Yes, I do know that it is only autumn here, but in order to have some good mulch etc. for the garden next spring my family all helped out and today we started the long journey of making mulch from the stalks of the rice plants. After having no rain for about a month the stalks are definately very dry at the moment so we raked them all up into small piles to await further instructions from my father-in-law.... I think the next step is to let them compost down a little and then put them all in one big heap - alternating with water and something else which will speed up the process. I was amazed by how much hay there was in the one paddock - and I guess I will be even more amazed at how much it reduces down over the next 6 months or so!
This year I have finally made some reasonable compost too - it is amazing how less slimy the compost becomes if you add plenty of dried leaves etc. rather than just using vegetable scraps! This pile has just been removed from the compost bin and is now covered with a thin layer of dirt - keeping the smell at bay! Actually it is pretty good again - just another month or so and it will be "dark, rich looking and will crumble in my hands" - just like the book says!
This year I put a lot of compost into one of my gardens and the growth has been great - much better than the areas where I just put in chicken manure. I know that is what all the books say, but it is good to know that sometimes the books are actually right!