As organic farmers, we’ve made the health of our soil our biggest priority. Soil is where our vegetables get most of their nutrients and water. We think of it as like a big, secret kitchen where millions of earthworm, bacteria, and fungi chefs prepare food for our plants.
To build and maintain healthy soil, you need to continuously keep your soil as moist as possible, but not flooded. The tiny organisms that keep soil alive love moist environments. On our farm, we do this by adding a layer of dried leaves, rice stalks, or rice husks on top of our vegetable patches so the moisture in the soil does not evaporate easily. Then we always keep some nitrogen-producing plants growing on empty vegetable plots, like sunn hemp or long beans. They help cover the soil, create a community for organisms living in the soil, and enrich the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients for future vegetables.
Chemical pesticides and fertilisers will slowly kill the soil. True, they may boost plant health in the short term. But after a few months, the soil will become dry and dead because the toxic chemical solutions will have killed most of the earthworms, bacteria, and nematodes. We use compost, manure, and neem oil to keep our soil and plants happy. We also till our soil as little as possible, only when it’s necessary. Tilling the soil disturbs, and can kill, the soil organisms.
Remember, always keep the kitchen happy.