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Michael Pilarski, aka 'Skeeter' on Cover crops

 
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Jeremiahs Bailey, though farmers might like to use their land all the time, the effects of not giving it a rest are so evident that they gives land a years rest.
    Have you never driven through country that is all ploughed up though it is a part of the year when the crops are growing. If you live in dairy country or fruit growing places or where they do market gardening or if you are a city person you wont have, but if you know anything about arable land, cereal growing areas, you know that is the case.
  If you always grow a crop on the same land, the type of illnesses and pests that like that plant start to take hold there. This is one reason for leaving ground bare for a year.
    The other reason is that crops take so much out of the soil that it needs, "resting", as its called, to recuperate. They take out minerals like calcium and iron and microelements as well as the sort of fertilisers that you can buy as chemical fertilisers nitrogen potassium and phosphorus . Why don't they just replace things like iron with mined minerals, i don't know i suppose they have just found that they can't grow more every year they just have to rest the soil. There may be someone who knows more than me on this.
  Before they used to grow rotation crops, a root vegetable, carrots one year, cereal, wheat maybe. The next and peas or beans or clover, things with nitrogen fixing bacteria in littlewhite balls on their roots, you can see them with the naked eye if you pull out the roots of clover or beans etc., though apparently not all of plants  have nodules on their roots, if they don't you can inoculate them, i think their having them or not depends on your soil not the plant so maybe you don't have to inoculate them every year . getting fungi to grow on wood or as micorhizae can be called inoculating the material or plant you want to grow fungi on so it isnot only bacteria you inoculate, the word serves for  different things. After growing beans you might leave leave the land  fallow the next year, there always seems to be leaving it fallow at some point. As the crops change each year the pests of any one crop can't establish themselves on the Fields.
  Maybe this leaving land fallow is a evidence of the rightness of the organic farming founder, Sir Albert Howard, he can be found in google using just his name and organic farming.  He said that more things are needed in the soil than nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, that plants can live with with just these things but  hey do better, fight pests and disease better and have more seed and fruit and bigger seeds if the soil has all its natural complexity all its acids and enzymes and fungi algae and microbacteria and mites. We can't just replenish the lost minerals we have to leave it fallow.  it has been found plants can absorb amino acids as well as just nitrogen in its chemical form, as sir Albert Howard said, i hope i have got this about him mentioning it right, i usually check up but don't want to tonight.
      Here in Spain where they grow wheat they don't do rotation crops at least not in the parts i frequent, just wheat, fallow, wheat, fallow. Ask a farmer for more precise information on it.
      Here, where farms here are farmed traditionally it is in three leaves, wheat, fallow, fallow, so two years fallow though in traditional farming there is pasture on the fallow and they have the sheep sleep on the land to make it more fertile. May be fields need a bigger rest in hot climates. Fields that you leave the sheep to sleep on, are called majadales. 
      My grandmother was a farmer but a dairy farmer, there is so much i just learnt at home, it seems really strange to find that a lot of people don't know it already. A wheat farmer could tell you more. agri rose macaskie.
 
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Yes, the idea of "fallow" is to have nothing growing there for a full year.  This could be defined as "organic", although I would like to think that most advocates of organic practices would frown on this.  It is definitely not permaculture

My impression is that even the conventional farmers are not doing this any more. 

 
rose macaskie
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Just  looked up wheat farming Kansas and it seems they plant wheat every year. they don't leave land fallow.
        What i read about cover crops was in an North American book. I am not sure there is any reason to plant cover crops if land is not left fallow.
        Here in Spain i drive through lots of land left fallow each year. I have rung up England to see if they have changed there, if they still leave land fallow or not.
      It costs money to plant cover crops and time and even more time  than just spreading the seed, if you are  collect your own seed.
        Why do they still do it here if there is no longer anyreason for it maybe it's just cheaper than heavy fertilising .
      Having to fertilise crops because you don't leave land fallow isnot very permaculture either.
      Suppose Susan Munroe would know about it.
        If it does not exist in North America but does exist in lots of other parts of the world it is still a climate changer and internet is a world wide place so a forum started in America could help in Africa South America and India and China, annd the world to stop climate change to benefit north america.
        Igff it happens in lots of part of the world is still a climate changer, if i am right and leaving land without vegetation, is to bare earth an accumulator of heat to the sun, causing the sunrays to warm us more than they would otherwise do, something they could not do if reflected and straw and hay, full of silica, look up Roland Ennos, he has publications on the silica in grass leaves, is shiny, as are the surfaces of many green leaves or if the suns rays  hit a material such as an organic one, plants for instance, that are more an insulator from  heat than accumulators of heat.
        I suppose harvesting may still be a climate changer in north america even though the land is not left fallow for a whole year.as it happens in June, July and leaves the land pretty bare in July, August, when its hot. agri rose macaskie.
 
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I have read of farmers letting fields go fallow for a year to allow weeds to sprout and be killed as part of a transition to no-till.

And of course, I have heard of growing only cover crops for a full year, up to five years.  These are "fallow" in the sense of not being profitable.

One of the SARE videos shows lanes of hybrid-mulched beds that rotate through tomatoes and four other crops before the straw and plastic are pulled up; in the meantime, the space between those beds has been planted to a rotating mix of high-biomass and nitrogen-fixing cover crops, all knocked down and composted in place.

Another video shows a farmer of strawberries and other resource hog crops.  After harvest, he spreads six inches of municipal leaf waste and plants cover crops for a year, then grows hay on that plot for three years; only 20% of his land is ever profitable at a given time, although he says demand for hay is enough to help offset costs.
 
rose macaskie
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  joel hollingsworth, you talked about someone putting a lot of municipal leaf waste on the soil for strawberry crops, well i read a article that said tests show that organic farmers get better soil than no till farmers, they suppose its because they centre more on putting organica matter on there land rather than leaving teh enriching of the soil totallly to the plants taht grow there.
  No tillers could do things like increase the crops they grow planting things that do well in winter and others that do well in summer and maybe use fertilisers even chemical ones, wiuth out useing too much and remembering Paul Hheaton warning that organic fertilizers normally have some sort of pretty nasty rubbish in them, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals and such; to get really good crops, so their land produced more organic matter for them.
    If you are to give a prize to the organics for having better soils than no tills you have to remember  the organic material they have put on their land has to come from somewhere, from some one elses land, depleting municipal garden soils. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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I suppose that planting your vegetables thickly is part of making cover crops or green manures. If you seed and don't thin out until the seeds have grown pretty big the small plants will cover the earth and when you want to clear them out a bit when they are big enough to be worth something as organic material  then the baby plants will have feed the soil with their roots and you can use the plants you have pulled out when the overcrowding gets really big as organic material.
  An easy way to have more organic material on your land.
  I suppose food forests sort of apply two ways, one for combining trees shrubs and vegetables and the other for having you vegetables growing thickly and covering the ground instead of being well spaced.
   If what you plant covers the ground it protects the earth from the sun and the sun is rough in the south. "Sometimes to hot the eye of heaven shines", drying seedlings and the earth. Covered, the earth wont dry so easily, wont need watering.
    "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of may" , Shakespeare loves his girl because she unlike the weather is temperate, i read a writer who said that Shakespeare was very nice about women, his heroine's were really brave and intelligent and can push things through.
      Rough winds take away the top soil, this is more damaging in farming than gardening, thick plantign stop the winds from carrying off top soil.  Bare expanses of earth are bigger in farming and not protected by hedges and things. Were is Susan Munroe she talked about farming? agri rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I see the question of whether or not to use synthetic chemicals as more-or-less separate from the question of whether or not to till the soil.

Certain synthetic chemicals can make a giant commercial monoculture easier to raise without tillage, and choosing not to till can solve problems that might otherwise be addressed using synthetic chemicals, but I don't think either of these interactions are universal or inescapable.

In the case I cited, the leaves were diverted from landfill; he mentioned that the city might otherwise pay tipping fees, perhaps to incinerator operations or similar.  I would guess that 90% of the organic matter used to feed soil in those videos was grown within 15 feet of the place where it decomposed, and another 5% was transported from within the farmer's property.
 
rose macaskie
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        I have been reading Geoff Hamilton a BBC gardening program man, who is organic and he has some good arguments for not pricking out seeds but letting them grow all together as they come up after seeding them, of leaving them a bit overcrowded, so the earth is covered, and so they create a microclimate that protects the plants. Plants humidify the air and shade each other. He also favours close planting if you are planting instead of sowing seeds.

        He says that gardeners have copied farmers and that has not always been sensible.
       He says that in medieval times they used to scatter the seed on the land, and that was alright because if you have a whole lot of cheap labour, you send your many peasants into your crops to weed them and the job's soon done.

      Jethro Tull invented the seed drill in 1701 and he invented a horse drawn hoe. His seed drill planted in straight lines and the horse drawn hoe hoe weeded between the lines made by his seed drill.

      Geoff Hamilton says that the vegetables in  straight lines made by the seed drill are essential in farming where they grow lots of vegetables and other crops and so hand weeding them is really to much of a chore. But, he argues it is stupid to waste all that land in a garden were you don't have much land and he says he can weed a big bit of vegetable patch before you can get the hoe out of the garden shed.

      He has often compared growing in rows to growing in patches during his long gardening career and has always managed to grow twice, sometimes three times as much in patches as he does in rows.
      He also says that patches between other plants in close planting technique we  habitually use with flower beds was the old way of gardening. In the old days they mixed vegetables and flowers. Then flowers were not always just decorative for them,  they were used to make home grown medicines. if you grow vegetables as you grow flowers in heavily filled beds you are only doing what we know works with flowers. His heavy planting of vegetables was a successful way of growing vegetables.
   He says the disadvantages are that you need more manure if you are to grow a lot of vegetables on a small patch, and that is is harder work when you don't garden in rows but he says, you garden in order to be with your plants so you don't mind a bit of extra work.
       He also says too much manure makes plants weak and if you want plants that don't need pesticides because they are strong you should not use to much. Things always get complicated. Just the right amount is just a bit more if you plant in patches i suppose. agri rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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rose macaskie wrote:He says that gardeners have copied farmers and that has not always been sensible.



It's funny when people do this kind of thing.  I guess it's founded on the assumption that there is only one right way, and the professionals know the right way.

Most of the recipes for grilled or broiled meat stress that the meat should be turned only once.  A professional chef, whose time in the kitchen is very precious and who has been extensively trained in when precisely that one turn should happen, should of course do it this way, but a recipe intended for someone cooking at home should really say to turn the meat early and often, both for more even cooking, and to allow more opportunities for observation and intervention.

That came up in the New York Times article on Phoenix Commotion, too: the convenience of standardized supplies for rapid design and building has led to a "tyranny of the two-by-four and four-by-eight" that makes more carefully-considered an locally-adapted building more difficult than it otherwise might be.
 
rose macaskie
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Joel hollingsworth.
  You would not only have to know how long to leave the meat but exactly how high to leave the flame under it and  how thick your steak is, what sort of metal your pans made of, how cold your kitchen is, etc.
      Meat cools the pan when you put it in and so at first will cook slowly and then when the steak heats up the pan will to and then your steak will start to burn so you have to turn it down so frying is just complicated. If they pan gets cold the meat will start to lose juices, if you want it not to, the pan has to be hot and if you keep turning it over you will cool the pan. if i was given to working out how hot for how long them i would find cooking easier. i just mudldle through. judge from the aspect of leahs special puddings she is really good at timeand temperature.
    My father used to say, look how the colour of the peice of meat or fish on the edges of the peice begins to change when the meat or fish starts going white up high on the edges of the peice  being cooked it is time to turn over the peice of meat. My father used to teach me when i was small, he got me to whatch the meat for him while my mother bathed the little ones. Remember that it will cook quicker on the second side as the peice is already nearly hot through when you come to turn it over.
    You don't want the meat or whatever to burn on the outside and not cook through so you have to have the flame low enough for the outside to take a long time to burn so that the midldle can cook if you burn the outside it will be hard to cook the inside without burnign the outside more. This is most specially true if the steak, hamburgher, is thick. So hot enough to stop the meat from loosing juice but not so hot the outside burns before the inside is cooked. 
  Does this help? and last, frying is a bore. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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 Joel Hollingsworth, well, there are synthetic pesticides and herbicides that are poisonous and canceriginouse and there are fertilizers. Are they synthetic they used to be mined? and synthetic or not fertilisers are not poisons, unless you are the sort who puts a bit or a lot more than the packets say instead of a bit or a lot less.
 
 As to herbicides and pesticides, i leave the potentially scientific me behind and just say, "they scare me". I don't bother to read about which are more or less dangerouse and how the less dangeroue ones work, how they quockley  become totaly harmless, if there are ones that do, how their chemical make up breaks down in a week or two, if such exist, i just say, deadly. whatever the makers say and makers do try to convince people that things aren't dangerouse that are, so distrusting them is absolutley sensible.
      Not studying it at all to find out when they are kidding me and when they aren't is not quite so sensible. I suppose i used to distrust my capacities of discovering but i am begining to think i could make my way through all the stuff written about them and find out the truth. My confidence is shooting up with practice, i have ben practicing for some years now.
     As to fertilisers they are not so different from manure at least they are one or two of the components of manure, isolated from a background of yucky substances, fermented chopped fine bits of vegetation, acids and enzymes i suppose.
  The fact that the great majority of farmers don't take into account the teachings of the organic farmers because Sir Albert  Howard disapproved of chemical fertilisers instead of making a sensible frame work for their use in side all the other things he thought necessary, like organic nitrogen and now they say plants do absorb amino acids, and  humus. After all a slight use of chemical fertilizers must be good.
        Sir Albert Howard's taking a radical position to them has made it easier for the vast majority of the farming poblation and for the multinationals that sell farming goods to ignore his teaching it was easier to say he was not reasonable and scientists and modern discoveries say he is right about the necessity of humus in the soil and of fungi, micorrhizos, and microbios.  To insist that all plants need is, nitrogen, phosphorus and potasium, is to talk as if all we humans needed was iron calcium sugars amino acids, i don't know the basic broken down components of our foods, and to ignore the person who says no, humans need fibre, flora, and vitimins and bile and enzymes and so on. The soil is a sort of exo-digestive system.  Maybe we would live on a few basic substances but with a reduced resistance to illnesses and not for as long and with less healthy hair and skin and maybe studying worse.
       If It would make more people look after their soils to make them as healthy as organic or permaculturists soils, then i would bring chemically fertilisers in to the sytem as long as it was made very clear to farmers what was an overdose of them. They are expensive so it is to farmers advantage to reduce their use. The advantage of soil that absorb and retain more water and nutrients are  easy to understand so it should be easy to get a yes for more organic matter. Put your straw back on your land after rotting it. Grow long stalked wheat again so as to have more straw.
 
    Apparently a good old fashioned meadow with a mixture of plants is ruined with too much manure though if you have sheep grazing on your meadow it is obviously getting some manure.
     That a good meadow is ruined by manure should not allow us to imagine that the thoroughly overgrazed lands near the deserts are not dying for a bit of manure, their plant llife destroyed and nearly no plants to rot in the soil providing a bit of nitrogen, these soils are dying for lack of fertiliser. They are often not desert lands, they are barren lands.

  Geoff Hamilton in his book "ornamental kitchen garden" about growing vegetable and flowers together because of permaculture reasons and because your garden is small, a organic gardening book, says he does not use, "approved by organic pesticides" made from plants, he say opium and arsenic come from plants why should herbicides and pesticides that come from plants be less absolutely dangerouse than ones produced in a laboratory. I agree with Geoff Hamilton i don't like any poisons. There are some in my house my husband brought them. i might use somthing on the prunned ends of branches.  
       Even if we use pesticides that are quickly biodegradable that will have disappeared in two weeks or so they kill the insects and birds and animals that normally control populations of pests. In this way We create a problem for next year. The organic farming way is to have the insects you need and confide in their powers.
      We have got used to eating fruit without a scab on them, fruit that does not look perfect is also good. If you get used to eating messier looking fruit you don't  have to put so many poisonouse products on them.
      Geoff Hamilton all the organic permaculture etc. lot, talks of mixed planting to reduce the need of insectacides and herbicides, plants whose smells or the substances they release from their roots deter  insects.
    He says that butterflies find their food by sight. If the cabbage they want is hidden under a rose then they might not find it. He also says that if you have lots of plants you will fulfill you beneficail insects needs. For instance, there is an insect, that looks a bit like a small bee that eats aphids that likes a good bit of pollen when it comes out of the crysalid before starting on aphids, so you are more likely to have this insect around if you have plants with a lot of pollen. A lot odf different plants will also fulfill birds, that eat insects pests, needs. Birds like trees for instance, so with lots of different plants not just food ones, you will create a balance that stops insect pests and others most of the time. You can't have everything perfect, it is suffer from the ills poisons bring or from the loses that natural balances can't completely prevent.    
  Some types of no-till people use herbicides and i don't approve of using them, Sepp Holzer uses pigs which is  away of tilling though maybe you can pretend it is not. Is part of the reason for using ducks geese and hens so they will clear land for you to plant and you can say you don't dig.
     Permaculture gardeners say they have to spend time cutting a lot off their plants so they don't take all the space from other plants. Geoff Hamilton says when you pull up one vegetable or plant to eat it, put in another, the pulling up of a plant serves instead of ploughing, this would not help farmers but it does gardeners. He say we want to plant five lettuces a week to get nearly a lettuce a day, say all summer and so on with other plants, so he is always pulling up and filling in where has has pulled up.  It was from his book and the gardening book of John Seymour that i learnt a lot about organic farming before i was actually studying it. I did not buy them because thye atlked organics so maybe it is just that alot of gardening books have organica and permaculture ideas in them. YOu just have to spend an hour in a book shop flickin gthruohg the books to see which ones talk of this sort of thing and which don't. thoug in my case it was just in the books i brought. it was later that iwas looking for anti desertification ideas. agri rose macaskie.  

 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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rose macaskie wrote:
  Does this help? and last, frying is a bore. agri rose macaskie.



That's about how I do it, yes.  But with lots of fiddling.  It works, and the results are tasty.

My sister in law went to culinary school, though, so she knows her equipment, and especially her food.  She turns something once, and can manage many other tasks as the meat cooks, and can plate it all beautifully as it all finishes together.  Dozens of times in a shift.  With a variety of dishes per table, and special orders...

There are things from my professional life, though, that she might have to fiddle around in order to get right.  The short story, is that I'm absolutely certain that methods suited to farming wouldn't always be best for gardeners, any more than methods needed in a factory would always (or even usually) be appropriate for tinkering.  Exactly as you said in an earlier post.
 
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