What if I told you that you can start an edible garden that will continue to produce food year after year with very minimal maintenance, monitoring, and no sowing after the first year (unless you want to diversify). It’s vital that you use open pollinated heirloom seeds to establish this system. Hybrid seeds won’t always produce the same plant that they came from, but open-pollinated heirlooms will. By using this type of seed, you can design a mini food forest in your own yard that will continue to reseed itself year after year.
The idea of natural farming is based on the fundamental principle that we should be working with nature instead of against nature and as it turns out, it can be quite a lot easier to work with than against. A thick cover crop will drown out weeds, therefore reducing your need to weed! The lack of space between conventional rows also helps to retain water as less water is lost to evaporation.
Curry leaf is an easy self-sustaining plant that you are probably familiar with and it’s a good way to get your natural farming feet wet. Personally this is one of my favorite plants to use in my natural farming garden. Curry leaf and pudina were my first two plants to resow themselves and it made me addicted to what some would call the “do nothing method”.
All it takes to get started is to refrain from harvesting the entire plant. Pick and eat leaves and flowers as you can in the Spring and as your curry leaf plants begin to flower more than you can keep up with just let nature run its course. Every flower will become a seed pod full of many seeds. Instead of clearing what you might think of as debris, simply let the seed pods dry out naturally and fall back to the earth.
The stems and uneaten leaves of the plants will become a natural fertilizer and mulch as they die and return to the earth. If you keep your soil from drying out too much, you will be given another crop of curry leaf in Autumn that you didn’t have to plant! A crop such as this can easily take over a garden bed and produce continual greens for many seasons.
You want to keep some diversity in your garden to keep your soil nutrients in balance, much like a typical farmer would rotate crops. Adding a bean or pea trellis is a great way to fix nitrogen into your soil for instance. Better yet, use a natural trellis made of sunflowers! You may need to help natural selection out a bit and thin your sunflowers if you don’t harvest all the seeds in a given year, however wildlife does a pretty good job at eating the bulk of seeds you may leave out during the winter if you are in close proximity to a forest area.
After your first season if you are having trouble keeping a certain crop alive in your specific conditions simply accept that it isn’t an ideal part of your system and focus on allowing the plants that are thriving to propagate. If you cannot go without these less-than-ideal crops, keep a conventional bed as well with your must-have veggies that don’t perform well in your food forest.
There are no rules written in stone. If you can make something work in your environment then do it!
We seem to forget that open pollinated heirlooms have the ability to produce food year after year without any intervention from man. A food-producing system that doesn’t need us to take care of it! What could be better? Let’s develop as much land like this as we possibly can. This has the potential to change the world for future generations. Can you imagine abolishing hunger with healthy sustenance sustaining in every neighborhood?
For further information on organic gardening, get in touch with Vandana at 9535025938 or send in a mail at [email protected]