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Re: [fukuoka_farming] "evil" herbs

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  • Stephen Inniss
    Hello Carlo, My experience was like yours: simply seeding in clover and my crops was not enough if the land had been occupied first by other plants and if I
    Message 1 of 3 , May 15, 2004
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      Hello Carlo,

      My experience was like yours: simply seeding in clover and my crops was
      not enough if the land had been occupied first by other plants and if I
      did nothing else. This was true for everything I tried, from simply
      seeding an existing spot to actively tilling it over and then planting.
      The surviving roots and seeds took over, and I had a patch of
      buttercup, comfrey, and grasses, with a minority of clover and a few
      struggling edible plants. I've found that there are two approaches that
      work fairly well, though.
      1) Start on ground that has no vegetation (these are areas where I
      had dumped dirt from other operations, sheet-mulched, or removed
      artificial coverings that the previous holder of my land had put in
      place). Once the clover and crops are well established, they can keep
      out the weeds if they get a little help now and then.
      2) Till, maybe more than once, and then plant, with the clover (or
      other cover crop), and then pick out the most agressive weeds in the
      first year. Again, you do get a patch that resists undesireable plants,
      but it does need a little help in the following years.

      Once established, these systems do take a bit of maintenance to keep
      going (I weed once in a while), but not nearly as much work as a mix of
      crops and bare soil. Weeds have much more difficulty invading once the
      clover is well established. I have gotten this to work with clover plus
      sweetcorn/potatoes/squash, and it gives large volumes of food for very
      little labour. I am trying it this year with clover plus other crops.

      I also grow a mix of vegetables and herbs (lettuces, chicory, kale,
      dill, cress, mustard greens, carrots, oregano, lemon balm, swiss chard,
      and in summer tomatoes) in a small unheated greenhouse. This has been
      self-seeding and mostly self-maintaining for a couple of years now, but
      then it is mostly protected from invasion. Also, to be honest, it does
      not produce the volume of food that it would if I kept everything in
      rows and regularly seeded, fertilized, and pulled weeds. On the other
      hand, I get food from it most of the year, and I do very little work
      there. I do go in and remove thistles, grasses, and comfrey every few
      months, and if I did not interfere the lemon balm and oregano would take
      over the entire space. Also, the volunter tomatoes each spring are not
      enough to maintain the level of production I want, so every year I add
      some tomatoes I've started indoors.

      Mr. Fukuoka started with conventional rice fields, which must have been
      close to weed-free at the start, and then he flooded them for a while
      each year, which must have prevented many kinds of weeds from taking
      hold. It's also worth noting that the Fukuoka family did maintain a
      regular rows-and-hoeing vegetable garden. I'm not sure how much of their
      food came from the semi-wild vegetables they used an understory in the
      orchards -- some, surely, but I would bet that it was not the majority.

      I treat Mr. Fukuoka's ideal of "no weeding" as an ideal to strive for,
      but I do weed, especially when I am setting up in the first place. If I
      find I am doing a lot of weeding, then I ask myself how the situation
      could have been set up better in the first place, and try something

      Is your area one in which white clover thrives naturally? Mine is, and
      Mr. Fukuoka's was, but some people on this list who live in much drier
      or hotter climates have had no luck at all with it. They may be able to
      give you some good alternatives.

      How big is your area? If it's not acres and acres, it might be practical
      to at least pull up the undesireable plants in a small circle around
      each your corn and potato plants. I had the same problem you had when I
      first tried this, and didn't take corrective action until well into the
      summer. I still did manage to get some production, though not as much as
      a conventional gardener or farmer would and not so much as I get now.
      So, I don't think it's too late yet. I've never grown wheat for food, so
      I'm not sure what to do about the wheat. Good luck! Let us know how it
      comes out, and we will all be wiser for it.


      carlo deprado wrote:

      > hi everybody,
      > i'm afraid i need some more tips from some more experienced people,
      > concerning herbs the grow faster and higher than the one i try to grow:
      > wheat, potatoes and corn.
      > provided that i've been sowing clover, mustard and brocoli from last
      > autumn
      > on and most of the field in all covered, many 'savage' herbs actually
      > grow
      > and i think my young plants lack light and space.
      > I'm afraid of cutting random as if it was a grass field even at a certain
      > height to preserve the right plants, but of course i should act some kind
      > of strategy, as i now know i was wrong when i thought clover would win
      > all
      > other plants.
      > I'm probably late, but does anyone know what to do to properly intervene?
      > save me and my plants,
      > help!
      > carlo
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