A garden at home is the desire of many people but still there are many reasons that prevent doing so: lack of time, lack of space, back pain or just not knowing where to start. But food quality is much easier than it might seem that at first. Twenty years ago, Gaspar Caballero de Segovia began to experiment on his farm in Mallorca with the aim of achieving an easy way to grow vegetables. The result is a method in words of the creator "surprised by how easy, enjoyable and effective, which is getting organic vegetables in a minimum area of land with minimal water consumption and a minimum work of planting and maintenance".
This method is called "Parades in Crestall" and is based on five principles:
1. Do not step on the soil where you grow
The organisms that live in soil and plant roots are the workforce that will be used to achieve a good structure. They are responsible for removing the soil and build galleries for air and water moving in the right way. To avoid damage to the environment, it is always recommended avoiding stepping on and work the area cultivated. The size of the "stop" will allow us to access all their points without having to set foot inside. In the same way we leave a space of 1 m from a stop and to move between them.
2. Constant humidity
It is achieved with the installation of an irrigation system within tape stops. This system delivers very small amounts of water constantly. Thus we get very low water consumption. The constant humidity favors the activity of earthworms and the other inhabitants of the soil.
3. A rotation cycle of four years
Rotation is the succession of crops in one field. The rotation means that after a crop is done, do not put the same plant again, but we plant another. When we talk to four years of rotation, we mean that it takes four years to re-plant a crop in a given area. To do this it is best to have four stops and change every year crop stop. The rules for choosing a good rotation are very simple and are a great benefit to crop.
Composting is a controlled transformation of a mixture of organic waste, mimicking what occurs in nature in the soil surface in order to obtain a high quality fertilizer. Compost is the basic element of the system. Put every year over the entire surface of the stops.
Planting at stops is denser than the traditional horticulture. This prevents the loss of soil moisture and weeds to grow. In addition to stops in vegetables are planted herbs that help keep pests away.
A " Crestall Stop " step by step:
- With a meter and 4 stakes, mark a rectangle of 6m long by 1.5m wide. The length can vary depending on available space.
- Put a string around the stakes that will guide us and work the land inside the rectangle to a depth of 20-30 cm. This is the only time that works the land of the stop and the tool can be variable: hoe, shovel, motor, and so on.
- When the soil is loose, move the stones.
- With four other stakes and string to mark a rectangle inside the second rectangle of equal length and 30 cm wide, which divides the stop in two equal parts. In these two parts is where vegetables grow.
- Put the rectangle in the center a number of flat stones or ceilings to a distance of about 60 cm which can access the center of the stop. In the space between ceilings sow herbs and flowers.
- In the boxes on both sides of the stop, place a layer of 2 to 4 cm of compost.
- Above the layer of compost, put irrigation system. The tape traveled by the two rectangles in which vegetables are planted so that the entire surface gets wet.
- Above the compost and the tape, place a layer of mulching with straw, wood chips, pine bark, and so on.
- Alternate plants of different botanical families. Pests and diseases are often specific to a botanical family. Alternating different families break the cycle of pests.
- Alternate plants from which the consumption is different. The vegetables can be classified on the basis of the consumed: leaves (lettuce, kale, cabbage, etc..), Roots (carrots, beets, onions, etc..), Flower (cauliflower, broccoli, artichoke, etc.). And fruit (tomatoes, peppers, beans, melons, cucumbers, etc.). Each organ of the plant needs different proportions of nutrients, for example, the leaves need more nitrogen and potassium is better to the roots. If this alternative way, you avoid a depletion of soil nutrients.
- Alternate plants according to the development of their nutrient requirements. There are plants that are very high in nutrients (cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc..), Others require few (onion, turnip, lettuce, etc.). And others on the contrary are used to improve soil nutrients (beans, peas, etc.). Alternating with each other helps to avoid draining soil nutrients.
Developing rotation stops
To develop the best rotation is to plant at every stop 2 or 3 plants that always will be of botanical families together. I.e. Umbelliferae with Liliaceae or quenopodiacea and cucurbits. With the four plants will stop all families. Each year we change the stop and then only have to take into account part of the plant that is used.
For more information:
CABALLERO DE SEGOVIA, G. Martinez and T. (1998) The ecological garden, school and family. Method Gaspar Caballero de Segovia.
AFAE University Press. AFAE (Society for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture). Apdo 1595, 07080 Palma de Mallorca.