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Growing organically on hard rock


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A brief summary of the approach that we adopted to grow vegetables more sustainably and productively on rocky terrain in Goa, India

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Growing organically on hard rock

  1. 1. Growing food organically on hard rocky terrain Yogita Mehra and Karan Manral at the International Centre Goa, Dona Paula
  2. 2. We started with building raised beds on what was virtually hard rock 2011 Adding soil , sand & compost to create raised beds of 8” height, bounded with laterite stones Laterite plateau with only 3”-4” of soil in most places
  3. 3. 2011 Shallow rooted crops begin growing on heavily composted beds Planting complete, growing underway Soil left bare to the elements. Bakes in the hot sun and dries out fast
  4. 4. First round of crops had some pest and disease but were healthy 2011 Soil too clayey; sun too hot; soil dries quickly
  5. 5. 2012 Growing required regular addition of compost Heavy doses of kitchen-waste compost regularly added to beds to increase organic matter in soil
  6. 6. 2012 Companions added to help with pest management Marigold border keeps pests away while attracting beneficial insects
  7. 7. 2013 Introduced mulch with magical effect on soil health and moisture retention Heavily mulched beds require less water, reduce unwanted growth
  8. 8. 2014 Modifying layout to enable shade, vertical growing space and more mulch production Dense glyricidia live fencing to create shade, provide mulch and support for creepers New walking paths created, thick mulching continues
  9. 9. 2014 Soaking glyricidia stakes in panchagavya to improve survival and growth rates Panchagavya is a growth promoter made from cow’s milk, dung, urine, ghee and curds Soaking stakes in this before planting increase chances of rooting
  10. 10. 2014 Glyricidia established creating shade and ample mulching material for the beds Live fence or stakes for creepers like passion fruit and gourds Shade in different parts at different times of the day creates micro- climates
  11. 11. 2014 Change in layouts (more curves) and denser mixed planting confuses most pests Additional precaution using sticky traps Thick mulch to keep soil cool and reduce water needs
  12. 12. 2014 Taller perennials create a cooler microclimate that allows leafy vegetables to thrive Shaded sections accommodate plants that prefer cooler conditions Companions planted together grow by filling in spaces
  13. 13. 2014 Plants continue to grow well with virtually NO regular addition of compost Soil seemed in great condition after rains, so negligible addition of extra compost this year onwards Mulch needs to be added from time to time to continue soil protection
  14. 14. 2015 Plant yields increase with virtually no problems with pests, soil's water retention gets high Increased yields, less pest attacks due to mixed planting
  15. 15. 2015 By year 4, what started as just 8 inches of soil is supporting a forest Post monsoon-growth in Year #4.Glyricidia reaches up to 15ft. Inside, papaya, banana and tapioca, little gourd, brinjal and chillies thrive with no attention. Clearing underway for planting seasonal annuals
  16. 16. Summary points • Mulch to maintain soil fertility • Grow companion trees to help build soil – they form an important framework • Plant diverse varieties to prevent pests – perennials AND seasonal crops • Use compost/cowdung etc sparingly • Adapt the microclimate depending on what you want to grow • Stack plants vertically and horizontally for greater productivity
  17. 17. Before vs After
  18. 18. Green Essentials (Karan & Yogita) Goa, India 99606-43245 (Yogita)