Basket Composts For Your Vegetables
Would you like to use your kitchen leftovers and biodegradable garbage-like peelings of squash, banana, and pineapple; stalks of malunggay; unusable leaves of cabbage and pechay – as fertilizer for your vegetables and other crops planted in your garden?
It’s easy. Just build basket composts. “Basket composting is the process by which your home garbage, garden and farm waste and leguminous plants are allowed to rot in baskets which are half buried in garden plots,” explains Roy C. Alimoane, director of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Inc. in Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
Basket composting is a central feature of the, Food Always In The Home (FAITH), a vegetable gardening technology which the MBRLC has developed. “This type of gardening can provide the necessary protein, vitamins, and mineral requirements needed by a family with six members,” Alimoane says.
The main purpose of basket compost, as he calls it, is “to directly use plant nutrients that can be derived from the rotting materials for home food production.” Among the benefits you can get from basket composting are the following:
• You can immediately use the basket compost without waiting for the usual three- to four-month period, as is necessary in the old method of composting.
• The method requires less work because you don’t need to turn the -composting materials from time to time.
• Your home and its surroundings will become cleaner because garbage and wastes are collected and decomposed in compost baskets.
• There is higher vegetable crop production at less cost aside fromthe fact that vegetables are grown organically.
The materials for basket composting are available right in your backyard. Any old round baskets of at least one foot in diameter and one foot in height can be used for making basket compost. Stakes or wire may also be used by forming them into shapes of found baskets. “The purpose of the basket is to hold your composting materials in . place and chickens could not disturb them,” Alimoane says.
All home organic garbage, farm and garden wastes, weeds and grasses which can be gathered while cleaning and preparing your garden plots may be used as composting materials. Leaves of nitrogen-fixing species like ipil-ipil, kakawate, Flerningia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, and Indigofera anil, are excellent’ materials for basket composting. And any dried farm manures are good source of rotting organisms and nitrogen.
The procedure of making basket compost may be modified or improved. But generally, according to MBRLC, this is how it is done.
Clean the garden site and prepare the garden plots thoroughly (save weeds and grasses for composting materials later on). Make holes in the prepared garden plots large enough to accommodate the size of the baskets. The baskets, which are half-buried in the holes, should be one meter apart..
Place the decomposed garbage and manure into the basket first to avoid being exposed. The undecomposed materials like leaves of ipil-ipil. grasses, and weeds are placed into the basket last.
If the materials placed at the bottom are almost decomposed, you can immediately plant your seeds or seedlings 2-3 inches outside the baskets. Do not plant inside the basket as you will put garbage and undecomposed materials from time to time.
If the materials placed in the basket are green leaves, plant your seeds or seedlings 2-3 weeks later. This will give the materials enough time to start decomposing. If you use green leaves of ipil-ipil, you need at least 5 kilos per basket. Add kilograms of leaves every two weeks. In this way, you need not to buy commercial fertilizer for your crops.
As a rule of thumb, water only at the center of the basket instead of watering the plants. The lower part of the basket is moist, and has abundant nutrients for your vegetables. Later on, the root will grow into the basket.
Unlike the old method of composting, you don’t need to turn the rotting materials. Just keep on adding new and undecomposed materials every now and then.
“After harvesting your garden crops, remove the contents of the baskets and spread them evenly around the baskets, working the decomposed materials into the soil,” Alimoane instructs. “This will act as a starter for the next plants until roots are able to penetrate into the baskets where abundant plant feeds are available.”
By the way, among the vegetables which have been successfully grown with the use of basket composting are tomatoes, sweet peppers, soybeans, sweet corn, string beans, squash, eggplants, green onions, okra, pechay, and asparagus.
If you have questions regarding basket composting or FAITH gardening, write the MBRLC through this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Henrylito D. Tacio