|An autumn sunflower field I found while hitch-hiking in Northern Bulgaria. Associative photo.|
Following the recently discussed topic of sustainable agricultural practices, we might as well talk about organic gardening. Permaculture itself is not necessarily organic but the two go well together.
Our fellow EVS Dora from Vlahi (mentioned in the previous post) cultivates an organic garden as part of her project and has shared with us a few tricks of how to be most efficient and to naturally avoid pesticides, herbicides and other similar evils. To me, some of them have been a nice discovery and, I thought, why not to forward them on to you too, our dear dedicated reader
(1) The Three Sisters of pre-Colombian American agriculture, starring corn, pumpkin and beans. According to Native American wisdom, the three plants help each other to grow and to feed. They have a symbiotic relationship. For example, the bean plant grows wrapping itself around corn, and the two exchange bacteria that keeps pests away.
(2) Planting companion plants, such as onion & carrot; tomato & basil; aubergine & beans, together. They keep harmful insects away from each other, and therefore, the gardener does not need to use pesticides.
(3) Taking advantage of friendly garden animals. Apart from singing nicely, birds eat many harmful insects and produce manure which is a natural fertiliser. To attract certain birds to your garden you may need to plant certain bushes, e.g. raspberry or goji berry for sparrows & tits. Grasshoppers eat insects, and so do bats - the latter during the night, so your garden may be protected 24/7.
Wasps also eat insects - build a place for them to live in your garden. Ladybirds feed on plant lice - they like to settle on nettle and yellow flower, so make sure you have some of the said plants present to attract ladybirds to your garden.
Yellow multipeds feast on slug eggs. Ducks eat insects and slugs, and produce manure - make a pond for them in your garden (in the pond, grow some gambusia fish - they will eat the mosquito larvae). Chickens do similar deeds to those done by ducks.
Hedgehogs, besides generally being sweet and charming animals, will cut down the numbers of slugs, caterpillars, multipeds and chockhafers. Snakes will eat mice; lizards will eat insects; and toads love to snack on Colorado beatle (toads, like ducks, will need access to a pond in your garden). Frogs will feast on insects and slugs.
(4) You might want to plant your herbs in reinforced spirals. The said constructions help the gardener to use water efficiently. Higher in the spiral should be plants that need less water; those needing more should sit a little below. On the south side put plants that like sunlight; on the north side put those that thrive well in the shadow. Spiral works well for growing herbs, medicinal ones and kitchen ones alike.
(5) Finally, put up a tank for collecting rain water, and instal solar panels to have hot water available.
|A vine above the street, Veliko Tarnovo. Another associative photo.|