Natural Farming

I’ve always said I was an organic farmer with the little patch of agriculture I have in my backyard. Since the pandemic, I dug up the land around my house to use as a garden. It has been mildly successful.

My cousin was an uber organic farmer, going as far as composting human waste – well out of my comfort zone. Currently, he is a guest of the Bureau of Prisons, a federal outfit. And because of this, we have become pen pals.

I kept him up to date with my gardening adventures and he suggested a book about natural farming. I was intrigued. I figured natural farming meant organic farming, but it was something completely different.

Natural farming was a technique developed by a Japanese man named Masanobu Fukuoka. He believes one should let nature take its course – as the Lord intended – instead of using pure science and unsustainable farming techniques of modern America, which in the long term, are not sustainable. While Mr. Fukkuoka does not come out and say it, it makes sense that the Lord developed all this for a reason.

Natural farming has four rules:

  • No plowing or tilling of soil
  • No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost; one should use clover or other cover crops as a ground cover.
  • No weeding by tillage or herbicides; to combat weeds, one should use straw mulch, clover, or temporary flooding; the goal should be controlling weeds, not eliminating them
  • No dependence on chemicals for gardening

Instead of adding to the soil with anhydrous ammonia and other chemicals, Mr. Fukuoka says you should use plants to add goodness to the soil, which in turn, also nourish the soil microbes that make plant life possible – without happy microbes, your soil is not healthy. Not only is it cheaper, but it much more efficient than the chemicals and “organic fertilizers” from the store. It has completely changed how I look at my garden.

Man made MiracleGro. God made the natural world. Which would you trust?

A more modern term for what I’m doing is permaculture. I hope to have a food forest in my backyard in the coming years. I’m interplanting other plants that add things to the soil or deter pests among my garden vegetables. Instead of getting a truckload of mulch delivered, I decided to have a “living mulch” in the form of the humble clover.

Clover makes a great groundcover and provides the soil with nitrogen, an element needed for leafy growth. I put it in both my garden and the lawn. I even tried my hand at planting rice in the garden. The plants grew, but they haven’t made any seed heads yet.

The real magic will take place this winter: I am overcropping. Instead of leaving my beds fallow over the winter, they will be fields of rye and hairy vetch. These grain/legumes will add more nitrogen to the soil, improve soil quality, keep erosion at bay, and nourish the spring plantings.

While I am still quite new at all this, I hope to take all the lessons I learned this year and apply them fully to next year’s garden.

And the best part? I’m growing food using nature as God intended.

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