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VS: [fukuoka_farming] Back to raised beds

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  • Karri Varpio
    ... Not as green mulch. Rye is said to have allelopathic properties against couch (+ it is very good shadowing other plants), and when sown for normal harvest,
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 4, 2002
      > > I should
      > >have tilled the field for half a summer first (I haven't yet met
      > a green
      > >mulch crop that would beat it). Now it was too much hand weeding
      > and, since
      > >it doesn't help much for couch, cutting with garden scissors between
      > rows.
      >
      > Have you tried buckwheat or rye? If so, what was the result?

      Not as green mulch. Rye is said to have allelopathic properties against
      couch (+ it is very good shadowing other plants), and when sown for normal
      harvest, it keeps couch in limits, but doesn't kill it.


      >
      > Would it be possible to plant deep-rooted plants like Daikon radish
      > before you harvest so that they would have time to grow before winter
      > and help aerate the soil when they die and decay?

      I suppose so. I think all this is a matter of thinking and experimenting.


      >
      > >This year my plan was to sow oats in the summer, so it could grow
      > all autumn
      > >and die in winter, but summer was so dry it didn't germinate.
      > >Springtime is another problem. There is almost one month when you can't
      > >transplant anything, so that time soil is without any growing plants
      > (except
      > >some early weeds). Perhaps some fall-sown biennials, like sweet
      > clower (it
      > >has, BTW, excellent and strong root growth), could survive over
      > winter and
      > >then, before transplanting vegetables, it has to be cut so low that it
      > >doesn't regrow.
      >
      > Would oats survive through the winter in your area? Or rye?

      Oats no. Rye, very well. Problem with rye is that it regrows strongly after
      cutting.


      >
      > Would it be possible to interplant other plants with the rows to
      > fill in the space and yet allow practical harvest of the row crops?
      > Or would it be possible to plant in alternating blocks instead of
      > rows, then , as you harvest a block, reseed it immediately?

      Yes, and it wouldn't even be very difficult. I think I was just too lazy
      making proper plan, and instead made planting same way as in tilled field.


      >
      >
      > >Still, there is need for combining different plants and so having
      > extensive
      > >(in time and space) plant cover. Planning the plantings would have
      > been the
      > >key, just keeping in mind also market aspect.
      >
      > From what I have been able to figure out, a crop rotation scheme
      > using plants timed to suppress weeds and also provide wanted crops
      > seems critical. Fukuoka had several such schemes in "The Natural
      > Way of Farming". If you haven't seen them, look on my website under
      > "Methods". I've started working on such a scheme for the beds I will
      > be making next spring and it is not easy even though Fukuoka's climate
      > and mine are not too dissimilar.

      I find Fukuoka's schemes rather confusing. But some kind of scheme is a must
      to have.

      >
      > >Also, slugs were a problem, even in dry summer.
      >
      > Do you have any poultry on your farm? Chickens? Ducks? Geese? And
      > if so, do you let them near the raised beds?

      We have few chickens, and they were running free last spring. I don't know
      if they ate many slugs, but they did scratch old mulch off the beds.


      About pests. If we sow any brassicas direct, it is almost certain that young
      plants are eaten by flea beetles (Phyllotrtea spp.) as soon as temperature
      is +20 C for one or two days. They can find even single plants among grass
      or carrots or whatever. I guess it's one of the major pests. So far we have
      managed with them by using thin gauze?? cover on plants.

      Karri
    • tiakd 14477
      Karri, I have a similar problems with flea beetles where we live. We are surrounded by chemical farmers and lots of canola, which flea beetles love. In the 6
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 4, 2002
        Karri, I have a similar problems with flea beetles where we live. We are
        surrounded by chemical farmers and lots of canola, which flea beetles love.
        In the 6 years we have lived here, we haven't been able to grow turnips, and
        two years ago they started harrassing the rest of the brassicas - by mid
        July the plants are skeletons with just stalks and eaten up roots.
        Anyway, last year I decided to plant onions around my brassicas.
        This year, I planted a row of onions around and in between the
        cabbages. Not a single flea beetle problem, and though we always have severe
        caterpillar damage, the white moths just hovered and never landed on the
        cabbages, so we had lovely cabbages this year.
        Turnips are a crop nobody is able to grow here due to the severe flea
        beetle damage. We are surrounded by canola fields, which are guaranteed to
        be infested with flea beetles. After eating off canola, they migrate
        directly to our garden and feast off things like turnips, cabbage, lettuce,
        spinach etc. This year I sacrificed more onions to completely surround the
        turnip bed. They had gorgeous huge leaves and roots, whereas usually they
        are skeletons with small 2 inch roots that are also eaten full of holes.
        Around September some leaves started to be eaten, but very little, and we
        left them in the ground till a few frosts and were able to harvest several
        bushels of turnips. I don't know if this will help you at all, but we sure
        are happy with it. I don't know if it was a good year for little bug damage,
        or if the onions really were the help, but I plan on trying again next year
        and adding cauliflower and broccoli back to our garden - we quit growing
        because of bugs.
        I don't know if anybody is in a similar zone or area, but I'd love some tips
        on companion planting that work well for you.
        While I am on the subject, I hope nobody minds me adding some other
        tips and observations.
        I find many things recommended in books just don't work when we apply
        them.
        For example, peas and carrots never grow well for us - for that matter, peas
        never do well for us unless they are in rows on their own.
        Carrots and onions always do well for us. The bugs are repelled by the
        onions planted around the carrot bed, and the carrots seem to be sweeter and
        tastier.
        Corn with melons, squash, cucumber, or beans never do well, as they seem to
        need the sun that the corn protects them from. Maybe if I planted the corn
        further apart, the other things will get more sun. But one year I did try
        planting it further apart and it didn't pollinate very well. How far apart
        can they be planted and ensure good pollination? We have strong summer
        winds, so I didn't think that would be a problem.
        We grew squash, cucumbers and pumpkins on trellises this year, and though
        the pumpkins did well, the cucumbers did not want to climb even with help -
        yes, they were vining and not bush. Sure looked pretty in the fall to have
        bright orange pumpkins hanging on the fence surrounding the garden!
        Our lavender which is supposed to be an annual here, is 4 years old now and
        has even survived being transplanted twice due to moves. It is two large
        plants now and thrives just covered in straw mulch in the winter. Same with
        thyme, marjoram, oregano (2 year old plant which was 5 foot round and 3 feet
        high last year!), lemon balm and sage.
        For a few years now we have planted potatoes 2-3 inches in the ground and
        covered in grass cutting and straw mulch so only 6 inches of greenery ever
        showed. This was an experiment due to being tired of weeding, constant
        watering, and digging potatoes out of sun baked, rock hard soil. We have
        only watered once since we started planting this way, and the weeds are no
        longer a problem as they are under thick mulch. Harvest was easy and yield
        comparable to normal methods. The ground the potatoes are planted in, is so
        light and healthy after a few years, due to us not stepping in the plot till
        harvest and the straw breaking down. We lose some to mice, so that has made
        us hesitant to plant above the soil, but I will plant half under and half on
        top this year.
        After planting this way for a couple years, we began to wonder if the mulch
        was helping with bug problems, as we used to have severe potato bugs. Also,
        the weeds can be bad when using straw/hay mulch - only when you till the
        straw in every year though - so, in 2001, my Mom decided to forgo the straw
        mulch and plant potatoes the normal way. We had so many bugs we couldn't
        keep on top of them, even picking by hand. The yield wasn't so great, and we
        had to weed, water and hill constantly. This year we planted in mulch again
        and not one bug was found, though every neighbor said it was a bad year for
        bugs.
        I have tried square foot gardening or the Jeavons method, but my plants are
        always so much bigger, that if they are planted according to their
        recommendations, we get low yields due to overcrowding. Anybody else have
        this problem? I often wonder how they get their tomatoes to fit one plant
        per every square foot, as mine need several feet, even if I stake or cage
        them. This last year we finally had to cut some plants and branches out, so
        we'll plant according to what they need next year and not according to what
        others get away with. It does make me wonder how people do it though. Only
        onions and carrots work well when planted according to their spacing
        recommendations.
        Anyway, must go.
        Regards
        Heather



















        >About pests. If we sow any brassicas direct, it is almost certain that
        >young
        >plants are eaten by flea beetles (Phyllotrtea spp.) as soon as temperature
        >is +20 C for one or two days. They can find even single plants among grass
        >or carrots or whatever. I guess it's one of the major pests. So far we have
        >managed with them by using thin gauze?? cover on plants.
        >
        >Karri
        >
        >


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      • Gloria Baikauskas
        Heather.........I am a bit behind in reading my mail...........but I wanted to tell you that here in NorthCentral Texas, US, where I live the local organic
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 7, 2002
          Heather.........I am a bit behind in reading my mail...........but I wanted to tell you that here in NorthCentral Texas, US, where I live the local organic gardening guru has been talking a bit on his radio show that he has noticed that even plant that should not survive our winters are surviving in his yard. This includes things like Bay Laurel, and a lemon tree. He has been on an organic program about 10 years......not really positive about that.

          Another thing he has been mentioning is that he has noticed that since his yard has been totally organic now for a while he has few pests........and no fire ants, the scourge of Southern gardening anymore.

          My hunch is that with Natural Farming we will all see one day that we have fewer pest problems, and that things will be surviving that should be only annuals in our areas. It is probable that many plant species would perform differently if they had back the atmosphere they were meant to be growing in by the one who created them. I think it isn't just the health of the soil that we will all find is so important......it is also the total environment. That is why Fukuoka's ideas appeal to me so much. I think he is right that by trying to do a better job than Nature did interferred with what made the plants happy to grow and thrive.

          You are creating the environment that makes those potatoes tickled pink.....and the pests that prey on them to seek other.........less desirable for potato........areas to feast. I suspect that naturally occuring microscopic insects are most likely happy to be living in your mulched potatoes vicinity that are natural deterrents to the flea beetles. Congratulations on a job well done.

          Gloria


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