Thursday, April 9, 2009

Compost, Snakes and Dams

Spring has sprung and we are busy as the bees. Here on Denman there is plenty to do on the farm; and course and consultancy have us in Vancouver on a weekly basis.
It's compost mania and we are having a lot of fun putting together different composts with different combinations of material. First, on Denman we had our lovely guest Jill from Green Temple Design helped us gather seaweed, leaves and other compostable materials and put it together. It was heaps of hard work but we gathered enough to make a go of it. We mixed the compost by measuring in big buckets ratios of Carbon and Nitrogen. We then used a bit of blood and bone left over from the garden construction and of course the magic ingredient of urine. On top of all that we put some comfrey tea that we've been brewing for the last few months and it only added to the already powerful odor. We decided to put in a chimney because we were sure that it was going to get very hot. We've used this method before, it keeps the pile from getting too hot and it worked well by allowing some of the heat to escape. The next day Jill and Jesse headed back to Vancouver to make more compost and I prepared seedlings and worked on the orchard. In Vancouver the permaculture design group put together their own compost pile using different materials not the least of them being several dead pigeons. The loft in the barn where Jesse gathered some hay had dead pigeons and owls and well... why not? The pile was made in our friend Jared's back yard in east Vancouver. I was not there for the initial turning but didn't have to be to know that this was one spicy hot concoction. When given some time and flipping around by Jared this pile evened out nicely. No more pigeon evident.
Back on the Island things are doing very well. The weather is beautiful, although, it may be leaving us soon. That is fine with us as some very
vigorous planting has gone on and we would love to have it rain now. Only one of our gardens was ready and organized for a planting blitz but we took to it as soon as we had a chance. I went a little crazy and got a lot of my seeds started many weeks ago so it was definitely time to set some out. While planting we discovered a small colony of snakes living in our garden. At first I was concerned that there were so many but then I found out they eat slugs. I had not thought of snakes when it came to controlling those who wish to eat my greens. So we took a picture of one of the more friendly snakes and he/or she was very compliant and very beautiful. Off to the town of Mission now to put in preliminary markers for some dam and swale systems for two lovely part-time homesteaders. Maybe we'll do some composting there as well. The well turned compost pile will be our cairn. Rather than leaving behind a pile of ruble to mark our place we will leave a piled humus cairn.

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