Monday, November 29, 2010

Care for the Earth ....Growing Soil

Soil testing showed a pH range of 8-10, with no access to sulphate returning crop waste and jungle mulch was the only option. Returning organic matter has shown pH can be lowered to 6.5-7 the ideal range for vegetable and fruit gardens. Other strategies to improve tropical soils are the planting of ground and tree legumes, water harvesting techniques to avoid loss and run off.  


The ceasing of bare soil cropping and designing garden beds to hold humus and avoid leaching are a necessity. Dig long trenches to a depth of 1-1.5m and 1-2m wide or 2 arm spans to avoid compacting soil when walking on. Line trenches with cardboard, paper, green leafy plant material or plastic. Be careful not to create a pond that can fill up, allow water to drain leaving an end unsealed.  Raised beds up to 750mm above ground level lined with cardboard and filled with mulch and soil acheive the same result.


For this bed (3m x3m) due to the pH and need for long term food production the bed had soil removed to a depth of apox 1m as going further would of started to get close to the water lense. Cardboard was then layed , drainage, seepage pipes  were placed to catch water from heavy downpours and filled with food waste as a store for worms which could act as a slow release fertiliser. 

Organic waste including weeds from the garden, kitchen  scraps including fish and chicken frames were spread. Removed soil was then replaced  mixed and layered with previously made compost. 



Finally a 100mm thick layer of mulch was then applied and watered in. 

The next step is to plant nitrogen fixing beans and edge plant with lemongrass for a chop and drop mulch. 

In one month a soil pH test will be done ... stayed tuned   

Materials used:
Green waste 1x wheelbarrow
Vegetable waste 2xwheelbarrow
Compost 10x wheelbarrow
Mulch 5xwheelbarrow
Chicken and Fish frames half a wheelbarrow


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