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how to harvest the Sepp Holtzer seed mix?  RSS feed

 
dan long
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I see a few posts about the benefits of diverse polycultures and how it gives huge yields but has anyone tried to harvest something like that?

I already realize that Sepp prepares his mixes based on what he needs them to do. I am not asking for recipes. I am asking specifically about how to harvest/ thin/ maintain a highly diverse vegetable bed intended to produce food crops for humans.

Furthermore, what about those of us who can't identify everything at every stage? Maybe you pull up what you think is some delicious salad green but end up feeding digitalis to your family. Whoops!

Does one thin such a bed? If so, is there anyone, really, who can tell the difference between a sprout of this or a sprout of that? What happens when you realize there are no beans, grains, garlic or root crops in this beautiful garden because you ate them all when they were sprouts. Have fun getting through winter! If you don't thin this bed, then what keeps the fast growing stuff from shading out the slow growing stuff and effectively denying it? Hence why i ask "identify everything at EVERY STAGE".

Seed mixes for building soil, i can see. Seed mixes that include inedible plants, i'm having trouble wrapping my mind around. I'm sure it can be done and that it isn't difficult to do. paul wheaton wouldn't advocate if (self proclaimed Lazy Bastard that he is) it wasn't not only possible but non labor intensive.



Are my concerns misplaced? Or should i be thinking about putting together "The Stupid Farmers Seed Mix" that doesn't include poisonous plants or plants with inedible greens (tomatoes or eggplant for instance).
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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identifying seedlings is an acquired skill, i take people into my polycultureand show them plants all the time. specially seedlings. the best way i have found to identify visually a new plant or unknown plant is to find a mature plant, and work your way backwards. finding one smaller, and one smaller and one smaller. until you get to a seed. if your paying attention you will know plants from seed to maturity. that includes seedlings that have no true leaves.

i may not be able to tell a kale from a broccoli the first week but i can sure tell that they are in the brassica family, another week and i can tell which in the family it is.

the best way other than that is just find someone who knows.

as far as managing polycultures, specially high density ones, i just go down the paths working on both sides. weeding, seeding, planting, chop and dropping, harvesting, all sorts of things. im never doing one job. never setting out to weed that bed. instead you go out to work the bed, it takes a little longer than if you were doing one path, but in the long run its way faster because your multitasking.

the first year there will be a lot of learning. specially if you have a very diverse mix.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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Hello Dan,

I would personally keep poisonous plants in separate areas. In my opinion, it would generally not make sense to mix them in, despite their benefits. Edible Forest Gardens has a section on building polycultures which covers this. Edible leaf crops with edible leaf crops, berry producing crops with berry producing crops, etc, segregated by layer. You could have a couple of low growing, salad producing plants in the understory which would all be cut together, with tall, berry producing plants with inedible leaves above them. (But still, in this case, neither of the should be actually poisonous.)

I have read two books by sepp holzer, and I have a question of my own. It would seem that he was not intensively harvesting the more distant beds planted with his seed mixes. Most of his greens seemed to come from a kitchen garden which looked more "normal." If I am right, that might be a part of the answer you are looking for. But I don't know if I am right on this. Maybe somebody else could give us a definite answer.

And also, after a few years of growing a crop, I can generally identify seedlings. It might be a good idea to plant things in neat rows for a year or two, so that you can learn what they look like.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Dan, I think your question contains your answer. I know how my wife and I are addressing it.

Until you are pretty confident in your ability to identify everything in your seed mix at pretty much every stage of its growth, you don't plant randomly

We did just that last year with her herb garden - planted randomly - and ran straight into the simple fact - we did not know enough to be able to recognize which was which when things started germinating. The spot had serious volunteer issues, so we were not only trying to tell basil from sage from dill, etc. but also facing a bunch of random unknowns thrown into the mix along with what we had planted.

Result was a pretty thorough failure of an herb garden, with the dill eventually coming through as the only recognizable successful herb, and some poppies. The rest were either weeds or something we had planted but failed to recognize (embarrassing, but educational)

So, come next spring, we plant herbs again, but this time in discrete patches. Then we're only dealing with recognizing One intended plant in a given area, and anything that is not that plant we can beat back, as we choose.

Part of the equation is always staying within the limits of the practitioner's skill set.

Now, I do have questions about how one harvests some of the incredibly complex plantings that turn up in permaculture, but that has less to do with identifying what is what than with inefficiencies inherent in having, for example, your tomatoes spread about amongst your beans, squashes, potatoes, etc. If all of plant X is in one small area, when it comes to harvest time, it's all there and you can collect it pretty efficiently.

But, if it's distributed amongst other plants and over a somewhat broad area, then you have issues of going to each plant to be harvested, getting through surrounding plants not yet ready for harvest with minimal disturbance, and so forth.

Seems that part of this is a matter of knowing your plants and setting up your design so that you've got stuff organized in compatible fashion, maybe even in a successional manner, so early peas get harvested before the tomatoes beneath them are big enough to have a problem with it, and the peas are done and cut back before you need to get to the tomatoes..

More questions

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Jordan Lowery wrote:
as far as managing polycultures, specially high density ones, i just go down the paths working on both sides. weeding, seeding, planting, chop and dropping, harvesting, all sorts of things. im never doing one job. never setting out to weed that bed. instead you go out to work the bed, it takes a little longer than if you were doing one path, but in the long run its way faster because your multitasking.

the first year there will be a lot of learning. specially if you have a very diverse mix.


That approach makes lots of sense to me, especially with the whole permaculture theme of "observe, then act". If you set out to the garden thinking "I will weed today" you have decided on action without observation Go out prepared to do what the garden needs done based on what you find as you go through - perfect sense.
 
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