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SYNERGISTIC Gardening

                      


Joined: Mar 31, 2010
Posts: 15
I am interested in Synergistic Gardening after watching a video about it on youtube.  I'm a new gardener and have some questions and concerns if I choose this method of gardening.  Maybe someone knows some of the answers...

1.  She says in her video that she plants Fava Beans as a cover crop...

Does this mean I have to plant only Fava beans every year.  Is there someone else following her method who plants other cover crops and, if so, what are they?

2.  She only uses transplants as she keeps the soil covered by a mulch at all times. 

How would I plant carrots or chard?  I read that they don't do well as transplants.  The video does not say that she uses cardboard as I recall.  Planting seeds straight into a flat row with my Earthway Seed planter I bought last fall seems like it would be faster. 

3.  Boise is a dry climate.  Do I want to use raised beds due to using more water?

4.  I read that some crops, such as corn, grow better on the flat vs. raised beds. 

Thanks for any input! 

Beth
paul wheaton
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Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Sounds like something from a dilbert comic strip.

Link?


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Joined: Mar 31, 2010
Posts: 15
You're right, after rereading, it reminded me of Dilbert as well.

There are 3 separate l0-minute videos on youtube so it does take a bit of time to watch.  It is a Fukuoka-inspired way of gardening. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugFd1JdFaE0&feature=related

Here's an excerpt from an article on Synergistic Gardening:

More recently, in France, a new natural gardening technique was developed by Emilia Hazelip, (1938 - 2003), called Synergistic Gardening. This method brings together the messy enthusiasm
of Ruth Stout's lazy gardening system with the Natural Farming techniques pioneered by Masanobu Fukuoka. Hazelip built 4-foot wide beds by taking soil from the paths and piling it as high as possible on the beds, to create a deep topsoil for the roots. The beds are never disturbed again by spading, because the introduction of air when soil is mechanically turned is the cause for the loss of fertility in garden and farm soils. The extra oxygen causes excess biological activity that literally burns away the organic matter and fertility in the soil. By avoiding this damage, Hazelip was able to do away with annual applications of fertilizer, manures and compost, which were used only the first year when the garden was being established.

Like Ruth Stout, Hazelip used heavy applications of mulch, but she used straw instead of hay, las Fukuoka does in Japan. She also left the roots of vegetable plants in the ground, where they will naturally rot. This prevents the "mining" of fertility that often happens when a field of plants is completely removed from a field, roots and all. The roots will rot in the ground before planting time next spring, and the next year's crops will have ready access to the nutrients they leave behind. Compost is used only for starting seeds in the greenhouse. Since the land is always covered in the Synergistic system, almost all plants are started in flats and transplanted to the garden.

I recently watched a video that was created by Hazelip in 1995, and I've become a complete convert. My own garden, which I started this year, is being grown with her methods. This comes naturally to me, of course, since I've been such a huge fan of Ruth Stout and Masanobu Fukuoka for so many years - Emilia Hazelip managed to bring their ideas together and create a gardening technique that works beautifully in my temperate climate. Since her gardening method is sustainable, requiring no purchased fertilizers after the first year, it could be the key to feeding the world in the years ahead, when oil-based agricultural products will become too expensive for the average grower. Why wait for Peak Oil? Get started now and create your own Synergistic Garden.

I like the idea of not adding fertilizers!  Beth
Brenda Groth
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Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i'm kinda doing the same thing..however..i do keep some in ground not raised beds for some things like corn....as you said....but i do avoid turning the soil or removing the spent plants from the soil...so that the ground is always getting more humus and organic materials left in or on the soil.

unfortunately i have a severe shortage of mulching materials here so i have to beg and borrow mulch...or buy..so a few of my gardens don't manage to get mulch every year i sure wish they could..those usually end up being the ones with smaller seeds such as carrots and beets...or the gardens where things are grown really close together such as the lettuces that are broadcast over compost..

or i end up using ugly shredded paper or pulled weeds as mulch..which i'm not that fond of but it does keep down the weeds and eventually get pulled into the soil.

i also now have a compost tumbler so i can get some of the paper composted..in that over the wintertime..i guess maybe a vermiculture composter might be a better answer for some things here too so i'm thinking of heading in that direction as well..yes i have a compost pile outside..but it doesn't work much in the winter and we have a long winter

as for the smaller seeds, you can either pull back the mulch and plant into the soil..or if you have a separate garden for those crops then you can put on a fine mulch when they are up enough to stand it.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
                            


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 32
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Hi, I'm New at this too.

I looked into Synergistic gardening; there's a Gardening Organically group on Yahoo that advocates for many of Hazelip's method's--the moderator of the group knew her and has great things to say.

I liked the rotation scheme that she outlined (which I think is available on the site you quoted from?), and wanted to give it a try, but it had 2 shortcomings for me: it didn't take into account several of the crops I wanted to grow, like potatoes, and the heavy mulch method doesn't work in my milder climate because of the slugs...  The difficulty also seemed to me to be that there aren't too many people moving her work forward, and she passed away some time ago, so I felt--perhaps being a newbie--that I'd be fumbling in the dark a bit if I tried to put her system into practice, hard to get advice for issues or questions that came up.

That said, her methods make lots of sense, and are very compatible with other information out there that you'll see discussed often: No-Till/Dig gardening, square foot gardening, etc etc.

I know myself that I'm drawn more to fewer seedlings and transplants and more direct seeding, but that's also likely climate dependent, so YMMV.

Good luck!
                            


Joined: May 07, 2009
Posts: 5
NewAtThis wrote:
I am interested in Synergistic Gardening after watching a video about it on youtube.  I'm a new gardener and have some questions and concerns if I choose this method of gardening.  Maybe someone knows some of the answers...

1.  She says in her video that she plants Fava Beans as a cover crop...

Does this mean I have to plant only Fava beans every year.  Is there someone else following her method who plants other cover crops and, if so, what are they?

2.  She only uses transplants as she keeps the soil covered by a mulch at all times. 

How would I plant carrots or chard?  I read that they don't do well as transplants.  The video does not say that she uses cardboard as I recall.   Planting seeds straight into a flat row with my Earthway Seed planter I bought last fall seems like it would be faster. 

3.  Boise is a dry climate.  Do I want to use raised beds due to using more water?

4.  I read that some crops, such as corn, grow better on the flat vs. raised beds. 

Thanks for any input! 

Beth


I use this method for growing vegetables. I do not use fava beans, as getting my family to eat them would be a challenge. Instead I use green beans, to me the point was to find an annual bush bean so I could have it as a nitrogen fixer, food provider and at the end of its life easy mulch. So any spot in my garden with nothing else in it will have green beans planted.

When I want to plant things that do not transplant well, I pull back the mulch or make a little hole in it and plant directly. I do this for things like carrots, squash, okra and beans. When they get big enough I simply move the mulch back around them.

I live in Texas, while we get about 32 inches of rainfall on average in our area, we also get long stretches of temperatures over 100 during the summer. The raised beds allow for better water infiltration on our black clay soil and also hold it for a longer period of time due to the increased soil structure this method promotes.

My primary concern about putting something like corn on a raised bed would be potential wind damage. This is my first year trying corn in the raised beds, but they are off to a good start.

Also, these beds can be slow going and have some moderate levels of pest damage the first year. To counter this, I would plant specifically for beneficial insects and be sure to use a lot of compost, compost tea and worm castings the first year. I have added more beds over time, the difference in my beds from first to second year is drastic and very encouraging. My next goal is to get enough biomass going so I do not have to import anymore straw!
                      


Joined: Mar 31, 2010
Posts: 15
Wow!  What an awesome forum.  Thank you everyone for the quick replies!  I will definitely check out the Gardening Organically chatgroup.  I also worry that there doesn't seem to be alot of folks doing Hazelip's method and that's so great that the moderator knew her!

I was thinking I would keep some beds on the flat and grow corn, melons, and pumpkins in them.  Has anybody grown these on the raised beds with good success?

Rosie, you might want to try planting your corn in little circles.  I saw this done on a DVD for cover crops.  She said it helped protect the stalks against wind. 

Green beans sound better than fava and I will keep that in mind.  Can I plant other cover crops such as buckwheat?  I was planning on letting my beds rest a year every 3rd year and just plant a cover crop in them.  Not sure if the Synergistic method would advocate this, and will definitely ask on that chatgroup as well.

thanks again,
Beth

                            


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 32
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Tuski, I'd love to hear more about your experiences!  Do you follow the rotations that Hazelip suggested?  I imagine that one possibility would be to have a few beds going with her main veggies, and then to have some other beds that rotate in a more traditional way.  And I hear you on trying to produce your own biomass; that's another reason I'm looking for alternatives to the heavy straw mulch method.

Do you/did you use any particular resources of Hazelip's besides the synergistic gardening website and the few video clips?  I'd love to read more in depth information about how this all works.

The other cog in the wheel that I came up against was the legumes in every bed--which I get would be great--when I have read so often that legumes and alliums are a bad match?  I know she uses leeks; perhaps that's a better fit?

Rosie
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 844
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  13
I have lots of slug damage with permanent mulch and am still experimenting, while running more traditional clean cultivated french intensive beds for annual vegetables.  Ms. Hazelip had lots of snails and would use little copper rings to protect slug sensitive transplants.  I mulch after things get going, but go back to clean cultivation for start-up.  I have tried galvanized, as I have heard rumor that zinc has a similar effect to gastropods as copper, but it is a lot of fuss for dense plantings like bok choi...

Still tinkering, as I like the idea of permanent mulch... maybe just for some species.


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
 
 
subject: SYNERGISTIC Gardening
 
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