Q. In Trinidad, bagasse was the popular choice as a medium. The sugar industry is now closed and bagasse is no longer available. Is there a suggestion? There is no other crop by-product that can be obtained cheaply. Simon Bedasie, Agronomist
(Trinidad and Tobago have over 200 commercial growers using Mittleider’s methods in boxes, using bagasse (sugar cane stalks) as their growing medium. Now that the sugar industry has closed down, I wonder how they will cope.)
A. Do you have access to coconut coir – which is ground-up coconut husks? How about coffee or rice hulls? Peanut shells? You probably don’t have pine trees, do you. Ground-up pine needles are good also. Is there no wood industry there, where you could find sawdust?
If you can find NOTHING in which to grow, I suggest you try growing right in the native soil. We do that in most places around the world now, and have success everywhere.
Create a level soil-bed. When growing commercially things like lettuce and other small crops the bed is 4′ wide, and whatever length you want. Make at least 3′-wide aisles, and pull dirt from those aisles to make the beds a couple of inches higher than the aisles. Make ridges all around the beds at least 4″ high, to hold water.
Feeding, watering, and growing are the same as in the raised boxes, but you will have weeding to do.
Look on the website at www.foodforeveryone.org in the Learn section to see how to grow in the dirt with the same success you have enjoyed in raised boxes for so many years.