Soil condition and NF
- To me this post of Dieter's some while rings true and important.
(Original subject was: Re: [fukuoka_farming]
Dieter, Bob, are you still there?)
I would like to remind you of it, as I think it
could be relevant for the present discussion.
And thanks Dieter for writing it.
At 23:43 2008-05-03, you wrote:
> > ... how to turn a lawn into a veggie garden and filed. I would like
> > your voice on this from a natural farming stand point, ...
> Ideally you would use a cover crop to "crowd
> out" the grass and/or weeds, then cut the cover
> crop and transplant or sow into the mulch. In
> my experience this works only with very good
> soil. For any other type of soil you may have
> to use a different strategy. Here are three
> possible scenarios (A, B and C) for three different types of soil:
> A. Very good soil ("deep" and very fertile)
> You select a cover crop or a combination of
> cover crops that will grow well enough in your
> region to compete with and "crowd out" the
> existing vegetation (grass, weeds, etc.) and
> that can be cut without growing back. In my
> region, for example, lupines, fava beans, vetch
> and rye will grow in an existing stand of
> grass, while wheat, barley, field peas, etc.
> cannot compete. A good combination is rye with
> vetch. The rye produces a lot of root mass
> while the straw has weed suppressing
> properties, vetch, on the other hand will fix
> nitrogen, which your follow-on crop will be
> able to use. You need to cut the rye after the
> sheaves start to form but before the seeds
> harden. If you cut earlier, the rye will grow
> again, if you cut later it may reseed. With
> legumes such as lupines there are no such
> limitations, but ideally you cut during flowering.
> Alternately, you could also try and grow your
> vegetables in the cover crop without "killing"
> it first. This will only work with fast growing
> vegetables like daikon radishes for example. It
> will not work for most types of cabbages,
> lettuces, onions, carrots, etc. If you use a
> cover crop in this way, i.e., as a "living
> mulch" instead of as a "dead mulch", you best
> select a low growing clover. I have had pole
> beans and corn grow through a layer of clover without difficulty.
> If you are lucky, you can grow your
> vegetables in a year or two, but you still may
> have to manually remove weeds that keep on
> growing from tap roots or grasses like Bermuda
> grass. It is possible to crowd out Bermuda
> grass with closely spaced fast growing
> perennials like acacias, but the process can easily take three to five years.
> B. Poor soil (deep but unfertile soil, for
> example industrially farmed soil with low organic content)
> In the above example, you grow all your
> fertility on-site. With depleted soil, on the
> other hand, you may have to bring in organic
> matter from outside in the form of mulch,
> compost or manure. If there is still enough
> soil left, you can apply all the materials to
> the top. You first put down a layer of compost
> and/or manure which you cover with a layer of
> mulch. I usually dont use more than ½ to 1
> inch of compost topped by 1 to 2 inches of
> mulch since I believe that it is better to feed
> the soil frequently with small doses. If your
> aim is weed/grass suppression you will need
> thicker layers or use a weed-barrier such as
> cardboard or newspaper. In the past, printing
> inks used to include lead, which is poisonous.
> Now most inks are made of organic materials. I
> have tried newspaper once, but didnt like it
> enough to repeat the exercise. You will find
> that weeds will come back anyways. Even if you
> manage to suppress the original weeds or grass with a vast amount of mulch or
> cardboard, you will still need a rigorous
> cover crop management à la Fukuoka to keep the weeds from coming back.
> You can sow into or under the various layers
> or transplant through all the layers. After a
> couple of years you may be able to switch to method A.
> C. Very poor soil (most of the top soil is
> eroded and only rubble and subsoil is left)
> In this case it may not be enough to apply
> the organic matter to the top. You may have to
> work well cured compost into the top 10 to 12
> inches of soil so as to build a new layer of
> topsoil. It is best to only use well composted
> material because uncomposted organic matter
> doesnt decompose well under anaerobic
> conditions when dug into the soil. When you
> need to disturb the soil, it is best to avoid
> hot and sunny days and times when the soil is
> water-logged. Make sure to always cover the
> soil after disturbing it. You can sow before
> you put down the mulch or you can plant through
> the mulch. If you dont have any vegetables to
> plant, then sow a cover crop. The primary
> function of mulching is not to suppress growth,
> on the contrary, you need to encourage
> vegetation by any means. Better weeds than no
> vegetation at all. The soil enriches itself by
> producing vegetation. A bare soil is dead soil.
> After 2 to 3 years the soil may have improved
> sufficiently for you to be able to switch to method B. above.
> Dieter Brand