Any questions or comments you have about Natural Sequence Farming processes. These could include general questions or ones about your personal problems.

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Postby matto » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:32 pm

I understand that allelopathy is a way for a certain plant to compete with the surrounding ecosystem, to give it an advantage in the area.
I am wondering if it known whether it is a chemical reaction that happens in live trees, or whether it continues when the plant is decomposing.
What I am interested in is trying some hugelkultur beds ( ) in a garden im working on, and it has been said not to use known allelopathic trees. But this is what I have to work with.
I am also wondering if this is a way that NSF could use to hold moisture high in the environment and slowly leaching nutrients to the land below. It could be similar to what David Holmgren does when he is clearing undergrowth for fire hazard reduction, leaving the scrub in contoured berms to collect moisture and nutrients whilst decomposing. Hugelkultur has been used on contour acting as a swale.
Your thought would be appreciated!

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Re: Allelopathy

Postby Stringybark » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:15 pm

I can't see anything detrimental by using logs. The information is out there somewhere on allelopathy effects in decomposing plants (Just have to find it). My simplistic way of looking at the process, thinks that you are providing a habitat for lots of sub-terrainian life (As explained in your link). Plenty of air pockets and places for moisture, plant roots, microbes, etc. Surely all this new life would be able to process the logs and any allelopathic residue? Plenty of water would dilute, or wash away things as well.
You'll know the answer after you've tried it. Better let the rest of us know what you find.

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Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:20 pm
Location: victoria and southern nsw

Re: Allelopathy

Postby matto » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:30 pm

Thats a good point you have made, Stringybark. It might not be as ideal as something else but it would work over time. Im just going to load it up with nitrogen fixing plants at the start and see how it goes.
Ive just found out that natural farmer Mansanobu Fukuoka used something similar to reintroduce carbon into soils.
I will let you know how it goes>

Shirley Henderson
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Re: Allelopathy

Postby Shirley Henderson » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:22 pm

There are many alleopathic plants, Eucs, Casuarinas, Callistemon to name a few. If you are attempting the no dig garden you can include newspaper, straw, scraps any organic matter. Green is nitrogen, wood is carbon. Wood in soil draws nitrogen from the soil. So add nitrogen. Loose open piles of organic matter can be planted in. It decomposes as the plants grow. I think a good loose mix even if it includes alleopathic plants would work. If its all alleopathic plant material there may be some problems. What plants are you planning to use and what do you want to grow?

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Re: Allelopathy

Postby duane » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:33 pm

I am wondering if it known whether it is a chemical reaction that happens in live trees, or whether it continues when the plant is decomposing.

It's highly likely that all plants exhibit some alleopathic effects. What NSF acknowledges is that even when decomposing, plants still exhibit these effects.

This has two major outcomes for growing plants which are both wanted and unwanted.

In Peter's book BTB, p138 he has a whole chapter devoted to this topic.

The more edible plants are the less susceptible they are to the effects of alleopathy.

The less edible they are the more susceptible they are to alleopathy.

The chemical effects of alleopathy are usually transferred via the mechanism of water through soil hydrology. By processing plant waste and debris through our wetland systems, toxins such as plant alkaloids could be broken down into their component parts and travel down the hydrology and reused as nutrients for other plants.

For managing less edible plants such as persistent and problem weeds NSF recommends that a layer of problem plant be used to create a contour above the growing problem plants. As water moves through the composted contour the it will release chemicals inhibiting the growth of the unwanted plants. As Peter says in his book "there is not a single, non-edible plant, that can live competively in it's own waste".

Biodiversity is the real key to managing the alleopathic effect of plants....contouring is another.

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