by Robin from Virginia, USA

For those of us who feel a need to “take care of what I already have” before buying additional plants and seeds i notice that there are quite a few wild “scrub trees” like black locust, wild cherry, persimmon, black walnut and several others whose names allude me right now, coming up on my grounds, in places where i’ve stopped mowing. (sorry, i don’t know the scientific names either, but pretty much any tree like this will work); they seem to appear around tall weeds. when i come across one of these seedlings, i try to favor it.

Of course, the deer chew on these, which seems to stimulate more shoots of these trees to come up (i call them my wolf trees). seems like somewhere in “the natural way of farming”, sensei fukuoka says to encourage these whispy fast- growing shoots to grow, and then when they get telephone-pole (height) size to fell them and mulch with them. i have
found that when deer are allowed to chew/prune on your weeds and trees, they spread low and makes the root stronger, making your soil better and better. and some of these wolf trees outlast the deer and spring up fast to get beyond the range of deer mouths.

It seems to me that underneath the ground the roots of the wolf trees knit together the whole area, which makes the ground so stable, like a rain forest. as you so wisely revealed, you can plant legumes where the grass grows, and grass or grains where there are weeds, or mulched areas, or legume filled areas. and plant your veggies where there are lots of legumes. and the trees are so whispy, you get enough sun, to plant crops under them. You just have to open it up some, ever so often, to keep some sun coming in.

This summer I planted my cherry tomatoes in with the wild violet, strawberries and wild strawberries and some variegated vinca and didn’t stake them. the tomatoes began to travel all over the tops of this ground cover, touching down to the ground when they wanted to, but being cushioned very well by this soft but vigorous ground cover. I got hundreds of healthy happy cherry tomatoes off just one plant!

I’ve got lots of grass, so this week i’m going to shake some alfalfa, hairy vetch and red clover seeds (these are sold at the seed store in my location) around the grass clumps. whatever winter legumes that they sell in your area will work just as well as extra leguminous ground cover. you never know when conditions are perfect for winter legumes such as those.

Whatever you have will work, just as you say, raju titus…it can be very inexpensive, if you want it to be!