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Building soil faster than nature

 
                        
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Thanks Jami!    I was replying at some ungodly hour in the morning, and looked for a quote button while I was typing my reply, didnt see it anywhere so thought there was some techie trick
 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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ediblecities wrote:I criticize this method very much, because you will never use the soil underneath very much. They tell you that earthworms are doing the digging for you but I want to see an earthworm digging through a big stone....most of the free sources of mulch and compost are gone, and the end of the story you name it.



I'm a counterexample. My favorite sort of mulch is two inches of concrete. It's important that water be allowed to flow under the edge of this during the wet season, but it's enormously helpful.

I would never pour concrete for that purpose, of course! But if you can find the north edge of an existing patio, it works extremely well. While you're right about worms traveling through stone, they are happy to work safely underneath one. Worms are only half the story, though: deep-rooted legumes are also very important.

If I'm not using the soil underneath, how is it that a tomato plant grows three feet tall and four feet wide every year?

I'd also like to agree with Jami that, not counting concrete, the best sources of mulch are yet to be developed.
 
                        
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I once planted a hops plant on the south side of a "modular home" (fancy term for trailer, really) in the hopes it would moderate the heat in the summer ..the roots instantly ambled underneath the building and the plant turned out like Audrey..a monster to control  at all. I used  to plant flowers  in front of it and there was no problem finding earth, the roots almost all headed under the building.  This wasn't even in a hot climate! I had forgotton about that until you mentioned the edge of a patio...
.Boy do hops plants become a haven for wildlife, too. We even had birds in the thing (as well as such things as wasps) .They are very hard on siding though and will reach right through trellises to get to it. A very tough plant when it gets enthusiastic. I won't plant one near a building again but have plans to plant some along the fenceline. (sorry, off topic)
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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Pam wrote:
I once planted a hops plant on the south side of a "modular home" ...the roots instantly ambled underneath the building ...(sorry, off topic)



I think this is entirely on topic.

The moist, sheltered environment under pavement or a structure is an unnatural place, which can be host to unnaturally-rapid soil improvement.

All those rotting roots are excellent for the soil, but might not be such a boon to a foundation! Most builders prefer to dig down to subsoil, I believe, so that settling is less of a problem. I would just like to bring this up, in case it might be a problem to undermine this structure.

If you would still like to grow there, maybe a deep-rooted climbing legume would be worth including in the mix, maybe a pea or sweet pea for the winter?
 
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I had a few thoughts on the biointensive process.

First, I wonder what the energy return on energy invested is for this process compared to say, hugelkultur. Seems like double digging beds every year would yield less net calories over the long term compared to hugelkultur.

Second, it seems that many of the tasks of this process, e.g. growing cover crops, tilling and composting could be handed over to natural processes through proper design of the bed, i.e. hugelkultur, and plant community.

It would be interesting to compare the inputs and results of a hugelkultur plot planted with a polyculture of vegetables and nutrient accumulators with a biointensive plot.
 
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Where I live in front of my house, there was a lawn, and beneath this lawn, was gravel, sand and the old soil existing there (but the gravel was brought during construction of the house). This is where I test my permaculture.

I haven't inputed any organic matter other than the one growing picking fallen leaves from poplar trees 10 meters away, and lupins growing within those 10 meters, and of course my own kitchen compost.

Initially nothing could be grown on that soil other then grass. But now the vegetables are growing better, because I improved the soil. I will avoid now disturbing that created soil and not dig further, and only add further organic matter (leaves, lupins, compost) as mulching.

The soil is probably still acidic, but many vegetables grow well: salads, carrots, squash, potatoes, celery, but the broccoli are still rather small. However you can feel the fertility and it is a natural one.

I also grow many flowers and green manures across my lawn, which I cut and mulch. That is excellent organic matter for the garden. And all the remaining green non edible parts of some vegs, like potatoes tops, etc... Somehow I leave the weeds, which are mainly dandelions and sorrels to cut and mulch as well (and eat them sometimes).

I completely see the value of animal life: worms, birds pooping here and there, increasing its fertility, and also from nearby trees which shed their leaves and create humus in topsoil. That's where I see the cycle of nutrients closing. Well, this is my own experience. Of course I could have had brought animal manure, rock phosphate and force my soil to produce much more to feed me, but so far I have eaten little from my garden. The climate is also pretty cold. We already had a blizzard yesterday. But I still have nice broad beans, carrots, swedes and rye growing very happily in there.
 
Posts: 210
Location: Manitowoc WI USA Zone 5
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barefooter McCoy wrote:From http://www.growbiointensive.org/grow_main.html




That was worth reading.
 
They weren't very bright, but they were very, very big. Ad contrast:
All of the video from the Eat Your Dirt Summit
https://permies.com/t/106759/video-Eat-Dirt-Summit
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