Organic farming is easier said than done in the Philippine context. Not that it is highly impossible to engage in such form of farming but due to the fact that there is no precise silver bullet in introducing it to the Filipino people.
Organic gardening is not just about using what is natural and making use of everything that the environment has to offer. But one must consider also that shifting into an organic form of food production simply means a temporary disruption of your cropping cycle, needless to say, shedding ample amount of money in order to go for the organic way.
As a farmer, I made an intensive research about organic farming and mind you I fell in love with it and started to dream of having my own total organic garden. I read a lot of stuff about organic gardening, from composting, vermiculture and compost tea making, DIY organic pesticides and etc. Google and Youtube became my best friends when it comes to my online research about organic gardening approach.
“Now is the perfect time to start my organic garden”, I told myself, thinking that I already have the needed knowledge when it comes to organic farming. Since then, a gradual shift of gardening approach was implemented – from a conventional inorganic gardening to a total organic form.
The shift is way difficult compared to what I was expecting. If before a thousand okra planted in my garden can produce a minimum of 15 kilos of okra pods, now that I am doing the natural and organic way of cultivating okra, I could barely get 7 kilos each scheduled harvest. Also added to the injury was the invasion of pests that were lurking around during the inorganic days of my farm.
So what is the implication of the above scenario? It clearly shows that shifting to organic from an inorganic way of producing food is not as simple as A,B,C as what other organic advocates wanted to show. Shifting into an organic garden/farm is totally involving risk and a considerable amount of investment to become more effective in implementing the shift.
For one, you need to know the extent of the needed soil rehabilitation when you shift to organic farming from an intensive inorganic method. To do this, you must have your soil be analyzed by the government’s department of agriculture or any accredited soil laboratory near you. The result of the soil analysis will tell you the exact nutrients needed by your soil and some other recommendations that must be done during the soil rehabilitation process.
As a general rule and basing on my experience, I let my soil to take at least 2 months of rest, no planting, no anything during this period except allowing all the grasses and other seeds to grow freely in my garden. The two months of rest is what I called the temporary disruption phase of my cropping cycle –for obvious reason nothing can be harvested from my garden except the weed.
After the recommended soil rest, we then go to land preparation. Again since we are advocating organic approach, we have to ignore the use of herbicides such as the Round-up, clear-out and the likes. All we have to do is use our grass cutter or do manual pruning and once the garden is clear that will be the time to plow or pulverize the soil.
After pulverizing the soil of your garden, we move to the second phase of soil re-conditioning. Start revitalizing the soil by way of putting considerable amount of compost / vermicasts or if possible spraying concentrated compost tea all over the area. Again, let your garden to rest for at least a month while constantly pulverizing/plowing your garden –this is to prevent grass from growing.
After a total of at least 3 months of rest, your garden is now ready to be planted. Prior to the introduction of seeds or seedlings to your garden, it is highly recommended to moist your garden thoroughly but not to the extent of flooding it.
From there is where the real dilemma started to annoy the newbie organic gardeners… Why? Find-out more in Organic Farming in the Philippines – Part 2.. Coming Soon.