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reply to Dieter and Raju

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  • Anders Skarlind
    Hello Dieter and Raju Before I go into some of all the details in the correspondence with you, I would like to explain a few things and set some things
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 20, 2008
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      Hello Dieter and Raju

      Before I go into some of all the details in the correspondence with
      you, I would like to explain a few things and set some things straight.

      I didn't say that your or Fukuoka's growing system is wrong in any
      way. Neither is it my opinion. To the contrary I think it is
      fantastic that something like this is possible, at least under some conditions.

      I didn't say that biodynamics is better than natural farming. BD may
      be more suitable in my climate, or more developed in the details
      here, but I know of no trials that compare them and I haven't
      systematically done that myself so I cannot tell. Also as I said
      before I can in principle see no reason why they cannot be combined.
      There is in principle nothing in BD that says that the soil has to be tilled.

      I have criticised Fukuoka (as he comes forth in disputable editions
      that might not do him justice) for saying that composting is useless.
      This is a general statement that I think goes too far and might
      define NF too narrowly, or making the road to NF more difficult than
      necessary. I am not sure he intended this statement to be generalised
      world-wide. Further I am not criticising him nor anyone else in NF
      for not making or using compost in his/your own farm. This is his and
      your business and if you can do fine without it, very well, so be it.
      (This may also indicate that your growing conditions are quite good.)

      I have the following practical problem with NF: neither I nor anyone
      I know of have successfully applied NF in my part of the world
      (Northern Europe) or in similar climate. A few I know of have tried
      but not been successful. Karri Varpio in Finland perhaps had a
      partial success, as he reported here some time ago. But he has not
      followed up on that AFAIK, and a friend of mine made similar trial
      without success. Therefore it is my opinion that sofar noone knows
      what NF is or could be in my part of the world, because noone has
      worked that out.

      The place where I have been growing the longest has poorly drained
      clay soil. Raju wrote sometime ago that NF needs well-drained soil. I
      suppose he is right, even though Fukuoka gives one rotation for more
      or less swampy conditions in The Natural Way of Farming. However the
      plants he suggested cannot grow here (if I rememeber correctly). The
      poor drainage is caused by two factors. One is that this is low-lying
      level land, an old seabottom. The maximum drainage depth I can acieve
      is about one meter, and for this I need ditches. This is not optimal
      but not so bad either. However the ditches have just barely reached
      this depth, and the soil just gradually adapts to it, which is a slow
      but beneficial process.The other factor is that many years ago I
      unwisely tilled this soil too much. Worst was rototilling a couple of
      times. Before that it had a fair structure. Now structure is
      improving again. I perceive that BD compost is one of the main
      factors in this. I haven't measured OM content, but I don't think it
      is so bad. And of course I return everything, plus haul in some from
      the bordering ley. So Dieter's explanation is wrong.

      This further handicaps my ability to find a way implement NF here. I
      find that I have to work the soil about once per year, else it will
      get too compact, due to poor drainage. I also consider it better then
      to turn the soil, to incorporate plant residues somewhat deeper.
      Roots don't go so deep o this soil, you see. If this soil is left to
      itself it will just get worse.

      In fact this soil and location is not suitable for a kitchen garden,
      but it is the best option I have at this homestead. However I hope to
      be able to try NF -or something similar- on better soil soon.

      So instead of going straight ahead with NF (whatever NF would be in
      Sweden) I am working along on my own route. As I said my principal
      goal is to find my own way to grow healthy crops in partnership with
      nature. NF is an inspiration for me. I partake here to learn
      something, and part of my way of learning is to point out and discuss
      what I think are inconsistencies and things that seem to contradict
      my experience and knowledge. However it is possible that the kind of
      discussion I have been contributing to here lately is not
      constructive for this list or for NF. I very well understand that
      farmers who work with NF where it is more practicable than here,
      needs a forum for discussing the practical questions they encouter in
      their work. This is not the least a complication with world-wide
      list, when the implemantation of NF is different in different locations.

      On the other hand, I must say that you people I have been discussing
      with here lately on composting etc (Dieter, Raju and also Hank) seems
      like you cannot read what I am writing whenever I am criticising some
      of your favourite ideas, but instead you start to accuse me for
      saying a lot of things I didn't say. (See my other emails, and this
      one too, for lots of details on that.) There is too much of "if you
      are not with us you are against us"-logic in the reactions I get
      here. I don't find that inspiring. I thought this list had improved,
      and perhaps it has, but at its core, it is the same. You are not my
      bunch of people, that's for sure. And that has nothing with NF or not
      to do, and nothing with Fukuoka either. It is about a particular
      culture that has developed on this list. If it is a general
      phenomenon for followers of Fukuoka I don't know. I hope not.

      Sincelery
      Anders
    • Raju Titus
      Dear Anders, NF is very very simple and easy. We are not familiar to do simple and easy things. Same way the philosophy of do nothing .is very complicated.
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 20, 2008
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        Dear Anders,
        NF is very very simple and easy. We are not familiar to do simple and
        easy things. Same way the philosophy of "do nothing".is very
        complicated. This is not climatic or soil problem. In my place why all my
        farmers are not adopting NF.in same soil and same climatic condition. Why
        all Japanese are not doing. If you will ask them everybody will give same
        awnser. So many people saying we tried but failed.But you are in Que who
        will soon do NF. One thing you realise that No-till BD is possible.Than
        start No-Till BD. Fukuoka was saying there is nothing in names only
        principles are more important.Now No- till organic farming is also taking
        root in America. In no-till organic farming farmers are not tilling,not
        using compost and any chemicals and harvesting bumper crops.Their method is
        different. They bend green cover by special roller and sowing seeds with the
        help of zero tillage seed drill in green bended ground cover. Green cover
        allow all small insects to work they till soil very deep, conserve
        moisture,and taking nutrients up.Green cover keep top soil cool which hold
        water vapours and provide natural irrigation.Within a season this cover
        decompose and provide organic matter to soil.
        You can invite me to start in your farm by sending photos.In the
        beginning there was no guide for me Fukuoka was alive but there was no
        communication.
        Thanks
        Raju Titus



        On 12/20/08, Anders Skarlind <Anders.Skalman@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello Dieter and Raju
        >
        > Before I go into some of all the details in the correspondence with
        > you, I would like to explain a few things and set some things straight.
        >
        > I didn't say that your or Fukuoka's growing system is wrong in any
        > way. Neither is it my opinion. To the contrary I think it is
        > fantastic that something like this is possible, at least under some
        > conditions.
        >
        > I didn't say that biodynamics is better than natural farming. BD may
        > be more suitable in my climate, or more developed in the details
        > here, but I know of no trials that compare them and I haven't
        > systematically done that myself so I cannot tell. Also as I said
        > before I can in principle see no reason why they cannot be combined.
        > There is in principle nothing in BD that says that the soil has to be
        > tilled.
        >
        > I have criticised Fukuoka (as he comes forth in disputable editions
        > that might not do him justice) for saying that composting is useless.
        > This is a general statement that I think goes too far and might
        > define NF too narrowly, or making the road to NF more difficult than
        > necessary. I am not sure he intended this statement to be generalised
        > world-wide. Further I am not criticising him nor anyone else in NF
        > for not making or using compost in his/your own farm. This is his and
        > your business and if you can do fine without it, very well, so be it.
        > (This may also indicate that your growing conditions are quite good.)
        >
        > I have the following practical problem with NF: neither I nor anyone
        > I know of have successfully applied NF in my part of the world
        > (Northern Europe) or in similar climate. A few I know of have tried
        > but not been successful. Karri Varpio in Finland perhaps had a
        > partial success, as he reported here some time ago. But he has not
        > followed up on that AFAIK, and a friend of mine made similar trial
        > without success. Therefore it is my opinion that sofar noone knows
        > what NF is or could be in my part of the world, because noone has
        > worked that out.
        >
        > The place where I have been growing the longest has poorly drained
        > clay soil. Raju wrote sometime ago that NF needs well-drained soil. I
        > suppose he is right, even though Fukuoka gives one rotation for more
        > or less swampy conditions in The Natural Way of Farming. However the
        > plants he suggested cannot grow here (if I rememeber correctly). The
        > poor drainage is caused by two factors. One is that this is low-lying
        > level land, an old seabottom. The maximum drainage depth I can acieve
        > is about one meter, and for this I need ditches. This is not optimal
        > but not so bad either. However the ditches have just barely reached
        > this depth, and the soil just gradually adapts to it, which is a slow
        > but beneficial process.The other factor is that many years ago I
        > unwisely tilled this soil too much. Worst was rototilling a couple of
        > times. Before that it had a fair structure. Now structure is
        > improving again. I perceive that BD compost is one of the main
        > factors in this. I haven't measured OM content, but I don't think it
        > is so bad. And of course I return everything, plus haul in some from
        > the bordering ley. So Dieter's explanation is wrong.
        >
        > This further handicaps my ability to find a way implement NF here. I
        > find that I have to work the soil about once per year, else it will
        > get too compact, due to poor drainage. I also consider it better then
        > to turn the soil, to incorporate plant residues somewhat deeper.
        > Roots don't go so deep o this soil, you see. If this soil is left to
        > itself it will just get worse.
        >
        > In fact this soil and location is not suitable for a kitchen garden,
        > but it is the best option I have at this homestead. However I hope to
        > be able to try NF -or something similar- on better soil soon.
        >
        > So instead of going straight ahead with NF (whatever NF would be in
        > Sweden) I am working along on my own route. As I said my principal
        > goal is to find my own way to grow healthy crops in partnership with
        > nature. NF is an inspiration for me. I partake here to learn
        > something, and part of my way of learning is to point out and discuss
        > what I think are inconsistencies and things that seem to contradict
        > my experience and knowledge. However it is possible that the kind of
        > discussion I have been contributing to here lately is not
        > constructive for this list or for NF. I very well understand that
        > farmers who work with NF where it is more practicable than here,
        > needs a forum for discussing the practical questions they encouter in
        > their work. This is not the least a complication with world-wide
        > list, when the implemantation of NF is different in different locations.
        >
        > On the other hand, I must say that you people I have been discussing
        > with here lately on composting etc (Dieter, Raju and also Hank) seems
        > like you cannot read what I am writing whenever I am criticising some
        > of your favourite ideas, but instead you start to accuse me for
        > saying a lot of things I didn't say. (See my other emails, and this
        > one too, for lots of details on that.) There is too much of "if you
        > are not with us you are against us"-logic in the reactions I get
        > here. I don't find that inspiring. I thought this list had improved,
        > and perhaps it has, but at its core, it is the same. You are not my
        > bunch of people, that's for sure. And that has nothing with NF or not
        > to do, and nothing with Fukuoka either. It is about a particular
        > culture that has developed on this list. If it is a general
        > phenomenon for followers of Fukuoka I don't know. I hope not.
        >
        > Sincelery
        > Anders
        >
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • La Clarine Farm
        Hi Anders, I cannot speak for Dieter & Raju, but here s my two cents worth... Sorry if it seems like you are the recipient of some aggression! I think that
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 20, 2008
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          Hi Anders,

          I cannot speak for Dieter & Raju, but here's my two cents' worth...

          Sorry if it seems like you are the recipient of some aggression! I
          think that sometimes that is the failing of the written word. I see
          most of this discussion centering on a philosophical choice - to compost
          or not. But of course, in real life, it is not so simple. I would love
          to be able to completely so away with compost making, but my climate
          does not allow for it. I still make compost piles (and still use the BD
          preps in them!) in the drier months, but whenever I can, I prefer to
          scatter my stable bedding directly in the field. This works wonderfully
          in the wetter months, combined with mowing, but would be stupid in the
          heat of our summers.
          Absolutism seems to arise in any discussion on any subject. Its hard
          for us humans to perceive of so many possibilities simultaneously, so we
          tend to narrow our thoughts down to 1 or 2 choices. I think NF is about
          expanding these possibilities, all with a goal towards being as natural
          as possible. This too was Steiner's goal ("never stray from the realm
          of the living"), though Steiner's answer was a bit more interventionist
          than Fukuoka's. Also, the movement that grew up around Steiner's
          lectures seems to be quite structured at its core.
          There is also a danger in taking things too literally (fundamentalism),
          something that the NF movement, as well as the BD movement, has been
          guilty of. But again, both icons of these philosophies have
          written/said that we need to experiment and find out what works in our
          own particular situations. A simple request that has given rise to at
          least two interesting discussion lists, don't you think?
          Continue on in your journey to find a system that works for you,
          Anders. That is the best that any of us can do. In the end, who cares
          what its called, anyway?

          Best,

          Hank


          Anders Skarlind wrote:
          >
          > Hello Dieter and Raju
          >
          > Before I go into some of all the details in the correspondence with
          > you, I would like to explain a few things and set some things straight.
          >
          > I didn't say that your or Fukuoka's growing system is wrong in any
          > way. Neither is it my opinion. To the contrary I think it is
          > fantastic that something like this is possible, at least under some
          > conditions.
          >
          > I didn't say that biodynamics is better than natural farming. BD may
          > be more suitable in my climate, or more developed in the details
          > here, but I know of no trials that compare them and I haven't
          > systematically done that myself so I cannot tell. Also as I said
          > before I can in principle see no reason why they cannot be combined.
          > There is in principle nothing in BD that says that the soil has to be
          > tilled.
          >
          > I have criticised Fukuoka (as he comes forth in disputable editions
          > that might not do him justice) for saying that composting is useless.
          > This is a general statement that I think goes too far and might
          > define NF too narrowly, or making the road to NF more difficult than
          > necessary. I am not sure he intended this statement to be generalised
          > world-wide. Further I am not criticising him nor anyone else in NF
          > for not making or using compost in his/your own farm. This is his and
          > your business and if you can do fine without it, very well, so be it.
          > (This may also indicate that your growing conditions are quite good.)
          >
          > I have the following practical problem with NF: neither I nor anyone
          > I know of have successfully applied NF in my part of the world
          > (Northern Europe) or in similar climate. A few I know of have tried
          > but not been successful. Karri Varpio in Finland perhaps had a
          > partial success, as he reported here some time ago. But he has not
          > followed up on that AFAIK, and a friend of mine made similar trial
          > without success. Therefore it is my opinion that sofar noone knows
          > what NF is or could be in my part of the world, because noone has
          > worked that out.
          >
          > The place where I have been growing the longest has poorly drained
          > clay soil. Raju wrote sometime ago that NF needs well-drained soil. I
          > suppose he is right, even though Fukuoka gives one rotation for more
          > or less swampy conditions in The Natural Way of Farming. However the
          > plants he suggested cannot grow here (if I rememeber correctly). The
          > poor drainage is caused by two factors. One is that this is low-lying
          > level land, an old seabottom. The maximum drainage depth I can acieve
          > is about one meter, and for this I need ditches. This is not optimal
          > but not so bad either. However the ditches have just barely reached
          > this depth, and the soil just gradually adapts to it, which is a slow
          > but beneficial process.The other factor is that many years ago I
          > unwisely tilled this soil too much. Worst was rototilling a couple of
          > times. Before that it had a fair structure. Now structure is
          > improving again. I perceive that BD compost is one of the main
          > factors in this. I haven't measured OM content, but I don't think it
          > is so bad. And of course I return everything, plus haul in some from
          > the bordering ley. So Dieter's explanation is wrong.
          >
          > This further handicaps my ability to find a way implement NF here. I
          > find that I have to work the soil about once per year, else it will
          > get too compact, due to poor drainage. I also consider it better then
          > to turn the soil, to incorporate plant residues somewhat deeper.
          > Roots don't go so deep o this soil, you see. If this soil is left to
          > itself it will just get worse.
          >
          > In fact this soil and location is not suitable for a kitchen garden,
          > but it is the best option I have at this homestead. However I hope to
          > be able to try NF -or something similar- on better soil soon.
          >
          > So instead of going straight ahead with NF (whatever NF would be in
          > Sweden) I am working along on my own route. As I said my principal
          > goal is to find my own way to grow healthy crops in partnership with
          > nature. NF is an inspiration for me. I partake here to learn
          > something, and part of my way of learning is to point out and discuss
          > what I think are inconsistencies and things that seem to contradict
          > my experience and knowledge. However it is possible that the kind of
          > discussion I have been contributing to here lately is not
          > constructive for this list or for NF. I very well understand that
          > farmers who work with NF where it is more practicable than here,
          > needs a forum for discussing the practical questions they encouter in
          > their work. This is not the least a complication with world-wide
          > list, when the implemantation of NF is different in different locations.
          >
          > On the other hand, I must say that you people I have been discussing
          > with here lately on composting etc (Dieter, Raju and also Hank) seems
          > like you cannot read what I am writing whenever I am criticising some
          > of your favourite ideas, but instead you start to accuse me for
          > saying a lot of things I didn't say. (See my other emails, and this
          > one too, for lots of details on that.) There is too much of "if you
          > are not with us you are against us"-logic in the reactions I get
          > here. I don't find that inspiring. I thought this list had improved,
          > and perhaps it has, but at its core, it is the same. You are not my
          > bunch of people, that's for sure. And that has nothing with NF or not
          > to do, and nothing with Fukuoka either. It is about a particular
          > culture that has developed on this list. If it is a general
          > phenomenon for followers of Fukuoka I don't know. I hope not.
          >
          > Sincelery
          > Anders
          >
          >
        • Jeff
          ... I suppose he is right, even though Fukuoka gives one rotation for more or less swampy conditions in The Natural Way of Farming. However the plants he
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 20, 2008
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            > The place where I have been growing the longest has poorly drained
            > clay soil. Raju wrote sometime ago that NF needs well-drained soil.
            I > suppose he is right, even though Fukuoka gives one rotation for
            more > or less swampy conditions in The Natural Way of Farming.
            However the > plants he suggested cannot grow here (if I rememeber
            correctly). The > poor drainage is caused by two factors. One is that
            this is low-lying > level land, an old sabottom. The maximum drainage
            depth I can acieve > is about one meter, and for this I need ditches.
            This is not optimal > but not so bad either. However the ditches have
            just barely reached > this depth, and the soil just gradually adapts
            to it, which is a slow > but beneficial process.The other factor is
            that many years ago I > unwisely tilled this soil too much. Worst was
            rototilling a couple of > times. Before that it had a fair structure.

            I too have a very very similar situation....
            Heavy Clay- poorly drained... the area I live in was a gigantic
            glacial lake for hudreds of years, the landscape is completely flat ,
            and the water table is close to the surface, hear I have 2-4 feet
            depending on seasonal conditions....

            I think the water table problem is something tropic people have a hard
            time concieving.

            As for roots- Bob Monie uses SWITCH Grass...
            although in a much warmer climate... the water table there is in parts
            close to the soil as well (just a foot or so above actuall sea level
            and near the giant river the sMississippi

            This plant grows here too, (warms summers 70-90 F) and bitter cold
            winters -35 to -40.....

            I know that when in college, this plant was used to stablize river
            banks too, and that the roots had good penetration there, even though
            they had seasonal water tables of 12-18 inches (30-45cm)....

            I plan to give this a try to help loosen the soil..
            also on my list to try (I'm just getting started)
            are diakon radishes and possibly chickory

            and just for the record ditches for drainage are
            a VERY VERY VERY bad idea.. I'll cover that topic when I have more time.

            I also ahve problems with spring time mulch in that it delays planting
            time 2-3 weeks becasue of lower soil temps, which in my short season
            is unacceptable...
            this winter I'm experimenting with tempary removal of mulch for the
            spring season.

            None of the traditional gardeners use mulch in this area....
          • Dieter Brand
            ... That is often mentioned as reason for not mulching. But isn t that more a problem in farming than in gardening? I have no way of telling just how big a
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 21, 2008
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              >I also ahve problems with spring time mulch in that it
              >delays planting time 2-3 weeks becasue of lower soil
              >temps, which in my short season is unacceptable...
              >this winter I'm experimenting with tempary removal of
              >mulch for the spring season.

              That is often mentioned as reason for not mulching. But isn't that
              more a problem in farming than in gardening? I have no way of telling
              just how big a problem it is, but there must be ways to work around
              it, if you want to mulch that is.
              - How about a packing of horse manure at the right moment; that may
              warm the soil.
              - Another method consists of feeding the soil with a thick layer of
              kitchen scraps, mulch, etc. in fall. I don't know if the stuff will
              actually decompose in the cold or under snow, anyway according to that
              source, when pulling the mulch aside in spring the soil looks really
              good and ready for planting without any fertilizers. This person has
              grown vegetables in this way for years in a cold region. This may not
              directly address the problem of delayed warming, but it seems like to
              good way of taking advantage of the cold season during which nothing
              will grow.
              - Use transplants instead of direct seeding.
              - If the mulch delays warming in spring would it not also delay
              cooling or freezing in fall?
              - The cold has the advantage that you can kill a cover crop by
              freezing. This is not directly related to mulching, but could be a
              feature in a continuous cropping rotation à la Fukuoka for cold
              regions. How about selecting a cover crop for late summer that will
              withstand light frost, this may extend the time in which your soil can
              be active.
              - Alternately you could grow a crop à la Bonfils in late summer that
              will go dormant during the winter and start growing again first thing
              in the spring.

              Just some ideas, can't test them where I live.

              >None of the traditional gardeners use mulch in this area....

              As far as I know, traditional Western farming does not use mulching.
              There is the frijolo tapado in Latin America which is somewhat
              similar, but I think mulched gardens are probably a fairly recent
              affair. They are certainly not used where I live.

              Dieter Brand
              Portugal
            • Jeff
              thanks for the suggestions, comments below I have no way of telling just how big a problem it is, but there must be ways to work around it, if you want to
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 21, 2008
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                thanks for the suggestions, comments below


                I have no way of telling just how big a problem it is, but there must
                be ways to work around it, if you want to mulch that is.


                The soil freezes 3-4 feet down in the winter (1m+)
                It un-thaws, shaded areas will have frost at 6 inches (15 cm)until
                early june, .. mulch thin mulch it's about the same, ith thicker mulch
                it will be another week. Normal planting for peas and cold hardy is
                may 7 and may 21 for the rest of the crop


                > - Another method consists of feeding the soil with a thick layer of
                > kitchen scraps, mulch, etc. in fall. I don't know if the stuff will
                > actually decompose in the cold or under snow, anyway according to
                that source, when pulling the mulch aside in spring the soil looks
                really good and ready for planting without any fertilizers. This
                person has grown vegetables in this way for years in a cold region.

                This is what Im' trying with straw mulch this year...


                > - Use transplants instead of direct seeding.
                I transplant cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, brocoli already...

                > - If the mulch delays warming in spring would it not also delay
                > cooling or freezing in fall?

                No it does lessen the depth for frost by about a foot (30cm)
                but the factor in the fall is the killing frost
                typically Sept 15, but lately has been first week of oct.

                > - The cold has the advantage that you can kill a cover crop by
                > freezing. This is not directly related to mulching, but could be a
                > feature in a continuous cropping rotation à la Fukuoka for cold
                > regions. How about selecting a cover crop for late summer that will
                > withstand light frost, this may extend the time in which your soil can
                > be active.
                > - Alternately you could grow a crop à la Bonfils in late summer that
                > will go dormant during the winter and start growing again first thing
                > in the spring.
                >

                Its questionable whether bonfils adapted wheat can survive the winter
                hear... even modern, super cold hardy winter wheats are just
                begginging to show up.. and they only have 0-80% survival..depending
                on snow cover..

                > Just some ideas, can't test them where I live.
                >
                > >None of the traditional gardeners use mulch in this area....
                >
                > As far as I know, traditional Western farming does not use mulching.
                > There is the frijolo tapado in Latin America which is somewhat
                > similar, but I think mulched gardens are probably a fairly recent
                > affair. They are certainly not used where I live.
                >
                > Dieter Brand
                > Portugal
                >
              • Dieter Brand
                Yes, that does sound cold. Perhaps my climate has advantages after all. ... I may have mentioned this before, but it is quite interesting to experiment with
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 21, 2008
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                  Yes, that does sound cold. Perhaps my climate has advantages after all.

                  >This is what Im' trying with straw mulch this year...

                  I may have mentioned this before, but it is quite interesting to
                  experiment with different types of mulch. I used to compost most
                  stuff, but now I just spread everything in the garden. Especially
                  kitchen scraps, spoiled fruits, etc. are very useful. I don't want to
                  make a science out of it, but somehow kitchen scraps seem to have more
                  "substance" that protects the soil better then straw which is lighter.
                  Especially during the summer, the vegetable and fruit residues, which
                  are mainly water, maintain soil moisture better than straw. I
                  usually cover everything with straw, shredded branches etc. to protect
                  it from the sun. When I pull the straw aside, the kitchen scraps are
                  teaming with earthworms and other animals, they have a real feast.
                  The author who recommends this method (in German) considers that we
                  ought to "feed our soil only with the finest and that shi* is no good
                  for that purpose". Well, I wouldn't go so far as to exclude manure,
                  but the two years I have been using this method have shown very good
                  results. This is also the method used by many Natural Farmers in
                  Japan. If I don't transplant through the mulch, I usually sow seeds
                  on the ground, cover with kitchen scraps, then cover with straw etc.
                  One needs to use large seeds like beans, corn, pumpkin, lupines, etc.
                  or they won't grow through the double layer of mulch. At present most
                  of my garden (and some fields) are covered with broad beans and
                  lupines that have grown through such a layer of kitchen scraps and
                  mulch, which means the soil is simultaneously enriched via the surface
                  and via the roots of the cover crops. Hopefully, this will allow me
                  to grow next year's summer crop without compost, manure, etc.

                  Dieter Brand
                  Portugal


                  On 12/21/08, Jeff <shultonus@...> wrote:
                  > thanks for the suggestions, comments below
                  >
                  >
                  > I have no way of telling just how big a problem it is, but there must
                  > be ways to work around it, if you want to mulch that is.
                  >
                  >
                  > The soil freezes 3-4 feet down in the winter (1m+)
                  > It un-thaws, shaded areas will have frost at 6 inches (15 cm)until
                  > early june, .. mulch thin mulch it's about the same, ith thicker mulch
                  > it will be another week. Normal planting for peas and cold hardy is
                  > may 7 and may 21 for the rest of the crop
                  >
                  >
                  >> - Another method consists of feeding the soil with a thick layer of
                  >> kitchen scraps, mulch, etc. in fall. I don't know if the stuff will
                  >> actually decompose in the cold or under snow, anyway according to
                  > that source, when pulling the mulch aside in spring the soil looks
                  > really good and ready for planting without any fertilizers. This
                  > person has grown vegetables in this way for years in a cold region.
                  >
                  > This is what Im' trying with straw mulch this year...
                  >
                  >
                  >> - Use transplants instead of direct seeding.
                  > I transplant cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, brocoli already...
                  >
                  >> - If the mulch delays warming in spring would it not also delay
                  >> cooling or freezing in fall?
                  >
                  > No it does lessen the depth for frost by about a foot (30cm)
                  > but the factor in the fall is the killing frost
                  > typically Sept 15, but lately has been first week of oct.
                  >
                  >> - The cold has the advantage that you can kill a cover crop by
                  >> freezing. This is not directly related to mulching, but could be a
                  >> feature in a continuous cropping rotation à la Fukuoka for cold
                  >> regions. How about selecting a cover crop for late summer that will
                  >> withstand light frost, this may extend the time in which your soil can
                  >> be active.
                  >> - Alternately you could grow a crop à la Bonfils in late summer that
                  >> will go dormant during the winter and start growing again first thing
                  >> in the spring.
                  >>
                  >
                  > Its questionable whether bonfils adapted wheat can survive the winter
                  > hear... even modern, super cold hardy winter wheats are just
                  > begginging to show up.. and they only have 0-80% survival..depending
                  > on snow cover..
                  >
                  >> Just some ideas, can't test them where I live.
                  >>
                  >> >None of the traditional gardeners use mulch in this area....
                  >>
                  >> As far as I know, traditional Western farming does not use mulching.
                  >> There is the frijolo tapado in Latin America which is somewhat
                  >> similar, but I think mulched gardens are probably a fairly recent
                  >> affair. They are certainly not used where I live.
                  >>
                  >> Dieter Brand
                  >> Portugal
                  >>
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Steven McCollough
                  Jeff, I have a cold glacial soil and the restrictions of a cold winter season. The limiting factors above all others is inadequate temperature and light.
                  Message 8 of 9 , Dec 22, 2008
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                    Jeff,

                    I have a cold glacial soil and the restrictions of a cold winter
                    season. The limiting factors above all others is inadequate temperature
                    and light. What has worked best for me so far is to have as complete an
                    air space insulation as possible going into winter. The bed that will
                    get used first is so heavily covered that the ground sometimes doesn't
                    freeze or it thaws out weeks before similar areas. The first bed is
                    always raked of cover to expose the soil to the sun. I use my wood
                    ashes to hasten the melting of snow.

                    What I would really like to accomplish is to build an insulating
                    micro-climate with multiple layers of cover. First plant burdock to
                    send thick organic shafts into the clay soil and strong supporting
                    shafts into the air. Second plant winter grain and harvest only the
                    heads leaving the stalks in place every year. I think the combination
                    of strong support and grain stems or switch grass would provide the
                    ideal environment to capture fall leaves and the wandering winter snow
                    capping the area with a thick blanket of insulation. In the spring the
                    mulch would be open enough to allow light and air to penetrate and begin
                    warming. After a few years of this sort of treatment with the
                    additional decomposition heat, maybe you could keep the soil warmer than
                    otherwise.

                    In combination it would be nice if the crops blended with this
                    scenario. Some two year crops brassica's? carrots? can grow well
                    mulched over the winter, as well as winter grains. The late season
                    crops can have single purpose holes opened a few feet around to warm the
                    soil.

                    Jeff wrote:
                    >
                    > thanks for the suggestions, comments below
                    >
                    >
                  • Dieter Brand
                    Jeff, Steven, et. al, A layer of ice will protect from the cold. For example, if you spray your vinyl tunnels or greenhouses with water when it starts to
                    Message 9 of 9 , Dec 23, 2008
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                      Jeff, Steven, et. al,

                      A layer of ice will protect from the cold. For example, if you spray
                      your vinyl tunnels or greenhouses with water when it starts to freeze
                      the ice forming on the vinyl will protect the inside of the greenhouse
                      from the cold.

                      I would try to find a material that has a high water content to spread
                      on the soil. For example, I have a lot of Madrone berries that I
                      don't eat. When I spread them on the soil they form a compact layer
                      because of their small size. Soaking them in water for a while before
                      spreading or compacting them lightly could further increase this
                      effect. Perhaps you can find something similar locally, it may prove
                      more advantageous than straw.

                      In my case, I cover the fresh green stuff with a layer of straw to
                      protect from the sun. In your case, it may be advantageous to inverse
                      the layers. A layer of straw and air between the soil and a frozen
                      layer of high-water content organic material could provide further
                      protection from the cold.

                      Alternately, you could try a spongy plastic material soaked with
                      water. That may not comply with NF orthodoxy, but in a frozen soil
                      there is probably not much of a gas exchange with the atmosphere
                      anyways. However, when it melts, an organic material will certainly
                      be more advantageous to the soil than plastic.

                      Dieter Brand
                      Portugal
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