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Shawn Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Sylmar, CA (Los Angeles area)
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Hello all,

I'm new to the site. I won't clog my post with backstory, but the curious can find it on my profile. ANYWAYS, I've moved to a new place last fall and finally got some area to garden. It's quite sandy (receded river bank) and very shady; mature California oaks and Sycamore and I'm in a canyon to boot. Basically, nowhere in the yard gets more than 3-5 hours of direct sunlight a day. Yet as I observed the spring cycle, "weeds" came up fine. I've done some little test areas with lettuces and a few other greens but things are growing slow. SO, I was thinking...should I just go ahead and plant a cover crop? Is it too late in the season for that? (Los Angeles area) Should I just plant vegetables with mixed in compost to the soil? Should I do a soil test? I am trying to focus on being resourceful.

Hm, I guess my ultimate goal is learning how to do things in proper sequence to maximize any soil building while also trying to grow food. Suggestions?

Thanks!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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by all means do a soil test and then work on building up the soil..i find that more things grow in shade then i ever thought possible..and that actually around my MICHIGAN home..most things grow better in shade then they do out in the full sunshine..so give it a whirl.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21425
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Now is an excellent time for summer cover crops. 

Howzabout cowpeas?  If you plant them thick, they should smother everything else.  And since they are an N-fixer, they should greatly improve the soil.



 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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In my experience, if you are in an area that gets little to no snow, then you can almost always plant something, if not today, in a few days the moon should be right for either a root crop or above ground crop of some sort.

Cow peas or crowder peas are a good hot weather over crop.  If you can provide some moisture, sweet potatoes also do well with really hot weather (and a good swath of sweet potatoes can provide a good fire break if you can get enough water to them to make them lush and they like sandy loose soil.)

I have very sandy soil and it has greatly improved where I have kept it covered by mulch (whatever type I can find, leaves, wood chips, cardboard, pulled weeds, etc) for a season or two. 
 
Shawn Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Sylmar, CA (Los Angeles area)
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Alright, I'm going to go with the cow peas to start with. Going to search online for a seller today unless someone has a good reference they'd like to post. Thanks for the feedback everyone. Looking forward to getting more input as I begin to get into the adventure - and I'll be reading through in the coming days and weeks.

Shawn
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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If you have a feed store near you that you might be dropping in on your way too/from some other errand, they may have seed that would work for you without having to order it and pay shipping and then wait to get it delivered.
 
Shawn Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Sylmar, CA (Los Angeles area)
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Hmm..yah..no such luck here in La la land
 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
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I just ordered a pound of cowpea (pinkeye) from on online retailer. My question is whether to inoculate or not. I'm converting a patch of grass (seems to be mostly perennial rye and fescue), white clover, and dandelions into a no-till patch of cowpea and buckwheat. I'll determine a fall/winter crop later. I've read online that you should inoculate cowpeas. Is it really necessary?
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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If you can get the inoculant, the use it as it will help the cowpeas to fix nitrogen.  If you don't inoculate then you are hoping there is enough of the right kind of microbe already in your soil to help out or the cow peas will simply be like everything else and depend on available nitrogen from the soil.

I don't think I've ever bought cowpea inoculant but I'm in the South East and our soil life is different here.  I also don't know if I'm getting as much benefit from my cow peas as I would if I were to inoculate.
 
Shawn Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Sylmar, CA (Los Angeles area)
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Ok, so I really am a noobie. I have read a few things about inoculant but I don't really know what it means or whether I should do it with the cowpeas I ordered. Is there a post or an article that someone can direct me too? I hate asking questions that have probably already been answered. Sometimes I have the time to search the forums before I ask, but other times (-like now when I'm trying to post this before the rest of the work-hive wonders where all the keyboard clacking is coming from) I only have a couple minutes to ask the question. Soil refresher: Sandy (receded riverbed) almost complete shade. Heavy cover from fall leaves, mostly Sycamore, and some other broad, maple-looking leaf I haven't Identified yet. (last fall I collected and started composting them, but I don't know what kind of long-term effect they have had on the soil before I got there). I ordered a soil test but of course I get a note that afternoon saying that kit was backordered a couple weeks. Cowpeas will be here over the weekend. I've looked up my growing zone as specifically as possible...so far the best guess is 8-11.

TC, thanks for your input - and everyone. I appreciate it as I go forward.
 
Shawn Berry
Posts: 5
Location: Sylmar, CA (Los Angeles area)
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Hey Gary...looks like you might of posted a link that is to your local drive, no?
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Shawn Berry wrote:
Hello all,

I'm new to the site. I won't clog my post with backstory, but the curious can find it on my profile. ANYWAYS, I've moved to a new place last fall and finally got some area to garden. It's quite sandy (receded river bank) and very shady; mature California oaks and Sycamore and I'm in a canyon to boot. Basically, nowhere in the yard gets more than 3-5 hours of direct sunlight a day. Yet as I observed the spring cycle, "weeds" came up fine. I've done some little test areas with lettuces and a few other greens but things are growing slow. SO, I was thinking...should I just go ahead and plant a cover crop? Is it too late in the season for that? (Los Angeles area) Should I just plant vegetables with mixed in compost to the soil? Should I do a soil test? I am trying to focus on being resourceful.

Hm, I guess my ultimate goal is learning how to do things in proper sequence to maximize any soil building while also trying to grow food. Suggestions?

Thanks!


I tried Len's idea this year.   I rolled out chicken wire first to try to keep out the pocket gophers.   So far they haven't climbed over the side.   Makes a nice raised bed.   Easy to make and can be any size you want.
http://www.lensgarden.com.au/
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Here's a photo, took me a while to figure out how to post it.
raised bed.jpg
[Thumbnail for raised bed.jpg]
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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Inoculant is simply adding some of the symbiotic bacteria or other microbes to the seeds or soil around the seeds so that the plant will have it's "partner in Nitrogen fixing" on hand as it grows.  See it isn't the plant itself that fixes the nitrogen but some microbes that attach to the roots in a symbiotic relationship.  The microbes get energy from the plants and the plants in turn get nitrogen from the microbes that are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen into plant usable forms.

There are different types of bacterias or inoculants for different types of nitrogen fixing plants though some mixtures can be bought that will serve for many varieties, they usually list what types of plants they work for.

I have a couple lupine plants that are looking really pale since I didn't have any inoculant for them.  Most of my southern peas got planted without inoculant either but they seem to be doing fine for me.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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