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1000 m2 of phragmites

 
Daniel Pereira
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Hello friends, i've been interested in permaculture for some months and now i got an abandoned land from my grandfather that i would like to use to practice permaculture.

the land is near a lagoon, has aprox.1000m2 and is FULL of phragmites about 2m tall, half of them was burnt last winter but they have regrown about .5 - 1m tall, the other half is so dense i only imagine a fire or a big machine cleaning it.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3771304/06072012066.jpg
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3771304/06072012065.jpg
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3771304/06072012064.jpg

the land has no tractor access, so i've been cutting the new phragmites with a sythe..
i need some recommendations for this.. i know it will be a long journey but I'm a bit lost.. should i get a small machine and till everything? should i keep cutting the phragmites and use them to mulch? compost? i thought about starting lasagna beds, i have access to cardboards, but not so much to composts and other organic matter, and the phragmites would probabilty just pass through the cardboard..

thanks
 
Tyler Ludens
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Daniel Pereira wrote: should i keep cutting the phragmites and use them to mulch? compost?


That's what I might do if I had such a resource. Depending on where you're located, phragmites might be native, so there wouldn't be any reason to eliminate them.

 
Daniel Pereira
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the only reason is i want to produce some food, i live in portugal. this stuff may not be invasive but it won't let anything else grows. how can that be good?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm not suggesting that you give over your entire land to them, just that, if they are native, there is no reason to get rid of all of them when they can be a resource.

 
Paul Cereghino
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I think of phragmites as a wetland indicator, you situation might be complicated. It is rhizomatous and very competitive on the east coast US -- IF it is like that in Portugal, I doubt you will be successful in eradication without continuous tillage for a year or two or weed fabric or poison. Growing annuals within the stand would take a LOT of stoop labor. I'd first clarify the hydrology situation, and perhaps consider it a organic matter source, and move towards appropriate tree crops, and then consider adding diversity as the shade weakens it. All this said, knowing VERY little about your situation.
 
Brenda Groth
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phragmites

wiki says to burn it over 3 seasons..to eradiacate it..if that is helpful
 
duane hennon
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the wiki source posted by Brenda also says that it can be controlled by grazing.
maybe a rotational grazing scheme would allow a portion to be converted to other purposes

also you might try a sort of reed hugelculture, piling up the reeds and covering with soil
maybe this would allow a crop of annual vegetables to grow
 
Daniel Pereira
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i will take some diferent aproaches.. to learn and keep it fun..

- keep cutting it throught the next growing seasons
- till some areas and growing leguminous plants as cover crops
- till and do hugelkultur-like bed (phragmites)
- till and do hugelkultur (wood from local invasive trees)
- lasagna beds (im sure phragmites will just puncture the cardboard)
- cut and cover with plastic i got from local store (tick white plastic from old street ads)

i have just on question.. should i let the phragmites dry before using them as hugekultur style beds/lasagna beds? i think the stems can sprout.. and for compost, i think they should not dry, right?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I notice you include "till" in a lot of your approaches. Can you explain the necessity of tilling? Tilling soil wet enough to grow Phragmites seems like a bad idea to me.



 
John Wright
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i would have to agree on it not being a good idea to till this area... it will severely compact your soils... especially if they are wet.....
I would graze geese over the phragmites after it has been cut... they will love the new growth that it puts out.. you can keep it there and use it as a biomass plant for mulch in other areas... it will also clean up your water.. you may want to leave some around for the grey water . . . . if you can set back the phragmites you may be able to seed in some american wild rice (zizania).. maybe duck potato (sagitarria), taro, or other wetland species that suit your climate... in wetter areas some people have used trenches to move the water around the landscape (think chinampa)... some of the most productive food producing systems in the world are developed from wetlands...
 
Cj Sloane
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Tilling might be necessary but it will definitely be temporary. My garden is adjacent to my pond and it is a battle every year to keep the phragmites from taking over. It goes right through black plastic mulch.

I have seen the sheep eat it, and the cows will eat it if we bring them some.

If you scythe/mow it and then keep it short by grazing or mowing you can keep it at bay. You could then plant something that doesn't mind wet soil.

Here's my blueberries (going nuts right now - hard to see) and an apple tree with the phragmites looming:
Blueberries & phramites></a>

Those T-posts are about 5 ft tall so the phragmites are 9-10 feet tall.

I let the sheep in now and again. Sometimes I'll just use a weedwacker.
 
Cj Sloane
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Here's a close up:
Blueberries & phramites upclose></a>
 
Daniel Pereira
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the soil is not that wet.. not real wetland.. almost all the soil around my land is tilled every year by old farmers and their soil is sandy and even requires some irrigation in the summer as they have zero organic matter



red -> small rivers (1m * 0,5m deep)
blue -> my land
yellow arrow -> lagoon direction - see @ http://goo.gl/maps/8aRo

my actual though is: the only way i can clean the soil in <2 years is removing (till the soil) or killing the rhizomes (poison).. and as i will not spread poison i thought about some tilling for initial planting, as i will not till all the land (too big for manual tilling and no actual access to machines), while less aggressive approaches will take ~ 3 years

(the land is not near my house and so i cant get grey waters there, i dont have animals and im only around the town at weekends.. )
 
Cj Sloane
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How do your neighbors keep the phragmites away?
What are they growing?
 
Daniel Pereira
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They till the soil every year, as my grandfather did until ~8 ago, when he stopped taking care of the land.
They plant mostly beans, corn, some tomatoes and brassicas.
 
Paul Cereghino
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The meristematic zone (where new stuff grows) in grasses is at the crown (at the soil surface.) So no risk of culms growing roots. I'd worry about spreading seed, so cut early and often.

Your options for controlling the landscape situation appear limited. All that soil and nutrient is probably flowing to the coastal estuaries or lakes. It would be nice to figure out how to capture nutrients before they pollute the stream.

Maybe three elevation based areas: 1) shrub-tree-mulch harvest zone on the creek, 2) buffer area using grazing animals to keep the phrag from spreading upslope, and 3) mulch garden upslope, using phrag as a mulch source...
 
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