We learn a lot just by studying the Forests!

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From Dust You Came and To Dust You Shall Return

It all begins and ends with Soil. She Provides. She Nurtures.

Whether you want to learn about Gardening, Farming, Philosophy, Spirituality or Psychology – soil is the best place to start with. You understand her and she will understand you. You take care of her and she will nourish you. You love her and you are loved forever.

Talking from an agricultural point of view- we start with studying different types of soils, their basic traits and nutritional composition.

Soil is made up of billions and billions of micro-organisms, insects and worms. It is very important that we acknowledge and appreciate their existence. They are very crucial for ‘our’ existence. Yes, you read it right. OUR existence.

Soil, in the absence of these microbes is called a dead Soil. Whereas a soil that is abundant with these microbes, insects and worms is called a living soil.

So here are four main things that we need to study in detail when it comes to soil –

  1. Properties of different types of soil.
  2. Soil nutrients and ways of supplying nutrients i.e. Chemical and Natural.
  3. Composting and Mulching – Its impact on soil.
  4. Soil revival.
Understanding agriculture

The Journey Begins!

Understanding Agriculture was the first crucial step to becoming a farmer. So here I was completely baffled as to where to do I start from.

Does it begin with understanding crop cycle?

Does it begin with understanding soil?

Is it the region, climate and rainfall?

The irrigation…

The different agricultural practices…

How and where do I start?

Now that’s the beauty. You know the journey has begun when you don’t know where to start from. The state of uncertainty is what defines the journey!

The upcoming posts are about how I started to learn about different aspects of farming; My research and the sources of my research. If you have similar interests, I hope it helps.

MOO!!

None of the discussions on gardening/ farming/ organic produce/ manure/ composting is ever complete without talking about COWS!!

Cow dung and urine are considered one of the most elite sources of compost. Cow dung is rich of minerals and bacteria cultures which turns the soil very fertile. However there are many ways in which we can apply this cow dung to the soil. I’ll be discussing a few of those methods. Cow dung can be added to the compost bin/pit as well. There is no right or wrong way of application just a better way.

The first method that I am going to talk about here is called

AMRUTJAL (literally translated as NECTAR-WATER)

For making AMRUTJAL we require

1kg of fresh cow dung

1 liter of cow urine

10 liters of water

50 grams of jaggery

Now all you have to do is add all of the above contents in a container/bucket, mix them all thoroughly, cover the container and keep it aside for three days. During these three days you have stir the mixture (clockwise and anti-clockwise, 12 times each) three times every day. Fourth day onward you can use this mixture.

How to use: Dilute the above mixture with water in ratio of 1:10 i.e. for every one liter of mixture you can add 10 liters of water and use it to water plants. This acts as an excellent compost for plants.

Here’s a video for reference!!

VC : Amit Dharamsi

Enhancing Soil Using Compost

IMG_20160315_093554As we all know compost is nothing but decayed organic material used as fertilizer for growing plants. All plants require nutrients for healthy life. We have already discussed about the hazards of chemical fertilizers. Hence compost is the best way to provide plants with all the essential nutrients. We will now understand how does compost help in fixing/enhancing different types of soil.

We can correct any soil by adding compost to it.

Let’s take the example of clay soil. Clay soil has tightly bonded minute particles which do not allow air and water to penetrate very easily. By adding compost to the soil we can loosen the bondage of soil particles and allow air and water to penetrate very easily; thereby creating a perfect condition for plants to grow and flourish.

If loam contains more of sand and less of clay it can be corrected by adding compost whereby the compost provides all the vital nutrients required by plants and also helps in water retention.

Hence composting is one of the most important aspects of gardening.

Silt & Loam

Silt:

Silt is a very fertile soil mainly found near river banks. The soil particles of silt are smaller than sand and bigger than clay. It is one the best soils for any type of plantation. However silt is not easily available everywhere.

Loam Soil:

Loam (also known as Red Soil because of its red color) is a soil which is a perfect mix of Sand, Silt and Clay. The perfect Ratio is 40% Sand, 40% Silt and 20% clay. However the proportions differ and so does the soil properties. If the loam contains more of sand it is called as sandy loam or if it contains more of silt then it is called silty loam and likewise for clay loam. Loam being a mix of all the three is the most ideal soil for gardening.

Loam does not suffer any drawbacks of either clay or sand. The presence of sand allows air and water to penetrate easily. Clay helps in water retention and clay and silt both ensure ample supply of nutrients.

Synopsis: Loam does not create any Stress on the plant and is one of most ideal soils for gardening.

[Now you know why the Gardener always prefers red soil! The next time you visit the plant nursery do observe the soil!] 😉 🙂

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is nothing but sand or soil composed mainly of sand. The color of sandy soil may differ from white to beige to golden brown. The sand particles are very distinguished and detached. They are not united with each other. As a result it is devoid of minerals (nutrients).

Now that we have understood the soil properties lets understand how the stress works.

Air: Air can easily penetrate through sandy soil because the sand particles are very detached. Hence there is no stress on the plant as far as air is concerned.

Water: Water percolates very easily through sand however Sand does not retain water.  Hence the plant undergoes a big stress as far as water is concerned.

Nutrients: Sandy soil does not contain any vital nutrients required by plants. Hence this is a major stress factor.

Synopsis: Lack of nutrients and non-retention of water makes this soil almost useless for gardening.

CLAY SOIL

The soil particles of clay soil (also called as black soil because of its color) are very minute and are tightly bonded to each other. So tightly are they attached to each other that it is difficult for both air and water to penetrate. Water percolates very slowly through the soil. Clay soil is a very fertile soil, full of minerals (nutrients).

Now that we have understood the soil properties lets understand how the stress works.

Air: As mentioned earlier the air penetrates very slowly through this soil. Hence inadequate supply of air causes a stress on plant.

Water: Water percolates very slowly through this soil. There is a high possibility of excess water clogging around the roots of the plants. Hence excessive water supply causes a stress on plant.

Nutrients: clay soil is one of most mineral-rich soil and plants receive ample of nutrients. There is no stress on plant as far as nutrients is concerned.

Synopsis: Clay soil creates two stresses on plants and hence is not the most ideal one. However these stresses can be corrected/removed with composting. We will study about it in detail in my upcoming posts.