Monday, January 17, 2011

Inputs Outputs It All Goes Around

As mentioned last week access was redesigned to allow for transport of waste to the recycling points without interfering with the Outdoor Class Room.

Access is required to drop off a mixture of metals, glass bottles, cardboard, food waste, coconuts, jungle trimmings to be mulched and
larger off cuts to be turned into bio char and sawdust for compost making. We also receive wood from carpentry and renovations on the villas for making charcoal in our pyrolysis ovens.

Outputs referred to as "Wealth" is created in the form of compost, charcoal, bio char, crushed glass, coconut fiber, mulch and separated metals.  The circular design has proved a success, I have asked the truck, buggy drivers and tricycle riders what they think and all is positive. Most encouraging is that all are impressed by the transformation of the area into something of beauty. More and more hosts are coming to see what is happening and this has given the team at Eco Centro a great sense of pride in their work.  Other comments are "every time I come here there is something different done" The team are introducing new ideas on the design of the centro and discussing with me how they can take home the new skills such as the fast compost system and tropical garden bed designs such as no dig, raised beds and sheet mulching. Within the Classroom we have an example of all three bed designs.

The no dig bed below uses the left over palm fronds from the fence strait on the ground to seal the bottom of the bed for nutrient and organic matter loss. Next jungle cuttings that could not be mulched as there was more vine was layered with soil spread on top and heavily wateredf ollowed by a layer of cardboard then a thich application of mulch at least 10cm deep then watered again.

Palm Fronds

Jungle vines and soil

Card board and mulch

At the entrance we made raised beds fom vegetable waste , Cudgen of palm thatch, compost mixed with the existing soil and sheet mulched with cardboard and mlch from the jungle trimmings. Water was used heavily after each layer. Likewise we experiemented with the left side of the fence being a no dig design though this time vegetable matter was spread directly on the sandy soil then cudgen was placed on top with a mixture of compost made at the eco center with soil  covering it. Finally cardboard and mulch.

Coconut logs to raise bed

  The beds were raised using old coconut  tree trunks to hold in the materials needed for the beds unlike the first raised bed where we just heavily mulched and plan to edge plant with lemongrass and pandan to hold the shape of the bed . This is to demonstrate there is more than one way to make a productive garden bed. 

Pre wetting cardboard in barrow to save on water

The right hand side was dug to a depth of 30 cm then lined with cudgen to trap organic matter and reduce leaching during rain periods. Vegetable waste was spred on top then a mix of compost and soil then applied. This layer was at least 60 cm deepthen cardboard and mulch applied. There stratigies are for several reasons all to do with soil improving , growing soil ,to reduce the pH and for moisture retaining all with the aim to have healty soil for healtyh plants.

Digging is it necessary ?
Vegetable waste

Compost and soil mix

The beds now await planting of nitrogen fixing plants which will a combination of legumes, cow pea, buckwheat, chick pea, millet and mung beans to not only fix nitrogen also continue to build organic matter and retain water.  


  1. Been there! Loved it! Keep posting! I personally would love to see where you take it. I also concur on the digging part. Is it necessary? And lining the dug bed with fronds? Why so? Have you noticed any mold/fungi/mushroom growths?

  2. Hi Dennis, The fronds are used to line the bottom of the beds to prevent loss or leaching a of organic matter and nutrient as the sand is one big filter when the tropical rains come. Also the only way to get the soil health and pH right 6.5 -7 ish to grow salads, herbs, fruit and vegetables is to add organic matter and keep it there.
    Around the eco centro in the old sawdust there is mushroom growth after 3 days following rain some edible and fungi decaying old logs which is what we are trying to encourage for humus production. No dig is the way to go less work and works !!!