Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: intro and some philosophy
I agree, and most of your thoughts are not new to me. Some comments:
To make ditches deep enough (around 1 meter here where there is virtually
no natural drainage) they must be some distance apart (around 10 meters on
clay soil). On the sides of the ditches I let grass and weeds grow. No need
to plant them here. Just mow them sometimes, a few times per year. The soil
between the ditches can be arranged in different ways. In my kitchen
garden, it forms loaves that are about 8 metersd wide and almost flat on
top. As the ditches take quite some part of the garden, about 20%, it is
tempting to cultivate all soil between ditches (with a minor strip of grass
close to the ditches, else it will not be stable). However beds, maybe
around 1 meter wide, with grass strips in between are certainly an
alternative that I consider. Raised beds can become too dry at dry spells
and I have limited watering facilities here, so I avoid that.
I especially liked what you wrote about keeping at least parts of sod,
timing and and way of working the soil, and the need to modify the lay of
the land -in the spirit of Fukuoka.
I will also tell a little more about my experiences with natural farming
here, to clarify things:
I and a friend of mine, Paul Teepen, have been inspired by Fukuoka since
some 25 years, and we have tried natural farming as good as we can, mostly
in the early 90's. We have had no success with no-till, and my conclusion
is that this must be modified, but may be achieved gradually, after
learning more. Paul had some success with a partial no-till or low-till
approach when he farmed a lighter soil with good natural drainage in a
slope. Then he moved to a situation similar to mine and then this approach
didn't work out for him. He has now returned to traditional tilling and
weeding. I know of noone who have succeeded with no-till natural farming in
the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland or Denmark). There are few
Ruth Stout type of growers who apply heavy mulch not produced on spot but
that doesn't count. I could do that too if I had better drainage but
consider it unsound and unnatural.
Finally, this is a cool climate where firn breaks down slowly. It can
easily stagnate in a half-decomposed state. In that situation tilling has
its good sides, to facilitate decomposition. How do you handle or prevent
that stagnating firn? I can give a few hints. Drainage is criticial. Wise
and sparse use of fire in early spring when ground is still frozen and
grass from last year is dry is possible. Trimming down grass in summer so
it can decompose before the cold season. The whole management of the land
is involved. But still, you easily find that you need some tilling.
At 23:59 2005-08-17, you wrote:
>One possibility in this situation may be permanent raised beds, made as
>high as necessary to gain an adequate depth of drained soil. Wider beds
>are advantageous in that they incrase the growing area, but width may be
>restricted by drainage requirements. The paths or furrows between the
>beds would then serve as drainage ditches. It would probably be
>beneficial to plant the furrows and banks of the beds with a perennial
>cover, such as clover and sod-forming grasses, to stabilize the soil,
>improve drainage and provide organic matter. If there is compaction, an
>initial deep ripping before forming the raised beds could be helpful.
>Poor drainage often causes, and is caused by, a soil mineral balance
>that is unfavorable to vegetable crops, so having a soil test done and
>adding the appropriate amendments (such as gypsum) could be beneficial.
>A ley rotation has the effect of improving soil structure, including
>infiltration/drainage, mineral balance, etc, thus allowing a vegetable
>crop to be grown where continuous vegetable production may be
>impossible. It may however be preferrable to maintain at least some of
>the sod continuously, for instance by tilling up strips to plant the
>vegetables in. Tilling the soil when wet tends to destroy soil
>structure, so it has to be timed right, which may be difficult in a
>poorly drained soil. Excessive tillage, such as rototiling, should
>probably be avoided altogether.
>A natural farming system which includes vegetables under these
>circumstances may not be possible unless the lay of the land itself is
>modified by raised beds, grading, ditching and the like. Doing these
>sorts of things is very much in line with the spirit of Fukuoka farming
>- after all, rice paddies are hardly naturally occuring structures in
>the mountains of Japan.
- Where did I say that the weeds are my enemies Gloria? Are you chasing
windmills like Don Quijote?
Basically I like weeds, but they can create problems. Most of all they
often compete too strongly and must then at least be weakened. Fukuoka did
this too, by mulching. And sometimes they must be removed, at least in
parts and under my growing conditions, as far as I can see -sofar! But I
really try to find a system where I don't have to do remove weeds. I look
forward to constructive proposals to that end. (Also see my reply to Herman
where I detail some more on the difficulties to do no-till natural farming
At 23:22 2005-08-17, you wrote:
>I still don't see why you see the weeds as your enemies. Why must they
>be removed? I think you miss the point entirely of Natural
I have some comments below.
At 23:56 2005-08-18, you wrote:
>Hello Everyone,Agreed ... and not agreed. There is a pitfall in always discussing general
>Somehow I think it is almost pointless to discuss specifics (problems
>and solutions) with regard to what each of us may be doing if we are
>farming naturally. Unless you are my neighbor and I could walk over
>and get the feel of the nature you are in, I could no more understand
>the path you are on with your garden than I could grow a palm tree in
principles. Where should they be applied? In "the general ecosystem"? Where
can you find it?
So in discussing what nature have taught us, we need to be specific too,
But again you are rigt that there is a problem that we will often not
understand each others conditions well enough to really tell. A few people
on this list are so sure ... based on what? Certainly not knowledge of my
growing conditions, that's obvious to me.
>However, I do think it is important to discuss what NatureIf you have time, I would be interested to hear a few examples on this, to
>has taught us. The only mistakes I have made, occured from my
>attempts to force Nature to do what i wanted her to do...I learned it
>was not for me to control, I could only help if the land had been
>damaged by misuse and even then, I found not much was required if I
>had patience and trust.
make it more concrete.
>Sorry for the length of this message, but I guess this is my intro
>and a lttle philosopy.
>It's a stormy day on the farm,
- hello drew
i very much enjoyed your intro, i have few questions for you.
when you read masanobu in 79 , what effect ,did his message have on you ?
how did you feel? did you integrate some of the principles in other aera of
your life than farming ( i assume you didn't farm those last 26 years ).
i have been disapointed my self by the focus given to technics and
analytical thinking on this list latelly , and at the same time am enjoying
very much when principles are aplied and demonstrated in a very concrete way
i will be curious to hear little more about your farm and its present
condition and your intention with it .
> Hello Everyone,
> I just joined this group today. I live and fsrm in south central
> Kentucky, U.S. I was first exposed to Fukuoka's methods and
> philosophy in 1979 when I purchased "The One Straw Revolution." In
> the 26 years that have passed I was married, raised two sons,
> divorced, retired from a lucrative position as a corporate director
> and have now returned to my native and childhood roots of playing in
> the fields of a 33 acre farm.
> When I came here I had every intention of growing food in a way that
> would be vitually harmless to the land and ecosystems. I studied
> permaculture, interned on an established organic farm for awhile,
> studied the biointensive method and then ... I read Fukuoka again and
> then again and many other publications related to his methods and
> philosophy. I then realized his "Do Nothing" farming was what I
> wanted to do. It made the most sense to me "holistically" ie. Natural
> farming is not just a "technique," or an ideology, it is a living
> path, a return to our authentic human origins.
> In reading the string of messages from the past few days I have to
> agree with you Gloria...weeds are not our enemies. They are our
> teachers. If anything, I have learned that my old feelings of
> intolerance, frustration and discrimination toward certain weeds are
> a reflection of the degree of my disconnection with the nature of my
> place, and/or the evidence of how polluted my mind and spirit have
> become after many years of living in a confused, destructive and
> greedy culture.
> Somehow I think it is almost pointless to discuss specifics (problems
> and solutions) with regard to what each of us may be doing if we are
> farming naturally. Unless you are my neighbor and I could walk over
> and get the feel of the nature you are in, I could no more understand
> the path you are on with your garden than I could grow a palm tree in
> the snow. However, I do think it is important to discuss what Nature
> has taught us. The only mistakes I have made, occured from my
> attempts to force Nature to do what i wanted her to do...I learned it
> was not for me to control, I could only help if the land had been
> damaged by misuse and even then, I found not much was required if I
> had patience and trust.
> Sorry for the length of this message, but I guess this is my intro
> and a lttle philosopy.
> It's a stormy day on the farm,
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