Over the last weekend, Tanya and I went to a small village on the boarder of Kerala in the Western Ghats (near Coorg). There is a small village there that is starting to produce a biodynamic farm producing aromatic crops for essential oils. The activities ranged from getting to the village to making compost. This is how to make Amret Pany (Divine Nectar), an organic seed bank and soil that is packed full of great micro-organisms.
This divine nectar is used to introduce micro-organisms into the soil which will increase the quality of the soil. A seedbank is important thing to have (as most farmers will tell you). A seedbank will reduce dependency on corporations to provide your seeds. Over time and a process of selection, a seedbank will have plants that have been selected for that climate and area and is a great resource. Micro-organisms in the soil are very important, if you think of the farm (or forest) as one big organism, the small part of the farm/forest/ecosystem (like the plants, insects, soil) are like the organs. If you remove some of the organs, the organism doesn’t do to well.This is the main arguement against using chemicals to fertilize and control pests, the are simplified methods that use one or two components to fix a problem. It is like take a multivitiam to fix a problem in the body, although it may work the best option is to eat right in the first place.The first thing you need is the seeds of many plants (that germinate by seeds).Place them in water for one day to get started on their way to germination. You can use any type of seeds you want, pulses, tubers, berries etc.
The next thing is make the divine nectar (which has some not so divine smelling ingredients).
- 1L of cow urine
- 50g of Jaggery
- 1L of water
- 1Kg of cow dung
Jaggery is an unrefined type of sugar (kind of like molasses). I asked, what if you can’t get jaggery (as I have never heard of it back home). I was thinking that maple syrup may work well. You need something that has some micro-organisms in it, so it can’t be refined.
Mix the urine and jaggery (with your hands). Mix in the water and then the cow dung. Take a small handful of cow dung and mix it well between you four fingers. It is important that you use care and be present when mixing. This will ensure that positive energy is put into the divine nectar (these are some of the things that I don’t fully understand about biodynamic farming). Once the full Kg of cow dung is mixed, you dilute it with about 10L of water and your place some dry leaves in there. Let the leaves soak for some time (overnight).
Clear the ground, and add a small layer of divine nectar soaked leaves. then add small layer of dirt. Keep alternating the layers until the bed is about 30cm high. Every so often, you should dance (with bare feet) on the bed to compact the mulch (to ensure that moisture is locked in). Once you have a bed about 30cm high, add 2cm of dirt on top. Then sprinkle the seeds (that have been soaking for 24 hours) on the dirt. Cover the seeds with more dirt and you are done.
Wait 25 days, and break off 1/4 of the sprouted pants, ensure that you return the mulch back to the bed. Repeat this in another 25 days. Water the bed when it is dry and you should have a fair number of sprouted plants. Eventually the plants will flower, and then they will produce seeds. Once the seeds are produced, you now have an organic seedbank. All the layered mulch that you have underneath will be packed full of micro-organisms.
With this super mulch, you can use it to help trees that are not performing all that well. What you do it expose 25% of the feeder roots, add the mulch, some cow dung and some ash. Cover with soil. This will apparently help the tree (which makes sense, whether it is because of micro-organisms or the divine nectar, I’m not sure). There are other uses for the mulch as well (using as regular compost and what not).
It was an interesting way to take things that are common on a farm and make them useful. Sridhar Babu got us to us to smell the divine nectar (the one with cow dung and cow urine) 24 hours after it had been mixed. Everyone was a little apprehensive to do this (as I’m sure you can all imagine). To our surprise it didn’t smell like urine or dung. It had a sweet smell. Apparently the micro-organisms from the dung had already started to break down the urine and dung and made is smell sweet.