We are pumping out the compost these days! BUILDING SOIL 🙂
Jordan and I have made 2 huge hot “berkley method” piles since May and just started a 3rd with Christina and Sinisha the other day. We have brewed 3 batches of vermi-compost and comfry tea and yesterday we did a extract brew, which was a quick and easy option. The extract yesterday was made using worm casings / compost from the first pile / and some comfry leaves. The whole garden got a good dose of nutrients last night!
I always assumed that compost extracts were not as good as compost teas and so I hadn’t given them much thought, that is until I read Verge Permaculture’s recent article on tea and extract brewing, which inspired me to make an extract. In essence both methods use a constant supply of rapidly moving oxygenated water over a period of time to extract and or grow microbes. The problem that came up with the tea we produce is that you had to use it very quickly… like within hours, or the microbes start to eat away all the oxygen and then rapidly die off. With the extract you have a few days (up to 2 weeks) to get it all on the plants… which is helpful then you are supplying the nutrients by way of a watering can over an 12 000 sq/ft area of food production! The other benefit to producing extract over tea is that the aeration machine only needs to run for 2-3 hours rather than 24 hours… which makes for more quiet time in the mountains, and less energy of course. This is the way have been brewing tea which is a really super boosted and viable method, and if I had a smaller yard or an easier application method I would use regularly. As it stand I think we will keep on the extract train for a while, and take our time to deliver the nutrients to the crops.
We finally got the worms moved outdoors and into a make shift home inside a tub. The plan is to still utilize a worm condo system and have two double stacks functioning inside a single tub. Right now we are repurposing some plastic food crates which are stackable and ideal. The new vermi-home shares a fence with the rabbit / chicken run and soon will house the rabbits on top. The worms are getting all the rabbit manure + straw bedding, plus all the tea and coffee grounds from the house, along with some misc kitchen scraps that the chooks don’t eat. The rest ends up in the big compost piles.
As for our berkley piles… we have been struggling a little with the nitrogen content of the old winter coop chicken manure muck, as it was intensely caked and somewhat aged yet totally anaerobic, YUCK it is nasty stuff. The first pile we did was way way way to hot, the second pile was made almost entirely of wood chips and manure trying to keep it from over heating, and I think we have finally found the right balance with the newest pile: Incorporating wood ash, lots of diverse greens / weeds, the nasty old chook shit cakes, along with new poo and straw from the rabbits and the birds, some winter coat fur from Odin, wood chips, grass clippings, mushrooms, and bits from both the old piles and the creek bed for some added microbial excitement!
We have been using a number of different compost calculators online, and I found one that I really liked using here, These calculators are the perfect tool for building the right kind of compost, as the correct carbon to nitrogen ration is key to successful composting! The calculator the results from our last pile are in the slideshow above, what I like most about this specific calculator tool, is you can use volumes of measure like : a wheelbarrow load (which is the easiest way for us to tally up our inputs) . We ended up with a 34 C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio which is ideal. We made the pile Thursday morning, and turned it Sunday morning for the first time, the temperature was sitting at 60 degrees. This soil building stuff is pretty amazing!
May the sun gently warm the seeds you sow in the fertile and living soil, may the rains delicatly sprinkle and feed the plants in your field, may the winds strengthen their stocks and entice our flying friends to do a pollination dance upon their petals. May your harvests be abundant and your table full of people to share it with.
And may the sunshine of the summer season invigorate and refresh your spirits.
From our little homestead family to yours,
It’s a whole new view from the living room window these days. The shower house is near complete, with the cedar strip floor boards down and the structure oiled it is a FABULOUS space to wash the grit of a hard days work away in, and the view is unbelievable!!! I don’t think we have used the shower in our house once since we got this outdoor getaway functioning.
We were really happy to welcome our new interns Christina & Sinisha from Croatia who have been a lovely addition to our growing team. It’s funny how a couple half a world away can share so many of the same world views as we do! They are fresh from the big city life, and we are hardening them up one day at a time; digging holes, stacking wood, weeding kouch grass, hauling shit, feeding the animals, planting food, and living without heat or running water or flushing toilets… all the great things that make this life so challenging yet so rewarding.They studied Permaculture back home in Croatia and have been really eager to get there hands dirty implementing the theories they have spent so long learning about.
We have been working really hard in the garden to get the last of the food in the ground, which has been no small task. Just a few loose ends to tie up, until all our initial plantings are all complete. I have never had so much food in the ground in my life, and yet I seem to be managing pretty well so far, thanks to all the extra help!
We are eating all of our salad greens from the garden these days, along with many herbs, chives, rhubarb, spicy mustard greens and bok choy too! Everywhere I look the garden is bursting, and new life is erupting from the mulch. There is so much green stuff to eat that salad is essentially mandatory for all meals!
At this late hour the last garden gate is being assembled, and now the massive garden expansion is now entirely fenced off, with big ass cedar peeled posts and stucco wire fenceing. The new garden is so big it has 2 quad / truck gates and 2 human sized gates and even a secret chicken gate (for spring and winter garden foraging). I keep thinking.. “oh that will be the last time we need to dig fence holes” and they just keep coming. We added 15 new fence poles (each about 12 feet apart) to give you an idea of the scale of the new garden space. We have encompassed the yarn yurt and the shower house within the garden zone. And slowly but very sureily it is coming together as all of our little piles of construction chaos are cleaning up really nicely into promising albeit unfinished beautiful projects! yeah!
Even the last 3/10ths of the woodhenge roof is underway and set for immediate completion. Perma-camp is looking more tidy by the day and Jordan and Dylan are on the hunt for the perfect space for a micro dwelling which Jordan is inspired to build and dwell in!
The garden is a real treat to wonder through at this point in it’s life! Our creative problem solving has lead to some really cute and clever (if I do say) solutions for food production. The black bags, the olive oil cans, the mill scraps, the abundant rocks from the water line project have all lead to a fun and artsy space, with better thought out, water, access, structures and food systems!
It has been a little dreary round here since may long, but no worries the plants are loving it and the sun is beating down on us today!
We starting working on a rather large sheet mulch a few weeks back that has since been planted out with a hull-less purple barley, and in just a few short days the barley has started popping from it’s wood mulch. The hugelkulture bed is dreamy! Squash all over and the delicate starts of dozens of chick pea plants are popping up from the middle it stays so nice and moist it is unbelievable! I want my entire garden to be a hugel garden! Tomorrow we will bump a little mini hugelkulture bed off the front of the big one, and plant it out with some odds and ends.
This week we finally got the corn in the ground, and the 3 sisters guild done, we planted about 50 feet of climbing pole beans which will take advantage of the new fence, we strung back the 30 feet of climbing sweet peas which are starting to grow up the front garden fence, All the cuc’s got transplanted (AGAIN) this is round two, and we have about 24 plants on the go… dill pickles here we come! We added to some continueous crop plantings, and have started to propagate strawberries down the rock wall. In the end we have yet another potato sack bed, which is made up of a total volunteer force of spuds growing in a giant black bag (which we will roll up as we mulch).
The upper tier of garden space will all be perennial crops, and key hole guilds, this year much of the work we make on this front will be building soil and planning access. Yet asparagus, blueberries, raspberries and lovage will all start to settle in up there this year, along with a new gala apple tree our friends propagated for us!
The next big task at hand is workshop / studio space construction, so the old tippy plywood shed that Dyl is calling his studio will come a tumbling down, and be replaced by a timber-foam structure… Oh and breading these damn rabbits, seems our little Romeo lacks interest in his Juliette still, we may need to take her on a date with an old buck stud, more on that later!
Now that I have written this all, I must run around and capture some images to share. Eventually I plan to create a before and after slide show, maybe I will work on that in July, over the dusk hours while I hide from the blood suckers! TTFN.