In the first few days of our project at Penang Digital Library, we started by working on revamping the soil beddings as they had become unproductive and inefficient.
Upon closer inspection, we discovered that there was a thick layer of sticky mud in the beddings. This kind of material is often sold as “topsoil” in Malaysia, however a close friend in the construction industry has revealed that this mud is really just a kind of deep, clay soil which was most commonly used as a waste material taken from new building sites with not friendly to plants at all. We do not recommend “topsoil” for use in raised beds, beddings or pots. We recommend using 100% organic materials in a method known as “lasagna gardening”. It is not necessary to add soil in lasagna gardening, and if you are not sure of the quality of soil you have it is better to avoid using it altogether.
First, we need to clear the mud from the beddings. This is hard work because the mud is dense, heavy and sticky. We use the mud to level the area, then we replace the original border of the bedding. In this case, the original border was made of PVC pipes. We remove the broken, blue plastic liner and use the mud to seal any gaps between the pipes and the soil surface. We don’t want our bedding material to spill out.
At the same time, we were preparing the 100% organic bedding which is made from locally sourced materials. Once our materials were delivered, we mixed the materials into a big pile and let it rest. Due to it being rich in living microorganisms, it would take at least three weeks to mature before we are able to use it for planting. After that, we will also provide some recycled cargo bags to continually collect more organic materials which over time naturally turns into rich compost. Consistent composting and mulching are essential to organic gardening.
Meanwhile, some of the many problems that were faced on the site were aggressive red ants and garden termites as well as other garden pests, stay tuned as we battle this insect army and for more updates on the garden transformation at Penang Digital Library!