----- Original Message -----
From: John D'hondt <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000 4:10 AM
Subject: Re: Carbon Sequestration - The organic way
> When you farm on a very marginal soil and under severe climate conditions,
> like we do, it is very obvious that tilling the land does one's hard won
> fertility no good. Dig one spade deep on "new " ground and you bring
> gravelly subsoil with a mass of stones on top. It took 6 years to build
> enough soil to let a normal carrot grow. Plow even once and you can loose
> half that soil debt.
> Once you have seen this it is obvious what one should do. Bring loads of
> organic materials on top and let the worms do the work of mixing it in.
> And of course we learned by our mistakes. One spring was so wet that I
> thought I had to build ridges to keep the seed potatoes from drowning.
> Unfortunately I had forgotten about the blackbirds. We were had that time
> already the worm- richest farm for many miles around. And this attracts
> black birds that normally spend all day long working over the mulch for
> worms. I found out that it takes about two hundred blackbirds exactly 5
> to level half an acre of potato ridges. This left my seed potatoes lying
> top of the ground were they were easy prey for rooks. Expensive mistake. A
> good living soil drains well enough without ridges I found out later.
> Shortly after that I read about a no dig potato growing system that looked
> promising enough. Put a 30 cm thick layer of straw on the ground and plant
> the potatoes just underneath this. At harvest time you just open up the
> straw and collect your crop on top of the ground almost. Under our
> conditions however the wet straw layer creates an extreme slug buildup.
> black birds can't do much with it. So now we use a mulch that the black
> birds can handle. We turned a problem into an asset.
> We live in one of the windiest areas in Europe and this creates its own
> problems. You really need a shelter belt to be able to grow one. And
> vegetable seedlings would have a very short life expectancy without
> protection. So we plant them between rows of perennials such as
> or we leave a row of well established turnips or what have you in the
> and let them go to seed if need be. This gives our bees something to be
> happy about and afterwards we can feed the bolted turnips to our animals
> prefer the green stems to the actual turnip anyway.
> You yourself use rye I believe, but that does not work well for us. You
> to have an open mind and then everybody's particular circumstances will
> almost force a farmer to eventually come up with the best possible
> There are no good universal techniques. Just as there are no good
> seeds or plant varieties.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Steve Groff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: John D'hondt <email@example.com>
> Cc: sanet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Friday, April 28, 2000 3:25 AM
> Subject: Re: Carbon Sequestration - The organic way
> > John D'hondt wrote:
> > > Hi Steve,
> > > Plowing and tilling is very much frowned upon in our organic
> > > On the other hand, I don't know of a single chemical (that's what you
> > > when you say conventional I take it) no-tiller in the whole of
> > > John
> > John,
> > You owe it to the organic comunity here in the U.S. to teach them about
> > I'm happy to hear that you are an organic farmer with little tillage. I
> tip my
> > hat to you! I've had lots of organic farmers visit my farm and be
> stimulated to
> > reduce tillage in their own farm. Some have been quite successful.
> > This brings up a question. Does the new U.S. organic regs clearly "very
> > frown" or discourage the use of tillage? Why or why not?
> > --
> > Steve Groff
> > "Enhancing the Environment" http://www.cedarmeadowfarm.com/
> > Cedar Meadow Farm
> > 679 Hilldale Road
> > Holtwood, PA 17532 USA
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