gary wrote: They brought in mulch to get started with, but can they now sustain the system without bringing in more mulch material? Is anyone reading this producing all of their own mulch?
Yes. Very simply in fact. I let the plants do the work of creating mulch. Most common mulches are basically carbon. Plants take the carbon from the air and produce their plant material. Depending on the plant, this material can be made into mulch in various ways. Plants themselves can and do serve as a living mulch. Grass can be mowed and dried, woody plants can be shredded. If you leave your grass clippings on the lawn, you are already doing this. If one were to start out with trees and grasses suited to the area, much area could be covered rapidly. The trees form the foundation for improving the soil, while the grasses hold the soil in place. The grasses provide mulch in two ways. As a living mulch, the roots hold the soil, while the stems and leaves shade the soil and hold moisture in. When you mow and leave the clippings in place, you are now adding to the mulch properties of the system and also returning carbon from the air and other nutrients to the soil. I hope this helps you out.
Rose, in the research I've done, I've found several sources recommending a combination of either two or all three of the following crops planted in a combination on the same acreage. Cow peas, buckwheat, and sorghum sudangrass. The tops and root systems of these plants apparently make the foundation of a good basic ecosystem. They also provide a very nutritious food source. Cow pea, a legume, provides the soil with nitrogen and are a high protein food. Buckwheat provides a strong root system which helps build the soil. I haven't researched the sorghum sudangrass much, other than reading several sources that it compliments the other two crops very well. I may do some more reading on it tonight. I'm very interested in alternatives to monocropping. I like the idea of not having to till, use pesticides, fertilizer, etc. My little 500 sqft. experiment is coming up very nicely. I hope to grow enough seed to double its size next year, and have some left over for food this year. All I did was mow a patch of grass down low. Then I broadcast the seed and raked it in. The seed took off and is firmly rooted in the soil through the thatch. I inoculated the cow peas because I'm not sure if the proper rhizobium strain is present. I'm not sure where a place would be near you. I bought my seed online, mainly because I was too lazy to go to the local store.
Susan, this is my first time planting buckwheat, so I'm not sure how dense it will get. It just sprouted this past week. My understanding, is the same as yours. The Buckwheat should get dense enough to out compete the clover. My patch shows signs after growing for a week that it could easily get that thick. I didn't even cover with anything, compost, etc. I just raked the seeds down in the grass with the back of a bow rake. My planting is slightly different, as I mixed in cow peas with the buckwheat. Since the cow pea is a legume, it serves the same function as the clover. Except it is grown simultaneously with the buckwheat. Since you are taking a three year approach, perhaps you could do this experiment. In one patch, grow the clover for two years, then plant the buckwheat the third. In another patch, grow the buckwheat/cow peas for the three years. See which patch does the job the best. Since the buckwheat and cow peas are a summer crop, perhaps you could overwinter some wheat in that patch to keep the soil growing. That's what I plan on doing here. Sow the wheat about a week or two before harvsting the cow peas and buckwheat. Then harvest, and mow the straw down as a mulch.
Rose, the mix that I planted (buckwheat/cow pea,) from what I've heard is a great mix to cover the ground in most climates. Especially, I've read, if you mix in sorghum sundangrass as well.
buddy110, also remember: fertilize at rate much slower than the recommended. I fertilize at 1/4 the rate and my lawn's looking fine.
Paul, by that logic, the parent company of Ringer also owns a companies that make rodent poison and weed killer. I think the Ringer propaganda may be just that. At least these companies, (if this is even the case,) are putting a byproduct to good use.
For a second there, I thought this was a two way conversation that died. I'm glad to see it picked up again. I agree with what is called Communism actually being Totalitarianism. Communism works, but only at the Commune level, as you mentioned. Communes can exist quite happily in a larger free market, to the betterment of both. In reference to my earlier writing, I meant Communism as in the Communist movement of the early 20th century. Again, actually being Totalitarianism, but largely known as Communism. Unions, while having once served a necessary purpose, have stagnated into propagating overpaid workforces. This, along with NAFTA, contributed much to our currently failing economy. High labor costs + free trade = jobs going elsewhere.
I guess I mistook you. I thought you were asking why not to overseed. Have you had your soil analyzed? If not, have your local extension test it for you. If so, what is the pH? You may want to address that if it is off kilter. I'd make sure you know the pH of your soil and your amendments before doing much amending. Otherwise you may be fighting on the wrong side of an uphill battle. Also look into your watering, as this can help with fungus problems. You are right in wanting to improve the soil to help combat the problems.
That's sort of true. TF does produce rhizomes, albeit short ones. It spreads rather slowly via its rhizomes. Although I'm only on my first season (planted this spring,) with TF, I imagine that proper establishment of the lawn and incorporating other covers into the mix, as well as proper maintenance should alleviate the need to over seed. As Paul wrote the book, or rather article so to speak, he'd know more about how it works. I imagine that thinning in TF is less prevalent than the seed companies wish to be known. I could be wrong there. Paul's article touts the cheap and the lazy ways of doing things. No need to waste time and money to fix a problem that hasn't actually happened. I'd imagine that if 100% TF doesn't work for you, then maybe blend it with something that helps maintain cover. Or use something else entirely. I have patches of white clover that do extremely well, without me doing anything to help them along. There is no such thing as a universal solution. Be observant and find a solution that works.
Rose, in another thread, you mentioned that reading books is expensive. There is a free, online library of pdf books here: http://www.soilandhealth.org/ Go to the agriculture library there. You can find two of Fukuoka-san's books there, free for the download for personal use. The method he uses involves broadcast spreading the next crop's seed over the current crop. This is done however long before harvest as the germination time of the next crop. When the current crop is harvested, it is threshed and mowed on the spot. The straw and chaff is left where it lies as a mulch. The next crop, as it was planted before the harvest of the first crop, will quickly begin growing through the mulch. In the common method, the land is fallow from the time of harvest, through plowing, and until the next crop sprouts. Or for new fields, from the time of plowing until the first crop sprouts. Cover crops would be considered a crop for these purposes. With the overlapping crop method, at no time is the land fallow. This increases the growing season of the crops as well. The only thing that leaves the field after growing is the harvested grain or fruit. The rest is left as a mulch/manure for the field. The efficiency of this is that you don't need to haul off more than you harvest, and much organic matter is added to the soil, as the plants draw carbon from the air the create their mass. The only two operations done by the farmer are planting and harvest/mowing. No tilling, harrowing, baling, spraying. This saves the time of the farmer, fuel in the tractor, and no chemicals are used. You can rotate many crops in and out with this method. Fukuoka uses a rice and wheat rotation as an example. The time saved can be used to tend to other needs around the farm or for relaxing. Fukuoka claims the yields are as good or better than conventional farming methods.
I guess what I was really saying, but couldn't find the words at the time, is that I'm glad to see the candles of natural knowledge being lit all over the world. Some spontaneously, some being lit by other candles. I guess it doesn't really matter who lit them, or how they were lit, just that they are lit. Making a discovery on ones own, and subsequently finding others who made the same discovery is a great feeling and helps cement that knowledge for bettering the future.
I'll add a bit that I discovered this year. If you don't even have a weed to plant in a bare spot, mulch it. The mulch will help keep the soil moist and will break down to help nourish the soil.
Perhaps a better question would be: why plant grass when you already have grass? Overseeding is just planting the same thing as is already there. Grass, once established, spreads by rhizomes. If you already have grass, and want more of it, make the soil such that the grass will want to grow there. The existing grass will do the rest. If you have a bare patch that nothing is growing in, find out why nothing is growing there and fix that issue in the favor of what you want to grow there. The surrounding grass will move in, via its rhizomes, about as fast as seeds will sprout, without all the expense and effort. If you're trying to get rid of something that you don't want in your lawn, then find out why that thing is preferring that spot. Then find a way to make what you want to grow there grow while discouraging that which you don't want. Read Paul's article if you have not yet. -> http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp The stuff he says really works.
Surfactant is basically a fancy word for soap. It is any chemical that acts to stabilize the polar relationship between oil and water by reducing the surface tension between the two. Thus allowing the two to mix. It doesn't matter if you use a 100% naturally grown organic soap, if it stabilizes oil and water then it is a surfactant.
I think I'm going to try the crocus thing here. Right now I've got an experimental patch of cowpea and buckwheat that is starting to take root already when I planted only Tuesday. I just did the mow the grass low and broadcast seed technique. Then I raked the seed in. Very simple, very little time consumption. I plan on letting that grow to harvest. I already have several sizable patches of white clover that stay fairly low. Other lawns that have lots of clover have patches of grass that aren't doing well and look bad. I keep my grass looking good and the clover accents it. Its a nice combo and the lawn looks good except for a few bad patches I haven't had time and resources to fix yet. I'll keep posted and hopefully get my pics up. I found the camera cord, but need to covert my pics to a smaller file size. Just haven't had time yet.
Paul, if you use one of the broader senses of the word "community," you speak of the world at large. All of man kind is a community of sorts. If you look at the generations, each one is reputed as being more unruly and disrespectful than the previous. So by this, broad definition and observation, I'd say yes. There definitely is substance to your thesis. I can also say that raising puppies has similar aspects. If I get lax with one, the others get unruly as well. Also the first one is emboldened, and will try more daring disregards. If I'm consistent with with praise and discipline, my puppies remain obedient and playful. Now with people, I daresay the goal is definitely not obedience, but cooperation and tolerance. I can definitely see your scenario playing out into a chaos of sorts. Maybe not at first, but much later.
Susan, I am doing that right now. Two days ago, I mowed a section of grass and clover low. I then hand broadcast a mix of buckwheat and inoculated cowpeas. Half the area I made the seeds into clay pellets, to see if that helps the survival rate. I raked the seeds into the grass. I didn't cover with anything, I'm just letting the grass and clover act as a natural mulch. It has rained the past two nights and today. Yesterday, I noticed both the buckwheat and cowpeas started sprouting. My plan is to harvest the seeds in the fall, and possibly plant wheat or some fall crop there. I'm going to just throw the seeds of the next crop in a few days to a week before harvesting. Then I'll harvest and mow the cowpeas and buckwheat and leave it lay there as a mulch. The cow peas fix the N, and both help break up the soil. The harvested seed will go to repeating the process the following year, and the remainder will be eaten. For your case, why not just plant through the buckwheat straw and use it as your mulch? Raking up mulch and laying mulch back in its place seems like too much work to me. Removing and replacing mulch also seems a bit like tilling. Wouldn't it release more OM back into the air than just leaving it lay and planting through? In my current garden, I've only moved my straw mulch just enough to expose the seed line and hoe a furrow, or dig a hole for transplants. Then, move the mulch back over the furrow or around transplants. My thoughts with the cowpeas and buckwheat combines the steps of sequencing crops of clover then buckwheat. From what I've read, cowpeas and buckwheat make good companion cropping in the same field.
Do you have pets that spend any time outside? Small bare spots may be where they go. You said you use a manual mower. Try setting it on the highest setting instead of medium. On most manual mowers, the highest setting is about 2 1/2 - 3 inches. 3 inches is ideal, 2 1/2 is okay. I'd leave it on that highest setting spring, summer, and autumn. Find out how high yours can mow. The simplest way is the manufacturer's specs. The next is just measure the height of the freshly mowed grass.
Aerating may help a bit, but not much. Aerating is what chemically enhanced lawns need to replace the functions killed off by the chemicals. In order to give a better answer, it'd help to know a bit more about your lawn. What do you fertilize with? How much? How often? Watering: how much, how often? Mowing: how high, how often? Do you mulch, leave lay, or bag the clippings? What kind of lawn? What part of the country? I presume a recent house in a subdivision by your having lots of clay. If you dig into the turf, do you see many earthworms? You should be able to see multiple worms in each shovelful within the top foot.
I only mentioned Fukuoka because he seems to be one of the earliest of what I'd call modern natural farmers. And I said stumbled upon to imply that you learned the technique elsewhere. What I think we both can agree on there is that leaving the plants to lay where the lived and died is the simplest way of enriching the soil. To touch on another point you just brought up, diversity in agriculture is a great thing that is all too often overlooked. I imagine that a farm with woods, and fields and gardens would be a much better route than to just focus on one way of doing things. I have only a 1/4 acre of land including my house. This year, I started a garden that is split between a 500 square foot traditional garden and a 500 square foot "field" of cowpeas and buckwheat that I just planted today. For the cowpea and buckwheat field, I just mowed part of my lawn low and broadcast the seed over the grass. I raked the seeds down in after spreading. I left the grass clippings where they lay. Half of the field I spread clay pellets made from the seed and the other half just bare seed, just to experiment with the two ways.
Rose, I am confused by a point you just made. You stated that you are okay with plowing, but you are against the land being left fallow. My understanding is that because of plowing the land becomes fallow until the next crop begins sprouting. The only real way for a piece of land to not lay fallow is to not plow/till/harrow it. As soon as you plow the land would be considered fallow, in my understanding.
Rose, it sounds like you've stumbled upon Masanobu Fukuoka's technique for enriching the earth. Basically you skip the time and energy wasting step of hauling the plant matter from your garden to the compost heap. Also the time and energy of moving the compost back to the garden is skipped as well. Even if your compost is in or near the garden, this is still a lot of work. You just let the dead plant matter form a mulch over the area which it grew. The mulch does what mulch does. It holds in water and adds nutrients back to the soil. It breaks down into a nice humus. Nature has been doing it this way since, well, ever since she started doing her thing. Right now, that is my preferred way of composting. I do have a pile that I'm using to get rid of some tree and shrub trimmings, as well as kitchen scraps. I plan to incorporate this pile with larger branches later for a hugelkulture.
That's part of the confusion right there. Greed and ethics don't mix. A strong desire to make money is not greed. Greed is that desire to make money taken to excess where one is willing to do unethical deeds for money. The desire to make money and ethics go hand in hand. Without each other you have either greed or wrongdoing or both. I think your second statement is a much better way of putting it than the first.
I've invested much in tools over the years. I will happily loan tools out. I make a condition at time of loan that I expect my tools back in the condition that I loaned them. If there are damages or missing tools, I simply don't loan any more tools to that person until repaid for my loss. If I know enough about the person to believe this is understood, I may leave that understanding unspoken.
I have yet to have any problems with this system. Sure, I've lost a few tools due to this over the years. On the flip side though, the relationships that I've made this way far out pay the losses. If I lend my neighbor a tool that helps him repair his house, then I've helped maintain or increase the value of my own house, as well as the neighbor's.
However, I don't just loan my tools out, willy-nilly. I must have some rapport with the other party. If the rapport is lacking then I ask for suggestions from the other party for building it. Sometimes I'll make the suggestions. I just play it by ear.
I guess so. I'm glad there are others that see that capitalism and the environment can coexist quite happily. That's what happens when the consumers in capitalism are informed. Without the right information, greed easily sneeks in and takes the uninformed for an expensive, and often dangerous ride. I think that's how capitalism got a bad rap. Greedy people ripping off those who didn't know or care to know better. In that way capitalism became confused with greed.
<sarcasm>But with something else, you can get paid to be lazy while someone else does the work!</sarcasm> I think I've seen/heard every type of fallacy listed in your fallacy article used to denounce capitalism/promote something else. I don't think I've ever heard an argument against capitalism that actually held merit, aside from my sarcasm above. "From each, their ability. To each, their need." That is the summary of every other system I've seen proposed or implemented. For those that can and wish to live by it, great. There are other countries founded on those principles, in which those who believe in that would be welcomed. For those who champion something else, don't forget the following. The greatest experiment in capitalism ran strong for 150 years before communism began to taint it. That experiment runs strong even today, after more than 230 years. The greatest experiment in communism collapsed on itself in less than 80 years.
I imagine if a substantial methane leak would occur while the candles are burning, they'd oxidize the methane before an explosion hazard occurred. I'd just make sure to vent well before lighting/introducing the candles. This seems to be what you've been doing.
Before you go killing the lawn, maybe send in some pics if possible. Pictures will help with solving any underlying problems. Also any details about your lawn will help too. Is there any reason in particular that you need to have a stellar lawn ASAP, (hence the need to sod?) If there isn't any pressing need, (such as selling the house,) perhaps rehabilitating the lawn would be a much more economic choice. It sounds like you plan on being in the house for awhile. If that's the case, then rehabbing what you have is a better idea than starting from scratch. What are your current lawn maintenance routines? Mowing: how high? how often? Watering: how much? how often? Fertilizer: What kind? How much? How often? Pesticides/herbicides: Never use these. Read Paul's lawn care article. If your soil is poor, and/or you aren't using good lawn care techniques, no amount of work, including re-sodding, will solve the problem of a poor lawn. The book you're reading wouldn't happen to be by Ortho, or another chem company, would it? There is some great lawn care advice in those books. The only problem is those books are designed to sell a product. And just about every product it is designed to sell is bad for your lawn, you, and your family. Also some of the advice in those books only applies to chemically "enhanced" lawns. Such as aeration. Nature will aerate naturally if you don't kill her means with chemicals. Again, read Paul's article before you needlessly throw time and money at a problem that can be solved in a much better way.
Sounds like a good plan for what you want to accomplish. It gives a new meaning to Weed-n-Feed! You weed, and in turn feed the soil. Win-win, imo. You might try cutting the weeds at the soil with a sharp hoe to speed things up, if you have one. That's the only thing I'd do different. Once the peanut is established, anything that pops up and doesn't start taking over the peanut, I'd consider a good thing.
m-a-r-l-e-y , to directly answer your question though, I'd say leave the weeds right where they lay. They'll form a mulch which will definitely help the soil. That is if you decide to pull. Which seems like a lot of effort for a large area.
The straw has hasn't killed anything yet, as I've used several bales from the same source for other things starting last year. Left over seeds in the chaff vigorously sprout when left in the rain. I had already laid them out on the garden by the time you responded. Everything is growing well, aside from the hail damage we've received from several storms this past week. My peppers were especially hurt by this. The soil seems much happier and is moist on even hot days. Earthworm activity has very noticeably increased as well.
Hugelkultur was my inspiration for the raised beds. As the branches aren't very rotted, I was thinking some fresh grass clippings between them and compost would help speed the process, and provide extra N.
Your reminder of clopyralid did spur me to do some more research. It's made here in Indianapolis, were I live. I also found rumor of it particularly affecting legumes and namely peas. So it sounds like growing peas in suspect soil is a poor man's test for it. I'll try that out. And write a letter to my man Mitch about why this company is allowed to do such atrocious things in our state. Mitch Daniels is our governor. DowAgro makes clopyralid.
We look forward to seeing you back in here when you have time. Don't think of it as pestering us. My own personal view is that sharing information is necessary for success. Thomas Jefferson's words describe it better than any words I can think of:
"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation."
I've never heard of that before. How does the cold climate help? I'd think in any environment, you'd have to "focus the rich soil on the growing season." The microbes are what turn organic matter into more soil. How do dormant microbes help build soil?