Compost, soil and gardening

Eco Bricks on the go!
March 24, 2023
Welcoming a Baby Elephant!
July 26, 2023

By Janet McCay – 4 weeks intern

As someone who has never worked in conservation my time with the elephants was an incredible opportunity to contribute to their wellbeing and be in awe of their magnificence. I was also excited to see the environment they live in as I love forests and local agriculture and how the land is managed. The Karen people are proficient farmers and many own land and grow corn, rice and vegetables. As someone who has had an allotment in England for many years I was pleased to see that the KSES Base has their own garden too. This was a relatively recent project started by Gae who is the forest guide and she has planted cilantro, eggplant, pumpkin and tomatoes. I was keen to help – most of the space was being used so I was able to weed and water and generally tend to the plants. There was one section at the bottom that hadn’t yet been planted so I decided to dig it over ready for something new – Gae was keen on cucumbers. It turns out that the garden used to be part of the river bed and once I started digging I found it was full of large and small rocks that made digging an exhausting task. So the project staff were recruited and between us we cleared a new bed ready for Gae to plant her cucumbers. I think there were some aching limbs that night…

There was also a compost bin of sorts – it was a plastic trash bin with a lid. In the high temperatures in Thailand this was making the contents sweat and they were not decomposing properly. I tried turning it regularly but it was still too wet and there just wasn’t enough air circulating. So we had a long discussion about compost and what was needed to make it successfully. I was able to chat about the importance of returning organic matter to the soil which was really well received and a plan was put together to build a proper heap using recycled materials. I was really excited and wrote a guide to setting it up and maintaining it for future interns and staff but, sadly, had to leave before it was built. Since then I’ve had photos of the amazing heap they have built and feel so proud to have been part of it.

Someone once said to me “if you understand compost, you understand life” and this really stuck with me as it’s so true. It’s the perfect example of the ‘reduce, re-use, re-cycle’ philosophy that is a keystone of the environmental message we need to be taking on board to conserve our world and the amazing life therein. Life such as elephants…

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