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Q & A

Composting spent coffee grounds

QUESTION:

We run a small coffee plantation on Tamborine Mountain Qld, of 2ha/600 coffee bushes, plus a café where we sell our own coffee. The café generates 30kg of grounds per week. What’s the best way to use this resource. Biochar? Compost? Direct into the soil? Mulch? Mushroom substrate?

ANSWER:

Compost! Coffee grounds have a similar carbon/nitrogen ratio to cow manure – less the biology of course. Compost worms love it and reproduce rapidly in worm farms fed the material. To “inoculate” with biology, by far the best source is cow manure. To upgrade the compost to vermi compost I would initially import some bulk compost worms. Once you get the system working, you should always have heaps of worms to seed each new compost batch.

I would add some paramagnetic basalt crusher dust, or if not available, any quarry crusher dust, for grit. Worms have a gizzard, and need grit to digest their food. Paramagnetism? This is a growth force particularly present in some rocks such as basalt, some schists and spectacularly in serpentinite; granites to a much lesser extent. The Mount Sylvia palagonite from not too far away from you near Gatton would be a good rock dust for this purpose. It has a paramagnetic reading of around 1200cgs, which is excellent.

The average output of a café is between 20 and 50kg of spent grounds per week, and this is enough to overwhelm most backyard gardeners unless they have large gardens. In the case of this plantation, there would be enough compost from your café “waste” to keep the coffee bushes continuously composted on a rotational basis. (The source of good organic/biodynamic cow manure would be problematic on Tamborine Mountain, and might involve getting it in the Beaudesert area.)

Last and far from least, don’t forget the importance of small but critical additions to your compost heaps which ensure that you have maximised the process and its outcome: for example, seaweed, (fresh or powdered or meal or liquid), molasses, diatomaceous earth, Borax (only two or three teaspoons per cubic metre), possibly some dolomite, and finish off with the BIODYNAMIC COMPOST PREPARATIONS.

Rainmaking Query

QUESTION:

We are planning an agricultural venture in India using innovative cost effective technologies. I had read about sequential spraying to produce rain. I had 2 doubts:

  1. How many acres should one spray – you have mentioned on the website that if one sprays 1 Ha, it also covers some surrounding areas. So to cover an Indian village that has a 1 km – 2 km radius, we may have to spray in maybe 5 places in this area, is that right?
  2. Will this work on soils engaged in conventional NPK farming (99% of India does that).

ANSWER:

I’m thrilled to hear that you are intending to put out sequential sprays for rainmaking. Here are my responses to your two questions.

 

  1. I think that it does not matter if the area you are attempting to influence is a two square kilometre village, which is essentially a mosaic of privately owned house blocks. (However, it would be a good idea to choose a hectare somewhat central in the village. Oh, and the sprayed area could be less than a hectare.) Often the anecdotes which come back to us regarding the rain which occurred after the sequence of sprays claim that it fell only on the property of the instigator. However, it often falls on the surrounding area as well. I think it is important when you are stirring each one of the series, that you form a clear intent that the rain extends over the whole village area, if that’s what is needed.

 

  1. I wouldn’t worry too much that any of an area – or all of it – has been subject to conventional farming. In your intent(s), incorporate a tolerant and accepting attitude regarding unenlightened practices, and even a tad of forgiveness! Don’t forget that the work of biodynamics is thoroughly within the spirit realm. I know there may be a karmic issue here, so I certainly cannot guarantee that the rainmaking impulse will be effective over badly/conventionally managed land.

Weed peppering for fleabane

QUESTION:

I have a few acres of fleabane and would like to know how to manage this problem. I have used the practice of burning seed and spreading the ashes this was a long time ago (on another property) I have forgotten the process: something like burning while the moon is in Scorpio. Could you please help with any advice?

ANSWER:

Here’s a quick summary of the weed peppering method. Burn the whole plant, including the roots (I only recently heard that folks overseas were getting better results than when just using the seed!), at Full Moon, when it is in a fire sign, particularly Leo or Sagittarius. Avoid burning whilst Mercury is retrograde.

Refer to our Biodynamic Handbook for a detailed description of the peppering technique.

I hope you are successful. Don’t forget that making a weed tea of the fleabane and spraying it out over the infested area can also work to eradicate the weed. Don’t expect a quick disappearance, though…

DISCLAIMER

Every effort is made to present accurate information. BAA accepts no responsibility for statements made and opinions expressed herewith.  Furthermore, BAA accepts no responsibility for results or perceived results on individual properties following implementation of biodynamic techniques.