[permaculture] heavy clay and cover crops, more on shade

Dick Pierce dickpiercedesigns at gmail.com
Sun Mar 15 21:53:30 EDT 2009


Greetings from the TX Blackland Prairie - the black Gumbo Clay capital of
the world. It is [literally] a rough row you hoe - we know a bit about it.
All of the remedies/methods mentioned below are good/great. A few to add to
the possibilities:

-here there is [or was] a lot of new construction - up to 40% of our waste
stream is construction waste and a majority of it is old drywall and new
scraps - 100% gypsum except for the paper. Most sites here would love to
have folks agree to pick it up, will keep it separate - they cut down on
tipping fees and dumpsters. There are machines that shred and crush it. Bad
news is you've got a lot of land to cover - good news is there's a lot of
gypsum wallboard scrap and demo.

-in CO I inherited a garden full of pig weeds. They all had a rather deep
tap root into some rather tough soil. They also were so big and round that
they fairly well shaded out other weeds, so when you pulled the pigweeds,
the soil was loosened to 6-8 inches and it was almost clear for planting.
Then later, I read a book named "Weeds", by J. C-------oner - he had a great
picture of potato roots following the path forged by a pigweed. Their
standard practice was to leave or encourage a healthy pigweed every 4 feet
or so in their potato fields to break up the heavy soil and help the potato
roots.

-you'll need to seek other opinions and the literature, but aerobic compost
tea and its army of billions of soil microbes does wonders on our crops and
pasture land. In my experience, It is the only sane economic path to take
for compost on acreage. And, if we are to believe Elaine Ingham and others [
which I do] these critters are the secret of the work that compost does.

I hope that these vignettes help.

Dick Pierce

On Sun, Mar 15, 2009 at 2:35 PM, Rain Tenaqiya <raincascadia at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Loosening up heavy clay with cover crops is very slow.  Our native
> grassland here is composed primarily of grasses and clovers, in other words,
> cover crops.  The soil is too tight and dry for the production and
> integration of much organic matter.  Forking and irrigating it could help.
> Gypsum might also help, though I hate mined inputs like this.  Dumping a
> foot of organic matter on top would definitely make a difference, especially
> if it was forked or disced in after a couple years, but getting this much
> material can be a challenge.  Pioneer trees are basically the simplest
> solution, though a very slow one.  Larry mentioned planting root crops like
> daikon, chicory, etc., and this is also helpful if you have the water for
> irrigation.  The solution depends on what you have available.
>
> I forgot to mention olives and citrus as other trees that can produce well
> in the shade of Mediterranean climates, in addition to the usual suspects.
> I have lists of plants and their sun/shade needs in my book, West Coast Food
> Forestry, which is available from me or online.
>
> Rain
>
>
>
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-- 
DickPierceDesigns at gmail.com
SE-NE (summer) & Austin, TX (winter) cell- 512-992-8858

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