John Saltveit wrote:Hi Stefan,
I also run a permaculture orchard, but it's on a smaller scale and just for my family and community. I am interested in how you deal with what non-permaculturalists call "weeds". By that I mean plants that grow quickly and unplanted, and can go from seed to seed in say, 70 days. Since I'm growing for my family, I eat a lot of the weeds, but you're doing things on a much bigger scale. I leave horsetail, comfrey and dandelion because they're such good dynamic accumulators and I chop and drop. I leave umbelliferous plants because they're so great at attracting bugs that defend the orchard by killing plant attacking insects. Do you have a general plan for dealing with weeds? They're also by definition great botanic diversifiers of an orchard. I'd love to hear what you're doing with the weeds in your orchard.
Rob Read wrote:I'm really curious on this topic too. My current orchard is also pretty small (20 trees - a lot of them nitrogen fixer 'nurse' trees, most dwarf or semi dwarf).
At first, I was trying to 'weed' the orchard, but now just accept that Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy) is beautiful, and as long as its not strangling something, it's a great ground cover, and also right now in full flower, an excellent pollinator attractor. Grass is harder for me to accept, but I've come a long way into just letting that be too, especially as the balance towards broadleaved plants is starting to emerge.
John Saltveit wrote:Thanks Stefan,
Great ideas. I had to look up ripping to understand what it meant. I have seen in a video a kind of a solid, tall, metal bar , 5' tall or so, that people step on and it acts like a plow, but it doesn't turn up the soil, just break it up. That might work well because I don't want to kill the mycorrhizal fungi I've been inoculating. Also all the microbial soil life gets exiled from its homeland. I can't get in there with a tractor because it's a suburban yard, and it is already extremely densely planted. I think I could use a bar like that as a kind of suburban equivalent.
I have already been spreading inches of wood chips and cardboard every year. The soil has gone from horrifying pure clay to fairly good clay loam, which is quite an improvement. We also are getting way more mushrooms than before, which should help make a spongier, more draining soil with more microbial life. I have been using the deep rooted weeds like dandelion and horsetail to help break through the heavy layers, and I think chop and drop/toss should bring the nutrition and microbial life up. I'm already at 10% organic matter and a TCEC of 15.4, so I think it's working.
Has anyone here used that kind of bar to break up compacted soil layers?
John Saltveit wrote:Thanks guys,
Mother Earth News has a diagram and article about building a broadfork from John Jeavons (Grow more vegetables than you thought possible).
It looks like it might be fun to build.
I may use a pitchfork until I build or buy one.
I forgot to mention that I also usually gather free diverse leaves from trees not in my yard in the fall to add to the soil.
I often mix gravel and old wood into the soil when I plant a new tree/shrub, to improve drainage, mineral content and fungal life. WE have heavy clay. When I have moved them afterwards, they are doing really well.