Research at Ecology Action has shown that 40 such beds will adequately supply all the nutrition needs for one year for one person as well as carbon crops to compost for the soil and sufficient income for one person. In South Africa, organic produce sells for approximately double the rate of non-organic produce. So 40 beds should enable a good income as well as healthy food for the family.
We’ve made both the curved top beds used in biointensive gardens (bottom picture, click to enlarge) and the “flat top” often favoured in Africa for raised beds (top picture). We found that the planted area is up to 25% more for the curved top so this is our preferred design. It does require more care with watering until the plants are well established to prevent soil erosion.
Most of the crops we’ve planted initially are soil building cover crops including clover, Luzerne alfalfa grass, fodder radish and fodder rape. The GROW BIOINTENSIVE method encourages planting by the moon, which we have done. Additionally we are doing some planting using a Biodynamic calendar based on the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. The Biodynamic Calendar considers the moon and also the planets for choosing the best planting times. Ezemvelo means "return to nature" and so we teach methods which have been verified by science to be in harmony with and be supported by nature.
The top picture shows biointensive agriculture instructor Simphiwe Tinini demonstrating the biointensive method for spacing plants in a hexagonal pattern which maximizes foliage cover of the soil to reduce soil erosion and inhibits weed growth by shutting out the light.