9601Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: no animal manure?
- May 7, 2009Alan,
In German we say Schattengare (literally “shade tilth”). I don’t know
if Anglo-Saxon soil scientists have come up with a similar concept
(and wonder how Celtic people view soil, do old people in Ireland
speak about the “force of soil” when they mean soil fertility?).
Anyway, Schattengare indicates the fact that very often soil tilth is
better in the shade of plants or other things such as twigs laying on
the ground. Compare a bare soil to a soil with a dense cover of
clover for example. Well, when the soil gets dry clover can make the
soil hard as stone because it sucks out all humidity from the soil,
but as long as there is sufficient humidity, the soil under the clover
will be soft and crumbly with earthworms crawling on top of it even at
daytime, while the bare soil will be hard.
There is also something called “gas exchange”. Dead or alive organic
matter (trees, fallen twigs, grass, etc.) and soil exchange gas with
the atmosphere near the ground. Biodynamics people talk about the
soil breathing. Thus, gas emanating from the twigs may benefit the
grass growing between them.
Lastly, there is the point that twigs will slowly disintegrate and
crumble onto the ground which provides soil organic matter that makes
plants grow better.
I doubt very much that the above has been researched and it may not be
possible to know exactly which factor makes grass greener under which
conditions, but then the grass always is green in Ireland, is it not?
Shading cloth can reduce evaporation somewhat but it also reduces
photosynthesis and therefore growth and yield. Whether the gains are
greater than the losses or vice versa will depend on circumstances.
I have most of my “summer gardens” in the half or full shade of large
trees. I can also use all but one garden in the winter because the
trees loose there leafs in the cool season. Anyway, evaporation is
not an issue during the winter since temps mostly stay below 24 C.
Unfortunately, most of our summer veggies are rather sun-loving.
About the only vegetable that doesn’t mind shade are tomatoes. I
think paprika, pumpkins and eggplants have a somewhat reduced yield in
the shade. Melons and okra do very poorly in the shade.
Traditional farming here uses the hoed soil like a shade cloth
attached directly to the ground. This reduces evaporation to near
zero and doesn’t impact photosynthesis at all because the plants grow
above the soil. Many of the old farmers around here who still
practice traditional farming have their garden in full sunlight. The
yields they get are impressive. Of course they also use fertilizers
now in addition to manure (I use neither), so direct comparison is not
possible. But it does show that traditional farmers do have a lot of
accumulated experience and skill and that it is never good to think in
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