zaterdag 2 augustus 2014


This is a cold summer with clouds and rain. The almanac promised us a warm one. But no. This summer now is about half way and we only counted five nearly hot days. Is this the Alentejo?

Now green grass is growing through the dry. And luckily we have not seen fires in the neighborhood yet. We are lucky. We are very lucky.

Even in a rainy summer this grass turns into hay while it is on the land still.
The new grass has been growing over the stubble already. If the weather had been dry, as it usually was, this would not have happened.
Hendrik has already been cutting a 600 square meters of hay on the land by the river.
"In the beginning of the summer I did look up to the work very much, when I saw that high crop." he confesses. "But it is okay afterwards. A sharp scythe, calm with work and everyday a little part." he says a bit relieved.

And when we see all that hay piled up, it shows us how high the crop has been. If Hendrik makes this into compost we have enough for the upcoming gardening season. But for now he will continue mowing. Because of another new phenomenon.

This year we fenced off a small part of the land at the river for the hay harvest. The sheep have not been grazing there. This summer, Hendrik wants this whole part to be mowed.

In the course of the previous year not all the grass that should have been mowed actually was cut. So, during the winter it lay down and molded.

January 2014. The grass that remained became brown.

April 2014. High grass.

June 2014. High hay with new greens in between, because of the rain.
Such a layer of dead grass, filled with fungi, can then pile up for many years, without that the food, which is in there, can be incorporated into the soil. These foods blow away in the wind, or they are absorbed into the air, in the form of CO2. What ever nutrients these fungi have captured come but difficult at the disposal of the bacterial life in the soil. They stay on top.

Bacteria are needed to include the food from the fungi into the soil. For this these bacteria need moisture. Moisture which was not available most of the time.

This old crop now is a molded, a crumbly layer lying under the new high crop that grows through it. Despite the rains in the last winter, it is not completely digested and perished. The conditions in the Alentejo prove, even after the rains, to be too dry for a complete incorporation into the soil. And this molded layer makes mowing more difficult.

So this is a risk of fire. This country should be fully grazes, either mowed or plowed shallow every year, to avoid fire hazards.

Therefore, we now fence off a small part of the land that we mow for sure. The other part is for the sheep.



In fertile soil.

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