I live in the high desert (zone 7) and just pulled out all the weed trees and weeds out of my back yard. My plan is to create an edible landscape/garden. Now I realize that I should have just let the weeds stay until I can work on that part of the yard. Also being new to permaculture I didn't realize the value of weeds as communicators of what is going on in the soil. The question is do I let the weeds take over once again on the fallow areas as I work on a small part or do I do something to manipulate these fallow areas for the future?
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 9 years ago
I would probably want to put in a good cover crop mix. Some type of clover for the nitrogen fixing, mixed with winter rye or buckwheat. By spring time, you will have a lot of green manure to incorporate into your desert soil.
In nature, the soil is almost always covered, be it prairie grass, the duff layer of a forest or a thick undergrowth of weeds and wilderness. Stuff WANTS to grow, it just needs a perch. You've put in the effort of clearing out the weeds, letting them come back means that effort is lost. Covering the soil is critical, lest the roots and remains be lost to dehydration and exposure to the sun.
1] covering the soil with mulch/leaves/compost/dead weeds
2] spending a little more time establishing a living cover crop as Polk talked about. Legumes will give you a boost. Just plain old grass will give you something you can use.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
If it is a small enough area to mulch then cover it with mulch as deep as you can over winter and in spring sow a diversity of cover crop seeds with as many as possible nitrogen fixers in the mix where you intend to grow your food garden. Also plant a few hardy pioneer nitrogen fixoing bushes and fast growing trees where you intend to plant you food forest and plant you fruit fruit tree mix at the same time if you can.
Thank you all for the suggestions Messirs Polk, Peavey and Lawton. I will apply mulch and in the spring nitrogen fixing seeds, bushes (now I have to do my homework) and think through the fruit tree. I have some dead leaves and can get a bunch from my neighbors. I also have some peat moss in the garage though our soil here is alkaline. I was not looking forward to the weed removal again so your suggestions are more stewardship than labor.
posted 9 years ago
I forgot to add that I will put in the rye/buckwheat this Autumn for the area I will be working on in the Spring as the first part of my implementation plan - Thanks Mr. Polk.
posted 9 years ago
Okay, so I went out after work today and measured the land. The dimensions are 135' by 37.8' and on one side 30.3' because the house is L shaped. I also put a call into the County Extension to see if they could tell me about pioneer nitrogen fixing bushes. My question is: by pioneer do we mean native? That is my assumption but thought I should ask before they call back.
From what I know, a pioneer can be native or non-native. It's just an agressive, early succession plant that you can plant a lot of in the beginning, since in the end their numbers will be thinned out by natural succession.
I bought a variety of seeds to begin my permaculture yard, but I missed the cut-off, so I have to wait until spring to plant them. The first thing I bought was Mullein after watching Paul's video on it. I'm doing a large section on my back fence with comfrey as I think that will be a real boost to my new compost bin in helping me produce better soil (ours is clay and dust with garbage from the busy road----needs a lot of help). I'm doing away with the grass that is mostly weeds by planting clover, so I can have some nice soil in the future if I decide to bed some or all of that area. I also want to bring bugs into this dead area so I bought a lot of flowers that I can use for tea, essential oils and such as well. Echinacea, chammomile, mint, lavender, aster, poppy, wormwood and yarrow. I looked at my horrible soil and the light differences on my property and read plant descriptions until I found some that looked like they could survive here.
The rest of the areas I have that have been cared for in the past will get some vegetables and such as I am preparing those areas with wet leaves over the winter. It's not much of a start, but I think the idea for the first two years of my project is to get as much biomass in here as possible. Once I chop and drop most of what I have I should be able to grow something on this soil other than bermuda grass and plastic bags. I have a couple of sections that I am buying organic soil for as a base for beginning fruit producers as they will need a bit of time to develop and can't wait the years of soil-building. I should only need 5 bags to get that project done, so the cost will be minimal.
A very brief explanation of the large plans I have for this lot, but I hope it helps you to get a sense of where others are in their beginning stages. I am in the dust bowl area, so I think you might have a bit more fertile land than me. Hopefully it goes well for you and takes off quickly. Good luck!!
posted 8 years ago
William and Lori - Very helpful information and now I need to get busy.
Common Weeds And Wild Edibles Of The World (HD video)