Putting the beds to bed

The half-acre of land we used at Dan’s over the summer to plant a variety of direct-seeded crops and a few beds of transplants, is now 80% done for the year. Dan had the first half acre that he planted by himself professionally rototilled by Andy a few weeks ago but we still had lots of beans (mainly) that still needed harvesting. Turns out that Dan didn’t really need them for seed and we didn’t have time to harvest them for food so they began to rot on the stem. No big deal. It will all turn into compost, now that it’s all been removed. And the mycorrhizal associations made in the soil where they were growing should help legumes and other crops to produce better in future years.

In any case, it was time to pull everything out and turn over the soil that was starting to get infested with all the plants that previously grew there (mostly hay constituents and all the weeds that organic hay growing allows). Since our Wet Coast rain forest winter weather has been in effect for a few weeks, the soil was starting to get too wet in places for a full-size tractor. Dan’s garden tiller would have been ok for some of it but it would have taken a looong time to complete all of the area, about a third of an acre, that needed turning.

BCS to the rescue. I borrowed Duncan’s truck and loaded up the dump cart, tractor and tiller (and a load of T-posts for an upcoming fencing project) and drove it over to Dan’s. Four hours later, all remaining crops were uprooted (by hand), transported via the tractor/dump cart to the compost pile, and the soil beneath them lightly rototilled. I say lightly because, although I set the tiller to maximum depth, it’s still relatively shallow compared to what a full size tractor/rotovator might perform. I also traveled in second gear rather than first to not only get the job done quicker but to minimize aeration (fewer tiller rotations per foot traveled since the PTO turns proportionately to engine speed). Dan’s planning to spread hay over the whole area anyway so the few plants that might resume growth due to this less-thorough tillage will be further smothered of light.

I also helped Dan’s hired hand, Rick, transport hay from the hay stack to where he was spreading it. Stacking bales upright, the dump cart can take 6 bales at a time rather than 2 per wheelbarrow.

I left all these components at Dan’s place thinking that I might need it more there than at Rainbow for the next several weeks. Dan and I are currently working on expansion plans at his place and, when it’s all worked out, I’ll have some interesting developments to write about.


5 responses to “Putting the beds to bed

  1. Hi Rod,
    Came across this video the other day–Geoff Lawton consults in deserts, which is about as polar opposite to Chorus Frogs as you can get–but I found it inspirational.
    Greening the Desert

  2. Wow, that’s amazing Ric. One of the guys at Dan’s place is a permaculture dude. On a year long average, there’s plenty of water here. Trouble is the summer when our rainforest turns to desert. I hope to not irrigation in my new tunnel at Dan’s using hay mulch. Hopefully that will be enough. Thanks for the vid.

  3. I don’t want to settle in arid land, but am fascinated with dry-land technologies. Have you heard of using clay-pots like Clay Pot Irrigation?

    Also, David Bainbridge has an excellent book called “A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration.” http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Desert-Dryland-Restoration-Ecological/dp/1559639695

    I collect info like this now–thinking it might be useful sometime (though maybe I just like collecting books…. 😉

  4. I collect info like this now–thinking it might be useful sometime (though maybe I just like collecting books…. 😉

    Every idea one comes across is potentially very useful. For example, our seasonal drought is not long enough here to warrant a technique like this (there might be problems with rototilling, for example, or simply finding cost-effective pots for any reasonable size of plot). However, I can see using this in my propagation tunnel since watering can be very labour intensive. A couple of pots and the right medium surrounding them could be very, very cool.

  5. I’ve been been taking pottery with this technique in mind.–and loving it. There are probably amateur potters in your area who would love to make something to your specs for a trade.

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