JP003 – Building Up Our Soils
In this episode we share some choice passages from Nana Kwame Afrani, Dr. George Washington Carver’s Bulletins, followed by our idealized plan for Building Up Our Soils
- Works Referenced:
- George Washington Carver’s entire body of work
- Specifically we mention Bulletins # 6 and 42
- KRADA: Soul-day of Nana Kwame Afrani (George Washington Carver) – Akan Perspective
- George Washington Carver’s entire body of work
Asante Sana ߊߛߊ߲ߕߌ ߛߣߊ
Medase Paa ߡߍߘߊߛߋ ߔߊ
Modupe O ߡߏߘߎߔߋ ߏ
Thank you for listening to
- Urban Agriculture and Climate Change: “The New Normal”
- Smelling Funk to Power
- Charles Southward
- “God made the Soil, but we made it Fertile”
- Mushrooms as ߛߊ߲ߞߐߝߊ (Sankɔfa)
Peace. I am Mason Olonade and this is Jigjigi Africulture podcast. Here we believe building a healthy soil builds a healthy soul. And we share strategies for how to do both. We now ask two questions. How do you grow while you grow kale, collards, tomatoes and melons? and deeper? Why do you think the healthiest soils are black?
Today our topic is building up our soils. I’m going to share my ideas on how to build up soil for growing food that will yield nutrient dense crops. I will start by sharing choice passages from bulletins number six and 42 by Nana Kwame Afrani, also known as Dr. George Washington Carver and bulletin number six, he writes, “we think it is wise to state here that the chief aim was to keep every operation within reach of the poorest tenant farmer occupying the poorest possible soil worthy of consideration from an agricultural point of view. And to further illustrate that the productive power of all such soils can be increased from year to year until the maximum of fertility is reached.”
He continues, “splendid grazing was furnished all winter with $5 an acre.” Let’s keep in mind that those are 1897 dollars . Later as we continue to read bulletin number six, how to build up one out soils he describes a treatment given to a field that quote,
“had been little to characterize it other than its extreme poorness both as to physical and chemical requirements, close quote. They start by filling in craters and finally living off the land. By quote, filling the ditches with pine tops, hay, bark, old cotton stalks, leaves, etc. In fact, rubbish of any kind that would decay and ultimately make soil.”
close quote. Later stumps were burned. And then finally they plowed many times. This increased quote, “the water holding power of the soil, this appearance and brought to the surface, much latent fertility that had sunken below to the depth to which the roots could penetrate by reason of the hard soil lines so near the surface. For the last two years, the injurious washing has been completely overcome.”
close quote. Nana Afrani has already given us so much to learn from, I myself didn’t understand what is the ability to wash away nutrients until just recently. From here, Nana Afrani introduces the practice of crop rotations. It is very important that the same crops are not grown from year to year, without any difference being grown in the soil. Monogamous croppings take the same things out of the same soils year over a year, eventually dilapidating, depriving and deleting the soil, turning it into dirt. Diseases and disruptive pathogens occupy the land to defend against you from planting there again, while Mother Nature begins to introduce you to resistant weeds while she redevelops the vitality of the soil. Eventually, the year over year farmer goes bankrupt and moves into the city. That’s not the only reason for farmer bankruptcy. But we will discover that in future episodes.
So let’s get back to crop rotations in bulletin number six Nana Afrani had planted in the first spring cow peas spread fertilizer in September, and in the field was re plowed, and oats were sown, sorry, planted cow peas in the spring, spread fertilizer in September. And then the field was then replanted and oats were sown for the fall. They were plowed under in this next and the subsequent spring. And mine was broadcast to quote, correct any acidity which might arise then from the turning under of green manure and to render available such unavailable plant foods as responds to applications of lime. Generally, when you turn these sorts of things over, you are growing things in the soil to
release those nutrients that you grew back into the soil. However, if the pH balance is off, then those same nutrients that you want to give to the plants will be lost. walked away. So by you spreading lime, making the soil a little bit more basic, you can then free up those nutrients that are locked in that green manure and have them available to your soils, especially for the next spring, where he planted where they planted velvet beans and followed by a over a fall over winter a mixture of oats wheat and rye copies followed the next spring, then followed by oats in September, velvet beans followed then that next year that would then bring us to, I believe 1900 wasn’t stated in the text explicitly. Were Nana Afrani reports that at this point, the character of the land was noticeably changed. Instead of the thin gray sandy soil. It began to look dark, rich and mellow due to the gradual deepening of the soil and the incorporation of large quantities of vegetable matter into it, which was so much in need. Even the clay portion was darkening up and becoming quite productive, close quote. Eventually in the text, Nana Afrani recommends it usage of muck from the swamp.
In the next bulletin number 42 titled, how to build up and maintain the virgin fertility of our soils. He goes into further prescriptive detail instead of descriptive detail. I highly recommend at least the reading of these documents if not studying these documents, especially the latter number 42. Because it was written so that every farmer can quote, master the problems of when, with what and how shall I fertilize my crops in such a manner as to produce the maximum yield and do it with the least financial expense and least injury to the soil. bulletin number six was published in 1905. bulletin number 42 in 1936.
In it Nana Afrani he writes, quote, no fertilizer or system of fertilization to date has been found that will build up the land as effectively, cheaply and permanently as farmyard manure. In addition to this farmyard manure, there are also many thousands of tons of the finest fertilizers going to waste all over the South, in the form of decaying leaves of the forest, and the rich sediment of the swamp known as muck. Every idle moment should be put in gathering up these fertilizers, close quote, would find recommendations. In this document he also describes creating your own compost however, I won’t read that section in this episode, but instead it will be in the episode titled composts and fermentation. I’ve read none of He’s works here because his work is still relevant and to this day and not much has changed. However, one thing has, I would not recommend tilling or plowing and I will explain why.
Our first philosophical tenant here at Jigijigi is that the soil is alive. We go into this further in our philosophical backgrounds episode. In short, we acknowledge the verifiable existence of soil borne bacteria fungi, and other microbial life. When combined with worms, nematodes, weeds, dormant seeds, other bugs and animals, we make up a soil microbial community. Until very recently, I had only held this from a philosophical meaning unobserved position. Unfortunately, I have witnessed and lamented the effects of tilling and converse I’m now very excited for the opportunity to put my philosophy into practice and prepare by repairing the soil and moving it towards better than I left it. Like I established, I have come into the care I’ve had. Excuse me, like I established I’ve come into the care of about 1200 square feet of, or 1200 square feet is about 111 square meters 1200 square feet of a city backyard plot that had previously been tended to very well. The soil felt almost fluffy under our feet, just like walking on a sand dune. Imagine the memory foam commercials when they put their hands in. The land also felt good.
Immediately. We were filled with excitement, ideas and joy. We couldn’t believe our fortune. To make a long story short, I visited our city plot one day to bring coffee For compost and I was beyond this made somewhat common tilled up all 1200 square feet. The land was now dry, sterile, and worst of all, it felt terrible and emotional wound lasts and cuts deeper. Generally. However, a collective divine effort from our ancestors had returned the land to us two days after June 10 on the summer solstice, divine alignments. Now we will put into action, our plan of building up our soils. Our technique rests on our chief availability time. Our techniques are not recommended for farmers that need to turn over profit in the same calendar year. If you need that quick money, please follow the exact protocol laid out by Nana Kwame Afrani Dr. George Washington Carver.
What follows is an ideal idealized, maybe idyllic and ever changing plan, based on what I knew up until Saturday, June 29 2019, when this episode was prepared. Step one, let weeds grow to ankle height. Step two. Remove clovers or other nitrogen fixing legumes such as vetches from the soil into parts with that lands soil. Inspect the roots of these fixers to verify the presence of nodules that contain the fixing bacteria. If they don’t leave them for step four. Step three. Wait for rain. Step Four. cover soil with tarp to solarize the soil. The solarization and the moisture will begin to degrade the weeds. They won’t be able to grow in the dark and will begin to baking in the heat bugs. Most notably earthworms will come and begin fertilizing the soil for you. If tarps are unavailable, mow as close to the soil and leave clippings in rows. Step Five. Adjust tarps periodically to remove standing water and verify earthworm recruit recruitment. Step six. keep typing place until the soil is bare. Step seven. plant seeds in rows, or in gives me step seven. plant seeds and now bare soil and cover them. If possible, cover with glass grass. If possible, cover with grass clippings, leaf mulch, straw, whatever. Step eight. thin out seeds and space plants accordingly. Step nine. Repeat steps one through eight for areas that haven’t been touched when rain is unavailable, spray water or type in the early morning after morning do. Step 10. Spread prepared composts over spaced plants. We distribute clovers to rows or other walking paths. Step 11. Harvest plants at the end of this season. terminate crops by cutting off the stems right at the base of the soil. Dry the stem or trunk break up, break it up into smaller pieces and redistribute over or into soil. Save the main stem for straw, compost or trellising. Step 12. Select and seed winter slash fall cover crops. Step 13. terminate fall and winter cover crops and plant mustards and radishes in the early spring. Step 14. Repeat steps seven through 14 at every step seven and 14 soils should be sent for testing To be extremely rigorous with this testing, SAP analysis SAP analysis rather should be conducted at peak vegetative stage, early fruiting stage and pre harvest stage to be to correct any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.
these techniques, these steps will ensure minimum disturbance of the soil. There are a wide and ever widening variety of plants within a no till organic space that will do mechanical and even chemical work better than we can. Some of these plants are described in the episode titled many plant wonders by leaving plants in the soil and having the winter kill them. Their roots will shrivel up and leave tunnels for future roots to occupy. Future channels for air and water to travel through, and future nutrients for the soil macrobiota to consume.
When you work with the soil, you nourish you. If you have any questions or comments, please email me. firstname.lastname@example.org leave us a five star review on iTunes. And lastly we say Asante Sana, Medase P Modupe O. Thank you for listening to Jigijigi.