The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Do-nothing grain progress report

Closeup of do-nothing oat and clover plotIt's been months since I've talked about our do-nothing grain experiment, but what can I say, I've been doing nothing.  You may recall that I let the chickens churn up a couple of areas in the yard, then threw down hull-less oat and red clover seeds in early March.  For a while, the weeds seemed to be growing faster than the grain and clover, so I figured the experiment was a failure.

I mowed down one plot accidentally, but remembered to mark off the other small plot with cinderblocks.  And suddenly the oats have overtopped everything else and the clover is starting to outcompete the weeds.  This is all with no tilling, no kill mulch, and no weeding.

Granted, this first incarnation has too many flaws to be considered a success.  There are only about a dozen oat plants in my three foot by three foot plot, presumably because I didn't cover the seeds with anything and hungry critters made off with most of them.  Fukuoka prevented this predation by wrapping the seeds in balls of clay, but I suspect just raking them into the soil a bit better or covering them with straw might do the trick.

Do-nothing test plotThere are also plenty of weeds mixed into the plot, but I consider this less of a problem.  The clover and oats are clearly doing better than the weeds, and I think a few generations of do-nothing gardening might clear out the unwanted visitors in the plot. 

I'm gearing up for a second do-nothing grain experiment shortly, using the buckwheat/wheat rotation that seems better adapted to our climate.  Mark fenced our cockerels out of two thirds of the chicken pasture last week, and the flock is finally starting to denude their remaining space.  In a few weeks, we'll rotate the chickens out, rake up the ground, and sow some buckwheat and clover seeds for do-nothing experiment part two.

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This post is part of our Farm Experiments lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:





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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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