Tropical vegetables and fruit trees are traditionally grown in a polyculture (NOT monoculture) in a food garden system among support plants. This provides a ‘micro-climate’ providing shade, helping to save moisture in the soil and establishing an ideal atmosphere for plant growth.
Support species create a source of nutrient-rich living mulch, assisting to retain moisture by reducing evaporation, prevent weed growth or erosion, as well as providing habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators. As the support species grow they can be chopped (coppiced) and used as mulch around your food producing plants assisting to buffer the soil from extremes of heat or rainfall.
Planting support species is done from Spring and they can be planted throughout the Summer and into Autumn. Mulch is very important in our sub-tropical environment and growing your own “living mulch” means avoiding expensive inputs like hay (which requires fossil fuels) to do this job.
Support species are often legumes and this means they convert Nitrogen from the air into the soil, especially when they are coppiced pre-flowering. The cuttings are then used around your vegetables to provide an additional nutrient source and increase the amount of humus in your soil.
Support Species available from YCG:
Come into our nursery and buy your support species today