[permaculture] Fast growing nitro fixers, semi tropics

Cory Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 24 07:48:57 EDT 2012


Thank you much for this, good info about what to avoid as well as what to use. We do use pigeon pea and cowpea liberally and I love them too. Pigeon pea is a beautiful plant and grows very fast here. If it gets enough food, it can be a huge bush (I've seen it go 10 feet) in one season. I haven't looked into Albizia or Tagasaste - these are good leads which I can look at further. I do see Albizia around here, but not Tagasaste. I like acacia farnesiana which is a native. It is very thorny which makes a good living fence when we need that and it doesn't take over the yard like the aggressive elephant ear acacia. 

I have used honey locust liberally at Pine Ridge, but the non thorny version which is less aggressive than the one with thorns. It is one of the few things that can take hold and survive up there without a lot of help and it can be used as a fodder and wood tree (makes fence posts that don't rot for many years, good firewood, etc, something they need a lot of up there). I would think twice about using it in Florida. But I've never seen either black or honey locust so not sure if it is too hot for them or there are diseases or what. 
 
Koreen Brennan

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________________________________
 From: Robyn Francis <robyn at permaculture.com.au>
To: permaculture <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org> 
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2012 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Fast growing nitro fixers, semi tropics
 
I live in humid subtropics and have some winter frosts. 

The legumes I've had greatest success with are:

Perennial pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) great shrub legume, can plant quite closely, terrific chop-and-drop spp to build up mulch, and nurse plant for establishing other trees. Is affected by severe frost, however if densely planted they send out new shoots from lower stem and branches in spring. Nodulate prolifically so good N-fixers. Only live 3-4 years.

Trees: 
Tipuanu tipu - grows well but can grow quite large - I have these as an emergent canopy over my subtropical food forest. See a rare volunteer seedling popping up here and there, but are not invasive - or maybe the wallabies keep them in check.

Albizzia julibrissin are great smaller tree legume and very frost hardy (seen them growing in Europe) and have had no evidence of self seeding or invasive potential here.

Cow pea as a summer annual legume are quite prolific.

I don't recommend using dolichos or desmodium app (too invasive), also honey locust is a shocking weed in our climate here where folk have grown it - spreads prolifically especially along water courses as an impenetrable vicious thorny thicket. I've also eliminated Inga edulis as a tree legume in my system, it self seeds prolifically and the birds and fruit bats spread seed into nearby rainforest areas.

Have you looked into Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) ? It doesn't like our heavy clay but grows well in more sandy soils in subtropics and temperate areas.

Robyn


On 18/10/2012, at 11:05 PM, Cory Brennan wrote:

>  Just found this resource for nitro fixing fodder legumes, wonderful! http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Publicat/Gutt-shel/x5556e00.htm#Contents
> 
> Would love to hear back from people on experience with legumes in any climate similar to Florida - sugar sand soils, sometimes extreme wet/dry, temperatures hot, humid in summer, often freezing in winter (down to 15 degrees or below in many areas). I am looking to plant many fast growing multi use legume trees and want to make sure I am picking the best varieties. Leucaena, gliricidia, sesbania, are considered "invasive" in Florida. I am trying to find info on less invasive cultivars (though I agree with Toby Hemenway's assessments on "opportunists" I hesitate to be the one to personally bring thousands of opportunist trees into this relatively delicate ecosystem). Leucaena lan (I believe this is lanceolata) is considered not invasive but I have not found any of this cultivar. 
> 
> The native sweet acacia has gnarly thorns but is beautiful and works well where thorns are not a problem. 
> 
> What experience do people have with the non nodulating nitro fixers like cassia, etc, as far as actually putting nitrogen into the soils? I have not used them enough to really know how they do. 
> 
> On a different note, I'm still trying to determine the nitro fixing capabilities of gleditsia triacanthos in temperate climates. 
>  
> Koreen Brennan
> 
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