This blog post is part of an ongoing series on how to restore degraded land. Good land is hard to come by and often not affordable unless you’re rich. The facts presented here are from the video Building Soil with Clive. His farm in Hawaii was scraped bare with a bulldozer down to bedrock not once, not twice, but three times before he started leasing it. The thought of farming land like this seems hopeless, right? But over the last 18 years Clive has built up 3”- 4” of topsoil on bedrock using the techniques he describes in his video, which are summarized here. He feels his main job is creating good habitat and taking care of the organisms in the soil using primarily mulch and cover crops. It’s interesting to note that he never seems to find time to make IMOs (indigenous microorganisms). Instead, his focus is on creating massive quantities of organic matter to build soil. The results speak for themselves.
Here’s a brief list of things we’re doing to boost the quality of our soil in our forest garden. I’m writing this because I saw a video a while back that explained why they don’t use worm castings, compost tea, leaf mulch, rock dust and so on any more. That video might confuse some people into thinking these things aren’t helpful. What actually happened is their soil has become so good (by using these materials!) in their small backyard garden raised beds that these soil amendments are no longer necessary. Since they’re only dealing with a few pickup loads of soil, it’s not overly difficult to create that much high quality soil.
“When we started our farm, there were so many prickly “touch me nots” (impatiens or “shy plant)) that we were obliged to wear shoes at all times. Now, with the help of nutrient cycling, our garden has been transformed into a BAREFOOT GARDEN. Here’s how…”
“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.”