Chop and Drop management is an important part of any food forest or Agroforestry system. There are many benefits to planting a large # of leguminous plants in your system. One of the amazing things about this is you are growing your own fertilizer in place...then all you need to do is walk through your food forest...chop and then drop it right onto your plants and trees. Leguminous trees, AKA Nitrogen fixers, provide great fertilizer for your system and will actually fix Nitrogen into the soil in the area where they are growing. They are also very fast growing so provide quick shade. This helps to keep weeds at bay and also encourages "later succession" plants and groundcovers to emerge. One of the main concepts in Food Forestry is to mimic a natural forest as much as possible but to also help speed up succession in these human planted systems. This encourages a more mature forest like system in a shorter period of time. The other basic function that is achieved in chop and drop is mulching of your trees. Mulching is integral for maximum tree health. It protects the root zone around the tree from the elements, which will quickly turn soil hard if it is left bare. It also creates a home space for microorganisms and other beneficial insects to live. The symbiotic relationship that is formed between the microbiology and our mulch creates nutrition for our trees and continues to build soil. Studies have actually shown that fruit trees that are mulched will often bare fruit in half the time as non mulched trees. There is a huge variety of leguminous trees and a little research will help you figure out what will work best in your area. So grab some legume seeds and a machete and watch your landscape transform into paradise.
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