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RE: many questions

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  • jamie
    Hello Les, I m always leaving some plants in the beds to go to seed and hoping for vigorous crosses (I m watching some very mixed brassica progeny growing
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 9, 2003
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      Hello Les, I'm always leaving some plants in the beds to go to seed and
      hoping for vigorous crosses (I'm watching some very mixed brassica progeny
      growing right now, wondering what they're going to be). But clearly
      biennials will need to be cleared out the way to allow the new crop to come
      through. For the non-root crops (root crops will be totally removed anyway)
      the best thing to do is to either cut the plant and lay it on the bed or
      bend it over so it stays flat on the bed - you want to leave all the roots
      possible in the soil and only remove the very minimum (ie the crop itself)
      from the beds. Working in this manner does the least possible to disturb the
      soil, which can cause mineralisation and bring 'weed' seeds to the surface.
      If you grow root crops I would ensure you follow them with a crop that can
      be seeded or perhaps transplanted directly into the mulch to avoid removing
      the mulch and letting too much air in or weeds seeds to germinate.

      However, on the broader question of natural agriculture and market gardening
      I think the way forward is to actually rethink the whole business, because,
      for as long as a market gardener follows the dictates of the market (for
      season extension, popularity, latest fad, bulk, rapid succession etc etc)
      he/she will forever be demanding their soil to produce unnaturally. To begin
      to see what natural agriculture market gardening might be I think we should
      actually learn what crops our soils favour by observing closely the
      volunteers and planting their vegetable relatives and then watching how they
      grow and allowing cross-fertilisation to produce truly native varieties. We
      must then incorporate these crops into a system that respects their
      life-cycles.

      I know this is an impossible dream for those already involved in market
      gardening, already caught in the treadmill powered by the insatiable demands
      of a population separated from a natural diet. But for those with the wish
      to find an alternative I believe this path offers not only a healthy diet
      but a good living selling to farmers markets or providing for small CSAs
      (Community Supported Agriculture) - the integration of food growing into
      local communities is of utmost importance for the future where
      transportation will become much more problematic as oil stocks decline.
      Mechanisation, amendments, constant fiddling with crops to maximise size,
      colour, storage will be gone - several acres could easily be handled part
      time by a single person...

      Jamie
      Souscayrous

      PS I'm not sure what a pineapple express storm is?


      -----Original Message-----
      From: les landeck [mailto:offeringsoftheland@...]
      Sent: samedi 8 novembre 2003 21:25
      To: jamie; fukuoka-farming@...
      Subject: many questions


      Jamie,

      those are all workable ideas, for our home gardens.
      but when you need to produce 500# of restaurant
      quality salad greens or more per week on maybe three
      rotations per bed, the questions become more
      interesting. first is when is a crop finished? the
      money says when the greens are to large, the plants
      say after they have been allowed to form their seed
      for the next generation, and i like the possibility
      that they may cross with their own variety or better
      yet with a wild edible. come winter the wild crosses
      compete better in what looks like green manuring of
      wild edibles and other crosses. but to grow a
      production bed here in our 40 to 60 degree Sonoma
      county winter weather requires undisturbed soil so to
      allow for natural drainage when a pineapple express
      storm hits us. and a good 6" layer of something like
      mushroom compost. this will suppress and cause the
      previous growth to give way much the same as a blanket
      of snow. this than can be direct seeded, any seed
      smaller than spinach i leave uncovered on top the beds
      rain or low flow sprinklers will set the seed just
      fine. germination runs 80% to 90% good yield at a half
      oz. per bed. but when this bed completes it's cycle
      how could i cause these plants to give way in a
      nonviolent way with no soil disruption,as in pulling
      the plants out (and bringing wild seed to the
      surface). or having to add more of the previous
      compost? Les


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    • les landeck
      morning Jamie, from this end of the suns journey you had a long and active day. Pineapple express are storms that can run three days or more straight at us
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 9, 2003
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        morning Jamie, from this end of the suns journey you
        had a long and active day.

        Pineapple express are storms that can run three days
        or more straight at us from Hawaii, can drop 5" to
        8"of rain in as many hours. when the soil is at full
        saturation flooding follows, i've had waist high
        mustards Asian cabbages all with an understory growth
        of miners lettuce and chickweed (both wild edibles)and
        no bear ground only to have a primary gofer tunnel
        thats running 3'to 4'deep in the soil collapse like a
        Florida sink hole. other times I've seen water
        shooting up 8" to 12" out of gofer holes six hours
        after a storm cell has past from the drainage of a
        small rise of ground. One more reason to find ways to
        apply natural farming systems to the needs of a market
        garden.(market garden is to grow and supply produce to
        a establish or defined group of people in your
        community, distribution involves words like csa's or
        farm markets, or farm stands) a market garden to me is
        three to maybe around ten acres of mixed crops in my
        case row crops heavy on greens to make five different
        salad cuts. all had to be done on three acres in the
        summer do to limited water,but with the rains i could
        expand to six acres, the added area was mostly to not
        stress out our wild edibles that i encouraged to self
        seed, by reducing or trimming non edibles. six acres
        of what wants to grow is to me is natural farming.
        winter was my learning time, summer the demands were
        higher.
        no rain from May to October irrigation required, 15
        gallon per minute well required use of T-Tape drip
        lines. so their goes natural farming in the summer.
        when the soil drys in the walking lanes the soil life
        rests. night watering over head to maintain even soil
        moisture is necessary to maintain the soils
        inhabitants.my take on this is, it's not the plants
        that stress do to lack of water. that is only an
        effect of the reduced flow of nutrients due to a die
        off of the microbial life. good soil with a good layer
        of fiber protecting it can support what, up to 6
        billion life forms per cubic inch. maintain the
        moisture, maintain their food (raw fiber layer on top
        the mineral soil)so their excrement and the break down
        of the body's of those that die each day provide the
        nutrients by means of moisture to the plants. loose
        half that population and we have a set back. do
        nothing to me means focus on and provide for the needs
        of the unseen world and they will give of themselves
        so our plants will grow in good health and so will we.
        as you pointed out Jamie pulling root crops cause
        great disruption. just as hand weeding a bed of
        lettuce 10 to 15 days after germination, lettuce will
        put on a burst of growth, some say thats because the
        competition is gone, but what we see is an influx of
        nutrients from the body's of the microbes we killed.
        salad rows are 4to6 inches apart with as many as six
        lettuce plants per square inch, thats completion.
        (after first cut we would thin the lettuce by cutting
        not pulling) we spend to much time focused on a plants
        appearance all that time should be spent providing for
        the unseen. when insects identify a plant in stress
        they Begin their job of thinning an composting old
        plant material. so plant stress equals microbial
        imbalance due to lack of fiber,and moisture.
        In the next five years we are to peak on world oil
        production. will fuel cells fill the power needs of
        heavy tractors on factory farms or as you point out
        Jamie the transportation energy needs. maybe small
        farms will rise again. if they do a system has to
        available that will provide a fare living in their
        community's. this is very hard to do , people have no
        idea of the true cost of hand harvested produce. (i
        try to avoid the use of the word food,i looked it up
        one day in the dictionary. first word to describe food
        was "anything")Wendall Berry if you are out their we
        need a new word for food. hum wonder if nutrition
        would work? how can many small growers maintain a
        natural growing system with the demands of a row crop
        market garden? control is the key word, how to ready a
        seed bed that will allow a controlled rate of
        unobstructed harvest cutting salad lettuce in high
        grass can take you from 8 to 10 pounds per hour down
        to 2or3 pounds per hour, thats loose the farm speed.
        cost of living in this area requires about 245 pounds
        of salad per month that retails at 8 dollars per pound
        245# divided by how many pounds per hour than we can
        double that to cover the greatly reduced winter sales.
        maybe one day we will become hunter gathers again
        moving each day to find a new food supply. but until
        than learning to control a natural environment is
        necessary. Fukuoka has done a find job waking us up
        and defining a natural system that controlled the
        growing of grain crops and mandarins. but he left us
        to think and learn how to sustain other crops. his
        system with rice and barley is grand. rice and barley
        work in that system very well. but his row crops were
        scattered under the trees for a under story harvest
        for home use.
        Native American philosophy the words "give way" are
        used one to disperse excess wealth. two to describe
        one life giving way of their life for the subsistence
        of another. humans except these offerings but no
        longer return our body's to the soil unless it's in a
        sealed box.
        Jamie i'm not a computer wizard but if this group
        could have a page designed that would allow input from
        everyone on the site it would be interesting to design
        a twelve acre natural market garden of the
        future.fruits grains and row crops; than every few
        weeks focus on the rest of the parts, how to
        irrigate,how long to harvest each crop, how many times
        can you harvest from a planting of cucumbers, whats
        your market demand for them, how many rotations are
        possible that you need to sustain the needs. Question
        of the day, if we are respectful and not hack and chop
        the plants that just gave their all for us. how as you
        you pointed out could we bend the plants over? how can
        we hold them to the soil for the unseen to do their
        work? have a good day Jamie looking forward to your
        comments. Les
        --- jamie <jamie@...> wrote:
        > Hello Les, I'm always leaving some plants in the
        > beds to go to seed and
        > hoping for vigorous crosses (I'm watching some very
        > mixed brassica progeny
        > growing right now, wondering what they're going to
        > be). But clearly
        > biennials will need to be cleared out the way to
        > allow the new crop to come
        > through. For the non-root crops (root crops will be
        > totally removed anyway)
        > the best thing to do is to either cut the plant and
        > lay it on the bed or
        > bend it over so it stays flat on the bed - you want
        > to leave all the roots
        > possible in the soil and only remove the very
        > minimum (ie the crop itself)
        > from the beds. Working in this manner does the least
        > possible to disturb the
        > soil, which can cause mineralisation and bring
        > 'weed' seeds to the surface.
        > If you grow root crops I would ensure you follow
        > them with a crop that can
        > be seeded or perhaps transplanted directly into the
        > mulch to avoid removing
        > the mulch and letting too much air in or weeds seeds
        > to germinate.
        >
        > However, on the broader question of natural
        > agriculture and market gardening
        > I think the way forward is to actually rethink the
        > whole business, because,
        > for as long as a market gardener follows the
        > dictates of the market (for
        > season extension, popularity, latest fad, bulk,
        > rapid succession etc etc)
        > he/she will forever be demanding their soil to
        > produce unnaturally. To begin
        > to see what natural agriculture market gardening
        > might be I think we should
        > actually learn what crops our soils favour by
        > observing closely the
        > volunteers and planting their vegetable relatives
        > and then watching how they
        > grow and allowing cross-fertilisation to produce
        > truly native varieties. We
        > must then incorporate these crops into a system that
        > respects their
        > life-cycles.
        >
        > I know this is an impossible dream for those already
        > involved in market
        > gardening, already caught in the treadmill powered
        > by the insatiable demands
        > of a population separated from a natural diet. But
        > for those with the wish
        > to find an alternative I believe this path offers
        > not only a healthy diet
        > but a good living selling to farmers markets or
        > providing for small CSAs
        > (Community Supported Agriculture) - the integration
        > of food growing into
        > local communities is of utmost importance for the
        > future where
        > transportation will become much more problematic as
        > oil stocks decline.
        > Mechanisation, amendments, constant fiddling with
        > crops to maximise size,
        > colour, storage will be gone - several acres could
        > easily be handled part
        > time by a single person...
        >
        > Jamie
        > Souscayrous
        >
        > PS I'm not sure what a pineapple express storm is?
        >
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: les landeck
        > [mailto:offeringsoftheland@...]
        > Sent: samedi 8 novembre 2003 21:25
        > To: jamie; fukuoka-farming@...
        > Subject: many questions
        >
        >
        > Jamie,
        >
        > those are all workable ideas, for our home gardens.
        > but when you need to produce 500# of restaurant
        > quality salad greens or more per week on maybe three
        > rotations per bed, the questions become more
        > interesting. first is when is a crop finished? the
        > money says when the greens are to large, the plants
        > say after they have been allowed to form their seed
        > for the next generation, and i like the possibility
        > that they may cross with their own variety or better
        > yet with a wild edible. come winter the wild crosses
        > compete better in what looks like green manuring of
        > wild edibles and other crosses. but to grow a
        > production bed here in our 40 to 60 degree Sonoma
        > county winter weather requires undisturbed soil so
        > to
        > allow for natural drainage when a pineapple express
        > storm hits us. and a good 6" layer of something like
        > mushroom compost. this will suppress and cause the
        > previous growth to give way much the same as a
        > blanket
        > of snow. this than can be direct seeded, any seed
        > smaller than spinach i leave uncovered on top the
        > beds
        > rain or low flow sprinklers will set the seed just
        > fine. germination runs 80% to 90% good yield at a
        > half
        > oz. per bed. but when this bed completes it's cycle
        > how could i cause these plants to give way in a
        > nonviolent way with no soil disruption,as in pulling
        > the plants out (and bringing wild seed to the
        > surface). or having to add more of the previous
        > compost? Les
        >
        >
        > __________________________________
        > Do you Yahoo!?
        > Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
        > http://antispam.yahoo.com/whatsnewfree
        >
        >





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      • jamie
        Hello Les, thanks for the background to your operation and I can sympathise with your summer drought period - in fact, I d hazard our climates are very similar
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 10, 2003
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          Hello Les, thanks for the background to your operation and I can sympathise
          with your summer drought period - in fact, I'd hazard our climates are very
          similar (although this would depend on just how far you are from the
          coast) - certainly the miners lettuce is already well-advanced and the chick
          weed is beginning to germinate in large swathes.

          However, I do not irrigate. It is a choice I made due to the 'experimental'
          not 'financial' nature of my project and because with aquifers drying up
          (and John in Fresno will know about the problem there) we have to find
          another means of growing our food. Therefore, after the hottest and driest
          summer in Europe on record I can attest to the fact that most commonly
          available OP veg cannot withstand complete drought. No surprise there! But
          that does not mean that growing food is an impossibility - it just needs
          some imagination - our climate is very good for most fruit trees and I think
          any future natural mediterranean gardening/farming will have to be based
          around trees with veg gardens beneath. I'm going to be involved in a large
          Fukuoka-inspired project in Italy where I hope to establish just such a
          mediterranean agriculture and will let the group know more as plans evolve.

          I completely agree that it is the soil life that needs to be supported and
          this is where our effort and concentration should be: Build Soil, seems to
          me the simplest expression of natural agriculture. Unfortunately these
          drought periods bring the whole micro/macro cosmic world to a standstill, if
          earthworms are a visible part of this soil 'life' my soil did not begin to
          recover until mid-October, as until this point I was still finding worms
          curled up dormant in the soil, riding out the drought. Considering that
          freezes can occur, on average, at the beginning of Novemeber, the main
          growing period here is a few week with the rains in the spring and a few
          weeks with the rains in the autumn - therefore my approach must be to
          ameliorate the extremes and only trees provide the natural answer for doing
          this through providing 16 times the surface area than bare ground on which
          moist air from the med can condense and fall to the ground, roots that can
          reach down into water reserves unexploitable by other plants, fodder for
          animals, leaves and small branches for mulch, fruit and nuts,
          nitrogen -fixation, soil conditioning and protection of the soil from
          scorching sun and the frost that falls from the sky.

          Regarding soil imbalance: it is interesting to note that different climates
          have different levels of biomass production, in tropical rainforests most of
          the material is in plants, while in temperate climates more is found as
          organic matter in the soil. I think we should be careful, in warmer
          temperate areas, to not over feed our soils with organic matter as this is
          often leads to a nitrate/nitrite imbalance that can lead to a soil microbial
          imbalance and work more toward a greater biomass and this idea certainly
          positively reinforces my belief in keeping the soil covered with plants
          (including volunteers or wild hybids).


          I believe small farms will rise again simply because the machinery to
          control hundreds of acres will become prohibitively expense to build and
          run, but also because only on a smaller, human scale, can the intimate
          relationships necessary for sustainable agriculture arise between farmer and
          farm (humans and nature).

          I'm no computer wizard either Les, but I think we can make great strides in
          how to work with nature through our emails, through sharing what we do, what
          works and what doesn't. Giving details on where we are, our climate, our
          soil, native vegetation etc can often help each of us help others with our
          personal experience: I am 30km from the Med in southern france 43North, USDA
          Hardiness Zone 9 (just! annual average minimum -6--7C), officially
          Mediterranean type climate, 500-700mm precipitation/year, rain falls mostly
          in autumn, then spring, winter and summer fairly dry, prevailing wind W/NW
          150-200 days/year, 240-260 day frost free growing period, soil is heavy clay
          and calcareous, climax hardwood forest oak/box (Quercus ilex/Buxus
          sempervirens) - almonds are everywhere and olives thrive, good for cherries
          and plums too.

          Jamie
          Souscayrous
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