Virtually every attempt at planting seeds on this parcel of land has failed. I am trying again this year by planting earlier than ancient tradition has called for (plant corn when the leaves of the oak tree are the size of a mouses ear).
I have also planted some of the grain with water-retaining crystals.
Mulching in a previous year did NOT work.
I used a dibble to punch holes in the sod, dropped the seeds and possibly the crystals in, and then punched the dibble in next to it to close the hole.
I planted Indian corn sweet corn, squash, and birdseed (millet, sorgum, oil seed sunflower) and buckwheat. The soil has a lot of sand in it and so it drains more quickly than most of the midwestern soil: TOO quickly! It is really too dry for grain. Again, mulching did NOT work!
Next year perhaps I will try winter wheat if the corn fails.
On the GOOD side, while the asparagus is a lot smaller than the asparagus in my garden, it appears to be healthy and there is enough every year for some me to eat: it is not YET up though. I am sure it will be ready next week to harvest. Some kind of onion appears to be doing well aabove a seep: not AT the seep but above it (good drainage perhaps?). I THINK it is bunching green onions, but since I planted more than one kind of onion I am not sure. The American Plums by the creek that I planted this spring have broken dormancy: we will see where on this land they survive the summer.
And, just for fun the daffodils survived the winter well and have come back again this spring. May they spread and flourish! I like the ones with the mixed yellow and white petals the best: they are so cheerfull! And the Louisiana Iris BELOW the seep are 8 inches tall and promising a good bloom! I wish there were vegetables and grain that were as happy there as the flowers!
Well, perhaps winter wheat as it is harvested so early.
You need some water holding capacity to your soil. the mulch DID work, it just was never meant to hold the water in place in the soil. Its meant to block evaporation. Organic matter, composts, etc being the easiest way to bulk water holding capacity of a soil. Those crystals can last awhile but not forever, if you build up the soil, it wont need replaced like those would.
How did you do your variety selections? Reason I ask is, your soil isnt to dry for grain. Corn is a c4 plant, many cultivars can finish only on water in the soil as a sprout (obviously you need water holding capacity to the soil) and many of our other grains are all directly from arid regions. Like wheats from iraq area.
With the plant corn when oak leaves are the size of mouse ears, do you live in the area this was relevant? For me the leaves are that size now, it will be 6 weeks or so before I stop having frosts, so obviously i wont be planting corn now. that is very region specific advise.
I love the idea of growing winter grains, having some winter habit and summer habit ones, is very wise. Your still going to need water holding abilities in your soil either way....
Well, the mulch stayed on top of the soil and the plants died.
And, this land had been fallow for years before I got to it.
I can see where *IF* the mulch was IN the soil it MIGHT have helped, but I can see no way of doing that. By the end of the summer I had some rotted material ON TOP of the soil.
I cannot dig in mulch: I am handicapped and I no longer dig.
YES the bit about oak trees being the size of a mouses ear is correct for my area. That is when the Indians planted. That is near the time when the farmers planted: they do it perhaps 2 weeks later. But, they planted in the flat land next to the big rivers, and I own a hillside next to a creek.
Many farms raise unirrigated corn in my area, but again most of the soil where I live has a hight clay content, and therefore a higher water retaining capability.
c4 plants use co2 more efficiently then other plants and because of it, need WAY less water, or co2 for that matter. Long ago the earth used to have much more co2 in the atmosphere. as it lowered different plants adapted different ways. In dry areas this issue was compounded, as plants need water to process co2 which over time thee was less of, and some plants became c4 plants.
about the mulch, my point was that it did everything mulch can do, but that wasnt all you needed. the mulch blocks evaporation, the soil itself is still the medium to hold the water, which yours doesnt, its not evaporating away, its draining away.
It sounds like if you build water retention in your soil, that corn should thrive if the local farmers are growing it unirrigated.
If you cant dig in mulch and composts etc... Im not sure what else you can do.... hire someone to do it perhaps? sounds like its a major issue for your site. Im not sure of another way around it except nice and deep raised beds or something, hugelkultur or something on top of the soil. all of which is heavy work to.... the good thing is though, is if you find a way to build its water holding capacity, and continue to mulch after that, you wont have to continually dig it in. So you only have to find a way to get that consistency to start it should be easy enough to keep....
Thinking back it is probably significant that most of what is growing on that land is Native American. White clover only shows up every few years, but there is a native legume with big while flowers that puts on a good show most years. I once knew the name but I have forgotten it. What grass I have been able to identify has ALSO been native. The grass on the uphill area is a short grass, but the grass nearer the creek is one of the tall native grasses.
I looked up the names a few years back but I have forgotten them.
I live in Eastern Kansas and most of the plants in my area are imported: Blue grass, dandylion, white clover, and so forth. I was pleased to see so many native plants on my land but now I think it is because only plants that are well-adapted can live on it! The soil is noticibly dryer than the surrounding area.
Obviously the fertility is here: I just need to figure out how to grow something more usefull than grass and wildflowers. Mostly I think this land is best suited for grazing, but since I live 20 minutes away and can only visit weekly, I will not do that.
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