Will burying cooked rice in the garden help if everything is super dry? I'm working on building organic material, but it's a slow process here. I ALMOST have a single thing layer of mulch across my entire little garden, but then will be expanding and making another plot. Is it pointless to try rice? I feel it will just be ant food. Not all bad, but that's not my intention . . .
Not really, it will likely be eaten by nearby animals or even just mold since cooked rice will be a fairly rich source of food for a variety of fungus/molds etc.
You are likely doing all the things you need to since you are seeing success, i'd suggest cover crops if you are not using them. Find something that grows like a "weed" in your area in the legume family like a clover or whatever. Lastly, if you really want to speed it up add some chickens, being aware they will eat any veggies they can (however cooked rice could be used to feed chickens which make decent fertilizer).
One thing I've been doing, which I think might have a similar effect, but more suitable for my situation, is pouring the water from cooking (rice, potatoes, pasta, plantains) into the soil or compost (basically pouring it right over where I'm trench composting). I feel that the liquid form and the fact that it's not large particles, but traces of the nutritional elements, will make it more readily for the bacteria in the soil while being less of a draw to pests. Pouring it where I have an increase of organic material should give it something to live in and keep it's moisture between rain.
What you are describing is the EM method of gathering microbes for use in your gardening.
This sadly doesn't do so well in arid conditions, it was developed in a country that gets semi-monsoon type weather (Korea).
For you, (in Haiti) it would be your rainy season where you would have the best conditions for gathering EM.
I prefer to use milk for the wetting agent but I have used rinsed rice soaked in milk and then placed in small cotton bags and tied shut, this works really well but again, the soil has to have some moisture already in it for the microbes to be able to move about.
Arid places usually experience a microbe "hibernation" period when the moisture in the soil goes away.
Once the rainy season arrives, those sleeping microbes awake and get back to the work of living and reproducing.
I've been adding organic matter to our soil for 4 years and I am still not happy with the level of organic matter in our soil.
You also need to be adding bacteria and fungi at the same time, that way the microbiome of the soil will improve and odd as it sounds, having a thriving microbiome in the soil means more organic matter will stick around longer.
Yes, I know it's a long way for me to go. I planted a bunch of moringa seeds this week to plant absolutely everywhere as a constant chop and drop source as well as a sun filter for harsh afternoon sun. Hubs brings me organic material whenever he can. A neighbor kid brings me manure, charcoal powder, and coconut hulls. We're planning to go down to the lake and pull out a bunch of lake weed (brackish water) hopefully this week. I burry all kitchen scraps, chicken guts and feathers, blood, bones, hair, fingernails, paper, cardboard, even toilet paper with urine on it . . . Directly into the garden.
I will be planting several hundred vetiver plugs all over for water control and for chop and drop once the rains start. I also chop and carry and drop Jathropa almost every day, putting it into the garden and around the newly planted trees.
I am working on getting a bucket (or better, barrel) to make compost tea to add nutrients and life.
My assumption is that it will take about 10 years to get it where I want it. But I hope to have our own land long before that (if we're still living on campus in 10 years, I'll probably be divorced! Haha).
Also, rabbits and chickens should be here this month. The house is getting close to done. Just needs a door and the roof finished, and the bars on the upper part of the walls. That will add lots of stuff.
I also have compost worms and will be splitting them soon to make a second bin.
You are well on the way and I think you are doing fantastic with your plan (a really good one) just keep going my friend, you will succeed sooner than you think.
Moringa is one of those trees that won't survive where I live but if it would, I'd have at least ten of them growing.
If you can find mushrooms, anywhere, take those that aren't edible and make slurries to pour into your soil, that will do magical things.
When you get the lake weed, don't rinse it, just put it in place.
Keep doing what you are doing and within a couple of years you might be amazed.
once you have chooks (chickens) and bunnies, you will have some really good Nitrogen for composting and the bunny droppings are ready to use fertilizer, no aging required.
Inedible = slimy ones that you would eat if not already decomposing (we buy our button mushrooms in quart paper buckets and a few are just not at peak freshness, those are made into slurries for the land).
On Buzzard's Roost we have quite a few species that are poisonous and then we have; lion's mane and jew's ear that are wild growing plus my mushroom logs of shitake and the oyster varieties.
And our chickens have a fondness for mushrooms as they come up after a rain, they will watch the caps and wait until they are open and ready to drop spores, then those caps are eaten with gusto.
For slurries any mushroom is useable but if they are edibles I only use the ones I wouldn't eat. I am sorry I didn't make my meaning clear.
The best would be to wet the soil, use the slurry then cover with about 4 inches of mulch.
If you use the slurry around existing plants, the fungi will locate the root system and make a home there because of the moisture roots will be bringing into the plant.
cooking the mushroom will kill the spores, once the spores "hatch" and form mycelium (those white strands of the actual fungus) drying out completely will cause hibernation or dormancy, moisture will bring these sleeping fungi back to life.
So no you won't have to re-do, just make additions as you desire from that point where there is mycelium in the soil.
Once there is enough fungi in the soil, the soil will retain more water, the plants will begin to really thrive because the fungi are in the soil allowing for rapid response by bacteria to the exudates from the plants, organic matter will stick around and as it is used as food for the bacteria and fungi, humic acid will be left behind as well as the micro-solids we refer to as humus, the two will condition the soil which means even more water will be retained and organic matter will incorporate better, turning into humus and humic acid sooner.
Your plan will get you to where the soil will become responsive to any moisture that lands on it, including dew.