donderdag 8 februari 2018

Spirits and Seeds

On Saturday, February 2nd, we went to an annual 'seed exchange market', in São Martinho das Amoreiras - Odemira, a village in the Alentejo, to tell about our composting project. We did not know where we would end up, so we went at random. The initiative started from Kashi and her mother. Mother Magda is already back in the Netherlands to babysit her little grandson. But yet she also had a lot of input to take this initiative and to make it into something special.

Our stall with Kashi's 'mini compost production line'
and also my paintings had to come along, because it is fun
and because they are landscapes... And that says it all?
Kashi's 'mini compost production line'
Kashi´s story

During the construction there were already some curious people. It is always exciting whether there is enthusiasm for what you have been committed yourself to. Especially if the topic is not really 'sexy'. So this gave good courage. Well I already was convinced and enthusiastic about this method of composting, so there was not so much to loose.

All other stalls built up something to sell, we just wanted to share our enthusiasm. And this sharing sure happened! The origin of the market is the exchanging of seeds, 'Festa das Sementes'. And all these seeds end up into the soil, so of course there is no better place to talk about the soil than this! And that was noticeable to the people, the attention, the unbelief, the questions, the stories...

Here where people who are also busy with gardens, growing vegetables, composting, communes, living consciously, green, ecological, organic, sustainable, etc. And what was especially nice is that things are DONE. People have dirty and big hands on which you can see that they are used for working. With enthusiasm, love and attention for what they do, and therefore what others do. To try out things, to experiment with methods and techniques, to search for things that work. But there are also a lot of people who have bought a piece of land and actually have no idea what to do with it, who mess around some, and don't know what works and what doesn't.

What strikes me is that during the exchange of ideas it is not so much about 'what is right or wrong', but it is mainly about the possibilities. People are also open, although it always takes a while to be able to understand something new. Especially when there are already so many conditions in our heads, so that our perception already has formed a picture.

It seems that the simplicity of our composting method exceeds complex thinking

We think in fertilizing, we think in layering, turning over and watering, in shortages. Then it takes some time to penetrate concepts such as 'immersing', 'grasses', 'bacteria' and 'minerals' into the perception of composting. Though I think this has really worked out here and there. People often said 'thank you', asked for more information and sometimes came back to go deeper into the matter. I think that the appearance of our stall certainly contributed to the interest. People really wanted to know; 'what is  this all about and what is happening here?!' I really liked to bring something and present what has become so personal to me and what makes me so happy.

I also like to present Hestel Tellus as a kind of Wikipedia of the compost. And I hope I can share you (Hendrik and Stella) more with many others!

Stall Talk in the 'Composting Production Line'

We have just bought a piece of land and would also like to build a garden.
So we first have to make compost before building a garden? Yes, that actually sounds logical too. This way you keep a healthy balance between 'taking and bringing' from the beginning. And you can also determine how big your garden can be.

A healthy garden consists of 10% of digested organic material (compost).
So this compost is only grass and a little bit of manure ??? Unbelievable! Yes, really, and in relation to other methods where you always have to scoop and pour water to keep it wet, we also use very little water.

Can you also use that compost starter as food/compost-tea for the plants?
Forget about fertilizing! Our soil here is full of rocks and therefore full of minerals! This IS your nutrition! It only needs active organic matter, so that the plants can actually absorb these minerals. You can make a tea from the compost, there are the bacteria that bring the soil to life.

At least you have something left over! My vegetable-garden-waste compost disappears as well as completely.
This is because vegetable-garden-waste compost, for the most part, consists of water. During the heating this evaporates. And during this heating the organic matter is converted into CO2 and disappears into the atmosphere. The more the materials are scooped and aerated, the more it is exposed to oxygen, the more CO2 development takes place. What remains are some minerals, which have only little mass. This is also the reason why this compost mostly is called 'too salt'.

Oh, I just mowed the field, so I can now use it all!
Yes good, but let it dry first!

This compost does not stink at all! Is it also possible to compost straw in this way?
The answer on the market was 'no', because straw has too little nitrogen in it, to do the digestion of the material smoothly. The C/N ratio of hay is often much more favorable; 19/1. Of straw that usually is 65/1. This means that straw contains 65 parts of carbon against 1 part of nitrogen and hay contains 19 parts of carbon against 1 nitrogen, which shows that hay contains relatively more nitrogen. This also sais the same about fresh hay compared to old hay, which also consists less nitrogen compared to fresh hay. Here we talk about nitrogen (in terms of food for microbes), which also is protein (in terms of food for animals).

Now Hendrik says: "I have just kept an eye on the books, but I should have said that he could try it out and keep us informed. And also... If he brings me a few packs of straw, I will get to work on it. I am also curious whether my newly acquired theories are correct. I am convinced that nature always has inscrutable ways to break down organic matter. So, in fact every organic matter can be composted. The only difference lays in the way of working."

Must the grass be dry? Must it be hay?
Yes, that is very important because the moisture in wet grass is very clean and we want to bring a lot of bacteria into the grass to start the composting. In addition, hay digests much better than wet or fresh grass. The drier the grass, the better the composting.

We are vegan and prefer not to do anything with animals. Can we also use stinging nettles instead of manure?
Unfortunately no. We need the bacteria from the stomachs of the animals to start the composting process. Especially the many stomachs of a cow make very nice usable bacteria. However, very little manure is required with this method of composting.

Did you know that your Karma is determined by the amount of fertile soil that you leave behind?
No, we did not know that. But Hendrik is gilded with it.

Words of thanks

Thanks to Hendrik and Stella who encouraged me to this initiative and have complemented and decorated the layout so beautifully. Thank you for your generosity, your knowledge and expertise, revealing all your commitment and your untouched feedback. It is a pleasure that you have come into my life and that I am able to participate in your lives also. Thank you, of course, to Mariana who entrusted us with a place on this beautiful market. Thanks also to mum Magda who always, whether or not on the spot, provides us with entertaining sauces and her pioneering passion. Thanks also to the beautiful cauliflower and broccoli that stood out in front of our stall. Thanks to my Guru in whose eyes I have immersed myself, even though we talk about compost :)



(with in green additions by Hendrik)


One important thing we want you all to know: Hendrik and I have never met Kashi's Guru. We had the chance the moment he visited the market, but we did not take the opportunity... Kashi's word of thanks to him is therefore personal. He is her Guru and not ours. It is our choice not to be included in a movement, sect, religion, spiritual organization, political party etc. We ourselves are also no movement, sect, religion, spiritual organization, political party etc. We only try looking into the biological happenings in the soil and the organics... and of this, on this blog, we report on our experiences. Simply curious.
Everyone is free to join with whom or whatever. We respect this highly, but at the same time we distance ourselves from it when it concerns us. Kashi and her mother Magda are our 'big compost and garden friends'. We ourselves therefore owe our thanks to them... Kashi and Magda, thank you both, with pleasure :)



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