[permaculture] Lupines and their uses.

Dieter Brand diebrand at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 13 07:20:26 EST 2009


Larry,
 
Our environment can be extremely harsh, especially during the dry season.  Perhaps this leads animals (ants, birds, etc.) to adopt extreme strategies just to survive.
 
I think the idea of perennial-annual companion planting is something worth investigating.  The beneficial effects some plants have on each other are well known, even though I think the N-fixing bacteria are already in the ground (if we grow traditional crops for our region) and multiply as needed when the crop grows.
 
Annual cover crops and green mulches have their limitations in dry regions where all humidity needs to go to the cash crop.  I usually encourage growth (cover crops, weeds, grasses, etc.) during the wet season and cut it all for mulching at the start of the dry season to conserve soil humidity.
 
Lupines are good for fixing N, but I think for improving tilth you may be better off with annual grasses or grains because they produce more biomass.  Rye is especially good because it forms a big root system.  You can also mix legumes with grasses or grains.  For example rye with vetch is a good combination.
 
Dieter Brand
Portugal

--- On Fri, 12/11/09, Lawrence F. London, Jr. <venaurafarm at bellsouth.net> wrote:


From: Lawrence F. London, Jr. <venaurafarm at bellsouth.net>
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Lupines and their uses.
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Friday, December 11, 2009, 2:32 AM


Dieter Brand wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
> in the South of Portugal, yellow lupines (with yellow flowers) are 
grown for N-fixing and white lupines are grown for eating.  Both are 
sown in October or November as soon as there is enough soil humidity 
after the dry season.  The small (black and white) seeds of the yellow 
lupines can be broadcast into the stubble without too much losses, even 
though farmers usually plough before sowing.  The white lupines (with > 
larger white seeds) need to be covered by soil or they will be eaten by 
worms.  Both can be cut for mulching or ploughed under as green manure 
at flowering in May.  For harvesting the seeds, you need to wait until 
about July. The white lupine seeds are pickled and eaten as a light 
snack when drinking beer.  Fava beans are also grown in the same time 
period.  Fava beens need to be sown deeper than white lupines (1 to 2 
inches) or else black birds and craws will pull them from the soil when 
> germinating.
>>>>>>>>>>>>

Fascinating, Dieter. You have some voracious predators over there where 
you are, seed eating worms and avian seedling snatchers.

Somehow I wound up in South American countries with references to lupine 
varieties, their uses and local cultivation practices. They seemed to be 
an exceptional nitrogen fixer and maybe equally good as soil builders. I 
wrote up a short forum post about this years ago, will see if I can find 
it. I was thinking about alley cropping systems to build populations of 
perennial crops returning each year intercropped with annuals and 
various clovers, i.e. mellilotus alba, tall sweet clover, yellow and 
white varieties. Growing in an orchard, tree or berry this could be a 
good scheme for maintenance of fertility, weed control, soil quality 
building, depth of tilth and water reservoir the tree or berry crops 
could tap into. I will probably try this with a bunch of blueberry 
plants I need to set out. I was also thinking about the potential this 
sort of system offers to build colonies of nitrogen fixing bacteria in 
the soil that match the various host plants growing in the alley. It is 
not taken for granted that adequate populations of these microbes exist 
when and where you need them.

LL
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