillable ants.

Hopefully its removal will be a blessing when we do eventually build our raised boxes there. :)

You agree?





Folia Helper


A good spot to put a compost bin (with or without the stump remaining). It should rot away quickly with the added moisture, multitude of fungi and bacteria present from the compost process.

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

Now I know why West Australians call our sandstone soils ‘good’.

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

Great thanks good to know graibeard. By the way you’ve been keeping quiet lately, good to hear from you!

Poppyde- When I say I am gardening on a sand dune, I mean that literally lol. :) Doesn’t help being by the beach I suppose ;) They do say WA has the worst soil in the world. In.The.World. It’s taken 18 months to get my other patch to develop a decent layer of soil and hummus, and why we’re building UP!

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

You may have the worst soils in the world (for growing some things) but your local plants are some of the best in the world. It doesn’t matter where you are, people will say ‘I can’t grow anything in these soils". That’s when I look around to see what’s growing naturally nearby and there will be heaps. We all try to grow the wrong things but that’s what gardening is all about I suppose.

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

I’m with you on that poppy, that’s why I’m developing my Indigenous food and medicine and waterwise gardens out the front. I do need some good fertile soil for my regular veg, tho. So raised ‘lasagna’ beds are really the only option for those.

Finally got a bentonite supplier. Going out there on the weekend! This will be a major event for my garden I think. I’m treating the ENTIRE block! :D

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

Regarding ants, a friend of mine just told me to try cornmeal. Apparently, they take it back to the colony and they all eat it and it puffs up in their stomachs and that’s all she wrote! This has been a really bad year for ants here. I just put out the cornmeal yesterday, so I am not sure yet if it’s working, but my friend swears it does.

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

As well as siting the compost bin over it, have the chooks on call next time before you dig around it. They make very short work of termites. The only difficulty is keeping them away as you chop to reveal more termites. Yet another reason to love hens.

Rather than backfill the hole, could you sink the compost bin and ‘apply directly’? You could then remove the bin and leave the compost in place, ready for the veg bed. I guess you could build the raised bed around it too and still leave a half buried bin there? In my soil I could forgo the bin and just keep a lid over the hole, but I suspect your sandy soil would start caving in.

Posted on 30 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

Thanks Deanna, do you think cornflour would work too? I’ve been looking for an organic way to kill the queen ants, I’ll definitely try it.
LillyPilly, our chook got foxed. :( Now I’m thinking of turning the chook run into a berry arbour, so I doubt we will get more. I was going to use geolining for the bottom of the raised beds, so that what is beneath them is inconsequential to the plants in the boxes, except for the holistic environment aspect. So I’d be inclined to want to dig the compost out and use it in the boxes when they are / sigh / built. This make sense or am I missing something blindingly obvious? :)

Posted on 31 Aug 11 (over 4 years ago)

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