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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Compost preparation October 09 and November 09

Look in Upcoming eventts for more information on Saturday 14 November 09
Herzog Winery & Restaurant, 81 Jeffries Road, Blenheim
9.00 - 10.30 am with Herzog wines afterwards. Make a lunch reservation if you want to linger.

With thanks to Hans and Therese for their support of Slow Food Marlborough and their sponsorship of this event.

To RSVP and arrange payment contact:  Sue Gibbs:, Ph 03 520 8270.
(Slow Food Members, no need to RSVP to Sue if you've already RSVP'd)

About 25 enthusiastic souls gathered at our place in Kaituna to experience Compost making first hand and to learn a little about Bio Dynamic farming. The weather managed to behave itself for most of the afternoon however it did deteriorate towards 5-00pm so the planned socialising with the native birds in our eucalypt trees was put on hold.

After a brief summary about our heritage fruit and vegetables we split into two groups. One was entertained by Sean Phillips on the art of building a Fungal compost heap. Fungal compost is most suited to and will be used on our Fruit Trees. We started with a base layer of Chipped Fresh Gorse, Pine Needles and Wet Hay. This was covered with a slurry of Chicken Manure. Sean explained how Cow Manure was the best but unfortunately our fresh supply was located at the top of our hill so we opted for second best. The base layer was followed by several layers of Green Grass, 1 year old Wood Chips, Wet Hay, Lime, Rock Phosphate, Pine Needles, and Gorse. The Wet Hay is the top of each layer and is covered with a slurry of the Chicken Manure. Sean explained the importance of the layering, getting the correct moisture content and green material. Despite all of the science Sean assured the people gathered that almost anything could go into a good compost including weeds. The compost heats up to approx 65 degrees which kills any weed seeds. A dead sheep was one example of possible ingredients. All that remains when the compost is complete is the bones. Most home gardeners do not have access to dead sheep. The finished heap measured approx 2.5 meters in length, 1.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters high.        

The second group took a tour of the property. Sharyn was joined by Wendy Sukeena who had generously offered her time to share her Bio Dynamic knowledge. We started with our small cold frame where we have a number seedlings including our heritage Beetroot, Lettuces, Spring Onions. These are some of the vegetables we will have on sale at the Farmers Market from mid November.   The group them proceeded to our small Glass House where our heritage Tomatoes, Basil, Chillies and Capsicums are taking shape. From there it was to the Peach and Gooseberry plots. The application of the bio dynamic Cow Pat Pit was explained by Wendy. The group proceeded past our 6 friendly Steers enjoying fresh pasture grasses. Our irrigation system which utilises rainfall during the Winter and Spring flowing from the hills to our small pond from where we pump it to 4 storage tanks comfortably nestled in the pine trees half way up our hill. From here gravity does its work during the hot summer months. The group proceeded through our apple orchard of 400 heritage apple trees comprising 16 varieties. We hope these will start producing within the next year or so. Past our Pure Bred Rhode Island Red Chooks also enjoying fresh green pasture the group finished with the turning of our first Cow Pat Pit another important facet of bio dynamic farming.

The groups swapped experiences after about an hour with the tour finishing around 5-15pm.

A few souls stayed to share a beer, wine and some wild venison. The problems of the province were solved over the ensuing 2 or 3 hours. 

Our special thanks to Sean and Wendy and to all of those who visited our property. We hope you enjoyed the afternoon and learned something from your experince.

Thank you

Neville and Sjharyn White

PS Anyone may call us if you have any questions regarding the day Tel 579 1947   

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