dinsdag 18 november 2014

Soil characteristics.


A hole in the land by the river, from which the ground is gone.

A wheelbarrow with ground, mixed with water. With vinegar added thereto, in order to prevent the seeds to germinate. Previously people used the juice of the lemons (citric acid), which grew here in abundance.

And here we get a perfect mortar for fixing natural stone. An old proven use.

With an amazing result. An old custom even so.

We live in an old house, built of earth and stone. Or rather; with a layer of Tras with stone, topped with soil walls.

At the river we find ancient walls, (which are partly built from ground) that had to turn the water of the river. And with success, because they are still there ... about 100 years later ...

On the land around us, we sometimes find amazing shaped parts of soil, made by beetles, snails and other small animals...

...Where even the grass seeds can be embedded.

Soil is worn rock. And sometimes, by the action of water, this land seems to want to return to the safety of this rock.
We were told that it was good to grow in this soil. It is 'terra fina' they said. Which means that it is soil without stones. Because sometimes, here you can find land so full of stones, that even a tractor can have trouble working it.

So our land by the river contains no stones... "fine soil for growing wine' we were told. But nevertheless we wondered how it could be, that one could grow crops so well in this ground. We ourselves had not have this experience. We try to understand this soil. Soil with which one can lay bricks. Soil, that but very slowly weathers and not loses its shape, in all kinds of weather... is that a top soil?

Terra Fina.

We did a trial: Some 'terra fina' in a jar. Then some water and a seed in it. The seed came up, but languished. So we forgot the experiment. Then it dried out. We were left with soil in a block shape.

Here the block with a pile of the type of soil that eventually formed the block.

We kept the block, dry and nothing happened. Then it was thrown in the grass next to the flower bed in the garden. It has been raining frequently, so it got wet. And now we see a semi-weathered and wet lump of ground showing numerous soil life.

There is no 'terra fina' without water and soil life.

We try to make a good soil in our new planter on the slope, next to the house. We pick up the stones and hope to create sufficient soil life with compost. This is the result of a year, with varying crops. With only moderately growing results. The soil does not want to conform to the compost very well. And the compost seems lost in the soil. They look like two worlds that do not know each other. Fortunately it rains frequently lately. That helps a lot to the soil life to get started. We are hopeful.


Hendrik builds his walls with large hollow red bricks and plasters it with sand cement mortar... like here today, everyone does. Nice to built a raised bed... but for a house? We like our house of mud.

Here a picture of the interior of our barn, where the original pockets of the mud walls can be seen. Each part is built between wooden partitions. When a layer is done a new layer of pockets follows on top, making it seem as if the wall is build with complete blocks. The 'blocks' are in fact 'boxes' of mud.



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