Well said, rose. I can't say that I'm a saint. I'm far from it, in fact. My main concern about industrial farming is that our food supply is basically dependent on the supply of petroleum. I think it doesn't need to be. I'm willing to put forth my own time and energy to further the goal of the supply of produce being independent from oil.
I realize many hardworking people across the globe farm to put a roof over their heads and feed their families. I commend them for their efforts. I don't really think the burden is totally on the farmer's back in switching to sustainable means. Consumers will have to be the ultimate decision makers for sustainability to work.
On the other hand, there is a lot of organic practices that as such, are basically organic. But, they are not necessarily sustainable or profitable. Just because a farm is organic, doesn't mean it is sustainable in the long run. Many farmers are finding this out the hard way. This leads to a lot of the scientific community stepping in and saying, "Whoa! organic isn't all that it is cracked up to be after all. Our chemical way must be right after all."
I would like to put forth that farming can be all at once, natural, organic, sustainable, and profitable. I also say that in order for a farmer be successful at it, he or she must erase most of what they learned in conventional farming. It just isn't applicable.
Change isn't easy. It never has been. It never will be. The ball has already begun to roll. Let's see where it goes.
When someone asks, just ask in return, "What chickens?" Welcome to the site. There's plenty of good answers here, in addition to my sarcastic one. If you wanted to start with the age old chicken dilemma, you might pick one of the forums that best fits your goals in wanting the chickens in the first place. I live in a suburban neighborhood with cc&rs. The best thing to do is find a community that has rules that fit your bill, rather than trying to fit your needs into their rules. If you can't then there are plenty of people here making do without poultry. We'd love to share what we know.
The tap root brings moisture from deep underground and helps moisten the surrounding soil, lessening the need for irrigation. Any moisture on the foliage of a plant increases the susceptibility to mold and mildew problems such as blight.
elizpermie wrote: 1. What grass seed? As you can see, this is mostly shade. Soil is acidic, and is under very mature oaks. I'm interested in Eco-Lawn, blended and sold by White Flower Farm http://www.eco-lawn.com/ . I haven't really gotten any solid reviews on it though. Some people think it's a scam and I should just get my own fescue seeds. Some users found it patchy and dying the spring after planting (although I think they didn't follow instructions properly, like mowing it very low before snow). Paul -- what is your opinion on this grass seed?
2. How to get rid of the existing stuff? Spray an organic broad-spectrum herbicide? Then what? Dig it all up? Or dig it up without herbicide? Or "till" it all through, which I've read about on here?
3. I'd like to have this deep topsoil that you talk about, but I don't really want to add a foot of soil on top since there are trees, hedges, etc that would look strange if they were lower than the rest of the ground. Can I dig new soil in or something, along with amendments (lime), compost, etc?
4. Where can I find a lawnmower that will let me mow 4" or higher? I'd prefer electric, even if it has to be recharged in between sessions/lawn sections.
1. I'd go with the shade resistant fescues. Find out what you already have. See your local extension for help with this. If your lawn is already of a shade tolerant grass, then there are other factors besides the shade that need to be addressed. In that case the shade is not the problem.
2. I can tell you that Paul will refuse to help you until you swear to never use herbicides. I see no reason from your pics to have to resort to it anyways. No need for a complete do over. You have enough grass that you can expand from there.
3. Don't pile on soil for a huge, big, very important reason. It will slowly kill your precious trees. Their roots have become accustomed to a certain amount of oxygen. They may not die directly due to the lack of oxygen, but it will weaken them to the point that other nasty stuff can. First things first. You need to know your soil's stats. Get a soil test done, contact your local extension for more info. Then you can lightly top dress the soil as needed. Did your landscaper leave the grass clippings on the lawn? Or bag them?
4. I can't help you with the lawn mower, but I'm sure others here can.
You're right. There are too many variables to make a scientific comparison. There is very much art to his way of farming. Just as there was art to the way of farming for thousands of years prior. To the best of my knowledge, the percentage of world hunger has remained about the same over the course of history to present. I could be wrong there.
Masanobu Fukuoka started small, with merely a 1/4 acre after the government repossessed his family's land. He worked the land by hand. This allowed him become very close to what was actually going on with his land. Over time, he was able to take that knowledge and expand to many more acres. Mr. Fukuoka was well versed in scientific method, being a scientist himself. Reading his works, one can see his use of the scientific method in building his farming style. Albeit he did not publish his findings in a scientific manner. That was his intent. He only wanted to A. show that natural farming could be done and B. provide the basics for getting started. He was well aware that two farms side by side with seemingly identical inputs could have wildly varying outputs. Due to this fact, he realized it would be futile to write a definitive guide to farming. He realized that each farmer would have to find their own way, due to the uniqueness of their situation. He said that to practice natural farming is to get as close as you can to the land and listen, look, smell, feel, and taste. If something went wrong, he either found a way to correct it or let nature take its course. He didn't always let nature take its course. He did however always look to nature for a solution. No two farms will ever be exactly alike. The scientific chemical way however, has only a relatively few solutions to the numerous problems found on millions of acres of farmland. Nature has at least one unique solution to every unique problem. If I were to choose a solution on experience alone, I'd choose nature. Nature has been doing its thing for millions of years. Science has been trying to catch up for 500 years at best.
One thing about his outputs that has not yet been mentioned in this thread: He never let a plot go fallow. As I understand it, this is common practice in western farming. In my opinion, this is a waste. All of his acreage was being utilized to produce something. If yields were very low in a plot for any reason, they were still much higher than if he let his land go fallow. This is a huge part of natural farming. He also grew various crops simultaneously on the same land. That way if his tomatoes failed, perhaps his rice and squash were stellar. Or maybe his radishes offset a failure in beans.
I am keeping an open mind. I buy my produce at the supermarket. I buy for price. I buy for sustainability of my wallet, not the world at large. I am however experimenting with growing my own produce, without chemicals. I own and use a tiller. I experiment with varying levels of tillage including no till. I experiment with permaculture techniques. I have experimented in the past with various chemicals. I can say that my garden has good yields without chemicals. So does my lawn. I intend to replicate not necessarily Fukuoka's techniques, but practice natural farming. I wish to see and experience for myself its viability or non-viability. Fukuoka merely showed that it can be done. I wish to build on that and allow natural farming to work for me on my land. Maybe I'll fail. Maybe I won't.
bruc33ef wrote: Except that there are innumerable factors that could explain -- or partially explain -- the difference in output irrespective of, or in unobserved combination with, anything that Fukuoka did; e.g., soil composition differences, elevation, micro climates, water table, contaminants, etc. Unless such factors are controlled for in a study, it's hard to isolate exactly what is responsible for the differences in output.
As I recall, Fukuoka did account for these variables. Soil composition: he returned all left over residue to the soil and didn't open the soil to erosion by plowing. Others did not. Elevation, he compared to his direct neighbors for the most part. Water table: rice paddies are almost always flooded. He flooded his fields for a much shorter time, wasting less water. Contaminants: he didn't put any fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides on his fields, so no contaminants. The controls you are asking for are rather moot. To have those kinds of controls would make it no longer be natural farming. If anything, Fukuoka showed the world that it can be done. He also made no bones about disclaiming that his techniques would most likely have to be adapted to each situation. This means some experimenting and observation on the part of the farmer. His techniques aren't an end all, cure all, as he said so himself. The most valuable part of his teaching is the need for a change in mindset not only among farmers, but in consumers as well. The later would be most prudent, as farmers only produce what consumers will buy.
Agreed, as the article illustrates, but "humble," is not a term used to describe Fukuoka, by the way.
Also, which 1970s blunderbuss chemicals was he competing with? There has been much progress since then in agricultural chemicals.
Agreed, as far as yields are concerned. But what about the safety of those chemicals? What purpose do they really serve? What are their long term effects? What scientific studies do you use to support their safety and long term effects? The ones published by the companies producing them? Or perhaps the ones published by those paid to make the chemicals look good? Or how about the ones published by the Industrifarms who also profit from them? Or the seed companies? Or some on other interested party. Show me one study from a disinterested party as to the safety of these chemicals. USDA doesn't count on so many levels.
I'm interested in planting my own trellises. I've read that corn makes a great trellis for legumes and smaller curcubitas such as cucumbers. However it apparently doesn't do well with tomatoes. Has anyone used tall, stalky plants to form trellises? I've also seen sunflowers tied together like a tepee used as a trellis.
I'd say these forums are quite active. I've read the Lawn Care article a couple times myself. Its a good read and things don't always lodge themselves in my brain the first time around. Welcome grazzmaster. We'd love to share ideas with you. Right now's the time to start prepping for the autumn lawn season. That is assuming you're in a cool season area.
Well, it may be better to just continue things as is. I have a nasty habit of over complicating things, if you haven't noticed.
Nope, no open water, just a few 1000sqft. of marsh in the spring. Much of which I learned is not actually my land, and my land extends further into a dryer area than I knew. Hooray for land surveyors! I haven't researched comfrey yet, and buckwheat apparently mines potassium as well. Vetiver seems promising for some issues I have.
Paul, have you any experience with hairy vetch planted in a winter cereal? I've ordered 5lbs ea. of seed for hairy vetch and winter rye, and inoculant for the vetch. I plan on planting late Aug/early Sept. whenever the seeds arrive.
polyparadigm, that could be too. But its not really out competing itself. There are other areas where it would be doing the trying to out compete thing, but it is just a plant or two among some grass. It seems that the plants like having the support of each other. Buckwheat is also not a grass, but a dicot.
I too think it is a great idea. I'm growing buckwheat inter-planted with cowpeas on grass sod. I did this in about 500 sq. ft. I plan on harvesting the seed, and selecting the strong plants seperately. Then planting the so-so seeds in one area and the good seeds in a patch of their own. Each year, selecting the best plants until I have enough to make a harvest for both seed and food. I noticed that both the buckwheat and cowpea prefer close clumps, instead of dispersed plants. My next crop in that patch will be winter rye and hairy vetch.
For processing small amounts, you can use a mortar and pestle. For larger amounts you can get grinders of various styles, quality, and power sources.
I agree with Paul. I've been using Scott's. My last application was the beginning of June. My lawn responds well to it. I also recall Paul not really commenting on the effectiveness of the product. He doesn't really have any experience with it directly, if I recall correctly. He did however have some doubts as to the quality of the source of the ingredients, regarding industrial waste and byproducts of their other product lines. These claims are not unfounded, and I agree with him to a point. Ringers has its issues in this regard as well.
I haven't tried it yet, but hybrid poplar grows extremely fast. Makes a great source for firewood and mulch in a small space. geekinthegarden, I'd like to know a bit about your experience with the pawpaws. I'm planning on planting a few this coming year.
Hairy vetch has been running in the back of my mind recently. I'm thinking of co-planting it with winter wheat just before I harvest my patch of co-planted cowpea and buckwheat. The buckwheat is about 15% mature on the seed heads. The cowpea has started blooming and the pod stalks have started growing. I figure I should plant about the beginning to middle of Sept. I figure I'll go a bit denser with planting the vetch/wheat. The buckwheat/cowpea didn't quite achieve choke out coverage. Thanks, Paul, for reminding me of that option. I should get my seed ordered soon.
I'm also looking into trees and shrubs for their leaves/limbs. I'm thinking of planting a hybrid poplar. I was thinking also of planting some pawpaws for their fruit. geekinthegarden has another thread in the permaculture forum that is parallel to this one. I just noticed it today. There he mentioned that the pawpaw leaves look like they'd make a great source for leaf mold and mulch.
Well, I'm growing it for the first time right now. Its growing knee to thigh high. It just started going to seed the past couple of weeks. My understanding is that mowing after harvest kills it. I don't think height or productivity is very affected by water availability. I have mine planted on a strip that gets lots of run off on one end and the other remains fairly dry. Both ends are about the same. It seems to like its self more than anything. It grows stronger and taller in the middle of a patch, and shorter around the fringe. One note: I co-planted mine with cowpea. Soil prep amounted to no more than mowing the lawn short and broadcasting seed. I mowed again a few days after germination. The cowpea and buckwheat were both already sprouted the next day.
EcoHouse, asking someone who has their paycheck at stake to read something that could turn their world upside down is futile. They will scoff and tell you to try doing what they do. Only by proving in actions your point will you get across. They need to see proof that reading it will work. They need a model to look at and say, yes that is better than what I do now. No amount of words will persuade them to that end. Especially the words of Masanobu Fukuoka. As wise as he is about natural farming, his words are very out there to most Westerners. The Eastern concept of "mushin" is rather foreign to most Westerners. The concepts of mushin are very prevalent in Fukuoka's words. Not a very good way to change the course of the status quo.
In Mr. Hurst's article, the only real comparisons he makes is between industrial and organic farming. I don't see either as a viable way to sustainability. Organic farming is rooted in the same methods as industrial farming. Only the materials are different. My understanding is that the methods are what make those styles of farming unsustainable. The methods between the two may differ, but only slightly. The author's comparing apples and quinces.
I feel his pain. He is criticized by many who don't know or understand his plight. Also, he makes a good point that the market demands he do what he does. Critics of industrial farming should really criticize the buyers, not the producers. An overly dramatic hypothetical situation: if the entire earth stopped buying corn that was produced with GMO seed, herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, would the farmers keep growing them? How about if twenty more people stopped buying GMO and chemically enhanced crops everyday? Do you think the farmers would care either way? No, they'd produce what the buyer wants.
I'm under the impression that grass clippings return nitrogen back to the soil (and air) while breaking down. The problems lies in that they tend to mat down and inhibit the flow of water and oxygen into the soil. They also tend to get hot from decomp if layered too thickly. Another thing about using your grass clippings in your garden, is that you're robbing your lawn of mulch and nutrients. While I'll occasionally harvest some grass to heat up the compost pile, I do so sparingly and rotate the areas that I utilize for this. I have a patch of cowpea and buckwheat mixed. I plan on using the straw for mulch and reseeding with the harvested seeds. Another idea is planting a winter wheat in your veggie beds. Mow it down prior to planting your veggies in the spring. If you let it go to seed, you can thresh it and have seed for next year. Or you can just spend more money on new seed. I have a 1/4 acre lot, so I have room for several beds. I can grow a grain/legume mix in one during the summer and rotate through the beds each year. Over winter I'm going to try growing winter varieties and see how that works. I don't know how much room you have, so you may need to modify that a bit. You can use the remains of any of your garden plants as mulch. Just make sure that a particular plant doesn't have properties that hinder the growth of seed or plants. Hope it helps.
Not just the compact fluorescent bulbs, but all fluorescent bulbs need to be disposed of properly. I know the long tube types used to be accepted at our local Sears. I don't know if they still do or if they take the compact bulbs or not.
I'm in short supply of mulch. I'd like to grow my own. I already have a patch of cowpea and buckwheat, that I intend on mowing for straw after harvesting the seed. I'm wanting to get some fast growing shrubs and trees, as well as some other sources growing on my small 1/4 acre plot. I already harvest my neighbor's tree leaves in the fall. I also plan on utilizing green mulch, like clover. Any thing left over will be composted.
bruc33ef wrote: It's good to hear from the industrial agriculture side sometimes. They must be allowed to speak. We shouldn't depend just on how their views and practices are characterized by permies. There's a new article written by a Missouri farmer called, "The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals," in The American (http://www.american.com/archive/2009/july/the-omnivore2019s-delusion-against-the-agri-intellectuals) in which he really takes on the natural agriculture folks.
A sampling of his points:
* "Biotech crops actually cut the use of chemicals, and increase food safety. Are people who refuse to use them my moral superiors?"
Why would you want to use biotech or chemicals? Nature can do it better, if you let her.
* "Herbicides cut the need for tillage, which decreases soil erosion by millions of tons. The biggest environmental harm I have done as a farmer is the topsoil (and nutrients) I used to send down the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico before we began to practice no-till farming, made possible only by the use of herbicides. The combination of herbicides and genetically modified seed has made my farm more sustainable, not less, and actually reduces the pollution I send down the river.... Farming is more complicated than a simple morality play."
I had no clue that no-till was only made possible by using herbicides.
* "Protected from the weather and predators, today's turkeys may not be aware that they are a part of a morally reprehensible system." He goes on to tell of how turkeys will stay out in the rain and look up at the sky until they drown. "Chickens will provide lunch to any number of predators, and some number of chickens will die as flocks establish their pecking order." Talking about the dangers of free range chickens, here.
Chickens are a mighty tasty lunch, indeed. And eggs for breakfast, too.
* "The crates protect the piglets from their mothers. Farmers do not cage their hogs because of sadism, but because dead pigs are a drag on the profit margin, and because being crushed by your mother really is an awful way to go. As is being eaten by your mother, which I've seen sows do to newborn pigs as well."
Um, I know that momma dogs will eat their dead or dying puppies. Perhaps the author mistook this for thinning the herd to the proper size and health.
* "Changing the way we raise animals will not necessarily change the scale of the companies involved in the industry. If we are about to require more expensive ways of producing food, the largest and most well-capitalized farms will have the least trouble adapting."
More expensive? Perhaps he failed to include the long-term costs with the equation. Or he's believing the FUD campaigns.
He makes some weak points but also some interesting ones. It's worth a read, IMO.
I get enough carbons on my little <1/4 acre subdivision plot to make a compost pile that can easily top 1c.y. every year. I suppose if I actually went and tried, I could make a bigger pile, maybe 2-3 c.y. Nitrogens are even easier to come by. I let most of them mulch back into the lawn. After all that from the yard, there is my kitchen scraps.
I don't even bother with cardboard and paper. I let the recycler take them.
Um... while grounds are in fact brown, I've always heard they are actually green in the eyes of a compost pile. Again, I don't really monitor my kitchen scraps other than making sure they are compostable. I just monitor the heat of the pile and when it cools down, I add a couple bags of grass clippings. By cooling down, I mean when turning doesn't heat the pile back up to its full heat. Toward the end of summer, I'll add less grass and let the pile become a warm pile. By the end of the year, I'll have a nice pile of finished compost.
I think the question is about spreading compost. Fall is a good time to spread compost. Other than that, you can do whatever. Fertilize then spread compost. Spread compost then fertilize. Spread compost mixed with fertilizer. That last one can be done, but it is a waste of time to first mix the two. Fertilize at the recommended times. That is also a good time to spread compost because the grass will be not dormant and hold the compost in place better. When the grass is dormant during the summer, everything is dry. The grass is dry and thin(ner) and the compost is dry and crumbly. This makes the compost more susceptible to erosion.
As long as you're composting and fertilizing with organic materials, your worms should be happier. The toxic goo that passes as fertilizer and pesticide makes your worms very unhappy and leave town.
I very much doubt your soil is totally worm free. You probably haven't found them yet. Their numbers will increase over time. Also, I noticed more during the spring than I do now. But then again, I haven't done much digging since spring.
For moisture, I just let the rain do most of the work. Occasionally adding a bag or two of grass clippings gives me the right amount of greens and moisture. It gets really hot! Then it starts cooling down the fourth day or so. Then I'll mix it up. Then the next time it cools off, I'll add more grass. Kitchen scraps are gone in a week or two.
My understanding is that they're a green while green, and brown while brown. If a green dries out and turns brown, then it is now a brown. This is a general rule, and I'm sure there are exceptions to it. I have good results without even fussing about it. I just turn my pile every few days and keep just enough greens in it so that when I put my hand in the middle, I need to take it back out because its too hot to keep there.
My original idea was for resizing as part of the transfer to skip the step of resizing before transfer. I have no doubt any of those programs make it easy to resize. I have several programs that I use myself which make it easy. Easiness wasn't my original goal. Saving time was. Unless the program allows you to batch resize, then the process of resizing, while easy, is very time consuming when you are doing multiple files. One of my programs, which I recently rediscovered after posing the question, does batch edits. ImageMagick is freely available for Windows and all the UNIX-like operating systems. As I don't do Windows, the latter fact is important to me.
grasshopper wrote: At my old house I was very successful with overseeding when I soaked the seeds in water for 24 hours with one cup of Epsom salt. At my current location I used a slit seeder the first year in the fall with little success. But now I believe because of my poor soil condition. If I decide to overseed I would cut my grass every 2nd. or 3rd. day to get it short than spread the seeds, lightly topdress and use a roller to make sure they have good contact. My other option would be to do nothing and see how my lawn responded the organic way. I love the idea of crocus in your lawn right after the snow melts and before the grass wakes up. So I will give that a try.
I still think your best option is to see how your lawn responds to a new way of doing things. If you do wish to go ahead and overseed, it sounds like you have a pretty good system going for it. I would do that, just to get the TF introduced. It sounds like your current lawn is 100% KBG. Kinda high maintenance in my mind. TF/KGB might make a good mix for you. However, still just let the KBG be for now and see how it does. Maybe you won't have to go through all the time and expense of overseeding. I do Have a couple of small patches of 100% KBG growing in the wake of my neighbor's storm drain. Its weird seeing it, because it is really the only part of my lawn that is 100% anything. Every place else has this or that mixed in. I did nothing to get them there, the lawn came that way.
There is a tool that I found recently, called ImageMagick. Actually I used to use it a long time ago and forgot about it until I finally did some research on doing the resizing thing. It can do all sorts of image manipulation. It has a command line interface, and APIs for Java, php, python, etc. It probably is a simple matter of installing the library and writing a function call for it in the appropriate place in the site's source. I found it after asking about it in the other thread. The libraries are available for both Windows and the UNIX clones.
organicMN, is there anyway you can enlarge the pics? They're so small I can barely even tell the one pic even had any yellow flowers, much less identify them. It looks like you uploaded the thumbnails instead of the actual pics.
On thing I'd suggest doing is getting a soil test done. Your local extension should be able to help you with this. It sounds like your soil is all out of whack. This is the only way to know for sure, and point you in the right direction to solve the issues.
Sheet mulching is kind of extreme for rehabbing a lawn. Especially since you do have grass growing there. It will kill the existing grass. It is also much more work than is usually needed. A better approach is to encourage the existing grass to thrive and discourage the weeds. Sheet mulching for the same reason can be an ideal way of preparing a garden bed on ground full of undesirable plants.
I'll vouch for what Paul and Jeremy just said. Go ahead and mow. I'd even go so far as to say "Mow it short!" Your lack of grass means the only thing you'll have to lose by this is weeds. This will also maximize your mulch layer. The weeds will either get unhappy and die, or waste much energy to grow back to their current state. Either way you win. Unhappy dying weeds, or exhausted weeds that gave you some more free mulch. This is one of the few times that I'd recommend mowing short, as this is a special case. If you had a reasonable stand of grass, I'd suggest mowing high. Like Jeremy said, so what if they spread their seed, that can be dealt with later and you'll have the extra OM to boot.
Jeremy, thanks, I found another way of doing it. I found a way to batch resize for Linux, which is what I use. I can't quite bring myself to use Windows. Microsoft is, in my opinion, the Monsanto of software. But that is fodder for another thread.
grasshopper, but then I can't use the image as a high res image if I wanted to!