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Inspiration from Far Away Shores….

Here at Grow Chichester keeping it local is at the heart of what we do....but we are inspired by growing across the globe...

Here volunteer Ray Stewart gives us some insight into similarities and influences of Asia horticulture:

Sustainable growing by its title, indicative of the use of naturally available resources within the immediate growing environment. Methods being familiar to many of us, such as the use of comfrey to provide nutrients to feed the soil and our plants, green manuring, using certain types of plants abilities to fix within our growing medium, one of the most abundant and freely available elements.

I found many similarities to those more familiar with ourselves, being used by the growing communities at Hezhou, Guangxi province, China.

However many stark differences and much inspiration. One of the most noticeable being the lack of dairy herds and the bi-products of dairy farming. Grazed animals were mainly goats, although a pig or two was kept by the community. Very much like the Pebworth ‘ Pig Club' initiative of Transition Evesham Vale.

Chickens were kept by most families and allowed to roam the crops and keep down many of the pests. With the lack of farmyard manure, I asked the most obvious question,

“How do you enrich the soil and feed the crops?"

“We need to visit the caves," was the reply, "but not now, when it is dark and the creatures are not there".

I was intrigued!

The creatures it transpired were bats; China has the richest bat fauna and is home to over 100 species, 45 of which are vesper or evening bats, pipestrelles, mouse and long-eared also noctule bats. One of the world’s largest caves being the ‘ Miao Room ‘ near Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province.

The bat a much maligned creature of our past, popularized by Gothic novels and now a species under pressure. Whose habitat is rightly preserved and protected.The bat is regarded as an auspicious creature in China.

It is the Feng Shui symbol for prosperity. It’s benevolence in this case being the rich supply of ‘ guano ‘ that it leaves on the cave floor, after roosting in colonies during the daytime. The best bat guano is the bi-product of the fruit eating bats and the dried remains are one of the best sources of phosphorus.

It ia also a good source of both nitrogen and potassium. Water steeped in bat guano also makes a very good tea for feeding plants.

… another case of working in harmony with nature and the natural cycle when cultivating.