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  • kikoricco
    Hi, Im 20 years old and am very interested in natural farming. I live in NYC and its the winter so I dont really have much opportunity to start. I did contact
    Message 1 of 10 , Dec 15, 2006
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      Hi, Im 20 years old and am very interested in natural farming. I live
      in NYC and its the winter so I dont really have much opportunity to
      start. I did contact community gardens in my area so I will probably
      start over there but I dont know how much room for experimentation I
      will have. I just got Fukuokas book Natural Farming and am about half
      way through it. It is very interesting but his style of writing is
      confusing to me (maybe due to the translation).
      I have a few questions. He says that a good way to enrich soil is to
      bury coarse organic material deep down. Wouldnt this harm the topsoil
      the same as deep-plowing? Or is this only to be done at first with a
      very degraded soil (combined with seeding to make plants whose roots
      dig deep into soil) and only very seldomly?
      When using a cover crop such as clover and alfalfa to control weeds
      why is it that the weeds are snuffed out and the vegetable or grain
      crop makes it through?
      When he talks about doing a winter planting of barley I take it that
      his area never has very cold temperatures or freezing?
      Is it always preferable to coat seeds with soil and clay prior to
      direct sowing? does this make germination and thriving of plant more
      certain?
      I have many many more questions but that is it for now. Please answer.
      Eventually my dream is to buy a piece of land in Bolivia (where my dad
      is from) or somewhere else and start my own natural farm.
      I have some questions. Is anyone experienced with rainwater harvesting
      with earthworks (contour bunds, ponds, sunken planting bed, hand dug
      wells,...) to be completely water sufficient for crops and orchards
      from the rain alone (check out Brad Lancasters rainwater harvesting
      excellent)? I know Fukuoka writes about planting on edge of a river
      and using tree roots to transport the water to feed crops. But if
      there are no rivers one would have to make ponds and wells and
      countour bunds for water security.
      Also does anyone have experience farming in South America. For example
      anyone working on a similar system as the notill rice barley with
      green manure but in south america? Im interested in working on a
      similar system with quinoa (which is one of the most nutritive grain
      known to man) tubers cover crops etc...
      Also I wrote to the Agroecology program at the University of Santa
      Cruz asking about some of the things Ive read in Fukuokas book and
      elsewhere (polyculture) and here is the answer:

      Of the myriad of activities that take place here on the farm many are
      directly linked to principles of agroecology. We have an extremely
      diverse production system with lots of examples of agroforestry,
      intercropping, minimum tillage and beneficial habitat enhancement.
      We provide an undergraduate course to 80 UCSC students each year that
      has, as its lab, a 1/2 acre intercrop study. Our 2 acres of
      handworked garden beds couldn't be a better example of intercropping.
      Even our 10 acre CSA production area consists of a many many rows of
      different crops all "alley cropped". Our cover-cropping system is one
      huge intercrop of a mix of cereals, legumes (bell beans, peas and
      vetch) and mustards. This cover crop dominates our system from
      October through March. One of our recent experimental trials that was
      funded though USDA was as potato/corn intercrop study. We have
      studied no-till farming for years through field trials and less
      formal experimentation. We have concluded that, in our particular
      climate, no-till farming would not be economically feasible given our
      current level of management expertise. Some our our no-till yields
      drop by as much as 90 percent compared to tilled crops. We are
      currently working on systems that work to minimize tillage. We are
      using an undercutting bar in the fall to simply undercut standing
      crops and then we are using a minimum till grain drill to plant cover
      crop seed directly into the relatively undisturbed soil. This system
      leaves the crop residue on the surface and greatly minimizes surface
      crusting from heavy rain and also greatly minimizes fossil fuel use.
      Please understand that, for the most part, the no-till systems that
      are commercially viable are highly reliant on synthetic materials
      such as herbicides and fertility inputs and are also reliant on
      extremely expensive and very specific machinery. No till works on a
      very large commercial/conventional scale with very specific agronomic
      crops such and corn and soy and it also works well on very small,
      very labor intensive back yard systems but It has been very
      challenging to adopt these practices to mid-scale, organic, diverse
      vegetable systems. One of the reasons is that it is challenging for
      small-scale growers to afford the specific machinery designed for
      no-till farming. One of our goals is to continue to work on
      minimizing petroleum inputs into our system but we have a long way to
      go in learning how best to manage no-till systems. Keep reading and
      learning and I encourage you to visit farms and farmers markets and
      talk to farmers about the challenges of no-till and polyculture
      systems. If you ever get a chance, please come by our farm for a
      visit.

      And thats what they answered. Thanks for reading this whole post and
      please answer a question or two.
      thank you, Kiko
    • Gloria C. Baikauskas
      I do not understand that reply you had at all. Why does he say that no till farmers need expensive equipment to farm that way making it economically
      Message 2 of 10 , Dec 16, 2006
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        I do not understand that reply you had at all. Why does he say that
        no till farmers need expensive equipment to farm that way making it
        economically unfeasible? Native Americans, as well as other
        aboriginal cultures used no till farming for a long time. They made
        their own seed drills from wooden sticks. How is that expensive?
        They had higher yields than the Europeans did in Early America after
        their plows arrived.

        If you use living mulches....or just plain mulch well...you don't
        need extensive use of herbicides. It sounds to me like they didn't
        till, but then they still farmed the way they always did/do.

        I am a bit surprised that this came out of California since it was
        there that they began to see that they, for instance, needed to leave
        the wheat straw on the fields when they planted their new crops to
        avoid whitefly infestations. The wheat straw mulch saved the corn
        crops in those fields doing that when the rest of the California
        farmers lost their entire corn crops to disease caused by
        whiteflies. Those fields were not plowed. The whiteflies were
        controlled in those fields because their predator insects were able
        to hide in the straw and eat the whiteflies when they showed up.

        And....California is one of those states I thought was dedicated to
        reducing carbon emissions by not plowing. Guess I need more sleep,
        or new glasses to get my facts straight.

        As I understand it Fukuoka only did things like burying trees, or
        other coarse material deep down, when he started out.

        Yes, his area of Japan is more temperate than New York is.

        Dontcha love Brad Lancaster's books on Harvesting Rainwater? I have
        dug swales before reading his books. I was inspired by his article
        on the Man Who Farms Water in Zimbabwe. That was who inspired him to
        research and experiment as he did in Tuscon, Arizona, as I am sure
        you know from reading the books.

        In a sidebar on the above which is not meant to insult anyone in any
        way, did you all see that Mugabe has asked the white farmers he
        ousted to come back to farm giving them 99 year leases? His country
        is facing starvation and economic collapse...the reasons he gave for
        doing this about face. I see it not as a matter of race, but as a
        matter of expertise in farming that the nonfarming population
        apparently did not have enough of to sustain the country. Perhaps
        they should have conferred harder with the Man Who Farms Water? That
        is what brought it all to Lancaster's, and everyone else's
        attention...Mr. Phirri's methods of holding and using water that
        others let run off and wasted. Mr. Phirri is black and could
        probably teach the white farmers quite a bit, if they would listen to
        him. I suspect if he were Minister of Agriculture the country would
        be in much better shape at the moment.

        I guess my long winded point, Kiko, is that in farming it seems quite
        often to be the simple man who has the most to contribute in
        farming. Fukuoka has expertise in science, but he also went to the
        roots of Nature to figure out we were making errors by interfering as
        much as we have been. I think that is the problem with the man who
        answered your query. He makes it all too technical and difficult.

        One of the problems with mechanized farming is that to accomodate it
        plants are space farther apart and usually monocropped as well. That
        creates problems immediately because plants do better closer together
        in community with one another. They provide shade for the soil and
        each other to conserve moisture. Each has a particular disease, or
        insect it can repel which then serves the community of plants to make
        them all healthier. Those with longer roots reach down to bring them
        all more nutrition as the grow making them able to fight the insects
        and diseases they cannot repel otherwise. Monocropped vegetables and
        fruits don't have this protection which makes them more easily doomed
        to failure.

        That is another reason that the clovers work so well. In many cases
        the timing of the planting is the key to why the clovers
        repel 'weeds' and not the plants we put in the garden.

        And why does everyone think the weeds are problems? As long as they
        are not overpopulated in the garden/farm they are not problems, but
        instead they are assets. Weeds grow where they are needed.

        Take some time and sit and observe for a whole day an area. Do this
        as often as you can...though daily is not necessary. Do it for more
        than one season. If you do that, you will notice that the weeds that
        grew in a place one year don't always come back the next, even though
        their seeds obviously were scattered all over that area. When their
        job is done they do not regrow. Other weeds take their place to do
        their job until it is done. It does sometimes take years for that
        job to be done in particularly bad soils.

        Gloria, Texas

        --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "kikoricco" <kikoricco@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Hi, Im 20 years old and am very interested in natural farming. I
        live
        > in NYC and its the winter so I dont really have much opportunity to
        > start. I did contact community gardens in my area so I will probably
        > start over there but I dont know how much room for experimentation I
        > will have. I just got Fukuokas book Natural Farming and am about
        half
        > way through it. It is very interesting but his style of writing is
        > confusing to me (maybe due to the translation).
        > I have a few questions. He says that a good way to enrich soil is to
        > bury coarse organic material deep down. Wouldnt this harm the
        topsoil
        > the same as deep-plowing? Or is this only to be done at first with a
        > very degraded soil (combined with seeding to make plants whose roots
        > dig deep into soil) and only very seldomly?
        > When using a cover crop such as clover and alfalfa to control weeds
        > why is it that the weeds are snuffed out and the vegetable or grain
        > crop makes it through?
        > When he talks about doing a winter planting of barley I take it that
        > his area never has very cold temperatures or freezing?
        > Is it always preferable to coat seeds with soil and clay prior to
        > direct sowing? does this make germination and thriving of plant more
        > certain?
        > I have many many more questions but that is it for now. Please
        answer.
        > Eventually my dream is to buy a piece of land in Bolivia (where my
        dad
        > is from) or somewhere else and start my own natural farm.
        > I have some questions. Is anyone experienced with rainwater
        harvesting
        > with earthworks (contour bunds, ponds, sunken planting bed, hand dug
        > wells,...) to be completely water sufficient for crops and orchards
        > from the rain alone (check out Brad Lancasters rainwater harvesting
        > excellent)? I know Fukuoka writes about planting on edge of a river
        > and using tree roots to transport the water to feed crops. But if
        > there are no rivers one would have to make ponds and wells and
        > countour bunds for water security.
        > Also does anyone have experience farming in South America. For
        example
        > anyone working on a similar system as the notill rice barley with
        > green manure but in south america? Im interested in working on a
        > similar system with quinoa (which is one of the most nutritive grain
        > known to man) tubers cover crops etc...
        > Also I wrote to the Agroecology program at the University of Santa
        > Cruz asking about some of the things Ive read in Fukuokas book and
        > elsewhere (polyculture) and here is the answer:
        >
        > Of the myriad of activities that take place here on the farm many
        are
        > directly linked to principles of agroecology. We have an extremely
        > diverse production system with lots of examples of agroforestry,
        > intercropping, minimum tillage and beneficial habitat enhancement.
        > We provide an undergraduate course to 80 UCSC students each year
        that
        > has, as its lab, a 1/2 acre intercrop study. Our 2 acres of
        > handworked garden beds couldn't be a better example of
        intercropping.
        > Even our 10 acre CSA production area consists of a many many rows
        of
        > different crops all "alley cropped". Our cover-cropping system is
        one
        > huge intercrop of a mix of cereals, legumes (bell beans, peas and
        > vetch) and mustards. This cover crop dominates our system from
        > October through March. One of our recent experimental trials that
        was
        > funded though USDA was as potato/corn intercrop study. We have
        > studied no-till farming for years through field trials and less
        > formal experimentation. We have concluded that, in our particular
        > climate, no-till farming would not be economically feasible given
        our
        > current level of management expertise. Some our our no-till yields
        > drop by as much as 90 percent compared to tilled crops. We are
        > currently working on systems that work to minimize tillage. We are
        > using an undercutting bar in the fall to simply undercut standing
        > crops and then we are using a minimum till grain drill to plant
        cover
        > crop seed directly into the relatively undisturbed soil. This
        system
        > leaves the crop residue on the surface and greatly minimizes
        surface
        > crusting from heavy rain and also greatly minimizes fossil fuel
        use.
        > Please understand that, for the most part, the no-till systems
        that
        > are commercially viable are highly reliant on synthetic materials
        > such as herbicides and fertility inputs and are also reliant on
        > extremely expensive and very specific machinery. No till works on a
        > very large commercial/conventional scale with very specific
        agronomic
        > crops such and corn and soy and it also works well on very small,
        > very labor intensive back yard systems but It has been very
        > challenging to adopt these practices to mid-scale, organic, diverse
        > vegetable systems. One of the reasons is that it is challenging for
        > small-scale growers to afford the specific machinery designed for
        > no-till farming. One of our goals is to continue to work on
        > minimizing petroleum inputs into our system but we have a long way
        to
        > go in learning how best to manage no-till systems. Keep reading
        and
        > learning and I encourage you to visit farms and farmers markets and
        > talk to farmers about the challenges of no-till and polyculture
        > systems. If you ever get a chance, please come by our farm for a
        > visit.
        >
        > And thats what they answered. Thanks for reading this whole post and
        > please answer a question or two.
        > thank you, Kiko
        >
      • Ingrid Bauer / Jean-Claude Catry
        it advised burrying organic matter as a one time thing to speed up the process of regenerating soils depleted of organic matter and bio life . his hillside
        Message 3 of 10 , Dec 17, 2006
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          it advised burrying organic matter as a one time thing to speed up the process of regenerating soils depleted of organic matter and bio life . his hillside was a pine forest probably harvested for centuries with only red clay left .after that the maintenance of fertility is done thru growing plants ( trees also ) which purpose is to rot on the spot.
          clover and grains are plants that complete each other spatially and in functions leaving less room for weeds . grains especially fill the ecological niche of a grass limiting the need for wild grasses to establish .it is also a question of timing, to fill the ecological niches .
          in a conventional tilled field the tillage create a void that weeds are in hurry to fill while in an allready established association of plants there is way less opportunity for new plants to have a chance .

          <Some our our no-till yields
          drop by as much as 90 percent compared to tilled crops. >

          when a horse have been walking for long, hitting it with a stick will keep it going for a while until...it drop dead .
          same with soils that have been mined by monocropping on tilled field , you stop hitting with the stick ( tilling or fertilising ) it takes a rest . the problem , of looking for commercially oriented studies on farming, as guidance for understanding the way of nature , is that they will allways come with the same anwers like the guy , which economic survival depend on the horse, will tell you : never stop hitting this damned horse !

          the difficulty in natural farming is not a technical one, it is one of struggle in the relationship between humans desires and nature plans .

          what masanobu fukuoka propose is a radical shift in attitude toward self and nature . it is the ground work allowing possible social initiatives that will question , at the roots of it , all the present social covenants that manifest itself into an economic system which purpose is not the welfare of either people and other living communities .

          natural farming by its very most powerfull first assumption that nature do the growing will relieve humans from the illusion of trying to do better , and will cancel by the way, the need to sell illusionary "plus values"( increase in values.
          the monetary economic system have no future nor past in nature .
          natural farming is allready achieved . up to us to aligne ourselves with it or not.

          no university is designed to just do that for us !

          jean-claude





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Frank Stancato
          Ingrid Bauer / Jean-Claude, my father taught me a long time ago to put any organic matter from the house directly into the soil. At times this was a challenge,
          Message 4 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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            Ingrid Bauer / Jean-Claude, my father taught me a long time ago to put any
            organic matter from the house directly into the soil. At times this was a
            challenge, especially if it was hot or the ground was frozen, but the
            results were always fantastic.



            We always seemed to have the happiest garden in the area. Whether it was
            from the direct addition of organics to it or the fact that dad made wine
            and apple jack, putting all of the material into the garden (he did till the
            garden that time of year).



            He also went so far as to aerate the lawn, the plugs went into the mulch
            pile that was from the leaves and manure he would have delivered, always in
            the summer and always at the bottom of the driveway so I would have
            something to do. And the mature mulch would be racked over the lawn, filling
            the plug wholes.



            Frank



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • kikoricco
            Thanks everyone! It seems every person who answers and I understand a little bit more about natural farming. It really seems too good to be true. I guess I was
            Message 5 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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              Thanks everyone! It seems every person who answers and I understand a
              little bit more about natural farming. It really seems too good to be
              true. I guess I was thrown off by the simplicity of it all. I cant
              wait to start.
            • Allan Balliett
              ... Kiko - Who signed the letter from Santa Cruz? WHo was it from? I assume everyone knows that the Alan Chadwick started the organic farming movement at
              Message 6 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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                >And thats what they answered. Thanks for reading this whole post and
                >please answer a question or two.
                >thank you, Kiko

                Kiko - Who "signed" the letter from Santa Cruz? WHo was it from? I
                assume everyone knows that the Alan Chadwick started the organic
                farming movement at Santa Cruz back in the 70's. Deep hand tillage
                (double digging) was the key to his highly productive farming methods.

                Thanks for sharing this letter. For those who are critical of the
                Santa Cruz comments, I would point out that they have continued to
                evolve their methodology according to their observations of the piece
                of land that they actually husband.

                -Allan
              • Robert Monie
                Alan Chadwick s methods are charmingly (though I cannot verify how accurately) presented in a little book by Tom Cuthbertson, Alan Chadwick s Enchanted
                Message 7 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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                  Alan Chadwick's methods are charmingly (though I cannot verify how accurately) presented in a little book by Tom Cuthbertson, "Alan Chadwick's Enchanted Garden," published in 1978 by the Institute for Man and Nature. Used copies are for sale on abebooks.com.

                  Chadwick worked mostly in raised beds that were small enough for him to water and tend manually, not the larger experimental farm now run at Santa Cruz. Though he did not till, he did poke around in the soil with a triangular blade to loosen the compaction near the surface. (He freely admitted that watering from above often compacts the soil.) He was also both fussy and creative in dealing with "weeds." He transplanted some weeds, composted some, and thinned out others. He transplanted sow thistles and liked the tase of sonchus, allowed senecio and chicory to grow largely undisturbed but viewed convolvulus with great suspicion. People used to say that he "put on" his raised bed plant garden the same way that a drama director would stage a Shakespearian play (Chadwick was himself a classical actor).

                  Chadwick's influence is felt today mostly though John Jeavons, who emulated him in practicing biointensive gardening

                  Bob Monie
                  New Orleans




                  Allan Balliett <aballiett@...> wrote:
                  >And thats what they answered. Thanks for reading this whole post and
                  >please answer a question or two.
                  >thank you, Kiko

                  Kiko - Who "signed" the letter from Santa Cruz? WHo was it from? I
                  assume everyone knows that the Alan Chadwick started the organic
                  farming movement at Santa Cruz back in the 70's. Deep hand tillage
                  (double digging) was the key to his highly productive farming methods.

                  Thanks for sharing this letter. For those who are critical of the
                  Santa Cruz comments, I would point out that they have continued to
                  evolve their methodology according to their observations of the piece
                  of land that they actually husband.

                  -Allan





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • kikoricco
                  The person who signed the letter was Jim Leap Farm Manager Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems University of California ... accurately)
                  Message 8 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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                    The person who signed the letter was Jim Leap
                    Farm Manager
                    Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
                    University of California





                    --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > Alan Chadwick's methods are charmingly (though I cannot verify how
                    accurately) presented in a little book by Tom Cuthbertson, "Alan
                    Chadwick's Enchanted Garden," published in 1978 by the Institute for
                    Man and Nature. Used copies are for sale on abebooks.com.
                    >
                    > Chadwick worked mostly in raised beds that were small enough for
                    him to water and tend manually, not the larger experimental farm now
                    run at Santa Cruz. Though he did not till, he did poke around in the
                    soil with a triangular blade to loosen the compaction near the
                    surface. (He freely admitted that watering from above often compacts
                    the soil.) He was also both fussy and creative in dealing with
                    "weeds." He transplanted some weeds, composted some, and thinned out
                    others. He transplanted sow thistles and liked the tase of sonchus,
                    allowed senecio and chicory to grow largely undisturbed but viewed
                    convolvulus with great suspicion. People used to say that he "put on"
                    his raised bed plant garden the same way that a drama director would
                    stage a Shakespearian play (Chadwick was himself a classical actor).
                    >
                    > Chadwick's influence is felt today mostly though John Jeavons, who
                    emulated him in practicing biointensive gardening
                    >
                    > Bob Monie
                    > New Orleans
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Allan Balliett <aballiett@...> wrote:
                    > >And thats what they answered. Thanks for reading this
                    whole post and
                    > >please answer a question or two.
                    > >thank you, Kiko
                    >
                    > Kiko - Who "signed" the letter from Santa Cruz? WHo was it from? I
                    > assume everyone knows that the Alan Chadwick started the organic
                    > farming movement at Santa Cruz back in the 70's. Deep hand tillage
                    > (double digging) was the key to his highly productive farming methods.
                    >
                    > Thanks for sharing this letter. For those who are critical of the
                    > Santa Cruz comments, I would point out that they have continued to
                    > evolve their methodology according to their observations of the piece
                    > of land that they actually husband.
                    >
                    > -Allan
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                  • Allan Balliett
                    ... Another way of saying this is that Jeavons took Chadwick s intensive raised bed gardening methods, but stripped his garden of the spirituality that was so
                    Message 9 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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                      >Chadwick's influence is felt today mostly though John Jeavons, who
                      >emulated him in practicing biointensive gardening

                      Another way of saying this is that Jeavons took Chadwick's intensive
                      raised bed gardening methods, but stripped his garden of the
                      spirituality that was so much part of Chadwick's legacy. -Allan
                    • Tradingpost
                      And Jeavons did much to popularize intensive beds, though a man named Peter Chan also put out a beautiful book on permanent raised bed growing, and Chan s work
                      Message 10 of 10 , Dec 18, 2006
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                        And Jeavons did much to popularize intensive beds, though a man named Peter
                        Chan also put out a beautiful book on permanent raised bed growing, and
                        Chan's work was authentic, based on his heritage in Chinese village
                        gardening. Chan came from a career as professor of plant pathology in
                        China.

                        Better Vegetable Gardens the Chinese Way,
                        http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&qi=SW2bEgW,VsMHiVGbl9GihnGf,Gg
                        _7758619146_2:2:7

                        paul tradingpost@...

                        Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
                        --Henry David Thoreau

                        *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

                        On 12/18/2006 at 8:00 PM Allan Balliett wrote:

                        >>Chadwick's influence is felt today mostly though John Jeavons, who
                        >>emulated him in practicing biointensive gardening
                        >
                        >Another way of saying this is that Jeavons took Chadwick's intensive
                        >raised bed gardening methods, but stripped his garden of the
                        >spirituality that was so much part of Chadwick's legacy. -Allan
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