The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Smallholding => Land Management => Topic started by: naturelovingfarmer on June 07, 2021, 04:25:09 am

Title: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: naturelovingfarmer on June 07, 2021, 04:25:09 am
So, I revisited the works of the legendary small scale farmer Masanobu Fukuoka who I used to emulate before I gave in to peer pressure. And I saw him walking through his orange grove in a video from the 90s, and even though it's not mentioned in his books, he's got a cover crop between the trees in the grove. It looks like it's mostly brassicas with some various herbs and flowers mixed in. Fukuoka only plants seeds one way, as clay pellets with a seed in the middle of each one. He's 100% no-dig. Besides the fact that it shades the soil, promotes soil life, and contains edible plants, it struck me that there might be a very good reason that isn't obvious. Deer. Last week, a deer ate the heck out of my apple trees and I had to spray them with tobacco tea to stop the deer from eating it to death. But say I used a cover crop that the deer prefer over my trees?

So here's my crazy Idea:
I'm gonna take all my extra seed plus cover crop seed and make the clay pellets in a cement mixer. Then I'll deposit them in strips between the rows of trees in the orchard and willow copse and run them over with a turf roller. No digging, just seed balls. I'll inoculate the seeds with michorizae before coating them in clay. What do you think?
Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: Steph Hen on June 07, 2021, 05:42:27 am
Clay seed bombs/balls seem to work well for some people but Iíve not had luck with them among existing sward.
I donít mind the disturbance caused by planting plugs, itís a matter of a two inch depression (which could have been caused by a deer walking in it). Id use a bit of wood chip mulch or similar on the surface to give the new plant more of a chance.
Iím sure thereíd be many benefits from increasing diversity, just sew a patch with the tails of all my seeds. If the crows and rabbits donít get it all thereís borage and kale and lupins and lettuce and marigolds and buckwheat, all kinds of things mixed in with wild flower seed. Iíll transplant some of it back to my garden later in the year (before it gets ploughed in). But deer love to browse rose family are among their favourite things. I donít know if theyíll leave apple trees alone without something even better or an ongoing deterrent. Like spraying your good trees with tobacco/garlic solution and planting very vigorous spare apples in your margins/boundaries for them to nibble on. I have hundreds of apple tree seedlings grown from seed. Iíll graft them eventually. Something like this might work? Although diversionary feeding may be unlikely to work with herd animals, may be likely to bring more into your field!!
Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: SallyintNorth on June 07, 2021, 08:31:40 am
A friend swears by fresh lion poo as a deterrent for deer.  But you have to have a safari park nearby in order to source it!

Forest gardens are all the rage over here at the mo.  We've just put in the upper storey for our own.  I shall be interested to year how you get on with your clay balls!
Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: naturelovingfarmer on June 07, 2021, 03:05:15 pm
Clay seed bombs/balls seem to work well for some people but Iíve not had luck with them among existing sward.
I donít mind the disturbance caused by planting plugs, itís a matter of a two inch depression (which could have been caused by a deer walking in it). Id use a bit of wood chip mulch or similar on the surface to give the new plant more of a chance.

There are some annual cover crops which the seed company claims to be able to outcompete orchard grass. Buckwheat, wheat, and rye were all suggested. They said they also have a mix with oats, rye, annual crimson clover, peas, and vetch. You're supposed to kill it before it goes to seed by going over it with a turf roller. I think doing something like that would be good to kill the majority of the grass and then I could seed in the brassicas in the spring.

The one problem I expect to run into is that my grandma has practically no knowledge of agriculture and is obsessed with tidiness. She hates cereal grains because they look like an unmowed lawn, and she hates it when the garden is planted in blocks instead of neat rows, and she gets really miffed about me letting wild plants grow in the copses for animal habitat. I don't know how to convince her to let me actually do a cover crop. (We co-own the farm.)
Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: macgro7 on June 07, 2021, 05:02:22 pm
So, I revisited the works of the legendary small scale farmer Masanobu Fukuoka who I used to emulate before I gave in to peer pressure. And I saw him walking through his orange grove in a video from the 90s, and even though it's not mentioned in his books, he's got a cover crop between the trees in the grove. It looks like it's mostly brassicas with some various herbs and flowers mixed in. Fukuoka only plants seeds one way, as clay pellets with a seed in the middle of each one. He's 100% no-dig. Besides the fact that it shades the soil, promotes soil life, and contains edible plants, it struck me that there might be a very good reason that isn't obvious. Deer. Last week, a deer ate the heck out of my apple trees and I had to spray them with tobacco tea to stop the deer from eating it to death. But say I used a cover crop that the deer prefer over my trees?

So here's my crazy Idea:
I'm gonna take all my extra seed plus cover crop seed and make the clay pellets in a cement mixer. Then I'll deposit them in strips between the rows of trees in the orchard and willow copse and run them over with a turf roller. No digging, just seed balls. I'll inoculate the seeds with michorizae before coating them in clay. What do you think?
Fukuoka did mention growing brassica, carrots and other vegetables grown from seeds pellets thrown into grass between his orange and mandarin trees.

He didn't use specific cover crop as far as I know, only vegetables and some crawling plants.

Actually in his rice/barley fields he did use clover as a cover crop - but he didn't plow it up or kill in any other way - he only flooded the field for a brief period of time to WEAKEN it - not kill.

You can try putting cover crop for the deer, but because they are kind of similiar to goats in their eating habits, they will definitely go for the apple trees before easy thing else.

The only way, I think, is to scare then away, dog barking?
Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: macgro7 on June 07, 2021, 06:40:39 pm
Btw Masanobu Fukuoka didn't actually invent no till farming method or clay balls. Those methods were known in Japan over 1000 years ago. He said he learnt those from old scriptures, with some refinements of course
Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: Rupert the bear on June 07, 2021, 07:01:24 pm
Although diversionary feeding may be unlikely to work with herd animals, may be likely to bring more into your field!!
I have used diversionary feeding when we were establishing one of the smaller blocks of woodland by planting a wide strip of willow between the main forest and the new block, it did work quite well, it also reduced loss of grass in the hay field, the deer in the end did eat the entire strip, but by then the new trees had grown well enough.

Title: Re: A crazy idea I just had...
Post by: naturelovingfarmer on June 27, 2021, 04:35:48 pm
Okay, so another crazy idea was to intentionally plant burdock as a cover crop... To deepen the rhizoshpere, improve tilth, allow penetration of carbon and soil life into deeper layers of soil, and to crowd out orchard grasses. I can get burdock of the vegetable variety from a purveyor of Japanese vegetable seeds here in the US. It produces extra large roots. Burdock roots at the grocery store are usually about 3 feet long and an inch wide. You're supposed to grow them in sand to facilitate them getting pulled up, but I already have some burdock in the margins and clay soil doesn't seem to be an issue if you don't intend to eat them. My one concern is how best to kill them for the green manure effect. I have a roller and a scythe.