Organic Garden丨2017 Volunteer Training I


Starting from 2017, Shanghai Roots & Shoots Organic Garden Program plan to conduct follow up training for the volunteers on knowledge and skills of gardening. The first training session was held in the open-air space of Jiashan Market. GoodtoChina, an NGO committed to promoting sustainable lifestyles, gave their full support.

The first training was filled with activities including soil preparation, applying base fertilizer, furrowing, seeding, cultivating sprouts with glass bottles, etc.

Soil preparation is of great significant in organic farming. It lays solid foundation for the following planting. There are two steps in soil preparation: the first step in to weed, and the second is to loosen the soil. The details are as follows:

  1. Weeding

Tools required: gloves, shovels, hoes, and garbage can

Methods: pull the weeds by hand or using the shovels. For the big ones, we need to use hoes. The weeds can be collected and put in the compost bins, or we can dry the weeds as covers for future use.

Key points: When we take out the weed, we must take the roots out of the soil as well. Touching the weed by hand, we can see that many weeds extended its range by infinitely clonal growth of the stolon. There will be a relatively large room for future planting once we clear the weed and all the roots.

  1. Loosen the soil

Tools required: hoes

Methods: dig the land in around 20 centimeters with the hoes. At the mean time, take the remaining small weeds and roots out. We also need to apply the organic fertilizer and make sure that the soil and fertilizer are mixed evenly.

Key points: when digging the soil, make sure that the depth that we dig is consistent in every part of the land.

After the soil preparation, the next step is furrowing. Furrowing means that we need to dig a path to walk on and put the soil that we dig out in the center to make beds with 10-centimeter-tall slope on its sides. Another important function of the furrow is to keep the soil drained. In general, the furrow should be in north-south direction in order to make sure that the plants on different sides of the furrow receive enough amount of light to grow. The beds between furrows are around 1 square meter. Remember to compact the soft soil on the slopes of the beds.

After make the surface of the beds flat, we can proceed to our next step—seeding. When sowing the seeds, what we need to note is the arrangement of different kinds of seeds, so that in the future, the heights of the plants increase from the south to the north. This will make sure that the plants in the back rows can receive enough amount of light. Spinach seeds and water spinach seeds should be at the front, soybean seeds in the middle, loofah seeds and cucumber seeds whose plants will climb onto the trellis are placed in the back. In terms of how we sow the seeds, we use the methods of hole sowing. The distances between the holes are determined based on the size of the plants in the future. After sowing the seeds, we need to water them and make sure that the soil absorbs enough water.

Cultivating sprouts with glass bottles enables the students to explore the germination process of seeds. For this activity, we need small seeds like radish seeds and alfalfa seeds. The details are as follows:

  1. Soaking

Wash the seeds with clean water and pick out the damaged or the worm-eaten seeds. Leave the good seeds in the water overnight.

  1. Sprouting

Drain the water of the soaked seeds and put the seeds in a wild-mouth glass bottle. Shake the bottle vigorously so that the seeds are evenly distributed on the inner surface of the bottle. Place a piece of gauze or a coffee filter on top of the bottle and turn the bottle upside down at an oblique angle, so that the extra water will flow out naturally. Then cover the bottle with a dark colored cloth and place it in a warm spot inside the room. Use a sprayer to humidify the inside space of the bottle for the seeds everyday.

  1. Cultivating the sprouts

2-3 days after the seeds are germinated, we can take off the cloth and water the seeds once a day. We will be able to observe the growth of the seeds. It only takes one week before the harvest.

Co-authors: Yang Xinli / Lu Yan / Xu Huanhuan

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