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Growing food plants directly in weedy sod. Microbial teas?

 
gardener
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Hi,

I recall a thread here where someone ( I believe the OP was in Oregon, but I can't be sure) was describing growing food plants directly in weedy sod, and the sod grasses went away because the food plants were watered with teas made with the grasses/weeds.  I've been having trouble finding the thread and was hoping someone could direct me there or if not, the please discuss this with me so that I have all the information.  

i would love to try this method and create a no till area in my garden without having to sheetmulch with cardboard, but I would also like to do it as per Ingham's prescription.  I have a number of really tenacious grasses and other persistent plants that I deal with in my gardens, and such a method could save me a ton of energy if I got it right.  
 
gardener
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The sod plants (grasses) would only go away because of being shaded out by the vegetable leaves.
Plants are never allopathic towards themselves, which the thread you mention sounds like it was purporting and trying to give it significance by using Elaine's name in an attempt to give credence to their misinformation and or defame her character.

I have seen "articles" all over the net that give totally wrong information and then cite a well known scientists name as having been the one that wrote it or said it in a lecture.
I have no respect for anyone who does such a thing, it is criminal in intent and the poster should be tried in a court of law and convicted, not only did they use a persons name with out permission but they also tried to defame the persons character.
I'd like to see such people punished by old English law where they would be hung, drawn and quartered.

Now that I have that off my chest,
Making compost from grasses and other materials is how we make compost, compost teas are aerated to increase microbe life so they can be used to add micro organisms into the soil or onto the plants sprayed with the teas.
These are soil builders and disease fighters, not plant killers. If you spray a compost tea and it kills some plants, then you need to destroy that compost tea immediately, something is terribly wrong with that batch.

Redhawk
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Coolio.   I figured it was too good of a thing to be true.  

Thanks Bryant.

While I have your ear though... the project that I have been brainstorming is to do some experimental beds in my meadow.   Let me know what you think.

The idea is to plot out beds twenty feet long by three feet wide, with a path gap between them that is large enough to comfortably swing a scythe (five feet or so).  The  plan is to build a perennial no-till soil system with mostly annual plants, for future annual plant market garden production.

I have all of these potatoes that have had enough of being in the cellar (or the cellar just isn't built well enough to deal with the Solstice).  At any rate they are sprouting eyes.

So I was thinking of laying the potatoes on the beds and then, instead of digging holes for them, simply scything the paths and then laying the material over the potatoes.  I might add sunchokes, to the party, and once the level is built up and there is some material breaking down with the potato growth eating it, throw some seeds of things like daikon and parsnips into the fray.  I would water the whole area with a sprinkler, and the bed with some extra compost teas.  I was not thinking of harvesting anything, but letting them multiply in place.  

In the spring I would just continue planting seeds: Radishes, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, parsley, chard, rutabega, lettuce, kale, cilantro, etc, and put a row of large sunflowers down the middle.  I was thinking I might transplant in some squash or zucchinis  around this time next year, and plant some late peas to climb the established sunflowers.  

I figure I'll be dealing with some grass for sure, but if I can get the bed rocking with things growing in the sod, that I might be able to out-compete the grasses if I'm pulling it or cutting it with my sickle or scissors.   I would allow everything to go to flower and seed, except the grasses of course, and leave most of the vertical growth standing dead at the end of the season.  I imagine that in a few years time, the bed will have quite a build up of organic matter depth(both above and below ground), as well as a very biodiverse situation with all the varying heights of the vertical growth both above and below ground, attracting worms, beetles, centipedes, birds, climbing insects and web spiders, while the flowers will be attracting pollinating bees, ants, wasps and flies.  I could also put comfrey and lupine in the mix to get some heavy root growth and chop and drop potential.  In the end, the comfrey, sunchokes, potatoes, and lupins would probably have to be chopped out of the mix, but I think it might be a great addition for soil building.  I don't imagine that I would have to do too much maintenance, besides going in and yanking or cutting grass occasionally.  Down the road, I figure there would be less and less grass, and I would have a huge amount of good vegetable seed stock in the surface soils, and I could then use it for market garden beds that were pretty weed free, and super rich.    

Normally what I have been doing with new ground is sheet mulching with cardboard over mowed and wet meadow.  I punch holes in it for potatoes, and then weed anything that tries to come up through the spud holes, while, if anything tries to get through other spots on the cardboard, weed it, and then throw more cardboard over the location.  I have had good success with this method but I was thinking this other idea might be worth exploring.  

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Hau Roberto, your plan seems to me to be very sound and definitely worth the experiment.

You might find that you need to add some bulk (straw) over the potatoes to get good tuber formation.

We have plans to use Wire fencing for potatoes next year, layer in some straw and rotted manure for the bottom then place the potatoes on top and alternate layer straw, compost, rotted manure and repeat till the wire containers are full.
From there we will just water as needed. Wolf read about this method and so we will be giving it a trial with several different potatoes; russet, Yukon gold, and red, those are our favorites so those will be good to try this method with.

Redhawk
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I've seen that technique but I have not used it.  Some call it the Japanese Ring.  It has lots press about it, both online, in magazines, and garden shows.  It seems to be a resounding success!  Good luck with it.  I'm going to call this topic resolved.  Thanks for your valued input.
 
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Bryant, you might find this article by Cultivariable interesting. They breed potatoes, and supposedly potato towers don't really work the way they are advertised to. https://www.cultivariable.com/potato-towers/. Here's a quote from the article:

  • Hilling up much beyond six inches brings no benefits and is likely to reduce yield.
  • The purpose of hilling is not to stimulate production of tubers, but to protect the tubers from the environment.
  • Potato yield is primarily limited by foliage area, not by the amount of soil above the seed tuber.
  • Conventional container growing works fine with potatoes but potato towers don’t work.


  • I found the article to mirror my own experiences. I grew potatoes last year and "hilled up" with mulch a good three feet tall (I had a three-foot fence around the garden bed, so the mulch was contained in it). I applied the mulch carefully so as to keep the leaves in the sunlight. When I went to dig for potatoes, they were all in the first 6 inches of mulch/soil. None any higher. I got a normal amount of potatoes, and all the mulch did smother all the weeds and make for a great garden bed the next year. But, looking back, it really wasn't necessary to spend the time and effort and resources to hill the potatoes that much.
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
    971
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    Thanks Nicole, that potato experiment is Wolf's not mine and I agreed to stay out of her experiment from the moment she brought it up.

    I've never had much success with trying any of the "alternate methods" for growing potatoes, perhaps I am just to set in the old ways for them to work for me, or they just don't work as advertised.
     
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