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  • garden03048
    Anders, very interesting letter. I try to be mostly organic and natural , but we do have to adjust to reality. Sounds like you need raised beds if your
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 13, 2005
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      Anders,

      very interesting letter. I try to be mostly organic and 'natural',
      but we do have to adjust to reality.

      Sounds like you need raised beds if your drainage is that poor.

      Also, you might save seed from year to year and see gradual changes
      to better suit your climate. I sowed buckwheat as a cover crop a few
      years ago. I still get some volunteers coming up and they seem
      larger and hardier than the originals. Tomato seed is real easy to
      save from year to year. There may be other vegies that you can let
      go to seed. I admit I haven't done much. But experimenting is fun.

      Sometimes nature susprises us. After years of digging gladiola corms
      each Fall as all the books recommend, I was too lazy to do it last
      Fall. Much to my surprise, most came up this June even though in
      January we had sub zero weather with little or no snow cover. We
      don't always have to follow the book....

      anthony New Hampshire zone 5
    • Anders Skarlind
      Anthony, here are my thoughts on this. Got rather lengthy. I have three parallel ditches, almost perpendicular to the rather small slope of the land. The
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 14, 2005
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        Anthony,
        here are my thoughts on this. Got rather lengthy.

        I have three parallel ditches, almost perpendicular to the rather small
        slope of the land. The distances between these ditches are 6 and 9 meters
        respectively. They are joined by one outlet ditch in one end. I have the
        largest part of my vegetable garden between these ditches. The soil from
        the digging of the ditches goes to this land between the ditches, which
        have the form of two loaves. So they are rather big raised beds, about 5
        meters (16 ft) broad and 20 meters long (60 ft). The depth from top of the
        loaves to bottom of the ditches varies between 0.6 and 0.9 meters (2-3 ft).
        I want to increase this with about 0.3 meters (1 ft). I dig by hand. If I
        had thought about this from the start I would have hired a tractor for the
        digging, but now it is more difficult.

        On the other hand I know there are followers of Fukuoka, and maybe also
        Fukuoka himself, who thinks ditching is wrong, if not in all so in most
        situations. I normally consider that type of attitude as ignorant, because
        my experience has taught me the opposite. But when I think of it I am not
        so sure. The plot where I grow veggies, sometimes successful but the last
        years less and less successful, used to be a pasture or grasland. The grass
        and weed species where adapted to the rather wet land where water table
        sometimes, mainly in early spring when snow is melting and late autumn when
        rainfall can be abundant and evaporation low, can reach the surface (before
        I ditched it). When I started to grow veggies here I was successful for 2-3
        years. I used mulching but also hoeing and twice I used a rototiller to
        break the heavy grass sod. During May-October ground is normally not too
        wet. As groundwater sometimes is high and fairly static, moving only
        slowly, anaerobic conditions develop a bit down in the soil, from about
        0.3-0.6 meters (1-2 ft, before ditching). Pasture plants cannot grow deep
        under those conditions and hence topsoil was fairly shallow, less than 0.3
        meters. This shallow topsoil could sustain my vegetables for a few years.
        Gradually I think some structure, humus and/or nutrients were lost. I also
        made Fukuoka inspired experiments, especially the 4th year, with broad
        sowing/scattering of vegetable seeds and such. Weeds took over almost
        completely. I sowed grass and clover to improve soil. This was intended to
        stay 2-3 years before growing veggies again but clover didn't overwinter.
        High water table and freezing is not good for overwintering of clover. But
        there is one clover that grow native here, Alsike clover, that could
        overwinter. Anyway most of my efforts to improve soil structure with
        ley/green-manure, compost, mulching were stopped by the wet conditions.
        Soil structure collapsed and nutirents and humus leached when ground was
        flooded and in parts frozen during November-March or April. However I am
        not sure ditching combined with compost, mulch and green-manure/ley is the
        best response to this situation. An alternative could be to have an
        extensive rotation, with none to minmal ditching. This could mean self-sown
        pasture/ley, cut with scythe or grazed by animals for 3-5 years
        (regeneration phase) alternated with growing vegetables and grains as long
        as the land can sustain them (2-4 years I think). But with drainage I think
        a more balanced system can be achieved where I can have green-manure plants
        and less aggressive weeds growing in companionship with vegetables and
        grains. And hopefully less tilling/hoeing/digging.

        You may wonder if this plot of land is at all suitable for a kitchen
        garden. Good question in that case. But it is the only part om my small
        property that has enough sunlight. To get enough sunligth on the rest I
        would have to cut down some big trees that are not mine, and even if they
        were I wouldn't want to cut them down. But I am now growing most of my
        vegetables in other places with better conditions, and work this land
        slowly. Most of it is in ley now.

        As for seed saving it is my speciality. I have been growing seed from many
        different vegetables for 15 years. I have been overdoing it sometimes, so I
        had nothing from my own garden to eat, only seed production. I am working
        within Sesam, the Swedish Seed Saving association. This is voluntary work,
        as all work in Sesam. Seed saving gives plenty of possibilities to get
        locally adapted strains, which is good in this respect. However I have been
        working with so many varieties because of my ambition to save them. I lead
        a small group working with carrots. 10 people maintaining 100 varieties in
        their home gardens, in round figures. I have been working with around 20 of
        these varieties. For the objectives we discuss here it would have been
        better to pick 1-3 varieties and work intensively with those to adapt them
        to my growing conditions. But I have other objectives too.

        Regards
        Anders


        At 20:18 2005-08-13, you wrote:
        >Anders,
        >
        >very interesting letter. I try to be mostly organic and 'natural',
        >but we do have to adjust to reality.
        >
        >Sounds like you need raised beds if your drainage is that poor.
        >
        >Also, you might save seed from year to year and see gradual changes
        >to better suit your climate. I sowed buckwheat as a cover crop a few
        >years ago. I still get some volunteers coming up and they seem
        >larger and hardier than the originals. Tomato seed is real easy to
        >save from year to year. There may be other vegies that you can let
        >go to seed. I admit I haven't done much. But experimenting is fun.
        >
        >Sometimes nature susprises us. After years of digging gladiola corms
        >each Fall as all the books recommend, I was too lazy to do it last
        >Fall. Much to my surprise, most came up this June even though in
        >January we had sub zero weather with little or no snow cover. We
        >don't always have to follow the book....
        >
        >anthony New Hampshire zone 5
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • les landeck
        Anders Skarlind wrote: Anthony, here are my thoughts on this. These thoughts coming in are very much my take on understanding what
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 14, 2005
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          Anders Skarlind <Anders.Skalman@...> wrote:
          Anthony,
          here are my thoughts on this.






          These thoughts coming in are very much my take on understanding what our teacher expressed in his learning. We each have our concerns, yet a desire to reach greater understanding. yet we cope with what we perceive our needs to be. This may not be so bad if we can share those thoughts without judgment and only express how we have found our way around our fears. When we open ourselves to the how can we get there and listen to our inner thoughts interesting possibility's present themselves.

          Our teacher to me was expressing what he was learning through experience the greatest thing we can do is to exchange our experiences so that we each can reflect on how these thoughts may apply to our needs, yes while comparing them to our teachers experience yet moving forward and expanding our current needs to understand.

          It's been mentioned that we are at peak oil, what we are about on this site is that, how we provide for our families but without the community around us being provided for there will be questions. What we all are about will be meaningful in the future.

          From the easy life fifty miles north of the Golden Gate in California, Sebastopol on a small piece of heaven at the fog door way zone 10- 38 degrees north lat. salad greens country year around providing the land is ready to provide. In November i'll have been here one year observing and learning hope to make it happen in three years with all your incite and help instead of of the six years it took on my last large field. Just a note my field last year went under water with our heavy rain and all the rice straw i put down turned into a rice field, it's not hard to grow rice. And no i have not harvested it. It's doing fine and will reseed on it's own along with many other greens that went to seed, might just be the way of our teacher, Do Nothing.

          Much joy in our continued learning, Les

          ---------------------------------





          ---------------------------------
          Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Gloria C. Baikauskas
          You do realize that tilling ruins the natural wick of the soil....the way water percolates down through it from the surface...which may be a big part of your
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 14, 2005
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            You do realize that tilling ruins the natural wick of the soil....the
            way water percolates down through it from the surface...which may be
            a big part of your problem.

            Question...after you till are you tamping the soil in an attempt to
            try to restore this natural wick?

            Also...tilling releases carbon from the soil...and though they don't
            use it themselves, it must be present for proper absorption of
            nutrients by most plants. So...how are you replacing that carbon?

            Gloria, Texas

            --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Anders Skarlind
            <Anders.Skalman@t...> wrote:
            > Anthony,
            > here are my thoughts on this. Got rather lengthy.
            >
            > I have three parallel ditches, almost perpendicular to the rather
            small
            > slope of the land. The distances between these ditches are 6 and 9
            meters
            > respectively. They are joined by one outlet ditch in one end. I
            have the
            > largest part of my vegetable garden between these ditches. The soil
            from
            > the digging of the ditches goes to this land between the ditches,
            which
            > have the form of two loaves. So they are rather big raised beds,
            about 5
            > meters (16 ft) broad and 20 meters long (60 ft). The depth from top
            of the
            > loaves to bottom of the ditches varies between 0.6 and 0.9 meters
            (2-3 ft).
            > I want to increase this with about 0.3 meters (1 ft). I dig by
            hand. If I
            > had thought about this from the start I would have hired a tractor
            for the
            > digging, but now it is more difficult.
            >
            > On the other hand I know there are followers of Fukuoka, and maybe
            also
            > Fukuoka himself, who thinks ditching is wrong, if not in all so in
            most
            > situations. I normally consider that type of attitude as ignorant,
            because
            > my experience has taught me the opposite. But when I think of it I
            am not
            > so sure. The plot where I grow veggies, sometimes successful but
            the last
            > years less and less successful, used to be a pasture or grasland.
            The grass
            > and weed species where adapted to the rather wet land where water
            table
            > sometimes, mainly in early spring when snow is melting and late
            autumn when
            > rainfall can be abundant and evaporation low, can reach the surface
            (before
            > I ditched it). When I started to grow veggies here I was successful
            for 2-3
            > years. I used mulching but also hoeing and twice I used a
            rototiller to
            > break the heavy grass sod. During May-October ground is normally
            not too
            > wet. As groundwater sometimes is high and fairly static, moving
            only
            > slowly, anaerobic conditions develop a bit down in the soil, from
            about
            > 0.3-0.6 meters (1-2 ft, before ditching). Pasture plants cannot
            grow deep
            > under those conditions and hence topsoil was fairly shallow, less
            than 0.3
            > meters. This shallow topsoil could sustain my vegetables for a few
            years.
            > Gradually I think some structure, humus and/or nutrients were lost.
            I also
            > made Fukuoka inspired experiments, especially the 4th year, with
            broad
            > sowing/scattering of vegetable seeds and such. Weeds took over
            almost
            > completely. I sowed grass and clover to improve soil. This was
            intended to
            > stay 2-3 years before growing veggies again but clover didn't
            overwinter.
            > High water table and freezing is not good for overwintering of
            clover. But
            > there is one clover that grow native here, Alsike clover, that
            could
            > overwinter. Anyway most of my efforts to improve soil structure
            with
            > ley/green-manure, compost, mulching were stopped by the wet
            conditions.
            > Soil structure collapsed and nutirents and humus leached when
            ground was
            > flooded and in parts frozen during November-March or April.
            However I am
            > not sure ditching combined with compost, mulch and green-manure/ley
            is the
            > best response to this situation. An alternative could be to have an
            > extensive rotation, with none to minmal ditching. This could mean
            self-sown
            > pasture/ley, cut with scythe or grazed by animals for 3-5 years
            > (regeneration phase) alternated with growing vegetables and grains
            as long
            > as the land can sustain them (2-4 years I think). But with drainage
            I think
            > a more balanced system can be achieved where I can have green-
            manure plants
            > and less aggressive weeds growing in companionship with vegetables
            and
            > grains. And hopefully less tilling/hoeing/digging.
            >
            > You may wonder if this plot of land is at all suitable for a
            kitchen
            > garden. Good question in that case. But it is the only part om my
            small
            > property that has enough sunlight. To get enough sunligth on the
            rest I
            > would have to cut down some big trees that are not mine, and even
            if they
            > were I wouldn't want to cut them down. But I am now growing most of
            my
            > vegetables in other places with better conditions, and work this
            land
            > slowly. Most of it is in ley now.
            >
            > As for seed saving it is my speciality. I have been growing seed
            from many
            > different vegetables for 15 years. I have been overdoing it
            sometimes, so I
            > had nothing from my own garden to eat, only seed production. I am
            working
            > within Sesam, the Swedish Seed Saving association. This is
            voluntary work,
            > as all work in Sesam. Seed saving gives plenty of possibilities to
            get
            > locally adapted strains, which is good in this respect. However I
            have been
            > working with so many varieties because of my ambition to save them.
            I lead
            > a small group working with carrots. 10 people maintaining 100
            varieties in
            > their home gardens, in round figures. I have been working with
            around 20 of
            > these varieties. For the objectives we discuss here it would have
            been
            > better to pick 1-3 varieties and work intensively with those to
            adapt them
            > to my growing conditions. But I have other objectives too.
            >
            > Regards
            > Anders
            >
            >
            > At 20:18 2005-08-13, you wrote:
            > >Anders,
            > >
            > >very interesting letter. I try to be mostly organic and 'natural',
            > >but we do have to adjust to reality.
            > >
            > >Sounds like you need raised beds if your drainage is that poor.
            > >
            > >Also, you might save seed from year to year and see gradual changes
            > >to better suit your climate. I sowed buckwheat as a cover crop a
            few
            > >years ago. I still get some volunteers coming up and they seem
            > >larger and hardier than the originals. Tomato seed is real easy to
            > >save from year to year. There may be other vegies that you can let
            > >go to seed. I admit I haven't done much. But experimenting is
            fun.
            > >
            > >Sometimes nature susprises us. After years of digging gladiola
            corms
            > >each Fall as all the books recommend, I was too lazy to do it last
            > >Fall. Much to my surprise, most came up this June even though in
            > >January we had sub zero weather with little or no snow cover. We
            > >don't always have to follow the book....
            > >
            > >anthony New Hampshire zone 5
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >Yahoo! Groups Links
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
          • Anders Skarlind
            Gloria Answer to your two emails: I have been digging, forking, hoeing and sometimes tilling this land, most of the time rather mildly, for 17 years. But for
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 15, 2005
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              Gloria
              Answer to your two emails:
              I have been digging, forking, hoeing and sometimes tilling this land, most
              of the time rather mildly, for 17 years. But for long periods major parts
              of it has been in ley, or lying fallow. From 1996 to 2002 most of it was
              lying fallow. During 2003 and 2004 I have rototilled once and then mostly
              forked and hoed it. Now most of it is ley again.

              The natural way for water to run on this land is more horisontal than
              vertical, through the topsoil mostly. In the clay deeper down, under
              0.3-0.5 meters, water moves only slowly. There is waterlogged, compact clay
              for probably several meters downwards. This is old sea bottom. There is
              only natural outlet to drain this ground to about one meter depth, and this
              outlet is about 50 meters away. However as water runs only slowly it takes
              long time (months) to sink to this level. And this is then more due to
              drying out (evaporation) than running off, I think. It is not possible to
              make the ground so porous that it will drain itself naturally to greater
              depth than about 0.3-0.5 meters in an acceptable time span. Vegetables and
              grains don't want to be water-logged for long time.

              The natural water-flow brings nutrients to the top-soil, which can be
              fairly alive and healthy, albeit shallow, without ditching. This is what
              makes me somewhat hesitating about ditching. But still, to grow vegetables
              here, ditching is necessary. Also, the flora has become more diverse since
              I started ditching. Clover thrives more etc. Weeds in the top-soil are
              easier to handle, but I have worse problems with deep-rooted weeds,
              especially common thistle (Arctium arvense). However tistle and other
              plants, drainage and time together will probably loosen the soil deeper
              down, and then thistle problems will lessen.

              Tamping? You mean compacting? That would be counter-productive, as far as I
              can see.

              I replace carbon by compost, mulch (straw and grass clippings 1-2 inches
              thick most of the time) and rotation with green manure/ley. Mulching
              requires drainage, else there will be a mold, slime and bad smell in the
              bottom of the mulch.

              Anders, Sweden


              At 07:44 2005-08-15, you wrote:
              >You do realize that tilling ruins the natural wick of the soil....the
              >way water percolates down through it from the surface...which may be
              >a big part of your problem.
              >
              >Question...after you till are you tamping the soil in an attempt to
              >try to restore this natural wick?
              >
              >Also...tilling releases carbon from the soil...and though they don't
              >use it themselves, it must be present for proper absorption of
              >nutrients by most plants. So...how are you replacing that carbon?
              >
              >Gloria, Texas
            • Gloria C. Baikauskas
              I would suggest you go to http://www.soilandhealth.org and do some reading in the agriculture library there. It is an online library with many books that are
              Message 6 of 9 , Aug 15, 2005
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                I would suggest you go to http://www.soilandhealth.org and do some
                reading in the agriculture library there. It is an online library
                with many books that are no longer in print available to read
                online. One in particular that speaks of the soil wick, and the
                necessity of tamping the soil to try to restore the natural wick is
                Edward Faulkner's "Plowman's Folly." There are other books there I
                suspect would help you immensely to see why what you are doing is
                actually making it harder for you. There is a reason the water goes
                better horizontally than percolating. This is a problem created by
                man..not Nature.

                Also, please read Cocanouer's book...I think it is called "Weeds,
                Guardians of the Soil"...something like that so you will begin to
                understand that your land is trying to tell you what you need. The
                thistle is really helping you in more than breaking up your soil.
                You can read this book at http://www.journeytoforever.com.....not
                sure if that is the correct link. Can someone step in here, if it is
                not. I have been offline for a year, and some URLs are a bit fuzzy
                in my mind. There are other books that will help you understand that
                the weeds are there to try to replace a missing ingredient in the
                soil, as well as to help stop insect problems, and disease
                sometimes. Recognizing those weeds is an incredible aid to what you
                wish to achieve.

                It took me a while to understand I as used to interfere too much
                myself...making it harder..not easier. We think we know we are doing
                the right thing. Sometimes we aren't.

                I live on what is called Black Gumbo. When it is wet it is like baby
                food until it is too wet. Then it is like what you say you have.
                When it is dry it is like cement and cracks so wide you could lose a
                child in them sometimes. You can't dig in it without wetting it
                first when it gets that bad. Water will usually run off the top of
                it, as you say it is there, particularly when it has not rained for a
                while. We are prone to flash flooding for that reason.

                This land was chemically farmed for nearly 100 years. There are no
                old farmers here. They all died young unfortunately. The soil was
                basically dead. The university where I sent a soil sample said
                basically 'good luck in ever growing anything there.' I swear for at
                least a year, or two, not even weeds would grow here. When I worked
                in the soil I got rashes all over me..and my dogs lost their hair
                wherever they laid on it.

                Some of my land is also in ley. Most of it I don't mow. I must mow
                about once or twice a summer to avoid being fined because of the
                danger of fire. What I tried to convert to organic gardening I let
                go back to Nature to let Nature do what it needed to do. It wasn't
                easy to let my dedicated beds go back this way. I left the
                foundation plants in them. Most of them still thrive.

                I learned very much from sitting and meditating on the
                land.....observing sitting quietly with a clear mind for a whole day
                at a time. It sounds crazy perhaps, but it teaches one much. You
                begin to see the land as Nature perhaps sees it. You begin to see
                where some things should grow instead of where you wish them to, for
                one thing. Sometimes that is one of the biggest mistakes we
                make...when we decide where a garden should be because we do not know
                enough to make that decision as well as Nature does.

                When we grow things like sunflowers to attract birds to our gardens
                we help ourselves. When we make the land a balanced place the way
                Nature does we benefit.

                Gloria, Texas
                --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Anders Skarlind
                <Anders.Skalman@t...> wrote:
                > Gloria
                > Answer to your two emails:
                > I have been digging, forking, hoeing and sometimes tilling this
                land, most
                > of the time rather mildly, for 17 years. But for long periods major
                parts
                > of it has been in ley, or lying fallow. From 1996 to 2002 most of
                it was
                > lying fallow. During 2003 and 2004 I have rototilled once and then
                mostly
                > forked and hoed it. Now most of it is ley again.
                >
                > The natural way for water to run on this land is more horisontal
                than
                > vertical, through the topsoil mostly. In the clay deeper down,
                under
                > 0.3-0.5 meters, water moves only slowly. There is waterlogged,
                compact clay
                > for probably several meters downwards. This is old sea bottom.
                There is
                > only natural outlet to drain this ground to about one meter depth,
                and this
                > outlet is about 50 meters away. However as water runs only slowly
                it takes
                > long time (months) to sink to this level. And this is then more due
                to
                > drying out (evaporation) than running off, I think. It is not
                possible to
                > make the ground so porous that it will drain itself naturally to
                greater
                > depth than about 0.3-0.5 meters in an acceptable time span.
                Vegetables and
                > grains don't want to be water-logged for long time.
                >
                > The natural water-flow brings nutrients to the top-soil, which can
                be
                > fairly alive and healthy, albeit shallow, without ditching. This is
                what
                > makes me somewhat hesitating about ditching. But still, to grow
                vegetables
                > here, ditching is necessary. Also, the flora has become more
                diverse since
                > I started ditching. Clover thrives more etc. Weeds in the top-soil
                are
                > easier to handle, but I have worse problems with deep-rooted weeds,
                > especially common thistle (Arctium arvense). However tistle and
                other
                > plants, drainage and time together will probably loosen the soil
                deeper
                > down, and then thistle problems will lessen.
                >
                > Tamping? You mean compacting? That would be counter-productive, as
                far as I
                > can see.
                >
                > I replace carbon by compost, mulch (straw and grass clippings 1-2
                inches
                > thick most of the time) and rotation with green manure/ley.
                Mulching
                > requires drainage, else there will be a mold, slime and bad smell
                in the
                > bottom of the mulch.
                >
                > Anders, Sweden
                >
                >
                > At 07:44 2005-08-15, you wrote:
                > >You do realize that tilling ruins the natural wick of the
                soil....the
                > >way water percolates down through it from the surface...which may
                be
                > >a big part of your problem.
                > >
                > >Question...after you till are you tamping the soil in an attempt to
                > >try to restore this natural wick?
                > >
                > >Also...tilling releases carbon from the soil...and though they
                don't
                > >use it themselves, it must be present for proper absorption of
                > >nutrients by most plants. So...how are you replacing that carbon?
                > >
                > >Gloria, Texas
              • Anders Skarlind
                Gloria, I have also read a lot on ecoag etc. I have read some books from Acres USA on weeds and what they tell, as well as Pfeiffer s book on weeds. I also
                Message 7 of 9 , Aug 15, 2005
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                  Gloria,
                  I have also read a lot on ecoag etc. I have read some books from Acres USA
                  on weeds and what they tell, as well as Pfeiffer's book on weeds. I also
                  have some Swedish litterature on what the weeds tell. I probably will read
                  those books you recommend sooner or later. I also told you that I expected
                  the thistles to help me in breaking up the compact soil deeper down. And I
                  told you (I think) that I leave many weeds when I weed.

                  I think you missed one or two important points. (Some of them I didn't
                  point out before though.) One is the lack of outlet. I have one possible
                  outlet for water that allows maximum one meter drainage depth, and then
                  water must go horisontally about 50 meters. Water don't do that in even the
                  most crumble clay soil in a reasonable time. Maybe in the topsoil but not
                  deeper down.
                  Another may be that we have young clays here, that originate in the latest
                  ice age. I believe they are more smeary and sticky when wet, more
                  cementlike, than old clays. Another is that this clay soil is a sorted
                  clay, it is not deposited directly from the ice but is has been dispersed
                  in water and then settled on the sea bottom, that later dried out. Clays
                  become quite compact this way. Yet another is that this is a humid climate,
                  where precipitation is greater than evaporation, which makes a need for
                  water run-off. This together makes it (as far as I can see) quite natural
                  for clay to stop water transport quite a lot except in the topsoil. Finding
                  good wells is difficult here because of the deep clay layers that transport
                  so little water, compared to e g sand. Then we speak of conditions several
                  meters down in the earth were human activity has hardly reached, except
                  when digging wells, that are sparse here. So I consider this condition
                  natural here.

                  What can be questioned is that I don't accept the nature-given conditions
                  but want to change them, by draining the soil. Much of agriculture today
                  around the world is on ditched soil. I am not very special here. And it got
                  its problems. Traditionally, the way farming was until 200 years ago here,
                  this land would only be used for grazing and hay, while tilled soil would
                  have natural drainage.

                  Your family name sounds Lithuanian. You may know something of growing
                  conditions in Lithuania. They are similar to what they are here, I reckon.

                  I consider having a dam half-way down the ditch. I could get water for
                  occasional watering from it, as well as fertilising material from the
                  bottom. An maybe even have a litle fish in it. The main point would be to
                  catch nutrients running off the land.

                  Your soil is obviously worse than mine. My soil is good when it is drained.
                  It is good in years when it rains a little now and then but not too much.
                  My problem is drainage. With proper drainage I could build this soil quite
                  well in a couple of years, with structure and humus and all.

                  I also let a lot of vegetation develop freely here.

                  Sitting and meditating and observing in the garden is good. I do that too.

                  I think there is no real good place for a kitchen garden here, due to shade
                  and drainage problems, although the soil is good. I have made a compromise
                  in my choice of place. I consider moving somewhere else. I presently have
                  the major part of my kitchen garden at other places. That works better. My
                  problem here is odd in a way, in another not so odd. As I said a lot of
                  farming is done on low ditched land. And also a lot of alternative farming
                  is done on fringe land due to limited resources and whatever.

                  Anders


                  At 19:30 2005-08-15, you wrote:

                  >I would suggest you go to http://www.soilandhealth.org and do some
                  >reading in the agriculture library there. It is an online library
                  >with many books that are no longer in print available to read
                  >online. One in particular that speaks of the soil wick, and the
                  >necessity of tamping the soil to try to restore the natural wick is
                  >Edward Faulkner's "Plowman's Folly." There are other books there I
                  >suspect would help you immensely to see why what you are doing is
                  >actually making it harder for you. There is a reason the water goes
                  >better horizontally than percolating. This is a problem created by
                  >man..not Nature.
                  >
                  >Also, please read Cocanouer's book...I think it is called "Weeds,
                  >Guardians of the Soil"...something like that so you will begin to
                  >understand that your land is trying to tell you what you need. The
                  >thistle is really helping you in more than breaking up your soil.
                  >You can read this book at http://www.journeytoforever.com.....not
                  >sure if that is the correct link. Can someone step in here, if it is
                  >not. I have been offline for a year, and some URLs are a bit fuzzy
                  >in my mind. There are other books that will help you understand that
                  >the weeds are there to try to replace a missing ingredient in the
                  >soil, as well as to help stop insect problems, and disease
                  >sometimes. Recognizing those weeds is an incredible aid to what you
                  >wish to achieve.
                  >
                  >It took me a while to understand I as used to interfere too much
                  >myself...making it harder..not easier. We think we know we are doing
                  >the right thing. Sometimes we aren't.
                  >
                  >I live on what is called Black Gumbo. When it is wet it is like baby
                  >food until it is too wet. Then it is like what you say you have.
                  >When it is dry it is like cement and cracks so wide you could lose a
                  >child in them sometimes. You can't dig in it without wetting it
                  >first when it gets that bad. Water will usually run off the top of
                  >it, as you say it is there, particularly when it has not rained for a
                  >while. We are prone to flash flooding for that reason.
                  >
                  >This land was chemically farmed for nearly 100 years. There are no
                  >old farmers here. They all died young unfortunately. The soil was
                  >basically dead. The university where I sent a soil sample said
                  >basically 'good luck in ever growing anything there.' I swear for at
                  >least a year, or two, not even weeds would grow here. When I worked
                  >in the soil I got rashes all over me..and my dogs lost their hair
                  >wherever they laid on it.
                  >
                  >Some of my land is also in ley. Most of it I don't mow. I must mow
                  >about once or twice a summer to avoid being fined because of the
                  >danger of fire. What I tried to convert to organic gardening I let
                  >go back to Nature to let Nature do what it needed to do. It wasn't
                  >easy to let my dedicated beds go back this way. I left the
                  >foundation plants in them. Most of them still thrive.
                  >
                  >I learned very much from sitting and meditating on the
                  >land.....observing sitting quietly with a clear mind for a whole day
                  >at a time. It sounds crazy perhaps, but it teaches one much. You
                  >begin to see the land as Nature perhaps sees it. You begin to see
                  >where some things should grow instead of where you wish them to, for
                  >one thing. Sometimes that is one of the biggest mistakes we
                  >make...when we decide where a garden should be because we do not know
                  >enough to make that decision as well as Nature does.
                  >
                  >When we grow things like sunflowers to attract birds to our gardens
                  >we help ourselves. When we make the land a balanced place the way
                  >Nature does we benefit.
                  >
                  >Gloria, Texas
                • Beatrice Gilboa
                  Hello Anders, I ve been reading your mails with interest because I know a little the problem of the kind of soil you have from a garden I had in the Alpes. But
                  Message 8 of 9 , Aug 16, 2005
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                    Hello Anders,
                    I've been reading your mails with interest because I know a little the
                    problem
                    of the kind of soil you have from a garden I had in the Alpes. But your
                    situation seems really much taugher, and I see you tried many ways that I
                    could suggest for you, without success.

                    So the idea that's coming is that you need to find a traditionnal potter who
                    maybe enjoy very much the caracteristic of your garden... and/or enquire
                    yourself for the edible wild plant you could enjoy yourself to eat...

                    Maybe I'm too much under the influence of the last Francois Couplan's book
                    that I've read the last month: He is a botanist that traveled and lived
                    everywhere on wild food, I noticed that even when cultivated food was given
                    to him, he prefered the wild one!

                    >> Sitting and meditating and observing in the garden is good. I do that
                    too.
                    I think there is no real good place for a kitchen garden here, due to
                    shade and drainage problems, although the soil is good. I have made a
                    compromise
                    in my choice of place. I consider moving somewhere else. I presently have
                    the major part of my kitchen garden at other places.

                    You seem to know the solution to your problem ;-)

                    Best wishes
                    Beatrice
                    Udim, Israel
                  • Anders Skarlind
                    Hello Beatrice and thanks for your thoughts. You seem to have an understanding of the situation. Even though a potter would enjoy the soil in parts of my
                    Message 9 of 9 , Aug 17, 2005
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                      Hello Beatrice and thanks for your thoughts. You seem to have an
                      understanding of the situation.
                      Even though a potter would enjoy the soil in parts of my garden, I do enjoy
                      my entire garden. I mainly have problems with my veggie patch -which is
                      important for me. Enjoying this place so much creates one problem: it is
                      difficult to move somewhere else where it is easier to grow veggies. Anyway
                      you are probably right that I know the solution, just haven't worked it out
                      completely yet.
                      I don't know but I can imagine the garden you had in the Alpes was in a
                      slope. Let's say so, or let's say my garden was in a slope, but waterlogged
                      due to water streaming from higher laying land. This would be a smaller
                      problem. Streaming water carries oxygen and nutrients. This doesn't impair
                      soil and vegetables can easier sustain it for a while -I believe.
                      As I said I had a some water moving (not really streaming) in the top soil
                      here, which I cut off with ditches. But basically I have standing water,
                      especially a little bit down in the soil. This water soon loses its oxygen
                      and anaerobic conditions come. Plants adapted to water-logged soil would
                      probably either withstand this condition or be able to transport oxygen
                      into the soil. At least they must transport it into their roots, from
                      above. But there are no vegetables or grains adapted to this climate that
                      can be grown under such circumstances. Further south I could grow rice I
                      suppose.
                      Good Wishes
                      Anders

                      At 16:48 2005-08-16, you wrote:
                      >Hello Anders,
                      >I've been reading your mails with interest because I know a little the
                      >problem
                      >of the kind of soil you have from a garden I had in the Alpes. But your
                      >situation seems really much taugher, and I see you tried many ways that I
                      >could suggest for you, without success.
                      >
                      >So the idea that's coming is that you need to find a traditionnal potter who
                      >maybe enjoy very much the caracteristic of your garden... and/or enquire
                      >yourself for the edible wild plant you could enjoy yourself to eat...
                      >
                      >Maybe I'm too much under the influence of the last Francois Couplan's book
                      >that I've read the last month: He is a botanist that traveled and lived
                      >everywhere on wild food, I noticed that even when cultivated food was given
                      >to him, he prefered the wild one!
                      >
                      > >> Sitting and meditating and observing in the garden is good. I do that
                      >too.
                      > I think there is no real good place for a kitchen garden here, due to
                      >shade and drainage problems, although the soil is good. I have made a
                      >compromise
                      > in my choice of place. I consider moving somewhere else. I presently have
                      > the major part of my kitchen garden at other places.
                      >
                      >You seem to know the solution to your problem ;-)
                      >
                      >Best wishes
                      >Beatrice
                      >Udim, Israel
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
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