One of the first efforts of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. was to develop a gardening system which would provide vegetables throughout the year. It is called Food Always In The Home (FAITH) gardening. The FAITH Garden basically consists of three sections planted to:
· short-term vegetables (two to four months), e.g., tomato, sweet pepper, pechay, etc.
· medium-term vegetables (six to nine months), e.g., eggplant, winged beans, etc.
· Iong-temm vegetables (throughout the year), e.g., kangkong, alugbati, etc.
The central feature of the garden is a series of raised garden beds in which bamboo baskets are set for the production of the so-called "basket compost".
Basket composting is the process by which your decomposable home garbage, garden and farm waste and leguminous leaves like ipil-ipil are allowed to rot in baskets which are half-buried.
Basket composting has been practiced at the MBRLC for many years and is proven to give the following benefits:
· You can directly use plant nutrients derived from rotting materials without waiting for the usual three to four-month period in the traditional method of composting.
· Your basket compost holds the composting materials in place; therefore, it will minimize nutrient depletion by runoff.
· Stray animals (like goats and pigs) and fowls (such as chickens and ducks) are prevented from scattering the compost materials.
· Your home and its surroundings will become cleaner because garbage and wastes are collected and are put inside the basket composts.
· It serves as reservoir and collector of the much needed moisture and nutrients for your plants.
· The organic matter in the compost strengthens the soil aggregate, making it resistant to heavy rainfall, thus lessening erosion.
· You can produce more nutritious vegetables at less cost.
Anyone is free to modify or improve the method of basket composting, but this is the general procedure in doing it:
1. Prepare the materials.
· long bamboo strips (two to three cm width)
· bamboo stakes (at least 30 cm length)
· home organic garbage, farm and garden wastes, leaves of ipil-ipil, kakawate, rensoni and/or Flemingia (if available)
· dried manure (goat, duck, chicken, horse, and/or carabao
2. Prepare garden plots.
· Clean garden site.
· Save weeds and grasses for composting materials
· Prepare garden plot thoroughly.
3. Make holes.
· Dig holes along the center of the plots at least 12 cm in depth and 30 cm diameter.
· Space holes 1 m apart.
4. Make the baskets.
· Drive seven stakes around the holes; uneven number of stakes makes perfect brace for weaving.
· Weave the long strips of bamboo around the stakes to form a basket. Without bamboo strips, closely space the stakes (about 1 cm apart).
Half-bury the baskets in the holes. The basket serves as erosion control and as container that prevents the chicken and other fowls from scattering the compost.
5. Put organic wastes.
· Place the rotting garbage and manure into the basket first.
· Fill to the brim with other organic wastes. Fresh manure can be used.
· Place the undecomposed mater composed materials like ipil-ipil leaves or any recommended leguminous leaves, grasses and weeds next Cover the organic wastes with a thin layer of soil.
6. Plant seeds or seedlings.
· If the materials placed at the bottom part of the basket are almost decomposed (within 2-3 days), you can start planting seeds or seedlings. Plant them six to eight inches around the basket.
· If the composting materials placed in the baskets are green leaves (called ['green manure'), plant the seeds or seedlings two to three weeks later. This will give enough time to start decomposing.
If green leaves of ipil-ipil are used, put five kilograms of the leaves to the basket at the start. Add two kilos of leaves every two weeks.
7. Water the seedlings.
· Water the newly transplanted seedlings. Later on, when they can grow on their own, just water the basket.
· Water only at the center of the basket, instead of watering the plants. The lower part of the basket is cool, moist and has abundant nutrients for crops. Later on, the roots will grow into the basket.
8. Incorporate decomposed materials.
· After harvesting your vegetables and your compost are used up, remove the decomposed materials and incorporate them into the soil while cultivating.
· Add new composting materials to the basket for the next plants. Avoid using diseased plants for composdng. Use the basket while still intact.
Note: Basket composting is compatible with and can be integrated with the bio-intensive gardening technology.
Source: MBRLC Editorial Staff (1990). How to Make FAITH (Food Always in the Home) Garden in your Horneyard.