Composting is an efficient way of recycling for example natural waste. In the following pictures you have snapshots of today’s work in the gardens of Sunseed. You can see David, assistant of organic gardens department working on a traditional method of composting that is using branches from pruned trees to turn into mulch.
Here Rosi, also an assistant in organic gardens is turning and adding moisture to another compost pile. After a while the organic matter can be added into the garden beds together with goat manure and to enrich the soil.
Working in the new flooding beds in “Diego 1″:
the beds are thinner than the old ones, so that the water can flood and soak more easily.
We won’t put mulch on them because otherwise they are getting higher and higher by the time and won’t be flooded so well anymore. Instead of normal mulch we will take something like palm leafs. In the beds peppers and aubergines will be planted.
The drip irigation in the New Lands
by kirsty, project coordinator
Permaculture Design and Action
Following the Introduction to Permaculture course in April several volunteers wanted to get more experience designing a garden. I have been working with volunteers Rebecca and Hannah on a design for the Far Terrace; we started by surveying, doing interviews with the gardeners, and drawing maps and beginning the design concepts. The three of us made several visits to the garden then sat around a table with paper, reference books and coloured pencils and came up with a beautiful design.
The design brief is: 1) to simplify paths and water channels so that it is easier to navigate the garden and 2) increase the yield from the garden with a focus on perennial plants that don’t need as much attention as the annual plants. The final design includes reforming existing paths and irrigation channels into a branching pattern to ensure a better distribution of water. Also planting 4 new trees (apple, hazel, sweet orange, kaki) and many grape vines and kiwis; the idea is that in 5 years time the shade from these plants will create microclimates for plants that can’t stand the heat of the summer. We will also make sweet potato beds and grow them perennially; if you leave some of the tubers in the ground they will produce more the following year. Other perennials such as strawberries, rhubarb, perennial kale, and asparagus were included in guilds around the new trees. We researched different guilds which are communities of plants that like to grow near each other- as designers we can help to create beneficial relationships between plants.
The design started to be implemented on a Communal work day; 20 people took to the field at the Far terrace, cutting, digging, clearing, mulching beds thickly with manure, newspaper then seaweed and then planting planting planting! The trees have been planted with healthy piles of well composted humanure. Next steps include sourcing the sweet potatoes and sprouting them before planting out. We will also be checking the newly formed irrigation channels to see if the water flow is easier to manage. On the same day volunteer Maria, a permaculture teacher herself, demonstrated Berkely composting, a form of composting that takes only 18 days. The mix includes goat manure, green leafy plants, wood ash, urine, a few layers of ready made compost, and lots of water to keep it moist- essential in this hot dry climate. The trick is to keep it juicy and keep it moving; the heap gets turned every 3 days. After 18 days you can see that it is fairly well broken down, turning a rich dark brown. Only the seaweed is taking a bit longer. We have been putting handfuls of this micro-organism rich compost next to nearby plants to give them a boost.
As always this spring was a busy time for the gardens….reflected in the need for four assistants to our ever hard working coordinator Kirsty in the last 12 months!
Winter and spring saw us bringing more of our terraces into cultivation and success in propagating our own plants over the spring in our polytunnel. We have begun cultivating green manures such as alfalfa to continue to increase the fertility of our soils along with our tried and tested compost teas and food waste. We hope to develop and experiment further our composting techniques this summer.
New beds have been prepared in the Forest Garden and Far Terrace allowing us to demonstrate Permaculture techniques and to harvest the rewards.
We continue to trail Mycorrhizal planting and continue to work on our soil fertility strategy which, uniquely, excludes the use of animal manures – other than our own human waste!
Over the summer we aim to collect more of our own seed and improve our propagation results. Permaculture courses, based upon our own cultivation techniques are being organised for the autumn. Join us if you can.
Early June has seen temperatures exceeding 30 degrees so improvements to the irrigation line and weeding are the main duties of our team of volunteers. And of course there is the reward of a harvest most days – see below!.
After 5 years as Organic Gardens Trustee, Richard, has decided to step down to allow for a fresh input of ideas into what the future might hold for organic gardening in Los Molinos. If you feel that you would like to get involved with the Sunseed Project as a Trustee or Advisor please contact the Project to receive more details.
Have a happy and sunny summer from all the garden team at Sunseed!!!