The 8 Major Principles of Bio-Intensive Gardening
The 8 Major Principles is a method of food-growing that helps revitalize our planet by building soil, using a smaller area to produce higher yields than conventional methods, and minimizing water, organic fertilizer, and biological pesticide use. It attends to the long-term sustainability of farmland, so that food can be produced generation after generation. In near future, Green School will have its own resource of fresh various vegetables. Those principles are:
1 – Deep Soil Preparation
2 – Composting
3 – Intensive Planting
4 – Companion Planting
5 – Carbon Farming
6 – Calorie Farming
7 – Open-Pollinated Seeds
8 – Whole System Method
Principle 1 – Deep Soil Preparation (Double Dig)
Goal: Build Soil and Soil Structure
Deep soil preparation builds soil and soil structure by loosening the soil to a depth of 60 cm. Ideal soil structure has both pore space for air and water to move freely and soil particles that hold together nicely. Air supports plant roots and soil organisms that give life to the soil and enhance nutrient availability for the plants. Aerated soil holds water better than compacted soil, requiring less watering. It also facilitates root penetration, supporting healthy plants and minimizing erosion.
Principle 2 – Composting
Goal: Maximize Compost Quality and Quantity and Maximize Microbial Diversity
Bio-Intensive Gardening composting strives to produce the maximum amount of compost from the materials used. It also maximizes microbial biodiversity through a correctly built and “cured” compost pile using plant material from your farm, food scraps from your kitchen, and soil from the beds.
Solid Organic Fertilizer : Layers of leguminous leaves, chopped banana tree trunks, kitchen scraps, cow dung, charcoal, soil , small branches and dolomite lime.
Liquid Organic Fertilizer : Fermented livestock urine, water from boiled gingers, effective micro-organism solution, and natural sugars.
Effective Micro-Organism : Mixing juice from banana tree trunks, shrimp paste, sugar, yeast and water.
Principle 3 – Intensive Planting
Goal: Create enhanced and uninterrupted root and plant growth.
It creates enhanced and uninterrupted plant and root growth by transplanting seedlings in a close, off-set spacing pattern so their leaves are barely touching at maturity, creating a living mulch over the soil!
Principle 4 – Companion Planting
Goal: Focus on the whole garden to create a thriving mini-ecosystem with beneficial interrelationships
Companion planting draws a diverse insect population to the garden by using plants of many types and colors that flower all-season long. Additionally, a place for insects to drink water and to be protected at night can be helpful. These actions will support a balance of beneficial insects that prey on insect pests and pollinate the crops. Lastly, choosing strong-scented plants, like marigolds, will help repel unwanted insects.
Principle 5 – Carbon Farming
Goal: Support closed-system sustainable soil fertility
“Carbon” refers to plant material, also called “biomass,” that has a lot of complex cell structures and meets the criteria for mature material for compost building. Carbon farming promotes sustainable soil fertility by focusing on growing crops that produce a large amount of carbonaceous material (mature material) for composting. A farmer in tune with producing enough mature compost material will grow these crops in at least 60% of the cultivated area. By focusing on growing enough compost material through choosing carbon-producing crops, a farmer becomes more self-sufficient, relying on his/her own compost for soil fertility instead of buying resources from off of the farm.
In addition, carbon farming has a diet element. The important cereal crops mentioned above also produce an edible seed. Emphasizing crops that produce compost material and a significant amount of calorie rich food sustains the soil and the farmer!
Principle 6 – Calorie Farming
Goal: Grow a complete diet in the smallest area possible
“Calorie” refers to the energy that is found in food we eat. Calories are essential for human life and are in all food to some degree. Calorie farming produces a complete diet in the smallest space possible by focusing on special root crops that are calorie-dense and yield well in a small area. These specific crops are: potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, leeks, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, and salsify. A farm with 30% of its area in special root crops maximizes its area-efficient production of calories and can grow a complete diet in the smallest space possible.
After accounting for carbon crops and special root crops, the remaining 10% of area can grow vegetable crops for a nutritionally diverse diet and a modest income. Orange and dark green vegetables can help boost important vitamins and minerals in the diet, especially Vitamins A and C and iron.
Principle 7 – Open-pollinated Seeds
Goal: Maximize seed production and quality and preserve genetic diversity
Using open-pollinated (OP) seeds allows the farmer to save seeds on the farm, providing for future crops through growing healthy, locally acclimatized, fresh seeds. This helps create a self-sufficient closed system by reducing dependence on large or small seed vendors, and by saving money. It is generally possible to grow all the seeds necessary for next year’s garden in about 3% additional area.
Principle 8 – Whole System Approach
Goal: Integrate all the principles into your garden to create balance
Bio-Intensive Gardening requires farmers to act with thought and foresight, recognizing that the farm itself is part of a greater ecosystem that should be thriving. Keeping half of your land in the wild, if possible, nurtures the plant, insect, and animal diversity that surround the farm and provides a buffer that allows it to exist and thrive.
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