[Market-farming] Managing ground between beds

STEVE GILMAN stevegilman at verizon.net
Thu Nov 15 12:57:39 EST 2007

Hi Rachel and Bill,

As I responded to Rachel off list: The beds are 52" (rotovator width)  
and the sod biostrips are approx 2 tractor tires wide -- 14" tires x  
2 = 28", wide enough to work in...

and Bill -- All perennial weed species should be clean out of the  
field first -- quack grass, Canadian thistle, etc. I first started  
off with a clean field, layed in the beds (with a tractor-rotovator)  
and basicially let whatever came in grow, mowing periodically. But in  
a wet spring it was hard to keep up with our typical northeastern  
hayfield grasses -- so I sowed hard red fescue, which goes fairly  
dormant in the summer and Dutch white clover as a legume that will  
tolerate treading -- tractor, wagons and feet. I'd allow the wild  
herbs/wildflowers that also came in to flower for a nectar/pollen  
food source for beneficials before mowing. I had problems with Queen  
Anne's lace being a vector for aster yellows near lettuce but in  
other areas it provided a wonderful food source for wild pollinators,  
as the tiny flowers fit their small mouthparts. The only problem  
species were any perennial weeds that spread by rhizomes -- mowing  
controlled everybody else...


On Nov 15, 2007, at 12:07 PM, market-farming- 
request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:

> Message: 9
> Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2007 10:54:20 -0600
> From: "Bill Shoemaker" <wshoemak at inil.com>
> Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Managing ground between beds
> To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <002101c827a8$2eba9d30$59088b3f at STCHARLES>
> Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="iso-8859-1";
> 	reply-type=original
> I enjoyed the article you referenced Steve. Sounds like you're long on
> experience with the system of biostrips. I'm curious if, other than  
> Queen
> Ann's Lace, you've found other plant species which can cause  
> problems for
> the system. Is the biostrip plant profile heavily weighted toward  
> bluegrass,
> or another grass species, that dominates the biostrip?
> Bill Shoemaker, Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
> University of Illinois - St Charles Horticulture Research Center
> www.nres.uiuc.edu/faculty/directory/shoemaker_wh.html
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "STEVE GILMAN" <stevegilman at verizon.net>
> To: <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 9:41 AM
> Subject: [Market-farming] Managing ground between beds
>> 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

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