Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chop and Drop


I want to share an effective gardening technique.  Chop and drop.  I am refurbishing older gardens.  Today I removed the remaining plants from a few gardens that had run their course and I did NOT till, just weeded.  Then I topped with IMO #4 and bio char.  On top of that I took whole branches of gliricida and covered the IMO beds.  Master Cho says IMO love 60% shade.  He also wants us to emulate nature by providing inputs on the soil surface as nature would do rather than till in nutrients as man has done in modern times.  Putting whole branches provides shade but also plenty of oxygen (because of the physical space) for the aerobic microbes to grow.  In a few weeks the leaves will dry and fall off the branches providing additional organic matter.  The woody branches will break down by the action of the aerobic microbes.  While I wait for seedlings to be ready to transplant, this technique allows me to be patient.  The microbes are at work in the garden bed.  When I do transplant seedlings, they will rocket because the soil is alive.

Plant in foreground has been pruned, the bushier Gliricidia behind needs to be pruned.

Originally I dedicated a row in my garden to gliricida.  Within that row I also have some papaya as well as pineapple plants.  The idea is that the gliricida are nitrogen fixing plants, and I would use their branches and leaves as mulching material.  I don't have to transport far, just a few feet, chop and drop.



New pond for Azolla production.

I made a pond this weekend to propagate azolla.  It is a water plant that can double in volume in a single day.  Pigs will eat it, as it is high in protein. Wikipedia reports, in addition to its traditional cultivation as a bio-fertilizer for wetland paddy (due to its ability to fix nitrogen), azolla is finding increasing use for sustainable production of livestock feed Azolla is rich in proteins, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Studies describe feeding azolla to dairy cattle, pigs, ducks, and chickens, with reported increases in milk production, weight of broiler chickens and egg production of layers, as compared to conventional feed. 

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