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

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Fri Mar 20 23:18:49 EDT 2009

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

Joseph C. Coccanauer (sp?) wrote a book on weeds; a Biodynamics practitioner
wrote one entitled "Weeds and What They Tell"

=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

=-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.

=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

I just had a conversation with Marshall Chrostowski who told me about a method he used to break up heavy
soil on land he was using for market crop production: compost application on raised beds along with letting
the weeds (pigweed and others) grow, uncontrolled, for several years. When these weeds began to mature to around head 
height this indicated that their root systems had penetrated and loosened the compacted soil enough so that he could get
a tractor with ripper through it to begin the process of mechanical tillage that would add dramatically to depth of 
tilth and water and nutrient holding capacity within a shorter timeframe.

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