Thursday, April 16, 2009

Planting Directly Into Grass...No Till Peas??

Purple Hull peas, that is...

food not instead of the lawn, but smack IN the lawn??

I'm on a mission to find more purple hull peas and bush type beans and cowpeas, except I just don't want to pay Big Box store prices for individual packets. I had to hunt and hunt to find a Farm Supply store (over an hour away!) that sells farm seed by the pound...the southern girl in me has just exploded this spring (it ain't pretty, folks...ha!) and I'm so SO excited by our success in seeing the few dozens of bush-type Roma green beans come up like gangbusters, I want to plant more, more, MORE...

(they're qualifying as Robbyn-proof so far...no fuss, fairly bug-proof, endures weather extremes and not-so-fertile soil and still are growing strong...WOO!)

I'm jazzed!!!

And I'm hungry for food that is good for me.

I'm very surprised that with the necessity of keeping things simple due to our work demands away from home, I'm reverting back to the handful of crops that kept me fed during the country part of my childhood.......the old southern standbys.

I SHALL have the other things, too...we'll add them in yearly, a couple at a time, and keep going with what we already have. But I need to eat in the meantime, and the things I know we grew under punishing conditions in the deep south of my youth were simple...they were what we found at the farm supply store:

Bush green beans, purple hull and other cowpeas, bush limas, tomatoes, scallions, yellow squash, zucchini, okra. Yeah, we had corn, eggplant, lettuces, and so on, too...but what was on the table for dinner was usually purple hull peas, squash, scallions, and tomatoes...always with cornbread.

Oh yeah, and I want sweet potatoes, too.

OK, on to the question at hand...

Today when I was looking for sources for pink-eye purple hull peas, I happened upon this article. It's worth a look, and it has pictures. Basically, it's a small write-up about a man who stakes off part of his yard each year and plants purple hull peas directly into his lawn.....NO digging, NO planting per se, NO shovel or hoe....huh? He mows his lawn, stakes off the section he wants for growing the plants, drops the seeds straight onto the area, basically walks across it to make sure the seeds make it to ground level, throws down some fertilizer, and waters it in. He waters it each day till they flourish...about fifteen days, and then the plants kind of take over their area, and he basically keeps the grass mowed around the edges.

I know...it's not the House Beautiful raked-and-staked weedless patch of perfection, but I found it SO interesting that he got a whole crop off this one patch with so little effort...and those little stinkers seem hardy to the point that they overcame the grass enough to put out a decent harvest.

For people like myself who already have access to land that's unused (we have a vacant lot next door) with only part of it under what can only loosely be termed cultivation, why shouldn't I try growing some patches of food this way instead of having to keep mowing down the wild vegetation periodically (we have to for fire issues, even if we wanted to leave it wilder.) And I can put some in areas of my existing lawn that aren't used or are a part of our "resale curb appeal." (sigh)

:)

So I called the county extension service and followed the trail to the farm supply store and can now take a little day jaunt on one of my days off to go purchase seed by the pound for the same price I'd pay for one or two packets of seed at my local retailer. I'm nostalgic for the plain food from my childhood garden...I have enough herbs and such growing in buckets that it would never lack for seasoning and dressing it up with variety.

Right now I have some limas boiling on the stove. And sweet potatoes baking.

And it looks like I have enough "lawn" next door to warrant some wild-and-crazy experiments. If growing things in the lawn is that easy, ANYone with ground surface can eat...and that's good news for people like myself who can't afford equipment, soil amendments, and a lot of extra time to go far afield for some of the less expensive or free alternatives at times. (Though we do have a lot of different kinds of those projects underway, we're just tapped out of time and money for more, like many people).

We'll see...

I'm so excited about trying this!

7 comments:

Fleecenik Farm said...

I know that when you plant buckwheat it helps to break up clay soils. Also legumes are nitrogen fixers in the soil so I would think that the crop rotated onto this spot the next year would have an extra boost.

Annette said...

What a great idea! I may need to try this technique as well!

Carla said...

Robbyn! This is a great idea!! Especially since I HATE mowing the lawn...! I'm going to try it, too. Zucchini and yellow squash will take up a LOT of space...!
Thanks for the great idea and article.

Irma said...

Definitely keep us posted on how this works!!

One Acre Homestead said...

Awesome idea! No matter how much garden I till...I never have enough space for all that I want to plant! This would help!

The Country Experience said...

What a wonderful article. Good luck in your efforts. House Beautiful may look good on magazine covers, but practical isn't always congruent with it.

I look forward to reading about the results.

Sadie said...

Great idea....we are out of bed space but would love to grow more....this year we are going to do squash all over the back- just dig up a 2 sq ft area, plant and let them go....