There is a sheer iron resistance to the idea that farming can be done without heavy machinery. Hundreds of horse powers are out their on our fields. And people have completely lost confidence that it can be done otherwise.
However, maintaining a healthy garden gets down to *one simple method*called “chop and drop”.
Yes, we favor certain plants and crops over others that we call weeds. But it is a serious mistake to try to quantitatively remove those plants we have decided to call weeds. There is a much more simple, efficient and appropriate method than removing weeds with shoots and roots or even poisoning them with herbicides. We gotta change attitude and rather think positive of our crop than being afraid of the weed. You want to concentrate on taking care of your favorite crop, while you chop and prune *some* of the other plants that otherwise prevent your crop from fully developing. There is thus no waste of any of the nutrients that had been taken up by the weeds. At the contrary: The weeds have - for the time of their own development - accumulated nutrients that are subsequently released for the benefit of you r crop. Roots that remain in the soil decay - or at least partly decay, and enter the cycle of natural soil building right at the spot. And the arial parts of the weed, when dropped at the place, cover the soil, preserve soil moisture and also contribute to the soil building.
There is thus no lasting or serious competition for nutrients, because surface composting and root pruning recycle the nutrients to the system in favor of your favorite crops. If you don't interfere in the garden, *then*it turns wild. Then eventually there is competition for nutrients and light, and certain plants take advantage. Then a succession sets in towards a climax vegetation typical for the particular climatic region. Proper gardening, however, is maintaining a young and open fruit forest. Pruning and chopping is necessary *and* sufficient to manage and maintain this stage for many decades.
Undisturbed soil is extremely potent in recycling organic matter. All the soil organisms needed for cycling are right in place. This is one reason why it takes a couple of years of transition when you change your practice from digging and tilling to a permanent non-dig garden. The soil fauna has to develop and reach its natural balance. Once you approach this balance, managing becomes easier and easier.
There is no real need to prepare compost other than composting directly on the surface. You may want to use larger patches of nutrient accumulating plants, such as comfrey <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey>, for surface composting at another place with the aid to translocate nutrients. But this is a soft and sensitive method which keeps pace with natural cycling for the system, allowing the system to proceed in its most productive form.
People often argue that slugs then take over and harm the cultures. But this is just another temporary problem, until things get into balance again. Firstly, slugs do not particularly go after your crop. They also eat what you chop and drop and thereby assist the composting process. Secondly, the slugs will be followed by their predators such as toads controlling their population. Ducks are an excellent garden keeper too eating the slugs and providing you with eggs. Every problem has a natural solution. No artificial measure can do a better job than inviting the natural predators into your system. Using poison will only address one problem for a short period of time while at the same time removing the basis for survival of the natural predators, pushing the system out of balance.
Modern agriculture is a synthetic product. It is hard to understand for many, how to get out of the system. It necessarily requires some time and you may encouter a temporary break down of yield until nature gets back into balance. But yields recover, and takes over far beyond what can be done with a synthetic system. We cannot rely on a single crop anyway. So why not growing a rich mixture of crops together. Monocultures are only practical for the machinery we emply to cultivate them, but neither appropriate for us or nature. Mixed permanent cultures are far more productive and healthy.
Natural farming is about bringing back the natural players into balance. Once this is achieved, gardening becomes the easiest task ever. It is no more than chop and drop, chop and drop, chop …. and drop.
I rackon, once the physical primary work is done, I can manage 2 hectares and maintain them in a state of a paradies just as a single guard, while enjoying plenty of leasure time.
Bloom where you are planted.
Location: North Central Michigan
posted 7 years ago
went to the link but oops I don't know how to translate on my computer..
Bloom where you are planted.
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
posted 7 years ago
Brenda Groth wrote: went to the link but oops I don't know how to translate on my computer..
Thomas Jahn is a member of the permaculture list where he posted the original of this article. He said that the site is Danish but they try to post in English sometimes. They are trying to reach and motivate Danes thus need to use a language they are comfortable with and can use to build their community and promote the concept of home, urban and community gardening for free food.
There are also many good external links there too, see especially the one to the new Seedballs site, a replacement for the original Jim Bones' Seedballs site, which was the best site for that topic for a long time.
I am modifying the original post to include more links to no till and seedballs. I received the following link from the Fukuoka Farming list; this is a real delight to me as I like the type of lifestyle depicted in the four page photo gallery:
fruit production, no till agriculture, seedballs, simple/frugal lifestyle
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3rd November, 2011 "Packed with helpful hints and detailed explanation, The Fruit Tree Handbook is a must-read for ‘top fruit’ enthusiasts, says Andy McKee
If you’ve ever thought about turning an unproductive grassy area into an orchard and then quietly filed it away under 'wouldn't know where to start', it may be time for a rethink. The Fruit Tree Handbook is fairly hefty for a paperback but fruit growing is a big topic and deserves the space. All too often 'top fruit' [apples, pears, plums etc] is relegated to a couple of chapters in a general fruit book, losing out to the easy virtues of strawberries and other soft fruit. Given such cramped conditions, it's small wonder that people get confused about pollination so a well-written specialist book like this one is a welcome addition to my bookshelf.
The author, Ben Pike, is the head gardener of Sharpham Estate in Devon, which contains 150 fruit trees. This is a man who clearly knows his subject inside out, and isn't afraid to take a pragmatic approach. As such, he advocates eco-friendly but effective measures rather than trying to be strictly organic. He keeps his tone light and friendly, especially in the more technical sections. In the pruning chapter for instance, he reassures the reader that it is very likely that their trees will not look like the ones ‘in the book’ (and for that one statement, Mr. Pike, I am almost pathetically grateful). The aim of the book is to be useful for novice growers as well as more experienced types, and on the whole, Pike pulls it off admirably.
The Fruit Tree Handbook covers everything you'd hope to find in a dedicated top fruit book, with chapters on choosing, buying and planting trees as well as a dedicated section for each type of fruit. Pollination groups are explained clearly, and there are some welcome surprises too, such as a chapter covering much neglected quinces, medlars and mulberries in reasonable depth. There's also a chapter on dealing with rootstocks (often a source of mystification to new growers) but I was particularly impressed with the chapters on planning new orchards, renovating old ones and starting a community orchard. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to find them, given that the author runs Orchard Link - an organisation dedicated to saving and promoting small orchards."