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John Phillips’ no-till farm in the Philippines is a Garden of Eden, producing dozens of crops without tillage or commercial inputs.
Phillips, formerly of Bloomsburg, Penn., lives on a more than 30-acre farm in Batangas, Philippines, with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. They grow dozens of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and flowers, including:
Crops are grown using no-till and no commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Phillips says the added expense of commercial inputs doesn’t make financial sense, and the potential for crop damage isn’t worth the risk. Instead, he uses homemade organic pesticides, fertilizers and a hydroponic solution for their crops.
“The most caustic thing we use is baking soda and Neem oil with a few drops of liquid hand soap, dried cow manure and compost,” Phillips says.
His organic methods have encouraged more good insects and fewer pests that cause damage. Low-cost mosquito nets keep out most of the pests, Phillips says.
In December, Phillips prepared about an acre and a half for growing mung beans. He raked the topsoil, dried leaves, sawdust and aged cow manure on the plot without doing any tilling and scattered the mung bean seeds. He didn’t add any pesticides or man-made fertilizers to help them grow.
“I only watered a few times in the…