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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:22 pm 
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Dudley - Having healthy soil = a massive amount of beneficial microbes, and insects = healthy plants which = less disease....... SO goes the theory:P

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:46 pm 
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canadianplant wrote:
I guess what Im saying, is to leave things alone, and let nature take its course. This will eliminate almost all need for weeding...
It's not really a garden if you leave things alone, is it? As for eliminating all weeding, maybe, but how long will it take? 10 years? More?

Without having read the book, this doesn't sound like a practical approach for an urban or suburban garden.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 4:06 pm 
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That was a suggestion rom the book, which states many ways to create an ecological garden. Its 220 pages, and is very indepth, i cant do the book justice in a few paragraphs.....

The best way that ive seen, is a bit of all of the suggestions, planting groundcover, letting some native species thrive, to attact wildlife, and as well, lending a hand to nature, by pulling a few weeds here and there. By adding plants that help eachother ( guilds and or nurseplants), and adding the 3 or 4 dimentions to a garden (soil life, ground cover, herb/shrub layer, and large trees, and of course time), you can get a jump start. Like you say, it would take 5 - 10 years to let nature do its thing. but what the book is talking about, is helping nature out, not forcing it to do what we want ( which is impossible), nature will always do what its meant to do. If your area is generaly forested, it is working every second and every year to attain that forest, while us as gardeners are fighting viciously to stop this from happening.

So why not get a jump start? Plant lots of ground cover ( clover, low flowering plants, herbs, hell even sone radish ( ammends the soil), lettuce, beans, pea, any number of veggies on the bright edges of the garden beds, while the back is say, lrge shade trees ( hopefuly that provides, nuts, and shelter for birds), and some fruit trees, while sime berry shrubs, mixed in with some flowering shurbs to attract animals, also some nitrogen fixing shrubs to enhance soil. You get a jump start on what nature is trying to do, so instead you working against her, your working with nature.

That is what the book is about, not fighting with the weeds, and bugs, which are ALL beneficial ( insects attract preditor insects and animals......which inturn get rid of the bug problem as the yard achieves a type of equilibrium), but working literaly side by side with what nature is trying to do, so thers less work on you.

An example would be the permiculture institute in New Mexico. The lady bought the property in the desert, and no matter what she planted, they would die. There were no micoclimates, or water holding areas, and of course, sandy crappy soil. So she trucked in manure to ammend the soil a bit, build some rock walls, and used logs to shade the seedlings. She dug swales, and subtle dips int he ground to collect water. She started with super drought hardy trees and shrubs, as well as nitrogen fixing plants, and nurse plants. With the inclcusion of the rock walls, to create shade, the trees thrived, and in 5 or 10 years, the place was looking like a jungle. The soil was at least a foot thick with humus, and she had a problem with too much water, instead of not enough... in the middle of new mexico. She did this with NO irrigation ( sprinklers hoses etc), no supplimentary fertilizers and or pesticides. All she did was use nature to her advantage.

I am by no means doing this book justice..... it was in my case a very eye opening book. Permaculture is a very new type of gardening, in which everyperson who tried even one element of it, are pioneers ( it was used in tropical countries, but is new in temperate, or continental climates).

Im my experience, in just a few weeks....... I havnt pulled a weed in 2 weeks... and the beds are looking "wild", but.... this year ( the first year trying this), its the best its ever looked, even with the "weeds". Sure i have to pull some grass thats getting to "adventureous", or plant a few seeds here and there, but everything is doing well. the tomatoes are shading the bamboo bed, which in turn keeps down weeds, keeps the soil most and cool, which in turn invites roe and more soil life. The small weeds, are covering the bed ( pioneer plants), and making sure the top soil doesnt run off. Underneeth the tomatoes, all the weeds that were there, are wilted, or dead, or already decomposed, and in turn are creating rich, humus for my plants to thrive in.

The bed that had the most exposed soil needs the most watering, even though its in the cooler spot. But since ive let some things grow, there are more insects there then ever before, and in turn more birds, to fertilize the soil. Sure, the "pests" eat plants. Plant more of them so they wont all get eaten, or simply find the "pests" favorite food source, plant it, and they will leave most other plants alone. Think of roses. In the authurs, and other people data, roses planted en masse, will attract a high ammount of aphids, or disease, due to the high concentration of foor source. So if you planted the roses say, 8 feet away from eachother, the aphids didnt grow to such shocking numbers.

Canna diesease is a good example. Canna farms, have say an acre of canna, only canna. Perfect situatiuon for disease to occur. Or a congragation of "pests".

In this situation, something else could occur. Say in that same rose garden, wher ethey are planed en masse, an aphid problem could, and more then likley would occur. Of course this could damage the roses. But this could also casue lady bugs from all around the neighborhood to go to the roses, and eat like kings........ another point of the book, is that what ever we need to do in the garden.... nature ALWAYS has a way to do the same thing......

Im sorry for rambling...... Like i said the book is very indepth. Ive read a few more things online about it. I havnt been able to put much of it into practice ATM, as somethings can take years to impliment, but so far it hasnt let me down at all.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:27 pm 
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Sounds like a good read. I'll check it out this winter.

For some reason I don't have a lot of time to read gardening books during the summer. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:33 pm 
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LOL. Its a good read...

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:38 am 
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Location: Eustis, Fl zone 9a/b right between too cold & not cold enough Location Details
i have areas of property that have been basically untouched for at least forty years. the old oaks and pines are being torn down by wild grape which grows so thick that there will be no pioneer plants only a monoculture of grapes for years to come. I absolutely agree with your theory but unfortunately
nature does not choose for all places to be beautiful in the ways we hope for in our own yards.(wow, did that make any sense?)
i maintain as much of a full tree canopy as i can in order to keep down weeds so there has been a layer of pine or oak leaf litter building undisturbed for years but if you scrape back the leaves there is not loam just plain white sand.
last year i dug a pit three feet wide by six feet long and three feet deep. i filled it back up with alternating layers of hay, grass,oak leaves,dry dog food,pine straw, and weeds from the pond till it was a mound about 18 inches tall. this year i planted tomatoes there. they did not do very well. this weekend, more than a year after building the bed i dug up the tomatoes and found plain white sand.
ramble,ramble,ramble

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:41 am 
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Did you add any organic matter, such as compost, or fresh veggie scraps? Look up sheet multching.... This is the technique the lady in new mexico used. It explains quite a bit. You have the right idea.......

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:04 am 
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Location: Eustis, Fl zone 9a/b right between too cold & not cold enough Location Details
yes all our veggie scraps went in.i have been composting for years. unfortunately when my soil gets wet the water separates the grains of sand. the organic matter is "floated" upwards, then as the water drains the sand recompresses leaving the organic matter a little higher. in this way the organic matter eventually rises to the top and is washed away.
i actually have more worms in a pile of pebbles i left on my concrete driveway than i have ever been able to find or establish anywhere else on my property, and i used to raise them.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:17 am 
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canadianplant wrote:
Did you add any organic matter...
hay, grass,oak leaves,dry dog food,pine straw, and weeds sounds like organic matter to me. :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:20 am 
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:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:
I MEANT COMPOST!! jk

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:34 am 
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canadianplant- thanks for extrapolating some of the permaculture ideas, I have been coming across some of them as I have been learning more about composting and cover crops. I often use Wikipedia when checking into a subject, I find that it might not be a goldmine of information on every subject, but its a great place to start. So there I found that composting and cover crops/green manure led to ideas like companion planting, raised beds, dynamic accumulators, and others that all seemed to be part of the permaculture school of thought. So far, I have only looked into a little of the literature on the subject, but I found a PDF file of the 'inventor' or originator of the modern permaculture movement's pamphlets, which taken together are supposed to be the writing which got this idea moving.

Like anything that a human learns, we most likely take what we need, what we desire, or whatever sounds good, from a new idea or practice or experience, and leave whatever does not suit us. Permaculture has many really useful ideas, but some of them just aint gonna fly in my garden.

For instance, companion planting. I have often thought about trying to find out what plants grow in the various native habitats of the Phyllostachys ( I would really like to know what resources you used to find that out!), but the root purpose of learning that, for myself, is in tying to learn exactly what would make one plant benefit a bamboo grove. Nutrient contribution? Does the plant affect the soil structure in or around the grove in a manner that suits bamboo? Does the plant have a deadly effect on voles, mites, deer, or pesky neighborhood kids? Or all of the above?

Currently in the area where I am trying to establish a multi-species grove, I am beginning to plant covers, I am trying compsting for the first time, and some other stuff to build up a huge layer of rich soil that is packed with organic material. But after the bamboo has reached a certain size, and the layer of soil is big enough and has attained some characteristics that I am trying to establish, then it is time to create a very deliberate and in some ways precise, garden. Weeds not welcome. If I have a carefully constructed path of pea gravel, set with carefully selected stones from the hill itself and picked for their color and their texture and thus effect, and beyond the stones there is a border bed which has several species of mosses, and every four feet a different cultivar of Hosta is showing off the color of it's completely slug-free leaves, and then the moss gives way to a band of white clover kept as low as it possibly can be, so low that every natural contour of the ground is apparent and gives the earth a look of being covered in a fine green fuzz, and as this area of intense GREEN continues the culms of Atrovaginata loom above the clover and mosses and hostas and gravel, with their three inch culms and forty-foot height (yeah I know I am dreaming but thats exactly the point!) they sway and capture just enough of the ninety-degree sunshine above the grove to cast a light sandalwood smell throughout the seventy-seven degree interior. In the midst of all this, even the most beneficial weed is gonna be gone, not because I don't appreciate that dynamics of the natural world, or what it can do for my garden, but because for me, what matters is imagining something really cool, beautiful, and welcoming, like a huge bamboo garden in the middle of what is essentially a desert, and making that vision a reality without screwing up the environment or costing millions or failing.

One of the many ideas that I really want to know more about, which you may have read about in the book, are dynamic accumulators (plants which do not necessarily 'fix' atmospheric nitrogen like legumes, but do use many nutrients from out of the way parts of soil and by later becoming part of the soil add those nutrients to a more accesible layer for other plants), and the whole idea of garden design using certain patterns for the basis. In the design subject, what is that all based on? Is it functional, aesthetic, and please say that it is not spiritual.

I may like organics, and I might enjoy reading and implementing aspects of the way mother nature likes to work, but I am nost certainly not a DAMN HIPPIE!
Ha!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:26 pm 
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Move - There is a property there, owned by 2 brothers. It was an abandoned farmers feild, with sandy soil, almsot no top soil, and they figured nigh infertile. They employed permaculture, and in a few years, their property was filled with fruit trees, and life. Its on orca island..... i have to skim the book to get their names. If it isnt to far, I have a feeling you may be able to check it out first hand.

What ideas "arent gonna fly in your garden" if you dont mind me asking?

As for the phyllostachys. I typed in anything that even minutly resembles " bamboo of eastern china". I also looked for info on "Phyllostachys Aureosulcata", got the name of the province and areas they grow, and looked up plants that are generaly from the same area. You can then look up these plant induvidualy, and see what they may add to your "guild". Just like gardening, even permaculture gardening, finding the info is work. The more knowledge you have of your yard, plants, and general area, the better luck you will most likley have. ( soil composition, invasive species, endemic plants, animal populations, wet/dry/warm/cold spots, temperature, microclimate ( ALL gardens have these, you can even make your own).

Cetain plants can harm or hinder. But from my reserch, most plants dont hinder ( some trees releae toxins that kill most competing species). As for animals, they have a better knowledge of what is poison or not, especialy if the plants are native to your are, and north america. As for kids, you can plant some plants on the edge, so the kids dont go exploring. Ive never heard of a bleeding heart, or Lilum killing people:P

You seem to be implimenting it well. The book mentions Phyllostahys, particularly Nigra. Although it doesnt state companion plants. Just try to look up the eclogy of eastern and central china. From my reserch, they grow in mountain forests, so you can assume its made up of conifers, and possible oak forests. Ginko Biloba was native to most of china, so that could be a very good large tree to add. Phyllostachys, in permaculture terms, is concidered more of a shurb, or undergrowth, growing in sunny spots under the canopy. Of course you can use the bamboo as the "top" of the chain, but by adding a large tree, especialy if it has berries, nuts, or medicinal uses, you can make the tree do 10 things, instead of one. Remember, plants NEVER do just one thing.

Your ground cover sounds very nice, and you are correct. In a year or 2 he "weeds" will more then likley be out competed, and 90% of them will cease to exsist. Personaly id leaves some, to attract benificial insects to your yard. The animals are better adapted to your native plants, then exotic ones ( they will adapt as always). If is essentialy a desart, then I would look up "sheet multching". It is a very very good way to build soil in a season, or over winter ( it essentialy is creating a compost heep iin your garden bed, so the soil should be way better then the previous year). IT is layering green manure, high nitrogen compounds, compost, brown manure, and dried plant matter, as well as fresh. Just like a compst heep. I would read up a bit more.... I am trying to do the same thing here myself, but cant start till the plants start to die off.


As for the accumulators. I belive the book suggested deep rooting plants, such as dandalion, daikon radish, parsnip, carrot, ginger etc..... these put down a deep root, which airates the soil. They pull butrients up to the top layer of the soil. You then let them rot in place over winter. The create pockets of highly organic materials, which will call up worms and such. This also creates a ground cover, and some foot to eat. You can aslo u the green tops off, and thow in in your garden bed as multch. Comfery, and clover, according to the book is best. They use relitivly small amounts of nutriets, while letting then decompose, will put back MORE then was taken. This is another thing to think about. When you plant a veggie garden, well say, lettuce, cauliflour, and carrots. the lettuce is culled from the root, the cauli flour essentialy is too. The carrots are pulled straigh up fromthe ground. The plants that are growing, take nutrents formt he ground, and store them in the veggies ( which is why they are so nutrtious). By pulling them totaly out of the ground, you arent putting the nutients back into the soil....... so the mmicrobes have to work off more nutrients.... b y repeating this a few times, you leech the soil dry ( why standard farming is so hrmful). By leaving most in, or some, you are replacing the nutrients that were taken rom the soil. By leaving the plants in your garden beds after season, your are literaly fertilizing it, with out doing much work, reducing the need fer chemicals.


Keep us updated on your progress, like i said, its a new feild of study in NA. Everyone who tries it is learning new things. And im a hippy... proud of it... :lol:

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