Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Bok choy in heat
- Hi Jeff,
I have been planning to read Mikhail's book but stilll haven't had time. From what I've seen, he has a few ideas long known to landscapers and organic gardeners such as composting, green manuring, and amending with gypsum and other slow-decomposing organic/mineral materials. Like most business promoters, he tends to make too much of his "discoveries" and oversells his products, including soil testing. If you want to compost, green manure, and use organic additives, I think Steve Solomon's advice in "Gardening When It Really Counts" is probably just as useful and much less expensive.
Mikhail does seem to stress soil texture more, but I am not convinced from reading a few short articles about his methods that he either 1) understands soil stucture the way masters like Robert Ellis and Newman Turner did, or 2) that he is really up the latest theories of what makes soil "tick"; ie, glomalin aggregation. Soil texture or cohesion certainly is a major component of fertility, because soil has to be both "open" to moisture and air and also "connected" enough for microbes to adhere to it and the roots of the plants. No doubt communication systems at the root level require some kind of connectivity between soil particles, root hairs, associated bacteria and fungal hyphae for nutrient exchange and symbiotic processes to occur. This could not happen either in completely compacted soil or in a disconnected atomistic pile of soil powder particles.
Pro landscapers know the value of naturally textured ("hairy" if you will) materials like peat moss and coir fiber. These are quite coherent materials, unified in a matrix yet not so densely packed as to block moisture and air. The common landscape blend of peat and/or coir, along with vermiculine and perlite is a very intelligent (if artificial and perhaps unsustainable) matrix for growing, often preferable to the "natural" soil in the area.
When some of the old "ley" masters selected hairy-rooted grasses for their pastures, they intended the fibrous roots of the plants to transform the soil from clay or compaction on the one hand or sandy powder on the other, to a natural peat and coir-like texture. This transformation takes some very powerful fibrous root mass and several years to occur. The favorite plant of both Ellis and Turner, right at the top of their "wish" list for a ley was Dactylis glomerata orchard grass. The roots of this grass form a network that glues or agglomerates soil particles to it without binding them too tightly. My Vetiver work in somewhat the same way. So does Indian grass and switch grass, and so does crested wheatgrass (which hs recently been shown to raise glomalin levels markedly). Mikhail seems to be aware of some of this but rather vaguely. He doesn't see either the connection of fibrous root mass to soil texture as clearly as Ellis and Turner did or
the way that things like crested wheatgrass and switchgrass increase glomlin nearly enough to please me. But maybe I need to read his book.
When I do, I'll have more to say.
New Orleans, LA
--- On Sat, 4/11/09, Jeff <shultonus@...> wrote:
From: Jeff <shultonus@...>
Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Bok choy in heat
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009, 9:48 PM
I was wondering what you could tell me about
\the Mikhail system of soil management
I ran across it on the web the other day...
It appears to be a recent Austrailian/ semi-holistic
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