For the preparation of the soil, two techniques are traditionally used according to the nature of the land and family habits: the abatis/brulis and the tillage with the hoe.
The abatis/brulis consists of clearing a plot of land roughly and then setting it on fire. The ashes will fertilize the plot in the short term. This technique tends to destroy soil life (fungus, bacteria, earthworms) and thus to disrupt the natural balance and fertility of the soil. It can be adapted when plots are left fallow for several years so that the natural balance is re-established
The other technique consists of manually working the soil to create ridges and furrows, i.e. mounds and channels. This makes it possible to create planting spaces where the soil is decompacted. In addition, in case of heavy rain, water naturally drains into the furrows, which prevents asphyxiation and root rot. The soil is only worked on the surface (about 20 cm).
Crop associations and soil cover:
Traditionally, several species are planted in the same plot to optimize the use of space and to create complementarity between plants. For example, shrubs can act as stakes for vines and provide shade for sun-sensitive plants. Fabaceae (e.g., pigeon peas, beans) enrich the soil with nitrogen when pruned.
This prevents weed growth, promotes soil life (e.g. earthworms, fungi) and maintains moisture, thus limiting watering. It can be done thanks to the deposit of pruned plants on the ground. This is called “dirty garden”. In permaculture, this is called “mulching”. More commonly, creeping or covering plants are used to cover the soil. For example, sweet potato, giromon or dachine are good cover plants.