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Legumes/living mulch for zone 5b

 
Michael James
Posts: 50
Location: Zone 5B: Grand Rapids, MI
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I really want to get started with adding organic matter to my soil. As far as I have understood it so far the most sustainable way to go about this (low inputs) is to plant trees and legumes that can be trimmed/mowed. I am not sure if when these should be planted now though as fall is steadily approaching and I've heard only to plant trees in the spring after last frost. I'm feeling anxious to do as much as I can soon because I think (if I'm understanding correctly) that it's going to be a few years before I see the payoff in terms of having better soil. Any expertise/advice given would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 58
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Michael, I am in the same boat as you are, wondering how can I start improving the soil that late in the year.

I have a few alder trees (nitrogen fixing) that I am going to keep, and will probably plant a few more this fall. But I am going to propagate them from cutting, so if they fail to grow it would cost me nothing.
 
Patrick Thornson
Posts: 147
Location: Zone Five, B.C., Western Canada.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_manure


Winter rye, Austrian winter peas, buckwheat, sorghum
http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/cover-crop-basics?page=0,2

Hope that this info helps you guys.
 
Patrick Thornson
Posts: 147
Location: Zone Five, B.C., Western Canada.
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I have a question for anyone out there.
Is fall a good time to make and throw around Fukuoka's seed balls?

For the newbier ( I made up that word) permies. This is an article about seed balls.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed_ball
 
Adrien Lapointe
steward
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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Michael James wrote:I really want to get started with adding organic matter to my soil. As far as I have understood it so far the most sustainable way to go about this (low inputs) is to plant trees and legumes that can be trimmed/mowed. I am not sure if when these should be planted now though as fall is steadily approaching and I've heard only to plant trees in the spring after last frost. I'm feeling anxious to do as much as I can soon because I think (if I'm understanding correctly) that it's going to be a few years before I see the payoff in terms of having better soil. Any expertise/advice given would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!


It is not too late to plant mulch. Based on your location, I do not think that it would have time to mature, but that is not really the goal with a mulch. Regardless, your best bet right now is probably to go with fast growing plants. Buckwheat is definitely a good choice, but so are grasses (rye, winter wheat, etc.). Legume wise, you could plant white clover and/or vetch.

I would start by mixing some of these seeds and planting them. If you are lucky, they might grow tall enough for you to cut it down and get more growth out of the grasses before it is too cold. When the growing season is over, you could do as sepp holzer advocates and leave the plants standing over winter and let the snow push them to the ground. I guess you could also just chop them down, but it is more work. Whether you decide to cut the mulch down the important thing to do IMHO is to leave the roots in the ground so the micro-organisms in the ground have something to munch on over the cold season.
 
Michael James
Posts: 50
Location: Zone 5B: Grand Rapids, MI
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:
Michael James wrote:I really want to get started with adding organic matter to my soil. As far as I have understood it so far the most sustainable way to go about this (low inputs) is to plant trees and legumes that can be trimmed/mowed. I am not sure if when these should be planted now though as fall is steadily approaching and I've heard only to plant trees in the spring after last frost. I'm feeling anxious to do as much as I can soon because I think (if I'm understanding correctly) that it's going to be a few years before I see the payoff in terms of having better soil. Any expertise/advice given would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!


It is not too late to plant mulch. Based on your location, I do not think that it would have time to mature, but that is not really the goal with a mulch. Regardless, your best bet right now is probably to go with fast growing plants. Buckwheat is definitely a good choice, but so are grasses (rye, winter wheat, etc.). Legume wise, you could plant white clover and/or vetch.

I would start by mixing some of these seeds and planting them. If you are lucky, they might grow tall enough for you to cut it down and get more growth out of the grasses before it is too cold. When the growing season is over, you could do as sepp holzer advocates and leave the plants standing over winter and let the snow push them to the ground. I guess you could also just chop them down, but it is more work. Whether you decide to cut the mulch down the important thing to do IMHO is to leave the roots in the ground so the micro-organisms in the ground have something to munch on over the cold season.


Ok. I was under the impression that we should pull the up and break them at the root. I guess i need to figure that out for sure.
 
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