Preparing the land for crops

I mentioned yesterday that we need to remove some of the bedding from some the rabbit tractors because it is getting too high.  When it’s removed, I will haul it out to where we are going to pasture the rabbits and dump it in a row (hopefully a straight row) where the nutrients in the bedding (mainly the rabbit manure) will begin its work.  In this row will be planted Jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers.  Perhaps come summer when there is some height to these plants, I’ll plant pole beans in the same area where they can climb the stalks of the Jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers.  Once the beans are harvested, I can feed both the vines of the beans and the stalks of the sunflowers and Jerusalem artichokes to the rabbits.

I am reluctant to do much tilling in the area.  The RAFI budget has money for a used tiller, but I am worried about compaction of the soil.  I am hoping applying the rabbit manure mulch will soften the ground enough so that I can plant the Jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers without tilling.  Once established Jerusalem artichokes are quite invasive, which is what we want.

Another plant I am researching is the velvet bean which is a tropical legume native to Southeast Asia and related to soybean and kudzu.  At one time, farmers in the southeast planted velvet beans, but after WWII, nitrogen fertilizer became much cheaper to buy and soybeans became popular.  In addition to their value as a forage crop, velvet beans are supposed to  suppress weeds, diseases and insects.

Permaculture refers to this process as “stacking functions;” it means getting many yields from one thing in your system.

Until later …