GREEN MINDED: Thoughts on Philippine Agriculture Today

SUMMER GARDENING IN THE VALLEY

Right after grabbing a cup of coffee; I make rounds in my newly established backyard garden to kick-off my day. It is a warm and pleasant sunny day here in the valley, the sun said: Hello! It’s summer time.

Proper crop management in the garden is required, especially this summer season. Here are few tips in taking good care of your backyard garden this summer.

LAND PREPARATION

During summer season, minimum tillage is more efficient than using the raised-bed technique in land preparation. Minimum tillage is a technique in soil cultivation that selects specific area to work with; cultivation is being done only to the immediate portion where the plant will be planted. This is usually done in cucurbits like squash, cucumber among others.

Compared to the “raised-bed”, minimum tillage technique does not necessarily require plots or beds, though some crops are more efficient in bed. Minimum tillage is suited for summer since water logging or flooding is not an issue during this season.

Lastly, with the burning heat of the sun during summer, field operation is expected to be less favorable, making the minimum tillage more efficient than raised-bed.

MULCHING

Mulching is the process of placing a material or mulch to add another layer above the soil surface. Mulching aims to primarily protect the soil surface and the crop.

There are two major types of mulches based on its material classification: synthetic and organic.  Synthetic mulches are materials that are readily available from industries, the common types of mulches available are: transparent plastic and polyethylene (i.e. black garbage bag). While organic mulch includes dried leaves, weeds, branches, saw-dust, and the likes.

Application of mulch during summer primarily conserves soil moisture; it serves as an insulator by blocking the sun’s radiation to directly hit the soil surface. Thus lessens the evaporation rate of the surrounding air and consequently lessens the transpiration rate of the plant.

The use of leaves such as “madre de cacao” or “kakawate” as mulch being known to contain good amount of Nitrogen, in effect it also serves as fertilizer in the soil. Any other organic material used as mulch, improves the soil profile.

Efficient application of mulch is done near the crop but not in contact with it.

WATERING

Water in plant growth and development is very important.  Since rainy days are over, watering the plant regularly is a must. The warm and dry air of summer can cause artificial and permanent witling to the plants thus causing severe damage and even death.

It is highly encouraged to water the crops on a daily basis; morning or afternoon. Though there are times that watering the crops twice a day is necessary.

Though crop water requirement varies from one crop to another, but, as a rule of thumb, careful observation on the soil moisture can be a good determinant to whether to water the garden or not.

Leo XL Fuentes is a backyard gardener in Compostela Valley that advocates organic agriculture. He earned his degree in Agriculture at the University of the Philippines Los Banos.

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