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RE: [fukuoka_farming] RE: many questions

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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 1 of 3 , Nov 10, 2003
      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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