Ellen, you don't need the wood ashes, pee will work fine on its own. I think there should be more water added to a mix without wood ashes, than with, because the wood ash would help lower the acidity of the urine.
As for when to add the pee...how much longer until you get a hard (killing) frost? What zone are you in?
I would suggest focusing on making it relevant to your average student. Focus on home scale bed prep (mention a few different styles), how to get your fertility if you are without a vehicle and living in the city (coffee grounds, urine, neighbors yard waste, municipal tree prunings in parks, restaurant food scraps etc)... I would emphasize the 'waste is a resource'. Also talk about annual vegetables that can self seed, and of course perennial foods, container gardening, balcony gardening, chicken tractors in cities....
This is of course assuming that most of your audience is interested in home scale permaculture...
I just built a bed in august, and immediately planted radish, fava beans, wax beans, turnips, and rapini. There were no added fertilizers, manures, or other nutrient inputs. All we used were logs, with twigs piled on top, then upturned sod ontop of that, and about 5-6 inches of sandy depleted soil to finish it off.
The growth of the crops mentioned above has been in keeping with what I would expect out of a manured garden.
My understanding is that if you have a layer of branches/twigs on top of the larger logs, the branches will start leaching nutrients quickly enough for your crops to use.
I ended up planting the horseradish roots about 2-3 feet from the trunk, at the edge of the circle of mulch around the trees. Each root spaced about 2 feet apart from eachother, circling around the tree trunk. I don't plan to dig up these roots for harvest, so I figured that it'd be alright that I planted them so close to the trunk. I'm hoping that this wards off the leaf miners and other pests that have hit several of the fruit trees.
I don't till the soil so they shouldn't spread too badly. Even if they do, I'll just have more mulch plants and/or roots to eat, sell, or transplant.
I might plant more horseradish at the (eventual) mature dripline of the trees (approx. 7-10 feet from the trunk) in the spring but I'll wait and see the success rate for my transplants first.
I have a few buckets of horseradish root that I dug up out of a neighbours yard. I'm going to transplant them around my fruit trees but the only instructions I can find online for planting, talk about root cuttings you buy from nurseries, which have a crown. Many of the roots I have were underground, and so they're without a crown. How deep should I plant these root pieces, and how far from the tree trunks should they be planted? I'm using them for the health of the trees more than for getting a crop but both would be nice.
I want to avoid spraying, as it takes up a lot of time, even though I'm only farming about 1.5 acres. We regularily get rain two times per week, and of course you have to spray again after precipitation.
I've actually let calendula and cilantro go to seed this year, so that they spread in the gardens. Good to know they're a repellant for hoppers and crickets.
The grasshopper and cricket hordes arrived to my region this season, in explosive numbers compared to recent years. I'm trying to avoid a battle with them, so along with some other strategies, I'm looking to grow stuff they don't like to eat.
Do you know of any annual crops that these insects won't eat, or won't eat enough of the foliage to prevent a crop? I'm only in the second year of market garden-style farming with this land so annuals still make up the bulk of my plantings. I'm mostly looking for them but thats not to say suggestions should be limited to that category.
So far I've seen that the following remained untouched by droves of crickets and grasshoppers:
I've left a small patch of red russian garlic growing at my parents cottage for about 4 years now.
Unlike the article, I don't even till the soil. It is planted in a raised bed with good garden soil. All I've added is one application of woodchips, one light dusting of wood ashes, and a few applications of grass pulled from the edge of the garden bed. My parents thoroughly weed the area a few times a year, since it is mixed in with their ornamental flower beds. No manure or other fertilizer added, and I the majority of the garlic grows to medium sized heads every year.
All I do is pinch the flower heads aka scapes when they form, pull out about 1/4 to 1/2 of the heads, and leave the rest to
PS- with flower heads; even if you harvest them immaturely, (before the baby garlic bulbils form) they will often continue to grow and form the bulbils, which you can plant. So I suggest keeping them around if you don't eat them. The bulbils take 2-4 years to grow a full head but hey, it's a good way to multiply your crop.
I was just going by my 'one-season' experience with bantam chickens and muskovy ducks. I was farming on bartered land, with the birds running completely free. They commonly browsed in my veggie patch and I hardly lost a thing to either trampling or grazing. I guess all are not created equal in this case.
John Polk wrote: If your land is semi arid, extremely rocky, covered by snow much of the year, or other limiting factor, the number would need to be lower animals/acre.
The land in question is sandy, with a high water table that is 'spongy' until mid june. I would consider the vegetation level to be moderately lush.
John Polk wrote: Letting the chooks loose on an open field will not have the same benefit as rotational paddocks. Firstly, like most critters, they will not walk 100 yards to get a beneficial plant if harmful plants are right at their feet. You will end up with a 100 foot radius 'dead zone' around their coop, with lush pasture beyond.
Would having a mobile house or houses (which they could freely enter or exit) within the area solve this, and the disease/parasite problem?
In terms of number of chickens, I'm more interested in enough to deal with grasshoppers.
I just had a thought that maybe the 3' high electric fence might keep out enough of the grasshoppers to solve the 'plague' issue I'm having. Anybody know how high they jump?
Chris: I hope I'm not hijacking your thread. I figured that your and my idea are so similar, that this information would be helpful to your situation as well.
Chris Stelzer wrote: @Travis, I think turkeys or chickens might fit well into that operation. Possibly even rabbits. I would like to give you a word of caution about electrifying chicken wire. It seems very dangerous. I think you could use a product similar to this, http://www.kencove.com/fence/Electric+Net+Fencing_detail_NSPCG.php . This netting is designed to be electrified, and can be used alone, or combined with additional netting. best of all its temporary, so you can move it as often (or not) as you like. If your serious about this, also look at their Fence Chargers. I'd recommend getting a Stafix fence charger. They are New Zealand made, and send pulses of electricity, as opposed to a steady current. You can change the frequency of the current as well, say every 1-2 seconds, or every 10. I've also built my own power source for these chargers using a deep cycle marine battery, solar panel, and charge controller. I haven't needed to charge the battery all summer, and my fence is HOT 24/7. If you'd like more info let me know.
Thanks for the suggestions and link. I wouldn't have thought that a 40" high fence is tall enough to keep chickens in, and predators out.
Hughbert: What about keeping them in one spot for the year? I realize that would mean a lot less chickens per unit area but my priority is to have a setup that's relatively hands free, since my main reason for this system would be to address the droves of grasshoppers and crickets in the space. Going by Mulloon Creek, would 50 birds in an acre be too much? Does Mulloon give grain to the chickens in their systems.
Maybe I need to just grow crops that grasshoppers don't like instead.
I've seen chickens pass up beans and spinach, though there were a lot of wild plants that they could munch on instead. I've heard that they'll leave melons, squash, and most herbs alone but I've never seen this with my own eyes. Has anyone found this to be so, or not? What are some other common vegetables/fruits that chickens won't eat?
Funny, I've been contemplating pretty much the same idea for a hugelkultur garden here. I've got 50' X 100' of hugel mounds, with various fruit trees, and grape bushes planted throughout. The understory so far is white clover paths, small amounts of thyme, mint, chard, beans, and naturally present ragweed, aster, grass, dock, a tall type of clover, and a plague of grasshoppers eating the beans!
To deal with the grasshoppers, I've thought about fencing the area off with two 'stories' of chicken wire, and then electrifying it, or some similar fencing, with a laying house. Anyone know the ballpark number of pastured chickens or ducks per unit area?
I'll have to get back to you on that. In the past it wouldn't have been a problem, as we have a camping trailer and school portable but our municipal government is now giving us grief, saying that we're technically not allowed to have anyone stay in either accomodation, not even a freakin tent! I will let you know if and when this gets resolved.
Two species of Symphytum are banned, S. asperum and S. x uplandicum; while the common comfrey, Symphytum officinale, and other species are not banned. The letter indicates that the pyrollizidine alkaloid, echimidine, is at the centre of Health Canada’s concerns and that comfrey products must be free of it. Click here to read the letter.
"Seeds and plants are unaffected by the ban. It is legal to grow your own comfrey for personal use. It is legal to grow comfrey commercially also. It is not legal to sell prepared comfrey products such as creams, ointments, pills and teas."
They would provide unique structure and habitat once they bolt and flower. I see tall flowering plants as beacons for pollinators. You could maybe grow some pole beans up the stalks. I don't think mullein sucks up a lot of nutrients due to it growing commonly in nutrient poor, degraded soils, which would mean it might not take too much away from nearby plants. Not sure though.
You could use the self-dried flower stalk as a torch btw
I usually get 5-10 medium to large potatoes per plant, and several small ones as well. Not the best yield but for the amount of effort I put in, and the ease of harvest, I think its worth it. I think that if I added a base layer of manure I'd get better yield but my crap is needed elsewhere.
When you bury the plant in mulch...Theoretically the leaves rot off, and the spot on the main stem then sprouts roots, and you may even gget more potatoes if the season has enough time left. I've been growing this way for 4 years and have never had a plant suffer because of this practice.
IF its the type of mallow that H Ludi posted a link about, I'd consider you in luck. Nature planted you salad greens/smoothy ingredients.
From what I understand, that particular mallow doesn't have tap roots, but underground runner roots that stay near the surface of the soil. What about clearing some circular patches of the mallow and planting something that'll grow taller and/or have deeper roots that won't have to compete at the same root zone as the mallow (eg. sunflower, pole beans, cucumbers on trellis etc.) Throw a spot of mulch on the circle, clear juuust enough of it away for the seeds to pop up through, and keep an eye on it.
If you really want it gone that bad, and you're going to use a spray PLEASE use vinegar instead of round up. I've read a university study which concluded that a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water worked just as effectively against weds as roundup did, with the added benefit of nitrogen released into the soil for your next crop.
I think that planting seeds in amongst the tree roots shouldn't be too damaging as long as you do it sparingly and/or are careful to not injure the roots. What seeds are you planting specifically? IMO most seeds will sprout through a light mulch. By light I mean not enough to fully cover the soil, but enough to cast shade. IF you're planting beans or other large seeds, in my experience, they will pop up through a complete covering of the soil with hay or straw.
I plant the tree and then the guild, not sure if thats right though. I mulch after planting, and when putting in plants around the tree, I avoid planting in the tree root zone, remove just enough mulch to put the plant in, and then transplant. Again, not sure if this is the right way but it's worked so far. I also let nature do a lot of the planting of my guilds in some cases. I figure that she knows better than I do about what would do best in a given piece of land.
I've had decent yields using nothing but old hay, and also nothing but semi composted woodchips, burying the plants to all but the top leaves once per month or so. So no, you don't need fertilizer but I can't say that it wouldn't improve yield. I've never tried.
I have heard that adding wood ash to potato plantings can cause scab, though I have not seen this with my own eyes.
I've called several companies that print newspapers and some still use petroleum based inks, and they couldn't say that their inks were non-toxic. One of the biggest newspapers in my province still uses petroleum based ink
Sergio... Were the banana leaves still green when you mulched the potatoes? I've killed healthy potato plants with too much fresh green mulch before.
I just wanted to put the word out that we're looking for short and long term volunteers to help out here at greenshire. We are a new permaculture farm, with about 1 acre in total of no-tillage gardens. We're running a foodbox program, market and restaurant sales. We've got about 40 fruit trees as the beginning of our food forest.
If you or someone you know might want to come help us out for a few days, weeks, or months, please let me know and I'll give more details.
So the other house on my property has one of those prefab composting toilets with the shit chamber and electric fan. The guy who sold it to us said you HAVE to use peat but I'm skeptical. I can get the make and model number if necessary but do any of you have experience with using things other than peat in these units?
How old was the compost you used, and what did you use to make it?
How many inches did you add?
What plants are you growing?
In general I'd say you could get away with no more added fertilizer as long as you keep as much plant materials in the bed. When you weed, let the weeds dry out and die, then add them under the mulch. After you harvest whatever vegetables are in the bed, leave the leftover plant material in or on the bed so you can keep some of the fertility there.
I think Brenda's suggestion of perennials is good but what matters most IMO is to plant stuff you'll like to eat.
Looks good Maya. Are you going to mulch the surface now that its planted up? That'd help with the erosion.
I built several beds and made the mistake of only cover cropping some of them. I had a lot of erosion, and beds collapsing. The ones that collapsed were beds which didn't get the upper layer of twigs stomped down. Easy enough to fix with a few logs and wheel barrows of soil
How established are your plants? What kind of plants are you growing? Is your soil sandy, loamy, or clay?
Off the cuff I'd say that if you really feel the need to irrigate, just get yourself some soaker hose and bury it under the mulch, yet still on the surface of the soil. Much less disturbance and you don't have to worry about your water line being too deep in the soil.
The root cellar got put on hold because the guy leading the build crapped out on us. We have all the logs cut and on site, and have some of the soil and other materials needed to bury the beams. We're aiming to get it built before the fall but realistically its not going to happen. Not such a big issue as our basement has ample space for our current root crop needs.