by Slow Food Bali
Working together with SQUAREFOOT FARMERS from India, Slow Food Bali was proud to offer a highly motivating workshop on growing our own food, lead by Mr Vishwas Makam, from Squarefoot Farmers. The workshop stimulated awareness of getting into our own food production, right at home.
We learned about the practice of “squarefoot gardening”, in which the growing area is divided into small square sections (typically 12” on a side, and hence the name). The event was held on Sept 11, 2015 at the Earthbound Permaculture center in Peliatan.
Step by step, we learned how to build up the garden box, and create a basic planting “soil” made of balanced proportions of compost, cocopeat and burnet rice husk.
Before getting started planting, Vishwas talked about the importance of proper seed handling, from soaking, to sowing. Very small seeds should be started in a nursery, and, when big enough, they can be transplanted into our planter boxes. Plant spacing in the boxes depended on the expected size of the plant, with smaller plants being planted in higher density.
We learned that one of the most important features of the “squarefoot” garden was to encourage healthy root formation, which occurs when the soil itself is full of healthy microorganisms and nutrients. We learned of the importance of “crop” rotation, and the value of using a diversity of plants. We also found out the importance of watering the soil, and not the plant.
We discovered the value of cultivating our own vegetables, so that we could harvest them at a proper tender age, rather than commercial vegetables, which are often sold, over-sized because they are sold by weight.
We should expect some pests in our garden boxes, but patience was recommended. Some “bugs” will come for a short couple of days, but if they hang around for more than three days, they can be real pests. Natural sprays – from neem oil, garlic, ginger, chili, cow urine and seaweed might all be remedies.
We should understand which vegetables will grow best in which season. In the dry season, with cooler evenings, we might try eggplant, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and root vegetables. In the wet season, we might get the best results from corn, squash, cucumbers, leafy greens, water spinach, pok choi, and gourds.
Considering the variable weather in Bali, we might want to try a variety of experiments, no matter what the expected season, and just hope for the best.
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