[permaculture] Double-dug?

christopher nesbitt christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org
Mon Dec 7 19:37:05 EST 2009


Tripp,

Thank you for such an informative post.

Best wishes,

Christopher
On Dec 7, 2009, at 5:56 PM, Tripp Tibbetts wrote:

> I'm not sure I am talking about market gardening and permaculture on  
> the same site, so this discussion may be moot.
>
> BUT:
> Around 1700 an English lawyer named Jethro Tull observed (ostensibly  
> without the assistance of an Aqualung) that vegetables grew better  
> in soil that had been broken up.  He deduced from this observation  
> that plant roots must have little mouths with which to eat particles  
> of soil.  How else would they acquire nutrients?  Believing that  
> cultivated soil consisted of smaller particles that would fit more  
> easily into the little root mouths, he invented a horse-drawn plow  
> to put his hypothesis to the test.  His work attracted the attention  
> of gentleman farmers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson,  
> who encouraged American farmers to do likewise.
>
> For reasons completely unrelated to cultivation, this method DID  
> improve vegetable production in colonial America.  The more  
> perennial the biomass of an ecosystem, the more its soil biota is  
> dominated by fungi.  Annual vegetables, on the other hand, prefer a  
> soil biota dominated by bacteria.  So by removing the forests from  
> future agricultural plots and tilling, not only were there no trees  
> in the way of New England's row crops, but the fungally-dominated  
> soils of the forest were undone, and the manure that was tilled in  
> swung the soil biota rapidly in favor of the bacteria.  Perfect  
> recipe for turnips and cabbage!
>
> The practice of cultivation is so deeply ingrained in the American  
> psyche that it has become dogma, and self-evident in its  
> beneficence, despite the fact that we know good and well that plant  
> roots don't have mouths.
>
> So if you're preparing a vegetable plot from a former forest, then  
> by all means, chop up the fungal network and add manure or green  
> compost.  But if you have established garden beds, then utilize and  
> guide the soil food web to maximize production and spare your back.
>
> To read more about gardening with the soil food web, check out  
> Teaming With Microbes, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.
>
> I might add as a more observational footnote, that, with the  
> exception of legumes, Nature doesn't fertilize anywhere but on the  
> surface.  Occasionally organic material is ground into the top few  
> inches of soil by ungulates, but other than that, it's pretty much  
> mulch and rain.  And the Piedmont clays of the southeast are  
> probably the MOST likely to benefit from biologically-derived soil  
> structure.  Humble earthworm indeed.
>
> Tripp out.
>
>
>
> The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
> -Chinese proverb
>
>
> --- On Mon, 12/7/09, Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lflj at bellsouth.net>  
> wrote:
>
>
> From: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lflj at bellsouth.net>
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Double-dug?
> To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Monday, December 7, 2009, 10:00 PM
>
>
> Tripp Tibbetts wrote:
>> No, I didn't mean to say that.  But your garden is your garden.   
>> Double-dig if you like.
>>
>> I'd wager that if you knew the true origins of cultivation, you'd  
>> be a bit embarrassed that you ever subscribed to such an idea...
>
> I do this for a living and have selected the best methods to use to  
> build productive soil.
> Why would I waste my money on an unsustainable method or one that  
> doesn't work?
>
>> I'd wager that if you knew the true origins of cultivation, you'd  
>> be a bit embarrassed that you ever subscribed to
> such an idea...
>
> Why don't you give us more information about this with references.  
> If  you are using Fukuoka as an example I can
> understand when notill might be useful, in fact I am using that  
> method right now over a large area of fallow garden.
>
> If you're talking about doing permaculture and market farming at the  
> same time at the same site, and you're not on 10'
> deep praier black loam soil, then notill won't lead to acceptable  
> productivity.
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_____________________________
Christopher Nesbitt

Maya Mountain Research Farm
San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
BELIZE,
Central America

www.mmrfbz.org






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