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5474Re: [fukuoka_farming] growing food among grasses fukuoka style

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  • Calin A. Radulescu
    Feb 3, 2006
      Hello Niels,
      Hello Group,

      This was an experiment that I did a few years ago. Basically I was
      trying to grow food in my backyard, at first using regular gardening,
      then learned about natural farming and read "One straw revolution".
      I am in the Pacific Northwest, Washington State, right by the
      Cascade Mtn. foothills, zone 8a, very rainy and cloudy in winter.
      The rain and cloud cover season is from October to June. So I knew
      it already that the soil in my backyard is poor and acidic, and is too
      dark as there are a few big cedar and fir trees in the neighbour's yard.
      The grass cover is regular lawn grass mixed with native weeds and
      some white clover.
      I figured that to grow better crops, the soil was in need of some
      improvement and looked into using mulching and growing my own
      compost crops (green manure). The problem with that approach is
      that around here we have lots of slugs that will eat everything; the
      heavy mulching technique is out of the question as you cannot see
      what is going on undernith the mulch. Some light mulching and hand
      picking may help. So I tried to throw in some rye and clover seed and
      of course the slugs and birds got it before they even had a chance to
      sprout. Then I read some more and figured that mowing the grass as
      low as i can may help weaken it enough to grow rye. Basically this is
      about timing; you're trying to give the seeds that you're growing a good
      chance before the grass and weeds grow back . Then some time after
      the heaviest of the winter storms have gone, I mowed the grass again,
      and covered most of the area with cardboard for about a week or so.
      In the meantime i mixed some clay with water and rye, white dutch
      clover and some daikon radish and canola seeds in a plastic bucket,
      then rolled that dough into little " sausagges " , shaped them into balls
      and let them dry out for a few days out of the rain. By that time the
      cardboard already did the job so i picked it up, toghether with most of
      the slugs and spread the seedballs on the ground. They cannot be
      " floating " on top of the grass cuttings, they need ground contact to
      sprout so I raked the area in the places where i saw this happening.
      In the he next weeks i was really doing nothing, just watching the rye
      grow. It turned out ok, waist high or even higher at some spots, too
      thin i guess, but again this was in a dark place with a poor soil. The
      clover and the brassicas didn't grow that good; I guess it wasn't
      the right timing for them, they may like less rain and some higher
      temperatures (or maybe the slugs just got them).
      I still think this was a good experience, even if there wasn't too much
      food that came out of it as such. Already i see a few ways that it can
      be improved. One thing that comes to mind is finding a summer cereal
      that grows good with less rainfall, maybe millet or sorghum. Another
      thing would be killing some of the grass each year and replacing that
      with clovers or some other legume. And of course, getting a better yard.
      Now is this natural farming ? Probably not, as there is still some nature
      control in it, but so is flooding the field. As I look at it there isn't 100%
      pure natural farming besides hunting and gathering, all other are just
      ways to grow food with the least ammount of interference, which is still
      a wish to bend nature to the human will.

      Many thanks to everyone, give it a try in your field, it works !
      And please share your experience with us !


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