Our blog is visited regularly by interested people from all over our globe. From the Americas to China, from Europe to Australia and New Zealand, Russia, Asia, Africa and Arabia. Too much to mention. Some make a complete study of the content of our blog. Clearly they want to know everything about it. This makes us curious. We are very interested in your experiences with the composting of grasses. We are curious about the results ánd the failures as well.
So our request is: Mail us about your experiences!
If you want we can post your story on our blog. To generate attention for your project and perhaps to share your experiences with others: compostfarming.tellus at gmail.com
What interests us are the different circumstances in which you compost. Heat, cold, drought, rains etc. How do you protect the composting process and what skills do you use in your unique circumstance?
The circumstances in which one finds oneself, are the most influential:
- What is the average day and night temperature? For example in the tropics, subtropics, near the poles.
- Are there any possible political or administrative obstacles?
- Does one have some defense against insects? Mosquitoes are attracted to compost and water.
- In connection to the possible processing of fruit and vegetable waste, it is important that one has defense against mice and rats.
- What opportunities are there for the supply and what is the distance from the extraction area?
- The terrain is mountainous, with many slopes or is it flat?
- What is the vegetation of the land, trees, bushes etc?
- Is there a small amount of livestock manure from herbivores available?
- Are there other materials available, such as wood chips or reeds?
- Is there non-chlorinated water available, no chemical pollution, river or groundwater, or otherwise?
- Do you own land, rent, or use from a third-party?
- Are there opportunities to dry grass, or can you harvest hay, like we do?
- How close one lives together? There is much or little room for a compost site?
- Do you have access to indoor spaces, natural or built?
- Is there a possibility to build something, for example, a storage or an immersion installation?
- Are there materials to build something, and what kind? We mainly have stone. Wood is expensive and difficult to obtain.
- Can one store the compost produced?
- Can one use the produced compost or market it?
|A small part of the area to mow. The rest is for the sheep.|
In the Netherlands we know the concept of the 'compost pile'. However, the 'compost pile' does not exist here. Here such a compost pile dries out immediately. A pile of rubbish remains. The experiences I have gained in the Netherlands, on a large scale with hundreds of cubic meters, are here in Portugal in no way be applicable. What worked very well over there did never work here at all. Here I had to consider and find out everything all over again.
This is why I am so curious about how one can make compost in Alaska for example, or China, or in the tropics, or ... And especially in the context of a smaller project, since this is closer to the people, from the viewpoint of utility and necessity. If more people would have discovered, within their own situations, how to compost and do gardening with it, numerically more people would be able to provide for their own food. Thus self-sufficient.
A gardener like Jean Martin Fortier has no time for self-composting. He is dependent on external supplies of compost. In itself there is nothing wrong with that, if that supply is there. So around the organic cultivation there still is a lot of composting work to be done. And then on a large(r) scale. Thus creation of jobs.
My findings at the small:
1: What I do is mow the grass when it has turned into hay. I do this because hay I can carry easier, from the land below (at the river) up to our house. Grass simply is heavier than hay. Later I understood that the materials therefore composted better, because the grafting fluid had better access to the hay stems, with which the bacteria where able to do a better job. So I compost hay, no grass.
2: Initially I stuffed the hay into a basket, that I made to carry on my back. Dragging a wheelbarrow or a cart (up on our hill) I found too heavy. So the basket was a solution. Later I discovered that the emptying of the basket was easier when I had made hay packs. These packages I make in a barrel by trampling it around. A fun odd job. It gives me a certain calm and I am doing a useful job.
3: By now, as I have these hay packs made, I could stack them more easily and I could put them in the immersion barrel more easily. If the hay is fresh (as the composting season starts) I can put 12 packs in the immersion barrel. If the hay is old (at the end of the season) I can put 15. Thus hay gets older and less springy when stored. Even when I cover it well with plastic.
4: The dry circumstance, here in Alentejo, causes the grass to dry on the land with the roots in the ground. So that I can mow it as hay. If I had to dry it first before composting, I do not know what I would have done... Then I had to look for other ways. Then I had to dry the hay (under a roof?) on an open triangle-shaped stack where the wind can dry it. For the layer of wax on the stems must be affected. It is okay when hay-like grasses are accessible to grafting fluid. After all, the bacteria should be able to start up the composting process.
5. We rent our house and the land with it. This is why I have chosen not to build here on this terrain. My setup with barrels and big bags is mobile and flexible. If I ever wanted to built, I would have built composting cells with brick or concrete. An equivalent of the 'Beccari Cells'. But only now, now I know for sure how the composting works in this environment and climate. Because of my experiences, I recommend everyone to start flexible. Never directly with a fixed installation."
|An open triangle-shaped hay stack to dry grasses. Photo: ossecanon.nl|
Hendrik: "And then: I myself do not find it important to be the best and biggest maker of compost. For me it is important that I feel comfortable at work. I am at home on this piece of land where we live now. Sometimes I look up to the work as if it was a mountain, but still I love the daily routine of composting five days a week, occasionally doing an extra job, Stella who cares for the garden, where I can help by providing her with good potting soil and some advice, now and then... The cycle of things. To be self-sufficient. And thus to have found a solution to the problems that have arisen in the meantime. We will live with cancer for the rest of our lives, but we therefore have become 'awake'. Does anyone ever wonder why there are so many people with cancer... nowadays?
For our vegetables we are no longer dependent from the supermarket. No longer dependent on having no choice, the choice of whether or not take the risk of pesticides and degenerated food. We treat ourselves every day on a plate of home-grown cuisine. With fermented beans...
We swap eggs to vegetables with the people in the village, for example. I am happy with this, in fact, very happy. Despite the disappointments when the weather is too hot for a long time, or when it rains continuous all week long. Even when I am standing on the foot of the hill, and have to climb up with a load on my back, even then. When the work is done, I'm happy.
In fact, I think what we do is a wonderful idea. I would therefore like everyone to know this. It may be a good idea for more people. You have to feel comfortable with it. To be involved. Also if your project is small and also if everything goes slow. At one point you always come to a result. And that result makes your day, makes your life and makes you happy. For us this was a life changer.
So, when you are busy with composting grasses and herbs from the 'wild land', or if you want to get started with it... contact us! I am looking forward to your response."