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Idea: Wild turkey tractor

 
Kota Dubois
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This past weekend was our "Seedy Saturday" and I got my hands on some Cyperus esculentus tubers, also known as nutsedge, chufa nut and ground almond. It is a type of sedge which has been used for millenia for its tasty, oil rich centimetre long tubers.

In tropical or warm temperate climates these tubers grow back into plants every year. I've not seen anything that would make me believe this would be true for me, but in doing more research I discovered that wild turkeys go absolutely crazy when they find it; ripping the soil apart to find every last nut which may be as much as a foot deep.

For the last 3 years I've been in the process of transforming a 20 year old, approx. 3 acre forest meadow into a savanna. The soil is surprisingly poor, mineral and full of stones and rocks -- very difficult to loosen up, plant trees or just to bury wood. Every time I've been dealing with an area so far I've been using sheet mulching techniques, which has worked well but I'm afraid getting tilth this way is going to take a long time.

So, this is my idea. I will start the plants in pots early, plant them out into the area I want to upgrade next on 1 foot centres and let them grow for the season. I read in one place that in nitrogen poor soils they produce more tubers. Then in the fall, I'll just turn over as many plants as I need, to gather for myself and for the next years plantings. Leaving some nuts exposed on the surface will show the turkeys (new in this area in the just last decade) where the goodies are to be found, and then stand back while the dirt and the feathers fly.

Hopefully in the spring I'll have a broken up area, easier to remove rocks, bury wood, incorporate biomass, and plant a new garden. (probably potatoes the first year). Anyway that's the plan.
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Savanna Helper
 
Heidi Hoff
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Very clever!

Enlisting wild animals to work for you is taking things a step further than all the domestic animal help so often advocated. Mark Sheppard talks about using the local deer to prune the branches on his apple trees up above the fungal splash-back level. Devious!

Hope this devious scheme works for you!
 
Kota Dubois
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Working with nature is always a question of give and take. The standard ag model is all about fighting nature and that's why it's failing so miserably. When all my goji cuttings got dug out by turkeys (they left foot prints) 3 years ago, I realized the power of these birds. This could be their chance to give back (whilst I give a little more in the form of chufa nuts.)
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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Not sure where you are but in the South at least, nutsedge is one of THE worst weeds out there. Once established on a site, you will have it for the duration....there are ways and means to live with it, but you will never be rid of it! Not tillage, not mulch, not solarization, not penning chickens or pigs on it for months, nothing. The runners will spear right through potatoes and turnips. I shudder with horror at the thought of anyone deliberately introducing this plant onto a site without it, that they intend to garden on.....
 
Kota Dubois
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Of course you're right Alder, I should have mentioned that in my original post. Apparently in the south of Japan they are really causing a lot of problems.

I am in a cold temperate climate where the organic co-op who sold me the nuts assured me that they have never survived our winters. In my research I discovered that even in a moderate climate like England's the plants would fizzle out because they came back so late, they never had the chance grow more nuts.

The nuts themselves are a great food source. They contain about one third oil, which has a profile as good as olive oil and doesn't solidify at the freezing point of water.
 
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