Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble!

My idea of heaven is making potions - mixing plant ingredients together to make healing elixirs is one of my favorite activities.

Today we made a few fertility potions - for soil fertily, that is.

Over the last two days I pruned part of the orchard and food forest, mowed the alfalfa field (YES!!! tractors are soooooo fun), and gathered all of the materials to make a beautiful pile o' compost.

Check out the ingredients of our monster compost pile, all harvested as waste and surplus from the farm: arrowroot, banana stalk, alfalfa, wood chips, sugar cane, leftover mashed grain from beer brewing, chicken bedding, cow manure, tagasaste, and pigeon pea.

We chipped the big stuff and made a pile about a meter and a half wide and tall... the photo doesn't do it justice, it was massive!

The afternoon saw the debut of Peter's new compost tea machine, a system designed by Australian soil biologist Paul Taylor. We placed an air pump on top of a 55 gallon drum, with a "tea bag" in the middle that contained 12 cups of rich compost. Fill the drum with water and a cup each of liquid kelp, fish emulsion, and humic acid, flip on the pump to aerate it for 24 hours...and voila! An extremely nutritious boost for the soil.

Tomorrow we'll pull the trailer with this rig out, attach a pump and a hose to the bottom, and use the tea as a foliar spray and soil amendment throughout the farm.

Here's a link to some wonderful how-to information on compost tea and liquid fertilizers from Mark Krawczyk, a friend and designer in Vermont. He recommends you can also use potions of nettle, comfrey, and horse tail as additives to your fertilizer to boost soil health. These mineral rich plants are also hugely medicinal in the human body as well.

Coincidence? I think not!

1 comment:

  1. As you can tell, I'm taking some time to catch up tonight. I was so engrossed (and slightly jealous! - both of your trip and the ability to start a compost pile in February - it's like 10 degrees here, but the sun's shining!) that I just burned my toast. D'oh. Thanks for the shout out.