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no till field crops

 
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polyparadigm wrote:
If I needed herbicide, I would contemplate harvesting tree of heaven root bark from around town and making a big tub of ailanthone tea.  But your town might be better than mine. 



uhm. you totally lost me on all that. is ailianthone an herbicide that can be extracted from the bark of at tree? is there some kind of sarcasm that just went waaaay over my head
 
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Leah Sattler wrote:
uhm. you totally lost me on all that. is ailianthone an herbicide that can be extracted from the bark of at tree? is there some kind of sarcasm that just went waaaay over my head



I was confused too until I read your confusion too.  I have a feeling his town is spraying their trees of heaven... (maybe?)
 
pollinator
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No, the tree itself produces herbicide and exudes it into the soil, the same way black walnuts, rhododendrons, etc. do. 

I'm not sure if all of the plants you wish to suppress are susceptible to this herbicide, but an article cited in Wikipedia says the tree of heaven itself and white ash are the only fully resistant trees currently known to science.

The chemical structure of the herbicide, or mix of herbicides, that the tree makes isn't well known, but it can be extracted by water or methanol.  It's called ailanthone because the Latin name of the tree is Ailanthus altissima, not because of its chemistry...similar to the way caffeine can be extracted from cafe, or cocaine from coca.  It doesn't seem to be in the leaves this time of year, but it's all through the plant in the summer months.  In any event, the bark of the roots seems to have the highest concentrations.
 
Jeremy Bunag
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Doh!  That's what answering without research does...

Thanks for straightening that out.

But what did you mean by:

polyparadigm wrote:
But your town might be better than mine.

?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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The technical name is Ailanthus, the old-fashioned name is tree of heaven, and the common name is ghetto palm.

They tend to grow out of pavement, building foundations, polluted lots, freeway shoulders, the margins of rail yards, and, in general, neglected properties.

If you live in a nicer town, there will be fewer of them around to harvest.
 
gardener
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Well Leah you could try the clover over the winter and then smother it in the spring by covering it with your compost or with cardboard/paper (sorry Paul) and then your compost, or straw and compose - you get the idea.  Then plant into that -sheet mulching - lasagna gardening style. 

Keep doing this, plus putting back the waste product of the millet and you will get that area so built up as to not die out when the heat hits.

Great experiment.... Definitely post back what you figure out.

~Jami

 
Leah Sattler
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ah, ok. I looked up ailianthone and got nothin. I was totally lost.

I don't know when I will get to really try this. gotta get the goats and ponies off it first.
 
Jami McBride
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Found this on Tree of Heaven  http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/aial1.htm

And this for Ailanthone tea as weed control 
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/114175460/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

~Jami
 
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I have wondered about doing something like this with an extract of hawkweed or something like it.
 
                                      
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bruc33ef wrote:
This discussion strikes me as an attempt to reinvent the wheel.  The idea of ground covering with clover and then planting through it is exactly what Fukuoka researched for decades and finally worked out.



This is partially true, but fukuoka-ji only worked out the method for his own situation. He never planted INTO clover because in his rice-barley rotation, the clover was suppressed by flooding the paddy. The problem in no-herbicide no-till with a clover living mulch is- how do you make sure that the living mulch doesn't mulch out the grain? If one isn't growing rice, then new specific techniques need to be developed. Burning has it's disadvantages, but would definitely work, grazing the clover down really low might work too, but care would have to be taken to not damage the soil.


Fukuoka-ji was a great writer and an amazing farmer, but we can't just copy him, because different things come "naturally" to different pieces of land.
 
                    
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We're going to try making shallow mounds (one good sized shovelfull) of dirt on top of our beds with an established clover sward a few weeks before we plant corn in them.  It'll give the corn a chance to develop roots without any competition from the clover, the lack of light from the mound of dirt will weaken the clover (or so is the idea) and the mound will be warmer than the dirt underneath it, also good for getting the corn to grow.  We plan on nestling a rock into the south side of the mound for even more heat retention (attempting to plant corn earlier in the year this time around -waited til almost jun last year ).  This sort of thing is probably only worth it with corn, as you get such an amazing harvest return per seed.  Labor intensive for a really large area, we don't have that large of a clover sward to experiment with (yet).  We'll see how it goes. 

I think the key is to think of new and different ways of trying something, and then do it.  Never know unless you try!  The worst you'll do is kill some baby plants.   
 
Nicholas Covey
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I have planted seedlings in clumps of wet straw on top of clover before, and it will work. Eventually the clover will grow up through the straw, but for something tall like corn, sunflower, or amamranth that would get enough height above the clover before it closed in.

Corn is, in it's most natural state, best grown in a clump or a bunch instead of a row anyway. That's how it grows in nature. Almost every kernel in one ear will sprout, creating a clump of corn stalks. I'm not sure how that would work with warm season grains... Im not sure they would get high enough to get above the crown.
 
                          
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By "corn in nature" are you referring to teosinte, or something else I'm unfamiliar with?
 
Nicholas Covey
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well, "in nature" is perhaps a misleading term. In farming it's referred to as "volunteer corn." Essentially what was lost at the edge of the field and knocked down or somehow missed by the combine sprouts in the spring and grows up through whatever is planted for the next crop season.
 
                          
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I don't have much experience with corn, but I was under the impression that it can't self-sow without some kind of animal interference, because the husks are too thick to allow the grains to distribute themselves. That's why I was confused.
 
Nicholas Covey
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oh no, corn sprouts without much problem at all. When making ethanol corn is sprouted to raise the sugar content and traditionally that was done by just getting it damp.
 
                          
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Wow, with the husk still on the ear? Shows what I know!
 
Nicholas Covey
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Apparently the husk will break down and promote sprouting in the kernels and at the same time prohibit the sprouting of other plant seeds nearby. (pretty neat huh?)  But suffice to say it will degrade enough for the corn to sprout.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Quittrack wrote:Almost every kernel in one ear will sprout, creating a clump of corn stalks.



Don't they kill each other, living so crowded? Or do a few survive?

Just for curiosity's sake, I'm letting some volunteer spring wheat (which would be called "corn" in other dialects of English) grow, and it seems to do OK in the bunches that grow up when a whole ear sprouts at once. A free bale of straw got wet in October or so, which was when I noticed them...plants that I transplanted out of the bale early and as individuals are starting to turn yellow, those planted out in bunches of two or three look more vigorous but are less developed, and those still in the bale haven't seen as much light and are still under five inches tall.
 
                    
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TCLynx wrote:
Unfortunately I don't remember where I read the negative finding about the living mulch.



It really depends on a lot of factors - if soil moisture or some other factor is low, there might be competition and the combo might be worse than just one plant alone - but in another climate with a different soil, the combo might be really good.
 
Nicholas Covey
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I'm sure that some of the seeds perish, probably the misshapen ones near the ends of the ears and the ones on the bottom which can't make it to the light.

David Blume (Alcohol can be a gas) talks in length about how corn (maize in this case) creates its own natural herbicide and stamps out competition until the plant is tall enough to drown out the light for its neighbors.
 
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I'm really interested in living mulch for gardens and field crops too. It's really easy to do it with diverse habitat on a small scale, but a bit tricky when someone wants to plant a monocrop on a big scale. In this case using mulch (leaves, hay, straw, ...) are more suitable i think.

Quittrack, much thanks for corn info!

Leah, what i would do is this. if you have a chance let the vegetation grows, if not, don't bother. Mulch area with straw, hay, leaves, whatever you got. Even if you want to plant a large area, i would make 4 feet wide beds at least 8 inches deep.  Let it be at least one month. This will kill all the vegetation and make a new layer of top soil and you will also have a perfect mulch on top. When time to plant, just walk the paths and rake this top layer on one side of the bed, sow and cover it back. If you are left with too much of this top layer, you can just throw it on paths and use it later.
 
Nicholas Covey
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I'm kind of a believer in the Ruth Stout method, wherein you just smother the cover crop with a heavy mulch. If you do it right, you can add just enough mulch to get your plant established before the cover crop absorbs the mulch... That's pretty much what I try to do, it doesn't disturb the topsoil that way.
 
Jami McBride
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I love the 'idea' of Ruth Stout's method - but I've had mixed results, and read reasons why it doesn't work in my area of the Pacific Northwest (PNW).  Mostly I've read about the negatives in the book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades.  I'm going to start a new thread about this book soon, because I want to hear the opinions of others regarding the issues the book raised.

As for this discussion:
I have a beginners question (gardening being my worst subject) - if one transplants vegetables/herbs into a living mulch, by digging up some of the mulch and clearing an area around the transplant, would it then thrive and get-a-head of the mulch? 
I picture Ruth Stout's moving of the hay to plant, so would moving of the living mulch out of the way do the trick?  Or are there other issues of concern besides crowding and not enough water for plant and mulch to both thrive?
 
Nicholas Covey
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my experience is that the living mulch rebounds faster if displaced than if buried under non-living mulch. In many cases living mulch is used as a ground cover for just that trait. It is typically too quick to let whatever you are planting get a head start. Ergo your plant ends up stunted or simply dies through lack of nutrient or moisture due to over-competition... at least thats the way it works in the midwest.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Jami McBride, use Ruth Stout method. Just mulch the living mulch. Do it a week or more before you transplant and then add more mulch if you think living mulch will come back to fast.

P.S.
what do you mean by moving away the living mulch?
 
steward
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Quittrack wrote:
I have wondered about doing something like this with an extract of hawkweed or something like it.



Saywhat?  I must be lost.  What would you do with extract of hawkweed?

 
Nicholas Covey
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"natural" herbicide?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Yes, that's how I took the comment, too: hawkweed's allelopathic chemicals might be the sort of thing you could extract and use to kill plants.

I've read up some more on tree of heaven since my original posting, and I now think branches should be pulled off (the weight of a bird is enough to do this...apparently nests can't be built in them) at a time when they contain lots of ailanthone, which is apparently during the autumn.
 
paul wheaton
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I think cedar would work far better than hawkweed.  My (very weak) impression is that hawkweed's primary allelopathic mechanism is a pollen that sterilizes other plants.

 
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Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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Wow, I'm loving this thread. Very timely for me too as I was just trying to work out the specifics of my grain-growing-to-be fields.

I would say, why not leave the ponies and goats ON the place where you are going to try to sow clover? Leave them on until fall, then move them and sow the clover or whatever. They will have eaten it down to the nubs by then... the clover might have a chance... especially if most of the weeds are summer annuals.

Im rotating my goats all around the areas I plan to plant this fall in winter annuals. I am going to try using perennial vetch instead of clover as it does better here.
Im going to try using the seed balls en-masse for about a 1/2 acre area. Might be some work.
I'm trying to do all this in the Fukuoka vein of thinking. It's an experiment though.
Planting one area in vetch/wheat/mustard, one in vetch/triticale one in vetch/oats/mustard
Then in spring plant the summer annuals (bird seed and amaranth for me) and a coupla weeks later harvest the grains- per Fukuoka.
And this is all an area beneath my fruit trees...
I'll report back and let yall know if it was a total failure or not
 
pollinator
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Katya, do let us know how the seed balls work and how long it takes..and i would be really interested to see how the grains do in that mix. What is your thinking with the mustard?

It is an interesting old thread, and I wonder if Leah ever did try her millet? I think she was talking about two acres. At 18 plants per square meter that comes to 144 000 seed balls, which probably isn't an option for that scale. Maybe some kind of pelleting? And there were suggestions for four inches of mulch...at two acres that comes to 1075 cubic yards of mulch, or maybe something like 89 tandem truck loads. Also probably not an option, nor particularly sustainable depending on where you're trucking it from. It's also a lot of cardboard boxes for sheet mulch.

I think it's important to think through these numbers when considering dealing with larger acreage. There's got to be a way to manage larger acreage that's viable and respects the soil. I would be inclined to try some kind of minimum till rather than zero till...split the acreage up and put a good portion of it into polyculture greenmanures that you would terminate and incorporate to build soil, then rotate the field crop through that system. You could possibly terminate the greenmanure with mob grazing, or a roller / crimper. If you had enough acres you could add a good seven year rest in grazed grass/ legume sod to your rotation.

 
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We have an area on both sides of the creek that flows through our property that I want to turn into a treed pasture area. My plan is to remove most of the brush and some trees. About half of this area was part of the pasture decades ago but has been filled in with small trees, brush, brambles, poison oak and ivey. As of now I have twice gone through with a brush blade of the weed eater to cut down the poison oak and ivey and the multiflora rose. This has been working very well, but now I want to thin some of the trees and brush. I have wondered how to get grasses, clovers and other plants established as this is not an area that we could till. I have wondered about the tree spacing to let in enough light and to help dry some of the wetter areas. The major trees that I would keep are the few apples, some oaks, and the majority of the woodlot is maples. Any suggestions.
kent
 
Katya Barnheart
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Haha! Wow, I didn't even see that this was from 2010!!

Kari- I have heard that mustard is a dynamic accumulator. It also provides something for the vetch to climb up (as does the wheat). This is going to be under my "orchard" (tiny fruit trees spaced far apart right now) so a dynamic accumulator would be good for the trees me thinks. Mustard is also very good at out competing weeds. Plus I harvested about a kajillion seeds from my mustard plants last year and it needs a use

Ive looked at sheet mulching the whole place... lots of cardboard but do-able I suppose. Getting crap loads of mulch isn't very cost effective...
So I am going with the over- grazing then seed ball approach. Hopefully once the vetch takes hold and the fact that there will be something planted there year round (either winter grains or summer grains)
Also I am lucky in that I am dealing with an "edge" that has been shaded out by pioneer species for a while (widened the sunny part of the edge a bit) so there is not any grass, only briers, sumac and other stuff (hoping the mulch from the winter grains smothers them but they are stubborn buggers). Im sure I'll have some weeds in there but that doesn't bother me too much.
I will be planting Kamut Wheat and this really cool kind of Triticale that grows well in part shade so I'll report back on all this madness.
 
Katya Barnheart
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Kent-
I'd say run goats through it. They eat all that stuff. Mine's favorite foods are briars, poison ivy, sumac, oak leaves,, roses, etc. My neighbors had an old field similar to your and ran goats through there to eat all the stuff (then sold the goats and got cows) and the pastures are really nice looking now. The big trees stay and the rest gets mowed down.
 
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Susan Monroe wrote:I wouldn't think that seeding into an existing bed of clover would be all that suitable for true no-till.  I intend to try it sometime, but my plan was to run a small Mantis tiller a bit to make a seedbed just prior to sowing, or just to chop a hole in the runners and remove them, then plant.

TCLynx, that's not quite true about nitrogen in root nodules not being available to other plants.  While the clover plant does use the nitrogen in the clover for it's own use while it is still alive, the roots are constantly growing and dying. The nodules that are on the dying/dead roots will contribute nitrogen to the soil and then to other plants. Some roots only live for three days or so before they die and are replaced by other roots.

BTW, for anyone who is new to the term 'no-till', there is a difference between the permaculture/organic version and the chemical farmer version.

In permaculture, the weeds are kept down with mulch.

In chemical farming, the weeds are kept down with herbicides.  While they say they aren't disturbing the soil, they are still disturbing the ecosystem with their toxic chemicals.  They think this is an improvement. 
Not always true some long term no tillers use covercrops and all the smart ones keep the crop residue on the ground,see[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKhKqr2lAYw] and http://www.rolf-derpsch.com/ orhttp://www.youtube.com/user/QuiviraCoalition?feature=watch enjoy.

 
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my best millet crops come from mulch quality old millet hay ,my neighbhours grow it
it will grow in a swale covered 6'" deep in water for weeks
 
andrew curr
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can you guys see my place on google earth??
 
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