We kick off a new weekly column with Kapil Mandawewala, founder of Sajeev Fresh. Starting out, he tells us to allow nature to take its course and not sweep away those valuable fallen leaves from the soil!
By Kapil Mandawewala
The first piece of general advice I give to gardeners is to mulch. Mulching is putting fallen leaves into “kyaaris”, “gamlas” and planters. No soil should be directly exposed to sunlight. We learn this lesson from observing forests. Forest trees shed their leaves without a care. And the leaves gently waft down to the floor to decompose and enrich the soil that in turn nourishes the forest. Multiple layers of fallen leaves keep the forest floor moist, cool and protected from direct sunlight. And so microbes, worms and helpful little “keeda-makodas” wriggle and scurry their way to eat these yummy leaves. By doing this they keep the soil fluffy and well-aerated. And their poo converts the leaves back into ions for roots to absorb. Isn’t Nature so elegant in its design?
In a forest, mulching would be a non-activity, as in, there are no humans to sweep away and ‘clean’ fallen leaves. But we humans think we’re just too damn “chaalaak” or clever. We think leaves are “kachchda” or trash that needs to be ‘cleaned’ and burned. Then we pull out our favourite weapon the jhadoo (broom) and raise a lot of dust disturbing one of Nature’s most simple and unobtrusive processes of regeneration. I get teary-eyed when I see piles of burning leaves—I do love my leaves but it’s mostly the smoke 😉 So go out today and mulch. Ask your “maalis” and jhadoo-walas to simply place all fallen leaves back on exposed soil in “kyaaris” and “gamlas. “Mulch. Mulch. Mulch. It’s probably the easiest way you can save our planet and get a bountiful harvest.
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(Sajeev Fresh, founded by Kapil Mandawewala, is an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible business that creates farms and products for the earth and its people. Its services include planning, design, implementation and management of organic/biodynamic farms, gardens, compost programs and edible landscapes. For more, visit www.facebook.com/SajeevFresh)