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6758Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: The Rising Genre of Grassland Farming

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  • Robert Monie
    Dec 12, 2007
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      Just two weeks ago I sowed Juan Triticale, a variety bred especially for strong, extensive root development. It just happens that the weather was warm enough to get the Triticale sprouting, and in just a few days I have not only 5 inches of sprout aboveground; I have some wondelfully tangly roots that are surely biologically active as they need to be for the health of the soil.

      Bottom line: Throw some Juan Triticale into the mix or plant a field separately with it.
      Peaceful Valley is one source.

      Bob Monie
      New Orleans, LA

      robin <witchessocks@...> wrote:
      dear robert monie, thank you for the thoughtful discourse on grassland

      of course, i do recognize the fact that grasses are an intermediate
      step to forest natural farming, where the trees and woody shrubs
      eventually grow up through the grasses and eventually dominate,i.e.
      raju titus natural farming. especially in my region, there are a good
      mixture of different types of natural trees; legume trees, deciduous
      trees, fruit and nut trees, and evergreen trees as well as raspberry,
      blackberry etc. coming up all over if one doesn't mow and waits long

      i realize that my climate and region favors forest development. but,
      wildlife habitat can be created as a crop field edge. so you have the
      forest, the cropfield edge where i plan to locate naturalizing
      grasses, and in the center, the crop field, where the cereal grains
      and crucifers, etc. can go. all of these can be located loosely,
      wherever they are chosen by nature, of course, after i do my part by
      scattering the seeds.


      i don't plan on burning, so i will (hopefully) be succeeding into
      legume tree "cover
      crop" farming, and when these are ready, cutting the woody plants and
      more grasses and companions, or, in the case of the crop field,
      planting the crop species. i can go from one form to another in
      this way, back and forth, up and down. change happens.

      john e. weaver writes in his book "root development of field crops:

      "It is of more than passing interest that the cereal crops, viz.,
      corn, spring and winter wheat, oats, barley, sorghum, and millet, all
      of which are grasses, have their center of greatest production in that
      portion of the United States originally covered by grassland. In fact,
      some are grown almost entirely in this region, and other crops such as
      alfalfa and flax, which are similar in growth habits to wild legumes,
      wild flaxes, etc., growing among the grasses, also have their greatest
      acreage in the grassland. Likewise, the greatest areas of fruit
      production, including such tree fruits as apples, peaches, and pears,
      and such bush fruits as blackberries, currants, and raspberries, are
      in those portions of the United States formerly occupied by native
      species of similar habit, i.e., forest trees and shrubs. Since
      practically no studies have been made on the root habits of native
      species in other crop-producing regions, our discussion must be
      limited to the prairie-plains region."


      where i live is forest so i guess i'm on my own! but i figure if i
      stick to mostly naturalizing grasses, the roots will be healthy
      enough and the species will move in and interact ok. especially on the
      roadside edges, or the neighbors boundary lines, i'll have to keep the
      tall trees cut, so it will be more or less permanent grass or shrubs.

      a helpful site for learning about species, etc. for native grasses is


      click on the native plant review heading and you find what you need to
      do as far as choosing and planting native grasses in this region of
      virginia. i
      especially found the tables at the end of the scroll under native
      plant review very helpful. i read but then rejected the parts that
      don't comport with
      natural farming, such as the parts about herbicides, fertilizers,
      cultivation, big machines, etc.

      i will continue what i consider natural farming, and that is to gather
      a lot of different kinds of seeds,( divide them between warm and cold
      season plants) mix these together and then basically broadcast into
      the mature plant species that are on their way out of season,(slashing
      these when they are done over the new seedlings) and also identify the
      areas where my dog has scratched the crust off the earth (there are
      always a lot of these!), and then scratch into these areas seeds to
      insure good soil to seed contact. other methods of no-till can be
      used, usually the bigger the seed the deeper you can drill it, usually
      no more than twice the width of the seed., or you can use seedballs.
      sometimes you can just broadcast and then spread some straw or
      cuttings over.

      this is where the writers of "roadside vegetation" got their seeds.
      i'll probably aim for 1 lb. of most of the seeds i think i need to
      balance everything out.

      here's a list of wildflowers and herbs to plant with my grasses.

      the only thing for me to do now is compile a master list of what i'm
      going to plant this spring, warm season seeds, and then ascertain if i
      can reduce it down to affordable! the plants you suggested, robert
      monie, along with legumes such as bird's-foot trefoil, ladino clover
      oats, soybeans, and peas, will be a priority.

      has anyone decided on their plant list for the spring? share!

      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
      > Hi Robin,
      > Michael's account of his 25 years in farming inspires many "deju
      vu's" from me, though I work on a small garden scale. He could produce
      "award-winning" plants by adding soil amendments but got better
      results when he let the brome grass grow as a ley for 5 years and
      planted into it. The British ley farmers of the 19th century relied on
      perennial grasses and forbs to develop humus (they especially liked
      coltsfoot or cocksfoot orchard grass, chicory, salad burnet, red
      clover, rye, and stinging nettle). Fukuoka and Fukokans added the idea
      of planting directly into this kind of cover rather than grazing and
      mowing it first.
      > Michael noted that stinging nettle tea produced noticable
      improvement. Nettle, along with comfrey, chamomile, and yarrow is one
      of the most dependable dynamic nutrient accumulators, and his
      experience replicates that of generations of traditional
      > farmers who preceded him. Michael has created (or occassioned) a
      prairie by letting the right prairie grasses grow and mostly just
      leaving them alone. Nature knows exactly what to do once you get it
      started; no need for Michael to do lots of busywork. Just as Robert
      Hart's Forest Farming opens the door to natural crop growing, so does
      Michael's Grassland Farming. One day someone may write a book
      (perhaps, you, Robin?) on this kind of farming that will become
      popular and inspire followers (as Hart has inspired David Jacke to
      write his lengthly books on forest farming).
      > Landscapers and soil restorers like the Ernst Seed Company can
      tell you a lot about which
      > blends might work for you in your climate, but they probably have
      not tried much to plant leys as a backdrop to food plants later on.
      The one thing to most look for in selecting grasses is that they
      develop large, deep roots with a healthy supply of microorganisms
      serving them. I have seen landcapes of "ornamental grasses" that look
      beautiful, but if you tug on them, they come right up with handly any
      root on them. I've even seen vetiver grass like this; normally it
      develops a root of at least 4 or 5 feet (sometime down to 10), but in
      some soil (not necessarily compacted soil!) the roots just don't grow
      though the plant looks fine above the soil.
      > If you want to develop humus, you must have roots, roots, and more
      roots, that are microbiologically involved with their surrounding soil.
      > robin <witchessocks@...> wrote:
      > definitely, perennial grasses, thank you. i thought i
      would order lots
      > of different seeds from this supplier right here;
      > ernstseed.com
      > if i can get a better deal from anyone else, please let me know. what
      > kinds of seeds or seed mixtures should i order first, i wonder. i live
      > in the mid atlantic region, or right on the border between the
      > northeast and the southeast in virginia. where i live is usually 10
      > degrees colder than the nearest town, cause i live toward the bottom
      > slope of a mountain. it is a gentle slope.
      > wes jackson at the land institute sounds like he knows his stuff about
      > grasslands. i'll have to read more.
      > this is a great quote from sensei;
      > The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what
      > unaltered nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand
      > what needs to be done—and what must not be done—to work in harmony
      > with its processes. - Masanobu Fukuoka
      > this is an inspiring post from michael;
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fukuoka_farming/message/6396
      > i've been mowing paths on my land for a while now (the mown areas get
      > smaller every year) and letting the
      > rest grow more and more, broadcasting seeds frequently, seedballing,
      > drilling other
      > seeds, and just seeing how plant communities do their thing. i just
      > scored a big load of wood mulch from the power-line tree-limb cutters
      > a couple of days ago. i thought i might build up the bottom
      > of the slope with it and scatter the rest around some....or, if i can't
      > get out there for a while, i'll leave it to form a hill over time, and
      > plant into it after five years or so.
      > these are very amusing, entertaining, and enlightening videos here;
      > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq0u44phYjY
      > http://www.news10now.com/content/top_stories/default.asp?ArID=69484
      > (be sure and watch the video provided in this article. it's nice)
      > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeW0EFrPO8w&feature=user
      > i hope these links work out right.
      > hmm.....
      > The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what
      > unaltered nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand
      > what needs to be done—and what must not be done—to work in harmony
      > with its processes. - Masanobu Fukuoka
      > i worry about the starving people too. but i'm in charge of caring for
      > my poor mother-in-law who has dementia
      > ( she's a falls risk, so i can barely leave her side ever), so i feel
      > that i deserve to have fun on my
      > farm, grow fun things, along with letting nature grow her own things;
      > not interested
      > in mono-cultures, or just people food. i'm not saying other people
      > shouldn't worry about or try to figure out how to feed hungry people,
      > if they want to or have a good mind for that. or how to feed
      > themselves or sell their produce. for
      > me, right now, i can't
      > be too deadly serious about feeding the
      > world, or i'd really be crazy...just feeding wildlife right now is
      > enough for me. i need to feed my senses...beauty. funny or kooky stuff
      > that makes me laugh. or like that song jsent put on here- "learn to
      > swim", wasn't it?, the world is going to end, anyway, the way it's
      > headed, so what can little old me do to save it? not much, so why try?
      > at the risk of seeming selfish, i'll just please myself! i'll throw
      > seed mixtures
      > out, and see what takes in nature, and let her take her time. and i
      > can always plant my
      > few fussy veggies right into the beauty... i'll let my sweet husband
      > worry about making the money and paying the bills, buying the stuff i
      > can't grow. i have to accept that i can't get off the grid completely
      > and perfectly like i want to. a person needs to just relax and let
      > nature do it for herself mostly... there are unnatural things like
      > store bought food, medicines, dentists, electricity, that
      > is there right in front of me every day. i have to use the stuff some,
      > because i have to adapt to the environment that i find myself in. i'm
      > not so much of a purist that i reject these things totally, like i
      > would like to. i just use it up, because i
      > don't like waste....but you have to work hard in this culture just to
      > reject and avoid being obese and materialistic, so it's good to reject
      > that stuff as much as you can. it will use up your natural energy.
      > rambling again, but does that make any
      > sense? does anyone understand what i
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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