Thursday, March 4, 2010

From soil to cellar

I've been obsessing over soil building again and obsessing over building things we need in the garden for little or no cost. Things like a cellar for our preserves and somewhere to keep the tools so we can finish the permie-wwoofer-artist-in-res shed – the Shed of Interrelation.

Every time I get in the car of late I'm accompanied by a highly conscious route and list. I leave rambling and fluffing about for when I'm on my bike; when I'm making my own human generated electricity. This morning I had a small list, which required 4.5 km of driving. I headed first to the local cafe where, for the past two years, they kindly donate us their green scraps. Then I headed to the hardware and picked up two polluting bags of cement to use sparingly. I then drove to the nearby horse school farm and shoveled up 6 chaff bags full of lovely crumbly dry shit. When I returned, together with the woodchips we still have left, I prepared a new compost.

I threw everything into the empty compost bay. The cafe scraps ponged because I haven't collected the bin for over a week. This pong is methane being released. It gets like this because the vegetables and fruit are starved of air. A good soil requires water, air, organic matter and many nutrients and minerals. Composting correctly will stop methane being produced. This is called aerobic composting.

Animal manure, green waste (kitchen scraps) and wood chips make a good recipe for soil production. A small quantity of crushed igneous rock will add iron to the brew.

I dump it all in the compost bay and do a work out with the pitch fork. (You can watch a previous workout here). But if you layer your compost like a lasagna you can save on the heavy, back breaking work.

Once turned through I would normally wet down and wrap it up with a tarpaulin. However, we are expecting rain, so I'll save our water and wrap it up afterwards.

Now I have some more cement I can go back to building the cellar. I'm using gleaned gravel and stone, and making a slip wall by clamping boards to the stumps that hold up our house. The cellar should end up costing about $100, if I'm patient and steady-state about it. We have many apples and nectarines to preserve and store from our neighbour Maria's orchard.

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