[permaculture] Lupines and their uses.

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Sun Dec 13 08:36:37 EST 2009

Dieter Brand wrote:
 > 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.

Great to hear back from you Dieter. What region in Portugal are you in?
Are you a fan of Fados? Wow, Amalia Rodriguez, Maritza & other greats...
lots of YouTube music videos of them. The language is beautiful; I 
assume you speak Portuguese. That and Italian and French, of course are 
the most beautiful, especially if you like opera, though I like German 
also. Ah, English, take it or leave it ..., its best for farmers :-)

I wonder about N fixing bacteria and whether some need replishing
because of harsh weather conditions, conventional farming methods
and chemical fertilizer, etc. Here, it used to be that when you bought 
been seed for summer plantings they gave you a little plastic bag with
black powder containing populations of the correct bacteria for that 
type of bean.

As for cutting wet season cover crops, do you leave them on the soil for 
mulch or remove them or plow them under?

I agree with you about grasses and grain and their ability to increase 
soil OM, especially winter rye. I have acres of winter rye now and it 
will become a real soil builder when I shallow till it under this coming 
Spring. It is amazing how it builds soil tilth, unlike anything else almost.


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