HOME GARDEN TECHNOLOGY LEAFLET 8
USE OF SLOPING LAND
In sloping areas, the entire home garden area can be used to grow plants, but special care is needed to keep the soil in good condition. When the slope in a household garden is too steep, the land should be terraced. Do not attempt to start making terraces by yourself if you have no previous experience. It is advisable to ask the agricultural extension workers in your village or a neighbour who has constructed terraces to show you what to do.
Building a terrace shortens the length of a slope. The soil is worked downhill until a level bed, or terrace, is formed. An A-frame or line level can be used to mark the contour lines. The most important thing is to protect the sloping part of the terrace by planting grasses or hedgerow crops, otherwise the terraces will slide downwards with erosion. By using terraces, water will not run off the slope but instead will soak into the soil around the plants.
Growing crops on terraces
Terracing is an excellent long-term way of enlarging the cultivated area of a home garden on sloping land. Other ways of reducing soil erosion and using sloping land are to:
Hedgerows planted along the contour line, across a slope, help keep rainwater from carrying topsoil downhill. Figure 2 shows what a hedgerow looks like and the distance between rows of hedges, according to the degree of the slope. Suitable hedgerow plants include cassava, pineapple, vetiver grass and lemon grass, depending on altitude and rainfall conditions.
Hedgerow use of vetiver grass
BARRIERS FOR CATCHING SOIL
Barriers such as logs, banana stems and horizontal channels catch soil that is being washed downhill by the rains. Paths wear down quickly, and steps cut into the soil can be washed away by floods. Sloping paths should have steps made from stone or wood, which also serve as barriers. See Figure 3 for details.
Channels and barriers