Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Biointensive Principles: Composting

More Ecology Action workshop photos from the composting class.

Start with about 4 ft. x 4 ft. of soil that has been loosened a bit, down to 12 inches if possible. They also recommend a layer of thicker sticks/branches on the bottom of the pile to help with drainage and air circulation.

A layer of dried, mature (i.e., carbon-rich) material.

Each layer gets watered after it's put down.

A layer of green, immature material.

More water.

And, a layer of soil. Repeat until the pile is about 3 or 4 ft. high, stick a compost thermometer in it, keep it moist but not soggy, and turn it in a few weeks. Then it sits around until it's ready for use. It's a slower, colder method, as opposed to the black plastic compost tumblers that heat everything up quickly and make compost in a month or so, but this way keeps the beneficial soil microbes that thrive at lower temperatures happy and healthy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Biointensive Principles: Double-digging

A few photos from the double-digging demonstration at the 3-day workshop last month. Sometime during the weekend, someone said something like, "People hear 'Biointensive' and say, oh, that's the method where you double-dig. You all need to remember that there's more to it than that". True, but this is where it all starts...after the planning and calculating and calendars, that is...

John Jeavons beginning the demonstration. He's standing on a digging board to distribute his weight over a larger area so the soil doesn't get compacted.

We should be able to balance easily and understand where our center of gravity is, in order to use the least amount of energy to the greatest effect. Acrobatics encouraged, but not required.

The spade takes a bite out of the soil, about 12 inches down...

...and the soil is moved to the other side of the trench.

Then you position the spading fork on the lower level of the trench...

...sink it another 12 inches (or as far as it goes)...

...and wiggle it around to loosen the soil.

Repeat for the length of the bed, 20 or 25 ft. Take breaks. Breathe deeply. Think happy growing thoughts, and say hello to all the earthworms you turn up as you go along.