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Old September 30, 2012   #16
amideutch
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Those tomato plants in the raised bed look great. Are you growing tomatoes in the same bed every year or rotating crops?
Every year. As long as you give back what the plants take out each year there is no reason to rotate crops. That raised bed is sitting on sandstone as is the whole site. Ami
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Old September 30, 2012   #17
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I thought growing tomatoes in the same spot every year would lead to disease problems? Maybe it's different in a high tunnel, but my understanding was that high tunnel tomatoes are not supposed to be grown in the same ground every year. It will work for two or three years, but eventually disease will take over. That's just what I read - hopefully you can prove me wrong.
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Old September 30, 2012   #18
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Every year I add horse manure and compost to the bed. On plant out I dip my seedlings in a solution of Actinovate, Biota Max and MycoGrow soluable. During the course of the season I fertilize with BioBizz BioGrow and peridically spray the plants with Actinovate/EXEL LG alternating with Azoxystrobin for disease control. This is the sixth year I have grown tomatoes in this bed. The only pest I have to deal with is rats/mice. This year they preferred the Brandywines. One thing is for sure is they know there tomatoes. Ami
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Old September 30, 2012   #19
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The only pest I have to deal with is rats/mice. This year they preferred the Brandywines. One thing is for sure is they know their tomatoes. Ami
YEP! I just killed 2 mice in my garden last night with mouse traps! One was so huge and fat I think he was hybridizing with the rats! They swarm my plants!

Edit: PS update! My dog just caught the giant they were hybridizing with! None too soon too. If my fall crop Broccoli looses any more leaves I will be growing green sticks!

Edit update! My dog and me just ran down an ever bigger even fatter one. What a chase! If he wasn't so stuffed full of broccoli tomatoes and sunflower seeds we might not have caught the bandit! But we did. Never saw anything like it before. Face kinda like gopher, rear legs like a kangaroo rat, fat as a balloon. Too big for my mouse traps, all they did was knock him silly and give me and my dog a chance to run him down. That's 4 species of rodent in 4 different sizes in one day! one field mouse (guessing technically around here must have been a deer mouse but I am no expert), one slightly smaller than a field mouse but with a tail three times longer, one giant mutant something with much larger eyes than most rodents and one even larger, big as a rat, but totally different than any rat I ever saw.
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Old October 3, 2012   #20
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I know. That's why I mentioned it. If I can make it work under the worst possible conditions including an allelopath, then there really is no excuse for others in good prime ground not to make it work. But the plot I will plant will be large enough that there should be only a corner near enough the tree to be effected. So I will be able to tell hopefully one more possible environmental effect.

Remember what I said, "So even if my experiment is a complete flop, I still may turn it into a model of what NOT to do to raise tomatoes."

I know some of you guys may think I am crazy. But it isn't as crazy as you might think. When I worked for Calahan seeds in the early 1980's we commonly did test plots on soil over sprayed with herbicides etc.... or purposely planted too closely.... or inoculated with disease....or any number of known bad things .....on purpose. This is how you find out how resilient it is.

I am 50. I already know that no till and mulching works in good conditions. I have done it over 35 years. But a big farmer doesn't always have the option of babying his plants along like we do in gardens. He needs something fast and cheap that works even in horrible conditions and if conditions are good works even better. He also needs it scalable to any size field.

So I will try it under these terrible conditions. I will even keep track with notes on labor materials etc... And we will see if it really is scalable. But like I said. Anyone who wants to try it with me in a better situation is welcome. Or you can wait for the results.
I love it, I don't think you are crazy at all. I love to try and push the limits in my garden. I'm constantly messing with the "impossible areas". This year I've focused on the area under the eve's. That two feet of space that never gets rain and gets weird sun exposure. Unfortunately the drought this year made for a big ole fail with what I tried, but I have new plans for next year!

-Stacy
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Old October 3, 2012   #21
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...Next year I will attempt to do a scalable version prototype that never tills even going over sod. I'll attempt to do it in a way that is commercially viable in the worst possible conditions without ever tillng or plowing the land. ...and I will try to do it organically...
How is it different from lasagna gardening?
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organ...Gardening.aspx
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Old October 3, 2012   #22
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How is it different from lasagna gardening?
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organ...Gardening.aspx

AKA sheet composting.
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Old October 3, 2012   #23
Redbaron
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How is it different from lasagna gardening?
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organ...Gardening.aspx
I guess I should name the method. For vanity sake lets call it the Redbaron method.

Similar in concept. But scalable to a commercial level, and also potentially raising chickens between the rows in "chicken tractors" like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qzMZ5U2bbo

or this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYWYU...3WwjjiUxOJZ0Ee

OK so think of it like this. Combining the "Salad bar" animal husbandry and the "Lasagne" vegetable crop growing methods in a scalable way from small garden to large commercial in order to get 2 or more income streams off the same land at the same time. I mean lasagne is great by itself and a salad bar is awesome, but combine a salad bar with lasagne and you got yourself a real full meal!

Salatin from polyface farms already showed how to scale the small "chicken tractors" into something commercial. And commercial crop growers of things like tomatoes and lots of other veggies use black plastic mulch in a commercial way....but between their rows is just dirt or dirt covered in straw.

By using no till and leaving the area between the rows in pasture, sod, hay or whatever cover crop, but using that cover as forage, I believe a farmer could maximise the use of the land yet at the same time actually LOWER certain costs like fertilizer and pest control.

Now theoretically one wouldn't necessarily have to raise animals on that paddock between the vegetable rows. You could just mow it and save the hay or grass clippings. I saw a commercial organic pepper farmer in Oregon that does it that way. They have a small walk behind scythe similar to a brush hog and space the black plastic rows the same spacing as their scythe. But they use black plastic mulch instead of lasagne mulching in the pepper rows.

I would be using something like this, covered with mulch, old well aged manure, compost, grass clippings, leaves and/or whatever you got... Just make the top layer mulch.

http://www.ecoenclose.com/Bogus_Pape...p/pbr24-50.htm

This way you could cover the part of the row that contains crops in a matter of minutes with very little cost or labor.

I basically have taken all these various methods and have hopefully come up with a simple easy low cost way to combine them.

BUT keep in mind. While all these things are proven individually, I have never tried it all combined like this. So it is experimental. If you are the experimental type person you are welcome to join me, as I try to make it work and hammer out any "bugs" that pop up. If not, that's fine too.

PS I have even worked out how long the rows need to be and how far apart to handle a 10X12 chicken tractor for broilers. (1/2 a roll with 12 feet between rows) So between each 350 foot row of say tomatoes, you could raise 75-80 broilers to market size in one pass. (potentially getting 2 or more passes each year) And even planting traditional grain crops like corn or soy beans in successive years as part of a rotation. For those larger commercial farmers that raise their own corn and soy to feed their stock and also commercially raise veggies.

http://www.dewdropdrill.com/all-about.htm

That can replant either a crop like a grain or a cover or reseed the whole thing into pasture again. The only difference is that the part covered with paper and mulch would be 3 feet wide instead of 2 feet wide. (the paper rolls come in many widths, some even wide enough to use for melons) This way successive years when rotating crops the no till planter could go right down each row.

Just by itself "Managed intensive rotational grazing" can double the forage available from a pasture in the first year. (and up to 5 times as much as the pasture quality steadily increases) So any land that is attempting this technique to grow both veggies and forage off the same land will be easily offset by the additional forage gotten off other fields.


But for now I am just doing a prototype plot to prove the concept in principle.

It is extremely flexible for any situation. Any number of veggies or any number of animals could be combined. From as small as a little home made portable chicken or rabbit coop pulled between the rows of a garden, to as large as a commercial farmer making millions of dollars every year that might use cheap portable electric feathernet fencing to keep the animals out of the veggies.

Maybe it's all just craziness. But at least in my mind I think it could work.
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Old October 4, 2012   #24
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Update for clarification.

We have all seen this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ve...stic_mulch.JPG

Now imagine all that dirt between the rows is pasture instead.....As you can see there would be 1/2 to 2/3'rds or more of the land would be pasture or some kind of cover crop for forage, without interfering at all with the crop of veggies.

The other thing we all have seen is this:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/multi...d=114940&seq=2

This is a traditional way organic mulching is done. Once again between the rows is wasted.

The key would be to find a way to allow animals to eat the forage between the rows while keeping them away from the veggies. Essentially it is turning a liability, ie weeds between the rows, into a positive cash flow.

So instead of cultivating it which cost money in fuel and labor, or mulching it which also takes labor and a huge supply of organic material (especially if done on a large scale), We either use cheap feathernet electric fencing or portable pens such as "chicken tractors" to "mow" the forage and convert the "weeds" into meat, eggs and/or milk. Alternately you could make hay or grass clippings out of the pasture between the rows, if you didn't feel comfortable raising animals. Or you could do a little of both.

The advantage over plastic mulch is no erosion off the land between rows and no expensive plowing discing etc to prepare the seedbed. And labor and disposal of old plastic at the end of the year. The advantage over traditional mulch is far less hay straw etc needed per acre. The advantage over both is a second source of income on the same exact acreage, increasing productivity and profit per acre, without having to try and overcrowd your plants. And of course those animals are actually putting manure on the ground fertilising both the paddocks between rows and also after rains a slow seepage of fertiliser under the ground to the veggie crop (also potentially carried by migrating earthworms). Since the veggies are not in direct contact with the animals it should prevent too much getting to the veggies, so I think there won't be a problem of burning etc... If the animals in the paddock are something like chickens, they will also provide insect control. And of course both "Managed intensive rotational grazing" and "Sheet mulching" are permaculture techniques that are proven to improve the soil instead of degrading the soil and sustainable. All without needing outside chemical fertiliser input.

No one has put them together simultaneously before, as far as I know, especially in a way that is scalable for either small gardens or commercial. That is the "experimental" nature of what I am attempting. I am sure there will be bugs to work out.
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Old October 4, 2012   #25
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I know every year I get volunteer tomato seedlings poping up all over the place, even in untilled or worked soil, some even in the cracks of sidewalks. As far as planting in the same area that had tomatoes growing that were infected with diseases. The rule says not to plant in that area again but I don't have a massive space to do that. So I replant in the same area. I'm really hoping by replanting the saved seed that maybe...just maybe I will get a plant that overcomes or develops a resistance to these diseases. Isn't that the way nature works?
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Old October 4, 2012   #26
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...The key would be to find a way to allow animals to eat the forage between the rows while keeping them away from the veggies. Essentially it is turning a liability, ie weeds between the rows, into a positive cash flow.

So instead of cultivating it which cost money in fuel and labor, or mulching it which also takes labor and a huge supply of organic material (especially if done on a large scale),...
I can think of a couple problems.

1. having a paddock in the middle of a path prevents picking there. So you still have the labor cost of moving the cages around, and if you have long rows, that can get pretty tedious for crops that need to be picked regularly. Also, either the paths will have to be wider than normal to accommodate the cages, or else the plants will need to be hacked back or maintained regularly to avoid getting tangled with the cages.

2. what are the regulations about keeping fresh animal manure and dander away from crops? Certainly you can't do this with leaf crops -- recall all the E. coli cases! -- but even with tomatoes, the pickers are going to be walking in fresh chicken manure, putting their picking crates down on fresh chicken manure, and tracking it all over the place. And the rain will be splashing it up onto the tomatoes.

One problem with using Polyface as a model is that Salatin tends to overstate the extent to which it's a closed loop. In fact, I've read he imports a lot of animal feed, so it's not in fact a closed loop at all.

I'd plant a mixture of low cover crops instead.

I see paths as a functional space, not wasted space. At one community garden plot, after I filled my planting beds, I had container plants lining the narrow paths inside my garden. It got crowded! It was hard to maneuver with constricted paths, which is how I learned to appreciate paths.
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Old October 4, 2012   #27
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One problem with using Polyface as a model is that Salatin tends to overstate the extent to which it's a closed loop. In fact, I've read he imports a lot of animal feed, so it's not in fact a closed loop at all.
Correct. Salatin isn't a closed loop at all except the beef. But of course that's because he doesn't raise any crops except a large garden. This would raise feed grains as a succession crop in rotation following years. Closing the loop.

The travel time down a row is 35 days beginning to end. Broilers take 8 weeks to market on pasture, 3 weeks in the brooder and 5 weeks on pasture. 10 foot a day x 35 days =350 feet Then a wide grass staging area till the next 350 foot row. I don't know of a single tomato variety that matures that fast. So I am sure one pass will be fine In some cases potentially 2 but I need to look into saturation levels to be sure. Working on that one. One day on a paddock doesn't actually produce much and they are moved daily. But for a second pass you could use that for a hay or grass clipping run instead if regulations prohibit or have a time limit.

As for laws or regulations. I have been attempting to investigate that. There are regulations against foliar or top spray of fresh manure on a food crop, but as of yet I have found no regulation or cause for harm of having an animal in a paddock beside the crop. This may vary between species too. I have been all day for weeks investigating. (between posting here) Most the regs are about disposal and use of stored manure in lagoons. Not finding much that applies to an animal in a field. I'll have to think about how much time between the last pass on the paddock till the harvest of a crop and other sanitation issues but I sincerely doubt it is a problem. Disease and pathogens are a problem for confined animals. Those confinement houses are seriously bad. I have been in them. I even collected eggs in a commercial battery cage operation when I was 17. The stories I could tell you. There couldn't be a better devised way to TRY and cause disease than the way they are raised now commercially. It is seriously ridiculous. However it is incredibly rare in pastured or free range animals properly taken care of to have any food born illness issues.

Space is not a problem. You can space the rows to whatever works for you.


Having said all that I agree that timing when the animals are in the paddocks and when workers are harvesting crops is one of the bugs that will need hammered out.
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Old October 5, 2012   #28
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The cover crop in the path shading the row crops has been an
issue for me, using alfalfa and clover in the paths. One needs to find
a tough, durable cover crop that can take foot traffic and does not get
much over 6-12 inches in height or mow it pretty regularly. The alfalfa
and clover often grow faster than the row crops, depending on
the weather. (Winter-dormant alfalfa and alsike clover.)
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Old October 6, 2012   #29
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The cover crop in the path shading the row crops has been an
issue for me, using alfalfa and clover in the paths. One needs to find
a tough, durable cover crop that can take foot traffic and does not get
much over 6-12 inches in height or mow it pretty regularly. The alfalfa
and clover often grow faster than the row crops, depending on
the weather. (Winter-dormant alfalfa and alsike clover.)
so what do you use it for? hay? mulch? forage? or just gound cover?
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Old October 7, 2012   #30
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So what do you use it for?
Groundcover, mulch, and compost. I mow it (so to speak; I use
a weedeater or a hedge trimmer) just before I plant. I spread it
around on the rows on top of any winter mulch (layers of leaves,
grass clippings, etc) and turn it all under. I let the rows themselves
stay bare in early summer to warm up the soil around seedlings.
When the weather warms up enough to have warmed the soil,
I mulch the rows with the mowed alfalfa and clover.

If I have extra, I mix it into a compost pile, mix it with compost to
make compost tea, etc. I have even cut some up in a (fairly powerful)
blender, mixed it with water, and made a fresh alfalfa-clover mash
to water young plants with that look like they could use a little more
nitrogen than they are getting from whatever fertilizer I used at
plant out.

edit:
It also acts as a permanent groundcover, too, resisting soil erosion
and soil compaction by rain and foot traffic in the paths between
rows. Given how deep the root systems get, the decaying top growth
is probably quite nutritious for plants. But the shading issue makes
those exact choices of permanent cover crop in the paths kind of
high maintenance. I could try labrador violets (distinctly deep-rooted
from what I have seen when weeding them and very tough), but
I am reluctant to give up the triacontanol
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triacontanol ) that the alfalfa supplies.

edit: I guess if you are running stock, too, "having to mow the alfalfa and
clover too often" would not really be a disadvantage. Just toss it into
the feed bins.
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