Re: [fukuoka_farming] My experiences
Thanks for talking about your own experience.� If others were to follow your example, we may be able to get a discussion going about the practical issues we face when attempting natural farming or gardening.
I think no-till is no magic solution that will solve all problems.� Before the advent of industrial style farming, farmers have known how to improve their soil by incorporating manure etc. and by using a variety of techniques including ploughing.
It is possible to go no-till from the beginning, but incorporating organic matter can accelerate things.� Each soil is different and there is no one solution that fits all cases.
But I think it is better to use well cured compost for incorporation in the soil.� I would use non-composted material only for mulching the surface. And even then, there is a limit to the amount one can apply at once.� I never use more than 1 or 2 inches.� If I do put on a thick layer, I also use a layer of compost underneath.� Better to feed the soil with small doses more frequently.� I usually put on another layer of mulch once every 3 months.� You know about N-sequestration.� I think it is not merely theoretical, it can happen with large amounts of C-rich material, incorporated or even as mulch if the material if very fine.� Saw dust, for example, is bound to reduce growth for a year or two unless of course you use fertilizers or manure.
Also, I don�t want to discourage you, but I think if your soil is as bad as you say it is, it may well take more than a couple of years to improve.� I�m in my 10th year and there is still plenty of scope for improvement.
I never used any innoculant.� I think with improved SOM, the soil biology will pick up and that problem may just solve itself.
--- On Fri, 8/22/08, Jeff <shultonus@...> wrote:
From: Jeff <shultonus@...>
Subject: [fukuoka_farming] My experiences
Date: Friday, August 22, 2008, 12:09 AM
I thought I'd finally let people know about my garden--
I live in a mobile home park. It's been there for 36 years.
I have huge (135') poplar trees in all directions, the soil is more or
less dried out after a day or two without rain.
The garden is 15' x 40'
all but the 10 feet on the south end are in medium shade
My garden space (this is my second year) had a house on it for 34
years, The soil was compacted, dry, and biologically dead. It had no
life what so ever. I ripped out several rope sized roots from the
trees, These are now sprouting saplings (I compost them), the roots in
this zone lacked root hairs, they just travel through it.
I did not till the first year. Just raked it.
Last year I planted bush snap and wax beans (green and yellow),
Brocoli, leaf lettuces, romaine (cos), Tomatoes, onoins, carrots,
parsnips, pumpkins and asparagus.
The beans produced well, but the plants were extremely stunted, The
tomatoes also grew well, but needed heavy fertilization (I used
chemical), the lettuces got bitter quickly, some raddicio grew really
well, roamine didn't even sprout.
The onoins didn't even reach golf ball size (starting with starters)
The carrots and parsnips where not even worth harvesting, they were
tilled back in.
The brocoli yeild was mediocre. THe asparagus had a very slow start
despite heavy fertilization and compost. The pumpkins had a mediocre
yeild despite being in the shade.
Few weeds sprouted.
THe second year (this year)
I tilled the whole garden , I incorporated half a bale of straw and a
bout 60 gallons of wood chips. My soil is heavy heavy clay. I need to
build the SOM.
Half way through the summer I started noticing soil life, worms and
fungus, weeks sprouted heavily this year especially in the lettuce and
I planted snap peas, the beans again, tomatoes, brocoli, lettuces plus
spinach, zuchini, cucumbers, squash and strawberries.
The weeds were black medic, lambsquarter, amaranth, dandelions,
thistles, green and yellow foxtail, and quackgrass
The black medic unfortunately had only ~5-10% infection, and when
infected is was weak (with the rhizobium that produces N)
I eat the lambsquarter, and just pick the seed heads off the others.
I've been pulling some of the black medic to avoid excessive seed bank
, and to use it as a green mulch.
I fertilized the asparagas and the tomatoes everything else got
The asparagus had a slow start, but is growing good in the late summer
The strawberreis got eaten by the rabbits.
The beans yeilded good, but are still stunted (I need to buy
innoculant, I was hoping it would come naturally)
The peas were small, and didn't yeild good, they got cut and used as
The tomatoes are doing well (early summer had blossom end rot)
The zuchini is doing poor (shade or soil>?)
The cucmbers are doing poor (ditto)
The squash (buttercup) is going poor. (ditto)
The brocoli is yeilded extremely well!
Lettuces grew great, and only now starting to go to seed, about 75% is
The spinach also did poorly although had setbacks eaten by rabbits.
I also planted swiss chard- the rabbits ate that down to the ground,
the entire row.
I was surprised the spinach didn't do better, and the first year brocoli.
These plants are reported to not use VAM (fungal mycorhiza),
I guess my reason for sharing this at this point...
Is perhaps this is valuable information on how plants respond to
sterilized (more or less) soil... and how that insites can further the
thinking of natural farming, and any advice.. or comments...
I plan to till atleast once more...
I experimented with different sized 'permanant beds" this year to find
what size I like the best (the rows were covered with wood chips.
I will get more straw and more wood chips (hopefully mostly straw) to
till in, and will begin using commpost for primary fertility next
year. (my commpost pile just got started this month).
I'm curious about the seed bank, weither it was 30+ years old, if it
blew in during the first season or if it came in with the straw.
Based on Dad's experience (I"m helping with his garden now that he's
older).. the thistles seem to be in the straw. and the other from
Based on other vacated lots, the quackgrass and foxtail seems to be
blown in, some of the black medic seems to be there, but I definitely
got more that those other places (requires tilling??)
Thistles also show up after year 2...
anyways, that's my story so far....
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