Jason Padvorac

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since Mar 25, 2015
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Northeast of Seattle, zone 8: temperate with rainy winters and dry summers.
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Recent posts by Jason Padvorac

Given limited time (and lots of breeding projects), I'm continuing with Moringa this year and am not working with Chaya.

I ordered three different supposedly cold tolerant varieties from ebay STX-1, STX-2, and PKM 1. I will be planting them soon, we'll see how they do!


5 years ago
Sure thing, Ash! If you go to my website, in the sidebar there is an email signup box: http://jasonpadvorac.com/

Sign up there, and I'll keep you posted about this project, and my other permaculture grain projects (mostly perennial wheat, rye, and oats). I raaaaaarely send updates, but should at least once every six months hopefully.
Well, my source for Chaya petered out, and the Moringa we direct seeded appeared to get 100% eaten by something.

Next season what I'll do differently is (1) actually plant chaya, and (2) do moringa as transplants.
6 years ago
I've got sticks / limbs / logs from a cherry tree that came down recently, and I need to build a new duck house. I figure people here might have done stuff like that before? I'm envisioning something kind of like a square wattle fence pen, with a roof.

Our coldest winters get to about 15F, so temperature isn't a huge concern. It should be predator proof, though. I'm not sure how I could prevent rats and etc from chewing through the walls, or if that would simply not be an issue. Thanks for any thoughts!

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Around here, dandelions grow tall in moist shady places, and hug the ground in sunny dry places. My fields are all in full sunlight.

That makes sense. My garden is not in full sun, and is fairly moist. This year the field I'll be using should have a lot more sun, and probably less moisture, so I'll give them a shot in some of the beds. Thanks!

Shane Kaser wrote:I keep a shaker of collected seed that I sprinkle on every bare patch of dirt.

I love that idea so much! I am totally going to start doing that.

Shane Kaser wrote:I know you said it's not all about the nitrogen-fixer, but really it should be the foundation of any ground-cover in disturbed sites (annual vegetable beds). I know you said White Clover is too aggressive for you, but you really have to give it a chance.  It is everything you wanted in your list of worthy attributes.  Much less aggressive than mint, but still resilient.  I haven't had much trouble with it overtaking my plants, but I'm also wandering around with a hoe and clippers most evenings of the growing season...

I guess I really should experiment with it in at least a few beds. But to make a living from growing vegetables, I have to be able to maintain a large area with fairly little work. As much as possible, I have to optimize away from needing to go around with a hoe and clippers. The goal is to arrive at a place where I mostly just plant and harvest. There are people doing that already, but they use tilthers, weed cover, and other stuff like that which I am trying to avoid.

Shane Kaser wrote:And I don't expect too much from any given foot of bed; they should actually be categorized somewhere between vegetable and herb beds...  Herbs are much more at home in this kind of situation, so don't be shy with kitchen herbs; they are the best bang for your DIY-buck compared to supermarket prices.

...hrm, if the things I was clipping were saleable products, that might do the trick. That'd be stacking "weeding" (or control of overbearing plants) with harvest, which has to happen anyway. That's something to think about.

Shane Kaser wrote: Sometimes, for a little extra care, I cut a slot to a hole in the center of a piece of cardboard (1-2' square), and slide that onto the crown of a plant - pretty quick and easy root-zone weed-barrier mulch. To get big, juicy vegetables takes a more active disturbance regime of soil amending and irrigation.  But the ones that had to fight the ground-cover and search deeply for water, they may be smaller and blemished, but I wager they carry at least as much (and probably much more) flavor/nutrition as the equivalent big-juicy (water-filled) specimens.

I'll be dry farming as much as I can (maybe entirely), and will be getting most of my crops established in the wet season here, with plenty of time to get big roots deep in time for the dry summer. And that's another reason to have super short cover plants - the more leaf surface above ground, the more water they will suck out of the soil. If I can have super short, super water thrifty ground cover plants they might not take too much water. I think you are right that vegetables stressed for water can carry a lot of nutrition, almost certainly more in terms of nutrients per weight, and possibly equal in terms of square feet that went into the production.

It does get a bit complicated because if they are water stressed, they will not be bloated with water, but at the same time the soil food web and their capacity to access nutrients in the soil can be reduced. I think the sweet spot is for the plants to have ready access to soil that is moist enough to be alive, but *not* filled with excess moisture to bulk up with.
6 years ago
Thank you for the strawberry recommendations, Hans! And I would love to try some New Zealand spinach, thank you for offering! I'll send you a PM.

Joseph, I might try that, but I wonder if we have different dandelions (or if our different climates make the dandelions behave differently). Where I'm at, when I grow dandelions in my garden they get about a foot tall - and that is without irrigation!

Sue Ba wrote:plus the chocolate mint spread into the pineapple beds and established itself there.

That sounds like an incredibly delicious arrangement. And I hope that someday I'm producing 90% of our own food.

Thank you for elaborating. Root space sounds like a likely candidate indeed. I expect that in my climate, with very dry summers, water will be the most limiting factor given that I'm trying to dry farm as much as I can. I think your lesson with the pineapple and the chocolate mint is very instructive - the key will be to find which plants get along together, and which don't. Lots of experimenting to do!
6 years ago
Simone: I did mail the seeds to you, then they came back because the envelope was (supposedly) too thick. I mailed them again, but there was a bit of a delay before I did. I recently mailed a parcel to Canada, and they said it should take about 10 days - I mailed the seeds again 5 days ago, so I'd expect you to get yours within a week! FIngers crossed.

Ben: Wonderful! I hope they grow well for you.

Landon Sunrich wrote:On a total of about 30 acres we where farming 3/4 of the land without irrigation. This included all of our potatoes, onions, and head lettuce.


Both of these sites had natural subsoil irrigation. I would be happy to comment more and I could probably answer further questions if you have any for me.

Hi Landon, I hope you are well, and still around! I'd love to hear more about dry farming lettuce and onions, specifically. I'm in Western Washington, and have never heard of anyone dry farming lettuce!

And I'd also love to learn more about your natural subsoil irrigation, and how densely you planted your crops to take advantage of it without stressing it too much. Thanks for anything you can share!

Su Ba wrote:Personally I haven't seen that my annual veggies will thrive in close competition, be it with themselves, weeds, or any other plants. The more competition, the worse they produce.

Thanks Su, I certainly will keep you posted! I'm curious - were there any plantings you tried on purpose that competed with the vegetables? And could you tell what the competition was for - light, nutrients, water, space for roots, allelopathic effects? I'd love to hear more about your experiences.

Sally Munoz wrote:Last year, I scraped a patch out and planted cress and cauliflower just to see how it would do and they both grew fine. Strawberries don't have a tap root so are super easy to pull out and just plunk down somewhere else or add to the mulch.They spread like crazy here in zone 7. I didn't mean for them to be a living mulch but in that area of the garden, that's what they've become and they are doing a great job. In another area, I water the strawberries a little and keep them a little more under control and they get a lot taller and are way more productive, but the ones that are more of a ground cover stay shorter (maybe because they are so crowded?) and don't produce a huge amount, which is fine because they are doing a different service in that area.

Ooh, now this is interesting. I had not thought about the height difference that could be expected between dry farmed and irrigated beds. Maybe white clover, strawberries, and other plants that I had been omitting as too tall for the current experiment would be fine if they were grown without supplementary water. Huh. That is something to fiddle with down the road.

One of the things that is so fascinating about this is that there are so many moving pieces - climate, management style, irrigation style, species and varieties of groundcovers, species and varieties of crops. It feels like there must be a lot of ways to fail on the way to figuring out the kinds of combinations that can work. I'm hoping that the sweet spot is pretty broad and easy to hit, though.
6 years ago
As the title says. I'm planning out some experimentation for this growing season involving very short, perennial ground covers in my annual beds. I'd like to be able to have a constant, living mulch growing among my carrots, onions, garlic, lettuce, and friends. I would love any feedback or suggestions you all might have!

I wrote up some thoughts on my blog here: http://jasonpadvorac.com/2017/02/permanent-ground-covers-for-vegetable-beds/

Here's the core of the post, you can read the whole thing if you want the list of plants I came up with:

We will be experimenting with permanent ground covers in our vegetable beds – specifically planting and allowing perennial plants interspersed with our vegetable crops. The purpose of this is to keep essentially a living mulch to help conserve water, suppress weeds, and to keep the ground covered with leaves engaging in photosynthesis. This will ensure that the life in the soil is being continually fed by root exudates.

I’ll be writing a post later about the biology of the soil that will give much more context to this. 🙂

One important note is that I’m not leaning on these crops to fix nitrogen, a role commonly given to cover crops, although they will certainly help to make nutrients available to the plant by maintaining a vibrant soil food web.

I want to see what it is like to disturb the soil as little as physically possible: sowing or transplanting into fully intact ground covers. No strip tilling, no mowing even. For this reason, they need to be short. I’d love to include dutch clover as a nitrogen fixer, but in most of the annual beds it simply grows too tall. Doing this with crops grown as annuals (like spinach, broccoli, or carrots) is pretty far out. I don’t know how well it will work – this is most definitely experimental.

I made a list of plants starting from Elaine Ingham’s list of perennial cover plants, then finding ones that seemed like they were a good fit for my climate and market farm context. I was looking for plants that:

- Are tolerant of foot traffic
- Are easy and inexpensive to establish but not too aggressive
- Are pretty short, because I’ll be growing these among annuals
- Are not woody, so that if I need to, I can cut or rake them away from the soil easily, and seeding / transplanting tools don’t get gummed up.
- Tolerate wet / moist areas. We get a lot of winter rain, and I will likely be irrigating at least some in the summer – this needs to not kill the plants.
- Tolerate dryness / drought. This is a little at odds with the previous point, but I’m looking for a mix of plants. We have dry summers, and I want to be able to get away with as little irrigation as I can to grow the crops.
- Dense growth habit. I’m looking for plants that will grow densely and cover the soil to protect it from rain compaction, evaporation, and excessive weed seed germination.

6 years ago