ACTUALLY, we have been discussing lengthily on building the soil. The past two episodes dealt extensively on how to enrich the soil, the base on which any farming or gardening endeavor rests upon.
We talked about how marapait fertilizes the land that sustains our plants. That shrub that people consider as weeds easily rots and mixes readily with any type of soil. It provides dissolved organic matter on sandy and clay soil making either sandy loam or clay loam, or sandy clay loam as a result.
Like marapait, other weed clippings, vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, woodworks scraps, sawdust, and the like, when allowed to rot on the ground, can be sources of dissolved organic matter.
We also talked about rotten tree twigs and leaves as compost, and how the long Habagat continuous rainy days helped us decompose materials for the shredder.
Why do we have to (re)build the soil? Why can we not just proceed on sowing the seeds that we have?
Rather than feeding our plants later, we insist on building the soil instead. A rich soil will make better plants that will yield more superior fruits. Insects and other garden pests do not thrive in healthy soil.
To test if the soil is healthy, try to dig an inch deep into the soil or any garden plot. If there are earthworms beneath, the soil is in good condition. It can host growing crops. Earthworms, millipedes, centipedes, and other tiny creatures can be indicators that the soil has no harmful chemicals because these cannot stand pollution.
Feel the soil for moisture. Try to get a handful, squeeze it on your palm and form a ball. If you fail, the soil is dry. Healthy soil is moist. Healthy soil needs water, which dissolves and breaks down rotten materials into soluble forms for plants.
Animal manure, especially cow, goat, or horse dung are excellent sources of decaying compost. Dried, torn down, and further thrown into the compost pit, animal manure makes up a good nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
Fermented in water, the resulting liquid is an important foliar spray. This one though is an example of feeding your plants. We can use the water to drench the soil near plant roots, instead.
We cut the weeds lest these grow wild during the long rainy spell. All the new plots hosted weeds, covered with topsoil. This is called green manuring in the gardening parlance. Those who practice the lasagna-type no-dig plots will just top the planting sites with cut grass and leaves, top it again with decaying or dry compost and a little dirt on the topmost. Deep watering will further help rot the weeds. In a week, the lasagna plot is again ready for the sowing of new seeds.
Since the land we are tilling is sandy, which used to be cogon-vegetated, we laboriously carried tons of clay and dry leaves into the growing sites to hold water on top and to make the soil more porous. That way the land is moistened, besides making a quick sandy clay loam.
Decade-old wood trees and some new fruit trees give us an unending supply of twigs, leaves, flowers, and dry pods.
Our space is also home to a housecat, two dogs, three ducks, and a number of free-range chickens that refuse to be caged. These roam about the place, leaving their droppings and feeding on weeds and little worms and insects. They scatter eggs that, left uncollected, give us additional fertilizers.
These endowments help us build the soil. Who says a beach-line piece of land cannot be devoted to agriculture?