Win a copy of A Food Forest in Your Garden this week in the Forest Garden forum!

Mathew Ritchie

+ Follow
since Aug 21, 2011
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Mathew Ritchie

Many decades ago a researcher from the C.S.I.R.O. did a study that found pasture was most productive when 30% was tree covered,it turns out that plants stop respiring when their leaves get to warm,a little shade means they can continue photosynthis more of the time.
6 years ago
You might want to try gypsum CaSO4·2H2O it is very good at improving clay soils and lasts long.

Eric Markov wrote:John Jeavons gardened in California, a dry climate with heavy clay soil.

I used his method at my previous house (in CA) for a small garden. Double dug every year adding lots of municipal compost in.
The garden did very well after a couple of years, but it is a lot of work. And you can only double dig when the soil has just right amount of water in it.
If it's too wet, you be compressing muck, too dry and you'll need a pick axe to work it.

If you have space and are looking to maximize harvest to effort, it might not be the ideal approach.

In my new California residence, I tried a quick dig to loosen the clay soil, then cover crops, and a under the influence of Fukuoka, tried to make it a no-till garden.
Terrible results. The clay was too heavy, no vegetables, expect pole beans, would grow well.

I even tried to add a massive amount of municipal compost to a small bed to see if I could do a one time double dig and then no till.
Even this failed. When it was watered, the water would flow right through the compost soil and get stuck in the subsoil. So the top half meter of soil would be dry and the subsoil would be muck. Plants didn't like it. I believe this is why Jeavons recommends only adding some organic matter each year, not massive amounts.

This year I made hugelkultur beds and also an experimental "wood chip bed", dug down 1.5 feet and added massive amount of wood chips. I'm getting my best garden ever from these beds.
Hopefully they can become no-till from now on.

Whether double dig would be good for your beds really depends on your soil.

Yes cats chase away mice.
For slugs, I had lots when I mulched with grass clippings. Now with wood chip mulch I don't have very many.

8 years ago

Aria Stroph wrote:I have been considering purchasing land in the southeastern US, probably north FL. One of my main concerns is that soil in these areas is often extremely sandy. The area that I'm leaning towards the most looks like this: sand for the first 1-4 feet, with a sandy loam starting around 3-6 feet down, and sandy clay (or sandy clay loam) beginning around 5-10 feet below the surface. Basically, the top few feet are mostly sand. Large swaths of land were planted with slash pine trees a couple decades ago, so that's mostly what's growing in the area.

So obviously this is not the most ideal gardening soil, but the land is very affordable, and I'm willing to put in the extra work up front. I've been considering how to improve the soil, and here are my ideas so far:

-Cut down many of the pine trees and laying large logs on contour to form quick, rudimentary swales. The land is mostly flat out there, but whatever slopes I might have available, I'll take advantage of.
-Inoculate the pine stumps with edible mushrooms.
-Pile the smaller logs, sticks, and needles from the pine trees (and any other obtainable organic debris) on the uphill side of the swales, forming a sort of hugelkultur terrace/raised bed thing.
-Cover the whole thing with a mix of sand and loam from the property and sow a mix of ground covers to fix nitrogen and provide more compostable material.
-Build the site up over time with larger plants, constantly improving the soil and enlarging the garden.

Does all of this sound feasible?

Also, with such sandy soil, is it possible to install ponds/lakes without liners? I guess I'd have to dig down until the soil is mostly clay so the lake bottom can be compressed...

Thanks for your help!

I have 2 ideas that might help.First is wicking beds, Second is kaolin clay C.S.I.R.O.reaserch shows verry good results for improved wetting and nutrient holding,Florida has major kaolin producers.
8 years ago
webpage Try visiting this site before making sweeping statments.

Irene Kightley wrote:heninfrance,

Pigs don't graze as you probably know and destroy pasture for any grazing animal. But as they are great diggers you can use that to your advantage in rotating land. Two of our young pigs cleared an acre here in about ten days and really enjoyed themselves in the process !.

We left this field to regenerate naturally and after two years it has a wonderful mixture of all sorts of plants - which is exactly what goats need.

They'll clean a space filled with gorse, bracken and brambles and eat anything edible they find. In the spring and summer we feed ours near the house from our veg plot. In autumn, we've several fenced-off areas in the woods where they eat tree leaves, bushes, acorns, chestnuts, to their hearts' content. (We don't put them in our best Cep areas though ! )

Pigs have the added advantage that unless you want to breed your own, you can kill them in the winter when there's not much to eat then buy weaners in spring. 

Providing you've enough food for them, they are much easier to keep than goats and sheep !

8 years ago

Susan Monroe wrote:I wouldn't think that seeding into an existing bed of clover would be all that suitable for true no-till.  I intend to try it sometime, but my plan was to run a small Mantis tiller a bit to make a seedbed just prior to sowing, or just to chop a hole in the runners and remove them, then plant.

TCLynx, that's not quite true about nitrogen in root nodules not being available to other plants.  While the clover plant does use the nitrogen in the clover for it's own use while it is still alive, the roots are constantly growing and dying. The nodules that are on the dying/dead roots will contribute nitrogen to the soil and then to other plants. Some roots only live for three days or so before they die and are replaced by other roots.

BTW, for anyone who is new to the term 'no-till', there is a difference between the permaculture/organic version and the chemical farmer version.

In permaculture, the weeds are kept down with mulch.

In chemical farming, the weeds are kept down with herbicides.  While they say they aren't disturbing the soil, they are still disturbing the ecosystem with their toxic chemicals.  They think this is an improvement. 
Not always true some long term no tillers use covercrops and all the smart ones keep the crop residue on the ground,see[url=] and or enjoy.

8 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:I disagree that spraying is a necessary evil. It may seem necessary because ecosystem checks and balances have been destroyed by bad practices, but it is by no means necessary in the larger sense, in my opinion. Dumping poisons on everything is not an appropriate response to ecosystem destruction, in my opinion.

Here's an article which discusses natural mosquito controls:

It lost me at Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affins).This got widly released in Australia and often kills native fish that are far more efective at mossie control.
8 years ago
Hi I thought this site might interest folks here.webpage
9 years ago

tel jetson wrote:well, this isn't going well.  I'll try to get us started again.

from pfaf:

Seed - raw or cooked. It can contain up to 30% sugar. Young seeds taste like raw peas. Seeds are not always borne in maritime regions because the tree prefers long hot summers. The oval seeds are about 8mm long. They contain 10.6 - 24.1% protein, 0.8 - 4.3% fat, 84.7% carbohydrate, 21.1% fibre, 4% ash, 280mg calcium and 320mg phosphorus per 100g. The seeds have been roasted and used as a coffee substitute.(THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR COFFIE)

Seedpods - the pulp is sweet and can be eaten raw or made into sugar. The tender young seedpods can be cooked and eaten. The pulp in older pods turns bitter. The seedpods are up to 40cm long and 4cm wide. A sweet, pleasant tasting drink can be made from the seed pods. The seed pulp has been used to make a drink.

I'm told that the wood is very rot-resistant, but prone to splitting.  suggests to me that it would make very good split rail fences.

I've also read that honey locust thorns have been used as nails.

a google search turns up all sorts of studies using honey locust as an intercrop and in alley cropping strategies.

here is a good summary of the info J. Russell Smith published in Tree Crops.  a couple highlights recommending it for forage: the open canopy allows pasture to grow under it and the thorns protect the trunk from rubbing and chewing.

goodshephrd's objections are certainly valid, but it seems they could be nullified if browsing and grazing animals were part of the equation.  what do you think?

9 years ago The impressionI get is that each paddock is assessed each year and the disission is made on is it neaded for management reasons.

deano Martin wrote:Hi Mathew.
Yes. My reading suggests that it is only used to produce a grain crop one year in five. It threfore seems to fit in well when used with livestock. The Bonfils method seems to be more suitable for small scale cropping, and theoretically can produce a grain crop every year.

9 years ago