Permaculture VI: Compost

One main objective in permaculture is to feed the soil which is going to be the ‘hardware’ of future crops. Lucho Iglesias gets organic in the last of our Permaculture series. 
 
The quality of our food depends on the quality of the soil which makes it inextricably linked to our own health. For that reason one main objective in permaculture is to feed the soil which is going to be the hardware of our future crops. The best food for the soil is the organic matter generated in sitio or brought in from outside. Simply by transforming it through a controlled process we obtain humus or the base of life. This is composting.
 
There are many different ways to make compost but the most simple is to add on top of the soil a fine layer of organic matter which has been chopped very thin. It is important to avoid placing it in contact with trees trunks or in hot and sunny areas (cover it with a mulch of straw). This method is called COMPOST IN SURFACE and it is a faithful imitation of nature, where we always find the principle of minimum input and maximum output.
 
COMPOST IN PILE is the most used technique. At least 1m³ of organic waste is required: manure, straw, tree leaves, kitchen vegetable remains, dried fruit shells, seaweeds (rinsed), citrus peels (organic and not too much), paper and cardboard without colour ink, pruning branches that have been shredded or chopped quite thin. Avoid soot, dry pine leaves, concentrated fat and meat or fish in big amounts.
 
The first layer is prepared with thin branches of about 1cm, so that the air can circulate in an aerobic process. Add water: it is very important that all the matter is well wet, and then continue adding layers of the rest of the materials until reaching 150cm in height. Once the pile is prepared cover it with a layer of earth or even better with straw, well watered. If the whole process is done properly the temperature will rise to 65º or 70º. Later it will balance out and after 5 or 6 months we will have a mature compost, the base of the organic agriculture. In our opinion by making compost we are practising the healthiest of alchemy as we are transforming garbage into the base of life.
 
INFO:
To go deeper into Permaculture come along to a workshop at Permacultura Caña Dulce in Coín, Málaga, with Lucho Iglesias.
Tel: 951 16 50 37 – 607 63 29 37
www.permaculturacanadulce.org
 
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