- Fruits: general tree fruits
- Vegetables: sweet potatoes, cucurbits
- Crop Production: windbreaks
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: market study
- Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
The purpose of this project was to plant living mulch in my fruit tree orchard for several reasons, such as costs associated with weed control, the use of string-based bush cutters which may potentially mechanically damage the fruit trees, and the potential economic return directly linked to on-farm sustainability and diversification.
The living mulch that was planted in most areas has shown to be extremely effective in reducing the cost and labor of weed control. In areas where the sweet potato ground covers have been established, the weeds have been almost entirely eliminated and only minimal weeding is necessary. It has increased the survival rate of the fruit trees; I have not lost one tree. The need for bush-cutting and the use of herbicides around the fruit trees have been greatly reduced. In diversifying and creating other avenues for economic return in my farming operation, I have been able to harvest and sell produce from the living mulch, as well as generate more plant material for other parts of the fruit tree orchard.
Months 1-4: Establishment of initial living mulches. This involved ground preparation and then planting and initial weeding to establish initial living mulch.
Months 4-6: Involved re-establishing living mulches where initial species were unable to become established. Initial workshop lectures were prepared, as well as an extension fact sheet. At the end of the rainy season, irrigation was installed for some of the living mulches to support them through the dry season.
Months 7-8: Field day was announced and held.
Months 8-12: Analysis of the effectiveness of the living mulches and expansion of the living mulches to other areas of the farming operation. Extension publication on living mulch was prepared. Final report for the project prepared.