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Starting natural farming questions  RSS feed

 
Haris Karachristianidis
Posts: 1
Location: Greece/Kavala
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I have a garden with some trees, and almost no weeds because my weeding habits the last 4 years. Soils seems hard and infertile.
How should I start?
I don't like the idea of intruding into natural weeds with throwing seeds of ladino glover or similar fertilizing seeds.
I am thinking to throw some winter seeds, including many pea seeds to fertilize soil. I am thinking of follow Fukuoka advise for semi wild farming at Autumn when raining starts and soil is moist, but without the laddino seeds advise. Do you think there are possibilities of success? Or the final result is almost only weeds?

Question 2: Here in Greece Summer is hot 30-37 degrees Celsius, so soil becomes very dry, and weeds are only around my vegetables that I soak water about every second day.
That my part of garden becomes dry with almost no vegetation during Summer is bad isn't it? What could I do for it?

And question 3: How should I water my plants during Summer? Is a drip watering system that waters far from roots the best solution? I also would not like to intrude into my garden with making canals or elevated soil parts with canals between them.


Thank you!
 
James Colbert
Posts: 272
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Question 1:

Start by improving the soil. It will hold more water if it is loose and rich in organic material. Hugelkulture would help if you have the wood resources. If you cannot bury wood then simply loosen the soil, don't till or invert the soil. The best tool for this is a broadfork for smaller jobs that can be done by hand ( about 2 acres) and a subsoiler like a chisel plow for larger acreage. The next step is to cover the soil with loose organic matter. Doesn't really matter what just needs to be rich in carbon. Wood chips and straw are the two staples but other stuff will work just as well. Plant a bunch of soil improvers like legume trees, alfalfa, broad beans, lupine, etc.

Question 2:

You need trees and windbreaks to help minimize dessication. Swales and catchment spaces (ponds, dams) will also assists in improving hydrological balance. Get as much water on and in your land as possible. Terraces are also very productive means of production in sloped land. On flat land you can replicate this effect with crater gardens and terraced high beds (man made hills will steps). Yes i would consider it bad that everything is dry and dead. But you should concentrate your resources while sustainably expanding them. If you have limited water focus it on plants that need it. Train your plants to go longer and longer without water. Don't be tied to every 2 days plants will respond to "training." Shade will also reduce water loss, many plants like peppers perform better with some shade or dappled light.

Question 3:
Drip is good, subsurface drip (irrigation) is better. Subsurface irrigation involves delivering water to plants at the root zone not the soil surface. This is accomplished with pipes drilled in the ground anywhere from 6 inches to a three feet down. Water is feed through the pipe, preferably slowly (drip) and to the root zone where it is need, very little to no water is loss to evaporation. I am experimenting with using bamboo as it is biodegradable and hopefully by the time it breaks down the system will be established enough to not require additional irrigation. Plant selection is also very important. Growing olives where you live is a lot easier than growing pears.

hope this helps, just a few ideas to get you started.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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If you are interested in Mr. Fukuoka, then you must remember your different climate and keep that in mind. My Fukuoka style vegetables failed. I think that Japan gets more summer rain than we do.

However, I got some good results in scattering grain seeds in the fall. The seed balls that I tried gave me plants that looked like they were not getting enough water, but the grain that I scattered in my lawn before a fall rain did pretty well! I harvested some wheat off of it this year, and the plants looked very healthy.

In my area we get good rain and snow in every time excepting the middle of summer. I think that is why my Fukuoka style vegetables failed. But, I got some good results when I scattered the grain seeds in the fall, which is when this area starts getting some good rain.

From what you have said about your climate, it sounds like the plants would do better if you seeded them in the fall, because you also have wet winters and dry summers. I am guessing, of course! The only vegetables I can grow without watering are asparagus and corn, and I think that is because we get hot dry summers! If I knew of a perennial vegetable that would survive our winters I would try that also and seed it in the fall, but asparagus is the only one that I can think of and I already have asparagus.

I do have clover in my grass, which helps keep the soil fertile. It often turns brown when it is dry in the summer, but it gets green again as soon as it rains.
 
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