90% Less Weeding And Never Buy Compost Again

The dump truck backed up “beep….   beep..   beep…”

The drivers rarely ever get it in the right spot no matter how much staking, outlining, and directions they get.  It always resorts to arm waving and shouting over the huge noise of the powerful machine.

You can almost see these guys when they were kids operating Tonka trucks, but now the toys are bigger.  The level is pulled and the bed rises slowly dumping out the contents: pure black gold.

Over the years I’ve been dismayed at the amount of compost I buy.  My soil is essentially pure sand.  Think of the last time you were on that sunny beach, with a cold beer in your hand, and not a care in the world (like the song says).  And now imagine trying to grow something in that.  You suddently get a lot more cares!

The conclusion I have come to really develop soil fertility is the use of cover cropping.  Cover cropping is where you grow plants just with the intent of cutting them down to compost in place.  Some plants like rye grass for example, have huge root systems so not only do you get the benefit of the organic matter from the top, but also the whole root system that decomposes below ground.  Plus, some of the cover crops you can eat; like oats or rye for example.

Cover crops are also great in clay soils too.  I was over at Jack Spirko’s place recently and he showed me an area that had been about hard as a rock.  Jack planted (well, more like broadcast) a cover crop of daikon radishes which are famous for being really tough plants – and sure enough the radishes had been breaking through and opening up the ground and allowing things to grow where little had grown before.

I’ve been growing cover crops for quite a few years now and I have to say it really is the most practical way to build soil.  And it is a heck of a lot easier and cheaper than buying it.  I’ve had some good success, but I wanted to take my skill to a higher level.

So in my morning quiet time I asked for guidance, and sure enough a little while later Cindy Conors video set came to my attention.

Cindy’s video is called “Cover Crops and Compost Crops In Your Garden” and I was blown away by the quality of information in Cindy’s video.  This woman is truly a master at growing your her fertility.  I called Cindy to talk with her about the video.  She said that yes, on occasion, she does soil testing and if she needs an element or two, she adds it.  But overall she never has to buy compost and buying the the odd soil amendment is getting rarer and rarer.

Cindy has the ability to grow food forever regardless of what happens economically.  That is really cool.

But it gets even better.  Cindy doesn’t remove most of her cover crops in her garden – she just cuts them in place and it turns out to be a fantastic mulch.  Cindy told me that a good thick cover crop mulch cuts down about 90% of the weeding.

Cindy’s video takes you through an entire year of her gardening cycle.  The video quality is quite good – and the content is amazing.  The video is quite rich in info and something I’ll be watching over and over again.  Cindy also has another video that helps you plan the cycles and a book on growing food sustainably.  I haven’t dipped into those yet, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I am sure they are excellent.

You can pick up a copy of Cindy’s video here:  http://www.homeplaceearth.com/3.html

And if you would like to see what Cindy’s garden looks like, check out this article Cindy wrote on using trellises to shade your garden paths.
http://growyourowngroceries.org/trellis-your-garden-paths/

Do you grow cover crops?  Put a comment down below – I would love to hear from you.

 

 

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Marjory


Contributor

Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of "homegrown food on every table." Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her "Grow Your Own Groceries" video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.


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7 Comments
  • Kathryn Berger

    This couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I just bought virgin land near Seguin and am going to try not to plow. After the mesquite was cleared, another Master Gardner buddy of mine and I have attempted an experiment using various green manure and cover crops to build up the black gumbo. We only seeded a small area to start. We planted oats, buck wheat, pinto beans and black-eyed peas. They haven’t come up yet, but hopefully with today’s beautiful rain, we will see some action soon. If you have any ideas what else to plant, let me know. I will have a look at Cindy’s video for more information.

    Kate

  • Jean

    Hi, Marjorie, I have long enjoyed the information on your gardening DVD and continue to enjoy and use information on your regular emails. I also bought the Survive to Thrive Preparedness Pail and am very satisfied with my purchase. I am wondering if you ever had time to make a list of recipes to use all of the contents of the box? I have made a partial list but have been stumped with some of the ingredients. Thanks so much for all you do. You are a wonderful resource for so many people.

  • Scotty

    I have been cover cropping for 2.5 years now and in that time I have taken nasty thick infertile clay and turned it into a darker ricker soil that can actually grow someting. I buy seed form greencoverseed.com. Doing this life has come to the soil, and there are earth worms everywhere now. All where not even weeds would grow before. In the fall I cover crop with lots of high biomass cereals like kamut wheat, cereal rye, vetch, clover, austrailian winter peas, and 21 other grases and broad leaf plants. In the spring we harvest 200+ pounds of grains to eat then roll the cover to the ground with a step bar after first seeding a summer cover crop of millet, amaranth, sweet sorgum, and a mixture of southern cow peas and a random mixture of mellons, sunflowers, squash, corn, and other random garden seed. By septempber we have harvested several hundred more pounds of food. We NEVER till, or compost the crops. The organic matter just decomposes in place and the night crawler worms pull it into the soil.. FAR far less work than normal gardening. A very fair return of food for the small amount of labor that goes into it.

    Now, I have found alley cropping, which you are almost doing with your rabit food rows of Leucaena, these trees can generate WAY MORE mulch than even more mulch than the cover crops, plus polarding the trees releases nitrogen under the ground as some roots die back. Organic matter in the soil is the name of the game. Here in Texas we are low in boron so I did have to ammend my soil. GrowBioIntensive has great research and is a viable way to grow food and fertility, but its is so very labor intensive ignoring tree systems, and alley cropping is superior in every way. In the country side, there is lots of space and I would rather grow over a larger area with minimal labor inputs and no equipment than to spend so many hours doing the bio intensive thing. The time for my labor this year on 1/4 acre is about 4 hours; standing up for the most part. The only bending I did was to plant corn in clumps hopi style; a method verified by Texas A&M for producing as much or more corn.

    Happy Trails

  • Beth

    I am taking a permiculture course and something mentioned was sprinkling bentonite clay over the sand as well, (dry bentonite – makes it easier) then cover with your compost or crops and give it a little time and you’ll get that lomey soil.

    It might be something worth looking into.

  • Trish

    Why would anyone pay for compost??? I throw my potato peelings in a pile, add my fallen tree leafs. Scrappings off the carrots. Stir in some grass clippings. Water it once and a while. Grab a rake and turn it. And I have black gold.

    I now live in a house where I have yard area for compost. But when living in a condo, I found a nice big planter pot worked just as well. All it needs is kitchen scraps, sunlight and a bit of dirt. It’s good for garden and also for potted plants in house.

    As to the “no weeding” part of your presentation, never got there. The whole thing was too long. I got bored, lost interest and killed window. Forget the dump truck nonsence and get to the meat. Or give me fast forward button to skip the stupid sales pitch.

    I know I have a lot to learn. Sitting through half hour video telling why I need to learn is waste of time. Please provide a button to fast forward and cut to the meat.

  • Debbie

    I have 5 acres in Atascosa County, south of San Antonio, TX, that is pure sand with a lot of oak trees. We plan to build out there in about 5 years, leaving the back half native for the wildlife. What did you use for cover crop to improve your sandy soil? I would like to start doing that now so the soil is more fertile when we move out there.
    Thanks so much for all you do. Have been following you for about a year now and have enjoyed learning along the way. But, I know this sandy soil will be an issue for growing a garden.

    • Profile photo of Marjory

      Hi Debbie,
      In the winter I’ve found oats, rye, vetch, and austrian winter peas do well int eh sand. I have been completely surprised that the best rye is the cereal rye – which makes this big seed head. In the summer I plan cow peas and sourgum. I just got a connection with a permaculturist who specializes in sandy enviroments and I am working to get a presentation from her in the next Summit.

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