‘Mulching’ for sustainable farming.
One of the most basic farming techniques we experimented with and have found to be hugely rewarding, is a process called ‘mulching’ with no-till farming. Why mulching? Because, ploughing the soil, interferes with the food web of the soil by destroying microbial activity and disturbing other insects and organisms in the soil system.
Raised bed farming or carved beds ensures a minimum destruction of soil matter like mycelium (fungus), or other information carrying medium. Also, the bed is kept moist by the channels running around it.
*(Carved or raised beds are preferred in water intensive areas while ‘sunk’ beds are used in drier areas)
Step 1- Carve the beds by digging around them.
Step 2- Cover the bed with a layer of cow dung or organic manure after which, add the mulch which in our case is a layer of bamboo leaves or rice husk. We avoid using newspapers since they carry toxic material. The bamboo leaves spread over the bed, prevent the weed seed from growing out from below, and fallen ‘travelling’ weed seeds from birds and around from taking roots into the soil from above. This also reduces nutrient competition for the main crop growing in the bed.
Step 3- Drill holes through the leaves to plant the crop. The sun is prevented from pulling out the moisture content from the beds. The mulch also keeps the roots of the plant warm.
To end, we noticed lemongrass, which is commonly thought to die in the winter, was planted on the farm in 6 inches of mulch. Our lemongrass plants survived the winter due to the warmth provided by the mulch- a winter success story!