Sunday, May 26, 2013

One of the benefits of my spending too much time on FaceBook is networking with varied very skilled gardeners with differing perspectives and skill sets, which in turn has me on a delicious learning curve. As a result, the revamp of my south Tampa urban farm is being shaped heavily by three new-to-me concepts: hugelkultur, Food Forest, and Chop and Drop, the first and third of which I've done for many years unknowingly but on a very minor scale. For over a dozen years I've brought many many hundreds of bags of leaves (a high carbon brown material) onto my lot, plus had many loads of tree mulch (mixed green and brown) and manure from the nearby stable. All involve reliance on vehicles and much labor, plus the use of so much high carbon material necessitates nitrogen supplementation in some form or another. For years I've hated and fought the Paper Mulberries that invade from the east lot....I've killed a few, but the rest I am coppicing and using the recurring new green growth both as duck food and part of my new Chop and Drop effort now being employed in the 95% complete Food Forest in the center of the back yard. In front and back I last year lost control of a few Cassia alata plants that got WAY too big and then dropped a gillion seeds.....this spring I started to eliminate them, but now I just cut off tender green new branches JUST as they flower and add them to my usual sheet composting efforts. Being a legume its new growth is rich in protein/nitrogen.....there is mixed evidence that it is a nitrogen fixer via the roots. This way I get to enjoy the lovely blooms as part of my effort to make my yard tidier and more colorful while allowing me to grow at least some of my mulching and composting materials on site, high nitrogen green ones at that. If all goes well, this year I will also have two kinds of perennial peanut hay, gandule beans, plus Everglades 41 kenaf to use in my now-concerted Chop and Drop program to cover my cursed hot dry south Tampa sugar sand in a deep layer of moisture-retaining , lignin-rich humus formers. In that spirit I today planted three seedlings of Cassia alata (Senna alata) in the center food forest so I can Chop and Drop the tender green branches right within feet of where needed.

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