G'day g'day g'day,
So the plan for the spring is to prep an area of 1/2-3/4 acre on a slight west slope, sans tractor, sans tiller. I have both but I'm going to leave them in the shed for this project (they're both getting ancient, weren't my purchases, and might give it up any day), so here's the plan...
I intend to eventually get this area producing on a fairly low canopy (peaches, plums and cherries being the largest trees I install right here), with HEAPS of productive shrubs all about, particularly saskatoons, haskaps and friends. But FOR NOW-it's a grass party. Here's my basic timeline to turn that around:
March 20th or so: deploy 2-3 pigs (potbelly and a duroc, maybe) in an electric netting square, kept in place for a week or two, then moved to another new square and deploy the laying hens (10 or so) on the area. I'm looking at killing/overwhelming/maybe totally wiping out the grass here, so I will continue this aggressive rotation until frost risk has passed and I can sow buckwheat to finish it off. I can supplement these efforts with hand digging any remaining rhizomes (I will be passing through the area several times daily, as it lies between my house and market garden). I will swale and do all my simple shoveled earthworks right in mid-may, then seed the whole area with buckwheat. A local beekeeper (I'll do it myself some day soon...one step at a time) is looking for a place to put a few hives in order to reap some buckwheat honey, and I have only too many uses for the groats. So the buckwheat can grow 'til midsummer, cowpea can follow, then I plan to undersow the whole works with dwarf white clover. By this time, the plants I've propagated/nursed for the summer can either go in immediately or once dormant, a barrier of comrey/sunchoke/Max Sunflower/Rhubarb can surround the plot, and everyone smiles widely and rages forth.
My question....will the pig-hen-buckwheat-barrier/clover/mulch plan tackle the quackgrass effectively? Is this worth doing, or would focusing my efforts on mulching and shading from day one be better use of my time?
Thanks for the reply. Maybe I didn't make it clear, but the eventual destiny of this area is for a forest garden with dwarf white clover as a ground cover throughout. The dense seeding of buckwheat is as a weed-suppressing and soil building cover, not necessarily as a harvest crop. The longest time one could accuse me of "monocropping" is about 50-60 days, while the buckwheat establishes and (hopefully) finishes off the grass. If possible, I may even begin undersowing the clover around day 40. There's no blend I can find much info on that can suppress the weeds like buckwheat can. After it is sickled down, it'll be dense, diverse polyculture for decades thereafter. Promise.
I have no advice to give you (being in the city) but your project sounds really great. I hope you post some "before" pictures here as well as photos of your progress.
Also, if you could add information to your profile to let us know where you are (location, at the least; amount of rain, soils, etc) that would be most helpful. Then others that live in the same area or an analogous climate zone can chime in with their experience.
Best of luck and keep us up-to-date!
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
I do like the buckwheat idea to prep the soil, do you think that just one cycle of buckwheat will be enough or do you need two 50day cycle of buckwheat.
From the numbers that I have seen it seem that you will need to seed at 50lbs/acre to 70lbs/acre. Did you find similar numbers
We have been doing something similar since late summer. So i am by no means an expert but here is what we are doing. We are running 3 potbellies with 24 layers. The chicken tractor is high enough that the pigs can sleep under it. i have for sure learned a few lessons along the way.
1- the pigs will eat the chicken food which will kill your food bill. so i made the feeder high enough they cant get to it.
2- keep them in a small area and move them often. if they have too much fencing they will get picky. We have the whole group in one section of 120' poultry netting. and we move them twice a week right now.
3- keep them on grass. if you sell the eggs the quality goes way down once it becomes mostly mud. If you feed them alfalfa pellets it will help a ton.
4- its probably going to take a few passes to kill out all the "weeds"
We also run goats behind infront of the chicken tractor. had to keep them separate though because the wreck havoc with the chicken feed and tractor.
let me know if you want more info and i can show you some pictures. but it does work really well.
I'm all tasted up for a BLT! This tiny ad wants a monte cristo!