IT has been raining for the longest time and the plots are mostly drenched to the neck.
We used to water one portion of the garden in the morning and the other half in the late afternoon when the temperature gets cooler. Despite our plunge into what has been said as “tamad-farmer techniques, we keep watering our plants. We were not supposed to do this with the no-watering, no-weeding, no-digging agriculture. Our space, however, seems not favoring a no-watering technique. The sandy, oily soil seems to reject water despite pails being literally poured into the plots.
Three hand pumps draw underground water, yet we still felt more pumps were needed in summer. We even talked about getting a solar-powered pump with a drip irrigation system. The cost to install the system and the monthly bills stalled the plan.
Now that it shines all day with heavy downpours late into the night, we have saved a lot of human power watering.
Our hands remain full however, with a lot more gardening tasks piling up like never before.
Our garden now looks more lush, the cassava greener and taller than before the Habagat rains. The power of rain on the garden is more evident. All plants seem alive. All the green manures and mulching media have integrated into the soil, forming a sizable portion of dark humus on the topsoil. Water is a universal solvent and indeed it has dissolved almost all the organic materials we have been working on all this time.
This must be the no-watering technique. We have not been watering for almost two months. How long does it take to get used to this?
Wait! There’s more to do. Never had we been busier than these days with the rains coming regularly. The free time, which used to be devoted to watering the plants, is now geared towards other more important tasks. We realized we have been using too much time on mechanical tasks. We have been neglecting more salient ones like planning the garden layout selecting plants and seeds, fencing out farm animals from the crop sites, choosing flowers that attract pollinators, or getting plants that repel insects and rodents, and more.,
The right days and rainy nights allowed us to redo our green manures, mulch, compost pits and the pile of branches and twigs that now give us slow-release fertilizers. Digging for tamad-farmer agriculture means moving the topsoil not more than eight inches deep, or just enough to introduce green manure materials like cut weeds and fallen tree leaves and twigs. On top of this green manure is a thin layer of topsoil, again topped with a generous amount of dry or rotten compost as mulch.
Some weeds have outgrown some plants in plots with not enough mulch, so we had to cut them back. No-weeding means not pulling the weeds, for these are important in natural farming. With weeds, we can fertilize the soil. We use these as green manure, compost, mulch and animal feeds. Some weeds repel insects and rodents. Still others drive away goats and cows. The tamad-farmer welcomes weeds. Sometimes I say that weeds are us. So the rains helped us grow weeds and that alone makes us happy.
Plants need water. Tamad farmers only have to discover how to harness rain, dew and groundwater all year long. That said, we really do not have to spend too much time carrying pails of water to the crop sites. By then we will have more time for more important things in the garden.
We can all be tamad farmers. I am one!