Sergio Santoro wrote:Oh my, so much time has passed since. Well, I must say that some things are growing great, some less.
I'll post pictures soon. For now I'll say that in the meantime I converted that whole row into hillbeds (what's wrong with the English term, by the way? Hügel just means hill).
As you know, most of the cores of my hillbeds were constituted of already rotten wood, sometimes the crumbs of it, as I don't need that garden to last; in fact it might become a parking space soon. Otherwise there were banana trunks in them, too. I think the banana trunks decomposed too fast, leaving caves in my beds. Or so I think. The other day I was checking the moisture under the mulch, and my fingers were touching nothing at some point.
The mulch itself is a 3" layer of rice hulls charcoal, mixed with compost or manure tea and everything, but that is another thing I won't do in the future. They say biochar is great for retaining humidity, but that must be when it's IN the soil, not on it. It just dries up right away, and, for what I know, it sucks the moisture up from the rest of the hillbed. I really need some fine, uniform layer for the most external mulch, like grass clippings, but I don't have a lawn. I thought the rice hulls would be that layer, and I sowed in it, then covered everything loosely with some dried grass chopped under the perimeter of the electric fence, that when dried, was still shading the seeds some, but now that the plants are grown, the long fibers are making it very hard to plant or weed in between. Most seeds didn't even sprout, due to the constant drenched/bone-dry condition of the rice hulls mulch.
What I do have is a barrel full of sawdust infused with molasses and pancagavya (a mixture of fermented cow dung, urine, milk, yogurt, clarified butter and sugar water). I was actually trying to make bokashi saw dust to use as an ornamental, uniform mulch, but I used way too much molasses, and boy that stuff smells like ammonia. I take it to be a great source of Nitrogen, Calcium and Iron. One shovelful in a whole wheelbarrow of water. I drench the garden and use the solids to mulch around target plants. I just began that, I'll let you know. Other than that, I have okra growing, great chilies, tomatoes, but growing way too slow compared to the ones someone else is growing in our greenhouse. Also, I had chickpeas interspersed everywhere for Nitrogen, until I read the post about N and legumes, and it turns out legumes provide N when tilled in with their rotting stems, not much while alive. No wonder most of my plants were N deficient. The chickpeas were the most successful this time, meaning the grew lush up to one foot tall... before turning yellow and dying. I guess they are mulching now. To top it all off, I have some very annoying, black, fruit fly looking bugs that are sucking the lymph out of everything.
Anyway, in Nicaragua right now, I'll go back to Costa Rica tomorrow and try to take pictures to share with whoever else is embarking into permaculture this side of the planet, or for others to tell me how to improve.