With the end of a seasonal growing cycle comes the start of the preparation for a new seasonal planting. For us at Ediblescapes we like to think in a spiral open circle, for which each season we build more soil to grow more plants.
We open our photo journal to share learnings; it is a visual document where we can reflect over time which results were satisfactory and what went wrong. Through observation we get understanding. They are also documents that our friends and visitors can comment on and give feedback and advice on.
The above pictures show the diversity of the veggie crops, which grow together with fruit tree saplings,aromatic and medicinal herbs, and weeds as green manure and flowers.
Before planting the next season’s plants, we need to remove the crop of the previous season, clean up the perennials, herbs and green manure enough to allow ventilation for this hot and humid weather, but leave some cover to protect the soil from the hot, sunny days.
We will make each garden bed a bit wider, broadening them as much as we can, but leaving the minimum space needed to walk in. We realise that the recommended 1.20 metres width is not enough to create a sufficient ecosystem for the living soil. We will increase the width of the garden beds to about 2 metres. This will mean we need to work with our knees on the ground to reach the centre of the garden, if we are to be kind to the microbes, etc, and not step into the garden.
The set of pictures above show that we have taken the time to mow all the after-season crop plants, over grown herbs and green manure, and pruned the tree branches and banana leaves.
Why do we mow the after-harvest waste instead of putting it in the bin or composting it?
Well, it will be composted, but in an anaerobic fermented system. To the clipped greens coffee grounds were added as carbohydrate energy, as well as equal parts of brown dry stuff in the form of bokashi feedstock and a wheelbarrow of fermented green manure that we made three months ago. Everything was mixed well together. This is a similar process of “Reproduction of Mountain Microorganism (MM)” we have described before (see at https://www.ediblescapes.org/composting/microorganisms).
Small Organic farmers in Costa Rica were innovating in using the MM process to ferment fresh, green grass to replace cow manure in the making of bio liquid fertiliser, in order to get the organic certification. We use this method to ferment the after-season crops and avoid having to bring in animal manure to make the fermented bio fertilisers.
Remember our initial statement about the “spiral open circle, for which each season we build more soil to grow more plants”? Already we have double the organic matter that was taken from the garden, ready to start a new process of building new soil.
We are not alone in this task; we have an indispensable alliance with millions of microorganisms. Firstly, there is Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) which is extracted from the wash water of rice, with the addition of raw milk, extracted as whey, and mixed with equal parts of molasses.
Culturing lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are anaerobic microorganisms. In the absence of oxygen, they break sugar into lactic acid.LAB is very effective in improving ventilation of air in the soil, promoting rapid growth of fruit trees and leaf vegetables.
Colonies of LAB can be collected in the washing rice rinse water. Allowing the rice rinse water to sit for 3 to 5 days will cause LAB to become the predominant species. Since the rinse water is low in nutrients, milk is then added as a food source for the LAB. Fresh unpasteurized cow’s or goat’s milk, which is high in lactose (milk sugar), is an ideal food source for LAB proliferation, or culture. After an additional 3 to 5 days, the LAB culture separates into solid and liquid fractions (similar to curds and whey). The liquid fraction is the LAB culture, which can be used immediately, stored under refrigeration, or kept in a cool, dark place with the addition of brown sugar, (in our case we use molasses). This edible culture is used in Natural Farming for both plant and livestock production. The solid fraction is edible as soft cheese and can also be feed to livestock or composted. https://ilcasia.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/chos-global-natural-farming-sarra.pdf P41.
Secondly, but no less important are the diverse microorganisms in Bio liquid (BIOL) + Bio Solid (BIOSOL) Fertiliser diluted in water to produce BIOL-SOL Tea, that we are making onsite (see https://www.ediblescapes.org/composting/biol).
Third is the mixing of one part of LAB to twenty (20) parts of BIOL-SOL Tea to moisten the organic mix a bit. To know the right wetness, press a portion of the wet mix in your fist, and you should just feel the moisture in your hand without dripping any liquid. It is important to get the right humidity, not too dry and not too wet, to achieve the transformation into fermented soil fertiliser.
To achieve anaerobic fermentation, we need to extract the air out of the organic mix, which is done by compression. The drum is closed airtight, sealing it with an air lock, which allows gas to go out, but not return in.
After 6 weeks, the process results in a solid bio fertiliser soil product, ready to use in a mix of one to ten in water or solid substrates. The product in the garden soil will contribute to transforming the soil into humus, which is the granulate structure of the soil that facilitates the absorption of micro element nutrients into the plants.
We are growing seedlings in summer, in preparation for transplanting them as soon as the weather allows it, confident that this cultivated soil will make these plants grow happily, to produce healthy, nutritious and flavourful food.