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Plan succession-combat of the century!! Dioscorea batatas (chinese yam) vs Cytisus scoparius (broom)  RSS feed

 
Ariel Leger
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Hello all!
I am planning a design in Squamish BC and have an interesting idea and want to know if anyone has ideas about how it would play out in the real world before I try it.
Here it is:
Cytisus scoparius (common broom or scotch broom) is an invasive species in most of BC. It grow's real fast, has a hardy, deep root system and propagates like nobody's business! people here are afraid of it and treat it like some terrible scourge to be eradicated from BC at the soonest possible moment.
I however put on my designer's cap and said wait a minute, this is an amazingly useful plant! It is a great pioneer species that fixes nitrogen, attracts wildlife, breaks up the soil with its crazy roots, can grow back from being cut to nothing and can generate a whole lotta biomass.
I thought to myself, why not use this in the early succession of establishing a food forest?
The question now was how to faze out the scotch broom without too much effort. It can tolerate partial shade and is really hard to kill...
My plan is to plant it on the north side of the system and to cut it before it goes to seed each year for it's biomass and to get the most out of it's nitrogen fixing capabilities. This will stop it from spreading too much in the initial faze of my succession. As the canopy and understory trees of the system grow taller, they will start to shade out the broom but this will not be enough. I do not want to have to keep cutting it down every year in order to keep it from spready. too much energy. My potential solution is that once it starts to get shaded out by the canopy and sub canopy trees that are getting taller, I will cut it down as close as I can get to the roots, sheet mulch it with a layer of cardboard, finished compost and biomass that will be produced in the system And to plant a chinese yam right the heck on top of it as the coup de grace! Dioscorea batatas sends out long vines that need something to grow on so I figured I would train it to smother the broom if it shows it's face over the sheet mulch I planted.

My question to you guys is do you think it'll work? is it worth the risk of the broom getting out of hand and crowding out the other elements of the design before they can get established or should I just settle for another nitrogen fixing shrub that will do well in the area?
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I had maybe 100 C. scoparius in my pasture. I cut or pulled (depending on how big it was) and added it to brush piles on future tree planting sites. After 2 years of cutting it all died. I get an occasional volunteer from the seed bank, but under pasture competition it just didn't survive very well. I think it is really a 'stress tolerator', and if you soil is productive it doesn't survive targeted browsing very well, and seedlings just aren't strong enough to recruit into strong veg without disturbance or some bare ground. Not so tough, unless you scrape to sub-soil dump some gravel and then install a highway or an industrial site. (or unless you are on a gravel soil prairie that you stop burning).
 
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