i was not inspired to see mombai sites (city and all) and got on another train going out to umbergon where bhuskar save‘s farm is.
several things about mombai from the train. i saw skyscrapers. that reminds me on the trip up i saw a lot of farm land, a lot of sugar cane, tamarisks, chicoos (a fruit), rice, lots of stuff i did not recognize, again almost all flat land in use for growing food. i also saw what might have been a nuclear power plant and a huge factory which stank. folks said it was a sugar factory. my main desire on this trip was to really see and learn about india’s 4000 year history of sustainable agriculture. another desire was to travel back in time and see how things used to be before corporations, it is sad to see the corporations coming in here.
again i traveled on sleeper class which means it was a lot of indian family activity. i connected with one family in particular. the mother was wearing a sari and both daughters were in pants and tops. one of the daughters is starting school with a medical specialty in mombai. she plans on being a doctor. it seems that most of the indian women still wear saris. my thought was if you could be a peacock why would you want to look like a wren. and of course this is me who wears my denim uniform all the time, here i am sprucing it up a bit. of course denim survives working in the fields best.
on leaving mombai i was heartened to see a farmer growing vegetables in the strip that in u.s.a. would be the railroad right of way. here it is often covered by shacks made from canvas or metal roofing. he had about 200 x 8 feet of crops which looked like vegetables growing. i saw him working there with his tool which was a special long hoed version of what i call a (hm i forget but it was the hodad tool)
okay on to bhuskar save. he is an elegant gentleman in his 90’s. he talked about how we cannot farm for profit, but must farm for dharma, which i say is service to the earth and our fellow humans. we cannot look at the soil and our crops as objects but rather as working in harmony for a common good. he spoke a lot about earthworms and how during the monsoon season they make 10 times their body weight of good compost with many times the mineral content of the soil they ingest.
his grandson gave me a tour. they speak of plants for the food forest in 3 different categories. one is short term, one intermediate and the other long term. so for example there would be one long term species planted lets say coconut trees which are in the 100 year category. they are planted the correct distance apart, which is huge maybe 30 feet. then in between them are the intermediate plants, in one case maybe bananas. although the bananas die after they produce a crop, they also put up a lot of new plants from their roots. lets say 10 feet in from each row of coconuts would be placed a trench and then on either side of that banana trees. then 15 feet in from the coconuts would be a trench with tomatoes on either side.. then a trench also maybe 5 feet on both sides of the coconuts. then they plant a lot of plants that are shallow rooted next to the coconuts which they use to indicate the need to water. then when the indicator plants wilt they let water down the trenches. one of the most important things emphasized by mr. save was the problem with too much water. so with the trench the water keeps moving down if it is not picked up by the soil in the immediate area. dampness was emphasized as opposed to wet. wet gets the air out of the soil and this stops the microorganisms. capillary action will take care of dispersing the water. balance, balance, balance. after maybe one year the tomatoes would be done, after many years the bananas would come out. the only trench at the point i saw this (35 years later) was the one in the middle or at the 15 foot mark. the capillary action would have no trouble reaching the coconut trees as measured by the plants when they wilted or did not wilt.
I understand what i had done wrong last year with my acre of land. i had wanted to start a healthy chunk of land and see if i could do it pretty much by myself effectively. if i had spent the time i spent watering, mulching instead. the garden would not have been taken over by weeds. i would have needed to get the garden planted in april
there was a section of land where a tree had died and we could see the weeds luxurating in the light.
i have long noticed the when you put manure or compost on land it tends to start a cycle of what i call a bacterial and fungal bloom. if there is too much matter put on (i put on only 1/4 inch) then the bacteria all dye off when the additional nutrients are devoured by them. this means that the soil tilth flattens and the crops cease to grow. so this is the basis of what i am hearing about relying on the earthworms and mulching instead of concentrated compost for the plants. the mulch decomposes very slowly keeping the bacteria active. also planting some nitrogren fixers is also good.
but i had never fully applied this thinking to water. so the water can stop the microbial action. wow what a break through. apparently all the salinization is caused by water and more water.
he also has fields where he does till. more about this next time.
i am heading down to karala next.