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2006 experiments

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  • Steven McCollough
    Greetings, I just wanted to drop a note to update you on my experiments this year. In 2005 I started with planting rye under buckwheat in the fall as the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2006

      I just wanted to drop a note to update you on my experiments this year.
      In 2005 I started with planting rye under buckwheat in the fall as the
      annual rains started. This came up strong and again came up good in the
      spring of 2006. I simply scatter cast the seeds without seedballs. I
      tried to estimate when the rye would mature and scatter cast buckwheat
      back under the rye a month beforehand. Unfortunately, the weather was
      exceptionally dry at that time and I didn't get any germination to speak
      of. We experience dry conditions for most of the summer here. I then
      scatter cast buckwheat a week or two before harvesting the rye and this
      batch germinated because of a few good rains. After harvesting the rye
      and putting the straw back, the buckwheat did well. I think it would
      have done better if the first germination would have taken as the
      buckwheat didn't ripen until October. This is quite late in my climate,
      45 degrees north latitude..

      I decided to allow the buckwheat to sit and hopefully reseed for the
      spring. As soon as the first real frost of the year hit, the buckwheat
      crumbled down with it's seed. I will let the buckwheat come back in the
      spring, if it will, and then I am planning on using the Bonfil method of
      wheat growing. Thank you, whoever posted the link about that method. I
      will try planting alfalfa under the buckwheat in the spring to establish
      a sward. First I will try snow planting were you scatter the seed into
      the last of the winter snow. Then I will try frost planting were you
      scatter seeds during intense frosts that heave the soil. Then I will
      try scattering seeds for the spring rains. If that doesn't work, I will
      rototill and plant alfalfa and wheat on the summer solstice. This will
      be my move to establish a green manure legume ground cover for further

      I will choose alfalfa for two reasons. First, it does well in the local
      area. Second, it makes perfect rabbit food.

      I had great success with winter squash this year and plan on expanding
      this planting next year as well. Squash works so well because it takes
      very little work. Planting every three feet in each direction, all I
      did was prepare the soil in one little area about a foot in diameter. I
      added decomposing wood to improve the soil. During the early summer I
      had to go around and make sure the squash was free of competition with a
      little weeding. As soon as the weather warmed up the squash spread out
      and took over from the weeds and quack grass around it. A very large
      area can be maintained with little effort. The squash also shades out
      everything else. Whether this means less quack competition for next
      year, I don't know.

      Next fall I am planning on trying to introduce apple trees. In my area,
      apples are sold by the bag for deer feed in the fall. I plan on buying
      apples and putting them just under the soil surface, the whole apple. I
      am hoping the apples will decompose over winter and provide the ideal
      conditions to sprout the seeds in spring 2008. As these grow I will
      probably look for local growers that will have prunings I can use to
      graft better apples onto these root stocks. My theory is the apples are
      the older local varieties that will do well in my soil and climate. In
      this way I hope to kick start my fruit adventures.

      Steven R McCollough
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