Having been exposed to the world of food forests ( friend has a Geoff Lawton dvd). I had a "light bulb" moment and down this merry path my feet carry me.
Our land was stripped of natives (mostly puriri) and has been in pasture for near 70 years. Reforestation and creating sustainable food gardens/orchards is the order of the day.
Sheet mulching & planting N fixing + fast growing bio mass trees is where I'm starting. I already have a number of fruit & canopy trees.
Many publications/dvds are european/ usa/ even australian in their plant species.
Ground cover/ shrubs / trees esp Nitrogen fixing ............... lets start a NZ list.
- Kowhai (N)
- Tree Lucerne (N)
- Kakabeak (N) thanks Kali
- Whau (fast grow bio mass)
Hi John great to hear about your land
Think it a great idea to make a list of nitrogen fixers for NZ- Once we have all our ideas in I will make it into a download-able fact sheet attached to this site,
Of the top of my head: ( can post photos of any of these if requested)
There is a lovely native broom that has purple flowers
Carmichaelia flagelliformis - NZ broom, maukoro - there a a few others in this family.
We use lupins a lot as they are good shelter at the same time when you are getting new areas established.
The coastal Yellow one works great here on the South Coast
White lupins are a great green crop and you can make an edible flour out of the seeds apparently but I have yet to try making the flour.
The vetch family ( we have common and hairy varieties but there are heaps of others) they naturally grow in wateland areas and are a really attractive fine leafed little plant. Very easy to gather the pods.
Clover is great- we have recently discovered crimson clover which is a fantastic looking plant with a huge bright red elongated flower- looks great in the herbal lay.
We also use lots of different peas and beans.
Tic beans are a real productive green crop)
Not a plant but we encourage males to 'water' the plants in our forest- not so easy for girls but this is a great resource that is usually flushed away.
Some compost toilet systems collect the urine separately which can then be diluted for the garden.
as far as natives go i've also got coprosma as one to 'chop and drop', i think someone recommended it to me originally - the 'robusta' type, as it grows easily from cuttings, and doesn't seem to mind being chopped back severely.
The Coprosma family are also nitrogen fixers. They have little hollows in the axils of the veins that contain nitrogen fixing bacteria.
we have had good results form native broom. We planted them when we first did the garden, amongst other natives. Now we have cut most of them down and planted fruit trees next to the spaces vacated by the broom. Now we're triyng annuals under and amonst them for the first time. The annuals (tomatoes, strawberries) and fruit trees under the natives in soil that has had broom on it seem to be doing better than those planted at the same time in soil recently converted from lawn and even the veg garden. My conclusion is that the broom and the quality of the soil under the trees has helped everything planted there subsequently.
Its only the first year mixing the natives with fruit and veg, but results so far are encouraging.
Hi John, I've documented my own research on Tree Lucerne, or Tagasaste as it is often called, online at http://piginthemud.com/content/tagasaste While it's not a NZ native it's often referred to as a friendly exotic as it can be used as a pioneer for reforestation and regeneration projects. I've used it in the past in the same way to shelter orchard trees while conditioning the orchard soils. It's has so many uses :) Cheers tim
I made a handout a few years ago for our permaculture courses which i'm currently updating but i'll attach then. Whether or not things are invasive depends where you are but i guess you're thinking of things like gorse. You've listed tree lucerne, which i've used extensively but it's not a NZ native, guess you were aware of that, it originates in the canary islands which is why it does well in hot dry hawkes bay i guess. We also have a list of N-fixing plants which we sell on our website. This is not as extensive as the list on the handout which i'll attach later - someone remind me if i forget! Though eventually we hope to propagate more. For example we hope to add sulla next year, that's another very interesting plant which is doing well here. See http://kahikateafarm.co.nz/plants-nitrogen-fixing.html