by Glen Swartwout
Everything grows at The Shire… well almost everything. And some things grow faster than we might want, like grass and vines around orchard and garden plantings. Cultivation is a process requiring our regular attention to help our favorite tasty food plants grow and prosper…
The orchards are planted as food forests, with mixed varieties of fruits and nuts… Sounds much like the rest of Puna, if you add vegetables from the garden! (It’s true, and a joke, too…) The best time to cultivate and feed plants is around the new moon. They can be fed nitrogen by urinating just outside the drip line of the plants leaves, stimulating roots to grow out to get the nitrogen they need. The chicken tractor can also be moved periodically through the orchard areas, keeping it away from main structures so chickens don’t try to roost in them.
Because grasses grow year round and some can grow six or even twelve feet high (most of our cane grass is already gone, thank goodness), and because maile pilau (‘stink vine’) can grow up to several inches in one day under optimal conditions, regular attention to plantings is crucial. A good goal is to develop a bed of mulch and a ground cover around each tree. Perrenial peanut or low growing desmodium are good potential choices, since they are both nitrogen fixers. Nitrogen help feed the tree, rather than competing with it for the same nitrogen, like grasses would. A good mulch is grass clippings once they are brown from the sun after cutting. They are usually available close by and can be gathering by the handful in a five gallon bucket. Read the rest of this entry