The basis for this information comes from books like, ‘The One Straw Revolution' by Mr. Masanobu Fukuoka, 'Water for Every Farm - Yeomans Keyline Plan' by Mr. P. A. Yeomans and sons, and the books of 'Permaculture' by Mr. Bill Mollison and other authors. The books of Bio-dynamics by Rudolph Stiener and other authors also contain a great deal of valuable information. Also find on the Internet, 'Natural Sequence Farming' by Mr. Peter Andrews.
'One Straw' details Mr. Fukuoka's experiences in growing rice in Japan and 'Keyline' and 'NSF', primarily refer to pasture improvement for raising cattle but they have important implications for good farm and land management in general. Please refer to those books and websites for more detailed information.
Part one refers to general organic and sustainable practices that you can use together or in part in any organic garden or environment according to your needs and your available resources.
Part two is specifically about trench gardening which is a garden system that allows for efficient watering of a garden in dry areas and places with very dry seasons, and isolated areas that have limited access to water from springs, wells, streams and rivers.
Occasional rains may be caught and stored and used to irrigate the garden. There's a lot of work involved in the set up but the payoff is that it ensures a good supply of water and saves a lot of work in the future.
This system may also be adapted for use as a grey water garden system for the recycling of used domestic water as garden irrigation water.
ii. Why Grow Organic?
There are many good reasons for growing organically and it doesn't matter what you grow, whether it be mangoes, petunias, roses, tomatoes or cedar trees. Organic gardening always results in stronger, healthier plants, and if you consume them, you will be healthier too, and there will be less chemicals in your environment. You will also be immediately aware of the superior quality of the organic produce that you grow and eat. Fruit, vegetables and herbs will smell and taste better.
Chemical fertilisers may contain the basic nutrients essential for plant growth but the micro-nutrients will be missing. Some are missing, even from the chemical fertilisers that claim to contain micro-nutrients. They are also present in the wrong form for natural uptake by the plants growing on them, and most just contaminate the soil, making it acidic and burning the soil and creating run off and polluting the water ways. And artificial fertilisers do not include, and even poison, the life cycles of the various bacteria and fungi in the soil that are an essential part of the feeding cycle of plants.
And why grow your plants on chemicals that are going to end up in your blood stream? And if you're growing herbs for medicinal purposes, you can be assured that the only way to get the full benefit from them is to grow them organically. Chemical cultivation will not produce plants with healthy medicinal properties.
iii. Organic AND Sustainable
There is one thing to say about organic gardening and farming and that is that there is one level above organic and that is sustainable, because it is possible to be organic and not necessarily sustainable.
If only compost and mulch and no chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides are applied to a garden, then it will be organic. But if the gardener continues to till the soil, then a friendly ground cover can never be established and aggressive weeds will always be a problem because the soil is full of seeds. There is an old saying, 'one years seeds, seven years weeds'. So by cultivating the ground to remove the weeds, the gardener is in fact preparing the ground for more weeds to grow. The gardener is then trapped in an endless cycle of working to remove the weeds that he plants with his work.
Digging the weeds prevents the establishment of an environment of friendly plants that protect and feed the soil by supporting an ecology of tiny animals that build soil by turning it over and mixing it with decaying plant and animal matter. It is also necessary to attract insects and animals that feed on nectar and pollen and graze on leaf matter in order to support an entire ecology of plants and creatures where no one species dominates to the detriment of others. Viruses, bacteria and fungi also play a critical part in this continual saga of life and should likewise be considered an essential part of the garden landscape.
Erosion and leaching of soluble nutrients will also be a problem in the tilled garden, especially on sloping land and in areas of high rainfall.
Digging also causes loss of moisture which is a serious problem in dry areas and dry seasons.
Non-tillage and companion plant gardening and farming is the only method that can be called sustainable. This does not exclude digging to shape the land and establish the garden and farm. However once the garden is established, there should be no need for anymore cultivation for the removal of weeds or the inclusion of fertilisers. A union of ground covers and companion plants being cut down and mulched in is all that is necessary to make and protect healthy soil and an environment that will support herbs, vegetables and fruit trees. Any additional mulch, compost or manure that the gardener wishes to apply, may simply be scattered around randomly or placed around newly planted trees.
Organic, sustainable and natural gardening, farming and land care methods can be relied on year after year to produce quality soil, a reliable supply of quality produce and a healthy environment to live in.