Find out more about our organic or natural vegetable garden
Choosing so-called "organic" methods to maintain your vegetable garden (and your garden) is favorable to respect for the environment and beneficial to animal and plant biodiversity.
The vegetable garden is indeed a true ecosystem whose balance is however fragile and it is advisable to preserve it by good practices for the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Choosing to improve your soil using simple methods and encouraging the symbiosis of plants, animals and micro-organisms allows you to produce healthy vegetables and reduce your consumption of fertilizers and phytosanitary products, these practices generally require more time, require a lot of experimentation and observation, but bring many satisfactions.
Industrial farming relies on add-ons that focus on improving the efficiency of a specific part of the system: yield, size, durability, growth rate, trawl area, harvest speed, etc. Continuing to treat the farm like an isolated industrial machine will lead to profound negative impacts. Resource inputs should be a concern, but current practices actually degrade the environment on which food production relies. By pursuing a one-way, extractive approach to modern agriculture, vast amounts of soil are depleted and no longer productive.
This approach therefore does not apply to a complex and natural system such as an organic farming farm. The system of such a farm relies on interactions with the natural ecosystem as a whole. For example, crops need insects to pollinate, surface and ground water to irrigate, microbes to recycle nutrients, and soil to provide a strong and fertile growing medium…
Cultivation, traditional method
On our land we have very clay soil. The soil must be manually and gently turned over 15 to 20 cm by digging or ploughing. The clods will burst under the action of frost, or rain in the case of our farm in Thailand. We can then spread manure or compost, well decomposed, which will notably undergo the beneficial action of earthworms and the very many microorganisms in the soil.
In organic farming, it is not recommended to leave the soil bare in winter or during periods of drought, particularly because of erosion… The pitchfork and rake, or even the hook, will allow you to crumble and lighten the earth on the surface.
Le travail du sol, la méthode que nous aimerions promouvoir dans l'avenir
“Organic” method or TCS (simplified culture technique)
For our permanent cultivation beds and vegetable patch we no longer plow. This “no-till” method allows less disturbance of the life of the soil but must be accompanied by an input of organic matter (manure, compost, mulch) in order to enrich the soil and promote a loose and living layer on the surface.
Many gardeners who are interested in organic farming for their well-being are already adopting the ecological fork, also called grelinette, to aerate/decompact the soil instead of turning it over. This method is not suitable for all soil and crop types. For heavy soils (clayey, loamy) or for crops such as potatoes, plowing is still necessary in order to loosen the soil more deeply. The eco-friendly fork not only saves the life of the soil but also your back!
The grelinette, also called a bio-spade, is a gardening tool using the lever principle, the handles are very long to give power and make the task easier for the gardener. It was invented by André Grelin (1906-1982) who obtained the patent for it in 1964.
Different ways to improve, nourish... even protect the soil...
Soil improvement stimulates animal life and micro-organisms that participate in the transformation of organic matter into humus, this allows the assimilation of nutrients by plants and the aeration of the soil by earthworms.
• Green manures for example – vegetables:
(phacelia, mustard, vetch, crimson clover, etc.): these plants capture nutrients from the soil or nitrogen from the air for legumes (clover, vetch, alfalfa) and release them afterwards. Their roots also help aerate the soil.
• Compost :
The ideal compost will be composed of one third of organic matter rich in nitrogen (lawn clippings, fruit and vegetable waste) and two thirds of more carbonaceous matter (dry leaves, straw or crushed branches) all stirred several times in the year, moistened if necessary and installed directly on the ground. Spread the compost the following spring and mix it into the soil.
• Manure – animal excrement:
they are found dehydrated in powder or granules, mixed with potting soil or in bulk from farmers. Prefer horse or cattle manure. They offer a balanced supply and above all organic matter. Guanos are very concentrated in nitrogen and should be used with care. Buffalo and chicken droppings are used.
• Mulch and rice husk:
on the same principle as compost, mulches decompose on the ground more or less quickly depending on their nature (see next paragraph for details).
In the rainy season we use rice husk to better drain the soil.
• Compost Tea:
Lutte en douceur contre les maladies et les parasites et favorise la symbiose des différents organismes.
•Natural farming: fermented and repellent fruits
With natural farming, we find solutions adapted to the majority of the ailments or needs of the vegetable garden. (organic fertilizers, repellents, collecting microorganisms etc.) Many plants are known for their beneficial action (preventive, curative, repellent). But be careful, despite everything these are active solutions which can be harmful in overdose) For fruit trees we also give them compost and animal excrement but small woods are what they prefer.
Chemical treatments are often simple to apply and effective… but they can harm animal life or micro-organisms that are useful or necessary to the garden’s ecosystem. Stimulate the natural defenses of plants, divert, deter or even destroy pests, slow down or even prevent the proliferation of fungi… Here are some common sense practices resulting from the observation of the garden for centuries and whose recent studies tend to show the ‘efficiency.
Crop rotation to avoid soil depletion
Recultivating a plant of the same family in the same place throughout the year impoverishes the soil in elements specific to it. In addition, diseases or pests may still be present in the soil, thus favoring new contamination.
It is therefore natural that crop rotation is essential.
This rotation will be organized according to the 6 groups:
– tuber vegetables (potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes)
– root vegetables (radishes, carrots, turnips, etc.)
– leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, cabbage, leek, etc.) nitrogen consumers
– seed vegetables from the legume family (beans, peas, etc.) which provide nitrogen
– fruit vegetables (tomato, eggplant, squash, etc.) which consume nitrogen
– bulb vegetables (garlic, onion,…)
Association de cultures, des plantes qui s'entre-aident
Faire cohabiter des plantes ensembles doit se faire de façon raisonnée. Les substances dégagées par certaines plantes (dans l’air ou le sol) déroutent ou repoussent les prédateurs d’autres plantes. Ainsi le poireau repousse la mouche de la carotte, et inversement, ou encore l’œillet d’Inde protège vos pieds de tomates de certains nuisibles. Parmi les plantes ” amies ” les plus connues on trouve le souci, le basilic, lavande, sauge, armoise…
« Les Trois Sœurs » par exemple, sont des plantes compagnes plantées ensemble dans un espace partagé : maïs, haricots et courges… Développées grâce à des pratiques agricoles autochtones, ces trois plantes se protègent et se nourrissent mutuellement de différentes manières au fur et à mesure qu’ils grandissent et fournissent une alimentation solide à leurs cultivateurs. »
And there you have it, a first solution to the problem of growing our vegetables in the rainy season, above-ground cultivation (cultivation bed) But always by applying the good principles of natural agriculture...
At Suwan Organic Farmstay during the rainy season, it is more difficult for us to grow vegetables, and we have had to opt for a diversification of our activities.