[permaculture] Establishing/harvesting cover crops in small areas

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Tue Mar 14 14:20:19 EST 2006

sinergyinaction at netscape.net wrote:

> Hi,
> what simple and energy efficient methods are there for harvesting cover crops for relatively
> small areas 2-4 Ha?

Third world nations who value and have preserved traditional tools and agricultural methods know the most about
using hand tools for harvesting small and large crops, hay, greens, grain, etc.

> Of course one can always resort to the scythe, but what's in between the scythe and big machinery?

Really well designed and manufactured scythes and sickles made of good steel properly hardenened and tempered.
For example look at Thai rice harvesting sickles (cross between and machete and a sickle). The European lightweight long 
handled scythes work wvery well on flat ground and even in and along ditches. The Mexican hand sickle (wide flat blade 
in varying sizes, shaped like a quetion mark) may be the best for your cover crop harvesting needs. These are hand made 
of leaf spring in local blacksmith shops and hardened and tempered. They last and will take a great edge.

Te list of appropriate tools is endless and possibilities for improvements and enhancements on existing implements are 
limitless. Handtools and market farming are my two main occupations.

A newly designed hand scythe is needed for just the purpose you have described.

> Is there any simple method for harvesting the seeds, without having to check each single plant
> but without using complicated and heavy machinery as well?

Something like a wheat cradle attached to your scythe or sickle, for small harvests.

> is it worth trying to establish a cover crop without doing anyh soil preparation, just broadcasting seeds on top of what is already growing? 
> By How much do the amount of seeds have to be incremented (if ever) to ensure success in germination?

Yoy are talking Masanobu Fukuoka and his futuristic agricultural methods, no till, no soil prep, let all plants grow as 
they will, plant your crops within them, build up layers of mulch and consequently depth of soil tilth and fertility. 
There's a mailing list devoted to this art:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fukuoka_farming/

> It would be great to hera about experiences you hava had.
> All the best
> Antonio

This will be a fascinating topic to discuss. I would like to know more about seed harvesting.


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