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Plants that can grow fast for chop and drop in zone 5-6  RSS feed

 
Pamela Smith
Posts: 64
Location: BC Canada Zone 5&6
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I am on forested land with pure sand. I have been trying to build soil on top of it via hay mulch, aged wood chips from my pine trees, aged manure and some chop and drop but I have so little to chop and drop.
So my question is this, I am in zone 5-6 in Southern BC Canada. What can I grow in my area that will grow quickly and in abundance that I can use as a chop and drop to build up the soil?

I use to have animals but hey ate what little I had. They will be gone after this year. I will try buckwheat in the spring but with pure sand for soil to start with it will take a lot of water.

I have talked on this forum about hugels but with tons of ants, voles, moles etc I am told that is not a good idea. Anyway I believe the best solution is simply build up the soil over time and if I can focus on some plants that do not need lots of water and grows quickly I can then use it in addition of what I am already doing. Suggestions obviously need to be plants that can grow in this zone and area as well as can be purchased in Canada.

Thanks
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 375
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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I'm not absolutely positive that it would grow under your conditions (I think so) but you can't beat comfrey for fast and abundant growth or for putting nutrients back in the soil. I've cut ours down to the ground several times this year and it just keeps popping back up like grass. It even flowers each time so you can spread it around and it will reseed itself readily.
 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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Willow?
Fast, in like 1 year for usable biomass if you give it come compost.
Plus it grows from branch cuttings which makes getting more as time goes on easier and easier.

black locust?
If you can get the thornless variety all the better.

Blackberry?
Also here, thornless. Grows lots of biomass although it's not woody. Pile up cuttings and in a year good soil happens underneath.

Serviceberry?
N-fixer with added service of berry.

Not sure if any are suitable to Southern BC but I'm guessing so.
William
 
Pamela Smith
Posts: 64
Location: BC Canada Zone 5&6
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I have tried  growing comfrey 2 years in a row and it struggles then dies. I am thinking the soil/sand is too acidic which I find interesting because I usually plant it into mulch and compost. Either way I am hoping to try again next year and will add lime and see if it will finally grow.

I am looking at planting willow and black locust for a wood source for a possible RMH down the road. Good to know it can help for biomass too. thanks

As for berry bushes sadly mine all have thorns. I will put it through our wood chipper and use it at the bottom of the new garden beds.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 375
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Pamela Smith wrote:I have tried  growing comfrey 2 years in a row and it struggles then dies. I am thinking the soil/sand is too acidic which I find interesting because I usually plant it into mulch and compost. Either way I am hoping to try again next year and will add lime and see if it will finally grow.


Here in SW Missouri, where I live the soil is very alkaline due to all the limestone, so that could be the reason comfrey grows so well for us. We also have very nice loam (albeit full of rocks, but in between the rocks, the soil is great!) so that could be a factor too.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 375
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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You may want to check out this website for some ground cover ideas. https://www.seedman.com/groundcover.htm I was particularly interested in the possibilities for something called "Miniclover". Scroll down to near the bottom of the page and read the blurb (it's too long to quote here). Sounds promising. The Claytonia perfoliata (about a fifth of the way down the page) looks good too, but there are so many to choose from, I'm sure you can find something that fits the bill for your particular situation. No reason you can't have something pretty and soil-enriching at the same time.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Have you thought about sunchokes? Grow fast, perennial, lots of biomass aboveground and tubers reproducing below.  And on the animals - some livestock would help with converting that biomass and helping you build your soil.  Maybe just half a dozen chickens, work them in a tractor operation, chewing through a few hundred square feet at a time?
 
Ardilla Esch
Posts: 216
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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Chicory would probably do well in those conditions.  It grows pretty fast and can take a lot of chopping.
 
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