Providing Plant Food
Garden plots should be covered with compost at least 2 weeks before planting. Compost can be lightly turned into the soil if nothing has been planted, or just leave the compost laying on top of the soil. Add more compost 1 or 2 weeks after planting. Make sure adding compost does not disturb the plant roots. After composting, add a thick layer of mulch on top.
Liquid compost can be used on garden plots every 1 or 2 weeks, but make
sure to dilute with water before use. There are many different ways to fertilize the garden. It is up to you to decide which method works best for your situation.
Use Effective Micro-organisms with other soil improvement techniques to increase results.
All of these techniques will improve soil quality, structure and nutrient content so that there is enough food available for plants to use.
1. Always water early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Morning and afternoon is better for watering because watering at night could promote fungus growth, while if you water at mid day, water will evaporate before it can soak into the soil, so the water is just being wasted
2. Making garden edges will help to hold more water in the soil. Use rocks, bamboo, wood or other materials to hold the soil in place
3. Mulch will protect the soil from hot sunlight and prevent water evaporation. This will also reduce the soil temperature and the amount of water needed for each garden plot
4. Making windbreaks around garden plots will save a lot of water. Wind dries out plant leaves and makes them lose water, so the plant then uses more water from the soil. Less wind means plants need less water
5. Watering with pipes. There are many used water bottles around and burning these bottles causes pollution. One way of reusing these bottles is by turning them into watering pipes, so that they water deep into the soil. Bamboo can also be used as a pipe, especially for fruit trees
Some benefits of watering deep include:
• Water evaporation is reduced because water is released in the soil, not on top of the soil
• Water can be concentrated at the roots of each plant • Only a small amount of water is used
• Watering pipes can also be used to give liquid compost to plants
6. Garden plots which are dug low need less water than raised plots, especially for in very dry areas
Weeds are an easily available mulch and compost material, which can also
be used as animal fodder. Weeds should be more understood as a benefit rather than a problem. Reuse weeds to help keep the soil healthy. However, removing weeds can take a lot of time, and some types of weeds do create problems if they are not controlled.
Some natural methods to control weeds:
1. Continuously mulching the garden. Mulch stops sunlight from reaching the ground surface. When weed seeds grow they need sunlight to photosynthesize and keep growing, when sunlight is blocked by the mulch, almost all weeds will die. Try not to use weeds that contain a lot of seeds in the mulch because these may grow, and this will spread more weeds. If using quick growing grasses in mulch, make sure the grasses have been dried first so that they will not grow in the garden
2. Use integrated planting systems. Vine plants and ground covering plants, such as pumpkin, beans, sweet potato and potato, can be planted under cassava, corn and other larger crops, to prevent weeds from growing. This same technique can be used for fruit trees or other tree crops
3. Use weed barriers. Make a weed barrier along the outside of garden plots to stop fast growing weeds. This weed barrier can be:
• A space around the edge of garden plots which is always kept free of weeds
• A small, thick living fence to prevent fast running grasses from entering the garden. Lemon grass and other smaller grass plants can be used as a living fence weed barrier
4. Every time soil is turned, weed seeds are encouraged and are more likely to grow. Therefore, if you turn the soil less, fewer weeds will grow
5. Use animals as ‘tractors’. This is a good way to remove weeds and their seeds, while fertilizing the land at the same time
6. Remove weeds before they produce seed. If weeds are removed when they are still young, the roots of vegetables will not be damaged because of weed removal
Pest control in the garden does not just mean exterminating pests. Controlling pests in a sustainable way involves using a number of techniques, from which the results will not be achievable from just using pesticides.
These techniques improve soil quality, encourage pest predators and prevent pests. If pesticides are still needed, use natural pesticides, not chemical pesticides.