It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve got loads of things to write about now that the nights are getting longer, but thought that I would start with a short post about maintaining soil fertility. Some of you may have read a post that I wrote back in March, describing building a compost heap incorporating ideas/techniques culled from the book, Farmers of Forty Centuries. The post can be found by clicking this COMPOST link. I wanted to show you the results.
I’ve been using compost to prepare my vegetable beds for planting. I haven’t needed to use too much, as the beds are being used to grow grains, and they don’t need too much fertility. The picture below is of the last of my two year old hot compost.
It’s good compost, well matured, has been hot, and turned.
The picture below is of the heap built in March, using layers of straw (Deep Litter Duck bedding), retted horse manure, and pond mud.
It is really good. Good enough to use as potting compost, but probably mixed with sand to reduce nutrients a bit. As it is cold composted, there will be some weed seeds, especially from the pond mud, but I can live with that. Although the heap was slow(ish) to build, there was no turning involved, and the extra clay introduced with the pond mud will help to create a really stable humus. It’s not really six months old, as the deep bed was started in October.
The picture below is a close up.
I want to make another heap now, to use next Spring, but need to empty another bay first. That will take some time, and it looks like I need to build another another compost bay.
There are some changes that I’d like to try. My supply of horse manure is limited, and could stop at any time. As the manure is simply partially digested grass, I think that I can ‘digest’ it in bins using water, molasses, and microbes, possibly EM-1. The limiting factor may be the amount and size of the available containers. If the grass works, I can start using weeds, and foraged vegetation. I already ‘drown’ weeds to use as a liquid feed, and guess that the addition of molasses will help the microbes to break down the tough fibres.
I would also like to do the same with woody material.
I’m currently reading more of the research that has been conducted into soil fertility, and am making some interesting discoveries, which may lead to me trialling the addition of raw material directly to the vegetable beds, rather than via a compost heap. Some of what I am reading indicates that composting the raw material may reduce the amount of minerals that could be liberated from the soil by the action of soil microbes. It also indicates that Permanent Agriculture could be possible, with only minor additions of lime, and possibly Phosphorous.
I’ll keep you posted.