[Market-farming] Silage tarps ala Fortier

Etienne Goyer etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca
Sun Apr 13 10:14:57 EDT 2014


Pretty much, yeah.  If you use black tarp, the first couple inches of 
soil get warmer and retain more moisture, which stimulate weed seed 
germination.  Weeds germinate, then dies off from lack of light.  If you 
do not work the soil after occultation (which would bring more weed 
seeds near the surface), the bed should remain weed-free for a few 
weeks.  Hopefully, you could then do a short-season crop without any 
weeding (radish, aragula, etc).  For that to work, the tarp needs to 
remains in place for at least five weeks prior.

But I think the main benefit really come from earthworm activity.  Since 
the surface stay dark all the time, the worms can work 24/7 near the 
surface.  When you lift the tarp, you can see an incredible number of 
worm tunnels, which help improve the soil's texture a lot.

Note that, if you hope to smother perennials (quackgrass, dandellion, 
etc), then you need to occultate for a whole season.  Ideally, you 
install the tarp in the fall of year 1, leave it in place all of year 2, 
and then remove it in the spring of year 3.  I did try to cover a 
quackgrass-infested area for 8 weeks last fall.  When I removed the 
tarp, it looked clean at first.  But then, two weeks later, the 
quackgrass was popping right back up.

Beside Jean-Martin Fortier, occultation has been made popular here in 
Québec by Joseph Templier, of Les Jardins du Temples in France.  He 
grows organic veggies on 40 acres near Grenoble, and use the technique 
extensively.  He is also a big proponent of solarisation, and even 
combine the two (solarise for 4-5 weeks in the middle of the season, 
when it is the warmest, and then occultate until the beginning of the 
following season).  He has a massive presentation online that has a few 
pictures of occultation/solarisation in action:

     http://www.cetab.org/UserFiles/Documents/document20.pdf

Check around slide 114.  Warning: the file is 18 MB.


Hope that help.  As I said, I am just beginning with this technique, so 
my experience is very limited, but I am quite enthusiastic about the 
result so far.


Etienne in Eastern Québec.



On 14-04-13 09:28 AM, Deb Taft wrote:
>
>
> Hi Allan and Etienne.
>
> Could you give us some info about "occultation"?  What is the goal of
> it?  It sounds like simple smothering of weeds but I'm guessing there's
> more to it than that.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Hope spring has finally come to everyone :)
>
> Deb
> Mobius Fields
> Westchester County NY
>
>
>
>
>
> On Sun, Apr 13, 2014 at 8:13 AM, Etienne Goyer
> <etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca <mailto:etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca>> wrote:
>
>     Silage tarp is available, AFAIK, in any feed/agricultural store.  I
>     don't know about the US, but around here, it's fairly easy to find,
>     so I am kinda surprised at your difficulties.  Wherever farmers go
>     in your area for feeds, bale twine, and such should carry silage
>     tarp.  Unless, of course, nobody does silage hay in your area.
>
>     The one I am getting here is 4 mil, black on a side, white on the
>     other.  24' x 100' is also the smallest size I can get.  I do not
>     recommend buying the larger size (30' x 150' and such), because the
>     roll are very heavy (upward of 200 lbs) and hard to work with.
>       Moreover, it gets even heavier when it is wet, which make handling
>     the larger silage tarp size very, very challenging.
>
>     You could cut up a wider roll in more manageable bed-sized strips.
>     However, this year, I am buying a couple rolls of Texsol (nursery
>     woven tarp, polypropylen fabric) instead.  They come in various
>     width.  In my case, I plan on getting the 12' width, to cover two 5'
>     beds at once. The only research I have read on the subject concluded
>     that silage tarp was better, but I think the nursery tarp will be
>     easier to handle.
>
>     This is what I am talking about:
>
>     http://www.duboisag.com/en/__greenhouses-nurseries-__irrigation-equipment/__greenhouse-liners-weed-__control/greenhouse-liners.html
>     <http://www.duboisag.com/en/greenhouses-nurseries-irrigation-equipment/greenhouse-liners-weed-control/greenhouse-liners.html>
>
>
>     Dubois also has silage tarp, but I doubt it would be competitive to
>     have it shipped to the US.
>
>     http://www.duboisag.com/en/__multi-silage-tarps.html
>     <http://www.duboisag.com/en/multi-silage-tarps.html>
>
>
>     One thing I can say is that it is worth the trouble.  I am a
>     newcomer to the technique, so my personal experience is very
>     limited.  But from what I have seen on other farms, the result are
>     astounding.  After a few weeks of occultation, the soil texture is
>     absolutely incredible.  I think it's worth giving this a try.
>
>     Have fun,
>
>     Etienne
>
>
>
>     On 14-04-13 06:42 AM, Allan Balliett wrote:
>
>         I find Jean-Martin Fortier's "the Market Gardener" full of ideas
>         but way
>         too short on appropriate details.
>
>         I'm having trouble right now with the "silage tarps" used for
>         "occultation" of seed beds.
>
>         After a lot of phone calls, I found a company that can 'talk' silage
>         tarps but the smallest I can find is a black and white 24' by
>         100' ($109
>         US) and at 5mil rather then the recommended 6 mil.
>
>         If there are details in this book on what sizes to buy or
>         practical ways
>         to cut tarps to size, I haven't been able to find them.
>
>         I'm wondering if any readers of market-farming have already
>         solved this
>         problem, one way or another.
>
>         Aside from practical issues, it sure is a great idea! I may pick
>         up a
>         tarp and cover a half dozen prepared beds, which wouldn't be out of
>         line, really, but a tarp per bed would be much more practical.
>
>         -Allan in WV
>
>
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>     --
>     Etienne Goyer  -  Le Jardin du Village
>     http://lejardinduvillage.__wordpress.com
>     <http://lejardinduvillage.wordpress.com>
>
>     "Changer le monde, une betterave à la fois"
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-- 
Etienne Goyer  -  Le Jardin du Village
http://lejardinduvillage.wordpress.com

"Changer le monde, une betterave à la fois"



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