Saturday, 30 May 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- USE OF SPACE, COMPOST PILES AS NURSERIES

Over the last two months the good rain has meant that we have been able to get a good success out of growing greens on the Sand's Organic farm. The fresh water makes a huge difference for us and the community around us as, as it was noted in our irrigation water tests, it is 'not fit for agricultural purposes'.. but we try anyway with some successes, miracles and failures. 

It is now, at the end of the rains as the sun-hours increase and the ground is wet that farms starts pushing almost visible growth.

With fresh rain water growing greens is far easier. Spot the 'Caterpillar' damage..  proof of no pesticides.
The subsistence farms around us all planted out their fields three to four weeks ago, now the maize is three feet high and healthy, interestingly protected from many pests by the technique of slashing back of the brush to make space from the farm from 'bush' (The same areas are cut back before the rains each season). The cut bushes and branches (mostly Lantana species... a natural pest deterrent!) is then used to build rough 'boma-like' fences to keep the goats and sheep out but also naturally acting as a pest barrier for grasshoppers and the likes. We will be taking and using this technique in the seasons to come. Here's to local, tried and tested methods of farming in this environment.

Abundance
For those of you that are farming or living towards sustainability in life we have a couple more tips here for anyone who would like to try.

COMPOST NURSARIES

Since the onset of the rain we took the covers off our many compost piles to allow the rain water to get in and help feed the micro-organisms in the decomposition process. (Compost should be watered to keep it damp). It goes without saying that watering compost with our well water affects some of the more sensitive species of good bacteria, grubs and insects.
Passion and Papaya seedling by the hundred.
With the covers off we added a loads of 'waste' Papaya skins and seeds, passions skins and seeds from the daily fruit harvests off the farm. 

This is all given away, used by the hotel, or tuned into fruit puree's...and then retuned to the farm (cycle economy).. where the compost piles have become the most healthy fruit tree nurseries one can imagine.. all by natural systems with little energy expended. We also planted pumpkin and water melons around the compost piles. These have also gone wild.
Spot the compost nursaries
From natural nurseries like this, one can select seedlings of Papaya, Passion Fruit, and any other 'waste' seed that germinate (Mango, Avocado, Custard Apple) to plant out during the rains.. Think, avenues of Papaya's, fences covered in Passions. Which takes us to the next little tip.

PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE OF 'STACKING AND PACKING'- The optimum use of space.

Using the compost piles as nurseries also falls under this point.... the same 'space' used for 

1. Building compost.
2. Dealing with / UTILISING organic waste.
3. Producing seedlings for future seasons harvests.

An important aspect about 'space' is that many of us can miss 'farming in 3D' or as the Guru's of permaculture call it 'vertical stacking and packing'.... using the space to its best 'most sustainably abundant' use. (It's not just about planting in the ground or in pots on the ground) 


Examples of this is USING boundary walls, fences, trees, gates, house eves, rooftops, balconies and the likes to grow produce using these vertical spaces either supported from the ground up, or suspended grow spaces hanging. Using space that was previously unproductive and under-utilised.

Above is an example of this from a photo taken this morning at the Sand's farm:

1. The Compost piles were located in the space along the chicken run fence to attract lots of bugs and grubs to the proximity of the chickens to increase their natural free range diet. (2 uses)

2. Water Melons were planted on the edge of the compost piles so as to get some productivity out of the space while we wait for the compost process. (3 uses)

3. Passion fruits were planted between the compost piles to grow up the vertical space on the chicken fence. Turning an unproductive space into a productive one. (4 uses)

4. The Passion Fruit and Water Mellon creeper 'growth ends' that get too low down on the fence (reachable by the chickens) or grow through the fence add to the chicken's natural vegetable intake. 

5 USES.. and we can just ignore the Papaya tree which is going to produce for years from that same space!)

Less Eggs being collected recently as we are letting hens lay.
A useful tip. --- don't cut down all the trees on your farm. Plan which ones are useful and/or productive, where do you need light, which ones hold water in their root systems, which ones release nitrogen into the soil, which ones deter pests. We have kept many unproductive (no edible yield) trees on the Sand's farm... we use them (functionaly) as 'trellises' for growing Passion Fruits. 

(We used a natural vertical space that was unproductive, planted a seedling at the base of the tree and.. boom. We have lots of Passion Fruit vines currently producing close to two kilo's a day off trellises that cost nothing to make and they are alive so will not rot or need replacing.



The Jaccuzis are proving to be the best success. 


In this one above there is Tomato, spinaches, soft lettuces, Rucolas and Dhania. The worms added to the soil are doing their bit to add nutrients and it's away from some pests due to its height and overhanging edges.


The Neem tree in the background was removed to allow light to the third phase of the farm. The timber and firewood will be used.

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