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Neven

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How to resuscitate a dead field
« on: April 21, 2013, 11:27:55 AM »
A couple of months ago my family and I bought a plot of land that's about 2700 m2 big (2/3 acre). The plot of land has been used for agriculture for quite a while (mostly corn) and it looked terrible when we bought it. The stumps of the corn were still sticking out and it looked like one of those military cemeteries. Then the farmer came and ploughed the whole field, which made it look like Verdun. It made it extra difficult to convince my wife that we had to buy it. "It's like a handicapped dog from the dog pound. We have to adopt it. Just squint, honey, and imagine how green it will be in a couple of years."

About that greening: the farmer will come one more time to smooth the field. It will then look more like a desert (cemetery -> Verdun -> desert), and my wife and I have been thinking about what to do next. We're thinking about sowing clover to get some nitrogen fixed, then we'll build our house and next year we'll start our garden and plant some trees.

But maybe there's another way. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips?

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ivica

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 11:37:29 AM »
Uh, pesticides are maybe down to 70+ cm below top...
Mulch, mulch, and ... mulch.
Get earthworms back, and other life forms.
Pray for the best :-)

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2013, 12:25:01 PM »
Hello Neven,
I did post about Sepp Holzer ! Did you got that (Krameterhof, Salzburg) ?
http://www.krameterhof.at/cms60/index.php?id=5
http://www.permaculture.at/
He should not be so far away from you ! Try to a one week course on permaculture it would give you some practical ideas before doing anything. Plan to let a lot of space to work out your house. I have heard that is courses are expensive but I am sure that you can find some other people around.
First you need to plan what do you want in 5 years and start by planting the trees that you wish or if you don't have much money to buy the trees try that :
!
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sepp+holzer&oq=sepp&gs_l=youtube.1.0.0l10.847.1627.0.4298.4.4.0.0.0.0.168.565.0j4.4.0...0.0...1ac.1.OVw5nMDcj8I

JimD

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2013, 06:00:20 PM »
Hi Neven,

As I have mentioned in other threads I used to own and operate an organic farm (in Virginia).  I am not sure of the climate at your location so keep in mind that all answers have local constraints.

I like your idea of planting clover (use 2 year clover - this is important as you do not want it going to seed before you turn it under!).  Let the clover grow for an entire year and then take it down in the spring of the 2nd year when seed heads start to form (you MUST take it down before seeds are mature or all you are doing is planting it again).  What the farmer is doing is fine in your case.  If you can, get him to plant the clover for you when he disks the field that would be smart.  If you can also get him to run a subsoiler (breaks up compaction caused by the farmer running the heavy farm equipment over the fields) that would be helpful.  If he can't or has a reason it does not need to be done that is ok.  It is not critical for you.  Once you have the clover planted the best thing to do is get a high quality soil test performed (don't worry about getting a test for organic matter percentage as we already know it is going to suck).  BTW the clover will make a BIG change in your organic matter as it will put out thousands of lbs of roots for you that will also break up the soil.  If possible, when it is time to eliminate the clover have the farmer grind the clover up to be used as green manure (you grind it up and disk it into the soil) as this will also add lots of organic matter and nutrients to the soil. This process with the clover will dramatically raise your organic matter in the soil, add lots of nitrogen, break up the soil and help eliminate chemicals used by the farmer.  All good.  It also lets the soil rest for a year and helps the worms and other organisms that should be there start to reestablish themselves.  Keep in mind that it will take a few years for the soil productivity to  recover.  Maybe up to five if it is in real bad shape.  Be patient.

Did I mention that the farmer is your FRIEND and you should go out of your way to become a good country neighbor with him as he will be invaluable to you and you can sometimes help him.  This is important stuff and should not be let slide.  It will pay big dividends over time.

I am assuming that where you live the local government provides advise for farmers on soil nutrient requirements.  If not, find someone to help you interpret your soil test results.  It is highly likely that you will need to add various micronutrients, possibly adjust the soil pH, etc. Get advise as you can do a lot of harm yourself if you do not know what you are doing.  Some things like boron are essential but also lethal to plants if you get the  concentrations to high.  If you are focused on using organic methods then you will need to do some study as that restricts what kind of soil amendments you are allowed to use.  As soon as you move in start making compost from all your vegetable waste as you will need it.  If you are going to have chickens (a good idea if you can) they will help make you great fertilizer for the garden.  Your neighbor farmer might allow you to get some of his animal manure if he likes you as well (they sometimes have more than they can use).

It never hurts in your situation to start a small garden right away, but I would caution you to start small with easy to grow vegetables that are your favorite to eat and learn your soil, climate and build your skills.  Most people starting out burn themselves out quickly as they have no idea the amount of work even a small garden entails if the goal is to provide meaningful food production (weeding drives off most beginning gardeners after one year).  Don't forget that, unless you are only interested in fresh food eating, you have to preserve what you are growing for winter consumption.  That is a lot of work also and requires an important skill set all of its own.  I don't know if you intend to try and grow all of your own food (this will be almost a full time job if you have a wife and kids), but I doubt it giving how busy you seem to be.  If most of the property will not be used as a garden I would also think about some nut and fruit trees as well as berry bushes.  Lots of food production there and low maintenance.

I probably over did it but if you have any questions fire away.  BTW a great book for beginning gardeners is 'Square Foot Gardening' by Bartholomew?  It is not a giant tome that buries you in so much detail that you cannot figure out what to do, but it has all the essentials.  Keep it fun and learn at first.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2013, 07:04:12 PM »
Thanks for the tip, Laurent. I've already heard of Sepp Holzer (watched a couple of documentaries on him some years back), but never went to the Krameterhof. He's doing some interesting stuff, but he also gets criticized quite a bit over here in Austria, mostly because a lot of the stuff he does involves heavy machinery and terraforming. It's not entirely fair to folks like Mollison and Holmgren to call it permaculture, but it's coming close.

One other problem with his techniques is that they work best in his region in the Alps. The region where I'm living in Austria, southeast of the Alps, is quite different. Some years back there was a woman - who lives maybe 15 km from where I'm going to build my house - who wanted to leave the city and start a permaculture farm. She convinced Holzer to help her out. he come over with his machines and started terraforming the whole place. Two things happened: 1) Soils over here are very loamy , very different from what Holzer was used to, 2) There's much less rainfall here than what Holzer was used to. And his reconstruction was followed by two very bad summers. Or so I've understood from someone who was somewhat involved with the whole project.

Anyway, not entirely due to him - the woman also had financial problems and was a bit too enthusiastic about rural life - the whole thing was a fiasco. They're still in court, I believe, with her suing him for the damages. Messy stuff.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 10:13:08 PM »
Neven, Corn is a heavy feeder so it is a fairly good sign your soil choice was good. I currently farm 10 acres and I would support everything JimD suggested. I would suggest you plan any tree planting so as to protect your southern exposure, plant trees on your northern property if possible. You might also want to think about preparing an area close to your house pad for salads and easy access. It doesn't need to be very large but something a few steps away from your back door helps ensure everyone in your family easy access. I know you are going to be busy with your house first but you might consider a small hoop house with roll-up sides later on.Early or late frost can really traumatize your gardening efforts. There are also organic ground covers now available that can really cut back on time spent weeding. They are fairly fragile compared to plastic so you will need to keep pets and large animals off of it or it will get holes in it that weeds will grow through. I get sheets of cardboard and use them like stepping stones to walk or kneel upon while working between rows. You might also consider an herbal planting,something with very small white flowers to attract beneficial insects.     

Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 10:43:35 PM »
JimD, thanks a lot for the thorough answer!

Quote
What the farmer is doing is fine in your case.  If you can, get him to plant the clover for you when he disks the field that would be smart.  If you can also get him to run a subsoiler (breaks up compaction caused by the farmer running the heavy farm equipment over the fields) that would be helpful.
OK, I'll ask about that.

Quote
Once you have the clover planted the best thing to do is get a high quality soil test performed (don't worry about getting a test for organic matter percentage as we already know it is going to suck).
Check.

Quote
If possible, when it is time to eliminate the clover have the farmer grind the clover up to be used as green manure (you grind it up and disk it into the soil) as this will also add lots of organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
If all goes well, our house will be standing in the middle of the plot next year, so I don't know if a tractor can work around that. But it sounds good, of course. The whole idea is to do something now that will be beneficial for increased biomass later on.

Quote
Keep in mind that it will take a few years for the soil productivity to  recover.  Maybe up to five if it is in real bad shape.  Be patient.
Definitely. But we have time, as we're going to start out small anyway.

Quote
If you are focused on using organic methods then you will need to do some study as that restricts what kind of soil amendments you are allowed to use.
I've been reading a bit over the years, but this will definitely merit more study. I have a friend who's a hardcore anthroposophist. He said he'd help me with some of that stuff they make to enhance soil fertility.

Quote
As soon as you move in start making compost from all your vegetable waste as you will need it.  If you are going to have chickens (a good idea if you can) they will help make you great fertilizer for the garden.
We've just installed an old compost bin on one corner of the plot. I'm reading a book on compost toilets and will incorporate it in our design, if it's the last thing I'll do.

Chickens are also part of the plan, which is why we bought a slightly larger plot of land, so that they can free range. And my daughter is adamant we set up a worm farm.

Quote
It never hurts in your situation to start a small garden right away, but I would caution you to start small with easy to grow vegetables that are your favorite to eat and learn your soil, climate and build your skills.
Absolutely. We had a small garden behind our rental place in the past two years where we experimented a bit (on weak soil) and met friends like slugs, weeds and all kinds of little bugs. We're definitely starting small and then try to expand a bit more every year. My expectations are low, but I hope that the whole family will develop a passion for it, and that one day we'll produce half of what we eat.

Quote
Don't forget that, unless you are only interested in fresh food eating, you have to preserve what you are growing for winter consumption.  That is a lot of work also and requires an important skill set all of its own.
My wife has been fermenting a lot in the past two years, and we'll probably build a root cellar next year, or the year after that.

Quote
If most of the property will not be used as a garden I would also think about some nut and fruit trees as well as berry bushes.  Lots of food production there and low maintenance.
Absolutely. This is one of the first things we'll hopefully do next year.

Quote
BTW a great book for beginning gardeners is 'Square Foot Gardening' by Bartholomew?
Thanks for the tip. I have several books here from the US as well as Germany. Books like The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book, The New Organic Grower and Gaia's Garden (which I particularly liked).

In fact, I have a whole library full of books, but at some point theory needs to be expanded with practice.  ::)

Again, thanks a lot for all the tips, JimD!
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Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 11:09:27 PM »
Neven, Corn is a heavy feeder so it is a fairly good sign your soil choice was good.
Yes, the soil should be not too bad around these parts. In fact, according to maps this region should be one of the most fertile in Europe. That probably explains why every square centimetre is planted with corn for pigs.

But we managed to save those two thirds of an acre, and will probably try to buy more in the future for all those young families that are going to need it. All part of the resistance movement.  :)

Quote
You might also want to think about preparing an area close to your house pad for salads and easy access. It doesn't need to be very large but something a few steps away from your back door helps ensure everyone in your family easy access. I know you are going to be busy with your house first but you might consider a small hoop house with roll-up sides later on.

I'm planning a 200 square foot greenhouse on the south side of the house, but will probably build it next year.

Quote
You might also consider an herbal planting,something with very small white flowers to attract beneficial insects.

I have a book for that too! It's in German and called The Insect Hotel.  :D

A part of the roof will be a green roof and there will of course plant all kinds of herbs that attracts bees and ladybugs and whatnot.

Thanks, Bruce!
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Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 05:01:13 AM »
Neven

For maximum benefit you need to build your soils up as much as possible. Clover and other green manure crops, anything nitrogen fixing - grow it then mow it back in. Spread animal manure, although watch out for weed seeds particularly in horse manure. Try to plant some deep rooting crops - comfrey if it will work in your climate. Including some wood chips or charcoal can be good if you compensate for the nutrients they need - dig them through and they help create structure to the soil. AllThis will help re-establish soil bacteria and worms. Then once it is established, minimal digging except in intensively cultivated beds.

And in everything you do, every source you use for input materials, watch out for weed seeds.

With worm farming, that's good - you can use the worm castings and liquid as fertiliser. However the species of worms suitable for worm farming aren't the same species you need to establish as worms in the soil - although they will be good chicken feed.

With keeping chicken. A lot depends on how many you intend to stock. A few over a large area is good. More intensively and they can denude the ground. And letting them completely free-range and they might start hanging around the back-door waiting for scraps. You can use mobile pens so you move them from patch to patch without any one point getting over worked.

And you HAVE to protect them from foxes, weasels etc. Some animals take just 1 bird, but ferrets and others of that family will kill them all. So a secure hutch at night.

Artful Dodger

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2013, 08:21:34 AM »
Hi Neven,

Another great topic, excellent comments everyone! HIGHLY motivational!

Here's the Sub Acre Farming & (Sub)Urban Homesteading reading list.

All the Best!
Cheers!
Lodger

Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2013, 10:56:25 AM »
Quote
Another great topic, excellent comments everyone! HIGHLY motivational!

Hopefully there'll be more of that here in years to come. Unfortunately, it's all theory with me for now. I'm looking forward to and am slightly apprehensive about putting it all into practice. And there is so much info out there! So many books, blogs, website, Youtube vids. Amazing... It's a shame I'm too busy working, looking at sea ice, and planning for the house.

Thanks for your link. They have a very good recommended reading list. Totally agree with what they say here:

"Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture
written by Toby Hemenway, this is literally the book that inspired me to do everything on this blog. Extremely accessible, yet thorough enough that I continue to reference it to this day, 5 years later. If you only read one book on permaculture, this is the one!"

Quote
For maximum benefit you need to build your soils up as much as possible. Clover and other green manure crops, anything nitrogen fixing - grow it then mow it back in. Spread animal manure, although watch out for weed seeds particularly in horse manure. Try to plant some deep rooting crops - comfrey if it will work in your climate. Including some wood chips or charcoal can be good if you compensate for the nutrients they need - dig them through and they help create structure to the soil. AllThis will help re-establish soil bacteria and worms. Then once it is established, minimal digging except in intensively cultivated beds.

Thanks, Glenn.

I'm working on the clover right now, and will find a way to mow it back in next year. Next year we'll also plant some fruit and nut trees and bushes, and get a small vegetable garden going through sheet mulching or some such. We'll also plan on preparing the stuff you recommend for the year after that, so we can plant some bulk food like potatoes. The rest of the plot will take care of itself.

Quote
With keeping chicken. A lot depends on how many you intend to stock. A few over a large area is good. More intensively and they can denude the ground. And letting them completely free-range and they might start hanging around the back-door waiting for scraps. You can use mobile pens so you move them from patch to patch without any one point getting over worked.

We plan (in theory) to have around 20-25 chicken. According to a book I read each chicken needs around 25 m2 of open space for foraging without desertifying the whole place. That's good, because we'll have 500-750 m2 behind the house for them, that we'll probably divide into 2-3 parts.

Quote
And you HAVE to protect them from foxes, weasels etc. Some animals take just 1 bird, but ferrets and others of that family will kill them all. So a secure hutch at night.

Yes, definitely. We're not far from the woods, and there are plenty birds of prey flying around, like buzzards. Luckily there are a couple of hobby chicken owners in the village, so I can ask them for advice (and get that social thing going that's so desperately needed, without all the consumer customs that are currently dominating social interactions).

I'll let you know how it goes and post some pictures soon. It's looking horrible right now, but we're going to change that.  :)
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Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2013, 11:01:01 AM »
BTW, Lodger, the site you linked to also has a page on rebuilding soil. A bit too American to my taste though, bringing in tonnes of compost and other biomass. I don't find it that easy over here. Municipal compost is made of organic matter from households in containers that get picked up every week. But there are a lot of people that throw in plastic and metals, etc (our previous neighbour was a horror in this regard; as soon as one container for paper or plastics was full, she'd continue throwing her waste in the container for Biomüll).

I tried that compost once, but after sifting out the tenth piece of styrofoam and plastic, I gave up. Didn't smell good either, but cheap as dirt of course.

I do have one or two organic cow farmers in the neighbourhood, so will ask there for dung.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 12:05:06 PM by Neven »
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Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2013, 11:14:33 AM »
I am trying this year to establish a farm.
There would be lines of trees space by different lenght from 3 to 5 meters.
The trees will be cut at 2 to 2,5 meters and the material will be drop on the spot in between trees there will be comfrey and other little trees, same shop and drop on the middle of the row where the cultivation will occur.

It seems there is 3 types of worms, in a land field you find :
- worms that move vertically from the surface to 1 or 2 meter.
Annélide oligochète (lombric), the most common in our european field
- worms that move horizontaly
(White worms)
- worms that stay on the surface, we find in dunghill, i have order some to go in my worm box (they should arrive tomorow).
 

Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2013, 04:44:18 PM »
Glenn and Laurent , I know comfrey can make for some good compost but I would avoid it none the less. If you have to there is a nonseeding version( bocking 45 ? ) that will save you a pile of work later. Comfrey is about impossible to control once established. I farm 10 acres solo ,no pesticides ,no herbicides. Weedy plants with deep or spreading root systems mean big trouble. I'm totally into green manure crops and I use field peas + fava beans during our wet season and incorporate it each spring a couple weeks before planting season. Morning glory, kudzu , bamboo,ragweed, crabgrass and comfrey are all what I call work that never ends ! I have worn the metal down on enough shovels so they become weak and flexible ,then crack, while digging at leftovers from other peoples plantings.  Try to avoid making work for yourselves and find a plant for your composting that is a little less trouble because chances are the weeds will find you on their own.  Sorry if this sounds preachy, gardening can become a chore without end if you let it . It can also be very enjoyable if properly planned.

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2013, 08:05:59 PM »
These permaculture guy are crasy !

Personally I really like to eat comfrey, it is very good in fritter, they mentioned tea (I'll try).
I respect your doing of removing the comfrey, I did put some comfrey in my garden last year and it is doing well no bother of spreading right now !

Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2013, 01:03:07 AM »
Cool video, Laurent! It starts with Toby Hemenway, the writer of Gaia's Garden. Here's an interesting presentation of him explaining agriculture vs horticulture:

I remember reading about how comfrey (Beinwell in German) is great for fertilizing teas, that also help protect plants. I think I can also find a corner for stinging nettles on our plot, another good fertilizer.

I understand now why Bruce isn't a fan of comfrey as tilling the ground where it's in, can cause an epidemic. But perhaps it's different/more controllable in a no-till garden? I guess that's what those Permies folks are saying.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2013, 05:09:26 AM »
Neven , I watched the video and I'll break with my own  advice and plant some sterile ( non-seeding comfrey) under part of my orchard, where I don't till.  I do depend on my rototiller and you busted me there. I did notice the you-tube Laurent posted had the comfrey planted in a rock pile.  My tiller would be useless under those conditions. If my tiller was electric and I charged it with solar i.e. Very low carbon footprint would I be a gardener or a farmer?  Amaranth is a weed around here called pigweed, the black seeds ground in a small coffee grinder make for some great brownies... No wheat flour, still need chocolate. Wish me luck on the comfrey experiment.

Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2013, 07:33:16 AM »
Another thought. Are you planning on keeping roosters as well? How close are your neighbours? That way you can get a supply of new chickens. But you have to be willing to cull the the young roosters. One tip I have heard is that roosters crow more when they don't have many hens - looking for more mates perhaps. So if you intend to keep roosters, keep their numbers low. Possibly just one for 20-25 hens - keep the boys busy.

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2013, 10:34:27 PM »
Neven, I'm so impressed that you have a daughter who wants to have a worm farm! I did it for a couple of winters while the three-bin composting system was young (http://www.10in10diet.com/three-bin-composting.php ) and the garden's soil was nothing but sandy gravelly crap. We're lucky to have lots of trees from which to gather fall leaves for the 'brown' layers, a swamp to get organic goop from and lots of weeds for the green (fire) layers. Gradually our beds are getting a bit higher and richer. We're going into the fifth year of veggie gardening now. We're sixty plus and the things I feel best about are perennials. You can dump in some really good soil, even if you have to buy a load and your asparagus trench or your berry row is good for quite a while. Rhubarb is such good food – vegetables for haters of boiled or canned veggies and you eat canned sauce as dessert! We put lots of urine on the rhubarb patch and it thrives. Then a pile of finished compost in fall. Last summer I cast some red clover seeds on the bed under the sunflowers. It's a perennial that can be harvested continually as  'green fire' for your compost. And the pink flowers make great tea.

My approach after reading a couple of books and attending one or two free workshops was to just do as much as I could stand in the way I could stand. It's so disheartening to watch weeds take over a bed that's been planted with high expectations according to some highfalutin Plan. I think of weeding (with my Lee Valley scuffling hoe) as a thing I do while I'm observing today's new growth. It's like brushing a pet.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 10:40:24 PM by Lynn Shwadchuck »
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

TerryM

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2013, 06:02:41 PM »
Lynn


Hope you're aware that worms are an invasive species in Ontario, and are damaging our forests.


I grew up thinking worms were wonderful and only a few years ago walked a forested area south of Sudbury with a biologist who pointed out the damage being done. When you see exposed roots apparently it's worms that are responsible. - Sorry no links


Terry

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2013, 04:20:00 AM »
Terry, I did hear that worms are not indigenous to North America. They speed up the decomposition of the forest floor, removing water-retaining mulch and gobbling nutrients. Our non fiction book club read an interesting analysis of how the whole world has been all mixed up since Columbus. Charles Mann, 1493. Not sure, but I think he covered earthworms.
http://www.amazon.com/1493-Uncovering-Columbus-Created-ebook/dp/B004G606EY
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2013, 01:10:34 AM »
I encourage you to subscribe to Geoff Lawton site :
http://geofflawton.com/
You will find is last video on urban permaculture very interesting !
here an other one with the same guy (Angelo)

This will work in a city but everywhere else, same latitude of course we will use different species in France (damned frost).

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2013, 01:04:55 PM »
An Indian planted trees to avoid a disaster and it works !



This is a fiction written by the French writer Jean Giono (1895-1970) but as seen above the reality meet the fiction.


Just in case you have some doubts that growing trees affect global warming in a positive manner :


Clare

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2013, 12:14:48 PM »
I too have enjoyed all the great advice & info for Neven on this thread.
Including JimD's wise comment about establishing relationships with the locals!
We now have well etablished networks with friends, colleagues & their friends, where we share our surplus. (And they theirs, not necesarily food stuffs either.)
 
Currently it is Feijoas (pineapple guavas in USA),  & our 2 trees are producing=dropping 10-15kg a day. Since Easter. Too much for us to cope within spite of winemaking, jam, freezing them, luckily everyone around here adores this fruit so I've been delivering them by the bucketload. In exchange just this week we have been given a nice trout (=2 dinners worth), 1kg of wild mushrooms, a dozen farm eggs, 3 avocados, jars of jam & chutney, candy....there's no need to try & produce everything you need!

My garden suggestions are more for the near future, like now! I know when we first moved here 30 years ago we were mad keen to get growing even something that first season. So I'm imagining Neven's "Girls" may be keen to get going growing something asap.
I do agree not starting with too much in cultivation to begin with (advice I did not heed back then!), say just one bed for starters, just 1x2metres. While you have so much else going on. And this doesn't even need to be in the final location of the garden, just for the short term.
With intensive planting (as in Square Foot Gardening & perhaps a climbing frame to go up vertically with climbers on one side) you can get good yields & variety v quickly.

I realise fertility is the main issue & so suggest considering direct 'trenching' rather than composting in a bin just for starting getting going? That way you are getting some biological (even just microbial) activity underway immediately in situ & really, because it is a 'cold process', should be able to plant seedlings (or eg. pea seeds) in on top quite soon after the scraps/waste/manure are buried.

The other suggestion I have comes from an article in this month's NZ Gardener magazine, which I will email a scan of to Neven cos it is quite nicely & amusingly written. Basically the idea is to confine a few chickens in a pen/coop over the site of where the plot is to be. Again I'm just guessing that Neven's "Girls" may also be keen to at least get a few chickens right now too?!
I understand this is a 'permaculture technique' where the chickens pick over & till the patch for you, with additional scraps/food given to them on the site. In just a few weeks they will have given it a good going over, and manured it as well, helping increase the fertility v quickly.

Clare


Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2013, 01:07:33 PM »
Short update: I've befriended the farmer. I said to him: "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship", but I'm not sure if he's ever seen Casablanca:



 ;)

He leveled the plot and it now looks something like this, from the southeast entrance of the plot looking northwest:



From the north looking southwest:



From the north looking south:



From the north looking west (with the worm farmer in blue):



I'm still trying to sort out what we're going to plant, but I think we'll go for a clover-alfalfa mix and do one third of the plot with phacelia which is a good bee plant. It's not hugely important as half of the plot will be turned over for the building process, but we still want to sow something. If only for the kicks.  ;)
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2013, 06:19:51 PM »
What a pretty village, Neven! Here in eastern Ontario we're obsessively watching the weather radar for any rain and fine tuning the system that feeds our 8 rain barrels. Not looking very good...
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

ghoti

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2013, 08:24:24 PM »
Seconded. I just added new 120l trash can to my rain collection series (all dry now). Stood out in the sprinkles last night not getting wet  :-[

Hoping for thunderstorms this afternoon!

Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2013, 11:02:33 PM »
It can get pretty dry up here as well, so I feel for you guys. In fact, drought is the thing I 'fear' the most. I hope I get enough time to learn to cope with that. When looking for a place to live I was a bit hesitant to move too close the Mediterranean Basin as they say it's going to become like North Africa in the coming decades. We lived North of the Alps for a while and I figured it was a good place, but alas, it was too expensive and we didn't really fit in with the Bavarian mentality (Catholicism infused with Consumerism).

I've been doing a lot of thinking about rainwater harvesting, and we're probably going to install a 2000 gallon concrete tank. Perhaps we should go for a bigger one. The thing is that I don't know if it makes much sense given the size of our roof and everything. But we'll also create a pond, and we're probably going to install a grey water recycling system (illegally) next year.

And of course a lot of mulching in the garden, and using special watering tubes.

I'm not sure if that will be enough though. Maybe we should plant a cactus or two, just in case.  ;)
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

Clare

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2013, 03:37:42 AM »

What a beaut BIG field, Neven. I think you are going to be very busy for more than just your summer.
The Wormfarmer looks like she is enjoying having all that space to leap around in.
But I think you will need to consider a change of avatar:
http://www.van-gogh-on-canvas.com/prod221.htm (sorry cant manage to insert this pic just now hence the link)
Our drought has just recently been broken, luckily this year our town didn't need to impose garden water restrictions tho' I was ready with bags & bags of our shredded mulch. Now our community just has to resist the overtures by oil companies wanting to frack for oil using the (beautiful quality) water drawn from the huge artesian reservoir beneath us here. At a time of high unemployment etc.....? :(

Clare

johnm33

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2013, 10:46:20 AM »
Since you're going to have a pond why not a dew pond, http://www.rexresearch.com/dewpond/dewpond.htm, air wells are good too but perhaps not needed where you are http://www.rexresearch.com/airwells/airwells.htm. Instead of concrete you should consider a ferrocement water storage tank, http://www.permies.com/t/18872/rainwater/Ferrocement-water-tank-resources and last when your ready to plough in the clover and replant why not add some quarry dust to remineralise the areas set aside for crops http://prorev.com/dust.htm

Neven

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2013, 11:09:00 AM »
Thanks for the tips, Johnm33, especially about the dew ponds (although I'm not sure that would work over here in Austria, but will look into it).

Last week we sowed the phacelia and I'm really curious to see whether the seeds will sprout and take root, as the field surface is as hard as a rock. I tried to loosen the soil with a rake, but you could forget about that. This field has been plowed and used as a corn substrate for many years.

We did sow a day before some average rainfall, so hopefully some of the phacelia shoots up. After the rain a very thin green shine is visible on the rest of the field, because nature clearly abhors a vacuum, rock hard surface or no rock hard surface. We'll have to see what stuff exactly comes up. Although we will sow the clover-alfalfa mix tomorrow on the other 3/4 of the field. This will probably be easier to sprout and take root.
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

ggelsrinc

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2013, 03:15:49 PM »
A couple of months ago my family and I bought a plot of land that's about 2700 m2 big (2/3 acre). The plot of land has been used for agriculture for quite a while (mostly corn) and it looked terrible when we bought it. The stumps of the corn were still sticking out and it looked like one of those military cemeteries. Then the farmer came and ploughed the whole field, which made it look like Verdun. It made it extra difficult to convince my wife that we had to buy it. "It's like a handicapped dog from the dog pound. We have to adopt it. Just squint, honey, and imagine how green it will be in a couple of years."

About that greening: the farmer will come one more time to smooth the field. It will then look more like a desert (cemetery -> Verdun -> desert), and my wife and I have been thinking about what to do next. We're thinking about sowing clover to get some nitrogen fixed, then we'll build our house and next year we'll start our garden and plant some trees.

But maybe there's another way. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips?

I'd try to get better information about the past crop history. Was that land used to just plant no till corn or did they do the corn-soybean/winter wheat crop rotation? No till corn is good for preventing erosion, but causes the soil to compact. Clover will provide nitrogen, but someone was adding nitrogen to that corn or it wouldn't grow properly. If corn was grown over many seasons, that ground could need humus more than nitrogen and a farmer would have tested the soil before investing to make corn. Annual rye, which is a traditional winter cover crop, will give you the humus and aerate the soil. In my area, perennial rye is the favorite choice for lawns, but the seeds are much more expensive than annual rye. If I wanted the land for lawn and gardening, I'd avoid clover and plant grass. Grass that lacks nitrogen is more yellow than dark green nitrogen rich grass and it isn't that hard or expensive to get nitrogen. You can bag and compost that much grass to make an excellent garden however large you want. Even if you develop half that area in ways other than lawn, you will need a riding mower to keep up with that much grass for compost.   

I'd say rule number one is plant something you want or mother nature will make the choice for you and it won't be what you want. It feels a lot better working the land than having the land work you. I agree with making decisions about trees as early as possible with good planning.   

JimD

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2013, 04:51:38 PM »
Neven,

Another little item on fall/winter cover crops.  If you have the time I would find a couple of small scale market gardeners in your area (I am assuming there are such where you live) to discuss this issue with them and find out what cover crops they are using and why.  A lot of people just assume that using winter rye is the right thing to do and this is often not the case depending on what you want to grow the next season.  For instance when I was running my organic farm in No. Virginia I used winter rye my first fall.  I realized in the spring what a bad idea it had been.  The problem you will run into if you are trying to grow seasonal vegetables to sell is that rye locks up your fields when you need to be planting vegetables in the ground.  Rye, being a grass, really does not want to die until it has set its seeds.  So you end up having to either tills the rye under 2-3 times to kill it (really not good for the soil)o r you have to wait for seed formation.  This can restrict access to the field with rye in it for 5 weeks or more.  Really impactful on your operation.  Once I got to know a number of other small vegetable farmers it turned out that a lot of them had stories about making this mistake.   A far better choice for fall/winter cover (for either gardeners or famers) when you want access to the ground as early as possible is a mix of field peas and oats.  This mix provides all the essentials you need.  IT hols the soil overt he winter, provides some nitrogen, lots of organic matter and, best of all, it winter kills.  In the spring you have a nice mat of dead organic matter then ground (And lots of roots) that is easy to turn under or to plant right through. 

I assume you know about crop rotations and how this impacts your yields.  This applies even to gardening and cover crops. There is nothing wrong with using several different cover crops even in a large garden to make your plantings of different vegetables more productive the following season. To get the most out of your garden/farm (and to reduce needed inputs) you should have your rotations planned out several seasons in and advance.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2013, 06:47:20 AM »
Small electric tillers that can be recharged with solar are a step towards a no fossil fuel garden. I was happy to see the advertisement for a couple new one man electric garden tools in my "growing for market" food producers newsletter.aug. 2013.   
https://cartsandtools.com/
I hope everyones summer garden has been fruitful.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 04:06:13 PM by Bruce Steele »

Wernerempire

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2013, 09:56:59 AM »
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/pressreleases/2013/july/world-changing-technology-enables-crops-to-take-nitrogen-from-the-air-.aspx

Quote
Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil, and for most crops currently being grown across the world, this also means a reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.
Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonise all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant’s nitrogen needs.
"Erst kommt das fressen, dann kommt die Moral!"

Berthold Brecht

Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2013, 05:59:33 AM »
My post #33 was an advertisement, I don't think I am suppose to link advertisements. My new electric tiller arrived today and after a little assembly " tillie " and I did some seedbed cultivation , about 1'200 feet of work . I put in six 200' ft  rows of lettuce with a push seeder . The manufacture sent me this note about a solar cell powered version in prototype testing.
"  We will have solar panels arriving next week for a 36 volt

model for testing.  Once that is done, we can figure out an upgrade for you.

We are just getting started so any and all input from you will go a long way
to helping us to achieve our mission which is to make small market farmers
sustainable and profitable. "  

I'll be making field tests on the electric tiller and along with a batch or two of bio-diesel for the tractor 2014 will start a test run on energy inputs for ~ 4 tons of vegetable production and hopefully about $20,000 in sales. Those are rough numbers at this point educated by 10 years of farming .  So with a goal of  4 tons production and 20 grand in sales i intend on testing a zero fossil fuel goal for a small farm, existing technology and low cost...   
   ... Renewable Electricity for the well and farm also within reasonable costs if amortized over a few years...
There has been very little effort put into small scale farming technology for a very long time. Tillers , trashing machines , and out of the box nutrient systems need some engineering solutions well within our technological reach. Sustainability should have constraints of replication and  practicality .
Happy gardening     
 
 

Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #36 on: November 21, 2013, 04:26:11 AM »
I have been reading a book" The laws of physics are on my side " by Walter Haugen . It is about a documented effort at ultra low fuel use gardening/farming. He has chapters like "farming as if energy mattered" and carefully calculates food calories returned on energy(gas) invested.  EROI   

http://www.fafarm.org/Essays___Blogs.html

I linked to a electric tiller that I purchased earlier this year. The tiller works very nicely and it is pleasant tilling without any noise. Combining these electric tillers with methods discribed in Walters book should reduce energy inputs to bare bones. Walter gets an EROI over 3 , he does a lot by hand although he uses a gas tiller.  The company developing the electric tillers just announced a solar panel for charging the "tillie".  I will attempt to do an EROI with "tillie" and my farm production for a whole season next year.

 https://cartsandtools.com/a-big-electric-tiller-announcement-from-carts-and-tools/

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #37 on: November 21, 2013, 10:21:50 AM »
There is some experiment going on :
http://opensourceecology.org/
I am not fan they use to much steel...
http://farmhack.net/home/
Sound promising, better spirit !
I started to collect some "old" wheat with some people around here (few)!
Bruce the video you link made me laugh ! I tryed it already, but it is a very hard work.
Collecting and treating 4000 kg of grain like that...euuhh no !
The tyler is very small ! I would prefer something bigger and a no till technic much better ! (I still have a doubt about the carbon footprint of solar panel and batteries)

JimD

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #38 on: November 21, 2013, 03:48:03 PM »
Bruce & Laurent

You need to check out Open Source Ecology

http://opensourceecology.org/

This is one of the resources that could be essential to young folks trying to get started who have little in the way of capital.

You might find this worth taking a look at.  There is an organization which has been designing and putting out plans for various pieces of low cost farm equipment for free.

Quote
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that's only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).

Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing a set of blueprints for 50 farming tools that can be built cheaply from scratch. Call it a "civilization starter kit."

If you find this type of idea interesting there are many pages of different ideas and equipment designed with the goal of low cost and non-copyrighted information.  Well worth the read just to see what others are doing.

http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Marcin_Jakubowski

http://www.ted.com/talks/marcin_jakubowski.html

http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Factor_e_Farm_Tools

http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Tractors
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #39 on: November 21, 2013, 04:03:37 PM »
Oh! I forgot to mention that my wife and I are spending the day at a local organic farm.  During the market season here we found a young farming  couple selling at a local farmers market.  We got to talking to them about how long they had been farming and what they were selling and all that.  Sort of spying on them. 

We could tell that they did not know a lot of things that would make them more profitable so as the summer went on we would come by their stall and talk and drop items for them to think about which would help them get better at making money.  Over time they started to ask us lots of stuff and eventually they asked us if we would come by and evaluate their operation and provide them some advice and information.

We're pretty excited (it is  nice for old people to be useful).  Hopefully we can give them lots of ideas and information which will help them make a lot more money in the future.

It is interesting how different the farmers markets are here in our area as compared to Washington DC where we sold our produce at farmers markets.  Much less sophisticated here in terms of marketing, varieties, knowledge of what customers likes are and stuff like that. 

There were almost no heirloom tomatoes in our market this year.  Little from the onion family (onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, scallions, spring onions, scapes), hardly any potatoes, little selection in squash, limited selection of greens.  We have lots of questions about why that is.  The growing season here is comparable to southern central PA and only a little shorter than northern VA where we lived (but much cooler nights and slightly cooler days).  Soils are pretty sucky but that can be dealt with I think.  More later.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #40 on: November 21, 2013, 06:07:26 PM »
Laurent, I don't really know the imbedded costs of manufacture for the electric tiller or the batteries and solar panel. It is more powerful than it looks but it is for cultivating not heavy work like incorporating sod or cover crops. A vast majority of my time in the garden/farm is spent controlling weeds. I use 200' rows and maintain ~ 3 acres ( the rest fallowed , orchard, or trellised berries) by myself. Every row requires multiple passes with the tiller or the cultivating bars of my Kubota offset 245 H diesel. Every row also requires me crawling on my hands and knees hand pulling weeds ,three times per season,to close to the irrigation tape. I literally crawl miles and miles per season.
 I didn't own or use a rototiller for the 50+ years I gardened before I bought the farm. I remember an old farmer giving me a dollar to hand dig( shovel ) his garden when I was about eight. Gardening, hand digging,double digging, with shovels and hoes is doable on a 400 square foot garden but not on several acres. You can ramp up a hand maintained garden to about an acre if you hire someone to do the heavy tilling once a year.
 There is no till around here but it includes large doses of herbicides, the EROI ( energy return on investment ) is probably lower than your standard organic farm but.... Not for me. I guess I am a bit of a sloppy farmer, I have lots of weeds and I live with them. The birds love the weed seeds and most modern grain crops. I found a source for rare ancient wheat and tried the spring wheat varieties this year but the birds got most of it. Dinkel wheat was unscathed so it's a larger effort at dinkel wheat next year. The KUSA project has emmer, dinkel, einhorn, and about every wheat I have ever heard of. They are also expensive.
http://www.ancientcerealgrains.org/seedandliteraturecatalog1.html
 
 
 
   

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #41 on: November 21, 2013, 07:47:58 PM »
I can exchange some seeds if you want, I don't have much right now but if your asking for next year, what ever you want if it is in small quantities (for a 1 m2 (15g)) (you don't need much to start or just keep the genetic) !
I have plenty of other seeds (other than wheat) too !
I have plenty of "Red of Bordeaux" and a small quantity of others (4).

This link may be of some interest !
http://www.possible.org/videos/


Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #42 on: November 22, 2013, 07:53:05 AM »
Laurent, Thanks for the seed offer. Most of what I grow are heirlooms( 50+ years in seed catalogs ) and probably available where you are. I did develop one very large red onion that has been a been a good producer and seller. Soft ball size. Like I said the dinkel wheat gave me plenty of extra seed. Are the wheat seeds in the KUSA seed list available in Europe? It does take me some experimenting to identify what does well locally. I figure if something isn't noticeably better tasting than what's available at the grocery store it isn't really a successful effort.
 I did put up a greenhouse and planted hybrid tomatoes in it this year. I averaged 40 lbs. per plant which is much higher production than my field tomatoes produce. It is hard to do much worse than store bought tomatoes so they even passed the taste test.
 You are undoubtably better with these electronics than I and you can drop me a note via e-mail if you'd like. I wish I could someday visit France but I have signed off airplanes so it may be awhile till I could ever leave the farm long enough for a slow boat ride.
 Time to put in my cover crop and do a rain dance. Drought may mean running pumps all winter. Or maybe the rain dance will work.

JimD

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #43 on: November 22, 2013, 06:02:39 PM »
Bruce,

You can have half of our rain today as Arizona is getting flooded like crazy right now. 

On tomatoes: when we were farming and selling in the markets in all of our years we always won the taste tests - every time.  Even over other growers who were growing heirlooms.  There is a good reason for this and it may be why your hybrids in the greenhouse tasted better than the grocery store crap.

All industrial farming operations, whether organic or conventional, are required because of shipping and storage concerns to pick their tomatoes long before they are ripe.  In may case as soon as there is any color other than green.  This early picking guarantees that the flavor will not have had time to develop in the fruit.  Any fruit for which peak flavor is required must be picked as close to fully ripe as possible.   And you can't do that if it has to be shipped across the country or you want shelf life of a week or more.

We always had the best tasting tomatoes because we only picked tomatoes which were going to be ripe the next day at the market and others which could last up to 3 more days.  We trained our customers as to what we were doing and helped them pick out their tomatoes.   We would ask them when they were going to eat them and what they were using them for.  If they wanted tomatoes for eating more than 4 days out from the market we told them to buy from someone else who picked earlier than us but to understand that they would not taste as good. If they wanted tomatoes which would last for a week or more we told them to buy those at the grocery store as there was no sense in coming to a farmers market for second rate produce.

Hybrids which are picked for eating the next day often taste adequate and hybrid plants produce like gangbusters. 

One hybrid we actually evolved to exclusively was peppers.  Even though heirloom peppers taste better then the hybrids we found that the extremely large hybrid bells some 6-7 inches in diameter or 7-8 inches long just sold like there was no tomorrow. Sometimes you have to give the customer what they want.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #44 on: November 27, 2013, 05:54:21 PM »
I can exchange some seeds if you want, I don't have much right now but if your asking for next year, what ever you want if it is in small quantities (for a 1 m2 (15g)) (you don't need much to start or just keep the genetic) !
I have plenty of other seeds (other than wheat) too !
I have plenty of "Red of Bordeaux" and a small quantity of others (4).

This link may be of some interest !
http://www.possible.org/videos/

My understanding is that some seeds you need to breed as a group to maintain genetic strength - sweetcorn for instance - I understand you're supposed to have at least a block of 200 plants and ideally more? Given the drop off in seed viability over time (not too bad in the first year for sweetcorn) - I've done sweetcorn before, if you can call it that in the UK where it really only produced enough seed from year to year) that means best starting with more than 200 seeds.

Of course contamination during pollination is always a concern - both from industrial farming operations nearby and from wild plants (in some cases - more with other vegetables such as brassicas if memory serves).

Is it even possible to ship seeds France to USA without a fancy export license and a bunch of paperwork?

In Europe I recall the EU has massively damaged crop biodiversity by effectively almost outlawing heirloom seeds and crushing thousands of varieties into oblivion by requiring commercial operations to only produce or grow seeds on an "approved" list - expensive and paperwork intensive. When I was in the UK and growing heirloom stuff there - they got around the rules by charging a penny to be a member of their "seed club" so they weren't "selling to members of the public".

Such is the sad spirit of the modern world and such are the rules it is prudent and sensible to break.

Bruce Steele

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #45 on: December 10, 2013, 06:58:49 PM »
I started a crop of lettuce for an experiment in utilizing electric tillers as the only powered equipment
in a small scale farm effort. So with some light hoeing , some hand weeding and my Tillie Tiller I have just harvested my first picking. Six cases of baby romaine head lettuce about 200 heads,variety Little Gem. In the last few days since the first picking we have had four days in the low 20'sF.Although I thought I was going to relearn the leason about planting late fall crops to my surprise the lettuce is still O.K.  Cover crop is in , time to start tomatoes (and graft) for the spring greenhouse project. 
 Laurent and I have talked about the carbon footprint for people driving out to my farm stand so I am in the process of starting a Greenmarket ( farmers market ) in town, 3.5 miles away. Still going to keep farm stand going.
 I am selling one of my fishing permits to buy some solar panels. Tiller will be solar powered soon.
??? Doesn't Europe have the same access to heirloom seeds we have in the U.S.??? Many of our heirlooms are of  European origin. I mean they were developed there decades ago.     

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #46 on: December 10, 2013, 07:38:16 PM »
Doesn't Europe have the same access to heirloom seeds we have in the U.S.??? Many of our heirlooms are of  European origin. I mean they were developed there decades ago.   

This is just a little taste - just one more step in a continuing saga of oppression and increasingly ruthless domination by agri-business, particularly from the GM quarter:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2013/sep/26/eu-regulation-garden-plants

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-22395970

http://news.sciencemag.org/europe/2013/05/overhaul-e.u.-seed-regulations-triggers-protests

http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlaw2.html

In short, nothing less than the future food security of humanity is at risk. The seed companies want to create dependency - the same sort of thing as with hybrids where each year you must buy more seed (I do understand hybrids can also make commercial sense) - but all the more firmly rooted in legislation and backed by the might of the establishment controlled by the socioeconomic elites.

Not only does a great deal of biodiversity and hence potentially useful traits for future climatic conditions stand to be thoughtlessly discarded by this strategy but in the event of collapse it will become ferociously difficult to obtain seed that can be saved from plant to plant - even allowing that many people have the slightest clue how to do this (varies by plant) given the modern chains of dependency thrust upon even the farmers by the existing setup. Suppose the company that used to create and supply your seed is gone - swept away by violence, bankrupt, etc - then what?

People in the third world could be better off - presuming collapse occurs before they too are enchained by such legal processes, as for now I imagine they keep their own seed from each plant generation.

I suggest if you have European heirlooms in the US - and are still allowed to do so - that you treasure them. In fact even if you're not allowed to do so, I'd say one should absolutely defy this nonsense legislation, designed only for the short term interests of the major agricultural corporations vying to control humanities food supply...

Laurent

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #47 on: December 10, 2013, 08:39:10 PM »
Yes, same problem in France. Last week the senat agreed to pass a law that will put in jail every gardener and professional who cultivate his own seeds...
(fr) http://www.cyberacteurs.org/cyberactions/stop-etouffement-paysans-706.html
Politics are mad... we have to change this system, some people propose to elect our politics by choosing randomly throught the population, of course there would be some safe guard...
If you wish some links here is 2 if you want more just ask !
(fr) http://www.fermedesaintemarthe.com/
(fr) http://www.biaugerme.com/
I tryed to do everything manually as much as possible but it is too difficult, I will try to create my own fuel to see how it goes...
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 07:48:25 PM by Laurent »

sidd

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #48 on: December 11, 2013, 07:25:52 AM »
Re:Create fuel

not so hard. look at journeytoforever.org for biodiesel instruction

i have been doin for some years now. feedstock usually turns out to be a problem. so we grow our own seed too and press seed into oil an meal. meal goes to neighbours for livestock feed. oil goes to restaurants. then we collect used oil from restaurants. and make biodiesel.

lotsa fun. dont breathe the methanol. dont make sparks when you have hot methanol. be prepared to flee in all directions.

sidd

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Re: How to resuscitate a dead field
« Reply #49 on: December 11, 2013, 06:13:13 PM »
I suggest if you have European heirlooms in the US - and are still allowed to do so - that you treasure them. In fact even if you're not allowed to do so, I'd say one should absolutely defy this nonsense legislation, designed only for the short term interests of the major agricultural corporations vying to control humanities food supply...

Maybe time to put up a few of these, just in case?  ???

http://www.non-hybrid-seeds.com/survivalseedvault.html