What is Biointensive Gardening
Biointensive gardening is a system that emphasizes the greatest possible plant yield from a minimum plot of land without depleting fertility of the soil. The overall goal is to achieve long-term sustainability within a closed system. When done properly, biointensive methods are very effective for home gardens. It is also used successfully by small farmers in developing countries and in a few smaller commercial farming efforts.
Most of the techniques used in biointensive gardening were first used by ancient Greeks, Chinese, Mayans and early Europeans. Today the method, as developed by Ecology Action, is in use in more than 140 countries in almost every climate that is capable of growing food crops.
Facets Of Biointensive Gardening
Creating a successful sustainable garden requires these eight foundational aspects of a biointensive effort:
- Raised Bed – Double Dug
- Companion Planting
- Intensive Planting
- Carbon Farming
- Open Pollinated Seeds
The most successful life takes place at the intersection of water, air, soil, and sunlight. Biointensive techniques make the most of these intersections to maximize their effects.
- Double dug beds hold 24 inches of loosened soil which will allow quicker, healthier root growth, increased retention of water, and soil aeration.
- Composting delivers nutrients to the soil to maintain its health and viability.
- Spacing plants very closely greatly reduces water loss, does quite a bit to protect microorganisms in the soil and will increase plant yields.
- Companion planting techniques allow for the best use of sunlight, water, and soil nutrients, encourages the presence of beneficial insect life, and helps to create a beneficial micro-ecosystem within the confines of the garden itself.
- Installing “carbon and calorie” crops in about sixty percent of your total area ensures that both the farm and the farmer get fed and the farm itself is sustainable. Examples are grains like, Rye, Oats, barley, Corn, and Wheat, Sunflowers, and Fava Beans.
- Open-pollinated seeds are seeds that have been pollinated by natural means like birds, insects, and wind. Using open pollinated seeds guarantees genetic diversity in your crops.
Benefits Of Biointensive Gardening
It is important that ALL these components be utilized together to achieve maximum crop yields without depleting soil nutrients. When they are used together, these techniques make it possible grow both food and other plants while using:
- As much as 80% less water
- 50 to 100% less fertilizer
When used correctly these techniques also:
- Produce yields twice to six times as great
- Replenish the soil more quickly
Establishing a biointensive garden takes more planning, and work to establish in the beginning but pays off handsomely in reduced effort and greater plant growth in seasons to come. Regardless of how small, or large, you would like your garden to be, this technique deserves your consideration.
You can read much more on the subject of biointensive growing at Ecology Action.