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Re: [fukuoka_farming] plant selection, was thoughts and update

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  • Don Graves
    The term tillage (with or without digging) may be defined as: preparing a soil or seedbed ... UNTIL it is suitable for propagating any particular plant
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 5, 2002
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      The term 'tillage' (with or without digging) may be defined as:
      "preparing a soil or seedbed ... "UNTIL" it is suitable for propagating any
      particular plant crop" ...
      ( ie. soils / seedbeds suitable for placement & growth of small or large
      seeds, tubers, corms, or cuttings)
      a.. eg. 'chemical tillage' (herbicide)
      b.. eg. 'physical tillage'
      a.. (plant & soil disturbances by ploughing, digging, hoeing)
      b.. (plant disturbances by steam weeding, or by physical abrasion by
      sweeping or moving traffic)
      c.. eg. 'conservation tillage' ('no-dig - no weed', 'seed balls',
      'no-till', & mulching)
      My point here is that some crops may require initial physical or cultural
      modification of soils to in order to provide optimal aspect, soil aeration,
      drainage, or esle to remedy a history of foot or wheel-induced soil
      compaction... There are also obvious benefits of having deep rooting weeds
      like dock that help penetrate, drain & aerate soils, *& bring deep nutrients
      up nearer the soil surface

      Prior to the arrival of mould-board ploughs along with European immigrants
      into Aotearoa New Zealand, similar to many other pre-plough cultures, Maori
      used digging sticks fitted with a foot-tread ('foot-ploughs'), & a variety
      of hoes in order to make round mounds (raised-beds / & dedicated pathways).

      Two of the main benefits of growing on round mounds apart from Drainage are
      ...
      a.. 3 optimal ASPECTS round-mound slope (eg. in our southern hemisphere) -
      a.. East (AM),
      b.. North (mid-day)
      c.. & West (PM), resulting in ...
      b.. improved / prolonged SOIL HEATING effects (especially good for root
      crops like spuds, yams & sweet potatoes)
      In contrast, ... in western-derived conventional tillage systems, (ie.
      straight-line ridge & furrow plough-derived tillage), soil seedbeds may be
      physically oriented somewhere between 2 optimal ASPECTS of ridge mound
      slopes:
      a.. EAST - WEST (with a MIDDAY optimal aspect & soil heating )
      b.. or NORTH - SOUTH (with AM & PM optimal aspects & soil heating)
      Additionally, a mound doesn't have to be constructed by in-situ digging, ...
      a mound can be formed by soil, compost or mulch being placed in a heap by
      whatever can be used to carry it, bags, buckets, barrows or bigger.

      Even away down here in the South Pacific in NZ we have heard a US North
      American saying " it ain't worth a hill o' beans" ... indicative of early
      European settler prejudice, racism, intollerance & or lack of willingness to
      understand new-world native peoples' agricultural arts & sciences of North
      America (US) & Aotearoa (NZ). These similar sounding 'round-mound' tillage
      methods sound to me like wise indigenous peoples' methods to promote soil
      fertility / composting / soil biota inoculation to feed living soils, ....
      & subsequently also preventing or reducing risks from unecessary root-zone
      soil treading & traffic.

      As afar back as about 1000 years ago the polynesian ancestors of indigenous
      Maori also began to introduce & grow a small range of root crops (sweet
      potato, taro & yams), & seeds of gourds & edible weeds. Maori have
      experimented & adapted to living in Aotearoa NZ, & have traditionally also
      harvested a wide range native cultivated & non-cultivated edible & or
      medicinal plants.

      a.. PS ... Is there anyone in this group that has a PRACTICAL & OR
      ACADEMIC background including MYCORRHIZAS?
      a.. The ecological benefits of maintaining healthy soil-borne
      mycorrhizas is my main interest in seedballs, please send replies email to
      dgraves@...
      regards
      Don
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "J. P." <jpoy@...>
      To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 3:42 AM
      Subject: [fukuoka_farming] plant selection, was thoughts and update


      >
      > I think it's really significant to research the way indiginous people for
      > one's local area got their food. For instance, the native Californians
      were
      > stewards of the wilds not farmers in a traditional agriculture sense. so
      > for plant selection to survive the Calif natural climate (i.e. no summer
      > rain) we might have to emphasise more native plants than other areas.
      >
      > Also, native peoples from areas with similar climates developed plant
      > varieties that survived various aspects of their climates. here in So
      > Calif, some of the Native American varieties from the southwest and Mexico
      > would be better adapted to a Fukuoka type experiment than European
      > varieites.
      >
      > I know Fukuoka advocated no work, but he would already know the
      agriculture
      > of the traditional peoples of his local area- it continues to be practiced
      > in Japan. Here, the chain has been broken, much of the methodology is
      > strange to our way of thinking, and some information now exists only in
      the
      > hands of museum type researchers. so I think we do have to do some
      homework
      > to reconstruct the knowledge base to select plant species that will work
      in
      > our local areas for Fukuoka's methods.
      >
      > >>>Also, I believe most of the herbs we use in
      > 'traditional' western cooking are of Mediterranean origin.
      >
      > I believe you are correct. but then when we depart from traditional
      > agriculture, we probably need to depart from traditional cooking flavors
      > too. continuing with the above idea, if we turn to veggies that survive
      our
      > local climate, whether that be indigenous people's developed varieties, or
      > native edible plants that we welcome into our property, our herbs will
      > change too. there are so many herbs that were used for flavor (and
      > medicine, but that's a whole other subject) that grow locally. (anyone
      > interested in these for California, I like Charlotte Bingle Clarke's book
      > _Edible & Useful Plants of Calif_, also Thomas C Blackburn's _Before the
      > Wilderness_) don't forget to look at titles in the hiking section of
      your
      > local bookstore - many local guides to wild foraging tell which of your
      > native plants are edible. these are probably choice for a Fukuoka type
      > experiment.
      >
      > >>>One in late February or March just toward the end of the rains but not
      > quite. Enough time to have rain to start the seeds, ... But toward July
      > and certainly in August, when most annual vegetable plants mature, they
      are
      > dwarfed or fail from lack of water. I think one would have to give such a
      > semi-wild planting some water to get any yield at all.
      >
      > I'm in So Calif and I agree with your analysis for Calif planting. I
      wonder
      > if you have tried any of the seeds of the southwest, the varieties bred by
      > the Native Americans there, in hopes they might survive the July/August
      > drought. i haven't tried these in Fukuoka style yet (joined this list to
      > learn more before I tried the method!), but I have been experimenting with
      > them in more conventional plantings, square foot gardening etc, and 3
      > sisters groupings. I've isolated the Native American seeds to see if they
      > can do with less water (yes) than conventional (read: eastern U.S.,
      oregon,
      > or European source) heirloom varieties. I get my Native American
      varieties
      > from native seed search, out of arizona. some of the varieties in their
      > catalog, esp beans & melons, say "traditionally dry farmed" which (email
      > from native seed search says) means they are seeded in timing with the
      rain
      > cycle w/o irrigation. so these types of more obscure varieties may be
      > exactly what we need to go forward with a Fukuoka type system.
      >
      >
      > Joanne
      > Los Angeles
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
      > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      >
      >
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • gcb49
      Don, your post just made me wonder why we haven t learned to use specialized ants to assist us in our farming/gardening. I have become aware this past year
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 6, 2002
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        Don, your post just made me wonder why we haven't learned to use specialized ants to assist us in our farming/gardening. I have become aware this past year that what we in Texas call Fire Ants (these came to the US from South America), are rather ingenious farmers themselves using aphids to work for them....and bringing micorrhizas towards the soil surface level from further below. I believe they also somehow produce micorrhizal fungi, if I have understood what I have read properly.

        I think my mind has been at work ever since Robert's earlier post re the essay I sent yesterday where he mentioned earlier people having the ability to use the surface levels of their soil when farming, but also preparing the lower levels for use at the same time. It made me begin to wonder if perhaps these earlier people were able to use insects like fire ants in just such a way.....although I realize that if they did these insects may now be extinct.

        Ants do wonders with soil aerating it, fertilizing it with their manure while they live in it, too. Does anyone know of any such research into using insects for this purpose? It would certainly allow for no-till methods as Fukuoka advises while also improving the soil for our purposes.
        Gloria
        Texas
        USA


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Don Graves
        to gcb49 et al One of the hardest things for us to do may be visualise a subterranian life for plant roots, fungal hyphae, and for rhizosphere &
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 6, 2002
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          to gcb49 et al

          One of the hardest things for us to do may be visualise a subterranian life
          for plant roots, fungal hyphae, and for rhizosphere & mycorrhizosphere
          associated bacteria and a myriad of other soil biota & micro-organisms.
          Everything we do to study soil organisms in fact changes them ... & muddies
          the picture we see.

          I am most familiar with the arbuscular mycorrhizas (aka endomycorrhizas)
          that are common symbioses inhabiting roots of most crop & pasture plants
          (... but are not hosted by some early coloniser plants such as brassica &
          beet families, lupins, & buckwheat!)

          Mycorrhizal fungal spores in the soil may be ingested, transported &
          excreted by a wide range of soil organisms including worms. I'm a plant
          ecologist rather than a zoologist, I don't know very much about the earth
          moving habits of soil inhabiting ants, termites, stoats, weasels or rabbits.
          I have heard of recent mycorrhiza & nematode grazing research, but as I am
          no longer a university student I don't have acess to research abstracts &
          articles that are commonly available through research library internet
          links. I'm working on this lack of access, but you may be able to access &
          use a university library near you.
          Until relatively recently in New Zealand we didn't have mammals at all, so
          bird vectors ( & possibly insects?) may historically & evolutionarily have
          been relatively important transport vectors of soil organisms, including
          mycorrhizas. Forest tree species such as Nothofagus (southern beech), were
          occasionally isolated into forest refugia pockets by perturbances such as
          volcanic ash, lava or lahars. Southern beech forests require very specific
          species of ectomycorrhizal fungi, & usually forests only grow back very
          slowly from their edges.
          I have a personal untested theory re my country's national symbol the KIWI
          bird, which has a very long beak. Its beak tip is uniquely fitted with
          nostrils, ideal for probing the soil whilst hunting for worms & insects, but
          also quite likely to transfer soil fungal spores from site to site as it
          moves about forest floors & adjacent open shrub & grasslands.
          To test such a theory, a study would simply need to collect fresh Kiwi
          faeces, isolate & taxonomically identify the fungal spores found in faeces
          samples, & to establish the viability rates of such ingested / excreted
          funagl spores, by germinating them & or inoculating plants.
          I don't know how big ant faeces are in comparison to fungal spores, but
          presumably they may also be collected, identified & screened for viable
          spores of mycorrhizas... but it's a bit beyond my skills.

          I've only once seen native truffles under beech trees, but that was a friend
          who had a trained eye & expertise in ectomycorrhizas

          regards
          Don

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "gcb49" <gcb49@...>
          To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 9:03 PM
          Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] plant selection, was thoughts and update


          > Don, your post just made me wonder why we haven't learned to use
          specialized ants to assist us in our farming/gardening. I have become aware
          this past year that what we in Texas call Fire Ants (these came to the US
          from South America), are rather ingenious farmers themselves using aphids to
          work for them....and bringing micorrhizas towards the soil surface level
          from further below. I believe they also somehow produce micorrhizal fungi,
          if I have understood what I have read properly.
          >
          > I think my mind has been at work ever since Robert's earlier post re the
          essay I sent yesterday where he mentioned earlier people having the ability
          to use the surface levels of their soil when farming, but also preparing the
          lower levels for use at the same time. It made me begin to wonder if
          perhaps these earlier people were able to use insects like fire ants in just
          such a way.....although I realize that if they did these insects may now be
          extinct.
          >
          > Ants do wonders with soil aerating it, fertilizing it with their manure
          while they live in it, too. Does anyone know of any such research into
          using insects for this purpose? It would certainly allow for no-till
          methods as Fukuoka advises while also improving the soil for our purposes.
          > Gloria
          > Texas
          > USA
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • gcb49
          Does Fukuoka s approach then forbade micorrhizal innoculation, if you will? Must it be done only by birds, insects, and/or mammals of some kind....in other
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 6, 2002
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            Does Fukuoka's approach then forbade micorrhizal innoculation, if you will? Must it be done only by birds, insects, and/or mammals of some kind....in other words....naturally? Is it his contention then that the micorrhizal fungi must be brought to the surface without interference from us, even when working with dead soil?

            I must admit that would take extreme patience here to wait for it to suddenly appear. I would have to wait a very long time to have acceptable food crops growing that way. I imagine that is the very heart of the problem. Patience.
            Gloria


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Don Graves
            Gloria... I believe that Fukuoka s work is incredibly important, but I don t know that anyone would be very comfortable at being placed on a pedestal like a
            Message 5 of 7 , Jul 6, 2002
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              Gloria...

              I believe that Fukuoka's work is incredibly important, but I don't know that
              anyone would be very comfortable at being placed on a pedestal like a
              saint... (have you seen Monty Python's "Life of Brian"?)

              There are many benefits of using mycorrhizas to build up the vitality of
              'dead' of 'lifeless' soils... One of these is that it is possible to use &
              re-distribute locally sourced healthy top soils from the rooting zones of
              weeds / pasture / crops... (the top 5cm - 10 cm is the most active)...
              Likewise, tree seed in seedballs needs mycorrhizas & soil micro-organisms
              locally sourced in leaf litter or forest floor 'duff'.
              This method is comopatable with maintaining 'organic' roduction status, &
              saves spending $$$ on "off the shelf" external inputs

              regards ... Don

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "gcb49" <gcb49@...>
              To: <fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Sunday, July 07, 2002 7:23 AM
              Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] plant selection, was thoughts and update


              > Does Fukuoka's approach then forbade micorrhizal innoculation, if you
              will? Must it be done only by birds, insects, and/or mammals of some
              kind....in other words....naturally? Is it his contention then that the
              micorrhizal fungi must be brought to the surface without interference from
              us, even when working with dead soil?
              >
              > I must admit that would take extreme patience here to wait for it to
              suddenly appear. I would have to wait a very long time to have acceptable
              food crops growing that way. I imagine that is the very heart of the
              problem. Patience.
              > Gloria
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >
              >
              >
              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • gcb49
              Thanks, Don. Gloria [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 6, 2002
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                Thanks, Don.
                Gloria


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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