|One transferred compost pile!|
We'd gone down last year to see how he was doing after a year of farming and to lend a hand. We indeed got dirty working in his fields, but we also had one of the most wonderful experiences ever with he and his
family. It remains a highlight of our time here in Japan. Trying to recreate something so special is risky, but since we had our farm clothes, boots and gloves it seemed logical to carry on just a little bit further south and help again.
|Spouse 'dancing down' the compost.|
Starting with a frame, Mita-san alternates layers of leaves, twigs, and grass with healthy handfuls of momigara (rice hulls). As the layer builds up to about half the height of the frame, he walks on the contents to firmly press them in place. Once it's packed in, healthy handfuls of komenuka (rice bran) get liberally spread over the whole. Then the materials are thoroughly soaked before starting the process all over again. As the pile gains height, the frame is pulled up to allow for more stacking. The tight packing makes for a good friction fit so that by the end the frame sits about a meter or so high ringing the top layer.
Our job during was to turn a relatively young pile near his carrot patch where he was also experimenting with burnt rice hulls as a mulch and a soil warmer. Turned about every two weeks, the piles gradually break down into a lovely crumble of goodness that can be plowed into the fields, layered next to the plants as a mulch, or the main ingredient in a refreshing summer beverage for plants. Total time required to achieve this lovely crumble that in its final form stands roughly a quarter of the stacks original height is about three months.
|Spreading the komenuka.|
The pile we're dismantling is in the foreground.