Renewal & Sustainability Topics

  • Can you explain soil enhancement capability of beans? Long bean and black bean.

All bean related type of crops have this special chemical called flavonoids. This particular chemical helps to enhance the growth of nitrogen fixing bacteria. Why is nitrogen fixing bacteria important?

In the air, we have nitrogen. If this plant has nitrogen fixing bacteria, it can simply convert the nitrogen in the air and in turn, feed itself. When you apply organic nitrogen (goat/chicken poo), this organic nitrogen will be converted into two ions i.e. NH4+ and NO3, the ultimate forms that the plants can absorb.

Little microbes in the soil help to do the conversion. If you have more microbes organism, the conversion is faster. There is a by-product known as  NO2during this process and after further breaking down, it becomes N2. Again, in order to convert N2 into NH4+, you need nitrogen fixing bacteria. That’s why when you pull the roots of these bean crops out of soil, you see the root nodes.

  • I started growing plants in a community garden. The soil in the community garden is always clayey. How can improve the soil so that I can grow starting vegetables like corn, yam and ginger?

If you want immediate resuits, you have to amend the soil. If you don’t amend the soil, you can’t start growing. 

Tilt and break up your soil, at least 20-25 cm, add compost (minimum 20%), put 50g of animal manure (goat/chicken poo) for every square meter, mix it all up, rest the soil a bit. 

Add some commercially available soil enzyme because soil enzyme helps you to break down the soil faster. Soil enzyme introduces microbes and microbes help to convert fertiliser to a form that plants can absorb. Water it and let it rest then you can start farming.

Start composting vegetables waste at the side.

Make sure you tilt enough so that the water drains. Corns need at least 35 cm depth, vegetables are ok with 15 – 20 cm depth. Yam is easy, tilt about 10cm and you can start growing. But don’t expect big yam. Ginger likes loose media such as cocopeat. i I put 50% cocopeat so that my ginger grows roots well. If your soil is clayey and water clogs, ginger will rot.

Tips: Do pipe composting. To learn how to do, watch this video

Tips: If you don’t like trellis, start with beans such as edamame or cowpea because bean crops can help to fix your soil. See 1st question above. If you are ok with trellis, try long bean or black bean.

  • How to re-cycle soil for the edible plants?

You need to go through soil treatment. Tilt it, add in at least 20% of compost and 50g of animal poo (goat/chicken) per square meter. Mix it all up. If you can add soil microbes then better.

  • Soil treatment – mix compost with fertilizer. What kind of fertilizer?

Any manure is good. I prefer goat/sheep manure over chicken because of hormones used commonly on chicken. But chicken manure is cheaper.

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