Organic matter

VEGETABLE GROWING – KEEP THE SOIL “ON THE GROUND”

Soil erosion

Is your vegetable garden’s soil frittering away through soil erosion?

Here is a shocking statistic – though soil erosion is a natural process, human activity accelerates soil loss up to 24 billion tonnes every year. [1]

This is even more concerning, especially as topsoil contains most of the soil’s nutrients and organic matter. As one author put it, “Soil erosion: it can run away with your farm.” [3] (or even your vegetable patch!)

Add to this, wind, and the speed at which rain drops hit the earth (4.5 to 19 mph), can you afford to turn your hand at vegetable gardening or farming if the soil just won’t lie down?

HOW TO KEEP THE SOIL IN YOUR GARDEN – ON THE GROUND

The short answer is – mulch your vegetable garden . (You knew that, didn’t you.)

But here is something you may not know – don’t dig over your soil.
You’re probably wondering,
“If I don’t dig over the soil, how will I plant the seed/seedlings?”

To answer this question let me first tell you about two microbial life forms in your vegetable patch:
1. Aerobic microherd – these are all microbes that absolutely need oxygen in order to survive.
2. Anaerobic microherd – these are all microbes that don’t need oxygen to survive, but may or may not use oxygen in their life cycles.

If you dig over the soil in your vegetable garden, the microbes assigned their place in life will be turned upside down, and will die. Aerobic and anaerobic microbes are there to help you grow your vegetables to their optimum potential by improving he soil’s health and texture.

Consequence of digging over your garden?
Bang! goes your attempt at growing vegetables.

The answer?
Don’t plough, don’t overturn the soil like our predecessors taught us.

Here’s what you do:

  • You dig only where you will place the seed or seedling – click here to see how it is done.

Mulching
I had a wonderful time in Mwinilunga (Zambia’s North West Province). In 2009 Chief Kanyama invited me to train 36 villagers in the Farming God’s Way method (or, Foundations for Farming). They had never heard of mulching. But as soon as they understood the value of retaining moisture and keeping the ground “on the ground,” they set to it with vigour, collecting straw and old maize stalks to cover the land. They are now reaping harvests not heard of in their farming history.

The Benefits of Mulching[4]
• Mulching is essential to the survival of your landscape during a drought. Mulch will reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your soil, greatly reducing your need to water your vegetable plants.

• …improves the quality of your soil by breaking up clay and allowing better water and air movement through the soil. Mulch provides nutrients to sandy soil and improves its ability to hold water.

• …acts as an insulating layer on top of soil, keeping it cooler in the summer.

• …keeps weeds down, and the weeds that do grow are much easier to pull.

So! Are you ready to grow vegetables successfully?

Let me know how this has made a difference to the health of your vegetables.

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Acknowledgements

[1] http://www.envirothon.org/pdf/CG/using_the_USLE.pdf

[2] http://www2.kenyon.edu/projects/farmschool/types/soil.htmhttps://www.google.co.za/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=speed+at+which+rain+hits+the+soil&oq=speed+at+which+rain+hits+the+soil&gs_l

[3] http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002114848008095.html

[4] http://www.ccwater.com/files/Drought101Mulch.pdf

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Categories: Agriculture, ecology, Farming, Food, Food crisis, Food security, Growing, healthy, Increased yields, Mulch, Nutriets, Organic, Organic matter, Plant, plants, Preparation, Produce, Rain, seedlings, seeds, Self-seeding, Soil, Vegetable gardener, Vegetables, Veggie garden, Wind, Zero tillage | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GROWING VEGETABLES – BLOOD AND BONE IN THE COMPOST?

When I first heard  of adding a blood and bone meal to add to one’s compost I mentally gagged at the thought of what it may do to the vegetables I wanted to grow? We’ve all heard at one time or another that blood can become contaminated. How then can it be dug into our compost? The health implications made me shudder.

But I later learned that the blood is not used before it is dried, and the mixture of blood and bone is put through a steaming process to clean it. One can be assured then, that what you buy at the butchery is safe. I would, however, not recommend buying it from a butchery in a rural area where steaming facilities are not available. So there is no threat to one’s vegetable patch.

Because of its nitrogen fixing properties and its calcium and phosphorous nutrients. blood and bone mix is excellent for mixing into compost which will later be added to the soil in your vegetable garden. I would recommend, however, that you first have the soil tested for nutrient content. You don’t’ want, for instance, to have too much, for instance, as it will affect your vegetables and they may even die off.

The good news is – bone and blood m eliminates the need to buy fertilizer, and is probably cheaper.

The bottom line is – how can you best improve the soil in your vegetable garden AND save money? I can recommend Jonathan White’s article on composting. Here is an extract from his article on composting  –

“Do you consider composting as just another way to dispose of unwanted vegetable waste, pruned branches, twigs, grass and leaves? Whilst this may be a valid solution to deal with rubbish, composting can be valuable option when used in the right way.

“For instance, compost builds valuable nutrients that will feed the soil in which you grow vegetables that will in turn one day, feed you and your family.  I only use compost on my vegetable gardens.  Manage your vegetable garden using compost, and it will become an integral part of the whole food production system.  Creating compost is a way to collect nutrients in one form – waste – to turn it into another form – food.

“Most people throw away what is left over after preparing vegetables for a meal. In other words, they buy X amount of nutrients, take what they need for the moment, and discard the rest. That’s like throwing Dollars into the rubbish bin.

To “raise capital” on the discarded parts of the vegetables, put this “capital” to work in your vegetable garden. That way the nutrients will be used again and again without any cost to you.

“What a way to save money!

“Put differently:
Composting creates a nutrient cycle on our property.

“We are part of that cycle because we consume the nutrients when they are, for a brief time, in a useful form.  Then the discarded portion returns to the compost to slowly make their way into another useful form – then we consume them again.

“This cycle can continue indefinitely. Of course, some nutrients you will never see again. But with diligence you will be surprised how much compost you can create to generate more nutrients than you can recycle.

“My composting system is large because I have a few large vegetable gardens. I believe that the size of your vegetable garden should be determined by how much compost you can create, and not merely by the amount of space you have in your backyard.

“To run a rich, high yielding vegetable garden you need to have some sort of soil conditioning plan, and the best thing for your soil is a generous layer of good compost on the surface a few times per year. “

To read more, click on this link, COMPOSTING.

Categories: Agriculture, Blood and bone mix, Compost, ecology, Farming, Food, Food crisis, Food security, Growing, Mulch, Organic, Organic matter, Plant, Produce, seedlings, seeds, Self-seeding, Soil, Vegetable gardener, Vegetables, Veggie garden, Zero tillage | Leave a comment

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