5 Ancient Farming Practices That Are Worth Trying

It is always interesting to see the advancements of modern gardening practices. But that does not mean that older methods of planting can be forgotten. A number of centuries-old techniques can still be adapted by small-scale farmers or home gardeners for better plant growth. Here are some of them:

Floating Garden
The idea of floating garden has existed long long time ago. Aztec Indians are believed to have implemented this farming method for their crops. According to historians, sand-covered rafts served as floating gardens where squash and beans were grown. This creates an efficient delivery system for water and nutrients. The system is self-watering and self-fertilizing. Fish bring nutrient rich water to the plants while plants create food for the fish. More than that, it is very productive. This age old method of planting can also be a great way to protect crops from animals. For those with lakes or ponds, this proven old technique is definitely worth considering.

Clay Pot Irrigation
Watering can be a tricky thing. But in today’s world, modern devices exist that allow you to more efficiently use water. Water timers and controllers come in many different configurations. Some even allow you to control irrigation based on weather patterns. However, you may prefer to use a more traditional method of irrigation. If so, thenn this centuries-old technique is worth trying. The concept is simple. Unglazed, burried clay pots are used to provide constant drip irrigation. The porous nature of clay pots allows water to seep through the wall of the burried pots when the soil dries. Plants are grown around the base of the pot. Because the water source is in the ground, this little known watering system can help reduce water loss through evaporation.

The Incan terrace farming system is known to be very productive and efficient in terms of water use. Today’s gardeners can tap into this ancient strategy to make the most productive use of their sloping gardens. Leveling or terracing a sloping garden helps reduce erosion and allow rainwater to seep into the soil. It also makes gardening easier. Since it allows planting at different levels, you can irrigate different areas at different times. A great way to create several mini-gardens in your backyard. Terracing a sloping yard may not be as easy as it sounds. Every garden is unique and requires a different build approach. However, it is well worth the effort. A range of materials — treated wood, bricks, rocks — can be used to form the retaining walls.

Lithic Mulching
As the name implies, lithic mulch or rock garden is to cover the ground with a layer of stones. Ancient Rapanui people are believed to have implemented this strategy to reduce soil erosion from wind and water. Prehistoric lithic-mulch gardens also have positive effects on soil moisture and soil temperature. Compared to bare soil, less water evaporates from lithic-mulched soil. Unlike organic mulches, lithic mulchs do nothing to improve soil structure. That said, using this strategy, fluctuations in soil temperature can be reduced. The rock material acts as a solar collector during the day and then releases that heat energy into the soil at night. It also prevents soil temperature from becoming too hot during the day. This is possible because rough surface increases wind turbulence.

This soil-building method was first discovered by Amazonian tribes. Basically, Biochar is produced by slowly burning organic matter under oxygen starved conditions. The porous nature of biochar enables soil to retain water and plant nutrients much longer than unimproved soil. It also serves as a habitat for many beneficial organisms. Another environmental benefit of biochar is that it is carbon negative, meaning it can keep carbon out of the atmosphere. There is scepticism about the effectiveness of biochar as a soil enhancer and a reliable carbon storage. As a gardener, it is up to you whether or not to adapt this ancient knowledge to the needs of your land.

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