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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Spring Photos and timing for spreading seed balls

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  • Robert Monie
    Hi Karoubas, How to start a natural farm and the precise role of the native grasses are matters of great importance. It is generally agreed that in the US some
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 16, 2007
      Hi Karoubas,

      How to start a natural farm and the precise role of the native grasses are matters of great importance. It is generally agreed that in the US some of the most fertile farming land came from centuries of switchgrass, forbes, and prairie legumes growing in repeated cycles of microbial interaction with soil minerals. That is, the prairies had lots of "preparation" before they were devoted to the narrow role of growing food for humans on a large scale. How much of this preparation was non-human (natural geological and biological process along with burrowing and nuzzling by mostly small animals) and how much was deliberately planned by generations of Native Americans is not easily determined. (See the recent book "Tending the Wild" by Uni. of Cal. anthropologist Kat Anderson in which she shows that much that non-Native Americans described as "natural" was actually the handiwork of Native Americans.)

      Ley farmers like Hugh Corley believed that all land had to undergo preparation by seeding
      deep rooted cover and forage crops such as native bunchgrasses, chicory, heavy root clovers, burnet, and herbs or forbes before the field could reasonably be considered fertile.
      The recommended time for such herbal-grass-legume field preparation was 4 years. Some of the herbal ley farmers considered this kind of preparation "below-ground composting." The idea was to let a dense network of roots develop and decay into a mineral and microbe rich humus that would then support nearly any kind of human staple food you wanted to plant into it (and that would include Fukuoka style polycultures). This took patience, and you had to wait and watch as the small animals went around creatively disturbing the soil for 4 years, nibbling, scratching, and nuzzling to make the matrix more fertile.

      I suspect that what the Natives Americans (and Nature) did to make the prairies was a lot like what the British ley farmers did to make their legendarily rich and fertile fields. As a control, it would be interesting to see what would happen if you planted a few square meters here and there of native herbal grass, forbes, and legume fields and left them to develop for four years. After the preparation period then plant seeds (or seedballs or both) in the reduced (mown, cut or mashed down) field and compare the results. It seems axiomatic to me that fields so prepared would be more fertile than unprepared fields scattered with seedsballs.


      Bob Monie
      New Orleans, LA
      karoubas <karoubas@...> wrote:
      Dear Friends -
      I have just posted some photos from my visit to the Panos Manikis farm
      recently - it is spring time here - I do not think that photos or
      words can do justice or describe the beauty of a natural farm in
      springtime - it is amazing. It is still amazing to me that farmers
      nearby continue to till - fertilize and spray their land and trees,
      even though right in front of them is perfect example of what nature
      can do if left alone - Panos sends his regards to all.

      Here in Greece we had a horrible winter of almost no rain and snow -
      it will be a difficult summer - the dams that are used to produce
      electricity and to water the plains are almost empty (very low levels.
      The seed balls I spread this winter with seeds from trees will not
      have a chance to germinate due to the absence of cold-wet weather.

      I have searched the previous messages, read Fukuoka san's books and
      spoke with Panos about the issue of the TIMING IN SPREADING THE SEED
      BALLS and how to minimize the problem of the native grasses overtaking
      and smothering the seeds in the seed balls.

      I would like to have your comments/experiences and from our dear
      friend in India -Titus.
      I look at his photos often, and I see he has succeeded in growing all
      kinds of plants, while minimizing the local grasses - if he can recall
      how his farm was when he first started and explain the process and his
      thoughts - Here in Greece we have different conditions in the spring
      time and different in the fall - how do we go about spreading the seed
      balls and making sure they succeed.

      I am having difficulties in this area - I am sure in due time I will
      prevail.
      Thank you for listening -stay well.

      Kostas






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Forest Shomer
      Bob, Reading your mail this morning prompts me to reflect on the worldwide impact of golf; today I tend a small native prairie patch which is in the middle of
      Message 2 of 7 , Mar 17, 2007
        Bob,

        Reading your mail this morning prompts me to reflect on the worldwide
        impact of golf; today I tend a small native prairie patch which is in
        the middle of a golf course.

        The prairie patch is all that remains of what was once a much larger
        natural savannah full of bunch grasses, forbs and legumes just as you
        describe. As recently as World War II (60 years), the course was
        planted in grain crops as part of the war effort. These were some of
        the best soils with potential for agriculture still available at that
        time.

        Now of course the fairways are manicured, uniform strips of bent
        grasses. The bunch grasses have been extirpated, and any appearance
        of burrowing animals (e.g., moles) is cause for an aggressive
        response from the golf course manager. Thus, 98% of the original
        savannah is 'under control' and deprived of the natural tendency
        toward recovering fertility.

        Add to this the spreading of nitrate fertilizers to heighten the
        greenness; the copious use of water to create lush conditions;
        (sometimes) the aerosol spraying to quell mosquitoes that thrive with
        the lush irrigation; the constant repetitive mowing and other use of
        petroleum-powered vehicles on and around the course; and the
        application of pesticides and herbicides to control small animals and
        'weeds'...

        Multiply by the tens of thousands of golf courses worldwide, and we
        have a true enemy of environmental health and natural agriculture.

        Maybe if someone could design "the Game of Natural Farming" our cause
        would become more popular.

        Fore!

        --Forest



        Re: Spring Photos and timing for spreading seed balls
        Posted by: "Robert Monie" <mailto:bobm20001@...?Subject=
        Re%3A%20Spring%20Photos%20and%20timing%20for%20spreading%20seed%20balls>bobm20001@...
        <http://profiles.yahoo.com/bobm20001> bobm20001
        Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:18 am (PST)

        >Hi Karoubas,
        >
        >How to start a natural farm and the precise role of the native
        >grasses are matters of great importance. It is generally agreed that
        >in the US some of the most fertile farming land came from centuries
        >of switchgrass, forbes, and prairie legumes growing in repeated
        >cycles of microbial interaction with soil minerals. That is, the
        >prairies had lots of "preparation" before they were devoted to the
        >narrow role of growing food for humans on a large scale. How much of
        >this preparation was non-human (natural geological and biological
        >process along with burrowing and nuzzling by mostly small animals)
        >and how much was deliberately planned by generations of Native
        >Americans is not easily determined. (See the recent book "Tending
        >the Wild" by Uni. of Cal. anthropologist Kat Anderson in which she
        >shows that much that non-Native Americans described as "natural" was
        >actually the handiwork of Native Americans.)
        >
        >Ley farmers like Hugh Corley believed that all land had to undergo
        >preparation by seeding
        >deep rooted cover and forage crops such as native bunchgrasses,
        >chicory, heavy root clovers, burnet, and herbs or forbes before the
        >field could reasonably be considered fertile.
        >The recommended time for such herbal-grass-legume field preparation
        >was 4 years. Some of the herbal ley farmers considered this kind of
        >preparation "below-ground composting." The idea was to let a dense
        >network of roots develop and decay into a mineral and microbe rich
        >humus that would then support nearly any kind of human staple food
        >you wanted to plant into it (and that would include Fukuoka style
        >polycultures). This took patience, and you had to wait and watch as
        >the small animals went around creatively disturbing the soil for 4
        >years, nibbling, scratching, and nuzzling to make the matrix more
        >fertile.
        >
        >I suspect that what the Natives Americans (and Nature) did to make
        >the prairies was a lot like what the British ley farmers did to make
        >their legendarily rich and fertile fields. As a control, it would be
        >interesting to see what would happen if you planted a few square
        >meters here and there of native herbal grass, forbes, and legume
        >fields and left them to develop for four years. After the
        >preparation period then plant seeds (or seedballs or both) in the
        >reduced (mown, cut or mashed down) field and compare the results. It
        >seems axiomatic to me that fields so prepared would be more fertile
        >than unprepared fields scattered with seedsballs.
        >
        >Bob Monie
        >New Orleans, LA

        --
        Inside Passage Seeds and Native Plant Services
        Forest Shomer, owner
        Port Townsend, WA, USA
        inspass@...
        http://www.insidepassageseeds.com

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • karoubas
        Thanks Robert I think you are right, both on the field preparation and on the American Indians. It s been 6 years since my farm was plowed - I have sown seeds
        Message 3 of 7 , Mar 18, 2007
          Thanks Robert
          I think you are right, both on the field preparation and on the
          American Indians.
          It's been 6 years since my farm was plowed - I have sown seeds both
          with clay or just scattering seeds after the rains - the quantities
          need to be increased - and I hope to be able to do it this fall and in
          the coming years - the land I have is "poor" - but after 6 years I am
          seeing a big improvement. In some areas that I have spread more seeds
          and clay balls - in these areas the grass and the many plants I have
          sown grow strong and vigorous - the plants I have sown include some of
          those you mentioned (clover, chicory) - they are doing well.

          In the areas where I have mainly the local long blade grass, a layer
          of organic matter has been formed - the grass is not as thick/high or
          strong as the areas I mentioned above, but it is improving.

          The issue of the timing in spreading the seed balls and or cutting the
          native grasses is important - the native Indians and other natives
          that lived or live around the globe, have or had a close relationship
          and knowledge about the cycles of nature.

          I am enjoying this journey I am on, and I am in no hurry to get to the
          end of the rainbow - every season brings new experiences - I am amazed
          how the land changes from year to year - the first spring that I did
          not till, brought what I thought was a disaster - the entire 10,000
          square meter farm was covered with a thorny pant that about 60 cm high
          (about 24 inches) and round like a giant ball. I was horrified - I
          started to cut it when the summer came - I cut some of it until I got
          tired of cutting. I asked Panos about it- his response was that there
          was a reason why the plant came - and he left it at that.
          The plant has not come back again in full force - I see it here and
          there, but is almost gone. Other plants have come and gone, and they
          all have helped may the land more fertile.

          Kostas





          --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Hi Karoubas,
          >
          > How to start a natural farm and the precise role of the native
          grasses are matters of great importance. It is generally agreed that
          in the US some of the most fertile farming land came from centuries of
          switchgrass, forbes, and prairie legumes growing in repeated cycles of
          microbial interaction with soil minerals. That is, the prairies had
          lots of "preparation" before they were devoted to the narrow role of
          growing food for humans on a large scale. How much of this
          preparation was non-human (natural geological and biological process
          along with burrowing and nuzzling by mostly small animals) and how
          much was deliberately planned by generations of Native Americans is
          not easily determined. (See the recent book "Tending the Wild" by Uni.
          of Cal. anthropologist Kat Anderson in which she shows that much that
          non-Native Americans described as "natural" was actually the handiwork
          of Native Americans.)
          >
          > Ley farmers like Hugh Corley believed that all land had to undergo
          preparation by seeding
          > deep rooted cover and forage crops such as native bunchgrasses,
          chicory, heavy root clovers, burnet, and herbs or forbes before the
          field could reasonably be considered fertile.
          > The recommended time for such herbal-grass-legume field
          preparation was 4 years. Some of the herbal ley farmers considered
          this kind of preparation "below-ground composting." The idea was to
          let a dense network of roots develop and decay into a mineral and
          microbe rich humus that would then support nearly any kind of human
          staple food you wanted to plant into it (and that would include
          Fukuoka style polycultures). This took patience, and you had to wait
          and watch as the small animals went around creatively disturbing the
          soil for 4 years, nibbling, scratching, and nuzzling to make the
          matrix more fertile.
          >
          > I suspect that what the Natives Americans (and Nature) did to make
          the prairies was a lot like what the British ley farmers did to make
          their legendarily rich and fertile fields. As a control, it would be
          interesting to see what would happen if you planted a few square
          meters here and there of native herbal grass, forbes, and legume
          fields and left them to develop for four years. After the preparation
          period then plant seeds (or seedballs or both) in the reduced (mown,
          cut or mashed down) field and compare the results. It seems axiomatic
          to me that fields so prepared would be more fertile than unprepared
          fields scattered with seedsballs.
          >
          >
          > Bob Monie
          > New Orleans, LA
          > karoubas <karoubas@...> wrote:
          > Dear Friends -
          > I have just posted some photos from my visit to the Panos Manikis farm
          > recently - it is spring time here - I do not think that photos or
          > words can do justice or describe the beauty of a natural farm in
          > springtime - it is amazing. It is still amazing to me that farmers
          > nearby continue to till - fertilize and spray their land and trees,
          > even though right in front of them is perfect example of what nature
          > can do if left alone - Panos sends his regards to all.
          >
          > Here in Greece we had a horrible winter of almost no rain and snow -
          > it will be a difficult summer - the dams that are used to produce
          > electricity and to water the plains are almost empty (very low levels.
          > The seed balls I spread this winter with seeds from trees will not
          > have a chance to germinate due to the absence of cold-wet weather.
          >
          > I have searched the previous messages, read Fukuoka san's books and
          > spoke with Panos about the issue of the TIMING IN SPREADING THE SEED
          > BALLS and how to minimize the problem of the native grasses overtaking
          > and smothering the seeds in the seed balls.
          >
          > I would like to have your comments/experiences and from our dear
          > friend in India -Titus.
          > I look at his photos often, and I see he has succeeded in growing all
          > kinds of plants, while minimizing the local grasses - if he can recall
          > how his farm was when he first started and explain the process and his
          > thoughts - Here in Greece we have different conditions in the spring
          > time and different in the fall - how do we go about spreading the seed
          > balls and making sure they succeed.
          >
          > I am having difficulties in this area - I am sure in due time I will
          > prevail.
          > Thank you for listening -stay well.
          >
          > Kostas
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        • Gloria C. Baikauskas
          Kostas.....the photos are incredibly beautiful. You are so lucky to be able to walk through all of that great scenery....and agriculture. As I went through
          Message 4 of 7 , Mar 19, 2007
            Kostas.....the photos are incredibly beautiful. You are so lucky to be
            able to walk through all of that great scenery....and agriculture.

            As I went through the photos I found myself wondering what kind of
            trees I was seeing flowering? Can you enlighten me?

            Were those some of the ones previously seeded with seedballs?

            Gloria, Texas
          • karoubas
            Hi Gloria Most of the trees, Panos plants - he either buys or gets the seedlings from friends around the world - but he also has some from seed balls or
            Message 5 of 7 , Mar 19, 2007
              Hi Gloria
              Most of the trees, Panos plants - he either buys or gets the seedlings
              from friends around the world - but he also has some from seed balls
              or planting the seeds directly on the ground. He has has a very large
              variety of trees, both fruit producers and evergreens. On the question
              of which ones are blooming in the photos I did not ask - he said the
              farm will be in bloom for the next 3 - 4 weeks, as each type tree
              blooms at different times. This time of the year the almond trees are
              in bloom or have completed their cycle, the prune and cherry trees follow.

              Kostas



              --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "Gloria C. Baikauskas"
              <gcb49@...> wrote:
              >
              > Kostas.....the photos are incredibly beautiful. You are so lucky to be
              > able to walk through all of that great scenery....and agriculture.
              >
              > As I went through the photos I found myself wondering what kind of
              > trees I was seeing flowering? Can you enlighten me?
              >
              > Were those some of the ones previously seeded with seedballs?
              >
              > Gloria, Texas
              >
            • Gloria C. Baikauskas
              Thank you! I just know it is so beautiful in the spring when nut and fruit trees, as well as some ornamentals are in flower. I was wondering what fruits,
              Message 6 of 7 , Mar 21, 2007
                Thank you! I just know it is so beautiful in the spring when nut and
                fruit trees, as well as some ornamentals are in flower. I was
                wondering what fruits, nuts, etc, he was growing. You just answered
                that.

                Gloria, Texas

                --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "karoubas" <karoubas@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Hi Gloria
                > Most of the trees, Panos plants - he either buys or gets the
                seedlings
                > from friends around the world - but he also has some from seed balls
                > or planting the seeds directly on the ground. He has has a very
                large
                > variety of trees, both fruit producers and evergreens. On the
                question
                > of which ones are blooming in the photos I did not ask - he said the
                > farm will be in bloom for the next 3 - 4 weeks, as each type tree
                > blooms at different times. This time of the year the almond trees
                are
                > in bloom or have completed their cycle, the prune and cherry trees
                follow.
                >
                > Kostas
                >
                >
                >
                > --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "Gloria C. Baikauskas"
                > <gcb49@> wrote:
                > >
                > > Kostas.....the photos are incredibly beautiful. You are so lucky
                to be
                > > able to walk through all of that great scenery....and
                agriculture.
                > >
                > > As I went through the photos I found myself wondering what kind
                of
                > > trees I was seeing flowering? Can you enlighten me?
                > >
                > > Were those some of the ones previously seeded with seedballs?
                > >
                > > Gloria, Texas
                > >
                >
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