Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mulch! (Updated)

Even though the sweltering heat is trying its best to incinerate all life, the plants are hanging on and so are we humans. I've stopped planting seeds, but I stumbled upon the technique of sheet mulching this month which got me excited.

"Sheet mulching is a layered mulch system that nurtures the soil and replaces existing lawns or other vegetation, eliminating the need to remove unwanted plant material. The first layer is a biodegradable weed barrier—usually cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper—placed directly on the ground.

Sheet mulch has important advantages relative to conventional methods:

Improvement of desirable plants' health and productivity.
Retention of water and nutrients and stabilization of biochemical cycles.
Improvement of soil structure, soil life, and prevention of soil erosion.
Avoidance of potentially dangerous pesticides, especially herbicides.
Reduction of overall maintenance labor and costs."

Sounds great! So, I decided upon a patch of land in the garden below. Digging and emptying a 1 feet pit took three days. With hot water baths, I managed to avoid both calluses and back aches. After that came the best part- layering the pit.

In order,
neem cake, castor cake (Kottamuthu punnakku, veppam punnakku)
cow dung
more cake
hay, dried leaves
earthworm compost
coconut husk
banana tree leaves and stem
coconut husk
Plant the seedlings.

Now it's resting. In a month's time, as the mercury lowers, and the soil is well on its way to enrichment, I'll add the last layer- another layer of coconut husk on top and plant seedlings of vegetable plants. I can hardly wait to see how it goes! :)


Digging the pit

Powdered cakes added

Cardboard, topped with dried cow dung

Paper, then more cake

Earthworm compost

A layer of soil

Coconut husk

Banana leaves

Banana stem

About a month after the process above, my mother planted Avarakkai (Flat Beans). Initially, they grew slowly. But once they hit the soil and manure layers, there was rapid growth. The same seeds planted in pots on the terrace garden eventually succumbed to disease. These plants however, grew strong, flowered well and our first harvest today was substantial. All in all, a resounding success!

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