• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Beau Davidson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Leigh Tate
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Jules Silverlock
  • Jordan Holland
  • Paul Fookes

What chop and drop plants do you use?

 
gardener
Posts: 1119
Location: Western Washington
299
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm planting an area into food forest that has limited access for mulch. It's fairly wet for much of the year and difficult to get into other than walking (though in summer I can bring in some mulch)

One of the strategies I'm using is to plant lots of comfrey to hopefully build up that soil. I'm also using nitrogen fixers.

What are some other chop and drop plants that you use? I've heard of artichokes and buckwheat. Artichokes strike me as a loving fertility too much on their own to be a good candidate.
 
pollinator
Posts: 206
Location: Saskatchewan
84
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I use burdock and dock quite a bit because that is what grows naturally on my property, I will be using caragana in a couple years once they get big enough. The nice thing about caragana besides being a nitrogen fixer is that the twigs are small and lay down nice compared to some shrubs.
 
pollinator
Posts: 484
Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
190
3
hugelkultur goat forest garden chicken fiber arts medical herbs
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Comfrey is probably my main chop and drop and I've been scrounging from other gardens to get more. I have self-seeding kale and anything that self-seeds where the goats can't reach it may be fair game for chop and drop if there's more than I can use as food. As well, there is a dirt pile near the bottom of my driveway where the neighbour dug out an area and installed a culvert - that grows lots of huge mullein. In a previous garden I had an enormous patch of ancient and very vigorous rhubarb that produced the most enormous leaves used as chop and drop, also burdock. Some annual flowers make good bee plants and produce large amounts of leafy biomass that can be good chop and drop at the end of the season - phacelia in particular, borage, cosmos, sunflowers.

At the new place, we'll be seeding clovers and field peas and beans in the tree alleys for purposes of chop and drop. Last week, on my birthday, younger daughter and I went to a feed store we'd heard good things about but never visited, and among other things that are not carried at our regular store we bought a 50 lb bag of something called 'maple peas' also known as 'Carlin peas' which will be part of this soil-building mix.

Since your area is wet and if you have the room, perhaps planting alder or willow would give you some good soil-building biomass, as well as taking up some of the water (assuming one of your goals is to dry it out a bit). There's a lot of nitrogen in alder leaves and wood.
 
                    
Author
Posts: 63
7
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the question.  The first consideration is if you want to have chop and drop crops that persist in the food forest or if you want to add to the food forest with other crops in the future in the same ecological niche?

So comfrey will stay, whereas red clovers, winter rye and oats and peas make great cover crops and green manures in your building years and then can be followed by other productive edible annuals and perennials.

My favourite chop and drop perennial is by far rhubarb.  It makes big and early foliage that can be chopped and dropped as mulch and if you want you can eat it, sell it and divide and plant more easily.

For more information and to order a signed copy of the book go to:
www.ecosystemsolutioninstitute.com

Best,

Zach
 
James Landreth
gardener
Posts: 1119
Location: Western Washington
299
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Andrea Locke wrote:Comfrey is probably my main chop and drop and I've been scrounging from other gardens to get more. I have self-seeding kale and anything that self-seeds where the goats can't reach it may be fair game for chop and drop if there's more than I can use as food. As well, there is a dirt pile near the bottom of my driveway where the neighbour dug out an area and installed a culvert - that grows lots of huge mullein. In a previous garden I had an enormous patch of ancient and very vigorous rhubarb that produced the most enormous leaves used as chop and drop, also burdock. Some annual flowers make good bee plants and produce large amounts of leafy biomass that can be good chop and drop at the end of the season - phacelia in particular, borage, cosmos, sunflowers.

At the new place, we'll be seeding clovers and field peas and beans in the tree alleys for purposes of chop and drop. Last week, on my birthday, younger daughter and I went to a feed store we'd heard good things about but never visited, and among other things that are not carried at our regular store we bought a 50 lb bag of something called 'maple peas' also known as 'Carlin peas' which will be part of this soil-building mix.

Since your area is wet and if you have the room, perhaps planting alder or willow would give you some good soil-building biomass, as well as taking up some of the water (assuming one of your goals is to dry it out a bit). There's a lot of nitrogen in alder leaves and wood.




Those are some great suggestions. I have a bunch of willow cuttings started actually, so that's perfect. I'm only worried that if I do chop and drop with willow the material will root out and start ever more trees. But, summers here are dry, so I bet I could get away with it then! Alder is great too.

I have a hard time seeding annuals as everything is covered with a dense mat of invasive grass. Still, I'm grateful to have the soil protected at least, and I suppose mowing/grazing are a part of my chop and drop, ultimately
 
James Landreth
gardener
Posts: 1119
Location: Western Washington
299
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Zach Loeks Ecosystem Solution Institute wrote:

My favourite chop and drop perennial is by far rhubarb.  It makes big and early foliage that can be chopped and dropped as mulch and if you want you can eat it, sell it and divide and plant more easily.




I've had mixed results with rhubarb at my current place. I'm developing a second site and hope it'll do better there. The leaves are a great idea, for sure. I think my current property is too sunny and hot for rhubarb in summer
 
Posts: 38
Location: Kitsap County, Washington, USA
24
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I moved into my current house, there was already an overgrown buddleia (butterfly bush) in the back yard. I cut it down to a stump, it grew back, and over the last 15 years of pruning it's turned into a small, twisted tree. It puts out a crazy amount of new growth every year, and provides shade to a west-facing set of windows, but through the spring, summer, and well into fall I'm constantly tearing off excess growth and using it as chop-and drop within the back yard. In early winter I give it a hard prune, and since it grows so fast and has such weak wood, the wood rots away in no time at all if I toss it on the ground.

I originally kept it because it provided much-needed shade and the bees absolutely love the flowers, but now I appreciate the insane amount of biomass it cranks out every year. I don't even need tools to prune it; I can literally tear pieces off it and break it up with my bare hands. And it responds to my harsh treatment by just cranking out even more growth. In fact, it's kind of a relief when it goes (mostly) dormant in the winter. Despite not being a food plant, I'll probably plant a couple at my new place, as it does make a good shade/screen plant in the summer, the bees really do appreciate it, and it's pretty much a mulch-producing machine, once established.
 
gardener
Posts: 1307
Location: the mountains of western nc
335
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i have a whole lot of cup plant (silphium perfoliatum) at my place. they make so much biomass! i think i cut some of them back 4 or 5 times last year.
 
steward
Posts: 2815
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
1057
3
forest garden fish trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Recently I've been letting a lot of wild plants grow among the edibles, and I've really been enjoying their beauty and also the beneficial insects they have brought in.

If the wild plants start out competing some of the edibles, I give them a quick chop back a little to give the edibles more sunlight to get a head start. Most of the wild plants I just allow to grow and skip the chop stage. At the end of the season as they die back, they "drop" on their own, and dont require any other work, and usually create a huge amount of organic matter to really enrich the soil.
 
Lookout! Runaway whale! Hide behind this tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards Poster now available!
https://permies.com/t/177901/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Poster
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic