500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Gardening by Noel Gallagher

December9

I should tell you what I know about gardening… but I don’t know how much of it is true…
In organic growing you’re depending on earthworms to do a lot of the work for you, if you ever lift up a piece of cowshit in a field you see under, worms having dinner. Worms dig the soil for you. They bring organic matter down under and aerate the soil. So a school of ‘no-dig’ gardeners has come about, because digging is bad for the soil and hard work and it kills everything. But to have this work you need to mulch to keep the weeds down and give the worms something to eat. I get cow dung off my neighbour, lots of it.
So I experiment with this type of no-dig gardening. Last year I mad a bed about 4ft wide and 10 ft long. I made a few, put down newspaper (about 20 sheets thick) then put about 1/2 foot of dung on top. Then using triangles planted potatoes in a bit of compost (triangles make more space than rows).
Of course everybody complained about the smell of cowshit, but not about the spuds in the summer. Spuds are good starters because they are easy to plant, and need a good bit of nitrogen, which dung is rich in. When all the spuds come out (this is where you have to be good) put in winter cabbage seedlings that are just ready to go in the ground. Brassicas also need lots of nitrogen. In spring this bed will be very alive with micro-organisms and earthworms.
Put in some peas or broad bean, and some salads maybe or beetroot. Roots don’t do too well in ? soils generally, but beetroots should, they need richness where carrots just need somewhere to shoot. Swedes also could work, but as they are a member of the brassica family don’t put them in straight after cabbages.
This is where permaculture comes in (look up Masanobu Fukuoka, Emilia Hazehip and Bill Mollison).
Fukuoka says ‘natural farming’ is easy but impossible. Bill Mollison the co-founder of permaculture, I can’t remember the other guy’s name, took some of his ideas from Fukuoka. Where he would go now, after you have brought your soil back to life (Mollison is an Australian, and began this work because he could no longer fish, hunt or collect food because of land poisoning, water poisoning and general destruction of the planet) is to work towards Forest gardening. This is basically like it sounds – planting fruit and nut trees. But the main element of Permaculture is design. This is based on nature and logic. So there are principles of perrmaculture design:
Zoning
Edge effect
and some other shit got to do with the sun and the moon.
Zoning is based on you, mainly. This is common sense but a useful rule to have. You have nearest to you stuff you use every day; salads, chickens, so on. Zone 2 will be things you harvest occasionally, carrots, potatoes and so on. Zone 3 is your orchard, where you don’t have to attend to except for harvest and pruning. Zone 4 is your livestock. People with a small amount of land won’t find this much of a concern.
Edge effect is used to design your garden to be as productive as possible. In nature, edges are the most productive . There is more variety.
Permaculture works towards forest gardening. Fukuoka was the same ideas but his revolution was in grain (read ‘one straw revolution’). Fukuoka Sensei said lets do it like nature; no chemicals, no digging, no weeding. In his rice fields he planted white clover then sows his rice. While the rice is still growing he sows winter barley. (it’s worth looking up his ideas of seed pellets too). After harvesting, the rice straw is scattered back on the field. The clover reseeds itself (clover is planted because it is a legume; it fixes nitrogen in the soil). This mulch of straw keeps the weeds down and feeds the soil, but the barley comes up through it (in Shikoku where he’s from they don’t really get winters).
Fukuoka San is now dead, I found out last year, I would have liked to have visited his farm. But at least he wrote a few books, and has many followers.
Hazelip was a follower of Fukuoka, and her way of gardening are the best. But you have to be a real gardener to practice this. So you have your bed:
When your early peas are finished put in french beans.
When roots are harvested put in salads or spinach.
The important thing about this type of gardening is the soil. In her words, ‘wild soil’. Because lots of bacteria and micro-organisms die if you dig the soil, everything is harvested leaving the roots in the ground (except for carrots etc.). There is a system for the plants that follow each other. ? Chard or spinach follow root crops because they have quite a big root to give back to the soil. Legumes (peas and beans) are constantly present to keep nitrogen levels up. And anything of the plant that isn’t used is left back on the bed. The soil, that’s disturbed as little as possible, becomes ‘wild’. This garden which can be very productive also requires a lot of what should we say… knowledge or experience, but practice is the name of the game. And you can read all about it on the Internet.
But this working stuff is a way of research. Farming is just living really, and it’s important. It’s important to be a pig, and to be milk, and to be a bee.
Back to earth…
I learned a bit of soil science last year. To find out if your soil is clayey or sandy, take a bit in your and when it’s wet. If it’s clay it will be stick and you can make a sausage out of it by rolling it. When it’s dry, it will be really hard. If it’s sandy you can’t make shapes out of it and it’s crumbly when dry. Clay soils are high in nutrients and hold water and nutrients longer. Sandy soils are low in nutrients and drain fairly quick.
Certain plants are fussy about PH brassicas prefer slightly alkaline , potatoes prefer slightly acidic. They should still grow but will do better if the PH is right. There is a test you can do but it’s easier to look at the plants that are growing there. Find out what kind of conditions the prefer. or create. Pines make the soil acidic with their needles. Birch grows in acidic soil but the leaf fall makes it more alkaline. In nature this is called succession. In bad soil gorse is likely to grow. It’s a legume so brings nitrogen into the soil. Birch would succeed this, making it more alkaline and adding organic matter, then followed by Oak (in Ireland anyway).
For gardening purposes you can change the PH to your fancy. Wood as, lime and seaweed will bring down the PH. So should better drainage. Manure and water logging will increase acidity. So will piss. Compost is usually on the acidic side too.
There are many ways to make compost. But the basics are green and brown and air, or nitrogen and carbon and air. Green stuff includes green stuff and manure, and brown stuff is dry or dead organic materials including egg cartons and paper. Brown stuff usually adds a bit of aeration to the heap.
Eating also is important. When food is good everything is good. The slaughter ? is good. When I was eating mackerel I realised that I loved that fish. Really. The beauty of it. When I get pigs I will go out to them, say ‘hello’ smell their hairy backs and say ‘any last words?’. I will say this to them every day and they will ? , tell me something different. And when the time is right I will slit their throats.
Bio-dynamic farming is another one you should know about. Rudolf Steiner came up with this rather complicated method about 100 years ago. Using preparations made out of plants, and working with the moon, everything is planted according to nature’s rhythms. There are so called flower, fruit, leaf and root days, which determine what you’re going to do. Never tried it out really, but bio-dynamic food is always great. The most important things I learned from it are: just before a full moon is the best time to sow seeds, and roots are best harvested in the evening, leaves in the morning.

One Comment to

“Gardening by Noel Gallagher”

  1. On June 14th, 2010 at 8:26 am Marjorie Snell Says:

    If only more people could hear about this.

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