Thursday, December 27, 2007

When Harvesting is Foraging (Sort Of)

Conventional gardening behavior tells you to pick a plot (away from trees and other plants), pull the weeds and grass up, and mix in some Miracle Gro or something, then grow stuff. Rows of sameness. Ease of harvest. Mmmm...

Not so in the wonderful world of polyculture! Above you can see the "patch" I just started beside our balete (Banyan) tree, containing talinum, uray, pandan, and a barely visible young turmeric. Towards the left lower side is a Pea Eggplant plant. Try to spot them all if you can.

Aside from planning a diverse hortiparty, I also didn't disturb the grass and weeds around the area. The logic is that these plants all require fairly different sorts of nutrients, and do not share the same predators. There are also a myriad of plant interaction processes that we have yet to chronicle. They are thus supposed to thrive amongst each other.

You know how, when you leave a chair out in the lawn, the grass growing around its legs is always longer than the rest of the yard's? Well, when you bunch plants together, there is a sort of fecundity that is encouraged by their natural biological processes and the debris that they produce. While most people would consider this particular space unremarkable and messy, but I find that even at the onset, it requires less watering, and has healthier plants overall.

The uray, which I had grown in a pot, had all these little holes in its leaves prior to transplanting. After throwing it in the motley mix, it was gnawed on no more. The pandan has yielded an amazing number of new leave since transferring-- but I can attribute that to just a general happiness with its new location, out from under the duhat tree where it was getting shat on by its new branch denizen Diego the rooster.

I'm in San Francisco now and can't wait to see how this minimal-care plot will do without me! Three months and more updates.