The simple answer is that some plants play symbiotic roles with each other. Such as a plant with a deep taproot bringing water and minerals from deep in the soil up and sharing it with a plant that has thick fibrous surface roots that slow erosion and act as a kind of living mulch that keeps water from evaporating rapidly. This is rather a simplistic example, but it gives a quick idea as to what can be possible. Some plants act as a natural pest repellent, some act as a fertilizer (such as your peanut, as the symbiotic rhizobium bacteria that live in its roots fix nitrogen from the air in to a usable form for plants,) and there are many other ways that plants (weeds are plants) can help each other. I'm not sure what exactly Paul has in mind, but doing less is often better than doing more. I've had a fairly big change of mind in how I do things in my yard and garden since finding this site. All of which have helped me achieve more with less input. Another factor to consider is that some weeds react to being pulled by regrowing at insane rates from any small fragment of root and/or stem left in the ground. The act of severing the plant stimulates its self defense mechanism of rapid growth. This rapid growth could out compete your peanuts, making the effort you put into weeding and seeding a waste.
Right. To my thoughts though, soil build up is a moot point. The jungle, in my opinion, is the penultimate permaculture. Everything is returned to the soil, and used again at roughly the same rate. True, it is not really possible in our climate to achieve this, without huge expenses in infrastructure and energy at the least. But what I'm getting at is that soil build up is not the important factor. Nature will use what's in the soil as she sees fit. The other factors besides soil play the major determination in this.
According to your original assertion, the fact that microbes are more dormant in winter leads to faster soil buildup. I may have been misled somewhere, but I always thought it was the microbes that built the soil from organic matter added to the soil. If they're dormant, how are they building soil? Unless there is other context that is missing here from your original conversation that involved the evesdropper, I have to agree with that person. The winter months are when the soil is not being built up. I'd reason that the soil build up is due to other factors, such as erosion, runoff, and usage of the soil by plants, (lack thereof all three in winter.)
I'm curious, would these same "weeds" be beneficial to other legumes, say pinkeyed purplehulls? I'm making clay pellets of the cow pea, (and inoculate) and buckwheat. This will be broadcast over an unknown grass, white clover and dandelions. Are there other plants that would help and be helped in this kind of mix that you're aware of? My goal is a natural no till garden, that will rotate back to lawn eventually.
Heh. I have no qualms about holding something for the first person to show up with cash or agreed trade. I figure if the person who asked for the hold wanted it more than the person who shows up with cash, they'd have came sooner. I can't think of anyone around here who does holds, unless you offer them more. If you're motivation is to sell the item, then you should always consider the first person who shows up with cash in hand. Just a polite "It'll be here for the first person to show up with payment," is all it takes. If they're waiting on a paycheck or day off, just ask them to call when they have both the time and money. This is a kind of a show of integrity on your part, politely showing your intent to be fair. It also generally culls out those who would otherwise waste your precious time.
I agree that it is a sad state that our society is in. Nobody respects anybody anymore. Can you blame anyone? How can we when we're all bombarded with stories about how our neighbor did this or that in the news. At its root, the mentality is brethren to the mentality about taking from the earth without putting back. The parents are greed and politics.
Brenda mentioned, in another thread, that she has her greenhouse over a natural heat source, her septic tank. I had just finished checking on my compost pile when I read this. Wouldn't it make sense to make a compost pile in the greenhouse? The greenhouse harnesses the sun energy and acts as an insulator. The compost pile provides extra heat and compost for the greenhouse. A quick google showed me that this is actually commonplace. Has anyone here heard of or done this?
I would imagine that a greenhouse is handy for growing things up there. I see them here and there around Indiana. Speaking of greenhouse heat sources, your septic tank idea gave me another idea. Has anyone ever tried a hot compost pile in a greenhouse? That sounds like a symbiotic relationship. The greenhouse does its thing by being an extra insulator, holding in sun heat and moisture, keeping the environment viable for the compost pile earlier and longer, and the compost pile generating heat to help raise the ambient temperature of the greenhouse. Added benefit of having fresh compost ready for seedlings and up-potting. It would be a biomass heater for the greenhouse with a very beneficial waste product.
Big Ag grew up on the chemical kick. I sincerely believe that if there was a major shift toward natural farming, i.e. the vast majority of farms, there would be no more Big Ag. I think the two are mutually dependent on each other. The entire foundation of Big Ag is built on the principles of heavy machinery and chemicals. Big Ag would essentially be committing suicide by trying to embrace natural farming. Your everyday farmer oth, would definitely benefit, and they'd take over the gap that Big Ag left. The problem here is that Big Ag knows this, but will lobby to keep its profits at all costs. They are not interested is letting go of their industry. Furthermore, they'll spread fear and doubt about natural farming. It is kind of like Microsoft vs. the rest of the software platforms.
Those so-called diseases and pests are mitigated in other ways besides winter freeze. I can't think of anything that isn't attacked and/or eaten by something else. You may have some trouble with certain non-native plants that are sensitive to a particular pest or pathogen that thrives in the area, but what area doesn't have that problem? If you want further evidence about plant density in a hot, wet place, look at the green houses we use in the temperate zone. All they do is hold heat and humidity, and lengthen the season from what is natural to the climate. In essence, it is a micro climate that is closer to being a rain forest than the surrounding area. You can grow a more dense population of plants in a greenhouse than otherwise possible. I don't know if I'd experiment with a green house or not. They seem like a lot of extra work, and expense. But an effective experiment to test Paul's theory would be to have two identical crops grown on the same soil, next to each other in a field. One crop be planted under a greenhouse, the other is not. Everything would be done the same for each crop aside from the greenhouse. Each year the soil depth would be measured, and soil analyses be done for each plot. My bets would be on the greenhouse building soil faster.
I'd suggest fertilizing with the organic foods such as Ringer Lawn Restore, or Scotts Organic Choice. They will help keep your grass strong and better able to out compete any weeds that might start. The compost, while not a bad idea, is a lot of work for the amount of gain. But the backyard, due to the poor soil, would probably gain quite a bit from a year or two of top dressing. I've decided for my own lawn to limit compost topping only to trouble areas as needed. Much less work that way. Making you own is the way to go, although I have bought bulk from a local producer with known practices. The mulching attachment will start building your soil. Remember that the bulk of the plant is derived from gases in the air, not from the ground. You just need to provide a few nutrients and some water for the grass, and return the clippings to the soil. They'll decompose and return to the soil. You can kind of think of it as the grass is turning air into soil. Now that you've stopped killing your earthworms, they'll increasingly aerate the soil for you, so you don't have to. Mechanical aerating is a way of making up for chemicals poisoning the soil's natural way of aeration. The worms also help in turning the clippings into soil. It takes a while to get used to, but organic growing is a whole new game.
I live in a farming state. There is farm land everywhere. I know many who are in farming. In order for them to make a buck, they need subsidization. In order to qualify, they must grow only certain things a certain way. They have to mortgage their land, make payments on equipment and buy all the chemicals and such. They really don't have that much left over. They're basically indentured servants. The only ones with much money are either the consolidated big ag companies, or old farms that have their land and equipment paid off. It is very much like what Sepp says. But here's the catch. They're all so wound up in chasing their subsidies that they won't, in their words, waste their time with natural techniques. Many of them laugh at the idea.
Ain't that the truth, TCLynx. Paul, i guess I'm not really sold on the soil building part. I think one could grow more plant life per space in a hot, rainy environment: i.e. rain forest. The plant life is returned back to the soil at roughly the same rate it is used. Thus attaining equilibrium. No need for all the extra soil. Our woodlands come closer to this than any other type of land in the temperate zone, I think. I can see you, in the Puget Sound area, having a challenge in building soil from raw earth due to the excessive rain. Is this where you were coming from with your idea, and wanting to move inland? I can't say I blame you. Being a Hoosier all my life, I can't see myself living anywhere else either.
That's how my grandma used to make chicken noodle soup. I remember her cutting a whole chicken into parts and putting it in the pot with some salt and water. She'd simmer with veggies and when the chicken was done, she'd skim the fat, remove the chicken and return some of the meat to the soup. She'd save the extra meat for chicken salad, sandwiches, casserole and whatnot. She'd make homemade table noodles for the soup as well. It was the best. That's what she'd do if she didn't have scraps. If she did, she'd cook the chicken with the scraps, strain the scraps when she pulled the chicken and continued with the recipe from there. Hmm... come to think of it, I have a big stock pot just collecting dust. I'll have to make some soup.
TCLynx wrote: To some extent you can eat fresh food year round but one must adapt one's diet to the food available in the season and that can take some getting used to after growing up in our society. Heck, it can be challenging to figure out how to prepare some of the lesser known veggies when most of the population has no idea what they are.
Have you ever read Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything"? It doesn't cover absolutely everything, but it covers a very wide range of foods. It teaches the basics of all the food groups and from there you can adapt many things to serve different purposes. I've learned a lot from it and can usually find a culinary use for just about anything put before me. Not that I'm a great cook. I'm just a bit better at it than I used to be due to that cookbook.
I think in the end, nature will regulate the process of soil building as long as we're returning our unused portions back to the soil. This should be fairly true where ever you are. I see what you're getting at with winters and soil build-up. I don't really see soil build-up as the defacto standard for land fertility. It varies from place to place. To quote Brenda's sig: Bloom where you're planted.
A plea to return to natural ways is moot if one doesn't confront the root of the problem. The root of the problem are the big three lobbies: Big Pharm, Big Ag, Big Oil. They only see and are only interested in $$. As long as they can make $$, they will lobby for and win laws that rape the land and demean the people. What is needed is to fight $$ with $$ and make natural farming more viable than chemical ag. For example, Fukuoka focused on eliminating unnecessary processes which added to cost of production and sold his crops at competitive prices. Natural farming doesn't need to have a more expensive product. It just needs the best product for the price. Granted the farmer's expenses need to be covered, but the farmer needs to look at what is a real expense and what is an imagined need. I think these needs can be covered and then some without the aid of subsidies.
I do agree with Sepp's letter. It is very important that every effort is made to do things sustainably without the big three.
I'd think you could build the soil faster in a warmer climate with very mild to no winter. If you keep feeding the soil microbes year round, you have more of a "growing season" for them. I'd suspect this is why the dense jungles are in warmer climates. The result is less soil, more organisms. It takes the idea that the soil is alive to its natural extreme. I think the plan should be not building the soil itself, but the organisms in the soil. What's the point of building the soil if there is little growing in it? From what I've been studying on permaculture, the idea is to have more living OM in the soil. The living OM will stay put. Also returning the straw, chaff, and unused plant parts to where they were grown naturally builds the soil OM. Most of the OM in a plant is derived from gases in the air. The more growing season you have the more OM you can return to the soil, as there is more plant material generated in a year. Take your bale of hay example. Lets arbitrarily say you can grow one bale in a 100 sqft area in an area that has winters. Since you have longer seasons in a warm climate, you could potentially grow 2 or more bales from that same 100sqft. If you return that hay to the ground where it was grown, you will be building the soil OM faster in warmer climates.
Hay might not be the best example especially if you're using the hay for livestock feed. I recently saw a video where by selecting certain forage species, you could let your animals out to pasture year round, even in winter. That negates the extreme loss of nutrients from the soil due to removing the entire plant above ground. This deeply limits the need for hay. This leaves crops that you can return the straw and chaff to the soil.
Now ask yourself this: "Which environment is richer in life, the jungle or the peat bog?" I think the answer to this makes whether or not the soil is building faster a moot point.
In that respect, Fukuoka essentially described gardening and farming as a martial art. Having studied Aikido, there are many parallels between Fukuoka and Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido's founder. They were both about harmony and blending with the natural order of things. I wonder if the two ever met? Both championed achieving the most by doing the least through blending the energy of two or more bodies. Two ideas inherent in Aikido are "mushin" and "zanshin" (moo-sheen/zahn-sheen), or literally translated: "no mind" and "remaining mind" Interpretations vary a bit, but they generally follow a common thread. Mushin is a state of mind that is not occupied with thought and emotion, leaving it to react to anything. Zanshin is a state of mind that looks ahead to the possible results of an action, which brings awareness to how one's actions affect the surrounding environment. Zanshin also maintains awareness in the aftermath of an action. Mushin and zanshin combine to help one be effective with the minimum effort needed to achieve a goal. They help one weigh their options based on inputs and outputs. The two both require and cultivate awareness of your surroundings. These two ideas are also inherent in other martial arts as well as in Fukuoka's method. Do nothing, observe everything, timing is everything are also of utmost importance in martial arts. There are other parallels as well, and I think this only scratches the surface. A lot of it has to do with the values ingrained in the roots of Japanese culture.
These raised beds were very cool. When she told about how you could make any shape you desired, I thought about writing things visible from the air. How cool is that?! You could sell advertising space as a new source of gardening income! I guess the practicality of that would be enhanced in valleys, near air ports, and under tall buildings. I do have a bunch of maple branches that I have laying around. They were cut down last fall as part of a tree removal. If I were to pile them in a lower area of my garden, then pile compost on them, would they be too fresh? I am composting the stump grindings with leaf mold, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Would it help to add a layer of fresh grass clippings over the branches before the compost?
The Ringer's Lawn Restore is similar in ingredients and analysis to Scott's Organic Choice Lawn Food. I don't have experience with Ringer. Scott's has 1% sulfur which may be counterproductive against liming. I don't know if Ringer has a sulfur content or not. If I had a local source for Ringer I'd use it myself, but alas, I have yet to find it. I agree with Paul about the N. The high N recommendation is probably there to offset their assumption that most people bag or rake their clippings. Also, the organic lawn foods do other wonderful things besides feed the soil some N-P-K. This helps offset the "perceived" lower N analysis.
I'm experimenting with the Fukuoka method soon. I have cowpea and buckwheat seeds ordered. I just received the cowpea rhyzobium. I'm going to pelletize the seeds and toss them on the lawn and stop mowing soon after seeding. I like the idea of raised beds, but I have limited land resources (1/4 acre.) Besides it seems like a lot of extra work. This video if anything pointed out a glaring mistake I've made with my garden. No mulch! And I have two untouched square bales of straw. Shame on me! One new and dry, the other a year old and weathered since March this year. I'm going lay the old bale out first and cover with the new bale. I'm thinking that after raking in the cowpeas and buckwheat that the lawn will be sufficient living mulch for that project. I am really into Fukuoka's "do nothing" method. I know there is work involved, but reducing it to a bare minimum is a great idea. Let nature do her job, instead of trying to tell her how to do what she's done for millions of years. I'm amazed at how much I've learned since joining this forum. I hope what I've learned is effective. My wife has her doubts about it, but since she is leaving all the work to me... I get to choose the what, where, when, and how.
I didn't plan on spraying. The only problems I've seen with trees around here are from man's interference. Nature takes care of things pretty well. I just need a compact tree for the front yard. I've been thinking cherry blossom or redbud. Those are both trees that are beautiful, compact, native or acclimatized, yet not common in my neighborhood. I may choose apple instead and have a productive tree. That'd definitely set my yard apart.
Hmm... I've brewed tea just fine sitting on the counter, even in the refrigerator. It tastes great (to me at least.) In the refrigerator, I just let it set for 10-12 hours. Then I have fresh tea that is already cold, already. Of course that is not very intuitive if you're wanting a nice hot cup of tea.
I thought vampires knew the summer solstice was toward the end of June. The 20th or 21st depending on who you ask. You definitely have time. For your sake, I don't see a problem with fertilizing at night either.
If only I had planted those apple seedlings I started when I was a kid. The person who bought my parents' house would be enjoying some mighty fine apples. I think I'll do that here this year. We may move in a few years, but the place would be for the better. I've been thinking of what tree to plant in the front yard. How big do apple trees get? I don't plan on orchard pruning it, just letting it grow natural.
I just ordered a pound of cowpea (pinkeye) from on online retailer. My question is whether to inoculate or not. I'm converting a patch of grass (seems to be mostly perennial rye and fescue), white clover, and dandelions into a no-till patch of cowpea and buckwheat. I'll determine a fall/winter crop later. I've read online that you should inoculate cowpeas. Is it really necessary?
I definitely can attest to the tastiness of red worms over earthworms. No I haven't ate them to find out, but the big bluegill definitely know the difference. I see red worms occasionally when digging around the yard. They're common for fish bait around here. Anywho, I'd like to thank everyone again for their input. I think I'm gonna build a small box that can fit under the sink and place it outside for the time being. Then I'll teach her about how it saves money and would be more convenient for us in the kitchen. I'm tore between that and burying scraps in the garden. The former is convenient, while the latter seems more natural.
Actually my real reasoning is that my wife thinks its too cold there. We had our honeymoon there. I loved it. We stayed in Allegan and visited Holland and a winery I think in Fennville. The countryside there is beautiful. It is good to know that she's on her way out. If we did move there, I think I'd like to live in the UP, based on what I hear from my former classmates. My wife wants to move to Florida, but I'd like to live either far north or somewhere between here and Florida. I like Tennessee and N. Carolina. I'd like to do more year-round gardening. But anywhere with good, rich soil would be great!
That's harsh. I just finished school here in Indy. Many of my classmates were from Michigan and were always saying how the Governor is doing a very poor job. I had no clue how poor. I guess there is a whole new meaning to "Green" energy. I was thinking about moving up to Michigan. I think I'll stay in Indiana now.
Hmm. Good point Sue. I've been wanting it in the kitchen for the convenience factor. A sort of worm powered garbage disposal, and conversation piece. What I'm ending up with, excuse the pun, is just a big ball of worms! I'm beginning to think that stirring my scraps into the soil will be more convenient in the long run. I won't have to worry about the wife being grossed out. I also won't have to provide artificial housing for worms. I'll just feed the ones in the ground, in the comfort of their own home. Over the winter, I can just bury them (scraps) in the ground on a regular basis. Is this still considered vermicomposting? Maybe not explicitly, but implicitly?
Good point. Although when I wait, I tend to get overly enthusiastic in my waiting. Then the grass gets to the point where even on the highest setting it gets clogged, dry. There is a point when one can be too lazy. I for some reason abhor this point and tend to stay as far in either direction as possible.