Gardening Talks ft. amulyaboondh

For a gardener, the first step in gardening is the selection & conditioning of soil. Soil is the most important part of a plant’s life. As we all know healthy soil yields a healthy plant. So, a common question arises, what is the best soil and what does it comprise? Well, we are going to answer some very interesting questions on soil types, their components, and much more.

Tune in to our YouTube channel and watch Gardening Talks held on 15th October Dr. Aarati Bhandare who has answered those questions for you. She is the founder/director of amulya boondh foundation, a NGO registered under companies act 8. She is Working for water conservation and sustainable living since 2015. You can connect with her on her Instagram page where she shares a lot about gardening and sustainable living. Her Instagram handle is “amulyaboondh” https://bit.ly/3RN4BDF

Questions to be answered:

  1. What does soil comprise?
  2. What is organic or living soil?
  3. What causes harm to soil or how does soil deteriorate?
  4. What organic matter can be added to soil to bring it back to life?
  5. What is the chop and drop method of gardening and the importance of mulch?
  6. Is repotting needed? If yes, when and the method of doing it? 

Aarati and her Sustainable Life:

“Hello and good afternoon everyone, welcome to the Gardening Talks featuring amulyaboondh. Today we will be understanding the composition of soil or we also call it Soil Conditioning, and to explain it to us and answer some very interesting questions about Soil we have Dr. Aarati Bhandare joining us today. Hello Aarati, how are you?” Asked Zehra. “Hi Zehra, Hi everyone. I am doing great and thank you for having me here. It’s my pleasure talking to you, thank you to the Affordable Organic Store  for organizing this wonderful session.” Said Aarati. 

“Before going further with the session, let me tell you all about Aarati. So Aarati is a founder of an NGO called Amulya Boondh Foundation and she is working for water conservation and sustainable living, she also shares a lot of information about sustainable practices on her social media platform. So, before we go on with the questions, Aarati we would like to know a little about yourself and your sustainability journey?” Asked Zehra. 

“First of all thank you for having me over. I won’t give you my sad or my victim story, just in 2016 my mother-in-law suffered from breast cancer, she had to go through a very painful treatment and when I went to introspect her I found that she was a very healthy person who was not into eating in organic food or chemical food. And that’s what made me think what would be the possible causes for this after that, I realize that the immortality of plastic is the cause. The way we are killing the soil and are consuming pesticide-laden food in the name of god. That’s when, I began sustainable leaving and I started removing all the chemical fertilizers or the growth fertilizers from my house I decided that even if the plants die, it’s okay but I am not going to feed them with chemicals. So, by profession, I am a Dentist, as you can judge by my shiny teeth. But soil, Sustainable living, and Eco-friendly living tempted me more than a good-paying job as a Dentist.” Said Aarati. 

“That’s an inspiring story, we consciously and unconsciously consume a lot of chemicals that do deteriorate our health in one way or another and for some, they affect more than others. So, it’s always wise to be on the healthier side. So, beginning with the questions.” Said Zehra. 

 

  • “What does soil comprise of?” Asked Zehra.

“Inspiring from my journey, I would say if you like life, you love soil there are a host of small, medium, and large organisms that live in soil including birds, mammals, and insects, considering just one teaspoon of soil has as many bacteria or more the number of microorganisms that are living in the planet and therefore I think that’s soil is a topic that we should discuss more and protect more soil, it is not about the five key ingredients like gas water or the minerals or the organic contents the organism living in it we should be aware that soil has life within. Talking about Soil:

  1. Depending on the mineral content in the soil, we call it clay, silt, or sand. We do talk about them but we are not aware of the difference between clay, silt, or sand, as the amount of these contents defines the Soil Texture.
  2.  Soil is the greatest of all ecosystem services that provides retention of water, the soil is the only medium with stores and provides water for plants and it prevents floods by transferring water slowly to the streams.
  3.  Soil also provides a habitat for a large diversity of life on earth.
  4.  As Madras High Court has given living status to nature. So, soil comprises Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, these are the main components apart from that, there are Sulphur, Magnesium, Copper, and other micro & micronutrients available in the soil. So, the soil comprises Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.” Said Aarati. 

 

  • “What is Organic or Living Soil?” Asked Zehra.

“So, living soil means a community of microorganisms breaking down into organic matter which in turn provides valuable nutrition. To understand the concept of leaving the soil, you can smell the soil. You will be able to smell the fresh fragrance of the soil and it is not dry, as the soil is porous and it is not compact. It is said that the darker the shade of the soil, the more organic contents are in the soil. As you will be able to witness many microorganisms under the soil. Talking about the Purchased soil from outside, which is very dry and which you feel like sending to the hospital for treatment because they don’t look good for any plant. So living soil is a combination of organic materials like compost, cocopeat, cocopeat moss, trees, barks, manure, and vermicomposting. There is a method called as Eucal culture method, in this method the dead tree leaves and barks twigs are chopped off and their lead on in your Garden bed then they put your compost manure cocopeat & cocopeat moss, and then they plant the sapling in that garden bed. The bottom garden bed decomposes and generates the best quality soil after 30-40 days, and that is referred to as Living Soil. 

Living soil is where a lot of activities are going inside the soil and it should not be a dead process. For example, if you are given two options, plain Vanilla ice cream or layered chocolate vanilla ice cream with jelly and toppings, you would prefer the second option, the same does for plants. The slow and steady process is leaching the nutrients and minerals for becoming a better growth medium for plants.” Said Aarati. 

 

  • “What causes harm to Soil and how does Soil deteriorate?” Asked Zehra.

“Talking about my best friends, yes they are not Geeta, Sita, or Rita but their Earthworms are best for the soil because they do the job and they don’t demand anything in return. Regarding the deterioration of the soil, it is the opposite, people usually prefer exotic plants which are high-maintenance plants requiring a lot of pesticides & fertilizers and that is the reason for the deterioration of the soil. We put access to several fertilizers or pesticides in the soil for the faster growth of the plant, which eventually leads to the spoiling of the soil because we do not add organic contents like manure and compost to the soil for better growing conditions the plant. Deterioration of the soil is due to the use and the exuberant exploitation of pesticides overgrazing and the use of chemical fertilizers or growth fertilizers. 

Soil erosion is the most common cause of soil deterioration, to prevent it, the best thing is to give a good layer of mulch over the soil. For mulching, you can use Polypropylene plastic or dry leaves, or half-done compost to cover the top exposed layer of the soil. 

  1. I have attended a program by Padmashree Guruji Subhash Palekar who is known as the father of natural farming, where there is zero amount of pesticides used while farming. He suggested the seven applications of Jivamrit also known as ‘Catalytic agent’ and patience. The things you need for Jivamrit are Desi cow and Cow urine (Gomutra).
  2.  Go Krupa Amrutam is patented by Guruji Gopal Bhai Sutariya. He was a diamond Merchant from Surat but one day he realized that Indian cows are being exploited for milk and we are losing the Indian variety of cows to some other country cows. Go Krupa Amrutam does not have a self-life you can take 1 liter of concentrate and from that, you can make 100 liters.
  3. Kalki is a bio culture that has shown excellent results, and that is a cow dung-based product.” Said Aarati.

 

  • “What organic matter can be added to soil to bring it back to life?” Asked Zehra.

“We can use earthworms. In the first method, rather than burning the dry leaves we can use them by stacking the dry leaves in the corner, spraying water on them to make them moist, and then putting 1 liter of Jivamrit, if you don’t have Jivamrit use the cow dung of Desi cow. Keep them in a Shady place, not in extreme sunlight and after 60-70 days you will be able to notice earthworms. In the second method, you can dig a pit and fill the pit with cow dung and cover it up after 30-40 days you will be able to notice earthworms in cow dung. You can also use vermicomposting, as it requires kitchen waste, soil, and time to become great manure for the plant.” Said Aarati. 

 

  • “What is the chop and drop method of gardening and the importance of mulch?” Asked Zehra.

“So according to Guruji Subhash Palekar, it is said that nothing is useless even the dry leaves twigs, and the remains while pruning the plants you can chop those branches and those twigs and drop them in the soil this will act as a merge for the soil since the soil will be able to leach the nutrients and the minerals needed for the growth. So according to the Chop and drop method, it is said that just dropping the foliage on the ground, the plant remains breakdown into compost right at the soil level. So, when you are preparing your garden for the next season, the cut plants are already decomposed. The root will stay still beneath the soil, you can also be covered with mulch so that those small twigs and chopped branches won’t fly away with the wind.” Said Aarati. 

 

  • “Is repotting needed? If yes, when and the method of doing it?” Asked Zehra.

“I specifically wanted to answer this question, I started gardening 8 years ago. So I read about this and I practice, some points to be kept in mind when to repotting are:-

  1. That only root-bound pots, when roots start to come out of the drain holes.
  2. The plants have started to build big and bushy.
  3. The plants are not going well, they are infected by pests
  4. The plants have become too heavy for the pot to hold 
  5. The most important point is that it is more than 18 months since you planted the plant, only then do you have to repot the plant into a new pot. 

While repotting you are not required to throw the soil rather keep it aside. During repotting add good soil and put organic contents, compost, cocopeat, moss, and worm castings in the soil. Regarding that old soil, take a 25-liter bucket and fill the bucket with the old soil and keep it in a place neither shady nor in extreme sunlight for 4-6 weeks, this method is called Solarization. And after 4-6 weeks add organic contents like compost, worm casting, cow dung, etc., and mix it thoroughly the soil has regained its power and can be used again for potting the plants.” Said Aarati.

 “Thank you so much Aarati, for this wonderful and very detailed explanation, and for solving all our doubts. We will like to see your compost bins and soil the next time.” Said Zehra.

Thank you so much Aarati!

“Thank you, everyone, for being in this workshop. I hope you have enjoyed the session. Thank you Aarati for giving us your valuable time. Thank you all for joining the workshop.”

HAPPY GARDENING!

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