Contributed by ‘ANONYMOUS‘ author
While growing up, my grandfather always had a vegie garden at our home. It was always full of fresh vegetables, beautifully maintained and we always had fresh food. My grandfather was always tending to it, weeding, picking, digging, watering adding manure and compost, it was obviously a very time consuming job. And that’s how I saw vegie growing, a labour of love, nothing wasted, food scraps recycled, organic waste turned into compost and a relationship with the local Chicken farm where a good supply of manure was always available. That was over 50 years ago. We called it gardening not conventional, organic or permaculture just gardening and that’s where vegetables came from.
Now, because of market demands, people becoming conscious of harmful residues and chemicals used in farming of food products and a worldwide push to stamp out lifestyle and preventable diseases an industry of organic solutions has become necessary.
Instead of seeing a farmer / gardener kneeling down and weeding their patch or standing with a hose watering or even selectively picking bugs from the leaves there are telephone farmers, time poor farmers, farmers with more than one job and then of course large scale exporters.
The holistic approach required to farm organically is still required in order to be effective and achieve a satisfactory end result.
Organic inputs are not designed to replace synthetic solutions rather; they are designed to help farming in a sustainable, “soft touch” and natural way.
So, first one needs to look at water availability, if that is good and plentiful you’re lucky if not you need to look at products that either help retain water and help build a soil that has properties that maintain moisture. Compost is a must. Each time I walk onto a property the first thing that I look for is a compost system. Now we have products that naturally enhance the effectiveness of compost and manure. Soil borne diseases and pests can now be controlled naturally with products that do not degrade the soil and actually promote plant growth. Pest control is now easier using natural products that do not leave residue and can be used on crops that are exported to the very chemical free conscious EU markets. And all of these products, if used as a “matter of course” can result in a product that I know that my grandfather would be proud to put on our table.
Organic farmers and gardeners over the years have used home made products and have enjoyed a degree of success with them. Concoctions using soap, capsicum, pepper and so on have a degree of effectiveness and have been a mainstay for pest control for many. Today using the same ingredients products can be concentrated and scientifically produced to be more effective over a longer time thus being easier to use and convenient for large scale operations
I see organic farming as the future, just like it was in the past. Class 1 and 2 chemicals are being shunned by commercial growers. Markets are just not buying produce that contains chemicals. Families growing their own vegies do not want to use ‘stuff” that they know causes health problems and they want to taste their food the way that it is meant to taste.
So thinking organic means thinking of 4 main things: Water, everything and everyone needs it. Conserve it . Soils, they have been degraded enough here in Kenya, think compost, soil conditioning using natural means, look after it. Learn to control pests and other problems naturally. Notice I said control? We need some insects and dudus: BEES for example we need to work with them. Make sure that the very base of your plants is healthy, we don’t always see the roots but that’s where it all starts.
So there you have it Conserve water, enrich your soils, maintain good root mass and use safe pest control. Then the secret ingredient is time. Spend some time in your garden, enjoy the experience, large scale operations the custodians need to be constantly aware of whats going on “Walk the crop” each day, enjoy.
Organix, the farmer’s environmental friend