• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Rhizomes at every depth - WHAT TO DO???  RSS feed

 
kim murphy
Posts: 3
Location: Saint Raymond, QC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
HI All,

Thank you kindly for any and all input you can offer to assist me with my dilemma!

The property: 55 acres, 15 will be food forest (poly-culture orchard) and market gardens. The balance will remain an intact forest and managed sustainably. We don't even know if we wish to log any of it for our own purposes, besides pulling out felled trees for mushroom production and wood chips. The property is sloped towards a flat that is surrounded by approximately 1km of river - its a valley with a south facing mountain just north west of us. The flat was/is sand. But, about 40 years ago the family that owned this property (for 5 generations) brought clay and mixed it with the sand - manually. At that time they cultivated it for about 10 years then allowed it to go fallow. That was 30 years ago. Since then of course nature has been reestablishing itself, but Nature's choices have turned out to be a nightmare with regard to not destroying soil structure.

How do I remove those rhizomes without destroying everything? And they, the rhizome plants are at 3 separate layers: surface (quack (couch) grass), a mass about 4"s in depth, then another between 2"s to 6"s, and then another which has 1-2" diameter roots from 6-12"s in depth. Below that it's all sand. So, we only have a foot of good soil, all matted with the rhizomes.

This is what we've tried, and the results that followed. As as a preface I didn't want to till, I had hoped to double dig. Have you ever attempted to double dig a mat of rhizomes 1' deep? You can't, it's an impossible task. That's where I'm hoping you can tell me I'm wrong...there are methods I'm just not aware of.

So first we tried this machine that removes sod, it slices the mat at about a 4" depth, that's 4"s of my 12"s...yikes. So we stopped that and thought we'd till a plot and see what happens. That attempt, with only a very minimal 1 pass meted out lumps of unpenetrable lumps and masses. And, yes I attempted to shake the soil from as many lumps as possible, but still not looking good. So, okay, lets just raise the soil, by adding soil. Brought in soil and placed it atop the tilled lumps. Planted away. Almost all of the root vegetables are crooked. If that was my marketing plan, crooked root veggies, I succeeded, but as far as I know there's no market for elbow shaped veggies.

In two other areas I'm trying a couple of other ideas. I read somewhere that if I mow as close as possible to the soil then lay black plastic for 2 years I'll kill all the rhizomes. I don't really want to wait two years. And then what? Will I need to remove the roots? Will I still need to till? Will I kill all of the micro organisms in the process of having covered them for 2 years - won't it be dead by then? In the other area I took to using a foot long screw driver and just stabbed the soil to its depth, lifting and twirling and manually pulling out all of the roots but retained most of the soil. That was a 25' circle which took about 1 week to accomplish. And what was left behind, from the latter attempt, seemed to bring the sand centrifugally to the surface.

Thus far it's not seeming like any of my choices are optimum. Not destroy soil structure, but remove the rhizomes. How the heck can this be accomplished? 2 years covered in plastic, till lightly then add another foot of organic soil? Does that seem like a solution?

Oh yeah, and my hope is that I will eventually follow the practices of Coleman, Fortier and Jeavon's models, so I'm very familiar with all of the tools employed. The walking tractor, etc. But, their methods, nor anything else I've read about organic soil management, address how I'm going to prepare farrow land, they all commence from the assumption that the soil is workable and can be immediately double dug or lightly tilled.

Help!


 
Mike Feddersen
Posts: 357
21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't envy your situation but maybe if you want to try a few things you can grow your land in stages. I was thinking that maybe composting big swaths of the stuff could be accomplished in pile of the stuff scraped from the ground, then spread out after the heat has destroyed the stuff.

Also if you plastic mulched in rows or areas with raised beds.

I found this Mother Earth on Weeds
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2581
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
501
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lucky you!!! If I had my choice of garden soil, I'd choose clay every time instead of sand. Clay holds onto nutrients and water making it a joy for agriculture as long as it isn't worked when it's too wet. What are you worried about destroying? Everything? The clay particles will still be there, the sand particles will still be there... Lots of organic matter will still be there... Roots go down 10 feet, 30 feet, etc... Anything you do is only a scratch on the surface. You can't remove all life from the soil regardless of what methods you apply. And even if you did, it would quickly be reseeded with microbes from the air, and from bird droppings, and from deep within the soil where your treatments don't reach. Insects, molds, fungi, bacteria, and animals are abundant in your area and will quickly colonize everything you touch, regardless of whether your touch is good or bad.

55 acres eh? What do the tops of the rhizomous plants look like? Are they something that could be shaded out by corn? Or squash? If not, I suppose that means either leaving it basically like it is, or using heavy equipment. Tilling rhizomes turns one big plant into twenty small plants. A strategy I've used successfully with some types of rhizomous plants is to till, and then wait till the plants are just starting to re-emerge and till again, wait and repeat, until the roots run out of energy. It doesn't work easily with every rhizomous species, but it works with many, and it's an excellent way to deplete the soil's seed bank. I guess that I'll catch flack for suggesting tilling, but it's a practice that has survived 10,000 years, I suppose because it works so well. And any cultivation you do is just a scratch on the surface regardless of how deep you go.

Sounds like you need heavier equipment... A 6 foot tiller attached to a 55 HP tractor will chop up corn plants, small trees and roots, any type of fibrous rhizomes.

Pigs love eating rhizomes... Perhaps run a sub-soiler through a field and then pasture pigs on it to dig up and eat the rhizomes.



 
Galadriel Freden
Posts: 363
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
18
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Kim!

I second the pigs suggestion.

I also think that you might be able to chicken tractor it, bit by bit, as long as you let the chickens go the whole "scorched earth" way. Good way to raise a bunch of broilers: they will till and manure it for you, and you get lovely meat (or eggs, if you prefer that route).

In fact, I think an animal solution may be the least labor intensive, and most productive way to use your space, at least for now. Maybe you can graze cattle or sheep on it. Or even horses. Good management can improve the soil, give you a yield, and prepare the site for a future food forest or garden. Perhaps you can look into Joel Salatin's methods of grazing, or Alan Savory.

Good luck
 
kim murphy
Posts: 3
Location: Saint Raymond, QC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike Feddersen wrote:I don't envy your situation but maybe if you want to try a few things you can grow your land in stages. I was thinking that maybe composting big swaths of the stuff could be accomplished in pile of the stuff scraped from the ground, then spread out after the heat has destroyed the stuff.

Also if you plastic mulched in rows or areas with raised beds.

I found this Mother Earth on Weeds


Preface: I don't seem to get how to reply yet...can't find a "reply" icon.

Yep, you're right!

In stages, mulch, raised beds.

Thank you!
 
kim murphy
Posts: 3
Location: Saint Raymond, QC
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Lucky you!!! If I had my choice of garden soil, I'd choose clay every time instead of sand. Clay holds onto nutrients and water making it a joy for agriculture as long as it isn't worked when it's too wet. What are you worried about destroying? Everything? The clay particles will still be there, the sand particles will still be there... Lots of organic matter will still be there... Roots go down 10 feet, 30 feet, etc... Anything you do is only a scratch on the surface. You can't remove all life from the soil regardless of what methods you apply. And even if you did, it would quickly be reseeded with microbes from the air, and from bird droppings, and from deep within the soil where your treatments don't reach. Insects, molds, fungi, bacteria, and animals are abundant in your area and will quickly colonize everything you touch, regardless of whether your touch is good or bad.

55 acres eh? What do the tops of the rhizomous plants look like? Are they something that could be shaded out by corn? Or squash? If not, I suppose that means either leaving it basically like it is, or using heavy equipment. Tilling rhizomes turns one big plant into twenty small plants. A strategy I've used successfully with some types of rhizomous plants is to till, and then wait till the plants are just starting to re-emerge and till again, wait and repeat, until the roots run out of energy. It doesn't work easily with every rhizomous species, but it works with many, and it's an excellent way to deplete the soil's seed bank. I guess that I'll catch flack for suggesting tilling, but it's a practice that has survived 10,000 years, I suppose because it works so well. And any cultivation you do is just a scratch on the surface regardless of how deep you go.

Sounds like you need heavier equipment... A 6 foot tiller attached to a 55 HP tractor will chop up corn plants, small trees and roots, any type of fibrous rhizomes.

Pigs love eating rhizomes... Perhaps run a sub-soiler through a field and then pasture pigs on it to dig up and eat the rhizomes.

+++++

Wow, breath of fresh air! You inspired me right off the bat, thanks for that...

Only thing is, is that it's not CLAY!!!

It's a sand bed, use to be a river bed, and is sand, sand, sand. The land that is, the land I described and hope to market garden and polyculture. But, those folks, the previous land holders, brought clay from a cliff about 500ft away and across a 100ft, rapid river.

Oh, I should also mention that certain portions along our side of the river is inhabited by raspberries, and lots of them (not productive though). Flanking them are conifers (pine and spruce) which is making progress to move and fill in the gaps. But can't really because the soil is so complex here. Acid and Alkaline loving and linking is really quite a treat here. Well, at least from an observational point of view. As another example I have maple (syrup trees - two types of maple and birch). It's quite an interesting piece of earth.

So, back to the question. Rhizomes. Would you mind sending me a pict or link to a 6' tiller, and a sub-soiler? Yep, wrapping my mind around the totality of it.

Bums up, for you! I'm mean thumbs...

ps: think i'll add a bit more to the local bio so that you don't have to guess what i do or not know


 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2581
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
501
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

55 HP John Deere with 6 foot tiller.


2 acre field tilled in about 3 hours.


p.s. That racetrack I left in the middle of the field was a bad idea... Nice to have a place to drive, but irrigation pipe was always laying across the road so it made it impassable. The next year I left 9 feet between rows in a few places so that I could back into the field, and then drive out as vegetables were loaded onto the truck. These lanes were especially appropriate beside the corn patch, and in the middle of the tomato patch, and beside the squash patch. They didn't matter next to lightweight crops like beans or peas.

I don't have any photos of subsoilers, but they are just a steel knife that is dragged trough the ground to aerate soil and break up hardpan: which is unlikely to exist in sandy soil... A sub-soiler would make it easy for pigs to dig. Digging in sand is easy enough already I suppose.
 
Mike Feddersen
Posts: 357
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Kim, it's always nice to be able to help.
I found this gardenweb forum piece with lots of peoples input in the comments. http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/2042406/lawn-to-garden-convert-removing-grass
 
Mike Feddersen
Posts: 357
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kim, a hindsight thought was "what does she want to eventually accomplish"? And "what would help her fix her sandy soil"?
So I googled "best crop for sandy soil"?
Loads of links and one to a permie thread http://www.permies.com/mobile/t/15394/organic/Summer-cover-crop-sandy-soil?foo=a
 
Steve Farmer
Posts: 390
Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
3
forest garden greening the desert trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What is it you want to do that the rhizomes are stopping you from doing - why are they a problem?
Apart from the couch grass, what do the rhizomes belong to, are they actively sprouting above ground?

I'd be inclined to plant something fast growing with a deep tap root, that will not be bothered by your shallow rhizomes and will be able to outcompete whatever they belong to.

Where is QC, what is your climate?
 
Kittum Daniel
Posts: 40
Location: NE Oklahoma
toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Based on my assumption that the ground is too tight for good water and oxygen penetration, I agree with Joseph and Galadriel.

I have a somewhat similar problem here with what is known here as "hard pan". For some reason a 2 or 3 inch band of soil compaction develops about 4 to 5 inches below the surface. I ran a tool like the Lawson Aeroator over the ground and it did give some promising results. our hay yeild was increased by about 30% over average in that part of the field but still lagged behind the rest of the properity. The hard pan was dented but it is still in effect. This coming winter I hope to run a subsoiler at a target depth of 6 to 8 inches and actualy break into the hard layer.

The common problem between your situation and mine - as I understand - is the ground is impreatratable to the roots of perferd crops, water, and oxygen.

As much as I don't like pigs, it seems that the most reasonable way to de-root the ground is by mechanically loosening up the top 4 to 8 inches of soil so the pigs could easily root out the roots. I would consider doing this on a small test plot at least.



 
J W Richardson
Posts: 76
Location: Council, ID
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am confused...are the rhizomes all couch grass, or if not, what are the other plants?
I was able to mulch out couch grass fairly easily. Bindweed, not.
 
sebastiaan roels
Posts: 15
Location: denmark
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hy there

I kinda had the same situation with the rhizome grass , i did plough the field and then rotortilled it which ended up just cutting the rhizomes in smaller pieces
very soon after the land had been ploughed and tilled the grass just popped straight up, so I planted white clover instead.
whenever the initial grass or other weeds where growing higher then my clover stand I would trim the top layer as in to minimalize the damage to the clover stand
also when the clover got so tall that it started to kinda fall over and let light penetrate through I would cut it with a scythe and use it as mulch on y veggybeds

so now at the end of the first year I endd up with a pretty nice stand of clover and most of the rhIzoMe grass has been smothered by the clover.
in hindsight I should not have ploughed or rotortilled the field just harrowed it to open the soil slightly for soil contact with the clover seed.
here is a pic of the clover stand now a couple of months after that same field was totally matted with rhizomes.

have a nice day!
IMG_5516.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5516.JPG]
IMG_5517.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5517.JPG]
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
great story and photos Sebastiaan. What are you intending to do with the field?
 
sebastiaan roels
Posts: 15
Location: denmark
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hey rose

glad you like the pictures
what would I like to do with it ??
well we have bought this property almost two years ago and this year we were able to buy one hectare of adjacent land.
I really like the id of providing food for my own family and once in a while I m playing with the id of starting a market garden
but for now I really like to experiment with different things as long as it does not involve chemical herbicides pesticides fungicides or fertilizer.
so the clover patch was part of an experiment with green manure whilst trying to get the soil relatively weedfree
in the background of the picture you can see some vegetation that is highere those are the other experiment areas
all the other patches had not been cut since I thought that those types of plant would not deal good with that. they have almost as much weeds plus loads of weedseeds after this years growing season.
I feel that the white clover is the big winner in this experiment although the other things where also a pretty sight when they where blooming and attracted loads of insects.
the clover got cut down before it could flower.
I m now thinking of sowing clover where I had this years potatoes and grow potatoes in a part of the cloverpatch.
then use all excess clover cuttings as mulch on my vegetable beds.
here is a picture of the property


Screenshot-3.png
[Thumbnail for Screenshot-3.png]
IMG_5515.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5515.JPG]
IMG_5519.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5519.JPG]
 
incandescent light gives off an efficient form of heat. You must be THIS smart to ride this ride. Tiny ad:
21 podcast review of Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
https://permies.com/wiki/54445/digital-market/digital-market/podcast-review-Sepp-Holzer-Permaculture
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!