[permaculture] Crabgrass, Bermuda grass, etc.

Jamie Nicol souscayrous at gmail.com
Fri Jun 22 03:15:29 EDT 2007

Dear Dieter, thank you for continuing the dialogue despite my seemingly
unfair comments.

Nature is forever particular to place and moment, any comments I make will
always lack complete understanding. I make my remarks fully aware of this.
But I made them finally because I felt that while you do know your
environment you don't understand it!

I am simply offering a different form of understanding, so let me try again:

You claim you must cut down the madronho to enable the oak forest to
regenerate. But the madronho is the necessary natural precursor for oak
forests in this region of Europe.
You claim all brushwood should be cut down in order to not provide fuel for
local wildfires. But this brushwood is the necessary precursor to the
madronho and oak forests - which are far more fire retardant than the scrub
(heather, juniper) and pines (Pinus halapensis) that would replace the
cleared brushwood.
The grass 'problem' you have occurs simply because you try to maintain a
bare field agricultural system. In a Mediterranean climate forest gardens
(the incorporation of many types of trees with cereals, fruits and veg) are
the most 'natural' agricultural form - especially when you seed everything
and allow nature to choose what grows, where and when.
You have some acres to deal with and you seem reluctant to use chemicals and
plastic and you know ploughing is disastrous in this climate; then why not
work with nature toward a stable system that will require little input?

You seem preoccupied with the problems nature throws up, but what the
problems are are all due to the previous human actions. If you continue to
intervene then all your interventions will only produce their own problems
which you will then desire to correct and these corrections will in turn
produce problems that must be corrected etc etc

Please disregard these comments if all you were asking for were other
techniques to fix the problems left by the techniques of previous farmers of
your land. I offer no new techniques, simply another perspective.

I am trying to say one simple thing in these posts, trying because we seem
to share so much in common: there is no technique to use and no technique
not to use, what must come first is understanding not knowledge.


On 6/19/07, Dieter Brand <diebrand at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Jamie,
>   Before making unfounded allegations about a situation which you
>   do not know, it may not be a mistake to have a look at the facts
>   as I described them in the first messages of this thread (see below),
>   where I briefly outlined the probable causes for the crabgrass and
>   my preferred strategies for dealing with the situation, i.e., not
>   removing the crabgrass. I did not really expect to get an answer
>   along those lines; however, as a courtesy to those who replied
>   (I know you don't consider this to be necessary) I offered my
>   thanks and resumed the different methods proposed. Your
>   message to one of these replies was quite besides the point
>   and seems to be dictated by your preconceptions rather than
>   by any regard for the facts.
>   ...
>   Whenever I dig out some of this grass from my vegetable garden I'm
>   astonished by the quality of the soil which seems to be far superior in
>   places with crab grass than in places without. I always regret having
>   to disturb the soil and thereby destroying its structure in addition to
>   removing the organic matter of the grass itself.
>   Hence I wonder, is there any way of controlling crab grass, for example
>   by crowding out or by means of allelophatic properties? Or better still,
>   are there any crops that can compete with crab grass during the
>   summer, which would allow me to leave the grass in the soil?
>   MY 2ND MESSAGE (Reply to Tom):
>   ...
>   In my case, crabgrass has spread to most of the fields ploughed by the
>   previous owner, while the surrounding hillsides, which are free of
> crabgrass,
>   are covered by perennial native plants. It is clear that years of
> ploughing
>   has compacted the soil and reduced soil organic matter, which is most
>   likely the cause for the crabgrass. Hence, I have converted to no-till
> and
>   return most of the organic matter to the soil as a mulch layer, so as to
>   improve the soil biology over the long term. I will, however, give the
> idea
>   with the calcium a try and see what happens. I didn't quite understand
>   the thing with the mould though. Why does it favour crabgrass and not
> other
>   plants? Does the book give an explanation?
>   ...
>   PS: In the coastal areas of Portugal rain comes from the ocean, and if
>   the millions of hectares of woodland around here produce rain, your are
>   more likely to benefit than we are, which isn't really faire is it? You
>   already got more than we do. We really ought to get "rain credits".
>   By the way, I'm still subscribed to the Fukuoka farming group. If you
>   want to discuss our different understanding of Natural Farming, I'm
>   always willing to engage in "reasoned" argument. I think it is not
>   appropriate to carry over any dispute from another list to this group,
>   where members are not aware of the history and may not even want
>   to know.
>   In Friendship,
>   Dieter Brand
>   Portugal
> Jamie Nicol <souscayrous at gmail.com > wrote:
>   Warning: This answer is deliberately inflammatory!
> Dear Dieter, why does nature offer you so many problems?
> There is no single technique to destroy a single plant because no plant
> grows alone - it is the result of a relational context of which we can
> only
> have the dimmest of notions.
> Crab grass is the result of cleared vegetation (perhaps due to your
> efforts
> to clear your land for fear of wildfire?). Broadscale, bare field
> agriculture (whether no-till or not) is the necessary condition for
> desertification in droughty areas (Savory's 'brittle landscapes'). Crab
> grass (and the madrinho you have cut down) is simply the momentary,
> natural
> progression toward revegetation.
> Crab grass is just the result of human action.
> Cease swimming against the flow of revegetation. Learn how to move with
> the
> flow, subtly effecting the changes toward your desired landscape. Allow
> everything to grow and continue to expand the possible plant diversity by
> continuing to cast seeds and seedballs.
> Food does not grow from out of a growing medium but from soil and soil
> does
> not exist where there is not a diverse array of plants filling every
> niche.
> You know this, we all know this! So why do we continue to focus
> exclusively
> upon a 'weed' or a particular crop...
> List of seeds to cast: ground cover - luzerne (alfalfa), black medic,
> white
> clover and never remove native leguminous plants; vegetables - all kinds
> of
> beets and radishes, asparagus, miner's lettuce, parsley, white mustard,
> chicory, coriander (cilantro), borage, cardoon, artichoke, Jerusalem
> artichoke (sunchoke), calendula, sunflowers, rocket (rucola), phacelia,
> tomato, aubergine, lentils, chick peas, peas, soya, cereals - maize,
> millet,
> amaranth, tef, wheat, barley, wild oats (always reliable!), trees - black
> and silver wattle (Acacia spp), apricot, peach, nectarine, pomegranate,
> jujube, pistacchio, almond, black locust, honey locust, carob, wild
> cherry,
> feijoa, fig, loquat, black mulberry, persimmon, tagasaste, holm and cork
> oak.
> If you do not have the time to move with the flow of nature then you can
> plough, spray, smother...conventional and organic farming do get their
> returns and so will you, unfortunately this includes desertification.
> Rain does not fall from the sky but grows up from the ground.
> Jamie
> Souscayrous
> PS Read Meister Eckhart on 'gelassenheit': leben ohne warum.
> On 6/18/07, Dieter Brand wrote:
> >
> > Paul,
> >
> > Plantain will grow pretty much anywhere. If anything, my fields with
> > crabgrass have worse drainage than other places.
> >
> > Regarding the rye, I have bad news. The crabgrass already shows
> > through the patches where I had rye in the winter. The rye does of
> > course display allelophatic properties towards weeds; however, the
> > allelophatic function weakens after you cut the rye, even if you leave
> > the straw as mulch. This makes the rye option useless for me since
> > I don't have enough humidity to grow rye in the summer.
> >
> > I will try seeding the plantain into the crabgrass invested fields.
> >
> > Dieter Brand
> > Portugal
> >
> > Paul Cereghino
> wrote: I associate plantain
> > with poor winter drainage. Perhaps that is what the
> > crabgrass can't take. I recall from unknown sources that winter rye is
> > allelopathic, and so makes a good smother crop -- so confirmation
> > through hearsay.
> > Paul Cereghino
> >
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