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In our society growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It
is truly the only effective protest, one that can-and will-overturn the
corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with
nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world-we change
ourselves. ~ Jules Dervaes ~

Maximize organic matter production: Intercropped green manure/cover crops (gm/cc's) can produce from 50 to 140 tons per hectare (green weight) of organic matter with very little work: no transporting of material and no cutting up, layering or turning over of compost heaps. In fact, sometimes, because of the gm/cc's control of weeds, net labor costs decrease. And soil quality often improves visibly each year. Possible gm/cc's: Velvetbeans (Mucuna pruriens), cowpeas (Vigna spp.) and jackbeans (Canavalia ensiformis).+

Keep the soil covered: Mulches of crop residues and fast-growing gm/cc's drastically reduce the weed problem. sow into the plant residue rather than tilling the soil. This does not appear to apply well to grass. Experiment found that grass will grow up through the crop plants and that cutting and leaving it simply accellerated spread. Grass can be killed by baking with plastic cover (which also bakes everything else) or just pulled out. Additional control of weeds: Use a few layers of large leaves (banana, etc..) or carboard left on top of the areas between desired plants. It won't kill the grass but the grass can't grow where there is no light. Use slits to allow sun around your crop, poke holes thru and place transplants, put a small pile of dirt on top of an area with holes under it to start seeds. Fowl herds may also be usefull in weed reduction if they are discouraged from eating the crop plants by a physical barrier. 1 chicken weed labor

Use Zero tillage: start by planting the cover crop. Cut the plants off in the spring, leaving the cuttings on the soil to serve as a mulch. Then plant the tomatoes or other crops right into the undisturbed roots without tilling or adding fertilizer. Additional mulch might need to be added after planting if any soil is left exposed. If the soil must be disturbed and immediate crop planting is necessary use kelp or composted seaweed to treat the soil. Rinse seaweed to remove salt and leave the stuff in black garbage bags in the Sun for several weeks to compost it quickly. dig garden

Maintain biological diversity: avoid diseases and insect pests by fighting fire with fire. Do NOT use incecticides. Use bird seed to attract "insect removal squads." The better quality seeds will not contain grass and so will not start a weed problem. Wagner brand is excellent. Although good seed will minimize damage, protect plants that the birds seem to want to eat by encloseing them in nets.  For smaller pests, buy ladybugs and release at night. For aphids on trees, use tangle foot because most aphids are farmed by ants inside "barns" made from leaves curled up by the ants. Use Milk to kill fungus or mold. Use diatomaceous earth to stop catapiliers and snails.

Plant more than one crop in the same bed by finding good pairs.

Combine tall, narrow plants with wide leafy plants to stop weeds.

Avoid bad pairs:^

Use all the plant. Many traditional root plants have edible leaves:

Cut—or harvest—a portion of these crops without harvesting the entire plant.^

Feed plants through the mulch: When soils are hostile to plant growth, feed plants by adding the fertalizer on top of the mulch. Rabbit dung is probably the best. Worm castings are great when available. Chicken poop is too hot, but goes well into the compost bin.

Water from the bottom: Use tall, unglazed clay pots with a lid held on with a rock, or plastic milk or soda containers with holes punched in the bottom; buried in the bed with the top just above the mulch. Fill with watering can or use drip irrigation tubes. Roots will grow down to reach the water (rather than along the surface) reduceing compitition and allowing dense planting. Also, the deep soil has minerals and retains water so plants are less likely to dry out. Also, you need less water and weeds on the surface will not start. If you don't till the soil, the surface can be covered with weed seeds and nothing will grow except your plants. Check this out!

You can get contiuous production by planting one new row of seeds every week or three. Plant close together and thin by moveing or eating overcrowed seedlings. Lettuce / spinach / etc... will continue to produce if you peel a few leaves at a time from the outside of each plant.


See also:



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