Wednesday, August 22, 2012


English has an old word people don't use much anymore which is also used of a person learning on his own. "Glean."

If I read a book and glean something from it, it means I myself took something, a little, that wasn't entirely intended for me to get.
photo by Sandra Dodd, of a volunteer sunflower in the compost bin


  1. Just because I thought this would interest you (and possibly some readers) - gleaning is also a method of hunting/foraging in insectivorous bats :)

  2. I didn't know the term was used for bats eating. That's cool!

    The old original meaning, as far as I know, is picking up leftover grain or cotton or whatever it might be, after a field has been reaped. After the official picking, whatever was left might be part of the rights of laborers or older women in the village, or serfs (depending when and where). So it was picking up the overlooked bits, and natural learning can be just like that.

  3. Love your blogs! just 'discovered' them from someone posting when we asked about a excellent - question i love the design of your compost pile...can you explain what you did? thanks

  4. Hogwire, make a loop however big you want the compost pile to be (we've had wide ones and little verticle ones) and cut it so one end has the long wires and one has the flat (or turn its wires under.

    With pliers, fold the long parts.

    Loop it, overlap the end some or a little or a lot (another way to make it variably larger and smaller) and then put the hooks/loops you've made through the other side so you have a stable round fence.

    Maybe stake it down with wire brackets or tent stakes in just two or three places, or maybe bury it a bit (depends on the site and what you have at hand; you could just weight it with bricks or rocks in a few places, though once it has stuff in it, you won't need to).

    Water it sometimes if you live in the desert.

    After a season or a few months, unhook that side, pull it away from your pile (which should be kind of solid by then) and set it in a new place, refill it with the old stuff or new stuff or some and some. We have had as many as five of these going at once, and sometimes it's to prep an area that's needing help. In winter, we put one near the house so we don't have to walk out in ice or snow.

    Here's a photo of the two we have now, though they're all solid now and I've put sprouts to make worm food:

  5. I just started my first one... just adding scraps to an empty raised bed... it should work, no??

  6. Yes, while checking my facts on bat gleaning, I read about the original meaning, which i'd never heard of before!

    ==So it was picking up the overlooked bits, and natural learning can be just like that==

    I love that idea!

  7. Tereza, it depends where you live and whether things will rot or just dry up, but vertical is better than low and flat, and you should add other things to it, probably, than just scraps, though I started my bought redworms in a plastic bin with kitchen scraps and grass from the yard, and cleaned it once a week or so to study the worms and see what their "eggs" (not really eggs) and babies and castings looked like, before I knew enough and put them in the outside bins.

    After a couple of years, I bought another shipment of redworms and just put them straight into the bins. But if you live in a rich place with any humidity, you won't need so much work, I think. They like watermelon (and rinds) and avocados (and skins, though they just snuggle up in the skins sucking off the last of the avocado, and can't eat the skin; probably the same with the outer rind of the watermelon).

    Some earthworms live in there, too--the native locals, but mostly it's the descendents of the bought worms.

  8. I recently went gleaning with my daughters in the "collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields" sense. It was to donate the fresh organic extra produce for families in need. I was interested in the word and the definition and really liked the idea of gathering info this way...

    Extract (information) from various sources.
    Collect gradually and bit by bit.

    There are photos of us gleaning at the end of this blog post if you're interested :)


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