We have always seen how our grandparents masterfully made ridges in which they had their crops. Of course, the irrigation systems were different and rudimentary to those that exist today. That is why, making an act of reflection, we analyzed their usefulness and performance in comparison with other systems, as well as when it is advisable to use it. Let’s take a closer look at it.
WHAT IS RIDGE CULTIVATION?
The system is very simple, although where true mastery is required is to make the ridges or terraces straight, at the same height and that they remain firm (experience does a bit). With this technique it is achieved that the water circulates or remains in the lower part, being accessible by the roots, but without flooding the base of the stem and causing rotting. In addition, it allows the one who takes care of the garden to move around the base, so that the terrace will continue to be soft in order to facilitate the growth of the plants.
Formerly this system was widely used and it was rare not to see it in most Spanish gardens. This was influenced by the way of watering, which was a blanket, so that the water circulated through the lower part of the loins, accessible to the plants, without wetting the upper part. Today things have changed with the new localized irrigation systems (such as exudate , for example). As it is not as common to water with a blanket as in the past, this system has lost a bit of prestige, to the detriment of deep beds or flat orchards.
ARE THEY REALLY EFFECTIVE TODAY?
Well, to answer this question it is necessary to know the irrigation system and the characteristics of the soil. If you use blanket irrigation as in the past because there is no other remedy, it is a good system. Normally it will not be like that and you will have some type of more efficient irrigation, so in this case it is better to have a flat garden or a raised bed ( a deep terrace , for example).
The soil also greatly influences the choice of the garden system . If its characteristics are bad and there is a bad drainage, in order to avoid waterlogging and rotting, the cultivation in ridges facilitates that the water drains to the sides by gravity, acts as draining channels and does not affect the roots or stem of the plant.
Now, if neither of the two cases is yours, it is convenient to consider a raised bed crop , with a padded soil and with a good content of organic matter , which produces high yields. A slight loss of yield has also been shown in potato cultivation and a higher water consumption using the ridge system compared to a raised bed (raised because the soil is soft and takes up more space, there is no other secret).
WHAT IF THE ORCHARD IS VERY WIDE?
The biggest problem facing the deep bed is having a path through which to circulate to easily access the plants. We resorted to reducing width so that we could reach all the crops through the outer perimeter. However, that entailed a loss of space if we had large plots of land. Either several parallel terraces can be formed, or a path of tiles or stones can be made between the terraces, or cultivation is used in ridges . But honestly, this last case would only be limited if the soil is bad or is watered by blanket.
However, this does not mean that our grandparents were wrong, far from it. It is a much more effective system than direct cultivation of the soil, without the use of any tillage technique. The soil is softer and there is no risk of rotting the roots or the stem, so with respect to that you win. However, it is not comparable with other cultivation systems like the one we have discussed before.
We hope you liked it and we will welcome comments regarding the cultivation systems that you usually use. 😉