Sunday, 2 June 2013

No (monetary) cost fertilizer

Our garden lab next door is the best lab that I could have got since the soil there is of poor quality and I have to figure out ways to make it fertile. I already use urine occasionally and compost from the kitchen also helps. Once in a while, a generous neighbor provides us with sheep-shit. Even with all this, the soil still needs nurturing.

Whenever my aunt or grandmom is in town, I never lose a chance to ask them about new (or should I say old?) techniques to rejenuvate the earth. My aunt happily shared this simple method that involves using Neem, ಹೊಂಗೆ - Honge (Pongamia Pinnata), ಎಕ್ಕೆ - Ekke (Calotropis_procera) and cowdung buried under a thin layer of soil for about 3 to 4 months.
Neem is known to have medicinal properties, Honge is good manure and cowdung hastens the composting process. I am yet to figure out Ekke's purpose. As we were preparing the compost pit, my dad mentioned that Ekke is usually used in paddy fields also.

My 16-yr old cousin is in town for her holidays and I found her to be of great help in the garden as we implemented the above technique (pictures below). She has a close connection with the land as she spends most of her holidays on her grandmom's farm and the effect shows!

Neem and Honge from the trees outside our home

Ekke from the plant near our house

Ready for enrichment

adding honge

adding neem

ekke and cowdung slurry from the street

covering with soil 

I prepaid for her help by facilitating her introduction to the internet, google search and gmail. It was fascinating to see her wonder at her discoveries as she saw her school, created her email id and searched how to make neem oil, for a start. The fact that she studied in Kannada medium and was using the computer for the first time did not matter at all. It made me wonder if all we need to teach them is how to ask questions - Why, Who, How, What, When - and then give them freedom, space and the tools to find answers; and then they will take care of themselves!

Photographs by Varsha - she was using an SLR for the first time.

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