The Helpful Gardener
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Exactly so RBG, zactly...

Hit Or Miss, we are talking about giving up the row by row mentality alomost completely; the intercropping G5 and I are talking about mixes the plants IN the row, finding compatible root types (like the zukes and maters example G5 talks about) that grow well cheek to cheek...

The other unseen benefit there has been much reduced watering (I haven't watered but twice all year so far; rain has been reasonable until lately) and the fact that my garden LOOKS much prettier this year; instead of military rows it looks like, well, a garden... :lol:

And reduced buggies is worth it's weight in gold...

HG
Scott Reil

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rainbowgardener wrote:
That's a nice example... because germs don't, as a proximate cause, cause disease. The germs are there all the time and the disease isn't. The disease is caused by a failure of the immune system followed by an over-reaction of the immune system... many of the symptoms we have, like fevers etc, are not symptoms of anything the germ is doing, they are symptoms of a massive reaction of the immune system fighting them.
.
I have to disagree with part of this. Many pathogens actually release/produce toxic agents that can do nasty things to tissue or interfere with systems. They have their place in natural systems. Among other things, they help adjust population levels.
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The Helpful Gardener
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As the Bard once said,

"For there is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so..."

Toil raises an excellent point. Pathogens of every stripe are Nature's way of controlling population. We assume our current control of environment and most of it's pathogens is a great boon to humanity, but it could well be our undoing as we overpopulate the planet, thus decreasing biodiversity, thus endangering all ecosystems so threatened, thereby endangering ourselves...

Paradoxical, isn't it?

And it all starts with soil...

RBG, didn't you say you recently read a book about soils that tied the los of them directly to the collapse of civililzations? I think you should weigh in on the new book club thread to cast a vote for it. Considering recent developments I might well be inclined to change my vote...

HG
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Another day....another something new learned :D.

Now, what I meant by my now poor-looking example wast that revolutionary ideas are sometimes dismissed at first, but that doesn't make them wrong.

Although intercropping (mixing what plants are in the row) is best, would mixing rows still be good? Like, instead of having a whole field of tomatoes and whole field of lettuce, how about having one field with alternating rows of lettuce and tomatoes?

While intercropping is sustainable in a home-garden, it may be difficult for farmers with large fields to do it. But alternate rows would probably be attainable and would probably be better than just monocropped fields.
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LindsayArthurRTR
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Well, I think (IMO...for what it's worth :roll: ) that alternating rows would be more beneificial than monocropping. If you were to plant alternating rows of 2 crops, 5 feet apart it's really not going to give great benefit as with traditional interplanting techniques. (at least, not the ones I've done so much reading about :wink: )


When I imagine interplanting, I think of compatible plants being planted close to each other, as in touching above the soil. I think of roots being
intertwined at different levels of soil depth. I think of nitrogen fixing plants being planted with heavy nitrogen feeders, plants that repel insects being planted with plants that need protection from heavy infestations, plants that provide shade and trellising materials for other plants, plants that provide insect distraction (trap crops.) Plants that retain soil moisture, plants which enhance the flavors of other crops, plants that attract pollinating and predatory insects. I mean the variations go on and on. Most plants can provide something for another. The only problem is that if these combinations are not planted close enough, some are rendered useless. It's about sustainably getting as much out of your planting spaces as you can, in the most natural and diverse way possible.

...Having said that :roll: :oops: , I am a current tiller...not because I think it's better, but because it's what I've got right now. It's all I've ever known up until recently. Next year, I will be experimenting with the raised rows, (that is if my fellow employees will continue to allow me to harrass the crap out them for their newspapers 8) :lol: !!!) and no till. We'll see where it goes from there. I wanna get on board with some of the listed readings about soil health and microbes :) Just need to find the time...Kinda hard with work and garden getting close to peak season. Right now, I'm just trying to keep up with putting up the fruits of my labor :D Trust me, I am not complaining.

I can say that I did some extreme interplanting this year, and it has been
everything I would have expected. I have large plants that are producing well, manageable pest control, and very little unplanted space in the garden,both horizontally and vertically, other than my walking paths. I am very impressed with what I'm seeing! This year has been a major learning curve for me. I got serious about going organic, and I DO, wholeheartedly, believe that diversity, by way of interplanting and other techniques, is the BEST way to do that.
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Lindsay, such has been the nature of THG lately; keeping up with everything we throw at each other is like a full time job... :lol:

I understand the necessity of doing what you know, cuz what alse are you gonna do? :wink: I have only lately come to these new/old ideas for gardening and am still sussing some of this out myself, but eve the uber-sceptical DW has embraced eating weeds and concedes the hay/raised row experiment is a success, so even the whackiest of concepts I am testing prove out more and more daily... try it, you'll like it... 8)

G5, I agree with you and Lindsay that intercropped rows would be better than not, but it is like halfway giving up pesticides; what is left is not as good as it could be. As they say on the other side of the pond, in for a penny, in for a pound... :wink:

The best success in the garden this year has been the wildest experiment; the hay bale/ three sisters garden is exploding. Corn is setting, beans are climbing and flowering, and the squash has gone nuts and needs to be daily set back into place to avoid it crawling all over the yard. A five foot by five foot area seems primed to yield a huge quantity of food; you cannot see the original surface of the garden anymore. DW admits to loving the garden ("It's so lush!") despite initially hating the concept (dead center of her back yard). Total win so far... 8)

Whacky is winning... nutz: ... soil doesn't need to be dirt...

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:... As they say on the other side of the pond, in for a penny, in for a pound... :wink:
Heck, I say it on the Left Coast of the Left Side of the Pond...

I think the book you're trying to remember is Soil: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David R. Montgomery (UC Berkeley Press), publisher's page at https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520258068

Don't worry; I've already added it to the ongoing thread/poll about books we might read. :)

Cynthia

Soooo ready for poor Vergil to recover from surgery...another difficult day for him; muscle spasms in at least three legs, much crying/squealing in pain when going outside for necessary activities. :(

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I hear what you are saying, HG. That's like replacing half of the lightbulbs in you house with CFLs, but leaving the other half. Nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction.

So far, the toms in the squash are looking good. As I muse all of this over, I'm finding myself coming up with how I may inter crop next year: onions in with lettuce, beets in with tomatoes, etc.

Some things may work, some may not, but it'll be a good learning experience.

How did you do your hay-bale garden? Did you plant directly into the bales?
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My bales were too fresh and cooked the taters I planted in them... :( -wall-

Next year they will certainly be ready for planting in. I used a square of hay bales (2 each on the east/west sides, 1 each on the north/south), leaving a four by four space I filled in with compost (bottom half mine, top half from a supplier) and planted, covering the surface with hay.

Ballistic growth, completely off the chart, especially the stuff near the sides. Very little fertilizer used (mostly near the center to make that growth match the stuff next to the bales). I am thrilled, wife is suprised; no tilling and as wife has noted, fewer insects than any of the other veg gardens... :flower: :mrgreen:

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:My bales were too fresh and cooked the taters I planted in them... :( -wall-

Next year they will certainly be ready for planting in. I used a square of hay bales (2 each on the east/west sides, 1 each on the north/south), leaving a four by four space I filled in with compost (bottom half mine, top half from a supplier) and planted, covering the surface with hay.

Ballistic growth, completely off the chart, especially the stuff near the sides. Very little fertilizer used (mostly near the center to make that growth match the stuff next to the bales). I am thrilled, wife is suprised; no tilling and as wife has noted, fewer insects than any of the other veg gardens... :flower: :mrgreen:

HG
Hmmm, that makes me thing, why not double-dig your garden with hay before you plant? Dig a trench, fill with some hay, refill with dirt, repeat. That sounds like it, too would yield good results (but you would loose the no-till benefit this way).

What kind of hay did you use?
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Plain old field hay, nothing fancy, rye, timothy (more than a few field weeds and flowers) and clover hay.

Did trade a bit of compost for a bale of salt marsh hay from one of the neighbors, and have been putting that on some of the rows as I weed; looks great and no seeds. We'll see how it breaks down...

Corn is setting up in a big way; four and five ears on a stalk, Beans are climbing up and squash is climbing out. The whole thing is a bit rampant at this point.

I'm delighted... :D

HG
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I guess this is to some extent doing what in my veggie days was called "french Intensive Gardening. I'm not sure that is took into account many of the aspects you are discussing but it was basically loading your space right to the gills.
A thin garden wastes far more water than a packed one. I just forgot about rows and planted close in blocks. It may not have looked as pretty but I sure picked alot of beans, peas and even heavy vine crops. The neat thing about FILLING a space is the the weeds have a much tougher time. I even packed in the maters and did not stake. even though the plants flopped over they sure produced alot of fruit.

I like my flowers, shrubs and trees to be pretty neat but don't care much if the veggies are not in a stiff row. I used lots of compost when planting and even broadcast clover. When I tilled it was only the top few inches or so. Dang that soil was good. :D

PS.. You guys can't have that many rocks!! They are all in my yard in MA!! If rocks were potatoes I would be well fed! :wink:
Got anything good that's Z6 hardy?

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Rocks are the garden crop that I grow best! All sizes, shapes and colors! I have variety!
I can get them out, and they reappear like magic, darn tree roots must bring them up?
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:
Corn is setting up in a big way; four and five ears on a stalk
Wow, I've only ever seen 2...3 the most. Sounds like you got a real good thing going for ya :).
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I thinK so G5! :D

Planter, Emilia Hazelip was one of my inspirations to this project, so you betcha French Intensive Gardening is part of it. But the hay bales are a newer twist...

Still the basic idea remains the same. Establish your soil. Never till it. Never walk on it. Replenish it with hay. Garden forever in the same place while building soil instead of depleting it.

GOTTA love it... :mrgreen:

HG
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The mounds are alive!! cooked yoour potatoes? How is that possible? Did you ad butter or something?
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Sage Hermit wrote:The mounds are alive!! cooked yoour potatoes? How is that possible? Did you ad butter or something?

I think what HG meant was that he planted the potatoes into the bales and as the bales sat out in the elements, they broke down and, in turn, got seriously hot inside (compost can get up to 130 degrees F. :shock: ).
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Yep, that's what I meant...
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True dat! :wink:

Hay, especially wet hay/straw can get very hot. Why do you think farmers bale those round bales and leave them n the field forever. So they will dry out. They must be just right fro storing under roof or they are a fire hazard. Every year I hear of at least one spontaneously combusting.

Living in the country as I do, I can tell you they will catch on fire pretty easy with a lighter and possibly some gas. Not that I have done this myself quite a few times. Being as I have never done this myself I wouldn't be able to tell you they make one hell of a fire on a chilly night. :lol:

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Not that I have done this myself quite a few times.
:roll: Hahahahahahahahaha! I haven't done it quite a few times myself either :wink: :lol:
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(Gix to farmer): "I don't know, the bale of hay just spontaneously combusted. I was just standin' there and it just went up in flames :?. Who knew? Since I just happened to have a bag marshmallows on hand and an apple branch, I figured I'd roast some. Me? Oh no, Sir, I'd never set one on fire." :lol:
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