Another perspective on mass extinction

This post on Professor Mike Hulme’s Site really does raise issues that have been swamped by the panic that follows the impending mass extinction that everybody is talking about. He argues that things like equality and justice are being lost in the climate panic. He also questions if the science really is taking us down that route.

I know that I have felt a huge sense of panic and hopelessness over the last few months because of the enormity of the problem and the evidently short timescale to solve it. The result was paralysis.

What is obvious is that this is a problem of the ‘developed world’. That we go on adding to the problem day-by-day. To then obsess about their imminent demise seems selfish and neurotic.

So, read this and see what you think.


Making compost with grass cuttings

We have been talking about composting recently, particularly about how to do it and what ‘recipes’ to use. In UK gardens there is often a lot of grass cuttings through the summer which provide the ideal base for an active compost bin. By active I mean one that gets above 40C.

Grass in a council green bin two days after cutting

The problem is that grass cuttings will start to compost on their own. Although grass will heat up quickly it soon runs out of air and the temperature falls. The grass then forms a dense stinking mass which does not breakdown.

Layers of partly rotted grass cuttings in a badly managed compost heap

The answer is to mix grass with bulky material like shredded twigs or straw. This allows more air to get to the grass and provides carbon to balance the nitrogen which keeps the compost going.

After a few weeks the temperature will begin to fall because the air in the pile has been used up. Time to turn the heap to allow more air to enter. The temperature should rise again but probably not as high as before.

For more information on what to mix with grass cuttings to get the correct C:N ratios, carbon or browns to nitrogen or greens see this page. For an online C:N ratio calculator  follow this link.

The other important thing to get right is the moisture content;  it should be around 55% or like a wrung out sponge. Not easy to gauge but not dry nor soaking wet.

To compost kitchen waste we use a Hot Bin. There is around a small bin full of stuff every week and I usually add some grass cuttings and chopped twigs. This is the temperature in the Hot Bin a couple of hours after adding new material and giving it a stir. Eight hours later it had risen to 46°C.

Comfrey juice fertlizer

Looking through the gardening books this morning I found this old favourite. It is an original 1976 first edition of “Comfrey, past, present and future”.  It used to be well known in organic gardening circles but seem to have dropped off the radar in recent years.

I found the book in the HDRA shop, Henry Doubleday Research Association, at Ryton Organic Gardens. Now called Garden Organic there is no longer a shop and the gardens are a mere shadow of their former shadow of what they once were. And just at a time when we need to push for more sustainable food growing.

As we are building a new organic garden it seems obvious that Comfrey juice production should be part of it.

Lawrence Hills bred a sterile version of Comfrey, he called it “Bocking 14”. It will not self seed, which is crucial if you want to prevent it spreading!

There are three linked pages that explain why Comfrey liquid is so good, how to make small quantities and how to scale up production for larger gardens.

A chemical analysis of Comfrey liquid

Making small quantities of Comfrey liquid

Scaling up production for the larger garden

Please note: Comfrey liquid made by pressing the leaves and small stalks is totally different to Comfrey tea.

Why can’t we do this in the UK?

This area in Detroit is now America’s first 100% organic, self-sustainable neighborhood

Here is the video

This is an amazing project which works in so many different ways. Why can’t we do this in the UK? In time of food banks, poor nutrition, rickets in kids and a very insecure food supply it really is time we were doing project like this. So what is stopping us? I really want to know!

Is it the national depression that hangs over us? Is the cynical way the British look at everything these days? Or is it that nobody has the guts and energy to do such projects?

I really want to know what stops us taking control of our food supply.

Winrow composting

Now this is what you call a winrow compost turning machine. Some will say this is not very sustainable but when you consider the amount of CO2 that can be saved by making compost on this scale and using it on farmland then I think it is worth doing. Maybe one day soon there will be a electric powered version running on solar/wind energy.

You can of course use small scale winrows, more to follow.

Soil remineralisation page – major update

We have updated the soil remineralisation page and have included more links. We have been adding volcanic rock dust to our gardens from 2004 and believe it increases the nutritional value of the food produced and improves plant health.

Our previous garden suffered very few problems with pests and disease. This was achieved by good organic gardening practices like crop rotation, feeding the soil not the plant and not using artificial fertilisers and pesticides. plus adding rock dust. That will always be our approach to gardening.

Adding rock dust provided the minerals that were missing. See the page 

An easy way to reduce CO2 and save money!

This article in the Washington Post spells out how each and everyone of us can reduce CO2 emissions and pollution AND SAVE MONEY by not wasting food!

“If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming.”

Now consider how you can stop this happening. It is not hard, we can all start now, TODAY.

I would add that in the last resort compost it at home and add to the veg plot. We treat any food waste as organic gold dust, peelings, skins, tops removed from onions & leeks, apple cores. They all go into the compost bin.

Trent Cummings processes food waste to create compost in Washington, D.C. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Meat free Monday

The mere thought of not eating meat for just one day will be too much for some but wait, veggie/vegan food be fun and cheap! See this page for a tasty and cheap chick pea curry.

Here is another variation, Sweet potato and chickpea surprise.

Sustainable food growing is crucial for long term security especially in times of uncertainty due to global heating. If you grow it then you need to know how to cook it. That is why we are always pleased to share recipes.