Have you started planning your own Bio-intensive farm? What is your choice of crops? Which crop best satisfies your Calorie needs? Based on your knowledge of calorie crops do you think that your small plot of land is ideal for that same crop grown on it? I am curious to know what your answers are, you can reach us through any of the contacts provided below. In case you missed our last lesson kindly click on this link to learn about Calorie crops.
Do you know that before you can start your own farm or garden, knowledge on ways to select appropriate beds for your crops is another important topic to discuss? This week’s lesson is targeted to address the problem of choice.
Secondly, how to rightly position your crops in the bed, the size and arrangement technique among other things constitute our topic of discussion for this week being the 6th week into this journey of becoming a top-notch Bio-intensive farmer.
To start with and for better understanding, there are a couple of factors to consider before choosing a suitable bed apt for your crop among which are the following;
- Sun and shade
It is important to note that compost crops thrive best with as much sunlight as possible. Somewhere around 11 hours of sunlight is best for most crops.
Many crops however, will still survive well with 7 hours of daylight. Thankfully, here in Africa we have enough sunlight throughout the day hence the need for some shades for the crops.
Lettuce, for instance, will perform well in as little as 4 hours of sunlight while cucumber on the other hand loves heat but does not need lengthy hours of sunlight.
In the same vein, the ability to know the sun’s direction in a garden or farm location is necessary as it helps in the placement of crops into their appropriate position. The farmer must know where the sun rises and sets.
Again, Lettuce is best placed where the sun rises and not where it sets to prevent it from taking over 8 hours of daylight. In contrast, cucumber thrives best between the spot where the sun rises and sets.
Adequate knowledge of the wind’s direction in the garden is also a very important factor both for small-scale and commercial farming. This helps to determine where to plant short and tall crops. It also assists in choosing location to place crops which will serve as wind breakers.
3. The Shape of The Land
Having a proper understanding of how the shape of the land kept for farming looks like is also a critical factor to take cognisance of when establishing a garden. This determines the types of bed as well as the direction of crop placement. It is ideal that a bed is made against the direction of a slope to guard against erosion.
4. Size and shape of bed
The size and shape of bed is dependent on the size of the garden or farm. Bed could be circular, oval, square triangular, rectangular or even irregular in shape.
After selecting the perfect size of the bed to work with, some factors are equally important to be considered in order to attain maximum yield from the crop. These factors are discussed below:
For one, the bed for food production must be at least 3 feet by 3 feet but should not be more than 5 feet by 5 feet.
This setting allows plants to establish a significant mini-climate just above the soil. It also creates allowance for a significant area for the root and microorganism below the soil surface to develop.
Accordingly, the width of the bed should not be longer than 5 feet. This gives a chance to work from one end of the bed and reach the middle of the bed. Determining the width of the bed is a function of one’s height.
To determine width, the hand should be placed in a way that it can conveniently extend to touch the middle of each bed. The bed can be as long as you want it to be.
20 to 25 feet is usually long enough, provided that there is enough space, notwithstanding, you can divide the bed after each 20 to 25 feet with a stone length of one foot. This will help you to easily walk on the path without stepping on the beds.
It is advisable not to waste space on a wide path as it leads to drying of edges on the side of the bed. The best width for paths is 1-2 feet. Narrow paths do not only maximize the garden space but also encourage a healthy, overall mini-climate on the farm. With this, the beds are able to conserve more water.
6. Garden Layout
Laying-out several beds in a square rather than rectangular arrangement help to conserve moisture and maintain a good ecosystem. This is because beds in a long narrow pattern dry out much faster than those in the wider pattern.
Additionally, as you fertilize your bed, the soil will continue to improve as organic matter and nutrient levels are replenished and maintained accordingly. Worthy of note is that changing the location of beds and paths from year to year will slow down the desired soil improvement.
Proper and of course right tools make gardening easier and productive. For Bio-intensive double digging, the following tools are imperative: a bowl rake, 5–20-gallon bucket, D-handle fork, digging board of about 5/8-7/8 inches stick plywood which is 2-3 feet wide and 3-5 feet long.
Other important gardening tools are: a hand fork, transplanting trowel, hand weeder, kitchen knife, labels and markers, chicken wire attached to a wood frame, seed trays, watering can, water source, pruning chair and small clipper among many other needed tools.
For next week, we will dive-deep into discussing other tools as we consider a topic on commercial farming. Keep a date!
Meet our Instructor/Author
Abosede Olawumi Benedict is an astute, well-traveled Organic Farm Manager and Trainer with over 15-years of experience in the farming industry.
Her expertise intercuts the following areas: Grow Bio-intensive System, Organic, Sustainable or Regenerative Farming, Healthy Living (Nutrition), Sustainable living, Natural building, Compost making, Holistic Management, Farm Management & Trainer and Organic Integrated Pest Management to mention just a few.
Kindly reach the undersigned for further enquiries
0904 2607 067
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