Mike Hands’ method of “Inga Alley Cropping” is a quite successful method of allowing tropical soils to continuously crop without wearing out:
The Inga genus contains multiple trees known as “ice cream bean,” which make a delicious pulp inside of their bean-like pods, a few species of which we greatly enjoyed eating while in Grenada.
There was a nice little one growing near our old farm:
Inga fixes nitrogen, grows quickly, produces a lot of biomass and can make decent firewood.
However, we cannot grow it here in Lower Alabama as it is a truly tropical tree.
We do have mimosa, however, AKA Albizia julibrissin.
It is a fast-growing nitrogen fixing tree capable of creating a good amount of biomass and firewood. It’s also very easy to grow from seed.
What if we grew some in alleys and regularly chopped it down as mulch to feed the soil? It’s not going to be as good a mulch as Inga, but it’s the closest non-thorny equivalent we seem to have here.
Beneath the ground the trees release nitrogen – and they’ll also provide it from above as we mulch with their leaves.
We need to figure out our spacing, but I think putting them in rows and growing row crops in between might just work.
You can learn more on Inga Alley Cropping here.
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