[Market-farming] Managing ground between beds

STEVE GILMAN stevegilman at verizon.net
Thu Nov 15 10:41:49 EST 2007


Hi Martin,

	I never used much plastic but I got fed up with the waste of time  
and energy keeping the pathways between beds weed-free. Years back, I  
launched into a method that includes establishing "biostrips" --  
green strips sown to dutch white clover, hard red fescue as well  
allowing the natural field wildflowers (from dandelions to Queen  
Annes Lace) to come in. They provide pollen/nectar sources and  
protective habitat to breed up populations of beneficial omnivores so  
they will be in place to take on pest species when they come along.  
The sod-based biostrips also provide a below ground repository for  
beneficial mycorrhizae fungi, whose extensive hyphae networks are  
pipelines bringing far flung nutrients and water resources to the  
crop plants. You need to cut the biostrips periodically, especially  
in the Spring, and you can "mow and blow" the biomass into adjoining  
beds for a no-handle mulch source. Biostrips help prevent erosion --  
fully 1/3 of the field is in permanent cover and it gives harvesters  
a muck free working area after heavy rains.

Here's a write up:
http://scnyat.cce.cornell.edu/vegfruit/articles/biostrip.htm

best,
Steve
On Nov 14, 2007, at 11:36 PM, market-farming- 
request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:

> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 21:43:45 -0500
> From: "Glen Eco Farm" <glenecofarm at planetcomm.net>
> Subject: [Market-farming] Managing ground between plastic mulch rows
> 	(was	Rotor Tiller)
> To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <005401c82731$5841d7d0$837a0440 at glen971c42bff0>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> While some of you are discussing equipment to till space between  
> plastic mulched rows I want to share some of my efforts manage this  
> space:  Even if I have the right equipment I can only do limited  
> tillage between the rows anyway because some of my plastic mulched  
> crops are vine crops like squash and cucurbits that want to run  
> into this space.
>   a.. Spread corn gluten meal to suppress weeds (didn't work)
>   b.. Mulched with spoiled hay (works somewhat but is labor  
> intensive and I have to push it off on to someone else because of  
> my need to be careful with mold exposures)
>   c.. Let the weeds grow (you can get away with it but it is an  
> ugly mess I wouldn't recommend)
>   d.. Sow crimson clover after laying the mulch (Clover came up ok  
> but fizzled out with the arivval of hot weather and drought.  Then  
> came the grass and weeds.)
> Next year I'm thinking of planting something that will grow more  
> aggressively in hot weather, make a thicker ground cover, feed  
> nitrogen to the soil, and yield some crop to those who want them-- 
> cowpeas.  What do some of you think?  Will it work?  Has anyone  
> tried it?  I'm not concerned about crop compitition for water and  
> nutrients because I have drip irrigation under the plastic, the  
> plastic keeps competing plants far enough away from the crop and I  
> am prepared to foliar feed if necessary.
>
> Marlin Burkholder
> Virginia zone 6




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