Vegetable Farming Part 2: Fertilizing the garden

Fertilizing the garden

By Bisi Klah (+231886587547/+231775874301)

Reducing Water Demands

Mulching is a cultural practice which can significantly decrease the amount of water that must be added to the soil. Organic mulches themselves hold some water and increase the humidity level around the plant. Shading and the use of windbreaks are other moisture-conserving techniques. Small plants, in particular, should be protected. Air moving across a plant carries away the moisture on the leaf surface, causing the plant to need more water.

In very windy areas, the roots often cannot keep up with leaf demands, and plants wilt. Temporary or permanent windbreaks can help tremendously. During those times when cultural practices simply are not enough, when rainfall is sparse and the weather is hot, watering can benefit the garden for higher yields, or may save the garden altogether in severe drought years.

Irrigation, when properly used, can benefit the garden in many ways such as aiding in seed emergence, reducing soil crusting, improving germination and plant stand, as well as reducing wilting and checking of growth in transplants. Irrigation also increases fruit size of tomato, cucumber, and melon and prevents premature ripening of peas, beans, and sweet corn. It also maintains uniform growth and improves the quality and yields of most crops.

Irrigation Methods

In an integrated system, it is not only ordinary water that is used for irrigation. It is to be noted that in this system, there is usually no septic tanks constructed within the place. All the sewage systems are channeled into basins about four feet deep. Aquatic plants like water hyacinth, execrate are planted in the basins to purify the used water.

These basins make sure that smells are perceived in the whole place. The basins are constructed in such a way that the recycled water can pour into another basin where they are collected for use in watering the farms. Water can also be collected straight from the fist basin for this purpose. The watering of the plants can be done manually, if there is enough labor depending on the area in question. Otherwise, the mechanized system of irrigation can be used if the machines and other implements needed for this are available.

The things needed include: pumping machine, rubber water pipes, constructed for this purpose. They have iron joints, which make it possible to link them together, extend them as far as possible at the same time, and meander to all the corners. There are also irrigation taps that rotate at 360 degrees, watering the plants as they rotate. First of all, the rubber pipes are connected along the line of the plants to be watered. One of the ends is attached to the machine while the proper end is put into the tank where aquatic plants are used to recycle the water to be used. The machine is primed with water before it is started. Then, the motor is turned on and left at the slow turning point until it warms up. When it does, the speed of the machine is increased to the maximum. At this point, water comes out from the tap ends and waters the plants.

The amount of fertilizer to apply to a garden depends on the natural fertility of the soil, the amount of organic matter present, the type of fertilizer used, and the crop being grown. The best way to determine fertilizer needs is to have the soil tested by testing laboratories through an agricultural research institute.

Apart from the chemical fertilizer that is used to increase soil fertility, organic materials are in the form of manure used in an integrated farm. The waste products from the animal farm, the poultry and some from abattoirs can be recycled into very effective manure for the vegetable gardens. One fact that is notable is that these materials are not just used as they are. This is because they are usually hot because of their acidic and carbon content. These are removed through the means of organic transformation. That is to say that there is a process whereby the ordinary wastes are transformed into viable manure. This process has to do with organized deposition of these wastes in an area mapped out for this purpose, which has to be under some kind of shade.

Pest control through natural/biological productions

The insecticide produced naturally and even chemically is used to chase insects so they don’t destroy the plants. That is to say that the solution does not attack the plants not make them harmful to the body, but attacks the insects that harm the plants and hamper their growth. It is advised that the spraying be done frequently; up to two to three times a week. It can even be more depending on the resistant capacity of the insects.

Biological solutions are used in a small area. If the farm is very big, it is better to use a mixture of both biological and chemical solutions for optimum effectiveness. If the prescription for the chemical solution is one liter, half of each can be used. The solution realized from mixture is usually very strong. Through this, too, the quantity of the chemical solution of what can be called imported product is limited.

The first formula for natural solution is ½ kilogram of neem plus 10 liters of water. This solution is left for twenty-four hours. It is then filtered so that the grains of neem used can be removed. The water collected is then used to spray on the plants. The second formula solution is 11/2 kg of neem leaves plus 10 liters of water. The leaves and water is boiled for ten minutes. This solution must stay for 24 hours then it is filtered and used. The third formula solution is 1kg of dry tobacco leaves plus ½ liter of kerosene and add 200g of soap without perfume. This has to be dissolved in 10 liters of water.

To have concentrated solution, put the tobacco in 10 liters of water and boil for ten minutes. This is left for 24 hours and then you filter. After this, the kerosene is added together with the soap, which has to be cut into small pieces. Lastly, a medium size peak milk cup full of grounded pepper is added. It is worth noting at this juncture that the solution is very delicate. Before usage, it has to be sampled on few leaves so that its strength or concentration can be ascertained. If it is too strong, detectable from the condition of the leaves on which the sampling is done, some more water is added and the trial spray is repeated. When it is okay, it is then used. The spray must be discontinued two weeks before the leaves are harvested for eating. Some chemical solutions that can be used include: Konkani, Dursban 4EC and Malathion.

The precaution for the usage of the solution is that hand-gloves must be used and you have to close your nose to avoid inhaling the odor. You must wear boots at all times. Use some glasses to cover your eyes. When you are spraying the insecticide, you must go against the wind. That means that you try as much as possible not to inhale the odor.




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