Worthwhile grain plants

I’ve stated before that I think growing small grains is not worthwhile for a small farmer. Self-propelled combine harvesters are so incredibly efficient compared to any other method that unless you have a farm big enough to support their costs (were talking perhaps 50 or more acres) then you shouldn’t bother with small grains to process into human food.

The grains that are not easily mechanically harvested, though, do makes sense to grow. They cost much more in the store, if you can get them at all.  For example grain Amaranth. The indeterminate growth habit (it is a broadleaved plant) and tiny grains sort of exclude efficient mechanical harvest, but it is actually one of the easiest grain plants to hand harvest (perhaps second only to corn).

I also like how Amaranth tastes (and looks), and you wont have to worry about your neighbors’s plants pollinating yours (this is a big advantage over corn). It grows tall and yields surprisingly well. You get a cup or more of grain out of each one of those big blossoms. It is also a more nutritious grain than any of the grains that come from grasses.

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Duckingham Palace

Ducks are basically like chickens. I think this misconception, very common among poultry keepers, is the greatest obstacle to keeping ducks. All poultry books I’ve read (except one) are about chickens, then they tack on ducks, geese, and turkeys at the end like some afterthought, and most of the time the author(s) never kept any of the other species, or only one or two of them.

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Here you see the ducks demonstrating their great enthusiasm for their shelter. When grass is not actively growing, the area under the shelter is deeply bedded with hay or straw, and it stays in place. During the warm season it moves around the pond.

This being said, the differences between ducks and chickens revolves mostly around behavior and physiology. They are similar birds, but obviously ducks are adapted to semi-aquatic habitats and chickens to semi-arboreal.  Ducks seem unable to swallow dry feed. Either they have no saliva, or little of it, and if you feed them dry feed (and most people do) they will need to access water in order to get it down. This is why ducks are so “messy” and foul prodigious amounts of water almost instantaneously. Ten chicks can be reared with a one quart upright waterer. Ten ducklings will foul a 2 gallon dog bowl and all their bedding two or three times a day. Ducks, in many ways, are harder to keep than chickens for this reason alone. I think that ducks really need to be kept near a large body of water that they cannot completely foul (a pond, permanent creek, etc.) and outside where their bedding is alive and can restore itself.

I like ducks better than chickens though, and for a few reasons. One is that ducks are just a more pleasant animal. They can be herded around like sheep. They can also become very friendly, and seem to have more personality. Practically speaking, they have much better cold-hardiness and their feathers are waterproof. They require little in the way of shelter, which along with feed, are the most expensive parts of keeping poultry. They are also more herbivorous than chickens. They DO actively forage in tender grass and clover, and seem to eat less because of it. They also can be herded through a garden and will snap up slugs and bugs with their bills, but will not scratch and will not attack the fruits or flowers of the garden plants. They also are fastidious preeners, constantly cleaning themselves. We were given a big Peking duck by a neighbor (that didn’t want to feed her anymore and didn’t have the gumption to slaughter, pluck, and cook her) that must have been kept without much water and was absolutely filthy. As soon as she saw our pond she went straight for it and spend an hour cleaning herself. She came out perfectly clean and white, from a miserable looking thing to a show duck. Never seen a chicken do this.

They also have a superlative built in defense mechanism. Ducks are the only animal I know of that can fly, walk, swim, and DIVE. Even with our intelligence, we’ve never made a vehicle that can competently do all those things. A flying-submarine-truck is something I think will never exist. We’ve never had any predator problems with ducks so far. Though we keep them inside an electric net, which is a very effective defense, they are wary and will go right into a pond if they detect danger. Few critters that can catch a duck on land can catch one in the water, and few that can catch on in the water can catch one on land. Ducks also seem to see much better than chickens (particularly at night) at watching for airborne predators, and will scoot right under a low tree or shrub if they see one.

This being said, they do need something to shelter in through the cold seasons. Unlike chickens, ducks are at home on the ground, preferably in straw or hay bedding, and they like to bunch up with each other to stay warm (they are much more gregarious than chickens in this regard). Because ducks don’t roost above ground, their shelters can made LOW and lightweight and yet be wind resistant. Chickens roost above ground at night (unless you force them to do otherwise), and it is their only (quite poor) defense. It is effective against skunks, but raccoons, opossums, and foxes all can climb and/or jump. And chicken shelter will be taller and heavier and less wind-strong because of this. This is one of the reasons why I favor static shelters for chickens and portable shelters for ducks.

Here’s our Duckingham Palace, a term coined by Elliot Coleman, who also favored ducks to chickens. It is the typical A-frame type duck shelter commonly found, and I’ve carefully worked out dimensions and construction details to save you the trouble of designing your own. I sincerely doubt it can be improved upon, but I am all ears if you can.

Materials:

two 1/2″ 4 or 5 ply plywood sheets (I use CDX economy grade, because I am cheap).

two CCA treated 2″x4″x12′ boards (these will be cut down to 6′, so you can sub four 2″x4″x8’s if you can’t manage the twelve footers.

one pound box of 3″ deck screws with a 1 inch more long non-threaded shank

one pound box of 1.5″ deck screws

two or three 2″x4″x8′ studs

Four cheap hinges and two cheap barrel bolts

Two 6″ long deck screws (optional)

Three 1″ roof metal screws and a strip of scrap roof metal 6′ long.

One gallon of latex barn paint (white is probably best) and a cheap brush

About 16′ of thick rope (for for carrying it around) or an old garden hose.

Some D-rings and corner braces help tote it around, but are optional.

This costs under a hundred dollars and is quite sturdy and durable and can be built in a Saturday afternoon. It will require a contractor sized table saw, a circular saw, and a cordless drill/driver, pencil, tape measure, safety glasses, and straight edge (can be a 2″x4″) to put together.

The rough dimensions are 6′ long by ~5’6″ wide. This is ~33 square feet under cover, so good for a maximum of 16 ducks, but is probably better for about a dozen, which is way more duck eggs than most people will want anyway.

It is important to keep it as close to a right triangle as possible, this is because this will result in the other angles being roughly 45 degrees, which are much easier to cut.

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There are quite a few details to notice. One is that the ridge beam is cut from a 2″x4″x6′ that had its corners removed at a 45 degree angle. These two removed corners then form the triangles that rest on top of the base–treated 2″x4″s. The long deck screws go from the bottom of the treated base board up into the vertical 2″x4″. Make sure to leave a little drip edge (about 1/2″) on the long sides.

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Close up of the details of the door jamb, a ripped 2″x4″ and the ridge beam, and the ridge cap (a strip cut from a scrap of metal roofing fastened with some roof metal screws. We leave the other end open, and should face East in most of North America.

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The recessed jamb protected the rough edge of the plywood doors and helps prevent drafts. Notice how only treated wood comes in contact with the ground, and non-treated wood is used everywhere else.

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With the shelter being 6′ long, the two cut-off ends can be used as the doors. There are only a few little triangle scraps of plywood left after this job. Make it any longer than 6′ and you will need three sheets of plywood, and it will be getting too heavy to be moved easily. The screws are put on about 18″ centers. Since there is no framing (lateral bracing is provided by the plywood roof), there is no need to measure screw spacing. Less than half the screws purchased were used.

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Time to plant forage

August is a busy time of year in my climate. Contrary to what many people think, this is the time of year to plant perennial forage plants, not in spring. I had to learn this the hard and expensive way, planting seeds in April and expecting something by summer. It doesn’t happen with most perennials, particularly grasses. Annuals, particularly Oats, are a different story, but with Ryegrass, Whiteclover, Bluegrass, and the like, you have to be patient.

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Think about it for a minute. How do perennial grasses reproduce? Almost all of them grow leaves in springtime to photosynthesize and store energy and then attempt to send up stems to produce flowers. If you keep mowing them, you can delay their reproductive phase. But most grasses just patiently wait until the lawnmower or herbivore gets lazy and gives up in the heat of the summer, and then flower and soon set seed. The seed then falls to the ground in August and September. There it waits, quietly working itself through the resides down to the soil with every rain, hoof, and tire that passes over. When winter finally comes, snow and rain and freezing and thawing work over the hard seed coat softening it up for the coming spring. Then, finally, frost action in late winter and early spring works that seed down into firm contact with the now very moist soil. Finally, it germinates at the perfect time (the seed knows what it’s doing) and races for the sky. Many don’t make it, of course, their neighbors crowd and shade them out. Many were eaten by voles or other critters. But those that landed on good real-estate are perfectly primed for success as a plant by this 3/4-year-long process.

Most seed catalogs fault a species for being slow to germinate. Kentucky Bluegrass, Reed Canarygrass, and Bromegrass (all the sod formers, by the way) take 3 or more weeks to germinate they say, while itchy Ryegrass and Orchardgrass (both bunchgrasses) are off quick, often in only a week. The truth is, that all of them really take three quarters of year to prepare for germination!

The modern farmer gets around this with his no-till-drill in a way. Modern drills get the seed into good contact and slice a micro-furrow through the sod/reside, giving the seed a real advantage, but the same thing can be achieved by just broadcasting in August and letting “nature” do the work, and a $300 broadcast seeder is much less expensive than a $30,000 no-till-drill. In fact, I get away with a $30 Earthway lawn seeder, since I am only doing at most 6 acres at a time. I substitute money/machines/fuel with patience. This is a theme that re-occurs frequently in alternative farming.

Now, it might seem strange that I am broadcasting Timothy grass. Timothy is a hay grass, right? Well it turns out that Barpenta, which is a particularly late maturing Timothy that stands up well to grazing, is supposed to work pretty well in a Ryegrass/White Clover pasture. Since my pastures are also hayfields, I think it makes sense. The biggest problem I have is that Ryegrass and White clover are so lush and low-growing they like to tangle up and form clods in my sicklebar mower, though not too badly. I am hoping that Timothy will help them stand up better. I also hope that Timothy will add some more long-chain fiber to the diet of the animals, reduce bloat risk, and it will add some diversity at the very least.

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Our Lady of the Gluten

I found this painting in a Church and was given express permission to photograph it, but this is not about copyright rules, this is about wheat.

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Over the last few years, something almost laughable in its absurdity has infiltrated the minds of dieters and other folks interested in nutrition, and that is that grains, in particular the gluten containing grains (Wheat, Barley, Triticale, and Rye), are “bad” for you.

Some particularly egregious blogs exist on the topic, and there are books written about it. Let me the first to tell you I’ve eaten wheat pretty much following infancy and will continue to eat it until I die, and with no apparent ill effects. Like perhaps 99% of other people in the world, I am NOT allergic to gluten or grain, in which case avoidance would make sense. Wheat is actually remarkable among staple foods in how well tolerated and nutritionally balanced it is. Wheat, in fact, is SUPERIOR nutritionally to all other true grains (which are all grasses). It has a better balance of essential amino acids, and more amino acids per calorie, than every other grain: more than Corn (Maize), more than Rice, more than Sorghum, more than Oats, more than its kin Spelt, Barley and Rye (Rye is so closely related to wheat that it can artificially hybridize, producing Triticale). As John Seymour, whose travels and travails exposed him to all manner of people throughout the world, remarked: gluten is an unmatched vegetable protein. Wheat has the most gluten, which also provides good rising characteristics to bread. Barley and Rye have less gluten, and so do not rise nearly as well, yielding dense and often hard breads. Wherever Wheat could be grown well, it was preferred over all other staple crops, both because it produces the best tasting and textured food and because it has been observed to keep people in good health.

Anthropologists have long know how certain nutritional deficiencies have arising among non-wheat eating people. Knowledge of how to treat corn (Maize) with lime to make nutrients in it absorbable is what allowed for certain Mesoamerican civilizations to sustain and flourish while ones ignorant of lime treatment gradually perished along with their tooth enamel. Rice eating cultures are known for bouts of disease related to nutrient deficiency, even into the 20th century.

Choosing wheat as the substance which becomes the Body of Christ in Christian ritual was not arbitrary, and the 1st century middle east is one of the few places in the world where many grains are all grown in significant degree. Barley and Spelt were both widely eaten, and Barely probably more widespread in its consumption. Make no mistake in thinking that 1st century folk where indiscriminate in such matters. To them, bread was very important, so calling it the “bread of life” was particularly rich in meaning, and in the Lord’s Prayer where we ask for “our daily bread” really meant something. The selection of wheat as THE grain for this bread is rich in meaning.

Now, one may ask, wasn’t that 1st century wheat different from today’s? Well, it is a bit of yes and a bit of no. Wheat, in a certain sense, is wheat. I doubt there are signigicant differences from modern wheat compared to old in reference to non-wheat grians. Today’s wheat is more like yesterday’s than it is like Rye or Barley, etc. In fact, “ancient wheats” like emmer are still available from seed catalogs, and I’ve grown them. They don’t seem all that different to me except for a few features. Most old wheat vairieties grow to be much taller, and produce more straw, but less grain (on a per acre basis). Dwarfing genetics form the basis of modern wheat yield increases; this work is basically what Norman Bourlag earned a nobel prize for. But wheat is still wheat. And wheat is still the best grain for human consumption.

I had a friend in high school who had bonafide Celiac disease, and I, and almost everyone else, pitied him. He could never eat cake, most sugary cereals, almost no breads, and so couldn’t eat hamburgers, which form the basis of most high school boys’ diets. Today claiming gluten sensitivity is part a demand for attention and sympathy, but more often has much more to do with status display. If you can afford to abstain from wheat, which has by far the most nutrients per dollar of any common food, then you must be rich. If you can afford to substitute almond or cauliflower flours (which both taste awful) for wheat, then you are very rich. If you can afford to buy loaves of bread made out of buckwheat, sorghum, and potato flour then you have more money that the peasant wheat-eaters. I suppose many of these folks consider themselves to be environmentalists, too. Of course they really know little of the matter, and do not understand that wheat is among the most benign of the grains.

The three gluten containing grains–Wheat, Barley, and Rye–are the only staple foods which can overwinter in a temperate or cold weather climate (there are Spring planted Barleys and Wheats, too). Historically, these grains along with hay and pastures, are what have prevented erosion on farmland, and erosion is the prime agricultural villain–not weeds or pests. Once the topsoil is out to sea, not only will it NEVER return, but it also causes all sorts of problems in the sea. Corn, Soybeans, Sorghum, Buckwheat, Oats, and Rice–they all are planted in the spring, complete their reproductive cycles in summer, and are harvested. They are not alive during the winter with its wasting rains or spring snow melt. While their dead roots do provide limited protection, particularly summer planted Oats, they are not anywhere near as effective at absorbing excess nutrients, preventing erosion, or drying out overly wet fields as the living gluten-grains are. In fact, all the gluten containing grains (particularly Rye) can reseed themselves, and are effective in a no-tillage regime. One of my neighbors planted Crimson Clover and Rye a few years ago in the fall, these plants grew and set their seed in the late spring after he no-till-drilled his corn in, and they sprout and come up after his corn harvest in September or October, providing a perpetual winter cover and nitrogen pump at almost no cost. Sure, his corn didn’t get off to a flying start because the nitrogenous residues in the Crimson clover and Rye were are just starting to break down in June when corn grows fast, but he doesn’t pay to spray his nitrogen on, and by the end of the summer his corn catches up and looks just as good as others’, and will yield as well.

 

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Build it and they will come

I noticed last week the characteristic chirp of the Bobwhite Quail. This was quite impressive to me, as where I live, Bobwhite populations have declined so much that hunting is no longer allowed. I never really expected to hear a Bobwhite on my place, ever.

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I saw this female on my way to the seedsman. Just sitting there, looking at the chickens (and their feed). 

But it seems that the bird, hardy and adapted to this place, can make a comeback. All you need to do is provide them a suitable habitat, which I’ve done, quite unintentionally.

On Saturday I scared up a whole covey of them stringing up fence line. I wasn’t startled by them so much as in awe, but alas, by the time I was able to summon a camera from the house, she was gone and all the young ones had run into the corn.

Now I have a good reason to be lazy and not cut down the ragweed growing everywhere (to which I am allergic), as ragweed seeds are prime quail forage. I did tell my son to throw some wheat berries along the fence line. Perhaps with a little help, there will be many more that will make it through the winter to next year.

 

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Seasonal eating

Lately there has been a great deal of interest in local and seasonal eating. Unfortunately, most of this enthusiasm really doesn’t go too far, as our society’s patterns of eating are so thoroughly conformed to a completely non-seasonal pattern of food production and consumption. You have to truly be radical to become a fully seasonal eater.

There are many reasons for the shift, for not too long ago, there was ONLY seasonal eating. With an air of modern superiority my father would say something like: “not even the King of England could eat fresh strawberries in January” as he ate his greenhouse grown strawberries covered in spray-can “whipped cream.” To him, this was an unqualified declaration of the vast superiority of modern living. He at least was sensitive to these realities, for most people are not, and blithely go about not knowing where their food comes from other than Kroger.

I guess I have the same sensitivity for these things that my father had, but I have a completely different attitude towards the matter. Just because we CAN have fresh strawberries in January doesn’t mean we SHOULD closely approximates my attitude. For the record, I apply this sort of thinking to everything else in life, too. For there is a time and season for everything. Sometimes strawberry pie, or strawberry jam, or strawberry leather should be preferred to fresh strawberries. And strawberries grown in a green house, or shipped half-way across the world, are not very good, hardly anything like a fresh-picked (when ripe) heirloom variety of strawberry grown outdoors in good soil. They may not be as pretty or as large or even as sweet, but they taste like strawberries. June was made for strawberries, not January.

But of course these seasons dictate that most fresh vegetables and fruits will not be available year round. Different strategies have always been employed to preserve the overabundance at certain times of the year in order to spread it out over the rest of the year. Since refrigeration was invented and widely adopted (a process that took nearly a century), human creativity regarding food preservation seems to have diminished. Practically every people and culture had unique ways of fermenting, drying,  or converting perishable foods into more durable foods. I think cheese is the most excellent example, because it is the preserved food which most surpasses the fresh food it is made from (milk), but there are others that improve through preservation: sausage is better than the low quality fresh meat it is made from, and I like sauerkraut more than raw cabbage. Man alcoholic beverages can be viewed in this light; wines in particular retain considerable nutriment and I can’t really think of a better way to preserve soft fruits that rapidly spoil (Elderberries, Grapes) or hard fruits that are blemished (Apples, Pears, Cherries, etc. that are fit only for mashing and fermenting). Many Winter Squashes and Apples actually improve in storage, and without much intervention at all. In these cases, the aging of the food is something positive rather than fought against. Canning, freezing and other preservation methods, which require both energy and considerable effort, and which fight against aging, are to my thinking inferior, but still useful, and certainly better than struggling to grow certain fresh foods (Strawberries, Tomatoes, etc.) out of season.

Now, I am not at all opposed to refrigeration, canning, freezing, etc. in moderation. I am not even opposed to unheated greenhouses. We have a refrigerator, and they are truly a great invention, and one I think we could not get on without given that we have no cold spring, which was considered essential for anyone keeping dairy animals. And I am not opposed to canning, either pressure or boiling water bath, both effective ways to preserve appropriate foods for later consumption without using up precious freezer/refrigerator space. We have definitely considered low cost high tunnels for growing through the winter, but what always makes me hesitate with this is that it doesn’t put winter to work building soil, rather, it uses it. What I am opposed to is overuse of these things, or poor use of these things. I have seen several large families that have a half dozen or more chest refrigerators that churn away all year completely filled to the point they can hardly locate any specific food item in them. Often these refrigerators are filled with “foods” that have no business being in a refrigerator or freezer, like bread. Bread is something that should be eaten fresh, baked at least a few times every week. Freeze the flour if you will, but please don’t freeze bread!

Just as bad are vast heated greenhouse operations where tomatoes and other warm season plants are grown through the winter.   Many vegans seem to think that their diet, which is only possible because of greenhouses, has less environmental impact that diets containing livestock products. I am quite certain that if plastic and energy to warm greenhouses is taken into consideration, it will be found to far more injurious to the environment compared to thoughtful livestock production, as all the domestic animals generate their own heat and come equipped with feathers or fur. They don’t need huge propane fires and layers of plastic to keep them warm like tomatoes do. But incidental use of unheated greenhouses I think is worthwhile. It is great for providing that little bit of thermal gain needed to keep lettuces, carrots, and other greens going right through the winter, and having some fresh stuff in the winter is both healthful and tasteful.

Eggs need no refrigeration, the chicken having provided perhaps the perfect containment vessel and the ontological answer to the question of what came first: the chicken makes the egg, the egg develops into a chicken. Butter and most fruits and many vegetables do not require refrigeration, plastic wrapping, etc. Instead of keeping a cabbages in cold storage where they slowly deteriorate, why not turn them into sauerkraut, which is a better food in many ways compared to cabbage? I saw one of the silliest things at a flea market recently: winter squashes that had been quartered and had plastic film applied. If they hadn’t been cut up, there would be no need for the plastic. And I am quite certain the healthy rind of a winter squash does a better job than plastic film anyway. But most folks don’t know what to do with a big squash–make it the main part of the meal–to them it is a merely side dish.

How I love squash, particularly winter squash, which, like an egg, is equipped with a containment vessel right from the field. If you can keep Cucumber Beetles off them (which scar the skins of squash), many winter squash can be kept at room temperature all winter long, and unlike many vegetables, one can really live off squash, and they are uniquely delicious, almost every kind has a particular dish or soup that expresses its unique flavor profile perfectly. Root crops (Beets, Rutabagas, Parsnips, Carrots) and potatoes are like this as well, but I am confident in asserting that these types of foods have greatly declined in consumption since refrigeration and greenhouses, because people prefer vegetables which are more rapidly prepared, like greens and tomatoes. We are loosing our culinary memories, and even motivation. All victims of almighty convenience.

 

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Green Manure

I no longer like to make pure Red Clover hay; I think it is not good for dairy cattle for at least two reasons: 1) the pseudoestrogens in it mess with their hormones, to the point that open heifers will develop udders, and 2) because pure legume hay is too rich in nitrogen making cow urine smell heavily of ammonia. As soon as I switched off pure legume hay and went back to mixed grass-legume hay, both of these problems immediately stopped. So what to do with all the legume hayfields? Well, my answer is green manure, which, if you don’t have animals, should be the foundation of a serious gardening operation.

One of the problems with compost is that there is never enough of it. Another problem is that it is difficult to make compared to the perceived reward (which is delayed by months or years), and so most folks get lazy with it. I’ve never actually witnessed ANYONE in real life (sure, I’ve seen pictures in books and videos on you tube) making good compost in anywhere near an adequate quantity to get real gardening done or undertake restoration of worn out fields. This is why most gardeners resort to lightweight, convenient bagged fertilizer, to which I am opposed.

Instead of fighting human nature, I sort of try to roll with it, and green manure is definitely one of those ways, since it is essentially nothing more than mowing a hayfield, which is the easy part of making hay, and not raking or gathering, which is the hard part. Yes, green manuring is that simple. Just get a high-yeilding locally adapted legume growing–Red Clover, Sweetclover, or Alfalfa–and let the mown herbage rot down, enriching the soil with organic matter, nitrogenous residue, and feeding the subterranean livestock (earthworms). The best mower for this job is a heavy duty rotary lawnmower, a brushog, a flail mower, or a disc mower–anything that will chop up the herbage to promote its breakdown. But I don’t have any of those mowers; I just have a $120 cheapo push-type lawnmower for the lawns around my house that will bog down in something like Red Clover and my sickle-bar mower, a problem I aim to remedy. In any case, it still works with a sickle-bar mower just more slowly.

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This field was the wheat and rye cum red clover (which I frost seeded in February).

I mowed when the Red Clover was in full bloom, and so the plants had plenty of time to establish their root structures. I wasn’t aiming for maximum production here, but I wanted to give the plants a chance to really establish themselves, especially since they will have to push through all that thick herbage.

We will also use herbage to mulch our succession planted crops. Now that many of our crops our done, I will thoroughly till them in (something that should be done with all Cucurbits to set back Striped Cucumber beetle larvae, which overwinter in cucurbit stems) and plant turnips, carrots, kale, cabbages, and beets. While mulch is not necessary, it is particularly helpful in retaining moisture this time of year. It certainly wont hurt anything.

Now that I no longer use pure Red Clover hay, I think it advisable to add some Sweetclover to it. Sweetclover, which is more closely related to Alfalfa and has a very deep taproot, but is a biannual plant, works well with Red Clover. Sweetclover alone I am not impressed with. It does not grow as rapidly as Red Clover and doesn’t compete as aggressively with weeds, and is not as winter hardy, but I’ve seen mixes of about 70% Red Clover and 30% Sweetclover marketed as “plowdown mixes”–essentially green manuring. The reason why many people are reluctant with Sweetclover is that hay made from it can be dangerous to animals. A mold that grows on Sweetclover converts harmless coumarin contained in the plant to dicoumarol, a powerful anti-coagulant (similar to Warfarin), which kills livestock as easily as Warfarin kills rats. So, while Sweetclover is safe for animals to graze, and I’ve raised a cow on a diet of essentially Winter Barley and Sweetclover green chop, I’ve never dared to make hay from the stuff. Now that I won’t be making hay, I will be adding some Sweetclover to the Red Clover and hopefully get the plow-pan busting and tilth-building benefits of Sweetclover with none of the drawbacks. Plus, unlike Red Clover, which is nearly useless as Honeybee forage, Sweetclover is a prime Honeybee forage plant. Nothing made me happier recently that reading that Honeybees are making a comeback. I wonder if it has anything to do with the partial ban on Nicotinoid pesticides in Europe or all the forage plantings people have been doing stateside.

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