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One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

 
pollinator
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Last year's bean plant results:



 
Posts: 224
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Hola!

I have been the last couple of years playing with this concept but I still don't find the best way to work things out hehehe. I have read Joseph articles and book, and also I am following the french guy Pascal Poot, who makes some kind of landrace. What we all want , I guess, is to have vegetables growing "almost" like weeds, just with the rain or other conditions we might find.

For doing that, I have experimented with several things. Direct seeding over the soil (heavy clay) was a total failure. This is a super compacted soil for many years of intensive agriculture . I tried hugelkultur broadcasting seeds. It was better, but I found two enemies: ants and snails. Ants might take fast whatever I broadcast. Snails, I have a permanent plague. Whatever sprouts, they destroy it. Also I have been making no-till beds. This beds, when I take care of them (basically, watering) work great. So, for having a guaranteed bunch of annuals, this no till is okay for us. But if I neglect them, planting directly in compost makes me lose the main advantage of clay, wich is water retention. Also, raising beds 15cm (no-till way) exposes things more to the elements, and here in the mediterranean that is no good. I did direct seeding, but tired of ants and snails destroying everything I also decided to start seeds apart and transplant them, wich is, I guess, Pascal Poot method. I am doing at the moment one "a la Poot" with squash and tomatos, I started hundreds of seeds, transplanted to half no-till bed (instead of 15cm high of compost, 7cm), gave them a "storm watering" (just one hour of water by hose) and let them be. It is super hot now, but many of them are making their way... but I am not 100% convinced.

I want to try some direct seeding method wich could give me some advantage with the clay but taking also the clay benefits with me. And fight ants and snails some how. What I did is, I did some 2x2 sq meters areas, I cleaned them of weeds, I covered them with compost (just enough to push the seeds inside) and direct seeded amaranth, sorghum, corn and cajanus cajan. In fact it was amaranth that made me think on this way, a good friend from this forum, Erik, gave me lots of amaranth seeds and I thought in broadcasting them over the rest of some black compost soil pile that I had left. It rained, so it started to sprout. Surviving ants and snails, by now. So I did the same with the other stuff (corn, sorghum, cajanus cajan) and wait. For ants, I dont have a remedy. For snails, I got ducks.

What I do want is to find some way to make things start, just start. So maybe this is the way for direct seeding, give the heavy clay some push adding a layer of compost over it. This compost might be soft enough to get things started, but not being deep, clay will be just under it, so water retention might be guaranteed.

I wonder how is the "step by step" from all of you, for starting. I think some form of direct seeding should be the best way to mimic the weeds we have, but maybe some help is needed.

Ah, I also want to make a landrace of chickens. I already have the first chickens, only 2 races by now (plymouth and ameraucanas) as we are newbies with chicks. But I will go deeper on that on next months
 
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I don't think direct seeding in heavy clay is a realistic option. My own experiments in that direction have failed. Even direct seeding lawn grass on unimproved, impacted, dense heavy clay has yielded nothing.

At a minimum, you need to dig, hoe, or rototill the heavy clay once to break up the dense, airless soil, and add a thin layer of fine seedbed soil that is enough to protect the seeds while they are getting started. You will need to irrigate frequently until the new seedlings produce deep roots that can tap the clay underneath.

I also suggest choosing plants that, once established, can spread through runners or root multiplication instead of through seed. Runners can draw sustenance from the earlier plants while waiting for their own roots to develop. Seeds cannot.

I am currently doing a small-scale experiment digging up heavy clay and adding rotting wood as a sort of hugelkultur. The only conclusion so far is that, at best, this will be a very slow process.

I'm also digging up a former flower garden, removing weeds, breaking up the clay, and adding some peat moss. Beans are struggling to grow there. At the end of the season I will turn all of the bean material into the soil as a green mulch.

Heavy clay is a real curse when you are trying to get quick results.
 
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Amazing thread! I'm new to landrace gardening and I would love to get some grex/landrace seeds to kickstart my journey.
Does anyone here knows how can I get grex seeds in Portugal or London? I live in Portugal and can't find anything here, and shipping from most websites cost way too much and also isn't guaranteed.
If Portugal is not an option, I have a friend in London and she can order/receive the seeds for me and get it to me when she's coming to visit again.

Thank you all for everything
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 224
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Cathy James wrote:I don't think direct seeding in heavy clay is a realistic option. My own experiments in that direction have failed. Even direct seeding lawn grass on unimproved, impacted, dense heavy clay has yielded nothing.

At a minimum, you need to dig, hoe, or rototill the heavy clay once to break up the dense, airless soil, and add a thin layer of fine seedbed soil that is enough to protect the seeds while they are getting started. You will need to irrigate frequently until the new seedlings produce deep roots that can tap the clay underneath.

I also suggest choosing plants that, once established, can spread through runners or root multiplication instead of through seed. Runners can draw sustenance from the earlier plants while waiting for their own roots to develop. Seeds cannot.

I am currently doing a small-scale experiment digging up heavy clay and adding rotting wood as a sort of hugelkultur. The only conclusion so far is that, at best, this will be a very slow process.

I'm also digging up a former flower garden, removing weeds, breaking up the clay, and adding some peat moss. Beans are struggling to grow there. At the end of the season I will turn all of the bean material into the soil as a green mulch.

Heavy clay is a real curse when you are trying to get quick results.



Yes, you are right. I tried with many seed broadcasting. Things like oats or rye go well, also mustard, daikon, fava beans and peas… and that’s it.

I do what I call “clay pot”. I dig small holes, fill them with a mix of coconut fiber and humus, and plant in there, as if it is a clay pot just in the ground
 
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5b
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This is super interesting to me, but I currently have limited space in which to garden. I've seen people talking about planting 500 seeds in a big plot... Do you think you could still start a landrace with 25 - 50 plants instead of close to 100?

Or, another possibility, do you think you could landrace a couple things right on top of each other, in a polyculture bed?

I don't want to dedicate my whole growing space to one type of crop.
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
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Location: Kansas
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I don't see why not. When I did my watermelon I initially planted three varieties and manually crossed them. You'll only get one cross per seed regardless of how many possible combinations there are. I have two varieties of green beans and will add a third (or more) when I plant green beans again. If you can get two established grexes or landraces to start that will greatly increase your diversity.

The problem isn't creating a low-diversity landrace, it's continuing it without going inbred again. That's the difficult part in small spaces.
 
Posts: 37
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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I'm getting really into landrace gardening this year after taking Julia Dakin's course: https://growingmodernlandraces.thinkific.com  which, of course, features Joseph Lofthouse and also Dr. James White on how microbes help adaptation, plus indigenous Latin American farming coming soon. I highly recommend the course, even just the free version to get started. But the course community is also really great. Seed stories, swaps, regular monthly chats with Joseph Lofthouse, Mark Reed and others.

As for livestock, I am also going that direction. Joel Salatin has a good video presentation on this somewhere, but I'm not sure where to find it at the moment. Also, I learned a lot about "mob breeding" from an interview that Richard Perkins did with a man with lots of experience with this. Here's that one:  
 . If you are thinking of landracing livestock you will benefit from this one.

 
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