• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Corn & Comfrey Large scale polyculture ?

 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Im considering planting comfrey densly bettween rows of corn on a large scale has anyone tryed this?
I'm hoping that I can phase out all the plowing and cultivation with this idea. I currantly plow twice and cultivate twice which is realy bad I know.
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh so the Idea would be to cut the comfrey 4 or 5 times with a v shape machine that pushes it up toward the corn rows. I hope you can visualise what I maen.
 
duane hennon
gardener
Pie
Posts: 662
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


hi jeff,

what/ how would you plant the following year? the comfrey will be there.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1010
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From what I know, you're supposed to plant comfrey like you mean it. It's gonna be there a long time and if you touch it, it spreads.

Borage is in the same family, is not perennial but reseeds if you want it, and (i suppose) can be crowded out. Might be a better option. Probably has some of the same properties.

Another option is clover.
http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/0009.pdf

Another, more traditional cover crop guide:
http://mysare.sare.org/publications/covercrops/covercrops.pdf

I think the best thing is to be diverse in the choice of plants. One plant can't do everything for you, just like there is no magic bullet.

Buckwheat is nice. It depends on what your objectives are, I suppose.
William
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
what are you wanting the comfrey to do for you?
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would use a hand held seed drill (see food forest foundation on Facebook). And perhaps do a vertical tillage to slow the comfrey down.
The problem with other cover crops is that they die from frost and drought in winter. 2100m altitude is harsh even in the tropics.
Anyway I'll revive this post in a few years if it works out for me. I don't have mega $ to do all kinds of experiments, Hairy vetch has failed already but dose well in my pasture gaqrden.
 
Brian Bales
Posts: 90
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Why not use the 3 sisters? I just don't see something like corn suviving competition with comfrey.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1010
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If the objective is to keep ground cover and "till" the soil without turning it, just use root vegetables in the fall. Forage carrots are easy to come by. Daikons can go down even farther if the soil isn't heavy. Yellow clover has long roots that die and create hummus.

You could do pretty well with those, even if you kept tilling for a bit and then stopped when the soil was fluffy and filled with your organic material inputs.

Yeah, and Three sisters, Poly crop.
Sun traps to keep things warmer and the root vegetables would get water from down deep, so drought might be mitigated. Ponds/Dew ponds?
William
 
                              
Posts: 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Corn wants lots of nitrogen, I would focus on designing a polyculture of fertility plants, heavy on taller nitrogen fixers you could easily cut down with your "V" for mulching the corn.  maybe one or two comfrey per row to accumulate other nutrients, and plant one fertility row per five rows of corn, as to have a nice solid block of corn, and the fertility plants wont take over the field.  I think tilling comfrey would spread it make sure to cut it down before it sets seed.
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm sorry we are doing the three sisters already on the land in question, I'm working on additions to that. But I must say that for squash to produce well I would have to plant the corn more sparsly. Thank you. I guess I'll Keep trying stuff but man crop failure is getting expensive.
Sucks to corn anyway I've reduced my production due do lack of profit. Bio Diversefied agroforestry is where the $ is.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1010
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Corn is one of those things that should be seriously scaled back. Fine for a small plot for your kitchen, not so fine for large acreage. Like potatoes, it is really dependent on humans cultivating it. It really seems that corn is getting the better part of this relationship, if you ask me.


Sucks to corn anyway I've reduced my production due do lack of profit. Bio Diversefied agroforestry is where the $ is.


Good thinking.
William
 
Brian Bales
Posts: 90
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What kind of production are you looking to meet? Corn is such a cheap item these days I could not imagine it being profitable for a small scale operation. At any rate comfrey probably is not the best fit for corn.
 
Larry Heidkamp
Posts: 8
Location: Columbia, TN
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just finished reading 'Organic No-Till Farming' by Jeff Moyer.  Jeff was the farm manager at the Rodale Institute and was looking for a successful no-till organic system.

The system in a nutshell is to use cover crops to supress weeds and then roll the cover crop to kill it just before it goes to seed.  The primary crop is then planted into the rolled cover crop residue using a no-till drill.  The cover crop residue acts as a thick mulch to supress weeds while the primary crop is getting established and provides organic matter to the field as it decomposes.  A succession of primary and cover crops are planted to keep the time the field is bare to a minimum.

It is mostly experimental in the US, but similar systems are used extensively in parts of South America.

It sounds like what you are trying to do without introducing an agressive plant like comfrey into the fields.

Larry
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ya I've seen a vidio of that being done in India, it has been hard to find things that will grow during the dry cold season there. I've got 2 species of chenepodium that can grow in winter and a plant I call puebla yellow flower in winter plant.
 
Jeff Hodgins
Posts: 193
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well I said I would revive this post so here goes. I've stopped thinking of comfrey and have the medeteranian equivalent acanthus mollis. Along with canna Lilly. The canna Lilly or some other wild Lilly called " platanillo spanish for little banana" is said to be good for corn. The wild stands are cut and then sprayed with weedkiller periodically while the corn is growing.

My method is to just cut cut cut. Un fortunately they don't ocure naturally here so I'm planting my own. I'm not using it for corn because I don't grow that anymore. I use it around trees and other plants tall enough not to get killed by mulch. It spreads slowly so it can be maintained in rows or clumps between crop rows or beds. I like working in circles, no pun intended lol, you could have a platanillo patch at center with some chayotes in it. Around that some trees and Napier grass. I mulch the smaller weeds out and leave the canna patch unmulched for regrowth. Sometimes I dice the canna trunks so they don't get in the way if I try to weed later

Acanthus m could possibly harm your plants if used as mulch so be careful. That said, its herbicide affect may kill more weeds. And it's soft so no choping up. Another plus is that it's not very tall so big plants can't be shaded out by it, canna is tall up to 9 feet. Acanthus will crowd your plants out if you don't cut it often.
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic