dinsdag 24 december 2019

Composting, as an environmental solution.

Now that Stella has passed away, what next?
She has touched the earth for almost 70 years, changed things she found necessary. Has left her mark on things she encountered. And has left this earth, as if she were an astronaut, and will never return. Is gone forever, only her drawings, paintings, this blog, the other blogs, and her own blog, the design and design of our house, is all that is left of her. And my and others, the memories of her. But what next?
Every day people visit the blogs that she has compiled and written. She has shaped them in her own, so characteristic way. And now suddenly it has to be different, because she is no longer there, to do it. And it can be done differently. Is it possible to fill the blog in a way that is also interesting enough for readers, or do they all drop out? I do not know.
So far readers worldwide have come to the blog. Some with 60 hits and topics per day. There appears to be a need to be able to read about compost and composting. People seem to get fascinated again and again, and pass it on to others. Appreciation is also expressed, and sometimes an email is sent to indicate that. The only art is to be able to retain that attention and interest. Stella apparently succeeded, and the question is whether I, Hendrik, will continue to succeed.

With this piece I already indicate that it will go further. Accents will change, there will be a different way of writing. And ................ I will present other topics.
The development of composting here, on our estate, is almost complete. The compost from our last composting will remain in the Big Bags until next September. That will be quite exciting, because I did composting this year in a different way than previous years.
In addition, I am busy cooking my own meals, because Stella always did that, and now no longer.
I gradually get through that cooking, on new ideas to prepare vegetables in a different way than Stella did, and with other combinations.

In addition, I want to delve into other ways of living together.
I now live in a farm that is actually much too large for myself alone. It doesn't bother me, I don't feel lonely, even though I miss Stella immensely. But it is also a shame that the space is not being used.
I do not yet know how that should take shape. I spent two months learning to live without Stella. How that will behave is also not clear to me. I am a people person, I like to get along with others, but it must have its feet. That's why I want to set it up wider than Stella did. Then it was about composting and social present, as a sort of contradiction. In the compost hope this happens, and socially that happens. We were two, had enough of it, and didn't think further.
Now that I am alone, I look at daily things differently and report on them. The question is whether that is found interesting. Whether my way of looking at all those things is fascinating enough to attract and retain attention. I don't know that either, so I just do it and see where the ship (the compost heap) is stranded. (Noah's Ark :).
So if someone has comments or comments, or new ideas, I would love to hear that. Composting as an environmental solution. I will have to have healthy vegetables.

Hendrik (:).

zondag 1 december 2019

Adieux Stella...

Only 2,5 month ago, since Stella´s post below about Patrick´s experiences about and discovery of grass composting..
And here we are writing to share with you that our beloved Stella passed away on the 6th of November.

After a long and intense time of illness, Stella died in the evening at 10:30pm. She was fighting until the end but was confronted with more and more pain. Before the increasing amount of medication which faded her sense of control she stopped eating and drinking with the inevitable result of her death.

The next day (!) Stella was cremated and her ashes returned on friday. This is how quick it can go here in Portugal.. We decided not to have a funeral service.

Of course there is a big gap in my life now here in Portugal. What is left are the memories of her and they are everywhere. If we would have believed in a God, I could think or say, God has her soul. But she and I did not believe this. So her soul is in her artworks, in her blogs, the way in which she decorated the house and the way of life here at the farm. In that sense the house and the blog are her museum and I will leave it as it is...

A reflection of our life together here...

Video: Drawing´Country life´ by Stella and music ´a Drawing´ composed and  played by Hendrik van Rijn

Stella´s own words in her last post: "No obligations... this gives peace at heart, living in this beautiful country with the one person I love... Stella Pintora has ended... we will be fine". ~ https://stellapintora.blogspot.com/

(For the vigilant reader, Stella always finished every post with this asterisk. A reference to the Latin meaning of her name, Star..)

In loving remembrance,
Hendrik van Rijn

dinsdag 17 september 2019

"became inspired"

News from Patrick from the US:

"I actually came across your blog about a year ago, as I was looking for more information on Alwin Seifert because I had just read a book of his called "Compost." I had bookmarked your page, and returned to it just about a month ago for a deeper look. Since, I have a number of hours reading through the posts, watching the videos... becoming inspired. 

Fortunately, last year I purchased a European scythe from a supplier in Maine, and learned how to use and more or less sharpen it. I have an area about 4-500m2, mostly of grasses and forbs. I had mown it previous to reading your blog, and the grass was dried, sitting in a large pile. The plan was to use it for a "traditional" compost pile which I've had going for a number of years. Joe Jenkins style. But that changed. 

So, using your information, pictures, and videos, I pretty much replicated your method. Yesterday marked the completion of the first big bag. The grasses and forbs are not growing so dense, thus I need to wait a couple of more weeks to mow again so that I have enough hay to complete bag 2. It's hard to believe how much compacted, moist hay a big bag will hold! 

I've included a couple of pics, not for novelty, because I've essentially copied you, but just to let you know that what you do has effects. Also, your blog is beautifully put together, from the videos, to the guitar, to the philosophical underpinnings!"

In proces...
More later...

vrijdag 21 juni 2019


Where it starts.
Hestel Tellus

We are Hestel Tellus; two persons running a project called 'compostfarming' in the Alentejo-Portugal. On this blog we tell about our experiences with the composting of grasses and herbs (harvested from our land), and about the vegetable garden that we provide with this compost in the local soil (the stone dust) of the Alentejo.

Hestel Tellus is a private and independent initiative; a project purely about composting and horticulture.

In the past we had a composting company in Holland, where we composted grasses from third parties. After our retirement we moved to Portugal and continued our composting technique on a smaller (personal) scale, under Portuguese conditions; primarily to set up a vegetable garden for self support. Here we found out how the compost literally brings the soil (the Portuguese stone dust) to life for growing our food.

This is how we developed a model which allows anybody (who knows and wants this) to implement a self support existence for him/her selves, the family and/or the community... anywhere on this globe where there is grass and stone dust. Without the necessity to raise cattle, but not necessarily excluding it.

Although our model is developed from a scientific basis (by ing. dr. H. Krantz, about 1935) we base all we do on a personal and purely practical level. What you see is what you get. Besides being creative, we do not include politics, religion or any form of spirituality. The latter is irrelevant to us. Our daily practice and environment inspire us adequately.

Raised beds with a mix of soil and compost, with mulch (chopped cane) on top. 
Here the result.


Important to read:

- A practical summary... About composting grasses, how I do it.

- How to start composting by immersing hay... Why immerse before composting?

This hay is great stuff for composting... Dry grasses make composting easier.

Our soil is fertile! Compost is not a fertilizer. It is a precondition for soil activity.

Old knowledge. New insights. About one of our sources of knowledge, Dr. Elaine Ingham.

The Method Krantz... history and publications; the basis of our method.

And more... to find in the sidebar of this blog.

Obviously you can do more with a grassland than only feed your animals. Make grass-compost and bring your garden to life!




May 2018

woensdag 12 juni 2019

An horta in the Alentejo - Part 4

2018-2019 ... Hot! Cold! Dry! Wet! Everything... luckily not at the same time, but suddenly and consecutively.

2018 a hot summer


The tomatoes that we bought from the market were tasty. Some call them 'Roma', but we call them 'Chucha'. A beautiful oval tomato and sometimes round, with firm flesh and, moreover, not from elsewhere, but from here. Reason enough to keep the seeds and give it a try in our garden. And a big harvest it was!

On the internet you can find how to prepare seed from fresh tomatoes for sowing. And here...

Soak the fresh seed (moisture inclusive) in some water. It will then make bubbles... ferment. The seeds then detach from the water.
Then you can sieve the seeds from the water and put them on a saucer to dry.

In a hot summer under a burning sun, a basket over the lettuce is very welcome.

Well on its way... but there, under that lettuce head, somethings happens that you are not aware of...


As welcome as our (shredded cane) mulch is in the summer, the more big the mistake is to leave the mulch on the garden in winter! In the summer the mulch protects the soil from drying out... and in the winter it does the same... which provides the snails with a wonderful escape to hibernate and make new young snails. These new young snails will certainly find your new young lettuce. We did not know... and when we found out it was to late.

In particular the veins of the leafs have to suffer.

So: Do not put any mulch on the garden if it is not necessary. In a cold and wet winter mulching is absolutely unnecessary. Do not create a snail's paradise. And once it is born and full of joy dining on your plants, it is not that easy to get rid of them. We never had any problems with snails. Precisely because of the dry weather conditions in summer. But if there is an abundance of moisture in winter, the soil can do without mulch. 

The best thing that we thought to do was to replenish the garden with fresh compost and leave it fallow for a winter, so that no shreds would make a hiding place for any snail.

And... back to growing lettuce in pots. 

August 4, 2018... a day to remember

During the day in the shade more than 45 degrees Celsius ... and in the burning sun more than 50 degrees C.

And then in the evening, after a complete summer without even one drop of rain, an overwhelming thunderstorm came over which washed everything away. The tomatoes, which were in the burning sun the whole day, suddenly cooled in the icy gusts of rain. Anybody would shrink in such a situation... 
The next day the consequences became visible.

This was the end of a tomato harvest. Because in the course of time practically all tomatoes withered.

2019 a cold winter

Hendrik's fresh leaves idea

Because we wanted to put the garden fallow in winter, because of the snails drama, we could not grow cabbage in the garden this winter. And growing cabbage in pots is difficult because a cabbage requires more food to grow up than there is in a pot... was our experience.

The idea: Various cabbage varieties in a pot ... You do not let them fully mature into an adult plant whose cabbage can eventually be harvested. No, you harvest the fresh leaves. Tasty stir fry in the olive oil and you have a perfect meal. New leaves keep on growing for a long time, until the spunk is gone. In the meantime you regularly sow new cabbage in pots. Three plants in a pot has proven to be the best. It costs a little more seed, but having nice fresh vegetables is worth it.

Hendrik's new greenhouse

It was an eyesore to Hendrik... this endless improvising of us in our greenhouse. "This is the last one we are building," he said. "And now it will be good."

A new floor in the greenhouse, we lay with anti-rooting cloth...
... which we then smooth out and secure in the bottom with long nails with rings.
Almost ready.
Even more welcome lettuce in pots. Now parked on the terrace, waiting for the 'definitive' greenhouse.

Without mulch

A new beginning ... after many nights with frost. And the cold is not over yet.