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How to rehab recently farmed land?

 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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Hi,
imagine someone has given you some farmland. To do this, they had to kick the guy who was farming it.

The problem is that just last season, the guy was spraying both fertilizer and pesticides. Now, you're planning to do some permaculture on it. Starting out with vegetables, then perennials down the road.

Questions:
A) How big of an impact are those lingering chems going to have on your final product. As I'm going to be eating the stuff as well as giving it to others, so I'm concerned.

B) Are there a few silver bullet plants that could clean things up? I think spinach or ferns would clean out chems, any others?

B) Working with the soil, I was planning on contouring a lot, making some raised parts and some low paths. Would this make this better or worse?

Thanks a bunch,
William
 
Rick Larson
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
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This is advice I have suffered much giving!

Start on one-quarter of the land with whatever method you end up choosing. The remainder; research out the wild plants (not trees) in your area and encourage them to grow on the rest of the property. Ten years from now convert your original plot into wild plants and start over on one of the quarters you have allowed to go wild. Every ten years move to another quarter.

 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Mollison's big black book describes doing exactly what I'm talking about. Unless the total area is so big that one-quarter of it is more than you need, the idea of flipping and fallowing in 10 year increments seems to me a little exaggerated. I don't expect to be alive long enough to make that happen.
W
 
Rick Larson
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
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One does this not for oneself. You do this for the wild plants and critters that will seek shelter. The wild life won't be living for free, they will fertilize your soil and the land will become rich and happy for you and future inhabitants.
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Thanks Rick for replying.

I'd be willing to consider other options, if anyone else has some thoughts?
W
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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Wood hip mulch and mushrooms.
 
James Slaughter
Posts: 94
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Using fungi >
http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1561.htm

Also check out the great paul stamets >
http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html

and wiki for some base information and terminology >
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil_contamination

Cheers.
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
Posts: 360
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Yup, looks like mushrooms are the best for pesticides and herbicides. You could use edible species, although I have no idea if the pesticides/herbicides will end up in mushrooms .
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Wow. I'm amazed by the fact that I didn't remember that.
I remember paul stamets creating a mushroom barrier for a toxic-gick-producing factory.

I've been holding off getting into mushrooms, but perhaps this would be the right moment.
Thanks.

ps, shawn: what's wood hip?

Are you suggesting I become a pirate? Arrrrr!
W
 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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Does anyone have any experience with trying to encourage fungi in the soil?

I do have a lot of straw, which I'm seeing that you can inoculate it (with which fungi??) and then incorporate it with soil at a ratio of 1:4.

I could make raised beds and for each bed I make provide enough fungizized straw in the soil to do the work of decontamination.
I just kind of need something to ease my mind that I'm not offering POC's in my veggies.

I heard something about oyster mushrooms being ok. Then I got some technical papers and I'm lost again.

I was going to cultivate step-by-stem and do cover crop and keyline plowing to build up organic matter in the soil not under vegetable cultivation in the hopes that most things will wash out before I start gardening it.
W
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9459
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have put a lot of wood chips on the soil surface, and now that it's beginning to rain again after a long drought, there are lots of mushrooms which I didn't plant. So I recommend lots of woodchips, as in TONS of wood chips.

http://backtoedenfilm.com/
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
Posts: 308
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Hi William...

What was being grown on the land? Are we talking about one big uniform field of monoculture? How much land is there and how much do you think you will be able to farm using the methods you are comfortable with?

First thing, I would get to know the guy who was farming the land if that relationship hasn't been too damaged. He will know what he sprayed on there. Some of the other neighbours might know what was sprayed, or would at least remember what he grew the last few years and could help you guess what was sprayed. It's worth getting to know these guys even if you don't see eye to eye with how they farm...you might need their help someday..

It makes a big difference, learn about what sprays were used and find out what the 'residuals' are...some things are pretty persistent for several years, others break down quite quickly and i wouldn't lose too much sleep or years of effort over...it will be easier to make sound decisions if you know what you are dealing with...group 4 chemicals are bad news if you're going to try veggies...if it's just glycosates i wouldn't worry about it next year, your exposure would be way less than what you've probably been eating all the time if you go out to a restaurant or buy food at a store at all...

Next up, if it's been farmed commercially with herbicide weed suppression there is going to be a Huge weed seedbank, and probably some rhizomatous perrenial weeds that have been suppressed but are still spread all around. I know, I know, weeds are our friends and the solution, etc etc...but don't underestimate how this can smack you, it could quite possibly overwhelm whatever you try planting...especially if you're talking about a lot of acres... If you can walk it now you might be able to get some idea of what's lurking there for next spring.

Do you have the equipment to handle the entire acreage or are you thinking of just using a bit of it?

If you leave something like that fallow you're not going to get any kind of nice native plant community in ten years, it's going to be an insane tangle of the worst weeds and invasive plants in your area, with a huge seed bank built up and lots of perrenials and it will be a nightmare to deal with organically later on... If it was more land than i could farm, i would think about hiring someone or I would try myself to get the fallow land into the most aggressive smother-crops possible, maybe a nice soil building polyculture...not sure where you are, but i'm thinking something like rye and alfalfa and clover and field peas and forage oats and try to overwhelm the weed pressure...your land's already been cultivated like crazy so i would get in there and work it again one more time or two in the spring to take out a bunch of the annual weed germinants and give the stuff i'm sowing a half a chance...there will be lots of years for min til or zero till later on..

..maybe you can graze it too...if it seems pretty clean you could eventually try to establish perrenial pasture on a bunch of the land, as something that can be profitable but is low maintenance without big machinery and chemicals...i'd pick a small manageable chunk to try growing some crops on, and i'd pick a bunch of different crops just to see what works for you and what you like doing and what the market is, and i'd expect to be overwhelmed with weeds in that area especially on the first year...

i'm just finishing year two of essentially the same project, my advice from experience is don't be too much of a purist, you will get it converted over to the way you want it eventually but you might need to make some compromises in the first year or two to get past the land's history...and don't bite off more than you can chew...i'm still renting out something like a hundred acres, it would be nice to fix it all at once but it would be a disaster, i can deal with maybe ten acre chunks every couple of years, and i'd rather someone else kept up with the status quo on the rest so it will be easier for me to handle later on..

good luck!
 
michael wuest
Posts: 9
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Cheers, it s stone old, very easy and extremely effective, AND it s scientifically proven to work.

You burn dried cow shit smeared with butter fat in a pyramid shaped copper bowl,
add some grains of rice and murmur some words in Sanskrit every sundown and dawn.

Sounds weird? Well when a friend of mine came up with it i asked him if he was either on drugs or had too much of
his wine last night. But it turned out to be a life changing experience for me. And for basically everybody who actually
tried it.

This several 1000 year old vedic ritual NEUTRALIZES toxins and radioactivity and in less than 6 months you can grow organic food
on a former lethally poisoned patch. Actually the quality is even better than organic. And it s proven to work all over the planet since decades.

Do or don t believe it, i don t care. I know it works as i tried it and developed some interesting thing from it like a water purifying and
energizing egg or a no-electricity-needed-fridge. I even got invited to speak about this in France, Austria and Germany the last months.

All i say is, consider that there is stuff you don t know about, you aren t supposed to know about and which is so simple a task that it seems unrealistic
that it actually can work. So what i want to say is, don t believe a word i say - TRY IT OUT FOR YOURSELF BEFORE JUDGING IT )))

And once you re on it take some old ceramic drainpipes, fill em with paramagnetic sand like Eifelgold and place em all over the yard.
Your veggies will become double and triple in size in much shorter a time AND with their full taste and tenderness. NO chemicals needed.

the first is called Agnihotra and the second a Callahan tower.

here a link to more links http://www.agniculture.net/Agnihotra.htm

if you want to know more just send a short email via my website agniculture.net as i am currently busy to prepare for our africa trip this month

my best wishes

mike

Attached a picture of Yannick van Doorne holding the Kohlrabi (German turnip) a organic farmer harvested when trying the Callahan tower on one of his fields in Austria
One was harvested after 4 weeks out of the range of the tower and the other inside the range of the tower, Guess which is which ))

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Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I think that the idea of finding out what was sprayed is a great idea, and a water and soil test would be a must for me. You said GAVE..so is this YOUR property now or are you just going to be using it?

If it is yours, proceed to find out what was put on it and then seek remedies..

IF the crap on it is really bad..any mushrooms you grow on it should NOT be eaten, as they suck up the crap and concentrate it..so will a lot of other remedial plants..

Also observe, is anything GROWING on it?? anything at all? If it was a long lasting herbicide it probably won't grow much of anything, so observation is important here.

think remedial, plants that will heal the land first..but if things WILL grow and the soil and water tests come back OK..then you probalby will be able to grow an area large enough to feed your family while the rest of the land heals..in that area I would super feed the soil with natural things to prepare it for growing..maybe some hugel beds or food forest plantings or both /combined..and lots of mulch and things like that..

your dynamic accumulators might be bringing up deep poisons though so if you can find a way to check them out for problems do so (maybe a teaching university)
 
                              
Posts: 18
Location: Upper Midwest
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Just remember, the USDA only require 3 years before any land can be certified organic. Most (not all) pesticides and herbicides will decay with sun and oxygen exposure. Cooking will destroy most (not all) of the remaining chemicals. Everywhere (everywhere!) you go in the world has some pollution. So unless you are bubble boy, it may not be worth trying to achieve purity. Fungus will excrete powerful acids which will break down some of the chemical residue but not all. But I would not micromanage mother nature. Instead of working in lots of organic matter to grow mushrooms, I would figure out which kinds you want and what plants they form mycorrhizal relationships with and plant them. Let the plants provide for the fungus. And I am a big fan of using animals to speed up the carbon and nitrogen cycle. Instead of working hard to provide nutrients, legume trees are great for fixating nitrogen in permaculture areas. In other words, design, fence, plant, inoculate, and water, but let mother nature do most of the hard work. Of course most vegetables require hard work so if you want them there is little way around that.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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┬┐Most vegetables require hard work? Probably the hardest chore I have is trying to find homes for all the extra zucchinis.

(Although, I do say "If it wasn't for tomatoes and peppers, gardening would just be a chore.")
 
Rick Larson
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I have put a lot of wood chips on the soil surface, and now that it's beginning to rain again after a long drought, there are lots of mushrooms which I didn't plant. So I recommend lots of woodchips, as in TONS of wood chips.

http://backtoedenfilm.com/


Inspirational.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1013
Location: Northern Italy
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Here are some pics of it. The total surface is 2.47 acres/1 hectare.

You'll notice pooling of water on the south end. Good place for a pond.

There are some patches where greenery is growing, but I suspect that it's in places where there was an excess of fertilizer and that's why it's there. I get that feeling because other spots are completely without vegetation.

I imagine that will change in the spring and the whole thing will be vegetated when the erbicides get washed out.

The current plan is
a) find contour
b) dig 4-5 long swales on contour
c) dig a pond on the end for rainwater catchment / re-pumping/cycling water
d) keyline plow on spaces between the ditches
e) plant legumes and taproot species on all of that
f) wait until summer
g) plant a winter garden over 200-300 square meters
h) expand spring 2014 gardening and add perennial shrubs. And trees next to the black locusts that have popped up in the interim.

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