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Sowing bee forage crops.

 
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CharlieBnoobee
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Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 97
Location: Virginia,USA; S. Appalachians;USDA zn. 6a

PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 5:57 pm    Post subject: Sowing bee forage crops. Reply with quote

This topic is a continuation of Kim’s thread “Suggestions for a bee plant thread” —http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16037&start=30

Near the end of the thread (May 12th and 23rd) I described an experiment I was thinking of trying as a way to prepare a seed bed using common yard and garden equipment rather than much larger agricultural machinery. The basic challenge is that many of the best bee forage plants grow from teensy little seed into quite sizeable plants, waist-to-head high and each one fully occupying 2 – 4 sq. ft. These seeds are readily available on both sides of the Atlantic and are typically sold in shrimpy wee envelopes containing about 1/4 teaspoon of seed and costing maybe $4 – $5US apiece. I think my first reaction was fairly typical: "I'm going to plant up a half acre with this??!! But then I took a closer look. I took out my old (gun) powder scale which measures from about 6-7mg. to 6.4 gm. and discovered that a little packet with seemingly nothing in it might actually contain anywhere from 500 to over 2000 seeds!, depending on species. If properly sown a couple of packets could have enough seed to cover a good sized portion of an acre. But there's nothing on the internet about seed bed preparation and planting/sowing such miniscule seed in areas 1000X larger than some adorable little herb garden. Had to revert to the old Think-Try-Rethink-Try-again method. So: here’s what I’ve done and learned so far.

a. On a sloping 2 rod X 5 rod plot (i.e. 1/16 acre) killed all pasture grasses using a recommended dilution of glyphosate.

b. Tilled rows at roughly 2 1/2’ – 3’ spacing using a Husqvarna 14” rear-tine tiller with the two outer tine pairs removed. This cut a narrow (about 8“) row through the sod.

c. Went back over the rows with a 20” non-self propelled push mower. I replaced the mowing blade with a cobbled together “sod chopper” that I made out of an old 19” blade. Cut 3” off each end and braze welded these ends perpendicular to the plane of rotation and each about 4” out from the axle hole.

d. Using an old EarthWay planter with the largest of the 9 available plates fitted—this plate gives a 9” drop spacing—half the plot was seeded with Anise Hyssop and the other (upper and slightly dryer end) with Viper’s Bugloss. The hyssop was “diluted” with 2 1/4 cups (US) of coarse perlite and the Echium with 3 1/3 cups. I was aiming for 3–4 seeds per “drop” at these mixture rates and using this particular seed plate.

What I’ve learned from this first trial: Maintaining a consistent row spacing when tilling is nearly impossible, and killing the grass over the entire area is unnecessary. So combining these two lessons in the next trial I’ll:

Use string guide lines for each row— spaced at 1/6 rod (33”)—spray about a 1ft. wide strip. This will take much less time, use much less glyphosate, and after a week, will leave clearly marked brown rows of dead grass.

Cutting through the dead sod layer, which is Really tough, chopping it up thoroughly and incorporating it with enough of the underlying soil to maintain sufficient capillarity to keep the sown seed moist until it germinates is the real challenge. The use of perlite in the seeder to space out the seed seems to work fairly well. More on that later if anyone’s interested; also I’ll have a report on what has or hasn’t germinated and how it’s coming along.

There’s much more I could go into right now like why the use of rods as a unit of measure, how did I “calibrate” the seeder, how did the sod chopper prototype work out, etc. etc., but I’ll first wait to see if there’s any interest in this topic.
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B kind
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you know Charlie I am a big fan of bee-planting, partly because being near a planted area that is a bee-magnet has such a wonderful hum / buzz. My best half considers our garden to be a drop in the ocean for the bees, no doubt he is right, but the ocean is made up of individual drops!

I like no-dig gardening, and the "one straw revolution", trying to work with nature. Dealing with a sward of grasses and trying to transform that into bee-planting is challenging and any efforts are to be applauded. Sometimes the best approach is to clear the area ard start with a clean sheet as you are doing. If I had a large area I wanted to clear without using machinery I would go with pigs.
If it was me, I would start the seeds in modules and plant out little plants into clean ground, as these would compete better with the weeds. As every teaspoon of soil contains so many weed seeds which are primed to germinate fast and grow fast. Buckwheat, clover and phacelia can compete but those little garden centre packets may struggle.

I guess it depends what you are sowing, I can get 1kg of Bee-forage seed for 10 euro and that I would direct sow, but the echium which was 4 euro for a tiny packet (and the bees are loving it) I started in modules and I will keep seed in autumn.

We have a meadow area and I plant into it by putting down slates when the bulbs are in flower and I can see where the bare patches are, Then in 6 months or a year I lift the slate and plant perennials that I have grown in small pots from seed or cuttings. This works for filling in established areas. I would do cardboard with mulch on top either but the hens just scratch that up and spread it everywhere.

I will be really interested to hear how you get on with this. Especially what plants you find work best. I bet that push-sod-chopper was good work!

All the best and keep us posted,
Kim
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather than using gylphosate I would get some yellow rattle seed and dig out grass in a few areas to mimic what cattle do to the gound and plant yellow rattle. This parasatises the grass allowing a greater density of nectar bearing plants to thrive. Ploughing and putting the yellow rattle into the seed mix to be sown doesn't work.
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andy pearce
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes Yellow rattle is the way to go...I have done it as part of a job and domestically. Best time to sow it is now. Cut your grass really short and take a grass rake over it to pull out any feg and moss (a scarifyer does this mechanically) and strew the seed on. You can after mow in the late summer- autumn (this mimics after grazing of hay meadows). Do not cut it again before the 20th July on any year and make hay....throw it about to let it dry and drop its seeds (get the hay off and compost it).

What does it do? It is a partial parasite of grasses in particular and dramatically reduce their vigour allowing hay meadow flowers to grow (or any other herbaceous plants you might like that finish about now) You might have to pop these in later....mole hills are good to chuck seed on or introduce plugs of the kind of hay meadow flowers you have locally. It is also an annual and if you cut the grass earlier when it is young and not formed its seed you remove it from the meadow

I am eyeing up some nice patches of yellow rattle now for seed...I will not take much from each place but I reckon it is best to get it on as soon as possible so it can sit on that soil surface until spring next year.

I also restore allotments and the best way to kill grass without disturbing the top soil and make the work easy is to use weed control fabric. I get it off the net in pieces that suit my needs. Sellers will cut off the roll any length in widths from 1 metre to 5 metres. It lets the water through so does not sour the ground and will clear a patch in a few months. It can fray so I run by hive blowtorch lightly down the edge to seal it off. Do not bother with the DIY shops or garden centres...useless sizes and a bad price. And you can re use it if you look after it so a good use of scarce resources.

A
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CharlieBnoobee
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Location: Virginia,USA; S. Appalachians;USDA zn. 6a

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:00 am    Post subject: forage sowing experiment Reply with quote

Thanks Kim, Andy and Catcher for the advice.
If I can find a source of Yellow Rattle over here I believe it might make a good addition to a tool box for pasture conversion. There remain two other “Ifs” that could be major challenges, however:
1. If it’s not invasive. Around here pasturage and hay crops are important elements in the local economy and anything that might compromise them should certainly be avoided.

2. If it can be practically sown into existing pasture, which of course brings us right back around, something like Belling the Cat, to the initial problem.

What I’ve learned so far is that what I’ve tried up to now doesn’t work. No germination except some species of dicot plus some grass, but not the Hyssop, Bugloss or Mint. Bother & Blast.
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andy pearce
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I should have looked at your location before posting. I actually googled it and read on good old wiki that it was a native of Europe and Asia but I also found this

http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=RHMIM

which looked quite interesting. I am assuming that in 'Native Status' the I means indigenous (naturally present in the flora) and the N means Naturalised (introduced but present and able to exist in the indigenous flora). So it looks like wiki is wrong again. I was actually looking for a species that would be in that particular ecological niche that Yellow Rattle occupies over here and of that semi parasitic type (having special roots that tap into the host plants...in this case grasses. Looks like Yellow Rattle is present in North America so you would need to check your local flora.

Here is another interesting paper.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0022-0477.2004.00929.x/full

A
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BBC
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:36 am    Post subject: Re: forage sowing experiment Reply with quote

CharlieBnoobee wrote:
What I’ve learned so far is that what I’ve tried up to now doesn’t work. No germination except some species of dicot plus some grass, but not the Hyssop, Bugloss or Mint. Bother & Blast.


Don't know if there's anything in what I'm about to write which is in any way relevant - but I decided, very late in the year, to grow some bee forage plants. As it was so late in the season, my thinking was to grow these plants under glass, to at least give their root systems a good start before planting them out to take their chances in the world next year.

And, as these are wild flowers - weeds even - I assumed that just 'chucking seeds in the ground' would be all that was required. But perhaps there's more to it than that ?

If you look at this photograph, you'll see what I mean.




These are Tansy of course, all 2000 seeds sown at the same time. As the odd one began to show promise, it was pricked out into a 1.5" pot, and later moved into a 3.5" pot. I now have about 2 dozen like this, which could very easily be planted out. The other 1,900 plus seeds have germinated ok, but only to just sit there, obstinately doing nothing. But why ? I have absolutely no idea.

Likewise the Goldenrod - a roadside weed in so many places - and yet mine have leaves at soil level ... and that's that. They're alive - but refusing to budge.

In contrast, the Black Locust seeds I planted only a few days ago, are up and running - half an inch high already and looking good.

But I don't pretend to understand this weird variation in plant behaviour ...

Colin
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B kind
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear that all your efforts have not had the desired result. However, nothing ventured nothing gained. I don't know your local climate but it may not be too late for you to plant a cover crop of buckwheat or phacelia. These will hold the soil for you instead of letting the weeds get a hold again. These seeds can be bought cheaply by the kilo and are ideal for direct sowing.

For little garden centre packets of seeds I think bbc has illustrated the point well. Sowing in modules or pots and planting out will often give the best results. This may seem like garden scale practice and you are thinking large scale, but even on farm scale, vegetables like cabbages and broccoli are planted out from modules as this gives such a head start to the plants against the weeds and ensures full field coverage of the crop.

Many strong and vigorous plants do start out as very vulnerable baby seedlings. Once established many will produce enough seed to self-sow successfully or can easily be divided into many.

I am curious about the site you are wishing to plant up and what your long term goal is. Every soil and site is individual. Looking at the established vegetation is key to understanding what has the potential to thrive with the least amount of work.
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CharlieBnoobee
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:09 pm    Post subject: Bee forage experiments Reply with quote

Well, Colin,
Quote:
I assumed that just 'chucking seeds in the ground' would be all that was required. But perhaps there's more to it than that ?

I'd say that's a major understatement.
Looking carefully at your account, it seems that first sowing seeds in potting soil in a tray or pots vs. direct seeding is not a critical factor in-and-of-itself.
There also seems to be two separate things happening as well: 1. germinating or not. and 2. germinating and then thriving—or not. In addition, its obvious the process of pricking out and transplanting does no significant harm.
So the question is "what makes the difference"? Was there perhaps some variation in the way each seed was pressed in/ covered/ moistened etc. that was critical, for instance? With such small seed I can imagine that a single mm difference in planting depth could determine success or failure.

Thanks, Kim, and yes, I’ve got buckwheat on the way and will check with the county agent about Sweet Clover—i.e. when would be the best time to sow it for next spring (now, winter, or early spring). Phacelia I’ll frost sow in late winter. I’ve heard that broad casting small seed on fresh snow works well because you can immediately see your sowing density and later the melting snow carries the seed right down to the soil. Subsequent freeze/thaw action gets it in ideal soil contact and covering. Allegedly, hopefully.

Meanwhile, I still have a packet of catnip (1000 seeds) and 10 gms. of wild chicory (55,000 seeds) to experiment with in pots and/or soil blocks. One thing I can work on before spring is stratification methods for perennials, which most of the forbs/herbs are. The only thing I did with the current trial was to put the seed in small socks and hang them in a toilet tank for 24 hrs. The frequent rinsing with cool fresh water is supposed to do the same thing as more conventional stratification techniques, namely remove a hard, germination resistant coating from the seed.

Anyway— thank you both for your input and now …
Onward, Through the Fog

Charlie
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The conditions that have been running through my mind are:

Time of year. Maybe germinated seeds are uber-sensitive to light levels etc - a bit pointless getting into 'top gear' only to be snuffed-out in a month or two.

Soil condition - pH, level of nutrients etc. My soil is very rich, so I've been sowing in a 50/50 soil/peat mix. Maybe that's still too rich or acid ? But then - the growing plants love it - so I'm in two minds about that one.

Competition. Some plant roots send out chemical messages inhibiting growth in their neighbours to prevent over-crowding - so maybe I've sown the seeds too densely, and pricking-out the few dominant ones then allows them to flourish ?
I'm currently running a 'back-of-a-fag-packet' trial to see if that's what's happening.
If this is the case, then that would suggest broadcasting Tansy seeds more widely would produce a better result than tight seeding - but - let's not pre-judge that one, just yet.

I find it ironic that the more common and invasive a plant is, the less information is available for those who wish to raise them ... I guess that's not entirely unreasonable - but it IS frustrating. Smile

LJ
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CharlieBnoobee
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kim, you asked:
Quote:
I am curious about the site you are wishing to plant up and what your long term goal is.
Where’s my site? If you’ve got GoogleEarth, then go to Meadowview VA. View this first at about 2 km. eye altitude. Zoom out and you’ll see the whole southern end of the Shenandoah Valley running SW –NE between the Blue Ridge Mtns. to the east and the Allegheny Mts. to the west; both ranges are parts of the Appalachian Mtns. You’ll notice that there’s a great deal of hardwood lands intermingled with pasture, This transitions into pure hardwood forest as you get into the mountains on either side of the valley. Apart from hay, there's little in the way of field crops, almost all of that being feed corn (aka maize to you) for beef and some dairy cattle. What this means, is that there’s relatively little use of pesticides overall. Non-wooded areas are not intensively used, that is, not every available sq. ft. is mown, field cropped, or grazed —far from it. In addition, the extensive wooded areas provide—but almost entirely in the spring—a great deal of bee forage.

As to climate, the continent on the whole shows averages as temperate as the British Isles and most of Europe, but the extremes are much wider. It’s been pointed out that New York (city), although right on the Atlantic, has the same winter climate as Stockholm and summer climate of Rome.

Meanwhile, here in the southern Appalachians there’s a pressing need for sideline income opportunities. Take this need along with the above climate/ ecosystem conditions, add a low-intrusion, minimum labor method of bee keeping—call it permi-apiculture?—and combine all that with some way (perhaps organized cooperatives?) of nationwide marketing and we’ve got the proverbial Match Made in Heaven. My goal is to help develop methods and techniques that will make such beekery as attractive to as many people as possible. This entails very low 'barriers to entry' in terms of cash investment (minimal) and learning curve (not forbiddingly steep), plus the likelihood of a sweet R.O.I. in the form of a Really Nice Wage; how about 100 hrs./year. yielding $10,000 US/year (= $100/hr.) net? And if I can do it, then anyone can. Believe me. One might call this undertaking Human Economy Enhancement via Bee Habitat Enhancement which in turn means improved hive design and improved forage access.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought I've give you the head's up on an interesting and hopefully relevant book:
http://archive.org/stream/plantsandbeekeep031830mbp/plantsandbeekeep031830mbp_djvu.txt

If you click on 'other formats' there are several there to choose from - my favourite is .djvu

This book was written for the UK - but much of it's content will also apply to the US.

In that book Howes makes the point that it's wiser to plant wild flowers in clumps, as that grouping appears to be more attractive to foraging bees.

That format would also fit in well with the procedure of starting-off seeds in modules, and then planting out ...

LJ
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the community orchard here, we planted a native, short grass and wild flower mix. for the first three years we cut the grass with scythe twice a year and removed the grass to reduce the fertility of the soil. This worked well. Some of the wild flower mix species didn't appear till about 5 years after the mix was sown and the balance of which species come up in quantity varies a lot from year to year.

I assume that it is the same in US as here in that many of the nectar rich wild flower species can compete much better in a less rich soil which the longer grasses that can choke them prefer.

Now we are cutting the meadow once a year but still taking the hay off.
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andy pearce
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes...fertility reduction is the key to a diverse habitat. In haymeadow habitat creation I have been party to growing potatoes on the ground to be used is useful to reduce the fertility, the meadow plants were introduced with strewings....a hay cut on a locally diverse field transported to site and strewn about to dry and drop its seeds. You have to be quick with the transport as it heats up when it is heaped into the trailer. Low fertility excludes the major competitors but produces low biomass, high fertility means that a couple of species dominate to the exclusion of all else...but produce much biomass.
A
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

catchercradle wrote:
In the community orchard here, we planted a native, short grass and wild flower mix. for the first three years we cut the grass with scythe twice a year and removed the grass to reduce the fertility of the soil. This worked well. Some of the wild flower mix species didn't appear till about 5 years after the mix was sown and the balance of which species come up in quantity varies a lot from year to year.

I assume that it is the same in US as here in that many of the nectar rich wild flower species can compete much better in a less rich soil which the longer grasses that can choke them prefer.

Now we are cutting the meadow once a year but still taking the hay off.


Yes this is what I am doing now in my forest garden because Thistles and tall grass have taken over it all. Mowing the twice a year and throwing the hay into the forest seems to give space to white clover now. I will see to plant some more plants which don't grow tall before flowering because I will have to mow it (with skythe) at least twice a year because of the tall grass.
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes we use a scythe to cut the grass, so much better than a petrol machine.
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B kind
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea to try and work with nature.

If you want to use meadow cuttings to mulch or fertilize another area or to use the hay to feed animals, then by all means cut and rake and reduce fertility, poor soil does produce a pretty selection of wild flowers. This is fine to do by hand on a small area but no joke doing this by hand on a large area. In our meadow the only flowers I have seen the bees on are the speedwell. There is plenty of knapweed, oxe-eye daisy, meadowsweet and vetch which I have not yet seen the bees on. The plants that come up in a meadow are very site specific (ours is acid clay). (I have read that in a dry year the bees will forage the oxe-eye daisy and Barbara mentioned in another thread that meadowsweet was good for her bees).

My best garden plants where I have really seen the bees the most are those on good soil, particularly the vegetable patch where fertility and management are high. I do grow clover, phacelia and poached egg plant in my crop rotation for the bees but the amount of work to clear ground to grow annual flowers is only something I do as a sideline to my principal aim... growing food for us. (I think this is part of the natural timeless relationship of bees to mankind)

To clear ground, plant potatoes, dig up and eat (or put pigs in to eat), then have lovely ground for planting bee plants.

We also keep a couple of milk cows and their calves and a couple of sheep to graze a field. This field which is well grazed does have wonderful dandelions and clover and the bees love both. We have a small lawn (grazed by animals in spring) and this also has white clover (and dandelions) and in my opinion is better than our wild flower meadow for honeybees. The wild flower meadow is better for everything else, Bumble bees, hoverfly, moths, frogs, spiders......

This is only my experience. Soil and climate are site specific.

Charlie, sorry I didn't get back to this thread earlier. I looked up Meadowview VA on google. Looks like a wonderful spot nestled in the valley with good woodland cover. As you say, woods provide excellent forage. So it sounds as if balancing that with summer forage is your aim. Here the bramble/blackberry is the main wild summer flow, they are not long finished flowering. I think the key to summer or fall flow is rainfall (or a high water table). Without it there may be flowers but nectar will be scarce. We have fields of rose bay willow herb here for a late summer flow, not planted by us. The fields are reasonably fertile. I have read about the golden rod flow on your side of the pond. I grew lots of perrenials this year from seed to see what might work for the bees, until they bulk up I won't really know but many are Prairie flowers from the U.S.

To summarise, I don't buy the idea that you have to reduce fertility to plant quality bee forage. If you have fertile soil, find bee plants that like fertility. If the land is managed to prevent it returning to woods then reduced fertility may be a natural consequence over time.

Quote:
a low-intrusion, minimum labor method of bee keeping—call it permi-apiculture?...
.... And if I can do it, then anyone can.


Be the change is the way to bee.

I don't know about the income? I think if you truly love what you do then things fall into place, sooner or later! but I did find Wyatt Magnum's book inspirational in terms of making a living with simple TBH's.

Kim
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

catchercradle wrote:
Yes we use a scythe to cut the grass, so much better than a petrol machine.


I agree Smile

But you must have a very sharp Scythe otherwise its hell to do it


Kim, i have cut a 1/3 of hectare with scythe in 3 days. Few hours each day. Great excercise if you have a good scytheing technique. Knowing how to do it doesnt wreck your back Smile

I dont cut the grass to reduce fertility. Our soil is Rich humus clay anyway. I do it because tall grass and Thisted shadow smaller grasses. At this time winds get stronger and all the tall grass bends shaddowing smaller plants even more. In the winter the snow presses down the long dry grass and creates a thick cover the next year. We all know that soil covering is great at suppresing most weeds. By cutting and removing the grass twice a year more plant species have a chance to poke out their Flowers Smile
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But you must have a very sharp Scythe otherwise its hell to do it


Yep, 5 minutes extra time sharpening can save half an hour or more in completing the job.
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andy pearce
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

please please put a glove on your sharpening hand! That brings back bad memories of big slices and the red stuff!
A
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never yet seen a cut from sharpening. My only scythe cut has been when using it for things it was not designed for like cutting off artichoke heads because I had not brought the correct tool for the job with me.
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andy pearce
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen lots....some real gapers! it was an absolute rule on my work team that a leather glove was used to hold the stone. Saved trips to the first aid box and A and E! But we digress.
A
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Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit of an update on the pics of the Common Tansy I posted earlier - the precocious ones are now in advanced bud, and should flower any day soon - whereas the vast majority which have germinated are still refusing to grow. Crazy.


Came across a very strong stand of giant Goldenrod in a roadside ditch on Sunday - must have been a good 300 stems there - so I helped myself to just 6 of them. Now normally transplanting any plant in full bloom is a no-no, and these have 6ft stems as well ... AND it was warm and sunny ...

Plan A was to cut-off all the wilted foliage in order to save the roots, which after all is the bit that really matters - but being in full bloom these plants really are so beautiful, and have such a wonderful perfume, that I decided to have a go at saving them 'as is'.

So - it was a case of potting them quickly using a 50/50 peat/soil mix, and then drenching them in a tub of water overnight. By this morning, 5 of the 6 looked happy enough, and so I cut-off the foliage of just the one which still had drooping leaves in order to reduce it's leaf burden on the diminished root system.

After checking late this afternoon, I'm now fairly confident that all 6 will survive. Will post a pic tomorrow - if it stops raining ...

So transplanting in bloom is possible if done with care.

LJ
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BBC
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Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It occurred to me this morning that folk in other parts of this country, and in particular over in north America, will be puzzled as to why I'm so excited about finding a few 'weeds' ...

Well - I live in what has become a very sterile part of Britain, and plants such as these are nothing short of gold-dust.

Nearly all of them are a good 6ft tall - there are a couple of smaller specimens in the foreground - dunno what the story is there. Most blooms are yellow-ish, but one group have deep golden-amber coloured blooms - that's the one I'll be propagating from.

I had planned on taking them outside for a group shot, but it's blowing a hoollee today, which is forecast to last all week - so here they are, propped-up for the time being against this year's French beans.







Colin
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CharlieBnoobee
Guard Bee


Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 97
Location: Virginia,USA; S. Appalachians;USDA zn. 6a

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:31 pm    Post subject: Golden Rod Reply with quote

BBC wrote:
It occurred to me this morning that folk in other parts of this country, and in particular over in north America,...

Quite right you are on that Colin. Can't tell you how totally incongruous it looks to see Goldenrod carefully set up in a green house! (a very nice green house, I might add—are you a professional horticulturalist?)
I sometimes wonder if the abundance of Goldenrod in the Appalachians is one reason that feral bees are making a good comeback after a decade of decimation from Varroa and tracheal mites. That, and the relatively low levels of pesticide use.

Charlie
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Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Charlie - yes it must seem very odd ...
You probably know the story well enough - for many years these were sold as ornamental plants in many garden centres over here, and so people duly planted them around their garden borders, and then wish they hadn't ... and that's probably how these came to be living in a ditch. Smile

These are the giant variety of course, and I'm told that these are the earliest flowering Goldenrod (?) - whereas the 'Showy Goldenrod' seeds I've planted (with pretty poor results so far) are later flowering with a reduced height of around 4ft - so I'm hoping that a mixed planting will work well together.

Greenhouse ? Yes, that one's my favourite - a single bay Dutch-Light. Something around 60ft x 18ft, which is a nice size. I do have a double bay Dutch-Light at around 60ft x 40ft, which to be honest is far too big unless you have a specific purpose for it.

What's unusual about this particular single-bay Dutch-Light is that it's on wheels (!) - and runs along steel rails - or did in it's hey-day - to cover more than one area of ground. These days people just put perforated polythene sheeting down to do the same job.

Horticulturalist ? No - science and engineering is my background (now retired) - I've spent the last 20-odd years buying-up bankrupt businesses and turning them into viable concerns. The disused plant nursery I'm currently living in just happens to be the latest venture. It's about time I moved again I guess - to somewhere a lot more 'bee-friendly'. Smile

Colin
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Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBC wrote:
Bit of an update on the pics of the Common Tansy I posted earlier - the precocious ones are now in advanced bud, and should flower any day soon - whereas the vast majority which have germinated are still refusing to grow. Crazy.





As the other 1,950 couldn't be arsed to join the circus, they've now been consigned to the compost bin. But - the couple of dozen which did flourish will be enough to propagate from Smile

Colin
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