Holzer's Plant families vs. companion planting

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by sweetpea, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    I tried for half an hour to post this over on the plant forum, but it wouldn't let me. So I'm putting it here, sorry.

    Has anyone really studied Sepp Holzer's plant family chart and planted things according to it, and gotten results, good or bad? It is a weird chart, at least as far as my visual sense is, and I'm not sure I understand the tree-like structure of it. And have you noticed a comparison between his plant families and the regular companion planting that is more commonly used?
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I am not at all familiar with Sepps work, sweetpea but I will look him up.
    Mark
     
  3. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Do you have access to seed lists in english?
     
  4. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Paul,

    Not sure what you mean. I have Holzer's chart in English, it's like a drawing of roots and his groupings of types of plants that work together. That's easy enough to follow, but I wondered who has actually tried it, and has it made a difference compared to the traditional companion planting groupings.

    Mark, thanks. I can't find a thing on anyone's experience except for what Holzer says.
     
  5. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Is the chart on the internet somewhere?
     
  6. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    I haven't found the chart on the internet. It's not a chart exactly, it's more of a drawing by Holzer, like a crazy root system with the types of plants branching off of it, and those that are near each other are compatible, I guess is what he's saying, although it's different from any grouping of plants I've seen."
     
  7. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Sweetpea,

    This drawing by Sepp intrigues me. How might we go about obtaining one for ourselves, so we know what you're talking about = )
    Were you fortunate enough to obtain yours from Mr. Holzer directly??
     
  8. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    The chart/drawing is in his book, his very expensive book! I don't own one, but I saw it there. It's got regular names of plants, and then categories like angiosperms. He's got 40 years of trying these companion plantings, so he would be a great source, but it's hard getting the info.
     
  9. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I have been studying a bit on Sepps families through a couple of movies I was able to get hold of and this is my take on the issue.
    The main point in the family seems to be diversity (40 different seeds in a mix he scatters) and importantly they have a mixture of shallow to deep rooted plants but also a mixture of types of plants - from wild flowers to lettuce and pumpkins and such. The actual make-up of the seed list is not clear and I take it that the list depends on where you are and what grows well. Also what is available as long as it has the mixture as stated above.
    Does that seem true or am I over simplifying the thing?
     
  10. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Thanks, purplepear, for going to that trouble! I appreciate your efforts. I do know that much about Sepp and the generalities of his methods. It's those 40 types of seeds that he's determined do well together that I wonder if they are much different from the lists that already exist in general. They are probably close, but I was hoping to get a clear idea of what he has done for all these 40 years.

    I tried a varied mix of things, probably 30 different types, and flung them out before the last rainstorm, but there are so many critters that eat seeds and little seedlings where I am, I don't have much hope. some people just luck out, I guess, and can seed directly. But I might get a few surprises as the summer comes along. I've found lots of stuff pops up way after I expect it to, so maybe that's part of the high number of different kinds of things, they are "timed-release" maybe?
     
  11. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Okay, I may have stumbled onto the basis for Holzer's chart. Here's a plant taxonomy chart that shows the classifications. This isn't Holzer's. His is bigger and a lot more elaborate. But this one is listing all the plants that he keeps talking about as the foundational plants to include in a food forest. this chart is relating to wheat gluten and how it branches off separately from the other grains, if that's a help to anyone.

    https://wheat.pw.usda.gov/ggpages/topics/tree.jpg
     
  12. Methionine3

    Methionine3 New Member

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    I am brand spanking to this whole beautiful Idea. Holzer is the man. From what I understand though I might have something new to point out. He uses a mix of forty different seeds, including many flowers, some rare, as well as poisonous plants (to act naturally as pesticides), and also incorporates many broadleaved and needle type trees, I imagine he incorporates shrubs too. The point being that these "families" are important for than just their fixing and absorbing properties. If you cast out 40 of these companionable seeds and only the hearty ones have come up (which I imagine is the case), then you might reconsider that environment and how you must change its micro-climate gradually by imposing first the heartier and heavy fixing plants and then the more delicate vegetables. Also he uses terraces on all his hillsides to eliminate the need for irrigation and fertilization. Another environment he creates is through Hugelkultur, which is basically creating a hospitable growing environment where there would otherwise not be; he creates warm moist nutrient-rich soil by burying mounds of decaying logs and timber and forming rows which are peaked and troughed to create a system where nutrients are fixed and then encouraged to settle into an environment capable of growing fruit trees at high altitudes and temperate climates. The biggest thing he stressed is to learn from nature rather than fight with it. If you are having a problem then somewhere nearby nature has made a point of the solution. Don't work too hard. Great luck with it all!!! I think it is so cool that people are interested in this and taking their food production on themselves! Also I would appreciate anything knows, or has seen or heard about the natives species and the families of Montana. P ea ce
     
  13. bobzi

    bobzi Junior Member

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  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Hi, Methionine3...yes, Holzer has quite the interesting setup. Where you are might not be that different from Holzer's Alps.

    When you say:

    >> "Also he uses terraces on all his hillsides to eliminate the need for irrigation and fertilization."

    It's not really the terracing that does that. His main feature is the acres of ponds at the top of his mountain that are helping to turn his place into a termperate zone. The thousands of gallons of water seep downhill allowing the ground water levels to be higher and the plant roots can tap into them. He also has summer rain (which I don't) to get the seeds started, and that's irrigation I have to do and he doesn't. Without all that pond water, all of his Hugelkulture mounds, fruit tree survival in the winter, and companion plantings would have quite the different results. His fertilization comes from the Hugelkulture mounds and the nitrogen-fixing plants he grows in his mixes, and letting his chickens and goats on the fields to poop on everything. Have you checked out the YouTube videos on his place?

    I've studied him for a long time, and I was excited to try his methods, but they weren't as straightforward as he makes them see. I am already in a temperate zone, and when I tried Hugelkulture mounds they only created the perfect homes to voles that ate everything in site, and dug shallow tunnels in my clay soil that dried everything out. So unless I have some way to dig into the ground deeply and bury the wood, I'm not going to repeat that disaster. :)

    Companion planting is somehwat helpful, but I haven't found it to be the answer to most problems. I have found crop rotation to be even more helpful, and it does create a type of "companion remains" in the soil where roots can do an exchange. I march the plantings down the rows in the same order so that next year row 1's heavy feeders will be in row 2's leftover bean nitrogen fixation, or Row 3's cabbage goes into Row 4's onions and dill. Over the years I've managed to plant garlic everywhere, and I never quite get it all, so it's coming up just about everywhere, and seems to be a good overall companion. I imagine Holzer is creating some of the same root exchange remains with his planting mixes.

    I also tried his broadcasting method with seeds, most of them got eaten by birds, mice and voles, but the disarray of everything made me crazy. I couldn't remember that there was lettuce in 15 places, hidden by 3 foot vetches and trailing pumpkins, then take the time to go from place to place to check it, then harvest it at varying times. I just had to keep some order in the plantings, because there is already too much to keep track of!

    this is a nice list for companion plantings:

    https://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html

    It's how Holzer has decided to groups his plant families that still baffles me. I have found a few lists of his specific plants, but it's why he groups them the way he does, why his charts are so different from everyone else's that I am not finding the explanation for. But perhaps as more people find out about him, it will be more available. :)
     
  15. Excelsior Concordia

    Excelsior Concordia Junior Member

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    Try to read "Plant sociology: the study of plant communities" by Blanquet Josias.

    It may offer you some valuable answers :)
     
  16. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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  17. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Which of his many books? He has 4 in English alone.
     

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