advice on nitrogen-fixing trees for system establishment

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by [email protected], Oct 4, 2007.

  1. kirsten@milkwood

    [email protected] Junior Member

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    hi all,

    I'm at the end (i hope) of putting together a list of nitrogen-fixing, fast growing trees to plant along our new swales, and in our baby food forest in autumn. The species will need to protect the other fruit + food trees going in at the same time, and a little later.... i thought I'd forward this list to y'all incase there were more suggestions? We're near Mudgee, NSW and are sort of dry-temperate with an average rainfall of 600mm and min/max temperatures of -7/40... any suggestions very welcome:

    here's the natives we're planning on:
    Acacia dealbata (silver wattle)
    Acacia melanoxylon (blackwood)
    Casuarina cunninghamiana (river sheoak)
    casuarina littoralis (forest sheoak)
    Grevillea robusta (silky oak)

    and here's the not so natives we're planning on:
    Gleditsia triacanthos inermis (honey locust)
    Prosopis juliflora (mesquite)
    Populus nigra cv. 'Italica' (lombardy poplar)

    any thoughts would be great - cheers in advance

    xk
    ------------
    https://milkwood.net
     
  2. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    inga edulis, drumstick tree
     
  3. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Gets much too cold for either I'd reckon Hedwig...we're lucky in the tropics...much wider selection to choose from.

    G'day Kirsten,

    A couple you might look into further are:

    Albizia lebbeck
    Robinia pseudoacacia

    I could probably recommend a few more species, but with temps down to -7 and maybe further occasionally, and very hot summers, I'd hate to recommend something with a less than decent chance of thriving.

    If you were able to provide some more info on your soil structure and PH, whether the nurse trees are to be irrigated to some extent (I've assumed they are), and whether or not you're planning on running poultry or browers in the orchard, I might be able to suggest a couple of others worth pursuing.

    There's always a bit more variety in acacia's and casi's you could add.

    You've got a good start with the species you've listed...there's not a great abundance of temperate, frost tolerant nitrogen fixing trees out there. :D
     
  4. Tas'

    Tas' Junior Member

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    The Gardening Australia site says the drumstick tree tolerates some frosts.
     
  5. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    -7 frosts may be too much for the drumstick - - was carob mentioned methinks they are nitrogen fixing
     
  6. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Most info I've seen suggests that they are frost intolerant Tas, along with some which says they tolerate light frosts once established. I've never seen them grown in a heavy frost prone area, so I really couldn't say for certain either way. But -7C is a heavy frost to me...it'd be a bugger to have your nurse species keeling over, or suffering a big setback at the very least.

    Seems like an unnecessary risk for the function Kirsten has for them eh?



    They are a legume tree paradisi. I would probably class them on the actual orchard side of things though, not the fast growing leguminous nurse trees.

    FWIW, they're a bit borderline on the temps too going on my info...the online sources I have concur with Jeff Nugent's 'Permaculture Plants' (which I regard very highly)...can tolerate up to -4C when young, but once established (which is a fair time for carob) can tolerate up to -8C.

    Worth a try probably, but IMO you wouldn't want to base too heavy weighting in your planting on a 'hope so' - especially something like a carob which takes a good while to bear.

    Obviously soil type, watering regime, mulch depth, micro-climate and a number of other factors can give you an edge in helping a 'hope so' become a 'yes', but IMO it's also sound disaster proof designing to be a little conservative with regard to species and quantities of those species. All the more so for permanent perennial plantings.
     
  7. kirsten@milkwood

    [email protected] Junior Member

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    cheers folks! thanks for your suggestions - yeah we're in a bit of a weird spot climate-wise, and not helped by the fact we're starting from badly degraded ex-sheep farmland, so the soil is not very well at present -

    I have several carob seedlings currently, but my info on them says they're slow growers and *not* nitrogen fixing, despite the legume aspect - they are fire retardant tho, so i'm keen to raise a bunch more -

    a couple more species I'm looking into - anyone got experience with these?

    - Hopbush - Dodonea viscosa
    - Boomeralia - myoporum montanum
    - Pine, Black Cypress - callitris endlicheri

    working off the 'just get it growing and use what you have' philosophy would see us planting only acacia dealbata, poplar and willow plus a wide range of technically noxious weeds like sifton bush... however obviously the more species the better, and the less standoffs with the weed inspector the better (at least until my trees are big enough to hide behind)...

    cheers all, thanks for the info so far

    xk
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    https://milkwood.net
     
  8. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    [email protected] - you aren't limited to the few you have available at the moment - rebuilding the soil is a long term prospect - so use whatever you can get a hold of - - do you eat fruit at home?? keep every seed and pot them all up or plant directly - - -I helped a friend set up an apple fence - I had hundreds of apple seedlings coming up in my compost so I gathered them each year and sent them off to their new life as a living fence. They were planted about 30-50sm apart and when they grew too big they either got the chop (apple wood is great in a fire) or were allowed to sprawl into each other and the fruit used to help feed the pigs and chooks.

    If you planted your seed they could begin growing and start the soil off into being productive again - anything growing in the soil encourages micro organisms and worms to repopulate the soil - if you get legumes you want to plant later on down the track all you've wasted is a few apple or pear or peach or whatever seeds.
     
  9. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day [email protected] :)

    Just in case you have never heard of it, Tagasaste (syn: Tree Lucerne) Chamaecytisus palmensis is an excellent nitrogen fixer and fodder crop (see: Wood, Michael (no date) Tagasaste in La Palma - Cultivation and Utilization. Olinda: Farm Fodder Trees Australia Pty Ltd.).

    A word of caution regarding Tag: They can become invasive in certain situations, and may even be declared "noxious weeds" in some Catchment Management Areas. Not sure what the situation is around Mudgee, but considering that your climate is similar to ours (Bendigo, Victoria) I'd doubt that Tag would become an environmental concern.

    Regarding nitrogen fixing, pioneer (nurse) plants, and other 'bush foods' indigenous to your local area, may I suggest the following list of books for your research purposes (source: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npw ... ces_plants ):

    Bush Tucker: Australia's Wild Food Harvest
    Produced by: Low, T. (1992) Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

    Bushfoods of NSW
    A botanical record of traditional food plants and their uses, with emphasis on their place in Aboriginal culture.
    Produced by: Stewart, K. and Percival, B. (1997) Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

    CSIRO Handbook of Economic Plants of Australia
    Produced by: Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993) CSIRO, Melbourne.

    Local and Regional Markets for Farm Forestry. Hunter Valley and Central Coast
    Produced by: Kater, A. (2003). Greening Australia NSW

    The Bushfood Handbook
    Produced by: Cherikoff, V. (2001) New Holland Publishers, Sydney

    Useful Wild Plants in Australia
    Produced by: Cribb, A.B. and Cribb, J.W. (1982) Harper Collins, Sydney.


    Hooroo, Mark.
     
  10. kirsten@milkwood

    [email protected] Junior Member

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    hey ta mark -

    yes tagasaste was further down my list, as i've got a bunch on conflicting reports on its frost tolerance - might get hold of some seed and give it a go, none the less - and cheers for all those links, great stuff -

    i'm certainly aiming for nitro-fixers wherever i can, but am also just aiming for whatever will grow here (native or not) and whatever will nurse the other trees... that said, would prefer multi-purpose species when i can, of course -

    cheers all for yr thoughts -

    k
    -------------
    https://milkwood.net
     
  11. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Some info about legumes

    Legumes do not share produced nitrogen with other plants in the soil, Legumes produce nitrogen with in nodules in their root system, as soon as the nitrogen is produced it is transferred to the leafs, this happens in less than a second, The benefit of having Legumes is harvesting the leafs, getting them turned into the soil while they are still green so less nitrogen is lost.

    Legume green manure crops that are chopped and turn straight away is a great process for increasing soil fertility.
     
  12. Nick Ritar

    Nick Ritar Junior Member

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    Your correct bazman, but it's not just the leaves.

    According to Geoff when you chop them back an equivalent volume of the root system dies off, releasing the nitrogen nodules into the soil... so you get a double whammy of goodness.

    You have to chop them back pretty hard for this to happen, so timing is critical.
     
  13. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Tagasaties are great trees

    Inga edulis I think is Ice cream bean tree... not drumstick tree i


    I strongly suggest the book "permaculture plants a selction"

    this book was written by jeff nugent, a poster on this board and is one of my permie bibles that is allways closeby and a brilliant book to re read often...

    If anyone has diffaculty finding this book try looking for Permculture plants in the members list..Im sure he can help you out..

    Imho A peice of land full of usefull trees is FARRRRRRRRR better then bare ground,which to some is the other option......

    Ive seen road gangs and poor volounteers pulling,spraying,chopping down some very pretty,usefull trees and either taking em to the tip or dumping on the ground then leaving the area bare and barren for a few years before they self seed once again.. WHAT A WASTE OF HUMAN POWER...
    and a waste of chemicals,fuel,and money.....

    If you pull out a weed. it just leavs a space for the next weed to germinate

    weeding creates more weeding
    weeding means more work.

    Tezza
    working is wasting valuable resting time.
     
  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    After researching nitrogen fixing trees, I found that most of them are HUGE. And even if it takes some of them a while to get that way, I do think I'm responsible for what I plant now, even if I'm not around to deal with it as a mature tree. They create a lot of shade, their roots often compete with fruit tree roots and other perennials' roots, and almost all the vegetables and fruits I grow need lots and lots of sun and no competition.

    I switched over to nitrogen fixing shrubs, (evergreen so they are always dropping leaves) like elaeagnus, Siberian pea shrubs, perennial lupines, there are a couple of smaller acacia trees (but these often create problems if you're allergic to the massive blossoms), hardenbergia. Broom where I am is considered invasive, so I don't grow that.

    But mostly I plant vetches and clovers under everything. I mow them at about 4 inches so they will continue to grow, and also product great mulches. Some volunteer and some I plant, like sweet pea flowers and beans.

    It's a lot faster to mow and rake/spread to make a mulch, than spend time keeping shrubs and hedges clipped. :)
     
  15. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Must be careful with mulches in a lot of cases as mulch that is on the thick side or deep too much...

    I find that thick mulch can actually slow down or even restrict the fall of rain reaching the below mulch soil levels...

    I done a lot of mulching over the years and i reckon ive learnt a hell of a lot.

    lots isnt allways best....I dont bother with trying to grow nitrogen fixers in my fruit forest as id rather have the chooks pooping 16 hours aday just add mulch and step back the chooks do it all for nothing....

    Ive grown tagasaties as nurse species,shade,shelter,pruning,seed supplier etc,trouble is most nitros are quick growers and quick maturity then death,easily replaced by self sufficent seeds,..

    Then after time you grow vegies amongst the fruit trees.and moove the chooks..

    Tezza
     
  16. Jackie K

    Jackie K Junior Member

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    The place where I lived previously used to have frosts down to minus 5. Sometimes the outer leaves of tagasaste would be burnt, but regrowth was quick.
    Jackie K
     
  17. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Tezza, why do you think water doesn't go below mulches? they're not waterproof, so I'm not sure what you mean. If there is only light rain the mulch absorbs it and holds it near the soil, keeping the soil moist, requiring less watering.

    I have used thick leaf/mown weed mulches for 15 years, and on clay soil it's crucial to keep it damp so it won't harden into its brick-like self, and so that the bottom layer of mulch is a compost pile breaking down all the time. By constantly adding to the top, it's a work in progress, with no need to create other big piles and haul cuttings and mown piles from here to there. I have found leaf/mown mulches to be invaluable in saving time, water and creating an environment that soil critters love, and brings worms much closer to the top layer of the soil, especially in areas where there is little summer rainfall, like where I am, and parts of Australia.

    Or do you mean something like a rock mulch or bark chips? Those drive me crazy!! Don't get me started on those!! :lol:
     
  18. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Yeah, Tree lucern is tougher than people think. I put in some in Autaum here (central victoria) and had them covered with a couple of inches of snow. They did get burnt but most of them still sprouted new growth in spring regardless.
    I have heard many people say that Tagasaste is a short lived tree, dying after 10-15 years. I became confused when someone showed me some huge trees and claimed they were at least 30 years old.
    Maybe it is just a result of the growing conditions and favourable climate?
    IG
     
  19. Jackie K

    Jackie K Junior Member

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    Tagasaste is a favourite target food of termites, particularly if it is on drip irrigation. That's the only thing, and goats / sheep completly stripping the bark, that I've seen kill Tags
    Jackie K
     
  20. Ojo

    Ojo Junior Member

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    I was looking into it for my citrus. (guess I can't pee enough to keep up with them)


    If you are to plant comfrey nearby as companion plants you will ensure that the citrus trees thrive as the comfrey will fix nitrogen in the soil. On the other hand you can also plant lavender as companion plants to citrus trees as the lavender will keep aphids and whitefly away. As a bonus the citrus peels, skins and leaves can be rubbed onto window sills to deter flies and mosquitoes.
    https://www.landscape-and-garden.com/Gar ... althy.aspx


    Fresh Comfrey leaves contain more nitrogen than farmyard manure
    https://www.the-organic-gardener.com/Comfrey.html

    https://web.missouri.edu/~umcsnrsoilwww/ ... 1_2004.htm

    The natural process of Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) has a critical role in the achievement of environmentally benign, sustainable farming systems. Its increased use will mitigate the need for fertilizer nitrogen, with concomitant benefits accruing in terms of effects on the global nitrogen cycle, global warming, and ground- and surface-water contamination. This natural process is dependent on microorganisms, and a plant may serve as a partner.

    Some species of microorganisms have the ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into forms that are usable by plants and animals. BNF occurs in bacteria that possess the enzyme nitrogenase. Plants and microbes form symbiotic associations in legumes, lichens, and some woody plants. The system most important for agriculture is the legume-rhizobia symbiosis: the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen occurs within root nodules after rhizobial penetration of the root. Thus, many legumes can grow vigorously and yield well under nitrogen-deficient conditions, and may contribute nitrogen to the farming system in the vegetative residues after grain harvest, or more significantly as green manure incorporated in the soil. Legumes are important sources of protein, mainly for feed in the developed world and for food in the developing world. They have been exploited as sources of nitrogen most notably in the agricultural systems of Australia and New Zealand. The successful introduction of exotic legume crops, such as alfalfa and soybean into the United States, necessitated the simultaneous introduction of compatible rhizobia bacteria; such inoculants, in various forms, have been in use for about 100 years.
    https://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/bnf/summary.html

    What is Leucaena?

    Leucaena is a fast growing nitrogen fixing tree with many uses. It originated in Central America and grows well in many places in the tropics. It fixes nitrogen gas from the air and make its usable to itself, plants and animals. It is extremely valuable to the environment. With its many varieties,
    https://www.satglobal.com/leuccore.htm

    https://www.agroforestry.net/overstory/overstory4.html
    https://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/fac ... WhyNFT.htm
    https://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u ... &x=14&y=17
     

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