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Bio intensive gardening

Posted by veggiecanner Id 04 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 20, 05 at 15:36

I have been looking over John Jeavons book "HoW to Grow More Vegetables."
I was wondering if any one here has read his book(s) and if any one followed the process descibed in them. Or simalar ways of gardening.
This is alot different than sq. foot gardening and really looks like it might work.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I have used a lot of advice from Jeavons' book and I enjoy re-reading it. I had my husband double-dig our first veg garden. My current one isn't double-dug, I have raised beds instead. I don't think double-digging is really necessary for the average American gardener unless you are extremely limited in space and need to absolutely maximize production.

I like the general approach - the idea of aiming for a closed system where you grow most of your own food and your compost materials, the idea of a microclimate of veg plants, and the thriftiness of it all. Biointensive is a little bit obsessive but so is the square-foot method.
-O


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Yes, French biointensive is the method I use in our small backyard for vegetables. This includes raised beds which were double dug, completely organic everything, homemade compost, and planting close together rather than in rows.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

One of the things I have found is the scattering of seeds. I still use row gardening, the rows are just very close together. Like 7 rows of carrots in a 4 foot wide bed.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

haven't read the book, but yes I do practice a form of bio-intensive gardening. The form I use doesn't have any name as far as I know, it simply uses soil highly enriched with organic matter, close spacing and wide rows.

To determine spacing I more or less started with the spacing recommended by the sq. ft. gardening method and adjusted as I saw fit based upon results. I completely ignored the vertical growing advice for things like tomatos as I regarded it as involving too much work in terms of pruning to be worthwhile.

I definitely do believe backyard gardeners who follow the typical row spacing guidelines rather than using plant spacing guidelines for both plant and row spacing are short changing themselves in terms of efficient land use.

I am of the opinion that bio-intensive gardening is by far the most efficient way to garden regardless of double digging or whether raised beds (both of which are great) are used. Of course, I practice bio-intensive methods so of course I would believe that ;-)


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

  • Posted by Kris 8b DFW (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 21, 05 at 13:01

"This is alot different than sq. foot gardening and really looks like it might work."

Vegiecanner, I'm curious, why do you feel that sq ft gardening doesn't work? I read the sq ft gardening book but not this book yet, how is this different, is it just the plant spacing? I basically do the plant spacing on the packet ignorning the 'space between row' and only using the smaller space between plants number.

Just curious,
Thanks


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I do not like SquareFoot because it presumes you need to buy things like Peat (unsustainable) and have significant inputs.

I DO like it because it reminds you with 5-15 minutes of work, a few times a week, you can have mini crop rotation. I would rather scrounge compost materials and trellis than purchace specific things.

Jeavons is awesome, and you might want to buy some seeds from Bountiful Gardens if you get a chance! I value the thought of growing all your own compost, but with Starbux grounds, and cheap after-holiday strawbales, I havent gotten around to growing compost yet.

I like them both for their small scale adaptability, I think Jeavons is a bit more environmentally centered, and in a really barren environment, its great. I dont know that any one in the US needs to grow their own compostables (but can if they dont like gleaning compost!)

I would eventually like to get more sustainable, but its cheaper to buy an occasional sack of flour or box of oats because I live just outside a city. Would cost me more to get a mill and try to store everything myself.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I've not read the book but any program that involves digging, double digging, rototilling, lifting, spading, forking, deep raking, or any other euphemism for plowing is doing harm to the soil structure and microbial life. One of my favorite free Internet readings is The Ploughman's Folly.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I didn't like square foot gardening because the soil is store bought.
I could see double digging for one or 2 years but after that if you don't walk on the soil should not need this treatment.
In areas with long growing seasons using some of your garden to grow OM might be OK. But not here in North Idaho.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I set up a good chunk of my dad's small urban garden for the biointensive method many years ago. He said it grew more than he'd ever grown there before, and that the effect of the double digging lasted quite a few years, and he could see a difference in productivity between the area I prepared and the rest of his garden till he left that house 7 or 8 years later, although the difference decreased with time.

Today I prepared my first in-ground double dug bed in my own yard. Ugh, very hard work breaking up stria of impenetrable yellow clay. Usually I garden in raised beds 2-3 feet higher than ground level, which is just SO much easier if you can come up with enough material to fill them with.

Now that this thread is started---anyone know why there are layers of clay, then what appears to be rich humus, black moist and crumbly, *under* the clay? The clay I was digging today seemed pretty dry, and then this crumbly nice black soil for 6 or 8 inches below, then clay again. Really weird.

For the sceptical Ploughman's commenter: the Jeavons double digging method DOES keep the soil structure. You move the top spadeful from one trench to be the top spadeful, with the same orientation, of a previous trench. Everything stays at its original level.Then you just use a fork to loosen the soil below the moved spadefuls. Everything gets fluffed and lightened (and compost added on top), but not mixed much.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

  • Posted by Kris 8b DFW (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 22, 05 at 23:31

Oh, that's very legit. Maybe I'll get this book. I did use my soil, not double dug but very deeply turned over well with a fork. I don't remember that in the book, I do remember it from his website but I don't think it is in the book, but then maybe I just ignored that part.

Janet, I might guess that during construction the builders dumped clay on top of your topsoil to level it. I have a retaining wall leading to a 'set aside' and the soil in the set aside is different (more top soil) than the soil in my yard even though they are about 5 ft apart. I think they leveled clay right on top of the top soil.

I think this construction compaction is a major reason that digging needs to be done-I don't think I had any soil layers. I currently have both a lasagna and deeply dug beds and I'm not convinced yet that lasagna is the best choice for on top of compacted heavy poorly draining clay. Construction really trashes soil structure and I think my soil is much better, based on earthworm numbers etc, now that it has been dug and had OM incorporated than when it was a compacted clay mass with a bit of grass on top. I may avoid tilling in the future but not initially-I didn't destroy anything that wasn't already trashed.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

My guess is that no-till works best in soil that was previously undisturbed and hasn't been subjected to the kind of abuse that compacts it or leaves it solid clay. It's probably also a matter of time and patience, though - even the solid clay stuff might transform given enough years of layering OM on top. How many years, I don't know.

One of my neighbors has been busily grading his backyard to direct water away from his house. He's given the surplus soil to me for my raised beds and the other day made some remark about the soil being rich from years of leaf fall and grass clippings and so forth. In fact, he rakes up all his leaves and clippings - but 20 years ago he didn't.
-O


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I have done the tilling way as well as a modifed lasagna way to put in new beds in clay soil. Like above this was in new construction where lots of heavy machinery had run over the clay and it was cement like with a few inches of topsoil over it.

Long story short is they both seem to be about the same 3 years later. I chose the tiller route for a large garden area as I wouldn't have had enough material to lasagna everything. The lasgana was for a smaller area.

Tilling gets the clay broken up much faster and I doubt there is much soil life in the compacted clay to worry about so I wouldn't be too concerned about that.

From this point forward I dont intend to create such large areas so I have no use for the tiller, I just lasagna and it works fine. I should add that I only tilled the first time to break things up and then to incorporate organic matter and then planted. Never tilled again as it hasn't been necessary as long as organic matter is kept piled on top of the soil.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I browsed/read through most of the book. It has some good info.Also seems to include some New Age nonsense, and he
seems to be anti-manure. I didn't find it to be a "must
have" gardening book.

Swanz


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I do think the biointensive is more a "vegan lifestyle" oriented deal.

I forgot about that part. I DO wonder what vegans think about using worms, but ive never known personally someone who was really into gardenwork and completely agasint humane livestock raising.

I feel kinda silly having vermicompost, and NOT having other small livestock yet, BlackSoldier fly larvae would be great fodder for birds. oh well.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

>I do think the biointensive is more a "vegan lifestyle" oriented deal.

It is no more "vegan" oriented than a hundred acre field of sweet corn.

It is a method of intensive use of the land to produce vegetables and grain for consumption in a minimum of space. If you choose to grow grains for hogs using this method you could, but since the goal is to produce the maximum amount of calories for human consumption in the least amount of space, only a fraction of the calories grown will reach humans if first routed through animals.

I don't eat meat and have no problems with worms working in the garden. I never heard this was an "issue" with anyone as I never heard complaints from other vegans/vegatarians that I know.

An important aspect of the bio-intensive "method" is working towards sustainablility. That is, as far as practical, producing in the gardens or farm all material necessary to grow the crops. In sustainable, biointensive mini-agriculture, production of manure requires production of animal feed, which, especially in home gardens, is difficult to do efficiently in sufficient quantities. A far more efficient way to produce the organic matter the crops require is through composting and cover crops grown on-site.

Sustainability is a process and doesn't happen overnight. Trucking in manure or wood chips, as I currently do for my new intensively planted garden, is a step towards building the soil so importing outside materials is no longer necessary in the future. Each load brought in removes organic matter from somewhere else and requires dwindling fossil-fuel energy, which, in a world with growing populations and shrinking resources including our topsoil, is not sustainable over time.

More important than just offering a gardening method to backyard suburban hobby gardeners, this system tries to offer a sustainable method of agriculture to land-starved citizens of third world countries. It doesn't tell them they need to buy, buy, buy in order to produce their food. It is one that doesn't enslave them to chemical companies for fertilizer and seed producers whose genetic mutant seeds do not allow saving any for next year's crop. (Is this thinking the type of "New Age nonsense" referred to above?)


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Mountain C:
I think you summed it up very well. If one's living situation is such that Biointensive gardening is really not necessary to supply adequate food, then perhaps it looks a little New-Agey or affected or apocalyptic to practice Biointensive.

But for those with limited means, limited means, and/or deep convictions on the matter, there's nothing pretentious about it. And these are apocalyptic times.
-O


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

garnetmoth you incorrect square foot does not require peat or bought soil.
Square foot gardening does not require bought soil but you can use it.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I keep hearing that the SF method doesn't really require boxes, or grids or the famous "Mel's Mix" soil replacement. When all these things are removed from the method, there seems to be little left other than the close spacing of plants, which has been practiced for ages using various techniques.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I don't have the Square Foot Gardening book, But I think it suggests using the more compact varietys of plants also. The problem I see with this is,for example, the broccolli type does not put off the extra spears. So it would require more plants to make the broccolli harvest last. Anyway the point I am trying to make is you have to grow or buy alot more plants with square foot gardening to get the same food.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Square Foot Gardening's appeal, I think, is that it is utterly systematic. It breaks everything down and tells you exactly what to do, and makes you feel like you are in control of the garden and the plants. And it also has a certain aesthetic appeal - a colorful grid.

Beginning gardeners often feel at a loss - so much to learn, so many questions (and even more answers). Probably Square Foot gardening is very useful for new gardeners, and for more experienced gardeners who just like having a clear-cut system.
-O


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(Is this thinking the type of "New Age nonsense" referred to above?)

I did say the book had some good info.I like the idea of a
self sustaining garden and cover cropping.But I'm pretty sure
there was a chapter that got into some astrological nonsense.
Maybe I'm wrong, I'll have to check it out again.

Swanz


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

There is some planting by the moon instructions in the book. I had to go back and look for it as I skipped over that part the first time I read it.


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>But I'm pretty sure there was a chapter that got into some astrological nonsense.

Could be. It's been a long time since I loaned my copy and never saw it again.

The bio-intensive method grew from several sources including the French Intensive method and the Biodynamic system, developed by the Austrian scholar/philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Biodynamics is the oldest of the organized organic methods, an attempt to integrate agriculture into a system in balance with natural forces, not one that attempts to oppose them. This included forces of the cosmos reminiscent of the practice of planting according to the phases of the moon. Some of the concepts are a bit esoteric, even for me. Even though they were developed in the early 1900s, some still do seem a bit "new-age.".


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RE: Bio-intensive gardening

>I had to go back and look for it as I skipped over that part the first time I read it.

Always the case, be it a gardening method, philosophical system or a religious text. We find the information we need and can use and skip over the parts that don't relate to us.

A good thing, too in my opinion. We become more based in practicality and less subject to mindless dogma.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

first of all, RainFallsUp, you dont have to do ANYTHING that any book tells you, but it doesnt go into depth on vermicomposting or yard compost. it recommends imported products, all im sayin.

mountain_curmudgeon- im not saying there is anything wrong with the convictions of Jeavons and his Bountiful Gardens group, I do like buying seeds from them because i know they do a lot of development in less-well-off countries and encourage sustainability.

to me, when a system does not include animals, it feels more like a vegan farming book. books like the Permaculture Designers Manual and Gaias Garden include fish and/or fowl into their sustainable garden systems, so I see more as omnivorous/sustainable systems.

not saying there is anything wrong with that. I do think Gaias garden and How to Grow raise more ecological questions than Square Foot Gardening, not that any are bad, but some are more far-reaching.

take care all!


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About the no till v biointensive's double digging: I double dug the raised beds 17 years ago. It really was necessary to do something, because the clay was so hard that we had to rent a jackhammer to get into it. Nothing had been done in this garden for decades. I switched to "no dig" about 2 years ago. Now I just pile on the compost, coffee grounds, whatever, and plant right through them. The plants are happy, my back is happy, and probably the soil is happier too.

But if lasagna gardening had been invented, it would have been tempting to try that method on at least part of the beds instead of double digging.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

the grid are mostly are organization of the bed nothing else.
veggiecanner most people don't use the broccoli side shoots
any way so your point is a none issue. As for replacing plants as you use them that's why you start plant from seed since bought plants are only available for a limited time.


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RE: Broccoli

** most people don't use the broccoli side shoots **

Huh???

Maybe *some* people don't, but *most*???


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

>most people don't use the broccoli side shoots..

Why is this? I'm still picking mine. Perhaps some gardeners don't know that they will be produced, often in quantities greater than the original head.

JCin_Los_Angeles, Like you, I think many people who double-dig the beds find no need to do it again for a long time, if ever since they are engaging in a dedicated program of soil building. Not all of my new beds have been double-dug yet but the ones that have been will likely not need it again for some time.

I find the digging to be good exercise and much easier than it sounds and far easier than the horror the SF guy makes it out to be. It can be done a little at a time. It's therapeutic and rewarding. It gives me a sense of pride in accomplishment and in knowing that, in the process of feeding myself, I'm improving the little patch of earth entrusted to me by actually building soil with a minimum of external resources.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

My guess is that in most parts of the country you can't find sprouting broccoli in the garden centers, only the one-head hybrids. Therefore, most people will not use side shoots, because they won't have them to use.
-O


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Bartholomews description of materials needed to build up the soil does not preclude you straining your brain to figure out alternatives. Square Foot Gardening, like any other gardening book, should be used for the ideas it contains not as a specific set of directions. I have not yet seen a gardening book that tells me how the authors garden fairs in December rather than July.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

  • Posted by Kris 8b DFW (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 3, 05 at 13:13

Just to clarify about SFG, I have the book in front of me now, it was re-printed in 2005 so I consider the publised book SFG.

SFG goes through soil types, clay sand loam, the importance of organic matter, the compost pile and how to construct a pile and compost. He says "if you are really serious about growing a great garden, you'll have a compost pile'.

Therainfallsup, wasn't being contrary, SFG really doesn't require peat or bought soil. He does discuss how to create the "perfect soil for the perfect garden" which is basically remove 6-12" of soil form a block, separately mix peat moss, vermiculite, compost, sand, lime, and organic fertilizers, then fill the garden block with the mixture, "you can mix in some of the removed soil as you go". But it's not presented as the only way, he does suggest strongly suggest amending the soil with O.M.

He discusses fertilizers but doesn't really stress organic over chemical but he does give a formula for mixing up a complete organic fertilizer. He discusses the importance of earthworms and what they do but not vermicomposting.

From what I've read, I would say the grid system is his only really substantial contribution. That and writing a book that compiles gardening info in a way that is very user friendly to an urban gardener. Really that's a nice contribution because more people gardening is a good thing. And really, I don't think any gardening book is truly revolutionary, gardening has been around too long, but some present the info nicely and that's really important.

He seems to consider the grid (not the spacing) the critical defining factor to SFG. I personally think the grid is unattractive, but I have found that it makes me use the space better, which is his logic. So for me it's utilitarian.

He definatly spaces plants closely, he claims that you can grow more food per square foot this way, but you will get lower yields per plant. So with the broccoli for example consider De cicco (seedsofchange recommends 18"=1.5'): the idea would be that with the recommended spacing you can fit 4 De Cicco plants in 9 square feet, but with the sq ft method you can get 9 plants in 9 sqft, so the it comes down to does 4 plants + side shoots equal more food than 9 plants with no side shoots. I don't know the answer, but he would obviously argue his method produces more food per square foot.

Kimmsr, check out the W.O.R.D. Gardening Bible he disusses his garden in the winter specifically: he maintains a greenhouse for salad vegies in the winter, but the rest is under snow in Dec. I'm not sure that's what your meaning.

Most of you really know what your doing, I wouldn't reccomend SFG for anyone who's not a novice, but it has some nice gems in it.

I ordered seeds from B.G. and their pkts don't tell me the latin name or variety, I don't like that, and they also didn't send my strawberry seeds :(-I know that happens, but I think they should tell you before you get the order. They do have some interesting seeds, just wish they said what they were.

I think I will get this Jeaves book, sounds interesting, and I don't mind some astrology, I think that's fun.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I plant intensively in raised beds, with soil consisting of shredded leaves and compost. I have had great results.
James


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

>I plant intensively in raised beds, with soil consisting of shredded leaves and compost. I have had great results.


I believe it depends on the plants. I've also had some good results with certain plants growing in pure compost (particulary potatoes growing wild in a cold compost pile.) But I've had some beds largely made of compost which were not very successful. I couldn't get tall plants to stay upright in windy conditions, for example. I've also had problems with planting fine seeds in compost.

For the stability, the ease of planting and for the general reason that I prefer to help build my soil, I avoid beds of pure compost.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I think Mel has contributed some "new" (new to most home gardeners in the U.S.) ideas. For instance, planting one seed at a time and not thinning, growing things vertically that many people think can't be grown that way (in his book, which is outdated, he does recommend what I would consider over-pruning many vine crops), the spacing issue, never walking on the soil, and staggered planting.

One reason SFG appeals to me is how very organized it is. The grids give an organized look, but it's not just the grids: it's the whole system.

Whether or not to buy soil is really a matter of one's situation. I live in a city with very clay-ey, rocky soil. I'm also a renter. I am growing this garden as a hobby, but also to eat, and I want it to be a success. Were I to plant directly in my native soil, my chances of success would be much lower than they are growing it in Mel's Mix. It would take years to amend the soil in this yard to make it as fertile as the mix, and that's not a good strategy for me. I want a garden *now*.

I didn't feel good about the peat moss and in the future I won't be using it; I'd rather just use compost and verm. I do especially dislike the way Mel brushes off peoples' questions about peat moss.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I thought I had read 'Ploughman's Folly', but I hadn't. Now I have.

Thanks for the link, Dchall. I am reminded again that rough OM is more effectively incorporated into heavy soils than sandy ones like mine, where it is best layered on top.


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I agree with Mountain- We bought some bagged soil (not enough, and lousy) and had some compsot finished, Few things would get started - I could have screened the compost, but it wasnt working. Ive taken buckets of the less-compacted soil from the large bed in the front (Big bed, full of shrubs) and have sprinkled that thickly over the compost- Ive got an OK soil, compost, bagged soil "sammich" and things are starting to grow!


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Hi, I wanted to throw in a reminder that the Lasagna Gardening books also suggest putting peat moss in like every third layer or so. I thought that was stupid and have never put it in a lasagna bed. As many have said, you read the books, grasp the concept, and then do it in the way that seems best/most appropriate to you.

I don't know why authors so often suggest working peat moss into gardens, there are so many other 'fluffy' OM things that need a home like manure, leaves, coffee grounds, etc. Maybe they want to tell you something anyone can buy at the store instead of scrounging for, but it doesn't seem ecologically responsible. Why not say to buy compost, which still seems funny to me (buying it) but is also widely available?

I have also read the Sq. Ft. gardening book, as I already was planting things a lot closer than they say to on the packs. Who is it that they think is planting rows of peas 2 ft. apart or whatever? I have plenty of land, but why make such enormous gardens and then not plant in so much of it? I pack stuff in as closely as I think I can, but don't consider myself to follow any particular method. I am not organized and tidy, so that grid stuff is not for me.

About broccoli, I have been picking side shoots for a long time, did it today in fact. I planted something ordinary from a pack of seeds I once bought for $.10. Actually last year's broccoli went to seed and I replanted some volunteers that did quite well. I don't get big heads but lots and lots of side shoots, plus I am letting some go to seed as well. I let nature garden for me as much as possible.

Marcia


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thats awesome Marcia.

I think there are at least 2 camps of gardening/yard. The "I need tools and chemicals" and the "I love nature and thrift" way. The thrift way is necessarily more ecologically friendly. Im actually in the middle. We own a lawnmower (dont have goats yet!) but are trying to be lower-input.

If youve got fields and fields of crops, you kinda need to have room to hoe or cultivate, but in the backyard, you can space close because you can handpick weeds.

What I will spend $ on are books. Seed to Seed by Ashworth is supposed to be the end-all on seed and variety preservation. I understand that cole crops (broccoli, turnips, collards, etc) need many plants to cross pollenate to make the best seed. They rapidly decline if just saving seed from 1-2 plants. May be why youre getting side-broccolis. But, I personally really like the Chinese Flowering Kale or Broccolini type vegetables anyways, Sounds like yours are turning more like that.

Good luck!


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I don't know why authors so often suggest working peat moss into gardens, there are so many other 'fluffy' OM things that need a home like manure, leaves, coffee grounds, etc. Maybe they want to tell you something anyone can buy at the store instead of scrounging for, but it doesn't seem ecologically responsible.

I think peat is great, particularly if one wants to slightly acidify their soil for several years in the area. It is 100% sustainable and renewable so it is ecologically responsible.

I know many have heard peat harvesting is not sustainable, but I looked into it and found it is sustainable. Here is a link.

Whether or not peat is the best amendment in any given case is debateable, but at least those who would like to use it do not need be concerned about depleting a natural resource.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

there is calarese that comes in 10 cent pks. it is a sprouting broccoll,


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

there is calarese that comes in 10 cent pks. it is a sprouting broccoll,


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Well peat moss is anti microbial so it doesn't do much for microbes in the soil. That's the biggest minus about this OM. I remember reading somehwere that it was used to preserve meats!

I would think that using peat moss would require chemical fertilizers to feed the plants since peat moss stops or at least mostly slow down the breakdown of OM into nutrients to feed the roots. That would explain why I see all those fertlizers for acid loving plants.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Peat moss doesn't harm the microherd as best I can tell (from reading on it). Peat itself resists breaking down much the way cedar does.

As far as the ferts for acid loving plants you see, this isn't because peat is often used, rather it is because of the source of nitrogen in acid ferts is different than what is typically used. The nitrogen sources are chosen for their acidifying the soil, not to break down peat.

In case anyone is interested, here is a chart showing the acidifying properties of common nitrogen sources


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Still into chemical fertilizers that I can see...

Yeah another big negative for peat for not breaking down into humus fast enough but you think that's good?. That's why more organic oriented gardners don't use peat moss. Show me some info that they do not harm microbes or limit microbes growth.

Leaf mold is much better alternative to peat though it's not readily available and takes a while to make them on your own.

Last time I checked this is ORGANIC gardening....


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I am not trying to argue about the peat or organics, Lou.

Some people choose to use a particular thing out of ignorance or because someone they trusted recommended it. Other people choose to use something because they have some knoweldge of the properties of various choices and believe one to be better than the next for a given application.

I grow blueberries in containers. I use peat to achieve a sufficiently acidic soil that will remain sufficiently acidic for 5+ years. Compost doesn't work as the primary growing medium as it is near neutral in ph and will result in iron chlorosis regardless of how much iron is in the compost. Darn near any organic matter once it breaks down becomes near neutral in ph. Acidic materials like oak leaves, pine needles and the like do not retain their aciditiy as they break down, they go neutral.

Peat is the exception. That is why it is a superior organic choice for acidifying the soil.

If I didn't rely upon peat to acidify the growing medium for blueberries I would have to use chemicals to do it.

If you can think of any other organic matter that would be superior to peat for producing a lasting, naturally acidic environment I would be interested in knowing about it.

As far as peat not limitting bacterial development, I didn't claim that. Any acidic medium will limit bacterial development to those bacteria that prefer an acidic environment. The science on the issue isn't settled, but you may find this article on bogs of interest. I think you will note that the antifungal/microbial effects of peat are simply that it, itself resists breakdown like cedar and other organic materials do, it isn't that it kills anything simply by being inttroduced into the environment.

If one acidifies an environment that was previously near neutral in ph, however, one can expect a significant change over in the species of bacteria present, meaning the first batch will die as the ph shifts out of it's range.


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RE-: Bio intensive gardening

Still into chemical fertilizers that I can see...

Quickly, it isn't that I am 'into' chemical ferts, Lou. I was responding to your statement about acidic ferts.

However, when we speak of acid environment requiring plants, it is true that inorganic minerals are often chosen. Inorganic minerals are natural and in my opinion not to be shunned when one understand what they do, how they affect the environment and one finds this effect beneficial to the plants and not harmful to the soil.

Acid loving plants don't actually require an acid soil. Rather they require nutrients like all other plants. Without proper acidity the plants cannot access the nutrients in the soil whether present in inorganic forms or present in organic matter.

The choice to use urea nitrogen is chosen because it is acidic and when watered in creates an acidic, aquatic environment in which the roots can absorb it. Urea may be shunned as an organic fert when it is presented in a bag next to the miracle grow, but urea nitrogen comes from blood. Organic gardeners who don't understand where the nutrient elements come from use blood meal as an organic nitrogen source. They pay exhorbitant prices for it and end up applying the exact same thing that is sold in 'chemical fert' bags at a fraction of the cost.

I am into organics, Lou, but I am not interested in being ripped off by unscrupulous vendors who take advantage of ignorance to extract absurd prices for 'organic' products that are identical to the 'non-organic' products.

Blood meal=urea from blood
Urea nitrogen = nitrogen from blood.

There is no difference except price and label.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Are you saying that the bag of 46-0-0 urea fertilizer is made from blood? I was using it to grow corn but dropped it to go organic.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Are you saying that the bag of 46-0-0 urea fertilizer is made from blood?

LOL, how deep down the rabbit hole do you wish to go?

Short answer, yes or no. ;-) With that high a percentage of nitrogen, it didn't likely come from blood, it was manufactured.

Longer answer:

Urea is naturally derived from blood although urea is considered a synthetic organic compound. The blood itself comes from the cattle processing industry. Did the term synthetic organic throw you for a loop? LOL, you aren't alone.

Urea isn't a naturally occuring protein, it is manufactured. It is manufactured in manufacturing plants as well as inside animals (including humans) Urea isn't inorganic, it is organic. Among other uses, it is fed to farm animals as a protein suppliment (usually it is the manufactured urea they are fed rather than blood, for reasons that should be fairly obvious). The animal blood is made into blood meal.

Blood meal is simply animal blood that is agitated to prevent coagulation while it is shipped to a factory and then run through a centifuge to strip impurities out and it is then dried and sold as blood meal.

So, no, your bag of urea didn't likely come from animal blood, but from a manufacturing plant. Blood meal is from (usually) urea fed animals whose blood is processed in a processing plant ;-)

So, which is better? LOL.

Urea is urea is urea. Urea obtained from blood would most accurately be refered to as blood urea as it is often refered to in the cattle feed industry as opposed to the manufactured urea fed to the cattle. Either way it is a synthetic, organic compound.

Either way the nitrogen going to the plants is urea form. It is fast acting and short lived and thus should be used when these traits are desired. Regardless of whether the urea is from blood or the lab (or urine, coincidentally), it is broken down rapidly by soil organisms.

The only difference in the sources of urea are price and label.

In case you were wondering, yes, human urine (and blood) contains nitrogen in urea form as well. That is why peeing on a plant can give it a quick boost and a dog peeing in the same spot ODs plants/grass.

I guess what I am saying is if you are willing to pee on a plant or put dried animal blood around a plant, you really have no reason to freak out when it comes to using urea nitrogen. It is all the same thing. All that differs is how much you pay for the same exact thing.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

  • Posted by Kris 8b DFW (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 9, 05 at 21:36

Lou, I think it's important to recognize, that while peat itself may be antimicrobial, it may not be significantly or substantially antimicrobial in all situations. Peat bogs are one environment, the european/canadian cold murky bog areas and those unique conditions lead to the breakdown of the plants that create highly acidic conditions. I don't think that dried out peat, mixed in to soil, in the U.S. or expecially the hot south is in an environment anywhere near the origional bog conditions. So I think it can be used as an organic amendment in certain situations, like growing or blueberries in Dallas. It's not fair to say because peat bogs don't favor a lot of microbial activity that a mixture of peat in alkaline soil presumably with compost and other amendments it is antimicrobial and therefore not organic because the conditions are just so different. I do think that the slow breakdown of peat that is added to soil is an advantage in certain situations, like the azaleas in Dallas. It is just like we say with all organic amendments, slow release. That's exactly what is needed in an alkaline buffered soil, the prolonged addition of acid to keep the soil from being to alkaline so that the plants can actually absorb the nutrients they need. Something that brakes down too quickly, especially in high heat, would only help the plant for maybe a season while I believe you get 3-5 years with peat.

Oh,I looked up the meat preservation, which you and I briefly discussed in a previous post, and the articles I read said that peat plus salt was used; which is a really more like making jerky :)

U5, urea doesn't come from blood and blood meal is not the exact same thing as sold in 'chem fert' bags. Blood meal does not equal urea from blood and Urea nitrogen does not equal nitrogen from blood; urea is not a protein. I think something is confused on this point.

Urea is synthesized chemicaly from carbon dioxide and ammonia. Urea isn't obtained from blood. If there is anything more than small levels of urea in the blood then you have gout or kidney problems. Urea is filtered out by the kidneys and concentrated in urine, like you said. However, the blood is primarly protein so basically it would be like applying any other protein meal to the soil (ie soybean meal). Proteins are made up of amino acids many of which should be able to be directly taken up by the soil bacteria and plants. As you said, Proteins are broken down to urea but it happens as the protein is used up in organisms. Blood meal should contain other minor elements like iron that would be good additions to the soil.

I agree that urea is naturally occuring, and I'm personally on the fense, I prefer not to use urea because it is highly purified and therefor doesn't have the potential to add as many components to my soil.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

U5, urea doesn't come from blood and blood meal is not the exact same thing as sold in 'chem fert' bags. Blood meal does not equal urea from blood and Urea nitrogen does not equal nitrogen from blood; urea is not a protein. I think something is confused on this point.

You are, of course, correct. I was confused. Very much so. I will have to go back to the books on this one. My apologies.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

  • Posted by Kris 8b DFW (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 10, 05 at 3:13

Oh, U5, you have nothing at all to apologise for. I loved your link on bogs, so fascinating. You always have so much fascinating information to share. That's why we are all here, to share what we know and learn from eachother. I've learned so much from this forum and your posts. I love it, we can challenge eachother, think things through, and figure stuff out together.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Veggie Canner sure opened up a big can 'o veggies in starting this thread! I have really enjoyed the discussion, and learned from it.
-O


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Whether you think peat is 'sustainable' or not, there are SO MANY other organic materials that work as well in making/improving soil that NEED a home, are waste from something, like fruit scraps, manure, leaves, etc. Peat is basically mined from the earth just so people can have it to garden with. Why not get coffee grounds from Starbucks instead to keep it out of the landfill?

Yes, maybe one person in 100 needs it to grow blueberries in pots, but to advise the average gardener to use heaps of peat is plain stupid. Use what already needs a home, no need to dig holes in the earth in Canada just to make your dirt fluffy. I am obviously in the love nature and thrift gardening camp. I have no motorized garden tools and buy almost nothing to garden, I scavenge a lot and rescue other people's trash to garden with. I am thinking I will break down and buy a leaf shredder next year, though, as every year I really wish I had one.

As for my broccoli, I don't normally grow it, but last year I was looking for an interesting texture in my peace garden and planted a few seeds. They reproduced, so I put some volunteers into my vegie garden. They were just normal broccoli I am sure. I have learned not to let radishes grow from seed, though, they seem to always be crappy. We are having an amazingly extended fall season, although I am expecting the first really hard frost tonight, Nov. 10. In WI, this is somewhat freakish. usually happens late Sept. or early Oct. I picked tomatoes yesterday!

Marcia


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

>Whether you think peat is 'sustainable' or not, there are SO MANY other organic materials that work as well in making/improving soil that NEED a home, are waste from something, like fruit scraps, manure, leaves, etc.

Exactly, there's been such heavy marketing of peat moss through garden centers and folklore that many people actually think they need it.

The question of peatmoss's sustainability is a moot point in my opinion. What is not sustainable is the petroleum required for transporting material perhaps thousands of miles to do what leaves sitting out in bags by the curb will do.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

Also, since this thread is about the biointensive method, sustainability is a goal the method works toward. The method strives to grow on the site all the material necessary to grow the crops and build the soil through the use of well-made compost and cover crops.

Trucking peat for many, many miles flies in the face of this goal.


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RE: Bio intensive gardening

I use peat as part of my seed starting mix. And I recycle any of it that does not make it to the garden, Untill it finally does. More for economic reasons than anything.
A big bag of peat will last me for 2 years If I am carefull.
My original post did ask for variables on the bio-intesive gardening methods that were used by the participants of this thread. And peat is , good or bad one of them,
i bought some peat moss the first year I gardened and put it in my beds, Now I know I wasted my money. If anyone saw the amount of leaves that get piled in just our little city dump, they would feel the same way. I also bring home scrap wood to heat my house. They burn it any way. My husband likes to call me cheap, it used to bug me till I saw his grin when we bought our fishing boat.


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